Running the Gun: How to Clear a Handgun Malfunction

Running the Gun: How to Clear a Handgun Malfunction

No matter what type of pistol you carry or ammunition you feed it, there's a chance you'll experience a "click" instead of a "bang" when you pull the trigger. Should this occur, you need to have a plan to keep your gun running and stay in the fight.

The theme of the most recent episode of Personal Defense TV was clearing a malfunctioned handgun. While many firearms instructors focus on semantics such as classifying a particular type of malfunction as a Stage I, Stage II or Stage III, Handgun Combatives creator and 2010 Law Enforcement Trainer of the Year Dave Spaulding offers a more simplified approach consisting of just two techniques.

For any malfunction other than an in-line failure to extract, or "double feed," Spaulding advocates the use of the "immediate action" drill. This sequence is also referred to as, "tap, rack and assess."  After tapping the bottom of the magazine to ensure that it's properly seated, many instructors teach their students to reach over the top of their gun and grab the slide with what Spaulding refers to as a "saddle grip." When gripped in this manner, the little finger, ring finger and middle finger do most of the work. However, Spaulding believes there is a more physiologically efficient method for cycling the slide, one that affords you a better grip on the slide, is faster and is congruent with the technique for cycling the slide one-handed using your belt or holster.


Spaulding's technique for clearing a malfunction is to tap the bottom of the magazine, roll the pistol inward so that the ejection port is facing downward — this allows gravity to assist you in removing the malfunctioned rounds from the gun — then grip the slide with your thumb and all four fingers.  Spaulding explains that the closer your fingers are to the thumb, the tighter your grip. Pull the slide to the rear and release. After the slide goes forward and a round is chambered, assess the situation to determine if firing is still warranted.


If the immediate action drill doesn't remedy the problem, chances are your pistol experienced an in-line failure to extract. Here, Spaulding's methodology veers slightly from tradition. Rather than lock the slide to the rear and then strip the magazine from the pistol, Spaulding prefers to depress the magazine release while working the action. This accomplishes the same task, but more efficiently, according to Spaulding. An alternate method Spaulding teaches involves stripping the magazine from the pistol first, then cycling the action.

In the same episode, Spaulding and I discuss the importance of communication and the use of cover when working with a partner. The last thing you want is for your partner to be moving from cover when your handgun is inoperable or vice versa. Finally, Spaulding poses the question, "Is it faster to clear a malfunctioned pistol or draw a back-up gun?"

Be sure to tune in to PDTV on Monday nights on The Sportsman Channel and feel free to contact us with any questions or comments. Thanks!

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Trijicon

Trijicon's New Specialized Reflex Optics (SRO)

The Trijicon SRO is specifically designed for pistol use. The wide field of view and clean, crisp dot makes it easy for users to find and track the dot in both target and competitive shooting applications.

Feeding Your Firearms with Aguila Ammunition

Feeding Your Firearms with Aguila Ammunition

A group of competitive shooters talk about new products from Aguila , the Aguila Cup, and everyone's favorite new guns launched at the 2019 SHOT show.

Armscor Semi-Auto Shotguns

Armscor Semi-Auto Shotguns

We look at the new shotguns from Armscor - the VR80 and the brand new bullpup VRBP100.

A New Season of G&A TV

A New Season of G&A TV

In this new season of Guns & Ammo TV, we introduce two new series and bring back a viewer favorite - Camera's Don't Lie. We look at long-range tech and see how to make shots previously thought impossible. Next we visit ISS Prop House in Hollywood.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Crossbreed's new The Reckoning holster is a simple leather-Kydex combination with multiple points of retention adjustment and clip options. Accessories

Crossbreed's The Reckoning Holster

Eric R. Poole - May 13, 2019

Crossbreed's new The Reckoning holster is a simple leather-Kydex combination with multiple...

Don't mortgage the homestead to get into PRS, this is what's available from the likes of Mossberg, Tikka, Savage, Howa, Bergara, Weatherby and Remington. Rifles

Starter Rifles for Under $1000

Aaron Carter - May 09, 2019

Don't mortgage the homestead to get into PRS, this is what's available from the likes of...

The Savage MSR 15 Competition is an out-of-the-box racehorse ready to help you win 3-Gun matches. Here's why. Reviews

Savage MSR 15 Competition Review

James Tarr - May 21, 2019

The Savage MSR 15 Competition is an out-of-the-box racehorse ready to help you win 3-Gun...

Check out these great options for Dad on Father's Day! Accessories

2019 Guns & Ammo Father's Day Gift Guide

G&A Digital Staff - May 07, 2019

Check out these great options for Dad on Father's Day!

See More Trending Articles

More News

Canada's recent ban of “assault weapons” could also include many, if not most, shotguns used for sport shooting and hunting. Politics

Canada Bans Common Shotguns

Guns & Ammo Staff - May 06, 2020

Canada's recent ban of “assault weapons” could also include many, if not most, shotguns used...

Due to COVID-19, the 54th Annual Daisy National BB Gun & Air Rifle Championship Match scheduled for July 2-6 is cancelled. News

Daisy National Championship Match Cancelled

Guns & Ammo Staff - May 11, 2020

Due to COVID-19, the 54th Annual Daisy National BB Gun & Air Rifle Championship Match...

5.11, Inc. announced it is expanding its Everyday Hero program by selling a limited-edition Everyday Hero t-shirt and donating 100% of the net proceeds to charities within the first responder community. News

5.11 Everyday Hero T-Shirt Charity Donations

Guns & Ammo Staff - May 18, 2020

5.11, Inc. announced it is expanding its Everyday Hero program by selling a limited-edition...

As Memorial Day approaches, Leupold & Stevens, Inc., longtime partner to the United States military and dedicated supporter of veterans across the nation, highlights its partnership with The Mighty Endeavor by remembering the award-winning film, “Shepherds of Helmand.” Industry

You're Invited to Watch 'Shepherds of Helmand'

Guns & Ammo Staff - May 24, 2020

As Memorial Day approaches, Leupold & Stevens, Inc., longtime partner to the United States...

See More News

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now