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When Your Grip Slips

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Methods for racking the slide.

By Linda M. Gilbertson

Many of my female students come to my classes having surrendered to the belief that they must shoot a revolver.  They’ve attempted to rack the slide on their husband’s or significant other’s semi-automatic to find they lack the strength.  Of course they may lack the strength in their arm muscles, but not necessarily in their back muscles.  By simply bringing the semi-automatic close to their body (the grip touching their midriff), they use their back muscles to manipulate the slide.  The ladies will be amazed at the ease of this maneuver.  A simple fix.  However if it’s a lack of strength in the hands, then that’s a different matter requiring different methods.

It’s not necessarily age related, but the hand grip I had, I no longer have.  My doctor told me that a combination of a hand fracture (which I didn’t know I had), and the onset of arthritis has compromised my ability to grasp objects and exert enough strength to hold those objects within my fingers.  When you’re dealing with a firearm and the need to rack the slide, this lack of hand and finger strength complicates the motion you must perform.  And as a shooting instructor, it’s embarrassing if I can’t demonstrate the simple maneuver of racking the slide.  It complicates my being able to clear a malfunction, check the chamber for a cartridge or lock the slide back.

Luckily we live in a day and age when American innovations never cease to amaze.  One of those innovations, called the ‘Slide-Pull’ allows me to rack the slide using one finger.  If you’re affected by Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, a missing digit or arthritis, this device can be attached to the slide of any model Glock or a Springfield Armory XD9.  You’ll be able to function the slide pain free.

TGR Enterprises/Brass Stacker developed a small piece of aluminum in the shape of a figure 8.  It’s open at one end, weighs just ½ ounce and clamps to the slide using a simple Allen Screw.  The Slide Pull sits just below the cocking grooves and sticks out beyond the back of the slide by ¾ of an inch, allowing you to work the slide with one finger.



I attached the Slide Pull to my full size XD9 which I use for both personal protection and competition.  It does not interfere with my concealed carry purse, as I purchased the purse to fit my pistol and not the other way around.  The Model GTM-99 by ‘Gun Tote’n Mama’ allows plenty of room for my full size XD9 (4” barrel) with Slide Pull attached, with no extra stress or strain on the seams or stitches.  In competition, I simply slip the XD9 into the holster provided in the purchase and my draw of the pistol is not effected by the position of the Slide Pull.


The Slide Pull’s design also allows you to hang the pistol by the Pull on a peg, or dowel rod for easy access by your bed, your front door or on your wheelchair.  It’s a quick clearing of a malfunction should you develop a stovepipe or miss-feed.  A simple pull and the problem is solved.  It becomes a “Single Finger Solution.”  The only problem that’s developed was that the Slide Pull needs to be removed in order to remove the slide for cleaning.  This is only a slight inconvenience.  However if you remove it repeatedly as I did in my classes to demonstrate the cleaning of the XD9, eventually the portion of the Slide Pull that grips the cocking grooves wear out and the Slide Pull must be replaced.


Now let’s switch gears and look at a device which is not attached to the rear of the slide, but sits atop the front of the slide.  Another innovation for the “hand strength challenged” is named the Handi-Racker.

Made of polymer this small device sits on top of the slide, a pre-cut opening is placed over the front sight and the body of the Handi-Racker extends forward of the muzzle.  With just the right amount of pressure against a hard surface such as a wall, floor or tabletop, the slide will move in the opposite direction to expose the chamber.  The only effort required would be the use of your body weight to rack the slide whether it be to load a round in the chamber, clear a jam, apply the slide lock or disassemble the pistol for cleaning.

When using the Handi-Racker you must utilize at least two fingers of your off hand to keep it in position on the top of the slide.  There are no magnetic attachments or adhesive to secure it in position.  However, it is a simple manipulation and the diagrams make it readily understandable.


The Handi-Racker is available in five different colors indicating five different sizes.  The size appropriate for your pistol is determined by the width of the slide channel.


For the ease of carrying, the Handi-Racker is about the size of a cell-phone and can easily fit in a pocket or a handbag.  You wouldn’t want to be without your cell-phone, so likewise you wouldn’t want to be without your Handi-Racker, especially if your life depended on it.

Don’t be denied the use of your favorite semi-automatic because you suffer from limited or compromised arm and hand strength.  And, don’t feel you must shoot a revolver because you’ve been told that you have no choice.  When your grip slips on the slide, Slide Pull and Handi-Racker are here to help.

Linda Gilbertson

Linda Gilbertson has been involved with firearms for almost 40 years, as a State Trooper, a Federal Agent, Probation Officer and firearms instructor. A National Rifle Association certified Rifle, Pistol, and Personal Protection Instructor, since 2002 she has been teaching women how to defend themselves, by using handguns and rifles. She competes in International Practical Shooting Association competitions locally, and founded the Ladies Shooting Organization, where women shoot together, supporting each other and sharing equipment and ideas. Linda has been a Range Officer for 3 World Practical Shooting Championships, and 5 National Championships. An instructor for the NRA Women’s Wilderness Escape, she has trained women from all over the country in the safe and effective use of handguns. As a member of the Concho Elementary School Board she instructs a Basic and Advanced Firearms Safety Course as an elective, for grades 6-8. Linda Gilbertson, NRA Endowment Life member, has been awarded the 2015 Marion Hammer Women of Distinction Award by the National Rifle Association!

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