Saving a Shooter

Last week I had a chance to basically save a shooter. My sister said she was having a terrible time trying to rack the slide on her full-size M&P pistol. She had been to a good shooting school, but for some reason, they missed the fact that she was struggling. It had gotten so bad that she didn't know if she could continue shooting that handgun and was really asking me what other gun she should get.

When we met in Idaho to see the eclipse, she brought her Smith, and I had her show me how she operates the slide. Not surprising, she was holding the pistol out in front of her and trying to use nothing but hand and wrist strength. She also was holding the pistol with her right hand, with all fingers (including trigger finger) on the grip, which moved her hand much lower on the grip. She felt unstable (which she was) and unsafe (which she wasn't), and just had a bad feeling about the pistol and her shooting.

We fixed that problem.Shooting Smith

I had her extend her trigger finger along the side of the slide, and then move her hand as far upward as possible on the grip, pushing the web of her hand hard against the beavertail. Already, that gave her better leverage.

Next, I told her to bring the pistol back against her chest, pointing the muzzle down range, then reach over the top of the gun and wrap her left hand over the top of the slide. Now, the important part. Don't try to pull the slide back. What? Nope. Hold the slide very firmly with the left hand, and then shove the pistol forward with the right hand. The move should be like a hard punch being thrown. Of course, the left hand rips backward, too, making it easy.

She was amazed at how easy it was to operate the slide this way. Use the big muscles. SHOVE forward with the "trigger" hand while ripping back with the hand holding the slide. Fast and hard! You are not sliding the slide backward. You are ripping it off the freaking frame!

My sister now is eager to get back to shooting.

Technique, rather than strength, was the key. If you know someone who has trouble operating the slide of a semi-auto pistol, try this method and let us know how it works. ~ Tom

Tom Gresham - Author, outdoorsman, gun rights activist, and firearms enthusiast for more than five decades, Tom Gresham hosts Tom Gresham's Gun Talk, the first nationally-syndicated radio show about guns and the shooting sports, and is also the producer and co-host of the Guns & Gear, GunVenture and First Person Defender television series.