Are Press Checks Really Necessary?
The pistol press check is the cause of some controversy. You'll see them all the time on YouTube and social media, and then people will object to them in the comments.
Are they even necessary?
The best answer is that when it comes to gun handling, a press check is a method for verifying if a gun is loaded which should have some obvious value. So it's a good tool to have in the toolbox, so to speak.
Let's talk about why, but also some alternatives.
The Pistol Press Check: An Overview
The press check, a widespread technique among gun enthusiasts, involves manually pulling back the slide of a firearm from the front (just behind the muzzle) to visually or physically confirm the presence of a round in the chamber.
It can also be done by pulling the rear of the slide.
But is it useful? It depends.
Press Checking and Potential Misfeeds
Obviously, there's a value to having a safe method for verifying if a pistol is loaded. Guns can be dangerous if not used responsibly, so it's vital to be able to know to a certainty whether or not a weapon is clear of any ammunition.
So on paper, there is absolutely a good reason to do a press check and therefore how to perform one.
Besides the safety aspect, another reason for a press check is to verify if the top cartridge has successfully fed into the chamber. This is important just before a stage in competition or for a police officer if they are conducting some sort of law enforcement operation.
Misfeeds can and do happen, so a press check gives you the ability to verify if the gun is loaded either because you're about to slay a stage or you're about to be the first guy in the stack. Or, as mentioned, if you need to check to make sure whether a gun is loaded or not. After all, safe handling and operation is critical.
Are There Alternatives To Press Checks?
There are, to be sure, some alternatives to press checks. Not only that, it's a good idea to know how to verify a gun is loaded without having to handle a potentially loaded gun.
Every time you touch a loaded gun, there's a chance - no matter how remote or unlikely - of an accidental discharge. Even if the odds are 0.01 percent, it's still not 0.000. Therefore, whatever can reduce administrative handling is a good thing.
Revolver shooters can't press check and don't have to. The rear cylinder gap (between the rear of the cylinder face and the frame) has just enough clearance to see if cartridges are in the cylinder. Further, you can just open the cylinder latch. You don't even have to worry about the gun being loaded at that point, because the ammunition is out of it when the cylinder is!
Modern pistols, however, are rarely made any more without a loaded chamber indicator, a device or feature incorporated into the design of many modern firearms. It provides both visual and in some cases tangible signs that a round is present in the chamber without requiring the user to manipulate the firearm.
It differs by gun. Modern 1911 pistols will have a hole milled at the rear of the barrel hood that you can look down into. The LCI for Glock pistols (and many others, by the way) is the extractor, which you'll find on the right side of the gun. When you chamber a round, the extractor will slightly stick out. It can be looked at or felt.
Other makes and models may have their own; the loaded chamber indicator may be on the top of the slide for easy visual confirmation. However, be aware that not all pistols have a loaded chamber indicator. They largely started to be a feature in the late 90s and early 2000s, so you may find yourself in a situation where there is no LCI, possibly necessitating a press check.
And if you don't have to handle a loaded gun to verify...so much the better.
So...are press checks something you need to do? Maybe not in the sense that just because you see someone on Instagram or YouTube do it doesn't mean you have to. However, it is the case that it has a value and therefore it's something you should be capable of doing safely if you have to.
But it's also the case that a lot of people perform press checks on videos just to be seen doing them, which is just cringeworthy.