At Guns and Hunting, Richard Mann is talking about the slide lock function on a semi-automatic pistol. He is not in favor of it, as he’s seen guns go to premature slide lock at inopportune moments during training, and has adjusted his personal training to work around the slide lock. He wonders if the slide lock has an actual tactical value, or if its utility is limited to administrative functions.
When you look at the slide lock in terms of competition shooting, you have to think in terms of “speed of reload”. For example, there are three types of reloads in competition shooting, presented here in order of fastest to slowest:
- Speed reload: with a live round in the chamber, eject the magazine regardless of how many rounds it contains, and insert a fresh magazine. Keep shooting.
- Slide lock reload: with the gun at slide lock, eject the empty magazine, insert a fresh magazine, lower the slide. Resume shooting.
- Reload w/retention: Eject the partially empty magazine and stow in a pocket or mag holder, insert a fresh magazine. Resume shooting.
In 2 out of the 3 reloads, the gun never goes to slide lock; and indeed in the fastest reload the gun going to slide lock is a disadvantage. However, you can’t dismiss the utility of the slide lock function, because in IDPA competition, the slide lock reload is the preferred reload. IDPA doesn’t allow the speed reload, so for the purposes of that game, slide lock is an important reload since it’s faster than the retention reload by a long shot.
So to answer the question of whether or not the slide lock is purely administrative or has an actual value, I’d have to go with “actual value”, especially for competition shooting. If you’re having issues with the going to slide lock prematurely, it can be defeated with training (assuming that the gun itself isn’t defective).