Firearms will malfunction. The question is not if but when. If you have a handgun that is for self-defense it is crucial that youknow how to deal with and resolve a malfunction quickly and correctly. You need to practice, practice and practice (Don’t use live ammo to practice clearing malfunctions. Use Snap caps.) some more your malfunction clearing procedures so that they are second nature and you can execute them precisely without thinking. In a stressful, life and death situation you won’t have time to think about what to do. You will need to react instinctively.
In an earlier article we briefly discussed the types of firearm malfunctions. Here is a list of the different types of malfunctions and how to resolve them. I have included some excellent videos from Tom Clark that demonstrate clearing each type of malfunction.
Note: Keep the handgun up high near (slightly below the normal firing position) while clearing a malfunction. Don’t drop your arms down. Keeping the handgun high will allow you to clear the malfunction quicker and leave you ready and in firing position when the weapon is back in operation.
Type I: Misfire – This is the most common type of malfunction and usually the result of a bad round of ammunition. To put it simply, you pull the trigger and get a click but no boom. Nothing happens.
How to resolve: If you have a revolver just pull the trigger again and you are back in business. With a semi-automatic there is more to it. Follow these simple steps:
A) Tap – Tap the bottom of the magazine to make sure it is properly seated in the weapon. You would be surprised to learn that even experienced shooters sometimes don’t get the magazine fully seated.
B) Turn – Turn the weapon to the right about 90 degrees. The reason for doing this step is that gravity can help eject the misfired cartridge out of the chamber (even more helpful with a Type II malfunction).
C) Rack – Rack the slide to eject the misfired round.
You are now ready to acquire your target and fire again.
Type II: Stovepipe – This occurs when the fired cartridge does not get fully ejected out of the firearm and is caught in the slide.
How to resolve: Exactly the same technique as a Type I malfunction. Tap-Turn-Rack.
Type III: Double Feed – This type of malfunction is what most people call a ‘jam’ because two rounds end up in the chamber at the same time. For some reason the first round did not get ejected and another round was forced into the firing chamber. This can be a more difficult malfunction to correct than the first two types.
How to resolve: Immediately execute the same procedures as for a Type I and Type II malfunction, Tap-Turn-Rack.
What will become quickly obvious with a Type III malfunction is the slide will probably not move like it should. This is because of the two rounds ‘jammed’ in the chamber. Now follow these steps;
A) Lock the slide to the rear ‘fully opened’ position. Do this by pushing the slide all the way to the rear and pushing up on the slide stop lever to hold it in the fully open position.
B) Press the magazine release button and remove the magazine from the firearm. Be aware that the magazine will most likely NOT easily slide out like it normally does because of the malfunction. You may have to literally “pull” the magazine out.
C) Rack the slide firmly three times to clear the rounds from the firing chamber.
D) Insert a NEW loaded magazine into the weapon. Don’t put the old magazine back in as it is possible the magazine was faulty and caused the issue.
E) Rack the slide and you should be ready to fire.
I am sure different people have different ideas on clearing malfunctions but these steps are very basic and easy to make second nature with a little practice and thought.