So you depend on your semi-automatic pistol to save your life if needed, right? You researched your firearm, searched for holsters and accessories, and shoot and train often for accuracy and weapon manipulation, so you got all the bases covered. Unless you also include some sort of weapons malfunction immediate action drills, you could be planning to fail.

What do you do immediately if you have a weapon malfunction?

The tried and true drill that fixes most malfunctions is the Tap-rack-assess drill explained as followed:

Air gun Trigger Gesture Finger Gun barrel

-Tap: your magazine upward at the bottom to make sure it is seated. Many weapons malfunctions in semi-autos come from magazines not being fully inserted and dropping out of battery. If that is the case, a good, stiff rap at the bottom can clear it up.

Revolver Sleeve Gesture Trigger Air gun

-Rack: the slide with feeling rearward to eject a malfunctioning round and seat a new one. Your round may not have ejected fully or properly and cycling that action in a good hard and fast way can strip it away and out of your life for good. When the slide is all the way rearward, let it fall forward-- do not use the slide stop lever or even worse, ride it forward. Try to perform this with the weapon canted at 90-degrees or more so that the pull of gravity can help strip out that bad round.

Air gun Sleeve Gesture Trigger Gun barrel

-Assess your threat. Come back on target with a firearm back in the fight using your proper grip and sight alignment.

Many veteran military, protective forces and law enforcement officers remember a very similar version of this drill as the old "slap-rack-bang," which just is not taught anymore.

While the slap/tap and rack parts are the same, you need to remember not to train to automatically pull the trigger once the firearm malfunction is cleared. In a world of civil and criminal liability, the last thing you want is to fire an extra round when not needed.

Remember, every round fired ends up in court. Tap-rack-assess is the motto. If upon your assessment once you get back in action that further engagement is warranted, meet a threat with a threat, but assess rather than recon by fire.

Knowing the drill is only the beginning, you need to practice it and be able to perform it in a second or less. A good way to accomplish this is with the use of snap-caps.

Start away from the range with this drill, using your snap caps to help get it right. Load 2-3 caps into your mag and chamber a round with your finger off the trigger and weapon pointed in a safe direction. Then, when nothing happens after you pull the trigger, do your tap-rack-assess drill. You can vary this up my purposely jamming a snap cap body in the as a double-feed or a stovepipe to help you work this out.

Air gun Trigger Gun barrel Shotgun Gun accessory

Then, once you have the basics down, you can move to using snap caps on the range to help practice those malfunctions.

I like to take two snap caps and insert them randomly into three identical magazines, and then conduct a course of fire. When I hit the snap cap, tap-rack-assess gets me back into the fight. Then after the line is clear, pick up the two ejected caps, wipe em off, and pack em away for next time.

This will simulate a hang fire, misfire, failure to extract, or failure to breach firearm malfunction very nicely.

Failure to feed drill

Sometimes the tap-rack-assess will not work to clear your malfunction, such as in a double feed or failure to feed situation.

In those, drop the magazine, rack the slide hard three times (not just once), insert a new magazine (if available), chamber, and get back in the fight.

This can be simulated by loading a spent or unloaded shell casing of the same caliber into your magazine at random alongside live rounds. When the live round fires and ejects, the spent casing will begin to cycle, almost certainly catch in the chamber, and jam up pretty good. If you are using a brass, casing this should not harm the firearm and simulates the type of malfunction well.

Want a blast to liven up your training at the range? Take three mags, load a spent casing somewhere in one, a snap cap somewhere in another then top off the rest with live ammo and be ready.

Caution- have a long cleaning rod ready to knock out that casing should it chamber and not extract (do so with the magazine dropped and the firearm in a safe direction)

Your real world malfunction drill awaits.