Naturally, the comment sections of those articles are filled with the obligatory "Hurr durr this is dumb you won't have time to use it during a gunfight" nonsense. To this I say: Hey morons, you are missing the point of this tool.
While you certainly could use this to rack the slide in a self-defense situation, if you carry with a loaded chamber and safety on, you won't need to. Instead, the point of this is to enable people with arthritis, low grip strength, or other physical ailments to rack the slide from hammer down position after cleaning it.
In other words, you use this at home in a non-stress situation, because it is a freaking tool. You keep it with your brushes and wrenches, because it is a tool.
Anyway, my mother has precisely the problem the Handi-Racker was made to solve, due to rheumatoid arthritis in her hands. She can, with difficulty, load a round into the chamber of her PMR-30 if the striker has already been cocked, but if the striker is fully down she lacks the strength -- yes, even using the hip-method endorsed by Kathy Jackson of Cornered Cat -- to rack the slide. This meant that the Handi-Racker would be the perfect tool for her.
A video of what the Handi-Racker is and how it works.
I emailed the gentleman who makes the Handi-Racker -- a gunsmith from Iowa named Chris McAninch -- explaining that I was a reviewer and that I wanted to buy his product, but I didn't know which size racker would fit the PMR-30. Mr. McAninch promptly replied that if I bought one and reviewed it, he'd send me the other two for free.
That was two days ago. Today I received it in the mail. I give McAninch massive points for quick shipping, as I am the impatient sort.
I retrieved my mom's PMR-30 and after I unloaded it I began experimenting with the Handi-Racker. It may come as a surprise to folks that, even though the PMR is a full-size pistol, its .22WMR barrel is tiny and therefore needs the small (blue) racker.*
About the worst thing I can say about the Handi-Racker is that the plastic sides strike me as being too slick to get a decent grip.* Like many other reviewers, I would recommend some way of increasing grip surface area, either by the addition of grip tape or by taking a Dremel or soldering iron to it and stippling/carving channels into it.
Here is the best thing I can say: It works for my 73-year-old arthritic mother. Prior to this, my mother could rack the slide with the striker already back, but when the striker was down she couldn't get it to budge. With the use of the Handi-Racker, she was able to completely rack the slide.
Some of you, no doubt, are saying "This puts the user in danger of being shot." I will concede that this is a possibility IF the user is racking the slide with a full magazine. The manual of arms which I taught my mother goes like this:
- We begin with the chamber being verifiably unloaded. This is not an unreasonable assumption, as if it were loaded mom would be able to rack the slide in the normal fashion and eject the bullet. If she cannot, then the striker must be down, and as this is a semi-auto, the chamber must perforce be empty.
- Remove the magazine.
- Use the Handi-Racker to rack the slide.
- Engage safety (Because, weirdly, the safety on the PMR-30 will not engage when the striker is down on an empty chamber. I do not know why this is so.)
- Insert magazine into pistol.
- Rack the slide again, this time without the Handi-Racker. With the striker already back, this is much easier.
- The gun is now in Condition One and is ready to be holstered.
In Conclusion: It does what it says it does. An excellent product, I would recommend this to everyone who has trouble racking the slide of their semi-auto pistol.
The Handi-Racker normally retails for $24.99 but may be bought for an introductory price of $19.99, with $7 shipping. It is 100% American-made, and your purchase supports a small business.
Obligatory FTC disclaimer: as stated above, I bought one and got the other two for free. I was not paid to give a good review.
* EDITED TO ADD: I just got off the phone with McAninch after a terse "Erin, If you have a minute. Please call me" email. My immediate response was "Oh crap, I've offended him in some way" and when I called him I was worried about what I could have possibly done wrong.
As it turns out, I (and all of the other reviewers) have been using the Handi-Racker improperly. As McAninch explained over the phone, the Handi-Racker is meant to be placed against a wall or a table, with the operator's hand simply holding the plastic in place on top of the gun. This affords the following benefits:
- No one's hands or fingers go in front of the muzzle.
- Users can utilize their full body weight to rack the slide.
- The Handi-Racker can be used to safely load and unload the pistol, provided one is mindful of Rule #4.
With this in mind, I must amend my earlier statement and say that given the length of the PMR-30 barrel, it is now the large (black and yellow) racker which must be used. It wiggles a bit on the slide, but since we are using linear force to hold it in place rather than lateral, that is much less of an issue.
I must also amend my rating:
The Handi-Racker is now an A+ product.