Handgun Malfunctions 301: Tricks to Get Things Going

By on September 16, 2014

Stove-pipe Malfunction

This is the third article in a series of posts about clearing malfunctions in your handgun. Handgun Malfunctions 101: Immediate Action is all about what to do when you think your gun should go bang when it goes click (Hint: Tap-Rack-Roll to the Right). Handgun Malfunctions 201 is all about what to do if immediate action doesn’t work (Hint: Lock-Rip-Work-Reload). Today I’ll show you a couple more complicated semi-common problems and how to fix them.

The first is commonly called an oversized round. You’ll know you have this problem because the gun goes click and when you try TAP-Rack-Roll to the Right the slide won’t move. A major safety concern is the round that went into the chamber but did not fire but won’t come out. The extractor of your gun is holding onto the brass and the brass is stuck inside the chamber locking up your gun.

If the round fired then the gun is safe, but can’t be verified. If the round did not fire, then you really need to be careful clearing this malfunction. I don’t let guns with this malfunction off the line until they have been cleared.

This malfunction is commonly caused by a round that is too big around to fit in the chamber. The two reasons I’ve run into are reloads that aren’t properly resized and have a bulge at the base of the case or when part of the casing is rolled back on a factory round. I’ve seen this damaged case twice with Winchester White Box 100-packs in the last year. The round is bad. Don’t put it into your gun. I missed it and tried to feed it into my Glock. Even my Glock wouldn’t fire it. The oversized round will be painfully obvious when you have this malfunction more than once in the same range trip.

How do you clear it? You beat the gun open. Hopefully with your hands, but sometimes a mallet is necessary.

Remove the magazine and hold the gun by the slide, pointed down range. Then, use the heel and web of your hand to hit the back strap area of the gun. Most of the time this works. You normally have to hit it pretty hard. And usually I drop the gun when it pops open, so expect that, it’s normal. If you can’t hit it hard enough you might try a mallet, but that should be a last resort.

The other semi-common problem is a blown out case. I see one of these every other year or so. But it’s when the back of the case is ripped off after firing, leaving the walls stuck in the chamber. Most of the time it comes out on it’s own. When the next round is loaded it wedges into the stuck casing holding the gun open. Then when you do a tap rack both generally fall out on the ground.

If it doesn’t come out, you can try letting the gun load another round and then smacking the back of the slide forward to get a little more pressure on your problem child in the chamber. Sometimes this works and sometimes you have to pull the gun apart. Personally this has yet to fail me.

Next time we’ll talk about broken guns and some of the problems that can and can’t be fixed.

Stay Safe,



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  1. Sam
    December 25, 2016

    Leave a Reply

    Thank you for not wasting a bunch of time with talk about everything except what we’re looking for. Direct, to the point. Period I wish more reference and instruction videos would take your lead. Thank you, Sam

    • Ben Branam
      December 26, 2016

      Leave a Reply

      Thanks Sam, I try hard to do that. I hate it when I want to see a video and it’s 10 minutes of promo and then 1 minute of what I’m looking for and then 10 minutes of out.

      If you want more, check out Shooter’s Club

  1. Handgun Malfunctions 401: Broken Guns | Modern Self Protection - […] Malfunctions 201: Intermediate Action we talked about what to do if Tack-Rack didn’t work.  In Handgun Malfunctions 301 we…

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