Treat every malfunction as if it’s a life-or-death situation, because one day, it might be. The real world doesn’t give you opportunities to slowly and calmly remove your magazine and extract your stuck brass with your fingernails.
Just like bad days, a firearm malfunction is bound to happen, and it’s best to be ready for it. People with cheap guns often have more experience with malfunctions, which could ironically be an advantage if you want to train to deal with them, but if your weapon has more jams than Smucker’s, it should never be used as your EDC.
If you don’t have a weapon that’ll give you a surprise malfunction, then you most likely chose good guns and treated them well. However, it’s still good to simulate malfunction drills at the range just in case.
The “tap, rack, and bang” drill is usually the end-all be all of malfunction clearing drills. This is accomplished by tapping the bottom of your magazine to seat it properly, racking your slide to ensure a round is chambered, and finally pulling the trigger to make your weapon go bang.
Of course, if you want to practice this, you’ll need to simulate a jam. Do this by racking your empty pistol, loading a magazine, and firing on an empty chamber. You should hear a click and not a bang. This is the perfect opportunity to repeatedly practice your “tap, rack, and bang” at speed.
Your malfunction drill must be committed muscle memory. Your body will do weird things in a stressful situation. Some shooters forget to disengage their safety, others forget the fact that pulling the trigger makes the gun go “bang.” You simply do not know what will happen.
It’s important to note that when you’re clearing your malfunction, you’ll be vulnerable, so when you know you must clear a jam in a real world situation, run to cover or simply “step off your x” by moving out of your enemy’s line of fire.
One of the most common types of jams is caused by worn out springs in your magazine, which feed your rounds at an awkward angle. This causes your slide to seize up and not go all the way forward. Known as a “failure to go into battery,” this can be remedied with a simple tap to the rear of the slide with the nonfiring hand.
Otherwise, when you hear a ‘click’ instead of a ‘bang’ you may have a dud round. The remedy is to simply slap the bottom of your magazine with a strong palm strike, rack the slide to the rear, present, and fire. This entire process should take no more than 2 seconds. This clears most malfunctions.
Stovepipe jams can be caused by anything from a faulty magazine to bad ammo or a dirty gun. While you can use the tap-rack-bang technique to clear a stovepipe jam, you have other options if this doesn’t work. Firmly sweep your hand over your slide, making sure to keep your fingers clear of your muzzle. Your slide should automatically chamber the next round and you should be good to go.
On more stubborn stovepipes, lock the slide to the rear with the slide lock and let the unejected brass fall out. If a round falls out along with it, ignore it.
When clearing a double feed, aka when the spent casing is not extracted from the chamber and the next round behind it is rammed into its rear, lock back the slide, remove your magazine, rack back the slide to ensure the casing is truly extracted, reload, rack, and fire. Double feeds are usually caused by a very dry, unlubricated gun or a bad extractor. This clearing technique takes the longest and thus leaves you at your most vulnerable, so it must be done behind cover without exception.
When manipulating your slide, it would be beneficial to have a red dot. The glass on a Firefield Impact Mini red dot sight is durable enough to withstand the abuse of being used as a “handle,” and racking the slide by hooking onto the red dot with the underside of your palm may actually feel more natural than pinching it with your fingers.
Aside from this, the Firefield Impact lets users shoot with both eyes open, widening their field of vision as well as giving the opportunity to shoot from awkward angles where traditional iron sights fail.
Did you know about any of these pistol clearing techniques? Maybe you have your own to share. Tell us in the comments below.