By Roger Lanny,
While I haven’t conducted an in-depth, official survey, others have, and it’s clear that the majority of gun owners nowadays own, and carry, semi-automatic pistols. There are many reasons for this―they are more concealable, they carry a greater amount of on-board ammunition, they are (arguably) easier to shoot, and they are easier and faster to reload.
One of the downsides of semi-automatics, though, is the fact that one has to rack the slide to eject the chambered round in order to clear the pistol, and also to load the first round into the chamber. “I can’t rack the slide,” is a common reason people avoid buying some guns, or avoid going to the range to practice with a gun they own.
The very popular .380 pistols, almost entirely blow-back operated, rely on a stiff recoil spring to function correctly. Other, more “mainstream” self-defense calibers, still rely on the recoil spring to slow the velocity of the slide, and re-chamber a new round.
The two most popular methods of racking the slide entail either grasping the slide from above with the support hand, pulling said slide to the rear and releasing, or grabbing the slide from the rear with the thumb and index finger, and then “sling-shotting” the slide.
While in many cases, either procedure proves to be no obstacle, that is NOT always the case. If you don’t have sufficient hand strength, or sufficient upper body strength, this can be a frustrating exercise. Should you, unfortunately, have arthritis or other issue with your hand, arm or shoulder, racking the slide can likewise be a problematic experience.
Chris McAninch, of Handi-Racker, had a better idea for these individuals. Talk about the quintessential better mouse trap, the Handi-Racker 2 certainly is one in my book.
Once the Handi-Racker 2 is simply placed over the slide of the handgun, the slide can be readily racked, either using your hand, or against a table or other surface by driving the handgun grip forward. This device presents a gripping surface which is much wider than the pistol, and has molded-in gripping ridges on either side, both of which combine to greatly facilitate the operation using your hand.
The Handi-Racker 2 comes in two sizes. A Compact in Green, for pistols having a slide width of 13/16” or less, and a Full Sized in Orange, for pistols having a slide width of over 13/16”. These two sizes are said to fit 95% of pistols! One notable exception is Berettas and their clones with tapered muzzle and exposed barrels.
Each Handi-Racker 2 has two different ends, and, for stability, you should select the smallest width end to fit your gun. The Full Size has 1.25” and 1” openings, while the Compact has 7/8” and 3/4” openings. They taper slightly towards the open end. Patented, and made of injected nylon, there is a built-in sight-channel to protect the front sight.
The Handi-Racker used to come in four sizes at a higher price point, but McAninch combined the two smaller and the two larger sizes, and lowered the MSRP at the same time. His vision is to provide more of these, to more users, more affordably. How refreshing in today’s tangled marketplace.
Our test team tried both sizes on a variety of guns: 1911s, a bevy of Glocks, a Kahr PM9, a Ruger LC9s, a Browning Hi-Power, and more. The Handi-Racker 2 worked flawlessly in each case. One of our smaller-statured testers, who has limited hand and upper body strength, was able to rack each and every gun tried, while without this aid, racking was very difficult or impossible. This tester suggested deepening the ridges on the sides of the Handi-Racker 2 to make them more aggressive, and afford a more secure grip for hand-racking. There was no issue whatsoever when using a bench, table or similar surface, which is actually Chris’ recommended method for his users.
One additional comment ties into that recommendation. Exercise caution to avoid “muzzling” one’s fingers. “Muzzling” the elbow, a common problem with hand-gunners who have trouble racking their slides, was no issue here.
For virtually anyone faced with clearing a recalcitrant jam, there is no easier way than using one of these Handi-Racker 2s. They also ease disassembly and assembly. These units are available at Brownells, Cabela’s, Dunham’s in the mid-west, and the Handi-Racker website. There is also a Five slot Range-Racker version available for clubs, shooting ranges, gunsmiths and the like.
I highly recommend these, and a pair is going in my range bag.