If you own a firearm or even just shot one before you may have encountered a malfunction. While it does not really happen all that often if your
weapon is properly cared for it is very important to know what to do if it does happen. I thought I would start out just giving you a basic idea of the types of malfunctions and then follow up with more later on actually resolving them. Remember, we are not going to discuss how to resolve malfunctions in this post, just the types.
A lot of people call a malfunction a ‘jam’ but if you are going to be a firearms owner you should use the proper language and call it what it is a ‘malfunction’. Malfunctions are classified by types.
Type 1: Failure to Fire - This is pretty simple to spot. You pull the trigger and nothing happens. Click and no boom!
Usually, malfunctions are associated with semi-automatic firearms but on rare occasion they can even happen on revolvers. Several years ago I had a friend who never owned a pistol before and wanted one for self defense. I recommend a revolver to them simply because all you have to do is pull the trigger and it fires…every time!
So my friend buys a revolver and takes a concealed weapons class. Part of the class is demonstrating you can shoot the weapon you want to conceal carry. So they get up to the firing line, pull the trigger on their new revolver and put one right on the bulls-eye! Great shot! Second shot, pull the trigger and ‘click’ nothing happens. So much for revolvers never having a malfunction!
Type 1 malfunctions could be a problem with the weapon itself or bad ammunition.
Type 2: Failure to Eject- Can be a common problem on semi-automatic firearms and often called a ‘stove pipe’. If you have been around semi-
autos much you will encounter a stove pipe.
How will you know you have encountered a stove pipe or Type 2 malfunction? Same as with a Type 1 you will pull the trigger and nothing happens.
You will definitively feel that the trigger action is very different than it should be and has a dead feeling to it. Different from a Type 1 malfunction you probably won’t hear a click when you pull the trigger. Basically, nothing happens.
With a semi-auto you are expecting that every time you pull that trigger you get a boom. The whole idea behind semi-autos is having the ability to fire rounds as fast as you can pull the trigger (well kind that is the idea) and when all of a sudden no ‘boom’ happens it surprises you.
The reason it is called a stove pipe is because this malfunction is caused when the fired cartridge is not fully ejected out of the gun. The ‘brass’ cartridge gets hung up and not fully ejected breaking the normal firing cycle and leaving you with a non firing weapon. In this scenario the weapons slide does not go fully forward back into the firing position. Luckily ‘stove pipe’ malfunctions are usually easily and quickly resolved. With some practice fixing them can become second nature without having to think about it.
Type 3: Feed-Way Stoppage- This type of malfunction can even give experienced shooters a major concern.
Sometimes called a “double feed” failure or “failure to extract” a feed-way stoppage happens when too many cartridges are in the firing chamber area. The ‘fired’ cartridge was not successfully ejected from the firing chamber and then another cartridge was forced into the breech. Because more than one cartridge was forced into the chamber the firearm is unusable. Feed-way malfunctions are usually NOT a quick fix like a stove pipe.
Police and Military are often taught that if they recognize a Type 3 malfunction to immediately reach for their back up weapon unless they can find a protected area to try and clear the cartridges from the weapon. This is a SERIOUS malfunction and should rarely if ever happen.
Type 4: Slide Does Not Go Back Into Battery (forward firing position) and the cause is not a Type 1, Type 2, or Type 3 malfunction.
In this case for some mechanical reason the weapon will just not operate properly. A complete failure of this nature is very rare and indicitive of a firearm that has major issues and should be taken to a gunsmith before you attempt to use it again. Possible causes for a Type 4 malfunction could be a VERY dirty weapon, weak or broken springs, damaged firing chamber, or even a broken part.
The bottom line is don’t fool around with a gun that has a Type 4 malfunction. Take it to a gunsmith and see if they recommend fixing it or get another weapon that is reliable.