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Preview – One-Handed Stoppage Drills

Photography by Henry Z. De Kuyper

Learn How to Clear a Pistol Malfunction When One Arm Is Out of Action

If, like me, you study after-action reports of gunfights, you may notice a theme that pops up more often than we’d like. When faced with someone armed with a handgun, there’s a tendency to focus on the actual weapon rather than person wielding it, thereby perceiving the gun itself as the threat. As we tell gun-control advocates all the time, the gun is merely an inanimate tool — but our lizard brains want to take over and target the gun, rather than striving for center-mass hits. If you’re on the receiving end in a fight, there’s a good chance that your dominant arm may be rendered inoperative if the bad guy manages to connect. So it behooves us to practice with both hands.

And despite the remote chance of getting into a situation in which we have to deal with a stoppage while injured, it pays dividends to practice this very worst-case scenario — if for no other reason than it builds confidence in our own abilities and makes for a well-skilled shooter. Besides, if you do wind up wounded while some nutjob advances on you, you’re going to feel pretty stupid if all you can do is stare at your weapon and bleed…

We covered basic malfunction drills in RECOIL Issue 9, and it’s worthwhile to go back and refresh your memory before advancing to one-handed techniques. So after you’re comfortable with using both mitts on the handgun, load up your magazine with dummy rounds and try the following skills.

One Handed - Tap Rack Ready

Tap, Rack, Ready
This is the primary method of clearing a malfunction. Here’s how to do it one-handed:

1. Take your finger off the trigger and place it alongside the frame.

2. Tap the bottom of the magazine against your thigh on the same side that you’re holding the firearm, or on another firm object to ensure that the magazine is seated properly.

3. Rack (release) the slide by hooking the rear sight against a hard object, such as a gun belt, the corner of your pants pocket, your holster, the heel of your boot/shoe, or the edge of a wall. Push down firmly with the firearm so that the slide is pushed back and the slide catch is released. You must be careful not to allow an object to interfere with the slide going completely forward or a subsequent failure to feed malfunction might occur.

4. Ready to resume threat engagement or active threat cover measures.

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