Previous article in the series:
Welcome to Gunfighter School
Gunsite: Brilliance in the Basics

“Make Ready!”

Monday, the first day of 250 Pistol at Gunsite Academy, is very much about learning the “Gunsite way.” We learned some of the philosophies that Col. Jeff Cooper laid down as the groundwork for the world’s first dedicated private shooting school, including the Modern Technique of the Pistol. We learned range commands, did dry fire and live basic shooting drills, and shook off the nerves and “range rust” some of us had accrued. At least one shooter decided on a major equipment change, and swapped out a gun (and caliber) overnight.

It was the first time that I was running my equipment as an integrated system, and i didn’t have it quite perfected yet. While Walther PPQ with the 5″ barrel was accurate when I did my part,  I was still fiddling with where on my belt to place the two single mag pouches from Statureman Custom on my support side. Statureman’s Kydex holster sat perfectly at my four’ o’clock with a balance of great retention and a fast draw.

If Monday was orientation, Tuesday felt like drinking from the proverbial fire hose.

While we were still working to become familiar with the Modern Technique and drawing and firing from the holster and low ready positions that many of us weren’t allowed to practice on our home ranges, the instructor cadre began throwing malfunction clearance drills and reloads.

We going to use a series of videos recorded by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) to help show the malfunction clearance drills and reloads that we learned, as it is easier to watch the techniques in action that it is for me to try to describe it.

The first and most common kind of malfunction clearance is the Tap, Roll, Rack drill. It’s as simple as tapping the magazine to ensure that it is seated properly in the pistol, rolling the pistol toward towards the ejection port side so that gravity can be our friend, and then racking the slide to clear the malfunction.

Quite frankly, we don’t care about the specifics of the malfunction, because we’re in a gunfight (you will fight like you train) and want to get the weapon back into action as quickly as possible.

The Tap, Roll, Rack will clear the majority of failures, but every once in a while you will “tap,”, “roll” and then come to a sudden stop when you try to “rack” the slide before the slide travels fully to the rear. The most common reason for this failure is a double feed, but again, we don’t care about that right now. We just want to clear the stoppage and get our pistol back into the fight.

The first thing you will do in such a scenario (whether you can actually see the double feed or not), is to lock the slide to the rear. We then release but retain the magazine, and tuck it in tight in our armpit, clamping it between out arm and our torso to hold it. You then rack the slide vigorously three times to make sure that the action works, replace the magazine, and then run the slide again to chamber a round and get back in the fight.

These two malfunction clearance drills should take care of every common malfunction; if you have a problem that these two clearance drills don’t work on, you’re going to probably end up needing a gunsmith… and hopefully, you never experience something that catastrophic when your life is on the line.

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