Do you still do press-checks? Here’s another reason not to!

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If you’ve taken any of my classes you know I’m not a big fan of the press-check (drawing the slide of an autoloader partially back to ascertain if there’s a round in the chamber.) I hold that it’s an unnecessary movement which does little more than raise the risk of the gun not being fully in battery when the slide is eased forward.

As it turns out, press-checking also has an effect on bullet setback (the pressing of the bullet backwards into the case on chambering.) I wouldn’t have thought that the press check would have much of an effect, but Aaron Cowan over at Sage Dynamics tested and found that it did.

One might quibble with the notion of press-checking a couple hundred times to get the results he did, but I’ve seen habitual press-checkers: people who do it every time they pick their gun up or handle it for any reason. In a few weeks I could imagine one of those people easily hitting a couple hundred press checks on a single round.

The article goes on to say that while he doesn’t recommend press-checks for the most part (good on him!), he does under “limited” circumstances — then shares his technique for doing so. It’s there that I have a difference of opinion with him.

Here’s my counter-argument: why would you need to press-check in the dark because you think you might need the gun? If it were light, would you tell your attacker to “hang on while I press-check my gun?” If it’s silly to press-check in the light when there’s a bad guy present, then it’s just as silly in the dark (especially considering the rather complex motor skills his technique requires.)

If you’re not sure about the load condition of your gun, light or dark, rack the slide to chamber a round. It’s just that simple.

I can hear it now: “But I’ll give my position away!” Seriously, folks, unless you’re doing clandestine approaches to a drug house or a suspected terrorist hideout, the bad guy already knows you’re there. That’s why he’s there too. In the rare case where he doesn’t know for sure that you’re there because he broke into what he thought was an unoccupied dwelling, most competent trainers are going to teach you to communicate with the suspect in an effort to get hime to leave without the necessity of a shooting: “get out now! The police are on their way!” At that point, the fact that you made a little noise chambering a round isn’t really an issue.

Since Cowan is a former soldier and a cop and I’m neither, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt in regard to press-checks (and his technique) for those environments. For the rest of us, however, they just aren’t a good idea from any angle. I realize they’re a staple of tactical-ninja-warrior-operator classes and videos, but when you think about it objectively there’s no real reason to be doing them in private sector self defense. Cowan’s article gives you yet another reason why they’re to be avoided, and I applaud him for that.

-=[ Grant ]=-


About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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