Hand-Picked Daily GUN DEALS, and Exclusive Coupons Codes >>>
We select and review products independently. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission, which help support our testing. Learn more.

Can I Drop a 1911 Slide on an Empty Chamber?

Should you drop the slide on your 1911 if you're rocking an empty chamber? We tackle this controversial topic and tell you what we think.

    The 1911 is one of those guns that comes with all sorts of lore and often sparks internet fighting.

    One such 1911 topic is whether you can drop the slide on an empty chamber.

    1911s with Lights & Lasers
    1911s with Lights & Lasers

    Seriously, internet people on gun forums love to argue about it.

    You’ll see people say that dropping a slide on a 1911 a single time will ruin your trigger/sear/barrel alignment/credit score.

    Others will tell you that John Moses Browning, the creator of the 1911, is like God in that he didn’t make junk — there’s nothing we mortals can do to hurt his design.

    Will dropping the slide kill this? Let’s find out.

    So, today we’re breaking it down and looking at whether it’s actually safe to drop the slide or whether that’s a cardinal 1911 sin.

    Come see which side of the internet is right…

    Table of Contents


    Dropping the Slide

    If you’re new to guns or you’ve never heard this before, you might be wondering what exactly we’re talking about.

    That’s okay!

    When people talk about “dropping” a 1911 slide (or any slide), they’re not talking about letting it fall to the ground.

    mic drop
    Yeah, we don’t mean this.

    It’s a reference to the gun going into battery using the power of the recoil spring – all while the chamber remains empty.

    Imagine you just unloaded your 1911 (and the gun is clear). The slide would be locked back, and you want to send the slide forward.

    At this point, you can either hit the slide release or pull back on the slide, letting it slam forward. This forceful motion forward is called dropping the slide.

    Slide back 1911
    Should you yeet that slide forward?

    Alternatively, you can “ride” the slide, which means you pull the slide rearward then use your hand to gently slide it forward into battery.

    But the issue lies with dropping the slide as some people see real issues with doing so on an empty chamber.

    Some argue that dropping the slide on an empty chamber wears down the sear, which can lead to hammer follow — where the hammer falls to the half-cock position as the slide goes forward.

    1911 Sear & Hammer Adjustment Pins
    1911 Sear & Hammer Adjustment Pins

    It also has the potential to wear a groove in the sear, leaving your trigger feeling gritty and heavier than it should.

    Is it a Problem?

    While wear and tear can be problematic, how likely is it to happen?

    Here’s the thing about 1911s….there are a lot out there, and they’re all different. And as with most things in the gun world, it really depends on the make and model of your specific 1911.


    If you have a crappy trigger job, a sub-par gun, or low-quality parts, then repeatedly dropping the slide could cause wear and tear rather quickly.

    Poorly hardened sear engagement surfaces on cheap parts and/or engagement surfaces that have been polished or aligned incorrectly by a “gunsmith” who doesn’t really know what they’re doing are going to wear faster.  

    (This is where we pause to remind you that the value of a good gunsmith who knows what they’re doing can’t be understated.)

    Alternatively, a finely tuned match gun with a light trigger faces potential issues…but dropping every once in a while probably won’t kill it anytime soon.

    Not to mention, your Wilson Combats and your Colt Gold Cups feature better internals, so they’re likely to hold up better over time.

    Wilson Combat CQB with Rail and TLR-1 HL
    Wilson Combat CQB with Rail and TLR-1 HL

    For mid-range 1911s outfitted with mil-spec triggers that feel like they’re full of sand already…well, you probably won’t notice a difference unless a hammer follow issue arises.

    Bottom Line

    As with most contentious issues in the gun world, the answer to this question is…it depends.

    There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer because there are a lot of 1911s of various quality and metallurgy on the market.

    The Series 80 1911 at the top of the picture has a safety plunger in the slide, visible as a small circular metal piece near the back of the slide. The Series 70 1911 under it does not
    Let’s face it…not every gun is built the same. So your mileage will vary.

    But if you want to guarantee you don’t run into problems down the road, then play it safe and don’t drop the slide on an empty chamber.


    In the case of whether to ride the slide or drop it like it’s hot…well, as with most things in firearms, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

    At the end of the day, read the manual and just know what your gun can handle.

    At the end of the day, it’s your gun — so do with it what you will. But we highly recommend at least reading the manual and sticking with the manufacturer’s suggestions.

    Do you drop the slide on your 1911? Want to yell at me for saying to use the slide catch as a release? Let me know in the comments! You can also read more 1911 stuff in our Best 1911 Upgrades or see which 1911s we recommend at the Best 1911 Pistols.

    The Best Gun Deals, Coupons and Finds

    Subscribe to Pew Pew Tactical's sales and deals email.

    12 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar
      Ian Caldwell

      Hi Megan.
      I have used 1911's for over 45years. I was told to never drop a slide on an empty chamber.
      Colt, Wilson and others don't endorse it.
      Here is why.
      If you put a piece of steel on an anvil and drop a hammer on it 1000 times it WILL deform.
      The round cushions the slide when going through battery and when the round headspaces it holds the slide and barrel apart by a few thou.
      Without a round it impacts directly on the barrel and linkage. And so the linkage ,pins etc is stressed unnecessarily.
      It is absolutely not good for the firearm.
      Also money is invested in your firearm why abuse it.
      Firearm checkers at matches are notorious for disrespecting another persons property.

      August 26, 2023 10:17 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      midwest walt

      had never really discussed it with many other knowledgeable ( older,experienced) shooters in the last 40 +years ( two older 1911's) in house but if you think about why slam any parts together if its not necessary, just out of respect for the handguns and less wear and tear all around

      May 29, 2023 3:40 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Robert Rhea

      Wilson Combat expressly says, in writing, in the manual: do not drop the slide on an empty chamber. It voids the warranty.

      November 21, 2021 9:46 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Chief Nick

      I can't tell you how many times slides have been dropped and the 1911 continues to work as designed. I spent 23 years using the 1911 in the US Navy. Most of those rattled quite loudly when shaken and most of them shot great at 50 yards. When I went through SAMMI training they spilled out 20 1911s from a 20mm ammo can, those were the guns we shot for medals--I shot Expert with the gun that bounced across the table toward me. It was old, well worn, missing some finish, and rattled louder than an empty canteen...
      I've known people who had "competition" guns that made this claim, but most of them didn't shoot any better than I did with that "piece of junk" I shot Expert with.

      August 13, 2021 4:49 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      It’s ironic that you used Wilson Combat as an example of a gun capable of taking this abuse. Bill Wilson, himself, advises against dropping the slide on an empty chamber. In a YouTube video, he explains the damage done not just to 1911s but striker fired guns, as well.

      August 8, 2021 10:24 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Black Bear

      I ride. Unless you're seating a round there's no reason to harden the mating surfaces. But I even release the tension when closing a pocket watch to not wear out the cover.

      August 8, 2021 7:21 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      We did it all the time with our M9's but ride the slide forward with all of my Semi-Autos. Force is Force when it comes to the spring's power slamming that hunk of metal into battery and I'd rather not subject any of my guns to unnecessary wear

      August 8, 2021 8:50 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Javier Him

      Good read i don’t drop the slide I glide it with my hand to slow it up always have done that no matter what kind of automatic I have

      August 7, 2021 5:30 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Wilson Combat will not honor their warranty if you like to drop your slide on an empty chamber.
      Do what you want but the reality is it's harder on firearms over time. It's like being a gentleman or dressing like a sloppy pig, it all depends on one's standards. I promote best practices because I don't think much of iconoclasts or slobs.

      August 7, 2021 5:21 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      So is this an issue on 1911s or on any semi-auto? Why wouldn't the same potential issues apply to any semi-auto?

      August 7, 2021 6:31 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      We did it all the time in the Navy. That's how we were taught. It never occurred to me to do it any other way. Now realize that I was a submariner standing topside watches. Shot the weapons once a year to qualify.

      August 6, 2021 7:47 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      A.J. Hodges

      Just like any other mechanical device, a babied gun will last longer than an abused gun. Know which kind of person you are, or decide which guns to baby and which ones to not, and accept the consequences. Some guns will take more abuse than others so understand the reality of what you own or buy and, again, accept the consequences.

      August 6, 2021 3:39 pm
    Join the community! Log in
    Please provide a valid email address.
    Password is required.
    Please provide a valid display name.
    Please provide a valid email address.
    The password should contain at least 8 characters with at least one number or special character.
    Please accept in order to continue.
    Trouble logging in?
    Type your email address and we’ll send you a link to reset your password.
    Please provide a valid email.
    Type your new password and hit button below to confirm it.
    Field is required.
    Account already exists
    We already have an account registered for email address () which is linked to your Facebook account.
    To log in type your Pew Pew Meter password below.
    Field is required.
    Account already exists
    We noticed that you have previously logged in with your Account which is linked to the same email address () - we can link both of your accounts together.
    In order to link your accounts, hit button below and log in to your Account with the same email as above.

    Account in Pew Pew Tactical means more.

    Login or create a free account to get the following
    Access and save hundreds of reviews, gun guides, and articles!
    Find the best daily deals on guns, gear, and ammo
    Manage your newsletter subscriptions and comments
    pew pew tactical logo

    new here?

    Personalize your experience.
    Select what level shooter you are!

    pew pew tactical logo

    level up your gun knowledge

    Thanks! We'll send you the latest guides and training tips geared towards your level.

    pew pew tactical logo


    You'll now receive newsletters of our best articles on techniques, guns & gear.

    $47 value

    yours free!

    targets targets

    practice targets

    printer icon printable

    our 9 favorite targets and drills


    practice targets

    printer icon printable

    enter your email to download

    We'll only use the information provided according to our privacy policy.

    success icon

    Ready to Download

    Click below to begin your download

    download pdf