Tiger McKee

Shootrite Firearms Academy

Systems Check

ImageThe systems check is an administrative action performed with the pistol, or any firearm, to confirm weapon’s status. The process only involves a couple of steps, but the correct sequence is critical and as with all gunhandling proper technique is mandatory.

Keep the head and eyes up maintaining visual contact with your environment during all manipulations. Use your tactile sense, operating the weapon by feel in order to maintain visual contact with threat(s) or looking for family/friends, cover, the exit and such. Operating the weapon without looking at it is also critical for low-light environments, where over seventy percent of all “misunderstandings” occur. Practice this habit, especially during administrative actions such as the system check, regardless of how mundane it may seem.

To check an unloaded pistol extend your arms outward in a low-ready position with a proper two-handed grip on the pistol, pointing the muzzle in a safe direction with your finger clear of the trigger and trigger guard. (Rule 1: Treat every firearm as though loaded.). From here I take my pinky finger of the support hand and stick it into the mag well, physically confirming the magwell is empty.

Step two is to confirm the chamber is empty. While the primary hand retains a proper grip the support grasps the slide between the heel of the hand and fingertips, thumb pointing towards you, forming a “C” clamp on the slide. Make you don’t cover the ejection port with your hand. For example with a 1911 I can only get my last three fingers on the slide otherwise my lil’ finger’s blocking the port. Aggressively cycle the slide three times. Grab the slide again in the “C” clamp, then slip the hand forward so it’s in front of the ejection port. I press my thumb against the rear serrations of the slide for more control. Crack the slide open and visually check the chamber for clear. (This is the only time I actually look at the handgun.) Release the slide so it snaps into battery and bring the support hand back and underneath the pistol to insure you don’t sweep yourself with the muzzle as you reacquire a two-handed grip.

Remember the sequence is critical. Cycling the slide, then discovering and removing a loaded mag is trouble. I highly recommend against pressing the trigger to confirm the chamber is empty, which is a bad way to discover its not.

To verify a loaded pistol remove the magazine to insure it’s full, reinsert it and seat it firmly. I press check the chamber using the technique above, but instead of looking to see if it’s empty I use the index finger of my support hand to physically feel for the round. This method allows me to maintain a proper grip on the pistol with my primary hand and is consistent with my other manipulations. Your technique depends on hand and pistol size, and should insure the muzzle doesn’t cover any part of your body. Use safeties or decockers as recommended for your weapon.

The systems check is an essential skill, and while it isn’t complicated don’t get complacent. Consistency is key for safety, concern number one, and efficiency, using proper techniques that fall in line with all your other manipulations. Never assume the status of a weapon when you can check it. This is especially true if you know in advance there’s a chance of having to fight with your pistol, which could be the next time you leave home. Check it.

February 9, 2012 - Posted by | Auto Pistol, General Training

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