Preview – Stoppage
Photography by Henry Z. De Kuyper
Guns are Machines. Machines Break Down. Know What It Takes to Get Yours Running Again.
A jammed gun can be a pants-soiling experience if you’re a competitive shooter in a match, but can be a matter of life and death if you’re a good guy put in harm’s way — whether on the battlefield or at home defending against an intruder. So knowing how to clear a malfunction is as essential as knowing how to restart your engine when your car stalls.
Fortunately, malfunction drills are not rocket science. There are several straightforward steps to deal with a jacked-up pistol and get it back into action. Read on for the lowdown on simple methods to clear the most common malfunctions with semi-automatic handguns, as well as ideas on how to prepare for the worst-case scenario: an actual defensive encounter in which your handgun stops working. Then practice these scenarios until clearing your gun becomes second nature.
First, let’s define a malfunction: it is any stoppage of the handgun, except for when you’ve run out of ammunition (which is sometimes acted upon like a malfunction).
With this in mind, it makes sense to eliminate as many liabilities as possible ahead of time. If rule No. 1 of gun-fighting is to bring a gun, then rule No. 2 should be to bring a gun that works. My personal requirement for firearms, especially the ones I might carry for self-defense purposes, is that they should never malfunction. The bottom line is that a well-made factory firearm with good magazines and quality ammunition should almost never fail. I typically shoot 200 to 300 rounds per practice session on the range, and I expect to be able to shoot my handgun in numerous sessions without any problems. I have several handguns that I use only as teaching guns on which I have purposely skipped any maintenance (except for oiling). I’ve shot each for well over a year without a single malfunction.
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