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Double Feed Jams – How Do You Clear Them?

Posted by Rob Longenecker on July 16th, 2006

Have you beenpracticing how to clear pistol malfunctions?

You are? Great! If you’re not, then why not? Because they’re going to happen, you know that. If you’ve been shooting for any length of time you’ve already experienced a couple or so.

The two most common “jams” are the “stovepipe” and the “double feed.”Now, the worst of the lotis the double-feed jam because it puts an immediate stop to your ability to shoot and it takes time to clear it.

Pistols have become more reliable during recent years and because of that,we have fewer malfunctions. That’s a Good Thing.

The downside of that good fortune is we may not be practicing how to quickly clear those jams. Bad Thing.

If you’re a competitor you’re more likely to have this skill than if you’re a twice-a-year paper-puncher who carries for self defense. Competitive shooters know how critical lost time is during a match.

But defensive shooters, in a real life-saving situation, can least afford to lose time to a double-feed malfunction. Thank goodness a real need to defend oneself is rare and that a well-maintained pistol rarely jams, but put the two “rare events” together and you’re in it and in deep.

What cause jams? Usually the extractor fails to pull the empty case and throw it clear as the slide cycles to feed a new round from the magazine. The fresh round slams into the back of the empty case instead of into an open chamber. The slide stops well short of battery and simply cycling the slide again will do nothing to solve the situation.

If you’re in danger, this is the time to seek cover if you haven’t already.

Then lock the slide back, release the magazine (you may have to grip and pull from the bottom), cycle the slide to clear the empty case (hoping the extractor does it’s job this time), load a fresh magazine (slamming it home decisively) and cycle the slide once more to load a fresh round.

The whole evolution takes several seconds even if you’re good at it. Imagine how long it will take if you forget the steps and take improper actions that produce no result. You’re toast!

Notice the above sequence includes loading a fresh magazine – now some of you may be asking ‘where’s that coming from?’

Experience, namely and common sense. Because you have to carry a spare or be very good at calling “kings x” on your attacker so you can run to the car/house to get a spare.

I hear carrying a spare is a lot easier than depending on cooperation from someone bent on harming you — but your actual mileage may vary. 😉

But seriously, practice, carry a spare magazine and keep your pistol clean. If you experience any failures to extract while practicing, get to the source of it and have it fixed before you carry that gun for self defense.

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