The Press Check For Use When Handling Firearms
The first thing one should do when handling a pistol is always performing what shooting enthusiasts call a “press check.” This is a function that insures that your weapon is “hot” aka loaded with a round in the chamber. You should always conduct a press check when handling any weapon, any time you touch the gun. It doesn’t matter if you have just seen another person perform the check and hand it to you, once it is in your possession you are to do the same. I cannot stress enough the importance of always maintaining the highest level of gun safety. Don’t turn into a statistic because you failed to utilize the 5 rules of firearm safety. With that said, let’s continue.
1. Pick up your gun and maintain trigger discipline – When you pick up or someone hands you a hand gun/long gun/rocket launcher, keep your damn finger off the trigger until you’re absolutely sure you’re ready to shoot. A straight finger offline from the trigger is the way I’ve been taught but your experience may vary. As long as your index finger isn’t on the trigger when you’re handling your weapon, it’s all good.
2. Point your gun in a safe direction – Seems straightforward when you’re at the range or disassembling your gun at home right? Well you won’t always be home or at the range where barriers and such are clear cut. This is where situational awareness comes into play. Before during and after your press check, always be aware of your surroundings so as not to endanger anyone else nearby. When possible, I point my pistol upwards while keeping it level with my workspace (chest to eye area) so as to keep what’s in front of me and to the sides still in view.
3. Rock the slide back slightly – Either using four fingers and the butt of your palm or while holding the firearm like a can, rock your slide back gently. A half inch max is usually what I rock it back to.
4. Visually AND physically inspect the chamber for a round – Once you rock the slide back, under normal conditions you can see the brass casing peeking out to confirm that the gun is hot. During low light conditions, you can press a finger up against the brass to check to see if there’s a round in the chamber. Hence the name, the press check. Duh. I tend to do both just to build muscle memory even if I can plainly see a round in the chamber of my gun. Another method is Pinching the back end of the slide with your middle finger and thumb while using your index finger to physically inspect the weapon.
5. Put the slide back into battery – In layman’s terms, rock the slide forward until it is in it’s normal position. Because I’m OCD, I put the slide back into battery and give the back a little bump to insure there won’t be any issues when I draw the gun. Sometimes the slide will stay slightly out of battery which can cause a malfunction. A little bump to the back of the slide should cure that.
Now you’re good to go. Whether putting your concealed carry gun away while at home or reholstering your sidearm while doing drills at the range, always always always perform a press check. While many modern firearms (like Glocks) have an indicator in the form of a raised piece of metal to indicate a loaded chamber, I’m old school in the brain. I won’t be comfortable until I see or touch a round myself. And yes, I unloaded my trusty Glock 19 and took pictures without a magazine loaded and with a dummy round in the chamber. Be safe everyone!