Type 1 Malfunction Drill

What is a Type 1 Malfunction?

The Type 1 malfunction is by far the most common malfunction of a semi-automatic pistol. Fortunately, it is also the easiest to clear, and with practice, can be cleared in less than 1 second!

The definition of a Type 1 malfunction is a “failure to fire”. This simply means that when the trigger is pressed, the hammer falls (or the striker travels forward) but a round is not fired. In other words, “click, but no bang”.  At the range, this is just an inconvenience, but if you are on the street fighting for your life, a delay in fixing this malfunction could be deadly.

The fact that the hammer falls or the striker is released indicates that the gun is functioning properly, which typically means there is something amiss with the ammo. There are two things that commonly cause a Type 1 malfunction. One, there is no round in the chamber, or two, the round is faulty. It is also possible that the primer was not struck with enough force to fire the round. This can happen when the magazine is not fully inserted into the gun, and a new round was not auto-loaded into the chamber after the last round was fired.

Regardless of the reason for the malfunction, you need to get a good round into the chamber as fast as possible to get the gun back in operating condition.

How to Clear a Type 1 Malfunction

Clearing a type 1 malfunction is accomplished with two quick maneuvers, referred to as “Tap, Rack”. Watch the video to see this in real time.

Here are the steps:

1. While keeping the gun pointed in on target, remove your finger from the trigger and place it straight along the side of the firearm outside the trigger guard.


Type 1 malfunction finger straight

Remove trigger finger from the trigger and place it straight outside the trigger guard.

2. Remove the support hand from the grip and use it to “tap” or strike the bottom of the magazine with your palm to ensure it is properly and fully seated.

Type 1 malfunction tap bottom of the magazine

Smack the bottom of the magazine with support side palm

3. Rack the slide to load a new round into the chamber. Keep the gun high and pointed in on target.

Type 1 Malfunction drill rack the slide

Rack the slide to load a new round.

4. Place your trigger finger back on the trigger.

Type 1 malfunction drill finger on trigger

Finger back on trigger.

5. Do not press the trigger until you assess the situation and determine that another round needs to be fired.

There is a common (not recommended) method called “Tap, Rack, Bang”. This is a quick tap, or taking your support side hand off the gun and “smacking” the bottom of the magazine to be sure it is properly seated, racking the slide to load a new round and then firing off the new round. DO NOT USE THIS METHOD. If you have been practicing this, STOP. Forget this method.

This is why it is a bad idea: If you practice this “tap, rack, bang” method, you will program your brain to ALWAYS fire a shot after clearing a malfunction. This is BAD. It is entirely possible in a dynamic gunfight that by the time you are done getting your gun working again (even if it is only 1 or 2 seconds later), the situation has changed and another round should not be fired.

The Type 1 Malfunction Drill

There are several way to perform this drill as well as other firearm drills.

You can practice this drill at a shooting range with live ammo,  you can practice with a completely empty gun at home, or my preferred method is to use “dummy rounds” or “snap caps”.

Performing drills without using real ammunition is called “dry practice”.

Here is how to practice clearing the type 1 malfunction at home:

  1. Unload your firearm. Verify it is unloaded with a chamber check and a magazine check.
  2. Unload your gun. Again.
  3. Facing a wall that provides a safe back stop (brick, poured concrete, etc), point your unloaded gun as if firing at a target.
  4. Press the trigger and you will get a “click”, but no “bang”.
  5. Perform the steps outline above.
  6. Repeat.

This drill is designed to train you to quickly get “back into the fight” if a Type 1 Malfunction occurs while you are in a gunfight for your life (or in competition). You should practice this until it becomes second nature and you can clear the problem in 2 seconds or less.

Summing it up, when you hear a click and no “bang”, remove your finger from the trigger, smack the bottom of the magazine with your support side palm, rack the slide, and place your finger back on the trigger. Then make a conscious decision whether to shoot or not.

There is an app available called “Dry Practice Drill” that has a timer to help you improve your skills. It is available for IOS or Android devices.

The app defaults to the test times used at Front Sight Firearms Training Institute, and has helped me advance to Distinguished Graduate!

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