Feb 20

The Importance of the Press Check

Regardless of whether or not there is a magazine in your weapon, is it loaded or unloaded?  Is there a round in the chamber and are you 100% sure about that?  Both valid questions when it comes to handling any weapon because we should always be aware of the status of our weapon. Those who handle weapons frequently often over emphasize the necessity to conduct safety checks on any weapon, and they would be correct in doing so.  Yet these safety checks often involve making sure a weapon is unloaded so that when it is handled (or passed off to a friend) there is 100% certainty that the weapon is safe.

What about the other side of the coin, what if we want to make sure the weapon is loaded?  Enter the press check, a simple and effective ritual which should be used every time you want to check the status of your weapon to ensure that yes…it is indeed loaded with a round in the chamber.  I conduct a press check every time I load a fresh mag into my pistol or rifle while shooting at the range (if not busy engaging targets during a reload drill).  I conduct a press check before holstering my pistol into my waistband before heading out of the house.  I conduct a press check on my pistol before turning off the light and going to sleep at night.  A little overboard?  Maybe…but I would bet every last dime in my bank account that I always know the status of my weapon(s).

So what is a press check?  It’s really nothing more than this:  Pull the slide back just a bit to expose the brass within the chamber.

Press Check on Glock


There are a couple different ways to hold the pistol while doing a press check, one would be the method I am using in the pic or you can slide your hand underneath the front of the gun and pull the slide back from there.  Whichever method you use remember to never place your finger on the trigger, and never let any part of your free hand move in front of the barrel of the gun.

You can also conduct a press check on the AR/M4 platform of weapons.

Press Check on Colt M4


So there you have it.  Conduct a press check so that you are sure of the status of your weapon, when you want that status to be ready to rock (some might refer to it as Condition 1).  It literally takes seconds to do and can save you quite a bit of heartache if you failed to seat the magazine properly while inserting it, thus resulting in a round failing to chamber when the slide/bolt slid forward.  This has been known to happen and the last thing you want to do is ASSUME that your weapon is good to go, when all you really had to do was a press check to verify this for yourself.  Again this should not be confused with a safety check, a technique for ensuring that a weapon is clear before handling it or passing it off to someone else.  That involves dropping a mag, racking the slide back and observing the chamber to make sure it’s clear.  On a final note: as always when handling firearms do so safely and under direct supervision (if you are uncomfortable).


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    • KY Gun Guy on February 27, 2013 at 4:44 PM
    • Reply

    Great article, I make a habit of frequent press checks as well, since I handle many different firearms throughout the course of the day. You don’t want to be carrying an un-chambered defense weapon (it happened to me!). I just want to mention that after you press check your Ar-15, it is prudent to gently press the forward assist (or push forward directly against the bolt carrier with your finger if your AR does not have a forward assist) to make sure that the bolt is fully closed. On a semi-auto pistol you simply need to make sure the slide is pushed fully forward after the press check. While uncommon, especially in a properly maintained gun, the bolt/slide may not fully close possibly due to dirt/grime, or a sticky cartridge. When charging the gun, most guns are designed to be “racked hard”, by that I mean you pull the slide/charging handle to the rear and let the action slam home (do not “ride” the slide). this ensures that the slide/bolt of your gun goes fully into battery, and a round is smoothly chambered.

      • PJ on February 27, 2013 at 5:01 PM
      • Reply

      KY Gun Guy

      Great practical advice, thanks for dropping by to mention it! I failed to cover tapping the fwd assist, something I often do while shooting but should have mentioned, thanks for bringing that up as well. As you stated you never want to be carrying an un-chambered defense weapon, and as unlikely as it might seem this does happen.

      Thanks for the comment.


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