First, the 1911 was designed to make you take it out of your firing grip to release the slide – this way it won’t accidentally be released.
Second, a la the Clint Smith school of gun fighting, if you are using the slide release you are wrong anyway. He teaches that you take your support hand, reach over the top of the pistol and pinch the slide between your four fingers and the bottom of the palm of your hand, then “tear the slide off” by jerking the slide back until it is pulled from your grasp. This way you get an extra 1?4″ of spring energy to chamber the next round. That may not seem like much, but if you have dropped the pistol into the mud, it has blood on/in it, etc., the extra bit of energy could just be enough to get your gun back into the fight. It also works with ANY slide/semi-auto pistol, so you learn one manual of arms versus where each weapon’s unique slide release is located. Great for battlefield pick-up, as you might not fight with your own pistol. Fine motor skills go down the toilet when under stress – this is much easier than finding a little lever. I am surprised at the small number of people that have heard of this approach. – Beach
Extended slide releases are considered a dangerous modification for defensive 1911s. The added weight can and does cause
the slide to lock on a loaded mag. They bounce. Can be life ending situation to have slide locked prematurely. Proper technique is to actuate slide release with support hand thumb, not with grip hand. This technique is taught by 99% of the defensive handgun schools. You insert a magazine, roll support hand up into position while dropping the slide with support thumb. All in one smooth motion. Even IPSC guys that need every little speed advantage they can get, DO NOT use them.
Here are some references. First:
“The Thunder Ranch thumb safety and slide release are of standard size. Now I know that this is not quite as dramatic as some would want, but it makes infinitely more sense. In the defensive handgun classes at Thunder Ranch, Smith teaches that the shooting thumb should ride the safety down and stay on top of it in order to keep the thumb safety from being accidentally flipped up during the frantic shooting of a gunfight. At the same time the thumb of the weak hand holds the slide stop down so that it cannot be accidentally engaged during the fight. This sort of training makes a great deal of sense to my way of thinking. In fact, I find it very rare to see extended slide stops and extended thumb safeties on the guns of real fighting men”
Second: “An extended slide stop is the answer to a non-existent question, and no serious defensive handgunner should use one (slide stop operation should be with the weak hand in a reload situation, not the shooting hand). So if you are tempted to fancy up your pistol with an extended slide stop, don’t.”
Contact the top ten 1911 smiths in the country and ask them what they think of putting a extended slide release on a 1911. I will bet 100% of them will warn against it. Likewise ask same of top 10 defensive handgun schools. Ditto. Re-read Tappan’s “Survival Guns” for more info. Also check out “The Combat Auto” book by Bill Wilson Just trying to save some grief and maybe a life.
Best Regards, – C.W.
I read the post from August 1st on Model 1911 pistol upgrades. IMHO the best way to upgrade your 1911 is to upgrade to a Glock. Simply put they are, for a serious, practical thinking person the best pistol overall. All the parts fit in the palm of your hand, they operate near flawlessly out of box, are less expensive than the majority of over-tuned 1911s and are a breeze to break down. Full parts kits are available from GLOCKMEISTER in Arizona for around $150–my Glock 17 digests all ammo I put through it. I used to frequent a range were they had Gen 1 Glocks that had one million rounds thru them with little more than a pin replacement. Sorry, but the overpriced, finicky and quite frankly antiquated 1911, though a great pistol for the serious collector is not an ideal survival tool–thanks!–Jason in Idaho
JWR Replies: I’m always willing to admit it when I’m wrong, and clearly I must be wrong in this case since the majority of experts favor leaving 1911 slide releases “stock.” (Unmodified.) I must admit that using an extended slide release requires specific training on thumb positioning. That is the way I was trained from day one, and it has become ingrained. When I grasp a pistol, my strong side thumb automatically goes into the up-left position, and the weak hand thumb goes right alongside it, forming a “baby’s bottom.” (It looks comical when I grab a revolver the same way, but that is muscle memory for you!) OBTW, in a separate e-mail, C.W. mentioned a similar technique called “thumb-over-thumb” which is favored by a number of instructors, including Jim Crews.
We now have extended slide releases on all five of our family’s Colt M1911s, and we have never had any problems with inadvertent manipulation or slide stop “bounce”, but again we consciously train to avoid unintended slide release contact. My only reluctance with giving them up and going back to a “stock” release is that the Clint Smith et al technique requires the use of the weak hand to get the pistol back into action after shooting the pistol dry. That hand might be injured. Or that hand might be holding a steering wheel. Or that hand might be engaged in fending off an opponent that is trying to strike you, stab you, or grapple with you. So in my opinion it is important to learn a one-handed strong side slide release technique to at least supplement the Clint Smith “rack it” technique. An extended slide release makes a one-handed release much faster, and fosters better pistol retention. Two of these reload techniques–both admittedly for “worst case” situations–include a “thigh pinch” and an “armpit pinch.” They can be accomplished without any use of the weak side hand.
Combat is incredibly stressful. In combat people can only expect be about half as fast, and half as accurate as they were on their best day in training. People tend to get flustered in combat and do stupid things–something akin to what hunters call “buck fever.” It is not realistic to expect that anyone–even someone that is highly trained–is going to be able to count their rounds and hence know when to perform a tactical reload. Even the folks with double stack (high capacity) pistols will find themselves shooting their pistols empty and will be surprised to see their slide locked back. Expect this to happen, folks! Thus, it is important to train how to handle both sorts of reloads, as well as Type 1, Type 2, and even dreaded Type 3 clearance drills, repeatedly, until you find yourself doing them on “auto-pilot.”
Parenthetically, I should also add that I’m big believer in carrying plenty of extra loaded magazines–at least four spares for single stack pistols at all times, and perhaps four more stuffed into a front pants pocket if combat looks imminent. Here at the ranch, we use Blade-Tech Quad Kydex magazine pouches. We also like their holsters.
As for Jason’s comments on Glocks: I agree that they are great guns, and I highly recommend the Glock Model 21 and the Model 30. (The latter is the two column magazine mini Glock in .45 ACP) for folks with large hands. In my case, I’ve concluded that I have too many years of training invested in Model 1911s to switch at this stage of my life. Okay, so I’m a dinosaur. Doubtless, they’ll find a Model 1911 under my pillow after they wheel me out to the funeral parlor. Also doubtless, there will be contention among my future grandchildren about who will inherit the pistol