Ranked in importance somewhere below the Four Rules, but still a part of the orthodoxy of shooting, is the “tap, rack, bang” malfunction clearance drill. You’ve probably heard of it, either reading about it, or being taught it or, as a competition shooter, living it. Well, today I’m here to tell you that it’s not just important to follow, but it’s important to follow the whole thing.
But there are only three parts, how hard can that be to mess up? Oh, the hubris.
I used to shoot a Glock 17 a lot in competition (I still do, but I used to too). That Glock rarely fails and when it does, it’s either the ammo, as in my early misadventures in handloading, or non-Glock components like the Ghost aftermarket connector and spring kit I put in it, in my quest to attain success through changing hardware instead of software (hint: it doesn’t work). But that plan came crashing down when, during a match, the Ghost striker spring in my Glock stopped popping primers reliably. Luckily, as you can see in the video, I defaulted to my practice and training and got to tap-rack-banging.
Watching the footage afterward, I got to thinking, though. Maybe the rack and the bang were more important than the tap. In thousands of rounds, the rack had saved my bacon countless times but I couldn’t think of a single problem I’d had that was fixed by a tap. Oh well, I thought to myself, it’s not a big deal since the Glock never chokes anyway.
Fast forward a few months and I’ve got a 1911 I’m shooting in competition now, a stainless Springfield TRP, and in the course of a single, 7-stage match, I manage to fail to seat the mag during a reload four times. Those of you who’ve shot USPSA know the pain of tacking on a second or two to the denominator of the (points/time) fraction that determines your score, but I ended up just being grateful that I had never trained myself out of the habit of hitting the magazine before racking the slide.
I have a mantra, “video everything” because you never know what you’ll get. But I’m really glad I stuck with the full tap, rack, bang sequence because it means that I don’t have footage of me futilely racking the slide on my shiny new 1911, cursing the stupid thing when the error was actually in the user, not the equipment.