On a semi-automatic pistol, is it all right to allow the slide to slam into battery without a round chambered?
Whether or not I am familiar with a semi- automatic pistol, I will hold the slide while releasing it and then hold it to let it slide slowly forward. Some guns are susceptible to breaking stuff (extractors mainly) if the slide is allowed to slam into battery with no round chambered. On some pistols, slide damage could occur (or damage to those components that are stressed due to the slide slamming closed on an empty chamber).
If the pistol has an external hammer, I hold the hammer while pulling the trigger and then slowly lower the hammer. I do the same with revolvers; I never let the hammer fall on an empty cylinder.
Consider this; with a loaded pistol, and when releasing the slide, its forward momentum is buffered to an extent. (This is one of the reasons most manufacturers recommend pulling the slide all the way to the rear before releasing it to chamber a round. The slide travels a greater distance, overcomes the resistance, and fully chambers the round. If you release the slide by using the slide lock, and depending on the recoil spring tension, the round may not fully chamber.) A round is picked up from the magazine (a resistance), the round enters the chamber mouth (another resistance), and slides into the chamber (hopefully a slight resistance) as the slide moves forward. The extractor(s) slides over the rim, and the bolt face comes to rest against the “chambered” round. You can actually feel and hear these events taking place. With no round chambered there is nothing to “buffer” the slide’s forward momentum and you usually hear metal-to metal contact. That is not a good sound.
Hollywood loves to have slides slam home on pistols and rifles, and cylinders spun and slammed home on revolvers, because it is a dynamic effect for the audience. I cringe every time I see this.
In my opinion, allowing a slide to slam home on an empty chamber is not a good thing to do. Other opinions may differ. However, I do follow the rules that follow when handling guns that belong to others as well as those I own:
- Do not let the slide or action slam forward in Automatic Pistols on an empty chamber. I hold the slide and then allow the slide to close slowly.
- Do not allow the hammer to fall uncontrolled on an empty chamber. I use the thumb of the shooting hand, or hold the hammer with my left hand, and control its fall.
- Do not fling or slam the cylinder shut on Revolvers.
- Do not let the bolt slam forward in Semi-Automatic Rifles and Shotguns. (unless chambering a round).
- Do not quickly and forcefully close the bolt on bolt action Rifles, Lever action Rifles and pump action Shotguns and Rifles.
- Close break action Shotguns, Rifles, and Pistols with care.