one handed malfunction drill

I’m reviving this post because there was some interesting discussion in the comments regarding the necessity of practicing wounded rifle manipulation drills, the “transition as solution to ALL rifle malfunction” discussion and the reality of what sort of weapon you will most likely deploy in a defensive shoot.

While it’s all well and good to practice for TEOTWAWKI in your plate carriers and helmets, carrying a pistol as a back-up to your M4, I believe that in most “real world” applications you are going to have only one weapon on you. For many people that will be a pistol, but for others it may very well be just the rife or shotgun from under the bed. Practicing for transition as the solution to all long gun malfunctions may not be the best idea in all circumstances.

I’m trying something new. Video. My friend Paul is a photo/video/audio-phile so I thought that I would tap into his expertise (and gear) to help me make some content here. Fancy huh?

Todays topic is single hand carbine malfunction drill. I have been exposed to a few versions of this over the years but I am currently sticking with this one.

Let me preface this by saying that what you do when one hand goes down really depends on your situation. If you are at short range you would probably be better served with a transition to a sidearm vs trying to deal with a long arm one handed. But if the enemy is outside pistol range (or you know you just can’t hit him with a pistol at that range) or you have no other weapon available, you will have to deal with what you have. While this video shows the shooter standing in the open, that is for display purposes only. If possible seek cover before you take your eyes off of the fight to do something like this.

The technique shown demonstrates how to clear a basic Type 1 malfunction when you are down to one hand with a carbine. Just like a Type 1 with a sidearm, it’s a TAP RACK BANG process. Seat the magazine with your knee, secure the weapon between your legs and rack the action (don’t block the ejection port) then attempt to re-engage the target.

If the strong side arm goes down the process remains the same but you have to work in a hand switch. I really appreciate the single point sling for this sort of drill; but as you may see here, when I do the support side drill I had to reposition my hand around the sling because it is attached to one side of the stock resulting in a millisecond “bobble” as I re-shoulder the weapon. This is where an ambi sling attachment could help make the process smoother. Try to base your gear selection on what your training reveals to you I say.


Don’t try to learn from me. Some guy on the internet. Get qualified instruction.

SAFETY: NO LIVE AMMO IN THE TRAINING AREA! To make this drill work you will need either a polymer training magazine or use dummy rounds like I did. The magazine requires less down time while you police up ejected dummy rounds and reload.

Self-evaluation. I note that  I didn’t do a press check at the beginning of the video. I also didn’t show an obvious visual chamber inspection after the failure to fire. I will try to remember it the next time. If you really want to see some professionals at this sort of stuff watch the guys at Magpul Dynamics. Specifically The Art of the Tactical Carbine Vol.2.



52 thoughts on “one handed malfunction drill”

  1. Nice video. It’s worth noting that with a rifle that has the charging handle placed in a more accessible spot than the AR (an AK or FAL, for instance) you may be able to omit the clamping the weapon between your knees and instead rack it by placing the charging handle against something and shoving the rifle forward.

  2. I don’t know. The AK charging handle being on the “outboard” side makes it difficult to “rack” it against a body part so you would have to find a suitable object. If it was “inboard” you could probably use your body or a piece of worn gear. With this technique at least your knees are always available. ;)And it should be workable for an AK platform too.

  3. I would say keeping it simple would be the best way to go. Using a drill like this to train for the stress of being wounded and under fire means having to keep the core movements as uniform/simple as possible – but to adjust it to fit the weapon system you have on hand too.

    I can’t see trying to find an object or body part for the charging handle as an easy thing to do in the ‘fog of war’ compounded with a disfunctioning wound.

    1. Well, there is precident for using the body/duty gear to clear malfunctions. When you are “one handing” a pistol and it goes “click”, you tap the mag on the thigh/knee and rack the slide by catching the rear sight in a pocket or on the belt. But manipulating a handgun that way is miles easier than a long gun is.

      1. Exactly my thinking Tom – in reference to ‘one handing’ a long gun under those kind of conditions would be really hairy.

        There’s also the importance of tactile awareness. When you train to use ‘touch’ awareness (and primarily your own body) then you won’t be searching for a piece of gear that you may or may not be wearing (such as a pistol belt while off duty or body armor while not in entry gear…)

        You’ll aways have your arms/legs regardless of the cover around you or the gear you are wearing….

      2. Yup. Thats why I train to use my belt with one hand pistol drill. I am almost always wearing a belt when I have a pistol. I also think that consistancy is important. If I can do the same drill for an AR, an AK and a FAL I will do it. Fewer menu options faster reaction I say.

  4. Nice video. Any Ideas on a Type 3 ( double feed) malfunction wounded drill with an AR ?

    When you press check an AR do you like to look/ feel into the chamber for the round and tap the forward assist or remove the mag and see if the round went into the chamber ( jumped from right side high to left side high)?

    1. Yeah theres a Type 3 drill. It’s more complicated of course. We may try that one out too.

      I usualy do the “check the mag” press check. Down, dirty, and simple.

  5. I would love to see the Type 3 drill video or explanation if you get the time. I love working wounded drills with pistol and shotguns but I haven’t done to much wounded stuff with the AR. Great Stuff, I learn something new every time I log on.

  6. Critique by a friend who is a tactical, master firearms instructor.

    He’s very frank.

    Other than the not seeking cover, having your eyes off the threat, and assuming you will be standing, I think the drill is worthless. Might call it Cooper’s ‘solution to a non existent problem’. Immediate action drill for a rifle stoppage, and even running the mag dry, is to draw your sidearm. You need bullets on target now, and drawing the sidearm is faster than any rifle mag change much less stoppage clearing. The drill is useful only for charging an empty chamber you forgot to charge in the first place. Tap n rack has not the same effect on a rifle vs a pistol. Rifles stop firing from failure to feed, failure to eject, or from empties caught in the action. Their hammers are much heavier than pistols, so rarely do they fail to fire a chambered round. Pointing the barrel down only lets the junk fall down closer to the chamber, it doesn’t get it out of the action. Your Mini 14 has an open top, so it is less likely to stop working and would be easier to clear than any AR family of weapons. Practice one hand mag changes with your rifle instead!

    1. Your expert states amongst the reasons for FTF..failure to feed and failure to fire…how does he remedy those failures? “Transition” isn’t the answer to everything.

      From someone who has put thousands of rounds downrange. Rifles DO fail to fire. Magazines do fail to seat fully and then feed one..maybe two rounds. A bad primer does pop up now and then.

      The military teaches SPORTS for a reason. Hardly a “nonexistent problem”.

      As to the transition…I addressed that in the post if you read it. Sometimes the bad guy is way outside pistol range. Would you transition on an opponent who is 200 yards away? One handed shooting at that? I’d stick with the rifle thank you. Reload it, clear it, whatever. Sometimes a rifleman doesn’t have a pistol. As to practicing one hand rifle drill or not…Id rather know how to do it than not. Are you seriously saying that having a one hand technique for malfunctions is a BAD thing to know? It’s also rare that a .223 round has a headspace problem and jams the action solid. Do you know how to clear it? Would learning the technique be a solution for a non existent problem? I find that argument odd. Translate that philosophy into martial arts instruction. How often will you go stick on stick in our society? Why train Arnis?

      My source for the drill is Magpul Dynamics. Guys who have BTDT. Who’s your “tactical master firearms instructor?”

      1. ‘“Transition” isn’t the answer to everything.’

        For citizens engaging in self defense, it comes pretty close, actually. I’m a pretty fair pistol shot. If someone is further than I can hit with my pistol I’ll probably have a hard time legally justifying the shot anyway. Of course, you can construct scenarios where this isn’t the case they’re fairly low probability. Citizens are also likely to be operating alone, rather than in a team or squad, meaning there is no one to cover you while engaging in time consuming malfunction clearance. Not that the civilian shouldn’t have other options as well, but I think it justifies spending much more time working on a smooth fast transition than to other methods of dealing with malfunctions.

        The military (and to a lesser extent, the police) face a different set of circumstances, including longer engagement ranges and backup from other squad members, so they probably ought to spend more time practicing fixing malfunctions.

      2. True, but to play devil’s advocate, I don’t know of many citizens who will realistically go into “the shit” with rifle AND pistol. I think studies will show that the “good guy” in most civ shoots had only one weapon in the fight most of the time. I think that you will be faced with dealing with what you happen to have ON you or what is in easy reach.

        Some states make long gun ownership MUCH easier than handgun ownership, so a long gun may be “it” in many places. IMO transition skills are probably more vital for LE/MIL than non in many areas.

        Pistols and rifles are entirely different animals (as I know you realize that…just following a thought 😉 ). While you and I would know that a 100 yd shot wouldn’t be wise to take with a pistol. I could easily hit someone at that range with my rifle. I feel confident of that. If I grabbed my rifle and ran outside my options are entirely different from if I grabbed my Glock or had my Glock on me.

        In the same vein; I sometimes question the wisdom of citizens (non mil/LE) I see who train with chest rigs, plate carriers, thigh holsters etc. While I don’t begrudge them the ability to have fun and train in any gear way they want; do they really think they are going to be thigh rigged and armored when “the time” comes?

        But I do agree with your basic premise. I think that a drill like this is important to know, but I don’t think that it should take up a large block of training time.

      3. Chris,

        The big problem with putting the majority of your tactical eggs into the ‘transition is the best’ basket (especially for civ shooting) is the ‘un-uniform’ (pun intended) ‘geared up’ state that the civilian will be in. It could be 3 am in your home, standing at the ATM, driving down the street… and so on. Unlike LEO/Mil shooters, civvies don’t wear the same clothes/rigs the same way all the time so relying on transition as ‘the best’ way to go isn’t ‘the best’ training IMO.

        On the issue of legal justification and so on w/ long guns/pistols/range and so on, there are soo many variables that it isn’t out of the realm of reality to be in a civvie self defense situation rifle v. rifle and still be justified (though definitely not the statistical norm I grant you).

        On and individual level, you have to train for the most likely scenario based on your lifestyle and patterns/habits. For some people, it is far more practical to consider using rifles/long guns for personal defense than pistols based on terrain, career, housing….

      4. “True, but to play devil’s advocate, I don’t know of many citizens who will realistically go into “the shit” with rifle AND pistol. I think studies will show that the “good guy” in most civ shoots had only one weapon in the fight most of the time.”

        I really find the opposite. All the instructors I’ve taken civilian-oriented fighting rifle courses from emphasized the importance of carrying a pistol whenever you’re carrying a rifle. Personally, I’m having trouble thinking of a circumstance where I’d have a rifle with me but not a pistol.

      5. I agree. If possible you should be “two guns”, but that may very well be a location issue. Here pistol carry is actually somewhat rare with our permit system. I also find the “when you carry a rifle” thing a bit odd in my corner of the country. Under what circumstances do you routinely “carry a rifle”? In my experience, rifle employment here is more of a “trunk gun”, hunting, or “grab it from under the bed” situation. Short of an Armageddon, LA Riot or Katrina situation I don’t envision many “civilians” routinely carrying a long gun.

      6. “Short of an Armageddon, LA Riot or Katrina situation I don’t envision many “civilians” routinely carrying a long gun.”

        Those are generally the sorts of situations we’re talking about when we consider citizens employing long guns for self defense outside the home.

  7. If you think this drill takes your eyes off of the fight. Wait till you see the Type 3 drill. LOL!

    Sometimes life gives you a shit sandwich and you have no choice but to bite…

    1. I was thinking the same thing. The point of the drill/video (both this one and the MagPul instructional) is to provide field shooters drills/skills that they can use for the trends/equipment/weapons that are mainly being used right now by current operators/LEO. They seem to be pretty ubiquitous as the ‘go to’ weapon right now for LEO/Military shooters.

      Personally, I can say that I’ve had more misfired rounds through the M16A2 than I would have liked during critical moments (mainly range qual and live fire thank goodness) and knowing a SPORT type drill was critical because…. gee whiz, your basic Marine/Army guy doesn’t carry both pistol and rifle. Transitioning is a great choice if you have the option – but not everyone has that option.

  8. I don’t always agree with everything he says or teaches. I thought I would put it out there for discussion.

    Another friend, not a firearms instructor, picked up a one-hand rifle manipulation drill from Gabe Suarez. I’ve tried that rifle drill, with my mini 14,thank you,lol.

    I found it both interesting and challenging.

    I’ll send your comments to him and see if he wants his name released, or if he’ll participate in the discussion.

    BTW, I had a chance to but a pre-ban AR but just didn’t care for it. I don’t argue it’s tactical superiority but rather enjoy shooting my mini.


    1. Eh. Every tactical guru out there has his own flavor of kool-aide to pedal. For each “expert” who says “that sucks” I can list another with as good credentials that says “thats great”.

      My opinion? Select a viable technique from a reliable source and TRAIN! If you change your skill set every time you see someone on the internet poo-poohing a technique you may as well just hang it up.

      PS-There really isn’t much wrong with the Mini 14. Other than sucky magazines and the way their groups widen when the barrel heats up a bit. But I heard that cutting the barrel down to 16″ and recrowning it can fix that up. The accuracy increase comes from a shorter barrel being stiffer and less prone to flex than a longer one.

      I’m just an AR guy and picking on Mini 14’s goes with the membership card. 🙂

  9. I forwarded the previous comments to my friend and here’s his response.

    “I find blogs and such no substitute for personally speaking with someone. It’s like 2 people going down parallel one way streets and their only communication is yelling across the intersections as they pass. Too much is lost even though they are traveling in the same direction. I don’t get involved in such discussions. If I wanted to get into all the variables these guys rant about I would have written a book. If you want to see all the variables then come out and train and I’ll show you what works, what doesn’t, and why. Then you can write about it.”


    I hoped he would participate. “You can lead a horse to water but can’t make him drink.”

    Very true, each guru has his or her “snake-oil” to peddle.

    I’ve found the majority of his information and techniques to be sound.

    I realize tactical firearms is an evolving craft. Some “old dogs” won’t learn new tricks.

    Me, I’m just an observer and a student.


    1. Your “old dog” friend needs to step up IMO. If he’s got so much to offer that he feels is effective, then writing/video’ing his stuff and posting it here or on his own would gain him some good exposure.

      Does he have a name? Where are his master tactical certs from? I know you are NRA instructor qual’ed on the safety course, so I’m guessing he’s at least that ‘pedigree’ed’ as well.

      1. He has far more experience than me. His certificates are from LFI under Massad Ayoob. Remember I used the term “master instructor” not him.

        I know he’s traveled the country attending various shooting schools. LFI is his home-base.

        I won’t release his name because it was a private e mail to me, that I forwarded to this site.


    2. You do a good job of sharing your ‘old dog’ friends opinions, but I’m still not clear on your own about the drill.

      What do you think?

      1. Paul, that’s a tough question for me to answer. I only recently learned the drill from a different friend. I’ve only fumbled through it a few times.

        I have two comparisons Tom and my friend. Between the two my friend does his routine crisply, smoothly, confidently, and quickly.

        Not sure why but Tom seemed to be on the lower end of those qualities.

        The drill itself seems fine. The comment about, “…a solution to a non-existent problem…” is out-of-place to me.

        Tom created a scenario that he’s experienced in some way and is trying to address it.

        Admittedly, I’m not a very learned tactical rifle guy, beginner. That’s why it would have been nice to see the discussion. I could take notes from more learned people than me.

  10. Wait a sec.

    Your “friend” said this is an “solution to a non-existent problem”, but you learned a drill for the same problem recently and this “friend” does it better than I do?

    Are these different “friends” or the same guy? Theres too many unamed people entering the discussion here.

    As to someone doing it better than me…thats fine. I never said I was an expert at the drill. I have only been practicing this one for a relatively short time.

    But WTF with the “non-existent problem” criticism from someone to teaches/practices a drill for the same problem??? Unless we are talking about a different “friend” here?

    I’m preparing to raise the bull shit flag on this one Dave. Is it the drill, how I do the drill or is it some sort of a personality issue going on here? I’m a practicioner Dave. I’m not selling any product here.

  11. Dave wrote:

    “I won’t release his name because it was a private e mail to me, that I forwarded to this site.”

    There is no privacy and/or copyright infringement in sharing a private email publicly. Basically, it’s equivalent to an interview. In NYS, basically an email exchange/conversation/phone call is a shared exchange. You both ‘own’ the conversation and can share information from that conversation freely unless it is specifically stated verbally or in writing that the comments are meant to be ‘off the record.’

    It’s kind of hard to respect the credibility of any ‘expert’ commentary if they aren’t willing to share out their names.

    The MagPul guys who were the originators of the drill are pretty forthcoming about who the instructors are and where their credibility comes from.

    1. I’m more than ready to accept criticism of HOW I DO the drill. Hell..I pain SUCK at some stuff, but I still practice it.

      But if someone is gonna use their “expertise” to bash the validity of the drill itself, I’d like to know why I should recognize their expertise over the expertise of the people I learned the drill from?

      1. You shouldn’t recognize their expertise if they won’t put their name behind it.

        I tried to get, what I think would have been an interesting discussion going. However, my instructor friend didn’t want to play.

  12. Dave wrote”

    “Paul, that’s a tough question for me to answer. I only recently learned the drill from a different friend. I’ve only fumbled through it a few times.

    I have two comparisons Tom and my friend. Between the two my friend does his routine crisply, smoothly, confidently, and quickly.

    Not sure why but Tom seemed to be on the lower end of those qualities.

    The drill itself seems fine. The comment about, “…a solution to a non-existent problem…” is out-of-place to me.

    Tom created a scenario that he’s experienced in some way and is trying to address it.

    Admittedly, I’m not a very learned tactical rifle guy, beginner. That’s why it would have been nice to see the discussion. I could take notes from more learned people than me.”

    Please re-read the question Dave, I wasn’t asking for a critique of Tom’s proficiency with the drill since it’s fairly new in the training toolbox. Remember Smooth is slow, slow is fast… takes time, always does.

    My question was about the drill. Is it worthwhile to practice? Is it too ‘fine motor’ under fight or flight stress? Is it a ‘solution looking for a problem’ as your friend says.

    YOu need to give them names (fake or real) if you are going to refer to two different ‘friends’ who you choose to refer to as ‘experts’ yet want to keep nameless. It’s getting hard to figure out who you are referring to.

    If you’ve tried the drill yourself – aside from the learning curve issues – what do you see as strengths/weaknesses of it?

  13. Tom and Paul, I think you misread my previous response.

    As to what my instructor friend said about a solution looking looking for a problem.

    As to what I think of the drill.

    “The drill itself seems fine. The comment about, [“…a solution to a non-existent problem…” (my instructor friend)] [(is out-of-place to me, Dave.)”]

    I think a rifle problem, as Tom describes, is a possibility. His solution, “the drill” seems practical. It’s very similar to the one I tried. The one my non-instructor friend shared with me.

    Strength- it’s something to learn and practice. Another tool in the tool bag.

    Weakness- simply the disadvantage you’ve been put in. When you can’t use your rifle properly (due to injury)it sucks.

    I think there’s enough gross motor skill in the drill to be used under life and death conditions.

    As a courtesy I won’t release my instructor friend’s name. I won’t forward any more of his e mails, unless he releases his name. In his last response he said he didn’t really want to participate. I asked him and I got my answer. I’ll respect it.

    Tom, you seem a little uptight or defensive, or paranoid, I don’t know which.

    “I’m preparing to raise the bull shit flag on this one Dave. Is it the drill, how I do the drill or is it some sort of a personality issue going on here? I’m a practitioner Dave. I’m not selling any product here.”

    Tom, I’ve met you once in person and we conversed very little. I know you mostly through Jerome and this blog. I don’t know what personality issue you are questioning.

    I remember responding to something on Topica and used you as an example in a positive way. You jumped all over me, thinking I was trying to take a cheap shot at you. WTF!

    I do agree with my instructor friend that it’s better to talk in person. The e mails lose something that’s there, ex. courtesy, or gain something, ex., non existent insult.


    1. I think the problem is either that I am misreading your writing or you are not conveying what you intend to convey. Most of our conversations here and elsewhere in text form seem to start with some sort of disagreement. I am open to criticism, but when EVERY exchange seems to be about criticism I begin to think WTF?? Is it about me?

      Im still not clear on the “non-existant problem” thing to be honest with you.

      If this guy (or you) were to have said. “Good to know if you need it but don’t waste time practicing it too much..” I would have said “I agree”. This is a “deep shit” sort of drill. Not something you are gonna see all too often. Agreed. Done.

      If you would have said “your getting there but keep up the practice” I would have said I agree. I think I even mentioned some of my errors and bobbles in the text of the post.

      The point of the vid was to show an example of a drill and to have a bit of fun doing some filming. The point of the post was to discuss one option to manipulate a rifle while wounded. I am as confused as to why this is spiraling down the shitter as you are.

  14. “Im still not clear on the “non-existant problem” thing to be honest with you.”

    My instructor friend says you’re practicing a drill for a problem that doesn’t exist.

    I’m saying I disagree with him. As I’ve said, I haven’t put a lot of tactical rifle rounds down range, but I think the problem could manifest itself.

    I don’t mean to always be in disagreement. I like to try to spark discussion about something and see what comes out. Me and my non instructor friend do it all the time. Then again we’ve been good friends since 1985. We never end on a sour note.

    You don’t know me that well either. It stands to reason you could perceive my replies as argumentative or rude.

    I’ll try to rephrase my replies to seem less critical/confrontational and more inquisitive.

    As I’ve said before, I miss social cues in person and the e mail is even harder.


    1. That makes more sense Dave.

      I was just wondering where this discussion (especially when seen in relation to some of the others others) was going.

      I don’t want to come of as being not accepting of criticism. I’m far from an expert at the ALL of the stuff I post here…it was just that it was beginning to appear that there was some sort of issue going on past the topic.

      If it was simply a communications crossup, that could explain much of it.

      1. Tom, I think that’s hitting the nail on the head.

        Unfortunately, when Paul jumps in to what appears to me, as the defense of a friend, it muddies the water more.

        It seems we’re making nice progress in communicating better on this blog.

        Paul’s last reply comes across to me as sarcastic and unnecessary.

        It makes me wonder if he has an unresolved personal issue with me.

      2. “If it was simply a communications crossup, that could explain much of it.”

        Hitting the nail on the head regarding communication cross up, that is.

        Not to be applied to your entire reply. I think I caught what could’ve been misinterpreted.

      1. Basically, it was an eight position/transition drill. Strong side to weak side, two hands to one hand, and back.

        We didn’t charge the bolt or re-seat the mag.

        I understood it as a wounded shooter drill and/or shooting around cover with your weak side.

        Again, I only did it once. I’m looking forward to going to the range and trying it again.

        Maybe we can add in the other stuff.

      1. Tom, let’s compare the last couple of statements you and Paul recently made.

        “I thought you finally ‘got it’ back in Easter, Dave.” Paul

        To me the above post is sarcastic and unnecessary, especially after your question/reply below. It’s like Paul wants to continue the controversy.

        Paul even wants to go back to our Easter exchange. That’s behind me. If it’s not behind you, we can talk.

        In a nutshell when I respond to you I feel like I’m being ganged up on. Paul always seems to jump in on your side. I know you guys are good friends since childhood, I get it.

        How Paul comes across to me on this blog is like your attack dog. You might not even realize it.

        “So on a more productive note. What is the one hand drill you do with your Mini14?” Tom

        The above post represents to me that we’ve made it back to communicating. We’re exchanging thoughts and ideas. It’s a positive question.

        For me this is how the water gets muddier between you and me.

      2. Yeah, Paul is my friend..but hes an adult with his own thought process and will. What goes on between him and you is between him and you. Don’t confuse the two of us.

        PS-He’s the short guy with the dark hair. 😉

    1. Call it what you want Dave.

      In the linked discussion, you kept pounding the ‘faith/reason’ inquiry during an inappropriate time and inappropriate forum (that you claimed at the end you understood better when it wrapped)

      Here, you drop comments that aren’t your own from ‘experts’ who you can’t name and make non committal commentary about drills you don’t do….

      Theres more discussions/comments that create a pattern Dave. As a ‘reasoning’ person, I would think that you could recognize the forensic/rational quality of this kind of deductive process.

      Take the time to see it from my perspective and scroll through your comment history here and maybe you will understand where I am coming from.

      If you want to discuss this further you can email me privately.

  15. Paul, I’m not going to revisit all that, that’s been settled.

    More important to me is squaring it up with Tom and it seems as though it has been.

    “…make non committal commentary about drills you don’t do…”

    Paul, you really need to read the whole exchange, especially the wrap. Maybe, then you’ll know what you’re talking about.

    If you have a personal issue with me call me or e mail me.

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