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Posted: 5/4/2003 12:04:26 AM EDT
www.tdsa.net/tips/totm5.html


The TDSA Tip
Homer Hurlbut, TDSA Team Member
NRA Instructor

Unloading Your Handgun - Safely

It is a common practice to unload a cartridge from the chamber of a pistol. We do it at home when we are going to store the weapon and we do it at the end of each stage at a match when we “unload and show clear.” We do it before handling a weapon to insure it is unloaded. There are several different ways to perform this act, but one of the more common is very dangerous and leads to a large number of accidents and injuries each year.

The safest way is to move the slide back, ejecting the round into the air and let it fall to the ground. Trying to catch the round in the air can lead to pointing the muzzle in an unsafe manner (especially if a loaded magazine were yet to be inserted).

The most dangerous method is to cover the ejection port of the slide with the weak hand, and attempt to eject the round into the weak hand (Fig. 1)





This action can trap the round with the primer of the round against the ejector and the bullet nose against the port in the slide. (Fig. 2)




The ejector in any pistol (Glock, 1911A1, etc.) is similar and this problem lies with ALL pistols, regardless of their brand or model. (Fig. 3)




The ejector is just the right shape and height to engage the primer if the round “bounces” from the covering hand as the pistol attempts to eject the round. (Fig. 4)




A slight rearward movement of the slide (which is under spring pressure) is sufficient to cause the round to fire.

When the round fires, it cannot dislodge the bullet and the firing results in a catastrophic failure of the brass, usually upward as the path of least resistance, into the shooter’s covering hand. According to the NRA and other sources, this results in upwards of 100 accidents a year. Loss of fingers, nerve damage and tendon damage are among the results.

Moral: When clearing a pistol, let the chambered round completely clear the pistol rather than attempt to ‘capture’ it with your hand. Let the round fall to the ground and retrieve it later after the gun is holstered. The fingers you save may be your own.




And here I always thought about the round going off when it hit the ground. It would seem that there's more of a likelihood of it happening in this situation though. What do you guys think? Is there a way to avoid both?

Also, what are the forward cocking serrations for?
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 1:19:34 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Johnphin:
Also, what are the forward cocking serrations for?



A press-check.
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 1:30:02 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 4:36:29 AM EDT

Originally Posted By M4Nate:

Originally Posted By Johnphin:
Also, what are the forward cocking serrations for?



A press-check.


Thats a good answer,just don't use the front cocking serrations to cock the pistol. Its a dangerous practice because depending on how you do it when cocking from front pushing both hands towards each other your left hand can come down and cover the muzzle. My brother put a 45acp round thru his hand this way.
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 5:45:43 AM EDT
If you press check using the trigger guard and the spring plug portion of the slide you dont have this worry. If done properly, the grip safety isnt engaged and its safe to do. Its actually easier to do than using the forward serations. If you have a full length rod or non 1911 type pistol, I guess your SOL.
I always dump the mag and let the round fall on the bed when I unload at night. Solves the problem of everything bouncing around.
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 3:24:53 PM EDT
Perhaps ejecting the round onto a pillow would work? Just a suggestion.
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 4:03:06 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/4/2003 4:04:32 PM EDT by Green0]
"Thats a good answer,just don't use the front cocking serrations to cock the pistol. Its a dangerous practice because depending on how you do it when cocking from front pushing both hands towards each other your left hand can come down and cover the muzzle. My brother put a 45acp round thru his hand this way."

And your finger just majically pulls the trigger? some people should never buy handguns in the first place.

Press checking always meant putting a thumb into the trigger guard and pointer finger to the recoil plug to slowly retract the slide. at worst if you did fire the round would not hit your finger.

I can't see how anyone would want to rack the slide so quickly that it would actually pop the primer on the round if and when it did come into contact with a ejector. The only way to capture the round is to do this slowly. Doing this operation quickly would probably result in a lot of rounds smashed when they popped back into the ejection port and became crushed.
Link Posted: 5/4/2003 7:28:49 PM EDT
Okay, I don't think that I understand this press checking thing. Doesn't the recoil plug stay in place when the slide moves back? What is the point of press checking, just to see if the gun is loaded?
Link Posted: 5/5/2003 12:45:45 AM EDT
Its to verify that it is loaded.
Link Posted: 5/5/2003 5:00:28 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Green0:
And your finger just majically pulls the trigger? some people should never buy handguns in the first place.



"This is my safety sir."
Link Posted: 5/5/2003 6:13:31 AM EDT
The press-check is something everyone who carries a handgun for serious use should practice. I have seen many...many...people who thought they were "sure" their weapons were chamber loaded when they were not, and vice-versa. It sounds good when you hear guys say "I always know the condition of my firearms", but the fact is that Mr. Murphy eventually comes to call on everyone, including me and you. For a carry gun, the press-check takes away that little bit of doubt as to whether Murphy came to visit while you slept.

The front serrations on some 1911 slides assist somewhat in the newer and, IMO, better, technique for the press-check. The weak hand is brought up from underneath the slide and the slide pressed slightly to the rear by the fingers cupping the slide, just far enough to verify the case is in the chamber, then released. The strong thumb can press forward on the rear of the slide, if necessary, to be certain the slide is all the way forward, then the safety placen in the "on" position. Double action autos are more difficult to check, but selective DA pistols allow cocking the hammer to prevent having to try and overcome the hammer spring tension. (and usually suddendy ejecting the chambered round) DA-only models can be a PITA for this, but you should work with your handgun and dummy rounds until you can get it done. Loaded chamber indicators should never be trusted 100%.

The chamber clearing drill I was taught decades ago by a military match shooter actually included how to catch the round in the palm by "smartly" racking the slide to the rear...ONCE. Fumbling was not allowed! Like many old techniques, we have learned better now. The old 1911 pistols are slightly less prone to having the primer slammed into the ejector due to the fact that the GI design is not extended as are many commercial styles, and designs such as the Glock, Beretta, etc. are smaller and extend even further. (the Glock ejector could probably be used as a stabbing implement with the frame off of the slide!) Hold the gun at arms length, point it in a safe direction for the location you are in and eject the round...let it fall...wherever it falls is safer than catching it.

If the shooter fumbles and brings the slide back several times while attempting to clear the chamber, the case can slip out from under the extractor and wedge itself in the chamber / breech face area (I have seen some do this and allow the slide to close completely...any guesses as to what could happen if an empty mag were inserted and the "empty gun" cycled? Before you say it "can't happen" see reference above to Mr. Murphy.) Fumble often enough and you may get a hole in your hand...the advice above is excellent and 100% correct.

Before anyone here starts to throw stones at others about stupid mistakes with guns, maybe we should see a show of hands as to how many have NEVER done ANYTHING stupid in their life and gotten by with it...or EVER made a mistake...or just had a brain fart. ??? I have seen guys do some pretty dumb things, with and without guns involved, and don't ever recall anyone telling me when asked "why?" that they just woke up that day and decided to do something stupid as shit with a firearm, or a truck, or a drill press. It only takes the blink of an eye, and you can't call the bullet back, and saying "I'm sorry" won't make it go away. So let's ALL be careful out there!

Thanks for posting this Johnphin!
Link Posted: 5/5/2003 10:08:45 AM EDT
>>I don't believe in a weak hand.
I have a strong hand and a support hand.<<
But the support hand is weaker than the strong hand, right? Thus you have a strong hand and a weak hand, whether you believe it or not.
Link Posted: 5/6/2003 7:21:23 AM EDT
Why is a press check such a contraversy? I press check my pistols EVERY time I pick them up or put them in the holster.

Done properly, your hand need not be in position to be shot should the gun go off. Just:

1. Keep finger off of trigger.
2. Bring in your support hand from UNDER the pistol, being careful not to let your hand get in front of the muzzle, and press back on the slide just enough to expose a bit of the chamber.
3. Look at the chamber. If you see a round, holster the weapon. If you do not, rack the slide to get one in there.

No big deal.

Press checks ARE necessary, as anyone who has gone up to the line to shoot a drill can tell you. Sometimes our guns are not in the condition we need them in. Press checks make sure that they are ready to fight. I press check and drop the magazine to make sure the gun is full EVERY TIME I pick up my pistols or before I put them in the holster.

The two loudest sounds in the world are:

A bang when you expect a click
A click when you expect a bang

Link Posted: 5/6/2003 9:17:47 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/6/2003 9:58:12 AM EDT

I press check my pistols EVERY time I pick them up or put them in the holster.

I do the same. It becomes a natural thing once your in the habit. With a "stock" 1911, its very easy and safe to do. Depending on your model,(ser.70 or 80) 2 or 3 of the 3 or 4 safties are working when you do it.(battery, firing pin, and grip) If you shift your grip slightly when you do it, the grip safety is also "on" when you do the check. The only safety not engaged is the thumb safety. It really doesnt matter if your gun has no safeties, just as long as the one between your ears is engaged. If you dont check your gun, reguardless of it being a pistol or long gun, you need to re-evaluate your handling routine. Its not empty or loaded until you prove it to yourself everytime you pick it up.
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