When pistols don’t do what they are supposed to it usually happens in a few distinct ways. As we spoke about in an earlier post if the gun goes click instead of bang you may have a bad round that didn’t fire. Your magazine may not be fully seated in the pistol and when the pistol fired it didn’t pick up the next round in the magazine. You may have a pistol that didn’t go back into lockup (The slide is slightly pulled back and not all the way forward.) You may have a round that failed to eject or failed to fully eject from the pistol. This is sometimes called a stove pipe.
The good news is that if the gun goes click instead of bang don’t spend a lot of time looking at the gun. You need to tap on the magazine to make sure it is seated and then rack the slide forcefully. Remember to rack the slide by pulling back on the slide while at the same time pushing the frame of the pistol forward. If done correctly your support hand will slip off the slide and you will slap yourself in the shoulder with your support hand. In the following video I tap and rack twice in order to demonstrate how you can practice the trigger press at home with a striker fired pistol. If a malfunction occurs then tap and rack once. If the slide does not go forward, don’t tap and rack again. You would then go to the double feed malfunction show at the end of this post.
This action will fix almost all malfunctions on your pistol. As we spoke of in a previous post, don’t mistake an empty gun for a malfunction. If your pistol is empty and your grip is pressing down on the slide stop then it will not lock back on an empty magazine. If this happens you need to adjust your grip so your hand does not press down on the slide stop. You will know that this happened when you tap and rack because the slide will lock back after you rack the slide. You will then look and see that it is empty.
One type of malfunction that the tap and rack will not fix is the double feed. This is when two rounds are trying to go into the chamber at once. You can tap and rack all day but it will not fix it. This is often called failure to extract(FTE).
Close up of double feed
If the tap and rack didn’t fix the problem then you need to do the following:
1. Press and hold in the magazine release.
2. Pull the magazine from the gun forcefully (It will not drop free as it is wedged in the pistol.) *Some shooters are not able to forcefully remove the magazine from the pistol this way. If you find you cannot remove the magazine no matter how hard you try, then before step two, lock back the slide of the pistol by pulling it back while pressing up on the slide stop lever. This relieves the pressure on the two rounds and allows you to remove the magazine.
3. Rack the slide twice.
This should clear the double feed. You now have an empty gun so you need to load it and rack the slide to chamber a round.
I have found that I can tap and rack the pistol faster than I can look at it and see that it is a double feed. So I suggest when it goes click, tap and rack it. If you have a double feed then you can feel that the slide will not cycle. If that doesn’t fix it you then begin the process of clearing the double feed. The entire tap and rack then clearing the double feed is as follows. Notice I only tap and rack once. Don’t get confused. Notice in the video how the slide does not move when I tap and rack.