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Malfunctions with a Primary Weapon, Part 2

For Manual Monday, we are continuing our discussion on Control. Specifically, we will continue our discussion on malfunctions as we address when in the cycle of function immediate action will correct the malfunction, and the rules of correcting a malfunction, which is a specific part of the shot process that was not addressed under the fundamentals. Our reference for this discussion is TC 3-22.9 Change 1, dated January 2017.

When a malfunction occurs in combat, the Paratrooper must announce STOPPAGE or another similar term specific to their small unit, quickly move to a covered location, and correct the malfunction as rapidly as possible. If the threat is too close to the Paratrooper or friendly forces, and the Paratrooper has a secondary weapon, they should immediately transition to secondary to defeat the target prior to correcting the malfunction.

The following are the rules for clearing any malfunction. The rules mentioned are the four rules of firearms safety every Paratrooper must know and follow.

To clear a malfunction, the Paratrooper must—

Apply Rule #1. Paratroopers must remain coherent of their weapon and continue to treat their weapon as if it is loaded when correcting malfunctions.

Apply Rule #2. Paratroopers must ensure the weapon’s orientation is appropriate for the tactical situation and not flag other friendly forces when correcting malfunctions.

Apply Rule #3. Take the trigger finger off the trigger, keep it straight along the lower receiver placed outside of the trigger guard.

Do not attempt to place the weapon on SAFE (unless otherwise noted). Most stoppages will not allow the weapon to be placed on safe because the sear has been released or the weapon is out of battery. Attempting to place the weapon on SAFE will waste time and potentially damage the weapon.

Treat the symptom. Each problem will have its own specific symptoms. By reacting to what the weapon is “telling” the Paratrooper, they will be able to quickly correct the malfunction.

Maintain focus on the threat. The Paratrooper must keep their head and eyes looking downrange at the threat, not at the weapon. If the initial corrective action fails to correct the malfunction, the Paratrooper must be able to quickly move to the next most probable corrective action.

Look last. Do not look and analyze the weapon to determine the cause of the malfunction. Execute the drill that has the highest probability of correcting the malfunction.

Check the weapon. Once the malfunction is clear and the threat is eliminated, deliberately check the weapon when in a covered location for any potential issues or contributing factors that caused the malfunction and correct them.

Perform Immediate Action: To perform immediate action, the Paratrooper instinctively:

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.

Reassess by continuing the shot process.

Note. If a malfunction continues to occur with the same symptoms, the Paratrooper will remove the magazine and insert a new loaded magazine, then repeat the steps above.

So to sum up, we’ve discussed what immediate action for the M4/16 family of weapons is (tap, rack, reassess). Next week, we will continue our discussion on malfunctions as we discuss the various techniques that go into remedial action, and what they look like.

#weaponsmastery #shotprocess

Raymond Miller
82nd Airborne Division Small Arms Master Gunner: primary weapons trainer, force modernization for individual weapons, and range liason for the 82nd.

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