When your handgun goes down, don’t think. React!

When your handgun goes down, don’t think. React!

The decision to own a handgun for the purpose of defending yourself, your family and your home is one of the most significant decisions you’ll ever make. Before pulling the trigger, so to speak, you’ll first want to acquire an understanding of how handguns work and how to use it under stress.

A proper training regimen should include preparation for handgun malfunctions. No product is immune, and there’s no magic ammunition that can completely prevent it. At some point your handgun will malfunction.

When learning how to quickly fix a malfunctioning handgun, it is best to learn how to react to the malfunction without really having to assess what happened and think about what to do.

Train Smart, Train Simple

Handgun malfunctions come in three general varieties: a failure to feed or fire (Type 1); a failure to eject, or a “stovepipe” (Type 2); and a double feed (Type 3). I’ve listed them in order of severity, with the first being the least difficult to resolve and the third being the most. The goal of any training program should be simplicity and efficiency.

Type 1 Malfunction

The Type 1 malfunction is commonly referred to as a failure to feed or a failure to fire (FTF). The key symptom of a Type 1 is the dreaded click when you press the trigger. The common causes are (1) a failure to fully seat a magazine, which can result in the handgun not being able to load the chamber, and (2) a faulty cartridge, or “bad round,” which can result when ammunition has been manufactured with defects. There are other reasons why you would get a Type 1 malfunction, but the above are by far the most common in a handgun that is otherwise operating properly.

So you’ve pressed the trigger, and instead of the anticipated bang you hear a click. The goal now is to perform the following sequence without stopping to assess what happened or why: (1) Bring your shooting arm’s elbow back to your ribcage; (2) while keeping the muzzle target-oriented, rotate the ejection port clockwise toward the ground; (3) using the palm of your off-hand, with your fingers pointing up, sharply smack the base of the magazine to ensure it is fully seated; (4) using an overhand grip, rip-rack the slide like you are trying to rip it off of the frame; and (5) reestablish your grip and drive your sights back on target. This is often referred to as a tap-rack.

Type 2 Malfunction

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Show Comments
  • Josh

    type 2.) press, dead trigger, finger straight, look in to the ejection port and move out of the line of attack (possibly to cover or concealment) tap rack while simultaneously flipping the gun to the right putting the ejection port down letting gravity help clear the brass.
    type 3.) press, dead trigger, finger straight, look in to the ejection port and move out of the line of attack (possibly to cover or concealment) check to make sure you have a spare mag (most CCW holders don’t, the magazine may be the issue) lock the slide to the rear, strip the mag to the ground OR retain it (firing side pinky), RACK RACK RACK, index and insert a new magazine in to the gun and rack the slide.

  • Josh

    type 2.) press, dead trigger, finger straight, look in to the ejection port and move out of the line of attack (possibly to cover or concealment) tap the magazine to ensure it is fully seated, rack the slide while simultaneously flipping the gun 90 degrees to the right putting the ejection port down letting gravity help clear the brass.
    type 3.) press, dead trigger, finger straight, look in to the ejection port and move out of the line of attack (possibly to cover or concealment) check to make sure you have a spare mag (most CCW holders don’t, the magazine may be the issue) lock the slide to the rear, strip the mag to the ground OR retain it (firing side pinky), RACK RACK RACK, index and insert a new magazine in to the gun and rack the slide.