A Nurse with a Gun

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The 1911 Extended Slide Stop

Click to enlarge
"Howdy. I read your blog on that Clark 1911, and noticed that it had the extended slide stop/release. I've searched THR a few times, and the general consensus is "don't get them." Now, I am well aware that a Clark Custom job would be hard (if not impossible) to match with "drop in" parts, but would you say that such a modification is handy to a 1911, or would you say that, lacking Clark's touch, the extension is more trouble than it is worth? I'm toying with picking up a Colt Series 70 repro this coming summer, and have toyed with putting in a similar part for various reasons, none the least of which is that I currently cannot easily reach the standard slide stop mechanism on a basic 1911."

Eightball

I despise extended slide stops on 1911s. The extra weight of an extended slide stop frequently counter balances the upward push of the magazine spring, especially a weak one, preventing the magazine follower from raising the slide stop into the notch on the slide to lock the slide open after the last shot is fired. As a result, the slide fails to lock back. I do not like that at all. It impairs quick reloads.

The only......only reason my Clark gun has an extended slide stop is because old man Clark put it there himself, fitting it with his own hands. I just feel it would be wrong of me to replace it on that pistol. Even J.E. Clark's extended slide stop can fail to lock the slide open on the last round, especially if the magazine is dirty, or the mag spring is weak.


The way I manage the standard 1911 slide stop is a pretty common technique. You never shift your right hand's grip during a reload. Use the right hand's thumb to drop the magazine while reaching for the spare mag with the left hand. The pistol is recovering from the recoil of the last shot. The empty magazine should fall free under it's own weight. The pistol's sights stay roughly on target, the pistol vertical.



Insert the spare magazine into the pistol with your index finger along the front to guide it.



Use your palm to smack it home, keeping your fingers outstretched to prevent them from getting pinched between the magazine and grip frame.



Now here's the trick. Watch closely.......Your left thumb depresses the slide stop and releases the slide as the left hand resumes it's grip on top of the right. The slide strips the first round off the full magazine, chambering it.



As the slide closes, the left hand curls around the right, the left thumb drops off the slide release, and the right thumb resumes it's position on top of the thumb safety. Notice that the pistol never changed position in the web of the strong right hand. The pistol's sights never left the general direction of the target.

I have yet to see an extended slide stop work as well as a standard version used correctly. Even on Jim Clark's gun. As far as I'm concerned, they are a crutch to compensate for a non-existent problem.

Best regards,
Xavier

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27 Comments:

Blogger GeorgeH said...

There are occasions when an extended slide stop is useful. Very short barreled 1911s and pistols in 45 Super, 460 Rowland etc can have humongously heavy recoil springs. They can be hard for some people to release. On a target pistol, not having to shift your grip at all can be an advantage.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice!

Thank you Xavier!

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Blackwing1 said...

I will stretch way out on a limb here, and say that I'm afraid that I disagree with you on this topic. I know I'm treading on bad ground in disagreeing with an expert, but there you go.

I have very small hands, and relatively weak ones, and I find that simply the extra leverage offered by an extended slide stop makes dropping the slide much easier for me. There is no way that the tip of my thumb even comes close to the slide stop when it's on top of the thumb safety, so I don't have to worry about inadvertantly pressing it down after the last round. A person with big hands would probably not find it to be the same.

My wife also has the same problem. And GeorgeH, our carry pistols are Springfield compacts with very strong springs, so I agree with you there.

I haven't had to do any tweaking on the Wilson extended slide stops, but the cheapo ones aren't worth buying. We use Chip McCormick magazines exclusively on both the full-size and compact 1911's, and have never had a problem with the slides not locking back after the last round.

5:23 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

BW1, first, I am no expert. God help the fellow that believes I am!

Reread my post. On a two handed reload, it's your left thumb that depresses the slide stop, not your right.

It's the added weight of the extended slide stop bouncing under recoil coupled with a dirty magazine or weak mag spring that causes the failures, not the right thumb on it.

At least that has been my experience. If the extended ones work for you, great! If they do not, here is another way.

5:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Xavier, you are good but try doing the 1911 as a left-handed shooter. I have many 1911's and only one has an extended slide stop.

Believe me, it is rather difficult to release the slide using the trigger finger on the left hand which also has to depress the magazine catch to drop an empty mag(there is a mag catch for lefties but it is priced at over $100).

True, the 1911 is a pistol made for right-handed shooters, but lefties can benefit from the extended slide stop. I guess that was a lengthy way to say there is a time and a place for everything.

Roger.45

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the extended slide stop...
I HATE...Repeat Hate the "HIGH THUMB SAFETY RIDE" that people do.
the thumb can drag the left side of the slide,then invoking a failure to feed properly,failure to fully lock up.
Xavier,different strokes for different folks.....a fast reload is better..WITH an extended magazine/a slightly flared mag well opening,easy to do too.

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe I check your blog too often. 2 out of 3 times I check it, there are no new posts and I'm dissappointed, even though you post frequently enough. I think I'm addicted to your blogging. hahah. Anyways, it's practical posts like this one that make it so worthwhile. Thanks Xavier!

and After a tactical shooting session in the desert with a friend's cousin's dad's uncle's friend's hamster's brother's owner's brother, who is a tactical shooting aficionado, I learned that even though some guns have longer slide stops to drop by thumb (i.e. sig p228), it's best to get used to releasing the slide by racking it back after inserting the full mag. Because of Guns like Glocks, which have slide stops designed to be small - intentionally to be used as slide STOPS only, not slide release. And that uniform motion of releasing the slide on all guns by racking the slide back is the best way to be familiar with all guns.
What do you think?

-Dan

8:42 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Dan,
No doubt slingshoting a slide applies to almost every pistol.

The 1911, however, has the advantage of a slide release that you can hit as your weak hand is resuming it's grip. Doing so gets the sights back on target with a two handed firing grip on the pistol much faster. Of course, if you are shooting one handed, the slingshot is just as fast.

Me, I like to have multiple tools in my toolbox.

Anon, I've rarely had a dragging thumb from a high hold cause a failure. I actually try to induce that particular failure on used 1911s that I shoot prior to purchase. Usually when it occurs, it is due to underpowered ammunition, at least that has been my experience.

9:06 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

Cool! Thanks, Xavier!

11:10 PM  
Blogger Not Too Pensive said...

OFF-TOPIC:

Best media treatment I have EVER seen for CCW. Especially wait for the discussion at the end.

http://www.ky3.com/news/local/17448339.html?video=YHI&t=a

1:13 AM  
Blogger Reno Sepulveda said...

Excellent! I for one, was overjoyed back in the late 90's when retro 1911s started to be appreciated. All the tactical gizmos people were hanging off this elegant design just ruined them for me.

As you mentioned the off hand is used to release the slide. This works for southpaws as well. I am cross dominant (right handed/left eye dominant) and have just recently forced myself into shooting pistols right handed. Back when I shot lefty, I'd use my left index finger to drop the magazine and my right index finger would come up and release the slide back into battery. I felt sorry for all those right handed people having to try and use their right thumb.

When I started shooting right handed, I figured it was no big deal to use my off hand to release the slide as I'd been doing it for years. Up until today I figured I was doing it wrong but it worked so well for me I stuck with it. Technique and practice beats technology.

8:11 AM  
Anonymous aczarnowski said...

Interesting. I'll have to get that slide release technique a try sometime; hadn't heard of it before.

But, as one that knows he doesn't get enough practice time, and who runs a motley collection of different guns, I'll continue to top rack the slide when running drills. I need all the muscle memory I can get and racking works on every auto, even my CCW without a slide lock.

9:17 AM  
Anonymous Will said...

For those lefties:
There is a slightly weaker spring available for the mag release. I've used these for twenty years without problems. Takes one minute to swap springs.

For some people, just polishing the surfaces of the mag release inside and out, plus the frame holes, will be sufficient.

A very judicious application of a file or stone to the corner of the slide release will make it much easier to push down with your trigger finger. Basically, break the corner, and then smooth the surface. This works on my Officer's Models with heavy springs.
If you do it right, slamming the mag in the gun will drop the slide, especially if your finger is resting on top of the release.

Helps right-handers also.

BTW, JM Browning was probably left-handed. Every photo I've seen of him holding a firearm, he is holding it like a lefty. Additionally, his personal .45acp was one of the 1910 army trial models. That is the last version made BEFORE the horse soldiers insisted on adding a thumb lever safety for army acceptance. JMB's preferred safety was the grip safety, which works for either hand. This will, of course, raise the hackles of those "true believers" of the Cult of the Modern Technique.

4:43 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Yes...The army requested the thumb safety, while JMB only wanted a grip safety. A hint of "accidental genius" there........Something to blog on, something that will draw a lot of comments, I bet!

5:12 AM  
Blogger Jerry The Geek said...

Some folks seem to be confused here; the extended slide stop and the extended thumb safety are not the same thing.

Having said that, there is no reason to use the off-hand thumb to release the slide. It puts your off-hand out of position to re-acquire the standard grip (which does not necessarily include the high-ride, where the off-hand thumb points forward; some folks just don't do that as well as other grips.)

Ultimately, the point should be that you NEVER shoot to slide-lock; know your round-count, and reload before you shoot the gun dry.

Admittedly, that isn't always possible. Still, in even the worst situation there is rarely justification for racking the slide just to complete a speed reload.

It's a complex question, and entirely too subjective to state that there is only one true way to put the pistol back into service after experiencing 'slide-lock'.

(Again, the best way is to never find yourself in that situation.)

Still, it's an interesting question, and thank you for providing a forum where the question can be discussed by so many people with such a wide variety of experience and priorities.

Of course, you're still wrong.

[G]
jB)

11:52 PM  
Anonymous Jerry said...

I have two comments here that may save someones life if they carry a 1911 style pistol.

Some comments here are not merely differences of "Preferences".
They are incorrect and OPERATIONALLY DANGEROUS.

#1. Be careful of those who would tell you to "Slam" the magazine home to "Automatically" drop the slide.

Its not good for your pistols magazine catch or magazines at least, at worst (see Murphy) you disable your weapon. Here is why;

Many 1911 magazines sold today, especially the ones that will hold 8 rounds can be "Slammed" into the magazine well so hard that will "Jump" the magazine catch, this allows the magazine to enter the receiver deeper than it should, when you release the slide on this problem you will be stuck at "Tap" in your clearance procedure drill.

Retro Tip!

Those little lips on the bottom of factory mags were designed to stop the magazine in the right spot when fully inserted by an over zealous soldier, "slamming a magazine home".

#2

If you will note the nomenclature of the part in question, on a 1911 Style pistol it is always identified as a "Slide Stop" not a "Slide Release".


None of the operating manuals I have ever reviewed instruct you to operate the pistol by pressing down on the "Slide Stop" to chamber a round. Many pistols will not fully go into battery or even experience a failure to feed using this method of chambering a round.

Please, get yourself "Trained" to "Slingshot" the slide instead of using the "Slide Stop". All of the inertia, mass and momentum of the slide and recoil spring are the only way to reliably and positively strip a round off of a full magazine and get the pistol fully and properly into battery.

They call the "Magazine Release" button a "Release" for a reason, just like the "Slide Stop" is not named "Slide Release". No serious defensive handgunner should ever use it, period.

I have enjoyed reading your BLOG, we share a love for .22 revolvers!

Enjoy

11:45 PM  
Anonymous Jerry said...

I have two comments here that may save someones life if they carry a 1911 style pistol.

Some comments here are not merely differences of "Preferences".
They are incorrect and OPERATIONALLY DANGEROUS.

#1. Be careful of those who would tell you to "Slam" the magazine home to "Automatically" drop the slide. Its not good for your pistols magazine catch or magazines at least, at worst (see Murphy) you disable your weapon. Here is why;

Many 1911 magazines sold today, especially the ones that will hold 8 rounds can be "Slammed" into the magazine well so hard that will "Jump" the magazine catch, this allows the magazine to enter the receiver deeper than it should, when you release the slide on this problem you will be stuck at "Tap" in your clearance procedure drill.

Retro Tip!

Those little lips on the bottom of factory mags were designed to stop the magazine in the right spot when fully inserted by an over zealous soldier, "slamming a magazine home".

#2

If you will note the nomenclature of the part in question, on a 1911 Style pistol it is always identified as a "Slide Stop" not a "Slide Release".
None of the operating manuals I have ever reviewed instruct you to operate the pistol by pressing down on the "Slide Stop" to chamber a round. Many pistols will not fully go into battery or even experience a failure to feed using this method of chambering a round. Please, get yourself "Trained" to "Slingshot" the slide instead of using the "Slide Stop". All of the inertia, mass and momentum of the slide and recoil spring are the only way to reliably and positively strip a round off of a full magazine and get the pistol fully and properly into battery. They call the "Magazine Release" button a "Release" for a reason, just like the "Slide Stop" is not named "Slide Release".

I have enjoyed reading your BLOG, we share a love for .22 revolvers!

Enjoy

11:48 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Jerry,
Thanks for your dedicated readership. We will simply have to agree to disagree on your second point.

Using the slide stop as a release as I have shown here is demonstrably quicker getting the next shot on target after a reload. It also allows the shooter to keep his gun aligned to the target, and it allows the shooter to maintain his grip. All will save your ass in a gunfight.

Slingshotting a slide is a technique, and only a technique. It is next to impossible to perform without removing your sights from the target, changing your grip, and it is slow as molasses by comparison.

Using the slide stop is a better technique in my opinion. Throwing out one technique because you are scared your gun will jam indicates a problem. Other people's 1911s function 100% using the slide stop as a release. So do M1911s and M1911A1s. If this is a problem for you, fix your gun.

4:37 AM  
Blogger Jefferson said...

I have had extended slide release on all of my 1911s since I bought an AMT longslide that came that way from the factory in t4e late 1980s. I have used Wilson's model, and then switched to King's as it is a bit larger, and never had any issues with them on any of my pistols, either with the operational issues discusse here or with them snagging clothing as I have heard mentioned in other places. I currently own and regularly shoot and carry CCW daily with several Para Ordnance wide body guns, and have owned a few single stacks (AMT, Colt, Springfield). I do use the as both slide releases and stops as well, and I cannot remeber ever having a gun fail to go into battery that way either, regardless of the type of slide stop used.

Just contributing my experience.

Nice blog too. I will visit again.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Jefferson said...

I have had extended slide release on all of my 1911s since I bought an AMT longslide that came that way from the factory in the late 1980s. I have used Wilson's model, and then switched to King's as it is a bit larger, and never had any issues with them on any of my pistols, either with the operational issues discussed here or with them snagging clothing as I have heard mentioned in other places. I currently own and regularly shoot and carry CCW daily with several Para Ordnance wide body guns, and have owned a few single stacks (AMT, Colt, Springfield).

Just contributing my experience.

Nice blog too. I will visit again.

9:38 AM  
Blogger wjkuleck said...

When did extended slide stops "come out"? I've had one on my "patchwork Colt" (actually a DCM 1918 Rem-UMC with WWII replacement slide, which I've owned for about fifty years) ever since, without ever having a problem.

All the experts tell me, "take it off." Oh, well...

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Jake said...

I have never owned a 1911. The guns I grew up shooing and own are all designed to, and everything bit of training I have had taught me to, drop the slide with the thumb of the strong (right) hand.

I want a 1911 but the idea of having to retrain by brain for one pistol does not suit me. I'd much rather get an extened slide release and continue to use the skills that I can do in my sleep.

As per the "sling shot" method. I have always been taught that was a failure drill. You should keep your sight picture during a reload, and turning the gun 90 degrees to the side and grabbing the slide causes you to loose your sight picture.

10:26 PM  
Blogger BSW101 said...

I prefer the extended slide stop for my Les Bear because of two reasons:
1.
I have small hands.
2.
I use a different two handed grip that is frowned upon by probably almost everyone who shoots a 1911 .45 Auto. I wrap my left thumb around the base of my right thumb, underneath the beaver tail type hand grip safety. But for me it works as I am an excellent shot. The extended slide stop allows me to keep my grip and use my small right thumb to load and put in battery the super tight slide without having to shift my unusual grip.
I also have had problems with closing the slide all the way using this method of chambering a round and having the bolt go into full battery, but I have just as many of the exact problem with using the manual pulling back on the slide to chamber a round on a new (full) magazine. In order to pull my custom Les Bear's slide back takes all my strength as the tolerances are so tight. I have never seen anyone able to pull the slide back on my pistol without me showing them that one must grasp the pistol by the left hand with on the front serrations with left hand facing the back of the pistol and pushed back with a full effort on the shooter's part.
So in my case using the extended slide stop is a great addition to this super accurate, but very difficult to operate target pistol.
Just my experience...I'm almost sure the hard core "pros" like you will disagree with not only my use of the extended slide stop, but will see my weird hand hold crazy or stupid - but my targets at 50 yards show that I must be doing something right.

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Xavier, Can you recommend an enlarged or lengthened mag release button for the 1911 for someone with small hands? I can not reach the button with my right thumb without shifting the gun in my hand.
My technique for dropping the slide on the new loaded mag is pretty much as you recommended, but your photos and explanation provide some helpful hints. Thank you.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Anon, Brownells offers several types. Be aware that extended releases increase the chance of accidental mag release while the gun is in the holster.

9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"never shift your right hand's grip during a reload"

I have larger than average hands, and I cannot reliably and quickly press the magazine release button with my right thumb without a minor shift in my grip. I know I'm not the only one. In any kind of BAR situation, rather than struggle with pushing on the mag release button at a 45 degree angle, I would be much better server my a slight grip adjustment and a solid press straight down on the mag release button.

PS: its its its its its. Its = possessive. It's is a contraction of "it is". If the word can be replaced with "it is", then use "it's". If it is simply possessive, and not a placeholder for "it is" then use "its". It's very very simple and easy to remember.

The dog licked its fur. It's going to be a sunny day.


As to the commenter that said a slide stop isn't meant to be used as a release. Are you actually serious? Does that mean that a slide release doesn't stop the slide? I've never heard anything more goofy.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

I agree that dropping the slide with the left thumb after a reload is an accepted (and efficient) practice - and works well for those who learned that way. But I also think the real advantage of the extended slide release is being overlooked here. Is anyone but me practising their T3 malfunctions? A T3, or Failure to Eject (fired casing not fully ejected, and next round jammed under it) requires locking the slide back and then stripping the mag (etc) while keeping the muzzle on-target; which can be very challenging on a 1911 - and much easier with an extended slide release. This action needs to happen very fast (six seconds to check, lock, strip, rack three times, reload a mag, reload a round and be back on target) and if you miss locking the slide back the first time, you can end up with the pistol almost sideways by the time you get locked, and easily a full second lost - especially on my SA Operator with a smooth rounded finish on the underside of the slide release lever.
I like extended releases as long as they are cut fairly slim with no sharp edges. I don't see a disadvantage to having one, and there are times they come in real handy.

9:21 PM  

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