Thursday, May 3, 2012

Slide Release vs. Over the Top Rack

During the Combat Focus Shooting course a few days ago the instructor stressed using an over the top rack to release the slide on a slide lock reload. When I first started shooting, this is what I was taught. The argument when I first learned it, and the argument used during the Combat Focus Shooting course was that the over the top rack technique is a gross motor function, whereas using the slide release is a fine motor function and in a high stress situation fine motor function decreases because blood is drawn into the core of the body. There is a lot of debate over whether or not that is true, and I prefer not to get into that aspect of it.

The other side of the coin is that before we can hit the slide release, we have to pull the trigger and activate the magazine release, which are also "fine" motor functions. So logic dictates that if I can get to the point where I need to use the slide release, I should be able to use it.

When I started getting serious about my shooting and I began putting more effort into skill development I dropped the over the top rack method of the reload in favor of using the slide release. I have been running my gun that way ever sense.

Seeing as how most of my skill development has taken place in that year or so since then, I am re-evaluating reload techniques. Not necessarily because I think one method is particularly superior to the other, just because I am curious so see what happens. I am really curious to see if I can consistently break 2 seconds using the over the top technique.

Yesterday I hit the range and ran several reloads to compare the time differential. I was shooting at an 8.5"x11" sheet of paper at 7yds and started with running the over the top rack method 11 times after a brief warm up. I followed that with 11 reloads using my preferred method of using the slide release. I was running a G22, which I do not reload as well as my Beretta.

1r1 Over Top Rack
1r1 Slide Release
Avg. 2.35
Avg. 2.08

Despite my better judgement, I am going to run the over the top method for the next couple months and then compare again and see what changes, if anything. Another aspect of the reload I will be evaluating is whether or not to look the magazine into the gun. The basic argument presented in the Combat Focus Shooting material is that looking will cause more fumbles and slow me down in the long run because I am trying to process the manipulation. If I don't look, and just do it, it will be smoother and theoretically faster. The best analogy I can come up with is typing on a keyboard. If I look at the keyboard when I type I tend to type slower. If I don't look, I actually speed up. The problem with the argument is it assumes you have the skill and knowledge of the keyboard to type without looking in the first place. We will see what happens.


  1. I tried the same experiment about a year ago. I could never get my "over the top" times to be as fast as my slide release times, and more often than not my support hand grip would get messed up when I tried to do it quickly. Semi autos are made to work at full speed, which the slide release allows them to do; over the top method leaves room for a shooter to "ride" the slide into battery and a weak recoil spring may not get it all the way there. But it's nice to be proficient in both ways.

  2. Shooters Digest - What do you guys teach at your PD?

    I had the chance to run some dryfire drills on my Beretta over the weekend (sadly no live fire), and I am finding that the slide serrations on the Beretta seem to work a lot better than the slide serrations on my G22.

    I am really finding that there are very few things about the Glock that I like better than the Beretta.