Many people use the term “action” and “slide” simultaneously when referring to a pistol. In actuality, the slide is considered a component of the action. The following is an excerpt from page 17 of the NRA Guide to the Basics of Pistol Shooting
that defines the action of a pistol:
“Major components of breech-loading pistols include the frame, the barrel, and the action. The action determines how the gun operates, and is simply the collection of parts that serve to fire the gun. Action components are involved in loading a cartridge, closing and/or locking the breech, cocking the hammer or striker (the parts that cause the firing pin to ignite the cartridge), and extracting and/or the fired case.”
According to Steve Hoback with NRA’s Training Department, a simple way to explain how the slide fits in as part of the action is this: the slide, in no way, determines in and of itself the specific type of action in a semi-automatic pistol: single-, double-, or single action/double action. The slide's movement during the cycle of function simply transfers energy within the rest of the action to cause the other components to utilize this energy to perform their specific functions. This transfer of energy as a part within a component system (in this case, that system being the action), performs in conjunction with the other components, the barrel and the frame, to cause the entire machine to operate.
As this, combined with the definition of component (a constituent part; element; ingredient) show, the slide is a part of the action, and not a stand-alone.Thanks for the tip, Steve!
Check back each Friday for more helpful tips from NRA’s Training Department. To learn more about the operation of a pistol, order a copy of the NRA Guide to the Basics of Pistol Shooting, or take a course from an NRA Certified Instructor in your area.