Press Here by Ben Turner, Adjunct Instructor for Innovative Defensive Solutions, llc
I recently read an article by Col (Dr.) Benjamin Findley who contributes to USA Carry on a regular basis. Col. Ben has a lengthy background and while I may not always agree with what he writes I generally find a modicum of validity in his words. After reading this particular editorial I cannot and need to express as much.
Col Ben has a lengthy article regarding Press Checks, Chamber Checks or Status Checks (pick which phrase you wish to use) and explains what they are, when you should do them, how you should perform one and goes into loaded chamber indicators. He does explain that a press check should never be as a Safety Check to make sure the firearm in unloaded, and with that I agree. You can read his article here. While I did not get whether he supports doing them, he does state it is up to the reader to decide, his words, to me, do come across in favor of them if you are unsure of the condition of the firearm and at one point he does recommend “witnessing the brass” but did so in relation to competition shooting. This is where I take issue with his article.
Before getting into the various “checks” let me address the Loaded Chamber Indicator devices (LCI’s) that some modern firearms have. My Springfield Armory XD9 has one installed on the slide and I do not ever recall referring to it to see if my gun was loaded. Why? Because just like a safety, it is a mechanical device that could malfunction. Given the design of the device on my XD9, it sticks up ever so slightly above the slide, the possibility exists that it could pick up some type of debris and get locked in a “loaded” position giving me a false positive. If I relied on the LCI I could possibly think my firearm had a round in the chamber, drive out to shoot and get nothing but a click in response. If there is a chance it could fail do you really want to rely on it when your or a loved one’s life may be on the line? I apply the same logic to the cocking indicator that is also installed on my XD9.
The article gives great detail into the use of and when to perform press/chamber/status checks but what is not mentioned, until the conclusion of the article, is one surefire method to make sure your gun is loaded and goes into full battery ready to fire. RACK THE SLIDE! The amount of time that it takes for you to perform the administrative gun handling required by any of the mentioned press checks is drastic in comparison to performing an overhand rack of the slide. The article gives examples of when to do a press check and in each of those listed I would argue that your body’s natural reactions will prevent you having the necessary control of the finer motor skills required by a press check. Additionally, if you are “imminently confronting a bad guy”, as stated in the article, do you really want to shift your field of vision away from this threat to glance at the chamber? In comparison the overhand rack method uses grosser motor skills, does not require the specificity of a press check and does not require you to shift your vision off of the threat area.
Racking the slide to make sure a round is in the chamber also lends to consistently handling the firearm and only needing to “learn” one movement and does not have the same need of finer motor skills. The overhand rack of the slide can be used to make sure your firearm is loaded, in changing magazines after slide lock and if you experience a malfunction. Consistency leads to efficiency and in a defensive situation that should be our ultimate goal; using our firearm efficiently IF it is needed. It is possible that a live round might be ejected from the gun in the process of making sure I have a round fully seated; but given this over taking my eyes off of the threat and possibly taking my gun out of battery I will trade the single round and RACK THE SLIDE!