Press Check: More Than Range Theatrics

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September 5, 2017  
Categories: Learnin'

We’ve discussed press checks before (remember this Language Lesson?), and likely will again. Lots of stoopid going around about press checks, as many of us see it. Mad Duo

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Press Checks

Tom Marshall

My favorite argument against press checks goes something like this: “You shouldn’t have to press check! You should always know the condition of your weapon!

But…how do we verify the condition of our weapon? Hint: it rhymes with dress necks.

Forward press check close RS

Personally, I’m a fan of the press check. Not only does it verify the condition of your weapon, it also verifies the function of your weapon. If you insert a magazine and rack the slide, is your weapon now loaded? Maybe. Was the magazine seated properly? Have the springs taken a set or started to sag? Is your feed ramp clean, lubricated and—for that matter—properly cut at the factory? Because any of these things could leave you with an empty chamber, regardless of how hard you power-stroke that slide. Now the question is, would you rather find out with a press check, or with a very inconvenient click when a threat prevents itself?

Demonstrating a press check

There are three basic ways to execute a press check. From the front of the slide, pinching the rear slide serrations, or wrapping your whole hand over the top – sometimes known as the slingshot method. My carry gun, a Glock 19, was modified by Jim Toner at TMT Tactical specifically to accommodate all three methods. This package features silicon-carbide grip inserts up front as well as rear serrations that wrap completely over the top of the slide for better traction with the slingshot method.

The photos included demonstrate all three methods – you find what works for you. With the slingshot, we also made a point to illustrate an empty versus loaded chamber to show how easily the condition and functioning of your weapon can be verified. In low light conditions, the only change is how far you pull back the slide. If you cannot visually verify a round in battery, ease the slide back far enough to get a fingertip in there and you’ll get your answer just as fast.

Close up of an empty chamber

Close up of a loaded chamber

Is your weapon in the condition that you want it to be in? In the words of Ronald Reagan: trust, but verify.

-Tom Marshall

Read more about press checks in Castellano here — Cartucho en recámara y comprobación de la recámara (which has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that eating tacos is racist).

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Author Tom MarshallAbout the Author

Tom Marshall is an interesting miscegenation of background experiences. He’s a former active duty US Army officer, but before that was a graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY. Before accepting his commission as a 2LT, Midshipman Marshall spent a year travelling the world on a variety of merchant shipping vessels, including several months attached to Military Sealift Command. After returning from sea, he spent a summer working at the HQ training facility for Blackwater USA.

Tom spent four years in the Cavalry with a Stryker Brigade, including a one-year tour to Iraq with 4th BCT, 2nd Infantry (“Raiders”). Among other assignments he worked S-3 before taking over a Recce Platoon. He earned the rank of Captain and spent his final year in a HQ Company XO billet. After departing the military he spent about a year and a half working security at a federally-contracted Corrections facility before going back overseas in a PMC job working security and force protection for government personnel working in high threat environments around the world. Tom has written for Guns & Ammo, World of Firepower, SWAT Magazine, Black Sheep Warrior, RECOIL Magazine, and Emerge Social, a PR firm specializing in digital brand management for firearms-industry clients. Despite being an officer we actually trust him (mostly) with a compass. Tom Marshall may or may not have been the inspiration for the best selling issue of Urecco. You can follow him on Facebook at /TMAuthor/ or on Instagram,

Grunts: miscegenation.

Author Tom Marshall on horseback.

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  1. Panhandle Rancher

    All to often, I’ve seen press checks performed repetitively as a nervous behavior in stressful situations. As my handguns are all stored with a round in the chamber, unless it has been out of my control, there is never a doubt as to the status of lethality. PR

  2. JIm Daniels

    I’m not hip with that. I can see if I’m loaded without jacking anything. If I distrust my weapon to work after it has worked over and over again – I don’t need that weapon.

  3. Richard Steven Hack

    Well, answering the “you should know” question with “how do you verify” seems a circular argument to me.

    In any event, the issue isn’t EVER doing press checks, the issue is doing UNNECESSARY press checks. Which in turn simply means verifying the condition ONCE when first putting on the weapon, then not doing it again unless something actually changes.

    “Have the springs taken a set or started to sag? Is your feed ramp clean, lubricated and—for that matter—properly cut at the factory?” If you don’t know the answers to those questions, a press check isn’t needed – you need to take off the gun until you know the answers – which means you’ve done proper maintenance to the firearm you’re carrying to defend your life.

    The issue as I understand it is codifying unnecessary press checks in training. Training someone to do a press check every time they insert a magazine has (allegedly – I have no idea if it’s true) caused some people to do them in the middle of a firefight with unfortunate results.

    Inserting a new magazine is insufficient justification for a press check. Presumably you know how to do that properly and once done properly does not need to be verified. On the other hand, there’s no particular harm in doing so – as long as you’re not in combat.

    Like so many other “issues” in the firearm field – especially on the Internet – the “either-or” nature of the discussion distracts from thinking it through. We need nuance, not dogmatism.


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