Wild Bunch for Dummies, chapter 2

(Published November 2009)

Malfunction Clearance

When a revolver malfunctions you usually can't fix it on the clock. When a 1911 malfunctions, a shooter who practices malfunction clearances can clear them in a few seconds. Some take more time than others.


Caused by weak ammunition, too strong a recoil spring, or "limp wristing"


The expended case only partially ejects and sticks in the ejection port, usually sticking up like a stovepipe


Grab the slide firmly with your weak hand


Get a good grip on it and rack the slide firmly...


wiping the brass off the slide and loading the next round

Sights on target! Pull the trigger.

Tap, Rack, Bang:

If, when doing the above clearance drill, you didn't grab the slide and rack it completely, or if you didn't fully seat a magazine, you might have no round in the chamber.

First, TAP the magazine base to fully seat the magazine

Forcefully RACK the slide, loading the next round

Put the sights on the target, and squeeze the trigger, resulting in BANG!

The Dreaded Double Feed

Among the things you definitely don't want happening during a match is a FAILURE TO EXTRACT, which results in the gun trying to feed a fresh round into the chamber when it's still occupied by the fired case of the previous round.

Pull the magazine out. You may need to lock the slide back in order to extract the magazine. You'll notice I have my index finger on the lip in the front of the base of the magazine in order to get a grip on it.

Then rack the slide several times to eject the stuck case, and LOCK THE SLIDE BACK


Grab a fresh magazine and insert it


Seating it firmly,

Drop the slide, put the sights on the target, and squeeze the trigger

Stuck Round

or, Failure to chamber, or oversized round. Basically the round hasn't gone completely into the chamber, and the slide can't go into battery. Sometimes the round is wedged in so tightly that the slide can't go into battery, and it's too tight for you to pull the slide open to eject it.

This round is oversized and won't chamber.

First, strike the upper rear of the slide with the heel of your hand. BE CAREFUL! The USUAL result of this action is a bleeding weak hand. Hard on the bluing. If that doesn't seat the round, and you can't pull the slide open...

Find a corner on a table, window or door frame, etc. and place the recoil spring plug on the vertical edge...

Shove the gun forward sharply. Note the ejected round in the air. If there is a loaded magazine in the gun...

The gun is now loaded and ready to fire. Remember, you will be one round short. For such situations I keep a magazine with one round in it on my belt.

Practice malfunction clearing

At the range you may practice with live ammunition. At home PUT ALL THE LIVE AMMUNITION AWAY. Put your good magazines away. Use only practice magazines, not from fear you'll wear out or break the good ones, but because you'll only load these with dummy ammunition, and you'll only load your good magazines with live ammunition. Those holes in the wall are really hard to explain. Wives, police chiefs, and neighbors don't understand.

For the failure to chamber, make an oversized dummy round. Wrapping the round in clear packing tape works, or you might find a use for a bulged case--IF it doesn't have a live primer and powder in it.