All semi-auto pistols eventually jam or malfunction even if you take great care to clean and lubricate them. Malfunctions are caused by user error (weak grip, riding the slide while charging), bad ammo, dirty weapons, and bad luck. I posted earlier about the importance of choosing a reliable handgun to minimize jams, but no pistol is perfect.
My experience is that novice hand gunners get scared when they experience a jam. That’s to be expected, but it also reinforces the need to practice handling malfunctions every single time you go to the range! Experienced shooters can even be reluctant to clear jams and stand there scratching their head instead of quickly taking action. If you own a semi-auto pistol, you need to feel comfortable and confident when a jam occurs.
YouTube “how to clear pistol malfunctions” and you will see a plethora of how to videos on the subject. After watching several, I found this great video that demonstrates clearing malfunctions using an HK, 1911, and Glock. It’s my favorite for two reasons. First, the method is simple and easy to duplicate. Second, the method works no matter what type of semi-auto pistol you own.
Some instructors suggest evaluating the pistol visually before deciding how to clear the weapon. By definition that means you must learn multiple ways to clear jams. The problem with that is you can look at the pistol and make a mistake analyzing what type malfunction has occurred, especially under stress. That is the primary reason I like the one method approach. It takes the need to think in a difficult situation out of the equation as long as you’ve spent time practicing at the range.
For what it’s worth, here is the best article I’ve seen so far on interpreting 1911 jams and malfunctions. Clear pictures and explanatory text are included. I’m not sure why some 1911 owners are infatuated with jams because it tends to give an excellent pistol a bad reputation. Anyway, regardless of the type of jam, use this method:
- Tap the bottom to the magazine forcefully.
- While keeping the pistol pointed in an appropriate direction, tilt the ejection port towards the ground.
- Rack the slide forcefully by grabbing the slide just behind the ejection port with your off hand.
- Acquire your target again and pull the trigger. If the pistol does not fire, you probably have a double feed malfunction that requires a few more steps.
- Eject the magazine.
- Forcefully rack the slide 2-3 times.
- Insert the magazine.
- Rack the slide.
That may seem like a lot, but if you watch the 6-minute video, it will become simple and clear with practice, practice, and more practice. In the case of a double feed, you need to feel comfortable holding your ejected magazine while racking the slide several times. You don’t want to drop your magazine while racking the slide.
If your pistol is jamming regularly, have it checked out by a competent gunsmith. Malfunctions should be few and far between with a reliable pistol.
PS Anyone who thinks I give Glocks too much credit, please take notice that all of the pics in this post are of Glocks jamming!