This isn’t a Glock only article, but since I learned this in a Glock armorer school, and am using a Glock in the video, it might as well be titled a “Glock Tip” – just realize that it is useful for several other handgun types.
The firearms focus of this site is purely defensive in nature – I enjoy shooting and love sharing that enjoyment with others, but my PRIMARY focus on this website is helping people learn how to keep themselves, and those they are responsible for alive – so consider rule 2 of the rules of gunfighting.
“Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo is cheap. Life is expensive.”
A subset of rule two is “Bring Ammo” – Lots of it…
The majority of handgun’s carried for self-defense are semi-automatic for the simple reason that they hold a lot more ammunition than revolvers.
Most semi-automatic statistics for ammunition is written as x+1 – meaning the capacity is listed as the magazine capacity +1 to account for the round in the firearm chamber.
The purpose of this article is to discuss how we get that +1.
Say you have a Glock (or M&P, Sig, Beretta…) with a 15 round magazine. To prepare for carrying the handgun, the first thing you would do is clear and check our gun, to ensure the chamber is empty.
Next you would insert the magazine and rack the slide to chamber a round. The gun is now 14+1.
Since Rule 2a is “bring lots of ammo” and 15+1 is > 14+1 you would want to get one more round in the magazine to bring the gun to 16 rounds on tap.
The proper thing to do is to drop the mag, top it off, and then reinsert it in the gun.
However, many shooters realize from the beginning that they will have to go through this procedure and have found a shortcut.
If you lock the slide to the rear of the gun when you are checking it, and drop a round in the chamber through the ejection port, when you drop the slide, you can just insert a full magazine and be at full capacity. Sounds easy.
Unfortunately, this shortcut can cause problems. You see built into the slide of a semiautomatic handgun is a little hook called an extractor. This hook grabs the rim of a fired case and pulls it out of the chamber to allow the handgun to automatically load a fresh round.
The mechanics of the gun allows the rim of the fresh round to slip up under the extractor as it is is pushed out of the magazine and slid into the chamber.
If you bypass this design by dropping a round into the chamber and releasing the slide, the extractor impacts on the rim of the case and is forced out and over the rim and then snaps back in place. This can wear the extractor.
Personally I never have had a broken extractor, and I have been known to release the slide on a chambered round on occasion, but once my ignorance of this mechanical aspect was lifted, I don’t find it burdensome to load my handgun properly, especially since I want to make sure I have every edge I can in a defensive situation.
I know it is statistically unlikely I will ever have to use my handgun to save a life, but it is possible, and if it does happen, I don’t want to push fate and risk breaking my extractor and having my semi-auto turn into a single shot because I took a shortcut.
As always, I am presenting this to you because it was helpful to me, if you have any comments or a better way, I welcome your comments. If it doesn’t apply to you, I appreciate you taking the time to read my ramblings.
The Complete Glock reference book, 3rd edition 4th revision.