#1 Drill To Improve Your Weapon Handling


If you are a beginner and want to get better at handling your handgun …

Or even if you have some experience under your belt and just want to continue to sharpen your skills, then here’s what I think is the #1 drill to improve your weapon handling.

One of the biggest problems with most shooters is that they pickup their handgun and it looks like they’re VERY unsure about how it works.


How to work the slide, how to chamber a round, what happens when the slide locks back, how to eject the magazine — these are ALL very, very basic functions of a firearm and are weapon handling basics that you should be able to do with your eyes closed.

Why I Think This Is The Drill You Should Start With

I often think about the person who has no formal firearms training or is not very comfortable around guns.

What’s the best first step? What should you practice first?

Perhaps more important, WHAT can you practice, on your own — that will only help your skills in the future if you decide to get more training?

In other words, what can you do to gain some gun handling skills without ingraining lots of bad repetitions of poor form?

Going back to a crawl-walk-run model — it makes no sense to be practicing “Speed reloads” from your concealed carry holster if you don’t even feel confident or have to think about the basic fundamentals of manipulating your gun.

I think fundamental gun manipulation skills are the best starting point because you have to know how your gun works.

Plus, you need to be able to work it at a level of unconscious competence.

competenceYou need to move all the way from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence with your firearm handling skills.

This will only serve to enhance any future training or practicing you’re going to do because you won’t be worried about running your gun, you’ll be focused on the particular facets of your training you’re going to be practicing.

#1 Drill To Improve Your Weapon Handling

This is to be done with a “dry” gun. Meaning you unload it, triple-check that it’s unloaded and make sure you take all live ammo out of the room. Go to a different room. Check one more time to make sure both your pistol and magazines are unloaded and clear.

This is the drill:

1. Insert magazine
2. Lock slide back on an empty magazine
3. Eject the magazine
4. Drop the slide
5. Switch Hands
6. Repeat 1-5

And do that a lot.

Doing this basic drill will get you used to operating your handgun. You’ll build rep after rep of confidently keeping your gun running and manipulating it.

I first saw this exercise taught by Super Dave Harrington.

In the great 2 minute video below, Paul Sharp of MultiDisciplinary Optimization (MDOC) demonstrates this drill starting at about 1:20 into the video:

One more thing you could do is buy “snap caps” — A which are basically “fake bullets” made for dry fire that are almost identitical to standard firearm cartridges but contains no primer, propellant, or projectile — so you can actually see how the cartridges load through your magazines, extraction, ejection, slide lock on empty, etc

Start Practicing This Drill And Watch Your Weapon Handling Skills Soar!

It sounds simple, but it’s a really great drill.

Just practicing these fundamental weapon handling skills will make you much more confident at handling your firearm.

You’ll know exactly how to load it, unload it and you’ll get a ton of quality reps in.

Then if you ever decide to work on more specific skills — like trigger control, sight alignment, your grip, or even things like reloads — you won’t slow yourself down trying to simply manipulate your weapon.

Try it and let me know how it goes!

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Caleb Lee is the #1 best-selling author of "Concealed Carry 101" and founder of PreparedGunOwners.com. He is a civilian (no law enforcement or military experience) who shares information about self-defense and becoming more self-reliant. He's a 1st degree black belt in Taekwondo, NRA Certified Basic Pistol & Personal Protection Inside The Home Instructor, Concealed Carry Academy Instructor certified & also a graduate of the Rangermaster firearms instructor course. He's also the author of numerous online courses including the UndergroundAssaultRifle.com course.


  1. I think this is a super drill, I need to do this more myself! I’ve been working with my wife with a pistol, she’s great with a rifle! But the main problem she has is pulling the slide back, she says it’s to hard! I told her she would need to work at it or work at getting stronger! But she does have auther pretty bad in one hand and my have to go to a revolver, but she loves the semi!

    • Change out the spring for her on her weapon of choice it will make a world of difference
      My wife carries a G-19 and a S&W M&P and the M&P has a modified spring so she can rack it easier. It doesn’t appreciably affect performance and yet it makes the rack easier for her. No change to the trigger action just the slide action is lighter
      Dr D

  2. I agree that this is a great drill. It’s the start of many drills that people should practice if they are going to use a firearm for anything. Another part to that drill, maybe the next step, is dropping the mag and pulling another mag out of whatever you’re carrying it in and placing it in the mag well. Then put the other mag back in its holder, and do it again. There are lots of exercises that you can get in a deck of cards called Dry Fire Training.

    Above all in training in this is like mentioned in the video, make sure mags are empty and the firearm is cleared. Double or even triple checking is not a bad idea. Safety first.

    This is not particularly aimed at Rodney, but some of us men try to get our petite woman to rack a slide just like we can. I thought it would be nice for my wife to carry a .40 like I do, but she could not rack the slide. So we tried several. We have some she can rack, the biggest caliber being a .380. No problem with her trying different firearms and her picking out what was best for her (not me). Of course, I know petite women that can rack ’em just as good or better than me (but it should still be the person shooting to pick out what feels best for them, man or woman, and not the salesman). We also got a wheel gun for her that is a .38 special. The simplicity of it makes it very good for shooting (no stovepipes, lose mags, etc). For accuracy, you need to cock it each time. But this gun is not made for long distance shooting. At 10 feet, she can double action all 5 rounds in the kill zone of a man target. That’s good, too.

    Again, a great practice video. I hope more come until the whole gambit of defensive shooting has been covered. I’m the on around here that helps people with their practice and shooting. The very first thing we go over is clearing, and I mean over and over. I will show a person a pistol/revolver that it is cleared in my hands, then hand it to them. Their responsibility is to clear it again. If they don’t, we go over that again. Even in gun stores where the clerk will clear the firearm, we still clear them again.

  3. Forgot to say that I do some practicing about every other day or maybe the third day. It has helped me tremendously and keeps me fresh. I also pull out my long range rifles about once every two weeks (unless I use them more often) and go through them (no use waiting until deer season to wonder what happened or have forgotten something that I should know). If it’s a defense long gun, including shotguns, then it’s about once a week.

    Practice does not need to be hours long. Maybe 10 minutes each time will develop that muscle memory, as long as the practice sessions are far apart.

    Safety first and clear those firearms before any practice. I’m waiting on some more videos like this. Good job on that.

  4. Practice, practice and practice is great, I like the video except the part of dropping the slide.
    Specifically in .45 ACP – Several manufacture’s written reports (Colt & Springfield) by their technician’s that I have read, states that dropping the slide (in a complete empty & no magazine / no ammo / no snap caps – hand gun) is very bad, in the long run, because that can damage the firing pin / trigger assembly and its associated spring(s)

  5. Once you’re familiar with the working of your gun, I think the best thing you can practice is pulling the gun out of the holster, belt, purse, whatever, and pointing it at the target with your finger on the trigger. Marksmanship is the icing on the cake because most gunfights are over with only two or three rounds being fired at close range. It’s best to become adept at drawing, pointing, and shooting in a smooth, quick manner.

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