How to Clear a Jam

It’s everyone’s worst nightmare. One minute, you’re confidently aiming, lining up the perfect shot. You squeeze the trigger, releasing your gun’s sound and fury, and sending lead downrange. You’re getting ready to follow up your first perfect (or not-so-perfect) shot, and pull the trigger. But instead of slinging more brass, all you hear is the dreaded “click” of a dry fire. Your look down in horror, seeing an empty casing boldly protruding from your gun’s ejection port. There’s no mistaking it: your gun is jammed. In this post, we’ll assess how to clear a pistol jam and how to make sure your jammed gun is cleared quickly.

1911 Custom Holster

Clearing a Jammed Gun: Common Types of Failures

Generally, gun jams fall into one of two categories: failures to feed and failures to extract. We’ll cover both of these problems below.

Failure to Feed (FTF)

A failure to feed (FTF) occurs when a cartridge doesn’t load properly into the battery. Often, the ammo you’re using is the culprit. Magazines can also bear responsibility for failures to feed. You’ll notice a failure to feed almost immediately. For one, your gun won’t fire. But you’ll also probably be able to visually see that your firearm isn’t in battery, with the slide pushed slightly back.

Failure to Extract (FTE)

You’ll definitely notice a failure to extract (FTE) when it happens. A failure to extract occurs when your gun doesn’t remove a spent casing properly. One of the most infamous types of FTE is the stovepipe malfunction. When your gun stovepipes, a spent casing will jam itself in the ejection port, held between the slide and the frame. It gets its name from the cylindrical “stovepipe” shape it creates.

black leather 2011 holster

How to Unjam a Gun: Clearing a Pistol Jam

I used to work in a giant greenhouse and as my boss always said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” He was talking about pests and fungal infections, but the same can be said about firearms.

The best way by far to unjam a gun is by making sure it never jams in the first place. That means keeping your firearms squeaky clean. Even a little bit of carbon fouling can change how efficiently your gun slides and operates. This, in turn, increases the chances of your gun jamming. As a result, it’s critically important to keep your gun clean – particularly if it’s a daily carry piece.

2011 custom holster

Clearing a Pistol Jam

But when you’ve got a jammed gun in your hands, no amount of cleaning is going to fix the problem. Instead, you’re going to need to clear your gun’s jam yourself. In that case, there’s an order of operations that you’ll want to follow. First, pop the magazine out of the bottom of your firearm. Then, rack it to try and extract whatever’s causing your jam. This may also involve clearing out a live round from the chamber. Or, it may include removing a spent casing caught somewhere in your gun.

What good is a gun without a holster? At the Southern Trapper, we carry a huge variety of holster styles. To learn more, check out our leather holsters here

IWB Custom Holster

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