Stoppages and Immediate Actions

Jan 10th, 2008 | By | Category: Articles
This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Practical Defensive Handgun

There are two basic types of stoppages on semiautomatics: hard and soft. A stoppage is defined as any shooter induced or mechanically induced interruption in the cycle of fire for the weapon. A “soft” stoppage is one that can be remedied without disabling the weapon to fix. Typical “soft” stoppages include misfires, failure to extract, failure to eject and the ever popular, out of ammunition. These are pretty quick and easy to fix usually. All of the aforementioned problems can be fixed or at least diagnosed with the simple “Tap, Rack, Assess” drill. First ensure that the magazine is seated by “Tapping” the base of the magazine with your support hand. This should be done with enough force to seat the magazine if it is not already locked into place but not so much force as to knock the baseplate off of the magazine. Secondly “Rack” the slide to clear the chamber or ejection port, feed a new round into the chamber and place the weapon into battery. The most efficient way to do this is to break the support hand loose from the weapon and rotate the weapon toward the support side until the weapon is basically upside down. This is done at full extension, as the weapon does not need to be brought back to the workspace for this activity. Once the weapon is inverted, grab the serrations at the back of the slide with the support hand and draw the slide back to its limit of travel. Gravity will cause any casings or debris to fall clear of the chamber and ejection port and thus clear them. Let the slide go and allow it to travel forward under its own spring tension. This will place the weapon into battery and make it ready to fight. DO NOT HOLD ONTO THE SLIDE AS IT GOES FORWARD!!! Riding the slide forward will create another stoppage! Rotate the weapon back to its normal fighting position while reacquiring the master grip. Once back on target “Assess” the threat and do whatever needs to be done. Tada! Soft stoppage immediate action complete.

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Article by Ric.


Ric has seen 18 years of decorated military service in the United States Marine Corps including earning the Combat Action Ribbon for Action during Operation Desert Storm He has over 20 years of varied civilian law enforcement in a variety of assignments including: Uniformed Patrol where he served as a field Training Officer, Mobile Tactics Team member, Resort Area Operations, Firearms Instructor, and is currently serving as a Major Crimes Investigator.

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