4 comments on “Benefits of a Slide Racker

  1. When do you have to ‘rack the slide’?

    I’m not sure I understand your reasoning.

    The first instance of having to “rack the slide” is when you are required to begin the stage with an unloaded gun. That doesn’t happen quite as often as the article implies, except when the stage specifies that you begin the stage with an unloaded gun.

    When you start with an gun (loaded or unloaded) “on the table”, the greatest benefit to a slide racker is that you can prop the gun on the racker, and in that case it does speed the acquisition of the pistol if you can use the slide racker as a ‘prop’, making it marginally faster to pick the gun off the table.

    (EXCEPTION: If the stage procedure specifies, for example that you start the gun “flat on the table” or “unpropped” … and unloaded. In those stages, there is still an advantage in having a slide racker because it DOES allow you to chamber the initial round more rapidly.. Again, In my experience, those stages are infrequently encountered in club matches in the PNW. )

    Another instance of having to rack the slide during a stage:
    During the vast majority of stages, you start with the loaded gun; usually a holstered gun. In that situation, the only time you could logically be required to rack the slide is (a) in the event of a jam, in which case you’re already screwed for time, or (b) if you shoot until the gun is empty … so you have to rack the slide after inserting a new magazine. The latter delay can be resolved by simply not shooting to slide lock. It’s called “Ammunition Management”; or, “having a game plan”.

    IDPA may require you to empty a gun before you reload, but USPSA never does.

    NOTE: A few years ago I watched Lisa M, shoot a stage in a level II match at Tri-County Gun Club. The stage procedure specified a starting position of “… holstered, unloaded gun”. She was shooting Limited that day, and her initial load was blazingly fast even without a racker.
    (Yes, she’s much better than you or I.)

    I’ve competed in USPSA matches using open pistols both with and without a slide racker. The only times I’ve found the slide racker to be of real benefit (other than the situations I’ve already mentioned) is when I’ve done something REALLY stupid! The best example is loading a “big-stick” magazine and not ensuring that the magazine is ‘fully inserted’.

    It’s called a “GOTCHA!”

    It’s really embarrassing when you start shooting and your 25-round magazine falls to the ground on the first shot. Then I WAS glad I had a racker … but i was usually so taken back by the unexpected GOTCHA that I had already screwed the pooch because it took me so long to observe, analyze and react.

    Still, I admit that there are rare cases when it’s nice to cut a couple tenths of a second off a stage when you don’t have to practice the exotic skill of racking the slide using the ‘squeeze” technique.

    On the other hand, when you compete in more than one Division, it’s’ even MORE embarrassing when you have to rack the slide on your Limited/Limited-10 gun (or whatever division) and discover that the slide-racker you had trained with and learned to depend on …. just isn’t there. Sometimes, it’s not advisable to compete in multiple divisions when the controls are too division-restricted.

    But it’s worth the effort to try it out, if only to see if you can adjust your skills-sets to multiple divisions.

    Suggestion: Try shooting in more than one Division. it will help enhance your ability to develop shooting/gun-handling skills which are based on ‘awareness’ rather than ‘habit’.

    Not being critical; not saying that you haven’t already developed skills-sets for multiple divisions; you probably have. But not everyone has. I’m merely pointing out The Other Side of the question.


    • Well you’ve correctly pointed out the benefits to having a slide racker that I talked about. 🙂

      Even if it’s only used rarely, it’s still a benefit when you have to use it. If you’re serious about competing, then having a racker is an advantage. Small but still an advantage. Nay, actually it’s just leveling the playing field coz everyone who’s worth their salt has one to begin with.

      It’s best to remove all need to have “necessary” modifications by having them in the first place so you can just focus on improving technique and skill. For Limited guns, it’s easy to “rack” the slide coz there’s nothing in the way (Optic). You can just grasp the slide and rack it fairly quickly. For an Open gun without a racker, you only have a small surface from which you can pinch the slide.

      Also, on your point about shooting multiple divisions, I think it’s a fairly known point that you can’t really do well in one division if you keep switching. If you’re serious about getting to the top in one division, you’d have to focus for as long as you’re serious about it.

      Thanks for the comments! Hope to see you at local matches one day!

      • I’m thinking about your comment: ” For Limited guns, it’s easy to “rack” the slide coz there’s nothing in the way (Optic).”

        And I’m trying to envision the many ways that the optics on an OPEN gun make it more cumbersome to rack the slide without a slide racker.

        I’m thinking .. it’s likely you’re not using an optical scope, so most of the slide surface is available to you, but the optics are probably mounted on the frame. So you only have the back half of the slide to grip. Which allows you to place your off-hand on top of the back of the slide to rack it, which eliminates the “pinch grip” thingie.

        But before this becomes some perverted sort of “flame war”, I’ll concede that there is an advantage to having a slide racker, if you’ll agree that it’s a personal preference.

        And as for sticking to a single competitive division …. I’ve tried them all except for Revolver and I do admit that it’s a lot easier to use the same kind of gun in every match.

        However, in my mind .. that’s like kissing the same girl every night. It’s comfortable, it’s familiar, you always know you’ll get kissed back.

        But it’s not necessarily as exciting.

  2. totally! It is definitely a personal preference, just as how my personal preference has changed from not having one to having one. It works for me as it would not work for others.

    I shot revolver in USPSA for two years before going full timmy in the Open division. I liked revolver, it was fun and it’s an entirely different game mentally.

    I agree with you about variety, it’s the spice of life after all! One day when I’m done with Open, I will go and kiss some other girl 😉

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