The best solutions to pistol malfunctions

This is a discussion on The best solutions to pistol malfunctions within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; At my forum, warriortalk.com, there was a discussion about how long it actually takes guys to refunction a handgun when the stoppage is truly reactive ...

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Thread: The best solutions to pistol malfunctions

  1. #1
    Member Array Gabe Suarez's Avatar
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    The best solutions to pistol malfunctions

    At my forum, warriortalk.com, there was a discussion about how long it actually takes guys to refunction a handgun when the stoppage is truly reactive and unexpected. One comment illustrated the disconnect where students at the typical gun class will train to clear a malfunction that has been artificially and administratively created. They are shown how to identify it, and then given a clearing solution to it and that is trained under time.

    The problem is that while this is all very inspiring and encouraging, those solutions do not hold up so well in truly reactive events where the stoppage is totally unexpected. It seem to take longer. Much longer.

    Let me put this in perspective...the manipulation is not what takes so long...it is the thinking and analysis. What I have tried to do in my training is eliminate the analysis beyond realizing the gun has stopped working. That is all I need to know.

    Consider that this is distance dependant as well...just like a rifle.

    If you recall, with a rifle...at Mid Distance CQB, you transition to pistol. At Close CQB Distances, you use the rifle as a club.

    Beyond CQB distances, where you will probably have moved behind cover (only range-focused throwbacks stand in the open and fix their rifles with a target at 100 or 200 yards).

    With a pistol, we have two intervals.

    One is the shooting interval and the other is combatives interval. At shooting distances, if you have a second gun, and it is with you all the time, that should be your immediate action.

    I confess to not always having that second gun so my immediate action is not drawing what may not be there. I work on my malfunction clearing. In the combatives interval, transitioning to a knife or simply cracking the adversary "upside the head" with your Glock is a very viable option. But back to clearing....

    This is what I do. In fact, I spent about 10 minutes of my daily 45 minutes in dry work doing this very thing. I do not use a diagnostic system where I have to look at the gun to determine the fix, like they do at most gun schools ("look-lock-etc".).

    Nor do I default to a speed load every time the gun stops working. Why not? Because on the one hand, I have not seen a gunfight where you have the time to analyze the malfunction, nor do I want to guess at a solution that may be incorrect by immediately going to speed loads. I am not interested in “cleverness in gun handling”, I am interested in getting the gun working so I can kill the guys trying to kill me.

    So, Instead, I have a progression of movements that can be done in total brainlessness as well as in total darkness. I know that guys will say they have years of "feeling the gun" and recognizing this and that.

    Great for them.

    I do not train that way and I do not teach that way, because I train and practice...and teach for a life and death combat and not for a gun school score, nor a gun game, nor to impress those watching.

    So here is what I do. And we are not looking at pistol whipping range but shooting range at the moment.

    The gun stops. It is evident because the gun did not go "bang".

    As soon as I recognize that, without doing anything else, I Tap-Rack-Shoot.

    Yes, I shoot automatically as soon as I complete the maneuver. If it worked I will be back to shooting. Nothing else need be done.

    If the gun did not become functional, I rip out the on board magazine (same maneuver as my proactive reload except that I do not retain the magazine), let it drop as my hand nears my belt. I then grab and insert a fresh magazine and rack the slide. I get back to shooting.

    Notice step one clears a Failure To Fire, and a Failure To Eject. It does not fix an empty gun nor a Failure To Extract. Those last two are addressed with the secondary step.

    Gun stops

    Tap Rack Shoot

    Did It Shoot?

    Yes – then keep doing it

    No – Reload the gun and shoot

    Did It Shoot?

    Yes – then keep doing it.

    Most often, unless something has actually broken in the weapon, these two maneuvers will refunction the weapon. If something has broken, such as an extractor, or ejector or firing pin/striker, no amount of trap-racking or reloading will fix that and it is time to seek other weapons or solutions.

    Manual skills total only two. The reloading process and the tap rack process. If you have two things to develop and get repetitions in, how much better will you be than if you have five maneuvers to work on.

    I like simple and this is simple. Give it an honest try and tell me if this is not as simple as possible.

    Tell us what you think??

    Gabriel Suarez

    Suarez International USA
    1616 Iron Springs Road
    Prescott, Arizona 86323 USA

    Office: 928-776-4492
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    Training: www.suarezinternational.com
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    Web Forum: www.warriortalk.com

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    Distinguished Member Array tcox4freedom's Avatar
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    Good stuff Gabe!!
    I agree with your assessment 110%.

    I especially like this comment:
    ...the manipulation is not what takes so long...it is the thinking and analysis. What I have tried to do in my training is eliminate the analysis beyond realizing the gun has stopped working. That is all I need to know.
    You need to get back in the game in a combat situation! (Now, if I could just talk you into trying the XDM.)

    I would like to hear your thoughts on clearing malfunctions in a "combat" rifle. (Specifically, I'm interested in the difference between an AR & AK.) I know you're and AK expert. But, I also know you have extensive AR experience as well.

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    VIP Member Array Hiram25's Avatar
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    Makes sense to me. If it is a catastrophic failure, like a broken extractor, you aren't going to have time to fix in in a gunfight anyways. But tap, rack, bang (or shoot if you prefer), handles the vast majority of malfunctions. Double feeds are one of the things it doesn't fix, and step two takes care of those.

    For a rifle, it is pretty much the same thing most of the time.

    Now I just need to figure out how to tap and rack my j-frame...
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    Member Array JodyH's Avatar
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    The most common "malfunction" with a quality service pistol is running out of ammo.
    If you have any "default" malfunction clearance action it should be a reload.
    btw: a reload will fix type 1, 2 and 3's as well as an empty pistol.
    Since the most common "malfunction" is an empty pistol, why not optimize your immediate action around that most likely scenario?
    In an empty pistol scenario a tap, rack is a wasted set of actions and a waste of at least one second.
    Why default to the 1% malfunction when it wastes valuable time on the 99% malfunction (empty gun)?
    This is 2011 not 1911... quality pistols rarely malfunction.
    Why use 1911 techniques on 2011 pistols?

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    VIP Member Array 10thmtn's Avatar
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    Outside the home, I almost always carry a BUG/secondary. My default to my primary not working is to go to my secondary, assuming the situation is at a shooting distance and not a hands-on distance.
    The more good folks carry guns, the fewer shots the crazies can get off.
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    Member Array Gabe Suarez's Avatar
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    Jody - mine in bold
    Quote Originally Posted by JodyH View Post
    The most common "malfunction" with a quality service pistol is running out of ammo.

    Well, on the range maybe. If today, I go through all of the DPX ammo in my Glock 17 you will probably see it in CNN and be reading about it for weeks. So for me, and I suspect for most people carrying a gun, if the gun stops working, there is a pretty good chance that it is a stoppage and not that theu have reached the bottom of their mag.

    Why use 1911 techniques on 2011 pistols?

    On that I agree, and that is why there is no need to lock anything back, nor any need to bring range-based systems into the gunfighting realm.

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    Member Array Gabe Suarez's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tcox4freedom View Post
    I would like to hear your thoughts on clearing malfunctions in a "combat" rifle. (Specifically, I'm interested in the difference between an AR & AK.) I know you're and AK expert. But, I also know you have extensive AR experience as well.
    OK....it depends on the rifle. On the AK, which is my choice, here is what I do. If it is inside pistol range (CQB), I transition to pistol immediately any time the gun stops working. If I am outside pistol range, I probably also have either cover or am using micro-terrain as makeshift cover. Then with my AK I may work the action once, but if that doesn't fix it immediately, I simply reload the rifle. I do not advocate the "drop the mag" business seen on so many ranges. I advocate stowing the depleted magazine as default. So the process is this

    Depleted magazine out and stowed
    New magazine in the rifle
    Run the bolt.

    With the AR it is a bit more complicated.

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    Member Array JodyH's Avatar
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    So for me, and I suspect for most people carrying a gun, if the gun stops working, there is a pretty good chance that it is a stoppage and not that theu have reached the bottom of their mag.
    I'd venture to say more guns have run dry in a gunfight than those that have malfunctioned.

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    Member Array JodyH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabe Suarez View Post
    OK....it depends on the rifle. On the AK, which is my choice, here is what I do. If it is inside pistol range (CQB), I transition to pistol immediately any time the gun stops working. If I am outside pistol range, I probably also have either cover or am using micro-terrain as makeshift cover. Then with my AK I may work the action once, but if that doesn't fix it immediately, I simply reload the rifle. I do not advocate the "drop the mag" business seen on so many ranges. I advocate stowing the depleted magazine as default. So the process is this

    Depleted magazine out and stowed
    New magazine in the rifle
    Run the bolt.

    With the AR it is a bit more complicated.
    Why would you take the time to stash an empty magazine?
    That's a waste of time and energy.

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    I have had very few FTF. In my first SI class last year I had a round (Factory WWB) that failed to fire, that I Racked the slide and chambered the next round in a very short time to complete the drill. I also always chamber check all rounds that go into all of my guns. You just don't know when something will stop a round from fully chambering and firing.
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    Senior Member Array Sweatnbullets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JodyH View Post
    Why would you take the time to stash an empty magazine?
    That's a waste of time and energy.
    Suarez International (SI) tends to train for fighting and not for the square range. Since the magazines are the very heart of the gun, we do not advocate habitually tossing them on the ground in your training, because inside of a very bad situation you would run out of magazines very quickly.

    We tend to advocate pattern recognition training over pattern training. If you train the pattern to always dump your magazines you are training in a pattern that could get you killed. Since you never know how bad your situation is going to be (Katrina, Mubai, Rodney King Riots, Beslan) ingraining always dumping your magazines does not make any sense. That is the heart of your weapon system.

    We reject almost anything that is square range focused and tend to look at being fight focused. Being fight focused means that you need to have pattern recognition responses......not pattern responses. Pattern responses work great on the square range when you are not fighting.......that is marginally interesting to us at SI.

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    Member Array Gabe Suarez's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JodyH View Post
    I'd venture to say more guns have run dry in a gunfight than those that have malfunctioned.
    Rather than venturing, which I suspect is simply wishful thinking to reinforce incorrect "range based" training, why don't you do some research and bring me true real life examples where that has happened. I will venture to say you won't find what you think. Reality and not fiction is what we need to base on training on bro.

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    Member Array Gabe Suarez's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JodyH View Post
    Why would you take the time to stash an empty magazine?
    That's a waste of time and energy.
    Jody...if you are the Jody I think, I know who you train with and I know that much of what I am teaching goes in direct contradiction to what the masses of gun trainers like to put out to their students. Also I am detecting some animosity to what I am saying. Hopefully that will go away.

    Look...I could go along with what everyone else is doing, and never have to argue with anyone on the internet...never have to be disliked, etc. But the bottomline to me is that I cannot teach something that I know is substandard. And a great deal of what you find in many gun schools is simply repackaged 1976 gunsite stuff.

    Sorry but that is how I see it. And yes...I have seen what virtually everyone else in the industry is doing. I have a staff of close to 50 guys and gals and I routinely send them to schools in the industry...both LE Only and private sector. They get paid to go and I cover their classes. Then I get a debriefing and AAR. Just like Bill Gates keeps an eye on Intell and Dell, so I keep an eye on the industry. What I see is not encouraging if the goal is to teach gunfight winners.

    But on to the rifle. I have in my 50 strong line up, former Rangers, LRS guys, snipers, members of the Bundeswehr, Spetznas, and enough cops to fill the cast of TJ Hooker. What I don't have are guys whose sole background is competitive shooting. Not that I have anything against the sport, but it is just that...a sport. So hile we can certainly learn things such as setting up the gun and technical issues, much like a PSD guy can learn from what the NASCAR guys do, there is only so much crossover. The situation will in fact determine the tactics and that inescapably will dictate your gunhandling.

    So the rifle. Much of rifle training in the USA is overly focused on three gun. Either that or overly focused on spec-ops/police methods. Any Spec-Ops, or police team is extremely proactive. When they select a "target", a house to hit for example, they will watch it for months and will develop an entire work up on the site, number of adversaries, etc. When they hit a target they are fully equipped with every little piece of gear they could possibly need. They are dropped off and picked up by heavily armed support. And when all is done, they either own the place, or are extracted by a heavily armed force.

    Do their operations always go as planned? No, but most of the time they do, and they pride themselves on just that. These sucesses reinforce their tactics and on and on. In this world, the good guys will never be surprised, forced into a readctive mode, or ever operate alone.

    Now does this describe you, oh civilian rifleman? No? Then why do you want to train like that. Who gives a crap what the SEALs do or what SWAT does, if your operational constraints require that you fight more like an insurgent or a partisan? Your situation dictates your strategy, and that determines your tactics and gunhandling. Now look throughout history. Recent history and let's examine situations where civilians have armed themselves with rifles and taken things nto their own hands. WWII partisans in Europe, the various guerrilla wars after WW2, SE Asia, Ireland, the Balkans, etc. What are their situations like - Difficult supply lines, few resources, poor intell, non-permissive environments, etc. Guys like that do not drop magazines to emulate some sportsman on the 3 gun range bro. They keep them if they can to reload later.

    Flash forward to today. We have many students in theatre as well as former guys. The guys that worked LRS...basically the modern version of the LRRP that went sneaky-pete into the weeds looking for hadji did not jettison magazines like you see at "mad minute" gun classes. No bro...they stash 'em and keep em for later. They say, "You can get more ammo but maybe not more mags". We have a couple of guys that worked way out on the fringes with the Northern Alliance. They are more vocal and say dropping mags unecessarily is stupid.

    To paraphrase one of my top guys, Roger Phillips - Situation disctates tactics and tactics will dictate method. My default is not to drop magazines so I can feel better and empowered for having a faste eaload than my buddy on the line. My default with a rifle is to retain that magazine for later use. If I drop it from "fumble fingers", no matter, but I do what I can to save it in my kit. In my rifle classes, we do not use rifle racks and students are expected to carry and wear full-kit throuigh the class. Anything that gets dropped, by design or accident, goes in my Jeep until that day is over. Just as it would happen in the field, something dropped is something lost.

    Others are of course free to do whatever they want, but that is how I train.

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    Senior Member Array Chad Rogers's Avatar
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    When I was in the Army, I couldn't tell you the number of times we would finish a training exercise which involved maneuvering, and how many times guys would have their magazines all over the "battlefield." As if in the real world they would somehow have had the opportunity to go back and collect them and not have to be ready to keep pressing forward. Or maybe they thought there would be a fresh supply of loaded magazines waiting for them.

    I got into the habit, and insisted on it in my squads/platoons, that they not ditch the magazine. Personally I found stuffing them inside my shirt to work quite well. Putting them back in the ammo pouches just usually seemed to take a little longer.

    While the .mil days and the realities of being a citizen gun owner may be different, I prefer to hang on to the magazines. I once worked in a country where I was carrying a SIG P220. There would have been no realistic possibility of accessing a supply of replacement magazines. I'm not implying I got into any shootouts. I didn't. But I was keenly aware of the inability to get more magazines if I had needed to.

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