When grasping the slide to clear a malfunction (such as this “stovepipe”), make sure to not use the weak fingers of the hand, which will provide reduced leverage.

To me, anything in the chamber of a pistol that does not send rounds downrange is garbage, and it must be taken out. The act of clearing a stoppage is a fundamental skill of combative pistolcraft and fundamentals end fights…it’s as simple as that.

I believe in “physiological efficiency,” which is using the body the way it performs best. Having researched motion studies extensively, I’ve attempted to apply their findings to the shooting techniques I teach. While competition is worthwhile, it’s not my primary focus. All manipulations become more complex in a gunfight, so it’s important to find the easiest way to accomplish needed tasks. The bottom line is, I believe the most common method of clearing malfunctions isn’t necessarily best. What I am about to say will irritate some…so be it.

The traditional means of grasping the slide looks a bit like a saddle being placed on a horse’s back.

Simplicity in Motion
I have found that all pistol malfunctions, except the in-line failure to extract (double-feed), can be cleared via one technique. I call it “tap, rack, target”…tap the bottom of the magazine to make sure it’s seated, rack the slide to clear the “garbage” from the chamber and point the gun back at the target while assessing the threat. This may sound routine, but the difference is in how I manipulate the slide. For years, I used what I call a saddle grip to work the slide, which is the most common technique. Here the support hand travels up and over the slide with the palm down and fingers bent looking, like a saddle being placed on a horse. Over the years, I’ve seen a sizeable number of shooters actually induce a worse malfunction (without knowing it) by using the saddle grip convincing me it is not the most efficient or ergonomic method to aggressively work the slide. While attempting to get all fingers on the slide (for increased gripping strength), shooters often cover the ejection port and block the “garbage” from ejecting, which results in a worse problem. When the shooter tries to compensate by sliding the hand away from the ejection port they end up gripping the slide with the middle, ring and pinky fingers.

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When grasping the slide to clear a malfunction (such as this “stovepipe”), make sure…