…you do know it’s a bad idea to slam the slide closed on an empty chamber, right?  With this platform, it’s best to ease the slide forward by hand to close it when the gun is empty.

Here, from our friends at Brownell’s, is an explanation why:

Or watch video here.

If you’re not familiar with those Brownell’s guys, I’m sure the names Ken Hackathorn and Bill Wilson will ring a bell.  There may be someone out there who knows more about the 1911 platform than these two guys, but I’m not sure who it would be…though I expect such a person would agree with them: 

Or watch the video here.

If you’re short on time, don’t worry: this is the first topic that comes up.  And, five or six minutes in, they’ll tell you why it’s not a good idea to slam the slide shut on any semiautomatic pistol when it’s empty. There isn’t a cartridge coming off the top of the magazine to slow down the slide, nor a cartridge rim inside the hook of the extractor to support and cushion that part as the slide mechanism drives it into battery. (It’s worth your time to watch the rest of the whole video, by the way.)

Yes, there are people on YouTube who sit in front of a camera repeatedly slamming slides closed on empty chambers and announcing, “I’ve always done it this way and my 1911 hasn’t broken yet.” 

That’s sort of like saying, “I kick my puppy all the time and he hasn’t bitten me yet or died yet.”

Either way, you’re kicking a puppy.

35 COMMENTS

  1. In my book kicking a puppy is all in how you “kick” it. Nothing is really wrong with occasionally nudging a puppy gently with the side of your foot, as long as you don’t cause pain or injury. The problem is that some people will see your foot contact the posterior of the young canine and consider such an action to be felonious assault with a lethal weapon and report you to the PETA “Avenging Angels” squad, or maybe even solve the problem themselves by “teaching you a lesson” with their size 15 EEE boot. I do admit that people sometimes do actually learn through coercion. So anyway, I say grit your teeth and close the slide gently so as to make as many people happy as possible.

    • From what I’ve read, most of those who kick dogs and stomp on cats are the jackbooted thugs who execute no knock raids at wrong addresses and terrorize innocent sleepy residents, then get away with it because they have immunity and all are masked and gloved so are not identifiable by their victims.

      While working at several local gun shops, I saw many ignorant customers who release the slides on pistols or flip the cylinder shut on revolvers I handed them in a safe manner. I always advise them of the damage that can result from such actions. Then they hand me back the guns with the slides in battery or the cylinders closed, usually with the muzzle pointed towards me. No safety etiquette at all.

  2. A firearm is a finely made machine so it is just dumb to abuse it. So your pistol runs fine right out of the box, but why not clean & properly lube it beforehand? Your Glock has gone 5000 rounds without cleaning but why not take 5 minutes to clean it? Anything you depend on to protect your life or to take a game animal deserves proper care.

    • I appreciate those 5K and 10K round “torture tests”. If those poor guns are typical of the model and manufacturer, it’s a good demonstration of reliability in conditions more extreme than anything to which I’d ever subject a gun.

      That said, as much as I appreciate them, I’d never shoot several thousand rounds through my gun without cleaning it.

      Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

  3. I’ve not slammed slides on ANY semiauto since I was a 16 year old gun nut… and THAT was back in the ’70s! Just like ‘flicking’ a cylinder shut on a revolver, it’s just not wise (yes there are vids and such but I learned that just a long long time ago.)

    My main squeeze in the 1911 department is a Kimber ‘Classic Stainless’ MK I I shoot now. Yes I have others but this older Kimber shoots like a rifle and is 100 % reliable. And I have found in my older age it is wise to keep guns that shoot right and not trade them off.

    Anyway, take care of your 1911 and it will serve you well for a life time.

  4. To me it’s like “dry firing” a bow, especially one with a high draw weight. The limbs and string snapping back into the undrawn position without the resistance of an arrow can cause damage (up to catastrophic failure/breakage) to any/all parts of the bow. The kinetic energy has to go somewhere, and if there’s no arrow to absorb it then it will go back into the (already stressed) string and limbs. Even if it doesn’t break this time, it’s needless risk and unnecessary wear and tear that could be entirely avoided with just the tiniest smidgen of care.

    I also don’t do “dry fire” pistol drills without snap caps. I’ve heard it both ways: dry firing a pistol is fine, and dry firing a pistol puts extra wear and (on my model) risks shearing off the striker retention pin. I’m not sure that’ll happen, but why gamble on it with a perfectly good gun?

  5. I didn’t know this. And, this makes me wonder.

    How do we teach a newbie desirous of carrying a semi-auto pistol for self-defense. “Look Honey, when you are loading the pistol grab the slide. Firmly pull it back as far as it will go. Let the slide slip from your fingers and drive the first round into battery. However, when you are unloading the pistol, drop the magazine, grip the slide and pull it back until it ejects the cartridge in battery, and then gently ease the slide down until it stops.”

    My sentiment is that for the new gun owner with an ambition to maintain only minimal competence as a gun user, a revolver has a lower learning curve which can be sustained without regular practice.

    I wonder what the comparable arguments might be against revolvers.

      • Mas, thank you for commenting. I’ve been a gun user for 62 years, but I hadn’t learned this. I am comfortable with hardware to a degree far beyond average; though I’m no craftsman. I divide the gun world into two camps:
        1. those who undertake to continue to learn and practice
        2. those who just want a tool for self-defense and won’t continue their studies or practice to the degree those in #1 feel adequate.

        I fear we are too elitist. Too prone to say something like: ‘If you haven’t taken Massad Ayoob’s courses as I have done then you aren’t qualified to carry.’ But this is not in our interest if we want to preserve the 2A for the common (wo)man.

        We ought to think more about designing a path for the candidate gun owner who just wants a tool for self-defense and is willing to invest not-quite-adequate time and money to learn all the “not hard to remember” rules.

        Without the popular support of these newbies we will find ourselves lamenting “there was no one left to speak for me”.

  6. Thanks for the video, I did learn from it. It’s interesting that in the in-person courses I’ve taken – from multiple people and places – none of the instructors had mentioned most of it.

  7. Interestingly, the Glock owner’s manual says to allow the slide to snap forward on an empty chamber and dry fire the pistol several times as part of a function check after cleaning and reassembly.

  8. Another blog on firearm handling, Mas? Given the date, January 7th, I am surprised. Don’t you want to let us celebrate the day that “insurrection” was put down and “democracy” was saved? That is what our betters in the Media want to celebrate on this date. See this story:

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jan/07/capitol-attack-riot-trump-family-parents

    You know what this story reminds me of? A passage from Orwell’s novel 1984:

    The story protagonist, Winston Smith, is sitting in a jail cell (after his arrest) when Parsons, a co-worker from his office, is also placed into the cell. This provokes the following dialog:

    ” ‘Are you guilty?’ said Winston.

    ‘Of course, I’m guilty!’ cried Parsons with a servile glance at the telescreen. ‘You don’t think the Party would arrest an innocent man, do you?…’Thoughtcrime is a dreadful thing, old man,’ he said sententiously. ‘It’s insidious. It can get hold of you without you even knowing it. Do you know how it got hold of me? In my sleep! Yes, that’s a fact.’ There I was, working away, trying to do my bit – never knew I had any bad stuff in my mind at all. And then I started talking in my sleep. Do you know what they heard me saying?’

    He sank his voice, like someone who is obliged for medical reasons to utter an obscenity. “Down with Big Brother!” Yes, I said that! Said it over and over again, it seems. Between you and me, old man, I’m glad they got me before it went any further. Do you know what I’m going to say, ‘thank you for saving me before it was too late.’

    ‘Who denounced you?’ said Winston.

    ‘It was my little daughter,’ said Parsons with a sort of doleful pride. ‘She listened at the keyhole. Heard what I was saying, and nipped off to the patrols the very next day. Pretty smart for a nipper of seven, eh? I don’t bear her any grudge for it. In fact I’m proud of her. It shows I brought her up in the right spirit, anyway.’ ”

    It appears that the children, reported in the Guardian story above, are attending the same sort of schools as Parson’s little “nipper”. They have been indoctrinated into the exact same sort of mindset.

    I tell you, we are in 1984 rather than 2022! Be careful what you mutter in your sleep, friends. Don’t let any of your young “nippers” hear you say “Let’s go Brandon”!

      • The democracy destroying Trump ordered insurrection on January 6, 2021 was worst than the Pearl Harbor attack, the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the Holocaust, the Spanish Inquisition, the Black Plague, the Trail of Tears, the Bataan Death March, and the cancellation of the TV show FRIENDS combined.

      • @ Tom606 – Your laundry list of historical events is interesting. Do you know why?

        Leaving aside “the Black Plague” (which was caused by a natural disease organism – unlike Covid-19 which was engineered in a laboratory) and the cancellation of FRIENDS (which I regard as a blessing 🙂 ), the other events were all human-driven Acts of Oppression. Not only were they human-driven but they were driven by totalitarian fanatics of one type or another.

        To the totalitarian fanatics on the American Left, that is not so bad. After all, one totalitarian can understand (and even sympathize) with another. They are “Birds of a Feather” even if their plumage is of a different color, don’t you see?

        On the other hand, the people who marched, on January 6th, were walking and protesting for FREEDOM. To a totalitarian, that is truly an UNPARDONABLE SIN.

        So, of course, in their minds it WAS WORSE! Don’t mistake the rantings of their Media Attack Dogs as all just propaganda and hyperbole. They are deadly serious about their efforts to CRUSH Freedom in America and around the World.

        George Orwell truly understood the mindset of these people. If you have not yet read his novel, 1984, you should buy a copy and read it before the Leftists ban it.

        They should ban it because it gives away all of their tricks and techniques. It paints their mindset for all to see. They don’t want to be illustrated so plainly. The Leftists love their camouflage!

        As the Washington Post says: “Democracy dies in Darkness”. The Heart of the American Left (including the Leftists at the Washington Post itself) is as dark as a cloudy, star-less, moon-less night. Notice the camouflage and projection of the Washington Post? Pretending to defend democracy while simultaneously supporting every totalitarian maneuver that they leftists are using to create a “One Party State” out of America.

        Of course, the leftists may want keep a few copies of 1984 just for themselves. You know. To use as an instruction manual for future planning.

      • TN_MAN:

        Good points made. Maybe the liberals will build huge bonfires across the country and have good old fashioned book burnings like the Nazis had back in the 1930’s where copies of 1984 and other banned tomes can be destroyed so they cannot pollute the minds of loyal Demoncrats.

        Two other terrible events I forgot to mention, but was not directly caused by mankind, was the attack on Tokyo by Godzilla and the discovery of Elvis, deceased and slumped over on the toilet. The latter was almost as bad as the January 6th terrorist attaack ordered by Donaldmir Trumpolov.

      • @ Tom606 – Yes, the Leftists need to burn every copy of 1984 that they can reach. Consider this paragraph, from the novel, which is a speech given by Winston Smith’s interrogator:

        “Do not imagine that you will save yourself, Winston, however completely you surrender to us. No one who has once gone astray is ever spared. And even if we chose to let you live out the natural term of your life, still you would never escape from us. What happens to you here is forever. Understand that in advance. We shall crush you down to the point from which there is no coming back. Things will happen to you from which you could not recover, if you lived a thousand years. Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves.”

        Friends, that is a PERFECT DESCRIPTION of the mindset of the Marxists on the American Left and the Worldwide Left. That is the purpose of all their indoctrination, propaganda, censorship, and economic / Government control.

        To hollow out America. To squeeze America empty. To utterly obliterate all that remains of the past American Republic. Then, once the vessel is empty, refill it will their Marxist Ideology. Just as with Orwell’s fictional “Big Brother” and with the very real Chicoms of today (See this article linked below), they will leave nothing remaining that can oppose them. Everything, every institution, every school, college or university, every sport, every media channel, every business, every profession, every living breathing person will be penetrated and brought under their control. That is their endgame.

        What they cannot penetrate and control, they will utterly destroy so that it can never become a political force to challenge their rule.

        https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2022/01/the_movie_chinese_communists_hate_the_most.html

        So, you see why 1984 must (ultimately) be burned? How can these control freaks EVER ALLOW a book, that so clearly reveals their true face, to remain in circulation?

      • TN_MAN:

        Seems like the liberals ultimate goal is to be the queens in ant colonies or maybe the Borg leader in Star Trek who preside over mindless workers that obediently perform their tasks and ask for nothing. The workers exist only to serve their masters and are of course expendable if necessary. Welcome to the New World Order. George H.W. Bush actually used this term in a speech, maybe inadvertently giving away the D.C. swamp creatures’ game plan.

      • @ Tom606 – See this story:

        https://currently.att.yahoo.com/att/cm/american-airlines-reply-over-pilot-093226382.html

        Big Brother Lives! You can see him in the Left’s “Cancel Culture” which they use to shut down free speech all across America.

        However, people are getting tired of the Left’s “Control Freak” nature. You can tell that from some of the anti-“cancel culture” comments included in this story.

        I am, frankly, amazed that the Left even allowed these comments to be published in this story. Especially in a piece put out by Yahoo. In my experience, Yahoo is one of the most slavish, and politically reliable, channels of the Marxist Media. Perhaps not up there with CNN or MSNBC but close!

        That is, perhaps, an even more telling indicator that the Left’s “Iron Grip” (or perhaps I should say “Iron Boot”) is slipping.

      • TN_MAN:

        Communist News Network and Marxist Slobs Needlessly Being Crazy will always have their fanatical followers despite all the false garbage they spew. We can only hope that Americans will be so massively overloaded with their blatant lies, that a sleeping giant, of still sane people, will be awakened and filled with a terrible resolve, to borrow a few prophetic words from Admiral Yamamoto after the Pearl Harbor attack.

  9. Can’t vouch for anything other than my Colt series 80, my manual says that when you function check the pistol you lock the slide to the rear and then using the slide release drop the slide on an empty chamber(empty is in bold) and the hammer should not drop. I have always wondered how much the slide is slowed by chambering a round and at what point it can damage the sear. My Colt has a really nice trigger to me.

  10. If my desire is to buy own and decorate a combat weapon, and then pay over 1000.00 in doing so, then more power to ya. The original design and 1911 semi-auto is that it would withstand the most grievous torture imaginable. The military man could swim the depths and come up shooting his “defensive weapon”, a “combat special” with heavy emphasis. If you want to call it a combat weapon, then it better be there for the long run, ice, snow, sand, mud, and come up shooting. If I have to pamper a gun then it ceases to be a tool, sidearm, and then becomes something I fear to scratch, or get dirty. If the later is a problem the poor guy spent too much on a defensive sidearm. More power to the collector within you keep it locked up in the safe, and then buy the carry 1911. Grandpa would say “the damn thing is too pretty, it looks like something Al Capone would carry.

    • Understood, Terry, but reliability being paramount in a gun like that, why would anyone want to abuse it in a way which could compromise that reliability?

    • Terry,

      I agree. I seem to remember John Farnam writing that John Browning made 1911s with loose tolerances. That way the pistols would fire reliably under less-than-ideal conditions. Target shooters like tight tolerances, because then the pistol is more accurate. John’s point was that a pistol used for defense better fire reliably, it doesn’t have to be super accurate. A pistol used for competition better be super accurate, but then it won’t be as reliable.

      We see this “reliable versus accurate” debate in the AK-47. They are known for being super reliable, and isn’t that what we want in a weapon of war? It has to go “bang” every time, not “click.”

      • Points well taken Roger and Mas. I understand what your saying here and I cringe when I scratch a weapon or God forbid drop a weapon, but my nostalgia for days of wine and roses and cheaper gun prices gets in the way a bit. I can appreciate the quality custom guns offered today I have always sifted through the bargain barrels and waited patiently. Trouble is, is that you can wait too long.

  11. Should it become a rule of thumb to only dry fire using snap caps? I do that with my revolvers. I’m sure they are safe to pull the trigger even without snap caps, but I like to be kind to machines.

    I used to have snap caps for my shotguns, but the extractors were rough on the snap caps. The red paint would flake off the caps, and their rims would get chewed up. I guess I should buy some more snap caps in every caliber I need.

    • Roger, the best snap caps I’ve found for revolvers are the ones made by Freedom Arms. I have them in .38, .44, and .45 caliber. They’re expensive, but will last forever.

  12. Just for a comparison of forces, way back in the last century Leupold measured the slide forces on a 1911 after bolting scopes on slides became popular in some circles. I’ve got the hard copy in a file downstairs.

    A stock 1911 slide in full recoil experiences 700 Gs (G being force of gravity). A 1911 slide going into battery (while stripping a cartridge from the magazine) experiences 750 Gs. Measurements were with the stock 16 lb recoil spring.

    And then there were folks who installed extra power recoil springs and wondered why they broke slide stops and sheared barrel under lugs……………

  13. Good topic. Burring, premature wear, etc. to the sear engagement is well covered in the vids. Extractor cracking will definitely occur if the extractor actually touches the barrel once locked up, which is individual to each gun, check with a feeler if you desire. A neglected aspect would be barrel lockup, the barrel hood and/or lugs can be damaged wherever contact to the slide or locking block occurs. I recently fixed a west german p228 that the previous owner loosened up by slide slamming.

    Thanks for bringing up the topic, Mas. These bad practices can be costly to repair. I have a s&w model 29-3 that has recently worn down its cylinder hand yet the crane lockup & cylinder stop locking grooves are still like new due to respectful handling. You once shared Jerry Miculek’s vid on what not to do to a revolver on this blog and I’m sure many of the subs here have experienced loose wheelguns that need an entire rebuild. When I see someone Bogart a cylinder or slam down a slide I’ll be giving them the dying kitten treatment from now on.

  14. The best question is why do it at all? I see no benefit coming from dropping the side. None at all. So, considering a 1911 runs close to $1000, why wouldn’t you do everything in your power to baby your investment, especially if you someday expect that you might need it to save your life?

  15. I may have learned as much from the comments as from the video! Thanks everyone. As for reliable vs. accurate, I’d go for a compromise – treat the tool with respect but don’t be fanatical about it.

  16. It is off-topic but I think that the readers of this blog will be interested in this news article:

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2022/01/10/man-who-bought-gun-kyle-rittenhouse-enters-no-contest-plea/9160048002/

    This plea deal allows the persecutor (er, I mean prosecutor) in the Rittenhouse case to save what remains of his face. He gets a misdemeanor plea to his credit and, finally, gets out from under the humiliation, and ties up the remaining loose threads, of his dismal Rittenhouse prosecution.

    Mr. Black sheds the risk of prison and a felony arrest record by pleading to a relative minor misdemeanor offense and paying a fine.

    It is not “Justice” but Mr. Black clearly considers it better than risking the crushing lawfare power of the lunatic Left. Notice that Mr. Black is pleading “No Contest” rather than “Guilty”!

    • TN_MAN,

      My argument would be that Mr. Black is innocent. Even though he purchased the gun for Kyle, Kyle never took possession of it. It was kept at Mr. Black’s house. Mr. Black let him use it for target practice and on one night when Kyle went into harm’s way.

      I suppose my argument would only persuade a judge who is a Patriot. It would not persuade a judge who is a Communist.

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