Malfunction Drill: The Tap & Rack

Nothing will put you out of a fight faster than panic, which can quickly be caused by a stoppage or malfunction if you don’t know what you’re doing and haven’t practiced clearing your handgun under pressure. While there are numerous drills for practicing malfunctions and stoppages, a basic stovepipe—when an empty case fails to fully eject—is a great starting point.


The stovepipe is easily handled with the Tap & Rack, a procedure named for its actions. It’s very simple, and can be practiced both at the range with live ammunition, or at home with dummy ammo. If fact, you should really practice both ways.


First, you “tap” the bottom of the magazine to ensure it’s fully seated in the gun. Then, you “rack” the slide to clear the stoppage while loading another round in the chamber. While all you really have to do is rack the slide, I prefer to come from in front of the ejection port to contact the caught casing with my hand during the rack. This ensures the case is ejected, but opens the potential for the hand to be scratched or cut on the sights.


Any gun can have a malfunction or stoppage, and if Murphy is correct, it will happen at the worst possible moment. This week, practice the Tap & Rack at least three times over two different days, and soon I’ll bring out another malfunction that you should know.


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2 Responses to Malfunction Drill: The Tap & Rack

Paul Rackley wrote:
September 03, 2010

Nice idea. I'll give a try in my next training session.

Brett wrote:
September 02, 2010

I practice this technique with one additional step. Tap, "ROLL" & Rack. A roll of the wrist to the right (for right-handed shooters & vice versa for south paws) allows the round that caused the malfunction to clear the slide using gravity. This way there is no need for the shooter to use their hand to remove the case which could cause further problems and allows the shooter to obtain another magazine faster if needed. This is excellent training, not only for personal defense but to keep the range safe. Practice Phase 1 (simple tap, roll, rack) and Phase 2 (strip the magazine, rack the slide 2-3 times to clear any obstruction, insert new magazine and rack in a new round) the shooter can then decide to police up the stripped magazine just in case the remaining rounds in it are needed. Be sure to make the 1st one count, and the next two are for good measure.... always be sure to stop the threat!