Double-Feed — How To Clear the Stoppage with One Hand

In the real world, we sometimes may need to manipulate our weapons with one hand due to an injury, or possibly our hand being occupied doing something else, such as opening a door, holding a child, or any number of activities. Sure, we like to think that Murphy’s Law won’t show up to take a giant dump on us, but that’s what Mr. Murphy does best. We also like to think that our favorite blaster would never experience a stoppage at the Moment of Truth, but guess what…yeah, Murphy. He’s a prick. Make no mistake, if we’re in a lethal force encounter, our weapon is having a stoppage, and we’re down to one arm, we are, most assuredly, having a bad day at the office. A while back, a friend (we used to go to different schools together) had it happen to him.

double-feed in a handgun
Here’s what a double-feed looks like. Two rounds are trying to get into a place that is only designed for one. 

But I digress. In the video below, Daniel Shaw walks us through some one-handed manipulation drills to clear a double-feed with one paw. A double-feed just means that there’s a round in your pistol’s chamber and it’s trying to feed another round in there, which we know is not a good thing.

Clearing a Double-Feed, One-Handed

The first priority is to get that magazine out of the pistol.

Hit the magazine release. If nothing happens (which is probable, because the top round in the magazine will likely be against the round in the chamber, putting pressure on it), you can hook the base of the magazine against the edge of your holster and strip out the mag that way.

press the magazine release
You press the magazine release, but alas! Nothing happens!
clear double-feed with one hand, use edge of holster to strip magazine
One option to get the magazine out is to use the edge of your holster to strip it out while pressing the magazine release.

Another possibility is to hit the mag release, raise the gun up, then bring it down quickly, letting inertia strip the magazine out of the mag well. The more rounds in your magazine, the better because it will weigh more and eject more easily. A variation of that one is to hit your forearm against your thigh while holding the pistol and pressing the magazine release, which will hopefully eject the magazine. Don’t hit your forearm against your knee cap because it can render your arm useless.

clearing a double-feed with one hand, forcefully bring pistol down on thigh so inertia can cause magazine to eject
Bringing the pistol down onto your thigh hard may generate enough inertia to…
one-handed mag release - clear double-feed
…pop that magazine out of the pistol.

Clear the chamber.

When you’ve ejected the magazine, rack the slide a few times on your holster’s edge (or anything solid that you can manage) to clear the chamber.

use the edge of your holster to cycle the action to clear out any rounds in the chamber.
Now use the edge of your holster to cycle the action to clear out any rounds in the chamber.

Now you need to reload the pistol.

But where to put it to reload with one hand? You could place it into your holster or set it on the ground next to your foot (you can insert the magazine while pushing it against your foot to hold it in place while the magazine goes in). Also putting the pistol into your armpit might be an option, as is pinching it behind your knee between the thigh and calf.

one-handed holster reload
Once cleared, we need a place to put the pistol so we can insert a fresh magazine. Your holster might work.

Now insert a magazine.

You do have at least one spare magazine, don’t you??? Let’s hope so.

one-handed pistol reload, secure handgun behind the knee

On option for inserting a new magazine can be on the ground by your foot. Your foot holds it in place while you insert the fresh mag. Another option is to secure the handgun behind the knee, pinched between your thigh and calf.

Rack the slide to chamber a round.

If the pistol is behind your knee, you can rack it there, or bring it out and rack it on the side of your leg. Other options are to catch the sights on your belt, holster, the sole of your shoe, or anything solid nearby. Note that Daniel does not advocate racking the slide on the sole of your shoe because that places it far away from where the threat is, pointing it in the opposite direction of where it needs to be pointed.

rack the pistol slide one handed
The slide can now be racked to chamber a round. The edge of your leg can serve the purpose, or you can use the edge of your holster to rack the slide.

These are excellent skills to possess, and I completely advocate developing them. Stuff happens, it pays to be prepared. 

Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities.

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