So what should a person do when they encounter a firearm malfunction?
Step 1: This is the most important part. Identify the type of malfunction and decide if it can be fixed immediately or not. Some firearm malfunctions can be handled by the user immediately, others may need a trip to a qualified gunsmith to fix it. For example, if a stovepipe malfunction should occur, then the user can easily clear it right away and continue shooting. If a misfire occurs, then the user should keep pointing the gun in a safe direction for a little while, in case it is a hangfire and not a dud cartridge, before attempting to fix the problem. If the previous cartridge shot was a squib, the user should stop firing immediately and unload the gun and make it safe for transport to a location where the stuck bullet may be removed.
Step 2: If the malfunction can be fixed immediately, the user should perform the appropriate procedure for clearing the firearm. For instance, with a pistol, a stovepipe malfunction or a failure to feed may easily be handled by a standard tap-rack-bang drill (we'll discuss this shortly). In case of a double-feed issue, a more thorough clearance drill should be used (we'll discuss this as well in just a few moments). For some failure to extract issues, it may be necessary to take it to a gunsmith rather than try to fix it in the field.
Step 3: If the malfunction continues to reappear, there may be some problem with the firearm. In this case, it would be a good idea to stop using the firearm in question. The firearm may require a thorough cleaning to fix the problem or it may be necessary to take it to a gunsmith.
We talked about the tap-rack-bang drill and the clearance drill just a couple of paragraphs above. So how does one perform these drills? Here's a video from Clint Smith, director of Thunder Ranch, demonstrating both drills:
Viewers may note that the first malfunction he clears was actually two malfunctions in one, where it was a failure to feed due to a loose magazine as well as a stovepipe malfunction :).