Malfunctions and Faults of a Handgun

Malfunctions

User malfunctions

The emphasis is on training.  Regular training will eliminate the chances of making mistakes in an emergency.  Firearms and cartridges are mechanical devices and they can fail.  If a firearm fails during an emergency, the chances of survival decrease.  The same goes for the handler of the weapon

Mechanical malfunctions

Immediate action drills on the pistol

Dealing with most Pistol failures is the same.  I.e. the same immediate actions are taken.

These actions are:

  • Tap
  • Rack
  • Check
  • Continue

The actions are executed as follows:

Tap

Tap the magazine hard on the base plate without removing the magazine.

Rack

Cycle the slide once by the pull/push method. Tilt the gun slightly in order to get a good grip on the cocking grip and to allow for any cartridge that was stuck to fall out.

Check

Restore sight alignment and assess the situation and check the weapon to see if there are any remaining visible faults.

Continue

Continue firing whether on the shooting range or involved in a gunfire exchange or defensive action.

This 4-step immediate action drill will solve most problems.

The following is stoppages and their immediate action drills:

Fail to Fire

This is when the firing pin hits the primer, but the primer does not start the firing process.

It can be due to a broken firing pin, Misfeed (no cartridge was fed into the chamber) or faulty ammunition.

Drill:  Tap, Rack, Check and Continue

Double Feed

This is when the magazine presents more than one bullet for the chamber. This will cause the slide to stick and make it difficult to remove the magazine. The drill will be to cock and lock the slide backwards. Remove the magazine. Cycle the firearm to clear the stoppage. Load the magazine, cycle and continue firing. This can be prevented by regular maintenance.

Drill: Rack, Check and Continue

Fail to Chamber

The cartridge doesn’t enter the chamber properly, so the slide doesn’t close properly. The drill will be to cock and lock the slide backwards. Remove the magazine. Cycle the firearm to clear the stoppage. Load the magazine, cycle and continue firing.

Fail to Extract

Normally this happens when the extractor is not functional or when the extractor did not engage the rim of the cartridge properly.  The slide will rack backwards but the round or cartridge will stay in the chamber. Firearm maintenance is critical to prevent this. This is more equipment failure than a stoppage. Make sure that your equipment is in working order.

Drill: Tap, Rack, Check and Continue.

If the problem persists it might be a mechanical failure or broken extractor.

Fail to Eject

When the firearm discharges and cycle, the cartridge from the chamber fails to eject. The possible causes could be a broken ejector on the frame and the spent case still being in the extractor. In this case the firearm will try to feed another round from the magazine. This will cause a double feed or failure to feed.

Drill:  Tap, Rack, Check and Continue

If the problem persists it might be due to mechanical failure.

Fail to cycle

If the firearm fails to complete a full cycle after firing, the possible cause could be faulty ammunition or a broken recoil spring. Another cause could be accumulated dirt.

Tap, Rack, Check and Continue

Smoke Stack

The cartridge ejects but is caught by the slide in the ejector opening. The empty cartridge now stands up like a chimney.

Drill: Tap, Rack, Check and Continue

27. IMMEDIATE ACTION DRILLS ON THE REVOLVER

  • Keep aiming at the target
  • Cock the revolver
  • If it does not want to cock, try opening the cylinder
  • Remove the obstruction
  • Carry on shooting

If the cylinder does not open or the hammer cannot be cocked it is an indication that a mechanical malfunction occurred that should only be dealt with by a gunsmith. The revolver could not be unloaded and is therefore unsafe and must be handled with extreme care.

28. FAULT FINDING TABLES 

Fault finding on pistols:

Fault

Possible Causes

Failure to fire

  • Magazine not locked in position
  • Cartridge Misfire
  • Trigger action faulty
  • Firing pin broken or damaged
  • Pistol dirty-hammer action impeded
  • Safety Catch faulty
  • Grip or Trigger Safety faulty
  • Slide not fully locked in position
  • Hammer faulty

Pistol will not eject

  • Ejector broken
  • Extractor broken
  • Cartridge Rim damaged
  • Cartridge corroded or faulty

Action will not close

  • Obstruction or dirt in the chamber
  • Extractor jammed
  • Accumulated dirt obstructing slide movement
  • Damaged slide
  • Broken or faulty recoil spring
  • Locking pin absent or not seated correctly
  • Incorrect ammunition

Pistol will not Cycle

  • Damaged slide
  • Damaged recoil spring
  • Incorrect assembly
  • Obstruction inside the pistol

Finding on revolvers  

Fault

Possible Causes

Failure to fire

  • Cylinder not locked in position
  • Cartridge Misfire
  • Trigger action faulty
  • Firing pin broken or damaged
  • Hammer faulty

Cartridges will not eject

  • Ejector rod stuck or broken
  • One or more Cartridges corroded or faulty
  • Damaged Cylinder Chamber causing cartridge to expand to much

Cylinder will not close

  • Obstruction or dirt around the cylinder
  • Ejector Rod faulty or not screwed in fully
  • Incorrect ammunition

Cylinder will not rotate

  • Damaged cylinder
  • Rust or dirt
  • Damaged or bent ejector rod
  • Wrong ammunition
  • Squib load caused bullet to get stuck halfway out of chamber
  • Damaged trigger mechanism

 

Scroll to Top