how to clear a gun jam

How To Clear Your Gun After It Jams – And Prevent It From Happening Again

First off – there's no 100% guarantee you can prevent a gun jam. That's when a round fails to feed properly into the chamber, fails to eject after its been fired or fails to fire at all. This topic comes on the tragic heels of a murder in North Carolina where a woman was attempting to defend herself with her concealed carry pistol and it jammed after one round. Her attacker, though hit with the first shot, pressed his advantage and killed her.

This is the worst possible scenario that can happen to a concealed carrier. In the heat of the moment, you always need to make sure the following:

How to prevent a gun Jam

Always travel with a round in the chamber.

Kim Elmore did and that's precisely why she got at least one round out of the chamber before the gun failed to feed properly. If you ever need an example of why to carry one in the chamber then read this newspaper article.

Make sure your magazine is properly seated.

A lot of us travel “X+1” - which means a fully loaded magazine with one extra round loaded in the chamber.

It takes a pistol that may only hold six rounds and makes it seven. Well, the shortcoming of this is that many of us fail to realize that a fully loaded magazine may not be slid fully into place with the chamber closed. This means that when the first round is fired and the upper receiver slides back, the next round may not feed properly. This is, typically, more common in cheaper handguns like a Hi-Point – but even an M&P Shield can run into this issue if the concealed carrier isn't careful.

Make sure the magazine is flush with the magazine well and does not slide out on its own volition. Once a magazine is inserted, it should only come back out because you hit the magazine release.

When in doubt – bring a revolver.
how to prevent a pistol malfunction

There's a simple part of mechanical engineering that fails to sink in for many concealed carriers.

The more moving parts a firearm has, the more apt one of those parts will fail. Failure, in this case, can be something as simple as a round failing to load or a firing pin getting knocked out of alignment.

Mechanical Safety?

Off. Unless you train at the range to disengage the safety as you bring your pistol out of its concealed carry holster and onto target – leave the safety off.

Your finger should only be touching the trigger when you intend to fire and you should be using an inside the waistband holster that protects the trigger guard. The last thing you want to do is have your pistol out and on target and find the trigger won't depress. In the heat of the moment, a lot of silliness like that will happen – and it can cost you your life.

How to Clear A Pistol Jam

Revolvers don't jam. That's why they're awesome. As long as the hammer strikes the primer, the bullet will travel forward. In the middle of a tense live-fire scenario, you don't have time to tinker with your pistol.

  • If a round fails to feed properly, pull the upper receiver to the rear and eject the round.
  • If the next round doesn't feed properly, pull the upper receiver to the rear and lock it. Eject the magazine and re-insert it, ensuring it is seated flush within the magazine well. Close the upper receiver and prepare to fire.
  • If that magazine fails to seat, insert your backup magazine. You do have a backup magazine, right? If not you may want to start carrying either a single mag carrier or double magazine holster to be prepared for this type of situation.

Clearing Firearm Malfunctions - Conceal Carry Training Videos


And above all else, TAKE COVER. Take cover behind vehicles, walls, anything. Your pistol being out of operation is bad enough, don't make yourself a sitting duck. Practice changing magazines every time you go to the range.

James England

About The Author

James England (@sir_jim_england) is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and private defense contracting in Afghanistan.