Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Press Check: When and Why

I have a friend who is not a fan of press checks. I know of one other instructor who is the same way. I personally have no issue with press checks, if used properly. Firearms are mechanical devices, doomed to eventual failure by their very nature. Mechanical devices get worn out, bent, dented, whatever. Eventually they stop working as they should. That is why you will hear some people refer to a press check as a status check. There are two ways to confirm a round is in the chamber ready to go. Press the trigger and the gun goes bang. Good chance there WAS a round in the chamber if the gun goes bang, no guarantee there is one now though. Or press check.

Some people will argue that the press check is a gamer thing to do. It is something done by shooters who compete. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I know that certainly isn't where I learned to do it. I learned to do it from a long time SWAT operator from a local PD and another SWAT operator from the State Police. Neither of which are gamers. Their reasoning, the same as the first paragraph. Mechanical devices fail, if there is something we can do within reason to ensure proper function or status at least up to a point, then it is generally a good idea. Can we eliminate the potential for failure all together, no, we can't. We can only try to stack the odds in our favor as much as possible.

Now this part is important. There is a time to do a press check, and there is a time not to do a press check. It is very important to keep these times separate. I will press check when initially loading my gun for the day before I head out the door. That is the only time I press check. I do not press check in competitions, I do not press check when I run drills at the range. The press check is a very deliberate and a purely administrative task. Where some people get a little too wrapped up is they will press check ALL THE TIME. That I do not agree with. If it becomes a habit I may look, but not truly see anything, and not realize it. The less I do it, the better off I will be because I want to make sure I have to think about it when I do it. But, I still have to do it, at least once.


  1. Who in the world said press checks are for gamers? The practice existed long before IPSC or IDPA and is taught by military and LE organizations around the country.

    FWIW, I follow basically the same plan as you: I press-check when I put the gun on and then as long as the gun stays on my belt all day long, I'm confident no gremlins have crawled in there and eaten all the lead & brass.

  2. The two people that I referenced are CFS instructors. Fairly certain I have read where other CFS instructors say the same thing.

    I am not sure either person I know would disagree with the way you and I approach it, but sometimes people get so caught up in saying something is a bad thing that they forget the "except when".

    Thanks for the comment by the way.