The old presscheck. Why do them? That's a serious question. Why do we do them?
If you answered “ I like to hear the clickety-clack of the gun parts moving around”, I’m not going to argue with you. It’s dumb as fuck, but it is a factual way to accomplish the desired result. The rest of us just throw on that first Magpul DVD and get a cacophony of clickety’s and clakety’s.
If you answered “I want to know the condition of my gun”, now we’re going to have a discussion. If we move the slide, just ever so much to take the gun out of battery, we might be able to see some brass. We just took a gun that might have been working and caused a malfunction. Yep, out of battery means the gun no worky. Sure, we’ll go ahead and palm strike the rear of the slide to put it back in battery, so it’ll be fine. I checked a lot of contemporary instructions on what to do to a gun that won't fire, and all of them said fuck-all about a palm strike to the rear. So now we’re gonna add yet another malfunction clearance method to our list of choices and I’m sure Bill Hick will roll his eyes from the afterlife at us, but what does that guy know, I mean he died 45 years ago, he can’t be too smart, right?
It’s gonna be OK, because we’re not going to do that reactively, only diagnostically. That's what that armorer's class was for right? Diagnose the issue. Apply the proper remedy. Great, we justified making the gun not work and justified the one instance this remedy will be the one we use. So endeth lesson….right?
Well, not so fast sport. We did some mental gymnastics to get here, but what did we learn? Well, we learned that maybe we saw something. I know, you’re saying “ what do you mean maybe?” Well, I mean we can see stuff when there's enough light to see stuff with. If it’s dark, breaking open the slide works as well as that silly witness hole in the top of my M&P slide. But, we can just run it back further until we can feel it, can't we? I don't have the fattest fingers in the world, but I have to pretty much extract the round to get my finger in there. Maybe some readers have dainty enough fingers to reach in there (as long as their acrylic press-on nails don't get in the way).
But just like the ridiculous loaded chamber indicator on the top of an XD slide. (Don't get me started on how often the bits of XDs stop working). All that tells us is that there is brass in the chamber. Some of us are keenly aware that a piece of brass and a live round are not the same things. The last time the gun was fired, was there anything impeding the slide? If you remember the last round that was fired, I beg the question: Why are we doing this press check again? (Hint: the answer is that we like the clickety-clack.)
Let me ask you, what will you do if you neither see nor feel that the chamber is loaded? That's also a serious question. What do you do next, after you diagnosed the problem?
We all know that the remedy is to run the slide all the way to the rear in a sharp fashion and let it go, allowing the fully compressed spring to expand, flinging the slide forward with authority and strip a new round off the magazine on its way home. Odd that many of the sources I checked on fixing malfunctions included this particular step and not the palm strike, but what do those guys know?
To recap this series of events, when we aren't sure if the gun is loaded, we induce a malfunction to check if we can see or feel what we hope is a live round. If we don't see or feel what we want, we then run the slide. This is akin to the old fallacy of tourniquet usage. Instead of doing a bunch of steps prior to doing the one that works, we could always just start with the one that works. We have abandoned the idea of direct pressure, elevation, pressure points and waiting for those to fail before applying a TQ, I’m perfectly happy with doing the same when learning the status of my gun. I know running the slide works, so if I am in doubt, I’m gonna do that. I don't care if a live round goes to the deck. If it’s a partial magazine and I’m not sure how many are in there, I should probably top off the gun. And you know what? That also includes running the slide. Notice I didn't include a palm strike nor any justification for doing one, I wonder why that is?
If you managed to make it this far, there's the lesson. If you don't know the status of your gun, run the slide. If you do it after inserting a fresh magazine, all the better.