Knowing what to do when your rifle goes down can be critical to not only your own safety and that of others, but success of the mission. So rather than standing there when you hear click and no bank – know what needs to be done and integrate this into your training regimen.
In 2016, the US Army revised its doctrine (following 13 years of involvement in overseas conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan) for the operation of Rifle and Carbine (TC 3-22.9). This doctrine covers all other elements of basic operation and marksmanship, including “CONTROL” (Chapter 8) of the rifle platform, and the topic of “Malfunctions” (8-8) that supersedes the outdated S.P.O.R.T.S. corrective action. In the event that when the operator pulls the trigger and the rifle goes “click” rather than bang, there are two direct courses of action the user must take due to the rifle failing to fire. These courses of action are described as Immediate Action and Remedial Action.
Immediate action – simple, rapid actions or motions taken by the user to correct basic disruptions in the cycle of function of the weapon. Immediate action is taken when a malfunction occurs such that the trigger is squeeze and the hammer falls with an audible “click.”
Remedial action – a skilled, technique that must be applied to a specific problem or issue with the weapon that will not be corrected by taking immediate action. Remedial action is taken when the cycle of function is interrupted where the trigger is squeezed and either has little resistance during the squeeze (“mush”) or the trigger cannot be squeezed.TC 3-22.9
TC 3-22.9 goes on to describe the different root causes of failures as those that follow the cycling process of the rifle: Failure to Fire, Failure to Feed, Failure to Chamber, Failure to Extract, and Failure to Eject. Recognizing these types of failures is covered in further detail in the publication, however the purpose of correcting these failures is more centric to this post.
Steps to take for Immediate Action (8-35):
- Hears the hammer fall with an audible “click”
- Taps the bottom of the magazine firmly
- Rapidly pulls the charging handle and releases to extract / eject the previous cartridge and feed, chamber, and lock a new round
Steps for Remedial Action (8-36):
- Remedial action executed when one of the following conditions exist:
- Immediate action does not work after two attempts
- The trigger refuses to be squeezed
- The trigger feels like “mush” when squeezed
- When one of these three symptoms exist, the end-user will look into the chamber area (through the ejection port) to quickly assess the type of malfunction. Once identified, the end-user will execute actions to “reduce” the symptom by removing the magazine and attempt to clear the weapon. Once complete, visually inspect the chamber area, bolt face, and charging handle for the source of the failure.
- Stove pipe – Grasp case and attempt to remove, cycle weapon and attempt to fire. If this fails, pull charging handle to the rear while holding case.
- Double-feed – the Soldier must remove the magazine, clear the weapon, confirm the chamber area is clear, secure a new loaded magazine into the magazine well, and chamber and lock a round.
- Bolt override – Remove magazine. Pull charging handle as far rearward as possible. Strike charging handle forward. If this fails, pull charging handle to the rear a second time, use tool or finger to hold the bolt to the rear, sharply send charging handle forward.
If a malfunction continues to occur with the same symptoms, the user will remove the magazine and insert a new loaded magazine, then repeat the steps above.
When malfunctions occur in a threat environment, the user must announce STOPPAGE (or another similar term) to their group, quickly move to a covered location, and correct the malfunction as rapidly as possible. If the threat is too close to the user or friendly forces, and the user has a secondary weapon, the user should immediately transition to secondary to defeat the target prior to correcting the malfunction.
TC 3-22.9 – Rifle and Carbine, Headquarters, Department of the Army, 2016.