Firearm Safety- Avoiding Different Types of Gun Malfunctions During Concealed Carry

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Firearm Safety- Avoiding Different Types of Gun Malfunctions During Concealed Carry

Firearms are astounding devices that have evolved over the last several centuries. From a muzzle-loaded musket to a magazine-fed semi-automatic, the way we interact with our firearm has made range shooting, hunting and self-defense more streamlined than ever before. 

However, firearms still rely on a multitude of parts to operate, meaning the modern handgun can still malfunction like the musket of old.

You rely on your everyday carry (EDC) weapon as your last line of defense in a life-or-death encounter. The last thing you want to hear whenever you are preparing to fire is the dreaded click as a threat approaches. What if you do hear that dreaded sound? Is there anything you can do to restore your line of defense? 

Thankfully, there are a few ways you can reduce the likelihood of many types of gun malfunctions. If a malfunction occurs, there are a few ways to address them. While information alone can't prevent a malfunction, it's essential to have a base of knowledge to begin working through these problems.

3 Common Types of Gun Malfunctions for Concealed Carry

Several types of gun malfunctions can happen in the field. With a semi-automatic firearm, five usual suspects cause said problems:

  • Ammunition- Insufficient primer, a poorly crimped case or any other manufacturing problems with your ammunition can result in a malfunction whenever you're trying to fire.
  • The magazine- A magazine that isn't seated correctly or can't feed ammunition into the firing chamber is a liability to a concealed carrier.
  • Firearm cleanliness- A firearm that isn't cleaned or lubricated for extended periods won't perform properly and may suffer from malfunctions.
  • Mechanical failure- Despite good care, some firearms may sustain mechanical failure after a long period of usage or from factory defects. These failures can rarely be fixed in a self-defense situation and require the review of an experienced gunsmith. 
  • User error- A firearm malfunction can occur if a concealed carrier improperly loads a gun or uses poor shooting form.

Now that we've had a chance to go through some of these main causes of malfunctions, let's move into the malfunctions that can occur.

#1 Failure to Feed: Tip-Ups and Double-Feeds

A failure to feed is when your firearm's magazine can't properly push the ammunition into the firing chamber. Many times, this is caused by worn-out feeding lips or an old magazine spring. Many times, a quick swap of the magazine will alleviate this malfunction.

Two specific examples of a failure to feed are tip-ups and double-feed malfunctions. A tip-up or double-feed can jam the gun and require immediate attention. 

A tip-up malfunction is when the bullet can't properly enter the gun's firearm chamber and thus is left tilted at an angle, resulting in a jam. A double-feed happens when the magazine feeds two bullets into the firing chamber at once, causing a blockage.

#2 "Stovepipe" or Clearing Malfunction

A stovepipe or clearing malfunction occurs when an emptied casing can't properly eject from the sliding port. This results in a jam, and the gun cannot fire. Clearing malfunctions can happen when the slide spring on the firearm is unable to expel the casing due to overuse. 

Clearing malfunctions can also happen when the chamber is dirty enough that debris slows down the casing's ejection speed, causing it to get caught.

#3 Failure to Fire and Squib Loads

Old or cheap ammunition can prevent your firearm from firing properly. Defective primer won't ignite and therefore won't fire the bullet.

A squib load is identified as a round that doesn't have enough force to exit the firearm and gets stuck between the chamber and muzzle. Squib loads are the most extreme cases of a failure to fire. While experts consider these faulty rounds to be rare, they can happen and require the attention of a skilled gunsmith. Trying to fire another round after a squib load can be incredibly dangerous and is not advised.

5 Ways to Avoid Common Handgun Malfunctions

#1 Practice These Two Essential Drills

In a life-and-death situation, you don't want to have to think through your motions. Your clearing motions should be instinctual, much like your drawing and shooting form. 

Practicing clearing drills can help you to develop muscle memory. This allows your brain to connect your motor cortex and the muscles in your hands to create a seamless movement, much like a skilled musician or athlete.

Two drills you can practice that can alleviate your firearm of malfunctions on the field are the "Tap-Rack-Bang" drill and a magazine removal drill to clear more substantial jams.


The "Tap-Rack-Bang" (TRB) drill is the first step most experienced carriers take if their gun malfunctions. To perform the TRB drill, you have to follow these three steps:

  • "Tap" (Slap) your magazine to make sure it's seated properly in your firearm to feed your gun. 
  • "Rack" (Pull) your slide with some force to remove the problematic round and to check the chamber for any other jammed ammunition.
  • "Bang" (Replace) your slide into the firing position once you're sure you've cleared your firearm. 

Magazine Removal

Magazine removal and replacement is the second step you may need to take if the TRB drill is unsuccessful. To perform this action, you'll need to:

  • Lock the slide back into its loading position. 
  • Push and hold the magazine release as you remove it from the firearm. 
  • Rack the slide three times or more to ensure the gun is clear of the bullet. 
  • Load in a fresh magazine.

While this may seem like a lot of steps in a self-defense situation, this is where practice comes to the forefront. Learning how to properly expel jams or clear problematic magazines from an expert and proper practice can make these actions as secondary as drawing and firing your weapon.

#2 Purchase Your EDC Firearm and Ammunition from Trusted Brands

This may seem like a no-brainer, but using a cheap firearm or ammunition increases the likelihood of malfunctions in a self-defense situation. Search online reviews, ask a friend or talk with your concealed carry instructor to find out which firearms and ammunition are most reliable. 

Reliability should trump all other features for a concealed carry firearm. If it doesn't work when you need it to, a sleek form factor or low price point won't add value to the firearm. Any firearm can malfunction, but purchasing from a reputable brand should reduce the likelihood of that outcome in a dire moment.

#3 Carry a Spare or Backup Magazine

Carrying a spare magazine is an excellent idea to give yourself some extra cushion in a self-defense situation. A spare magazine is essential if you have to remove your first magazine to fix a malfunction.

#4 Keep Your EDC Firearm Clean and Assess for Problems Regularly

Firearms rely on tightly integrated parts to perform the firing action in a compact package. If your firearm is dry or dirty, those parts can wear down quickly and cause mechanical issues. Keeping your firearm clean and well-lubricated can help reduce the likelihood of these problems. It's also a smart idea to assess your firearm every few weeks for mechanical deficiencies that you can't address in the field.

#5 Talk with a Certified Gunsmith If Your Firearm Shows Signs of Wear-and-Tear

Some firearm malfunctions can only be handled by a skilled gunsmith. If you've tried to clear your firearm with the simple maneuvers above but had no success, the malfunction may be more complicated and require a trained eye. Complex malfunctions are not only difficult to alleviate, but they can also be dangerous. 

As a concealed carrier, you never want a malfunction to catch you by surprise while you're out and about. However, you shouldn't let an intruder catch you by surprise when defending your home. Have a plan and use a well-built, reliable concealment option that will keep your home-defense firearm hidden but accessible to you. 

Our array of excellent concealment options for your home can give you peace of mind that you can be prepared for a self-defense situation at any moment. 

Want more information on our products? Visit our contact page to get in touch with our knowledgeable staff, who can answer any questions you may have.


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