L3 – 12.5 Firearm Operation and Maintenance

Firearm Operation and Maintenance

I   Revolvers

Over the past few decades revolvers have seen diminished use by law enforcement and security personnel in the United States. They continue to represent a large portion of the handgun sales in this country and continue to be carried by some security officers. The revolver represents a rugged and reliable weapon system.

a.    Revolver Nomenclature

Figures 12.15 and 12.16 illustrates the parts of a commonly used revolver.

Figure 12.15: Parts of the Smith & Wesson revolver

Figure 12.16: Chambers and extractor

b.    Revolver Actions

Revolvers come in two common action types: single-action and double-action. The type of action is defined by the tasks performed by the trigger. A single-action revolver must be manually cocked, generally using the dominant thumb. The trigger only fires the gun from the cocked position.

The double-action revolver is the most common revolver used by a security officer. Most double- action revolvers can be fired from the single action (manually cocked) position but can also be fired from the hammer down position. In a double-action revolver, pressure applied to the trigger will both cock and fire the weapon.

c.    Revolver Maintenance and Safety Check

In general, revolvers are easier to clean and maintain than semi-automatics. They clean more easily because the shooter does not have to disassemble or field strip them for normal cleaning. Revolvers are inherently more rugged than semi-automatics. Unlike semi-automatics, revolvers are a fully self- contained weapon system. They do not have detachable magazines to step on or lose.

Safety Inspection

The following series of basic safety checks may be performed without firing the weapon. These are general checks that apply to most revolvers. Some manufacturers may recommend other checks and tolerances specific to a make or model of revolver. Duty weapons should be routinely checked by personnel certified by the weapon’s manufacturer for the particular weapon system.

Note: All handguns must be unloaded prior to any weapon handling, including a safety check. In keeping with the first Universal Safety Rule, treat the gun as if it were loaded and be extremely careful about safe muzzle direction.

Cylinder Play
  1. With the gun unloaded (check again), close the action.
  2. Open and close the cylinder several times. Do not flip the cylinder open or closed. The cylinder should open and swing out freely. The cylinder should close without excessive effort. With the cylinder out, spin the cylinder. The ejector should spin true and straight.
  3. Pull the hammer back and hold it with your thumb. Pull the trigger and gently lower the hammer all the way down while keeping the trigger back. Do not release the trigger.

Continue holding the trigger all the way to the rear once the hammer is down. The gun is now in “full lockup.” Keep it there for this and most other tests.

With the trigger all the way to the rear, check for cylinder movement. Excessive movement forward and back (end shake) is particularly undesirable. Slight side to side (rotational) movement is acceptable, but it is a bad thing if you can rotate it one way, let go, and then rotate it the other way a fraction of an inch and it stays there too. The cylinder should stop in just one place. The optimal condition is a rock solid lockup.

Cylinder Gap
  1. Holding the trigger at full lockup, look through the barrel/cylinder gap. The cylinder gap can be too small or too large. If too large, velocity drops. If the gap is too tight, burnt powder, lead, and other residue will block the gap and could cause the cylinder to bind or lock up.
  2. If gauges are available check the manufacturer’s specification for cylinder gap tolerance. Most manufacturers specify a cylinder gap between .002″ and .006″.
Timing
  1. Check again to be certain the weapon is unloaded.
  2. With the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, cock the hammer to single action. The cylinder stop should lock up when the weapon is cocked. The cylinder should not rotate when the gun is cocked. If the cylinder may be rotated, the gun is improperly timed and the gun will probably spit lead out of the cylinder gap when fired.
  3. Repeat this process through each chamber.
Bore and Cylinder
  1. Swing the cylinder open.
  2. Use a light source or ambient light to inspect the bore. Look for pitting, severely worn rifling, obstructions or bulges of any sort.
  3. Check each chamber in the cylinder in a similar fashion.
  4. Inspect the face (front) of the cylinder for lead buildup and excessive wear.
Trigger
  1. Check to make sure the gun is unloaded.
  2. With the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, cock the hammer to single action.
  3. Without engaging the trigger, press forward on the back of the hammer. The hammer should not fall. If the hammer falls, the condition is called “push off” and is not acceptable in a duty weapon. This condition can be caused by a very dirty internal action, a weak mainspring, a loose strain screw, improper gunsmithing or excessive wear.
  4. Check to be certain the strain screw is tightened completely.
  5. If the gun still suffers from push off have it checked by a certified armorer.
  6. When pulling the trigger, release it and make sure that the trigger resets to the normal rest position.

Firearms that fail any of the safety checks should be brought back to factory specifications by a certified armorer or gunsmith before being cleared for duty carry.

Handling and Cleaning the Revolver

Note: Ensure your firearm is unloaded before beginning to clean it. Always follow the rules of safe gun handling.

Cleaning is essential to ensure the proper functioning of any weapon.

  1. After each use, the weapon should be cleaned by brushing the barrel bore and chambers with a good powder removing solvent and wire bore brush. Continue to clean the bore and chambers until a patch or a swab can be run through the barrel without catching any residue.
  2. Using a small brush dipped in powder removing solvent, remove all deposits from around the forcing cone, chambers, extractor, and adjacent areas of the frame that have been subjected to the action of powder or primer residue.
  3. Pay special attention to cleaning the face (front) of the cylinder of all lead deposits and residue. Excessive deposits will ultimately cause the cylinder to bind and the gun to malfunction.
  4. After cleaning the entire gun, use a cloth to apply a light film of high quality gun oil to all external metal surfaces and wipe clean. Care should be taken not to oil any firearm to the extent where oil will be dripping or running down the handgun. Dirt and residue will be trapped if too much oil is present. Penetrating oils also pose a threat to ammunition. They can render ammunition inoperable or unstable.
  5. Always follow the instructions provided with your solvents and lubricants. Some cleaners have the potential to damage certain weapon finishes and/or parts (specifically certain plastic grips). Avoid prolonged immersion in solvents and prolonged ultrasonic cleaning of weapons. Restrict solvents to those products specifically developed for firearms maintenance. Avoid ammoniated solvents or other strong alkaline solvents.

Assembly and Disassembly

Most security officers and even many firearms instructors should not disassemble the lock work of a revolver unless specifically trained to do so, according to manufacturer specifications for armorers. Revolvers may be sufficiently cleaned after most light use without disassembly.

Periodic heavy cleaning may be facilitated by the removal of the cylinder from the frame for easier access. The cylinder can be removed by locating and removing the cylinder retention screw. On Smith & Wesson revolvers, this screw is located on the right side of the frame just above the front of the trigger. It is the only screw that can be seen when the factory grips are installed. The screw should be removed, the cylinder removed forward, and the screw immediately replaced to prevent loss.

Grip panels should also be removed periodically so that the rear of the frame may be cleaned. Water can enter the action of the weapon between the grip panes and the frame when exposed to rain while holstered.

d.   Revolver Operation

Design features unique to the revolver require that it be handled differently by right- and left- handed shooters. To load a revolver, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and keep the finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard. Both shooters will find that revolvers are more efficiently loaded with the gun in the non-dominant hand while the dominant hand is used to load the chambers. Because the dominant hand is used to handle ammunition and load the weapon, extra ammunition or speed loaders are carried on the same side of the duty belt as the weapon holster (dominant side).

Right-Handed  Shooter—Loading/Unloading/Reloading

  1. Place the trigger guard in the palm of the left hand.
  2. Press the cylinder latch forward with the right thumb to unlock the cylinder.
  3. Push the cylinder open to the left with the middle and ring fingers of the left hand.
  4. Hold the cylinder securely and point the muzzle directly up.
  5. Run the ejector rod all the way rearward using the left thumb.
  6. Turn the muzzle straight down and place a round of ammunition in each chamber or line up a speed loader designed to load all chambers at once.
  7. Grasp the grip with your shooting hand and place your finger on the trigger guard, push the cylinder into the frame until it locks into place.

Figures 12.17 through 12.19 illustrate this process for a right-handed shooter.

Figure 12.17: Step 1 of loading process for right-handed shooter

Figure 12.18: Step 2 of loading process for right-handed shooter

Figure 12.19: Step 3 of loading process for right-handed shooter

Left-Handed  Shooter—Loading/Unloading/Reloading

  1. Place the trigger guard in the palm of the right hand.
  2. Press the cylinder release forward with the left index finger.
  3. Push the cylinder open with the thumb of the right hand.
  4. Hold the cylinder securely and point the muzzle directly up.
  5. Run the ejector rod all the way rearward using the right index finger.
  • Turn the muzzle straight down and place a round of ammunition in each chamber or line up a speed loader designed to load all chambers at once.
  • Grasp the grip with your shooting hand and place your finger on the trigger guard, push the cylinder into the frame until it locks into place.

Figures 12.20 through 12.22 illustrate this process for a left-handed shooter.

Figure 12.20: Step 1 of loading process for left-handed shooter

Figure 12.21: Step 2 of loading process for left-handed shooter

Figure 12.22: Step 3 of loading process for left-handed shooter

Firing the Revolver

Most double-action revolvers can be fired from either single-action or double action mode. The double action mode of firing the revolver is the appropriate mode for security officer purposes.

Double-action trigger pull is consistent and much heavier than single action. The increased weight of the double-action trigger pull reduces the likelihood of unintentional discharge.

Revolver Malfunctions

The immediate action drill for a misfire of the revolver is to pull the trigger again. A second failure to fire should cause the shooter to reload and attempt to fire again. If the weapon fails to fire after reloading, the shooter should transition to another weapon. The following list includes common revolver malfunctions, potential causes and remedies.

Cylinder Fails to Turn

This condition can be caused by several things. If the shooter fails to release the trigger fully after the first shot during double-action trigger pull or pulls the trigger partially, releasing it before the shot (short stroking) the weapon may not function. This is a shooter-induced problem remedied by proper trigger manipulation.

A high primer in one or more of the cartridges may cause the cylinder to bind or lock up. This is an ammunition issue and is remedied by discarding the offending cartridges. High primers are more common in reloaded ammunition. It is recommended that only factory loaded ammunition be used for both duty and training. Dirt or debris under the extractor can cause the cylinder to bind or lock up. This can be remedied by properly cleaning the weapon.

Loose Ejector Rod

This condition makes it hard to open or close the cylinder. Ejector rods are normally threaded into the cylinder (Smith & Wesson ejector rods are also left-hand thread). With firing, the ejector rod may loosen and work outward causing the cylinder to bind. This condition is remedied by securing the ejector rod while spinning the cylinder to tighten the threads. It can be prevented by checking tightness whenever the cylinder is cleaned or loaded. Thread glue can be used to secure the threads when tightened.

Revolver Fails to Fire

This can be attributed to one of two things: the firearm or the ammunition. The most common failure to fire in revolvers occurs when the hammer does not have enough energy to detonate the cartridge primer. Shooters often loosen the mainspring strain screw in an attempt to lighten the

trigger pull weight. This is a potentially dangerous condition for a duty weapon, but is easily remedied by tightening the strain screw located on the front of the frame. It may require the removal of the revolver’s grips. This condition may also be indicative of weak springs that need to be replaced by an armorer or gunsmith.

A broken or severely worn firing pin is a catastrophic failure that cannot be remedied on the street. It must be replaced by an armorer or gunsmith.

A plugged firing pin hole in the back of the frame can keep the gun from firing. It is remedied by cleaning the weapon.

Spitting Lead

This is a condition where lead shavings and powder particles are ejected from the sides of the revolver’s cylinder gap when fired. There are two causes for this condition.

Excessive leading in the forcing cone or on the face of the cylinder can cause lead spitting from the cylinder gap. It is remedied by thoroughly cleaning the weapon.

A more serious condition is caused when the cylinder is “out of time”. This condition occurs when the chamber is misaligned with the forcing cone when the gun is fired. This causes the bullet to shear entering the forcing cone and forces lead shards out of the cylinder gap. To remedy, have the gun “retimed” by a competent armorer or gunsmith.

II     Semi-Automatic Pistol

Semi-automatic handguns are the single most common type of handgun used in modern law enforcement, security and military applications. Semi-automatic handguns are also referred to as auto pistols, auto loaders or just autos. Semi-automatic handguns generally rely on recoil generated by the firing of the weapon to cycle the action, loading the next cartridge into the chamber.

a.     Semi-Automatic Pistol Nomenclature

Figures 12.23 and 12.24 illustrate the parts of commonly used semi-automatic pistols.

Figure 12.23: Parts of the 1911 series semi-automatic pistol

Figure 12.24: Parts of the Glock semi-automatic pistol

Figure 12.25 illustrates an assembled and disassembled representative pistol magazine.

Figure 12.25: Pistol magazine assembled (left) and disassembled (right)

b.   Semi-Automatic Actions

As with revolvers, semi-automatic handguns are normally classified by the action of the trigger as either single-action or double-action. A third type of action common to semi-automatic handguns is the striker fired action. The striker fired systems have no hammer and rely on an internal spring- loaded striker to fire the weapon when the trigger is pulled.

Single action weapons are generally designed to be carried with the hammer cocked and an external safety engaged. They are characterized by a consistent trigger pull that is generally much lighter than that of a double-action handgun.

Double action handguns have several variations. The most common double-action handgun variant is the “double/single action” (DA/SA). DA/SA handguns are designed to be carried with the hammer down. The first shot requires a full double-action trigger pull. Once the gun is fired, the rearward action of the slide cocks the hammer so that subsequent shots are from the single action mode. This type of action requires a great deal of practice to master, as the first pull of the trigger is long and heavy. Yet subsequent shots require much less trigger travel and pressure to fire the weapon.

Double-action handguns may be classified as “double action only” (DAO). DAO handguns are designed to be carried with the hammer down. Upon firing the action of the slide does not cock the handgun to single action. The gun cannot be cocked to a single action state. Every round fired requires a full double action pull of the trigger. The benefit to DAO is a consistent trigger pull from shot to shot.

The last type of common semi-automatic action is the striker fired action. The gun is carried at “half- cock” until the shooter initiates the trigger pull, at which time the striker is drawn to full cock and released to fire the weapon. After each cycle of the slide, the striker is reset to the half-cock position. This type of action generally produces a consistent, relatively light trigger pull.

c.   Semi-Automatic Pistol Maintenance and Safety Check

Semi-automatic handguns have so many variations that no single safety check procedure can be applied to all of them. Security officers should be taught how to perform a safety check for their weapons.

Safety Inspection

The following is an example of safety inspection procedures for the Glock Model 17:

Note: Prior to any safety check, unload and check to be certain the weapon is unloaded. Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and keep the finger off the trigger unless required for a specific function of the safety check.

  1. Remove the magazine from your pistol and verify that there is no cartridge in the barrel. Then the trigger may be pulled back.
  2. Pull back the trigger in its most forward position by cycling the slide. The trigger safety (lever integrated in trigger) should then be properly engaged.
  3. When lateral pressure is applied on the trigger the safety should keep engaged, blocking the trigger movement. Failure of the trigger safety to properly engage or block indicates that it is defective. Have the weapon evaluated by a Glock certified armorer.
  4. Field strip the weapon into its main components and remove the recoil spring and barrel from the slide.
  5. Hold the slide in a muzzle down position and depress the firing pin safety. The tip of the firing pin should move forward and be visible protruding from the firing pin hole.
  6. Keep the firing pin safety depressed and shake the slide. The firing pin should be distinctly heard moving freely.
  7. Draw back manually the firing pin about 0.2 in.
  8. Hold the slide in a horizontal position and push forward the firing pin toward the muzzle, firing pin safety being engaged. The firing pin should not protrude from the firing pin hole. If it does, the firing pin and the firing pin safety should be replaced by a Glock armorer.

Handling and Cleaning the Semi-Automatic Pistol

Note: Ensure your firearm is unloaded before beginning to clean it. Always follow the rules of safe gun handling.

Most semi-automatic weapons are designed to be partially disassembled or field stripped for cleaning. Cleaning is essential to ensure the proper functioning of any weapon.

  1. After each use, the weapon should be field stripped and cleaned.
  2. Brush the barrel bore and feed ramp with a good powder removing solvent and wire bore brush.
  3. Continue to clean the bore and parts of the frame exposed to powder residue until a patch or a swab can be run through the barrel without catching any residue. Attention should be paid to the slide and specifically the bolt face at the back of the ejection port.
  4. A brush or swab should be used to clean beneath the extractor, as residue buildup may cause failures to extract cartridge cases.
  5. The frame of the weapon should be cleaned and visually inspected for cracks.
  6. After cleaning the entire gun, use a cloth to apply a light film of high quality gun oil to all external metal surfaces and wipe clean.
  7. A small amount of oil should be applied to the frame rails and any other moving parts or wear areas.
  8. Care should be taken not to oil any firearm to the extent where oil will be dripping or running down the handgun. Dirt and residue will be trapped if too much oil is present. Penetrating oils also pose a threat to ammunition. They can render ammunition inoperable or unstable.
  9. Always follow the instructions provided with your solvents and lubricants. Some cleaners have the potential to damage certain weapon finishes and/or parts (specifically certain plastic grips). Avoid prolonged immersion in solvents and prolonged ultrasonic cleaning of weapons. Restrict solvents to those products specifically developed for firearms maintenance. Avoid ammoniated solvents or other strong alkaline solvents.

Handgun magazines are often neglected during cleaning and maintenance, yet they are one of the most important parts of the weapon system. The magazine should be disassembled and cleaned. Upon reassembly, magazines should be inspected for spring tension and follower alignment.

Assembly and Disassembly

Security officers should be taught to field strip their firearms for cleaning and inspection. Security officers should not disassemble semi-automatic weapons beyond the field stripping stage unless they are specifically trained to do so. Duty weapons should be inspected annually by an armorer certified to inspect and repair the weapons.

Field stripping procedures for the semi-automatic handgun are unique to the make and model of weapon. Field stripping and reassembly procedures for Glock brand weapons are listed below.

Note: All weapons inspected to be empty and all bullets segregated before beginning.

Disassembly of the Glock (All Models)

The following is a list of procedures for the disassembly of all versions of the Glock:

  1. Remove the magazine, unload and check chamber.
  2. Pointing the weapon down range, with the slide forward, pull the trigger.
  3. Pull the slide to the rear 0.12″ and pull both sides of the slide lock downwards simultaneously.
  4. Push the slide forward and separate it from the receiver.
  5. Remove the recoil spring and guide by gripping them at the rear and pushing forward.
  6. Grasp the barrel locking cams, push the barrel slightly forward and lift from gun.
Reassembly of the Glock (All Models)

The following is a list of procedures for the reassembly of all versions of the Glock:

  1. Insert the barrel, then the recoil spring and guide into the slide.
  2. Slip the slide onto frame and lock to the rear.
  3. Release the slide forward.

d.  Semi-Automatic Pistol Operation

Loading and unloading the semi-automatic pistol is a sequential process that must be taught and practiced in proper sequence in order for the shooter to operate the system safely and efficiently. When loading or unloading the semi-automatic handgun each hand has a specific job. The dominant (shooting) hand grips and maintains control of the pistol at all times, engages the slide lock, magazine release and de-cocking lever, if applicable. The support hand handles the magazines and functions the slide.

The three common methods of loading are administrative loading, lock-back (speed) reloading, and tactical reloading. The method of loading the weapon is based on the environment and conditions under which the shooter is operating.

Administrative Loading

Administrative loading and unloading are low stress techniques that are performed with no pressure or time limit. Administrative loading is performed to bring the weapon into the carry mode for duty or to shoot at the range. When done properly, like the following steps, administrative loading will help reinforce good reloading habits as the shooter performs all the reloading functions even though there is no time pressure:

Note: Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, keep the finger off the trigger for the duration of the loading or unloading event.

Loading Procedure

  1. Insert a loaded magazine into the magazine well, verifying that it locks into place.
  2. Rack the slide completely to the rear and release it to chamber the first cartridge from the magazine. Do not allow the hand to ride the slide forward. De-cock the weapon and engage any external safety (if the weapon is equipped with a safety).
  3. Ensure the chamber is loaded by performing a press check. A press check is performed by moving the slide rearward just enough to see the cartridge case of the chambered cartridge. Be certain that the slide goes fully into battery when released. If it does not, grip the gun firmly and bump the back of the slide with the palm heal of the support hand. (Some weapon systems do not require a press check as the weapon has a loaded chamber indicator.)
  4. Holster the weapon. Remove the magazine and “top off” the magazine to capacity. Reinsert the magazine making sure it fully seats.

Unloading Procedure

The following procedures should be used for unloading the weapon:

  1. With the handgun pointed in a safe direction, finger off the trigger, remove the magazine and secure it.
  2. Use the support hand to grasp the serrations at the back of the slide and pull the slide to the rear to extract/eject the chambered cartridge. Do not cover the ejection port in an attempt to catch cartridge. Let the cartridge fall free, preferably on a soft surface and lock the slide open using the dominant hand to engage the slide lock.
  3. Check the chamber and magazine well to be certain they are empty. Check both visually and physically, to make sure. Then check it again.
  4. Rack the slide, de-cock the weapon (if so equipped), and engage any safety devices. Secure the unloaded weapon in a holster or storage container.

Reloading the Weapon

There are two basic types of pistol reload, the speed reload and the tactical reload. The speed reload is performed when the gun is empty, while the tactical reload is used to “top off” a partially loaded gun and retain the partially spent magazine. Many trainers argue that in combat a security officer should reload when they want to, as opposed to reloading when he/she has to (due to an empty weapon). The reality of combat generally finds the security officer reloading because they have fired the weapon dry and must reload to get back into the fight.

Note: Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction; keep the finger off the trigger for the duration of any reloading event.

Speed Reloading Procedure

The following procedures should be used for speed reloading:

  1. The speed reload is initiated when the weapon is empty and the slide is locked to the rear.
  2. The support hand retrieves a new magazine, while the shooting hand presses the magazine release to drop the magazine from the weapon. If the empty magazine does not fall free, the support hand can pull it free, while holding the new magazine.
  3. The support hand inserts the new magazine into the magazine well pressing it until it locks firmly into place.
  4. The support hand will then grip and rack the slide to the rear, releasing it to chamber a cartridge from the magazine.
Tactical Reloading Procedure

The following procedures should be used for tactical reloading:

  1. The tactical reload is initiated at the shooter’s discretion.
  2. The support hand draws the new magazine and positions it between index and middle finger.
  3. The index finger and thumb of the support hand are used to catch the partially loaded magazine from the magazine well as the dominant hand presses the magazine release.
  4. Once the partially loaded magazine drops in between the thumb and index finger, the new magazine is inserted into the magazine well until it is fully seated.
  5. The partially spent magazine is placed in the belt or pocket.

Note: It is not recommended that you replace partially spent magazines in the magazine pouch. The magazine pouch should be reserved for fully loaded magazines to ensure the shooter reloads with a full magazine whenever he/she retrieves one from the pouch.

Semi-Automatic Malfunctions

Semi-automatic weapons are inherently more complex than revolvers. They have more moving parts, require more maintenance and are subject to more malfunctions. Most malfunctions, however, are caused by the shooter; few are weapon problems. Semi-automatic weapon malfunctions include: failure to fire, failure to feed, failure to extract, and failure to eject. A list of the types of malfunction and causes is provided, followed by the immediate action drills used to remedy them.

Failure to Fire

This is most commonly caused by the shooter failing to properly seat the magazine or failing to work the slide during the loading process. It may also be caused by a broken firing pin or bad ammunition.

Failure to Feed

This malfunction occurs when a cartridge fails to enter the chamber completely, keeping the weapon’s action out of battery. It can be caused by the shooter failing to provide a solid shooting platform for the weapon (“limp wristing”), a lack of lubrication, and/or faulty ammunition.

Failure to Extract

This malfunction is caused when the fired cartridge case is not extracted from the chamber. It often leads to a condition referred to as a “double feed” because the slide forces a subsequent cartridge from the magazine against the back of the empty cartridge case locking the action partially open.

Failure to Eject

This malfunction is caused when the fired cartridge case is extracted but not completely ejected out of the action. It is sometimes referred to as a “stovepipe stoppage” because the cartridge case sticks out of the open ejection port like a stovepipe. This is commonly caused by limp wristing the weapon or allowing something to block the ejection port during the firing process.

Immediate Action Drills for Semi-Auto Malfunctions

Whenever an immediate action drill is used, the shooter should seek cover (if available), keep the muzzle in a safe direction, and take the finger off of the trigger. The immediate action drill known as Tap-Rack-Ready will remedy more than 90% of semi-auto malfunctions.

Tap-Rack-Ready

When the weapon fails to fire, the shooter immediately initiates the Tap-Rack-Ready Drill. This drill should be taught to and practiced by all shooters until it becomes a reflexive response when the gun fails to fire.

  1. Tap. Tap the bottom of the magazine with the support hand to ensure that it is properly seated.
  2. Rack. Rack the slide to extract and eject any cartridge in the chamber and load another cartridge from the magazine.
  3. Ready. Return to the two-handed shooting grip and assess the need to fire. If firing is not immediately necessary, move to low ready position, and begin to scan for threats.

If Tap-Rack-Ready fails to solve the problem in combat, the officer should seek cover, transition to another weapon (if possible), communicate with other officers, and/or perform the Lock-Rip-Rack- Reload Drill to clear the weapon.

Lock-Rip-Rack-Reload

This drill is performed only after Tap-Rack-Ready has failed to clear the problem.

  1. Lock. Rack the slide to the rear while engaging the slide lock.
  2. Rip. Press the magazine release with the dominant hand and rip the magazine from the magazine well with the support hand. Do not expect the magazine to fall free. If a double feed has occurred the magazine will not fall free.
  3. Rack. Rack the slide several times to clear the chamber. Some instructors teach to hold the slide open and visually inspect the chamber to see that it is clear. Others argue that it takes too much time to do so.
  4. Reload. Insert a magazine ensuring that it properly seats. Rack the slide to chamber a round. Return to the two-handed shooting grip and assess the need to fire. If firing is not immediately necessary, move to low ready position, and begin to scan for threats. Some instructors teach to reinsert the original magazine while some recommend using a new magazine.

If these two drills fail to clear the weapon in combat, the officer should seek cover, transition to another weapon (if possible), communicate with other officers, leave the area or move into close combat using other types of weapons to finish the engagement.

III    Shotgun

Any commissioned security officer licensed by the department who, in the performance of his/her duties, has a shotgun available to assist in the protection of life or property must demonstrate proficiency to a department approved firearms training instructor by successfully completing the course of fire for shotgun training.

a.    Shotgun Nomenclature

Figures 12.26 and 12.27 illustrate the parts of commonly used shotguns.

Figure 12.26: Parts of the Remington Model 870 shotgun

Figure 12.27: Parts of the Benelli M1 Super 90 shotgun

b.   Shotgun Actions

Modern security officers commonly utilize two types of shotgun, the pump action and the semi- automatic action. The most common type of shotgun used for security officers is the manually operated, pump action, because it is less prone to malfunction (particularly when dirty) than semi- automatic designs. Pump shotguns are also more reliable than semi-automatic shotguns when using specialty ammunition.

c.    Shotgun Maintenance and Safety Check

Shotguns have so many variations that no single safety check procedure can be applied to all of them. For this purpose we look at the Remington Model 870 which is a very common pump action shotgun model in law enforcement, public and private protection services.

Safety Inspection for the Remington 870

The following is an example of a safety inspection for the Remington 870:

Note: Prior to any safety check, unload and check to be certain the weapon is unloaded. Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and keep the finger off the trigger unless required for a specific function of the safety check.

  1. Open action. Start inspection at muzzle end of barrel.
  2. Check the front and rear sights for looseness or damage.
  3. Check muzzle end of barrel for nicks or damage.
  4. Check bore of barrel for damage, obstruction and cleanliness.
  5. Check magazine cap to assure it is finger tight.
  6. Check fore-end wood to make sure it is tight to action bar. Loose fore-end wood will result in a bind when pumping action or prevent the action from fully closing and locking the action into battery.
  7. Check ejection port for any cracks at front and rear.
  8. Check barrel guide and ejector spring to assure they are not broken.
  9. Check extractor for binds and extractor spring to assure it is not broken by pulling on extractor with finger.
  10. Check safety. Put safety on and supply pressure to trigger. Sear should not release.
  11. Check slide release lever. Pump action forward and hold pressure to rear by pulling the action bar back. While holding this pressure to rear, pull trigger. Trigger should not release action while pressure is being applied.
  12. Check stock for tight fit to receiver.
  13. Make sure butt plate is not broken.
  14. Make sure heel and toe of stock are not cracked.
  15. Check weapon for overall cleanliness.
  16. When the weapon is to be stored, the action should be closed with the trigger pulled and safety on.

Note: The rear of the Remington 870 firing pin should be flat. Replace the old style rounded firing pins, as they may break in dry fire exercises.

  • Slide action check—slide action bar should move smoothly and freely front to back.

Cleaning Shotguns

Cleaning is essential to ensure the proper functioning of any weapon. After each use, the weapon should be field stripped and cleaned by the armorer.

To clean the barrel: Select the correct gauge cleaning brush and attach the brush to the cleaning rod. Put the cleaning brush into solvent and push the cleaning rod through the barrel from receiver to muzzle several times. Make sure the brush clears the muzzle before pulling back through. Push the correct size cleaning patch through the bore.

Repeat several times using a clean patch each time until the patch is not dirty. Remove all shooting residue from the locking notch in the barrel.

To clean the receiver: Brush the inside of the receiver with cleaning solvent and wipe dry.

To clean the trigger plate assembly: (Do not disassemble.) Spray the trigger plate assembly with solvent. Clean parts with toothbrush or rag before lubricating. Lubricate with a small amount of oil.

d.    Shotgun Operation

When loading or unloading the shotgun each hand has a specific job. The dominant (shooting) hand grips and maintains control of the weapon at all times. The support hand handles the ammunition and functions the slide/forearm.

The two common methods of loading are administrative loading and tactical reloading. The method of loading the weapon is based on the environment and conditions under which the shooter is operating.

Administrative loading and unloading are low stress techniques that are performed with no pressure or time limit. Administrative loading is performed to bring the weapon into the carry mode for duty or to shoot at the range.

Note: Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, keep the finger off the trigger and the safety engaged for the duration of the loading or unloading event.

Administrative Loading and Unloading

Loading

The following procedures should be used for administrative loading:

  1. Open the action and check to make certain the chamber is empty. Push the slide/forearm all the way forward. Roll the shotgun over using the dominant hand to support the receiver.
  2. Use the non-dominant hand to load the magazine tube by forcing down the loading gate and pushing the shell into the magazine until the shooter feels a positive click.
  3. If preparing to carry the shotgun on duty, the gun is prepared to be placed in the patrol car. To employ the weapon the shooter must press the slide/forearm release, completely rack the slide, and disengage the safety in order to fire.
Unloading

The following procedures should be used for administrative unloading:

  1. Depress the slide/forearm release and ease the slide slowly to the rear until the front of the shell just clears the forward edge of the ejection port. Remove the shell.
  2. Pull the forearm all the way to the rear. This moves the first shell from the magazine onto the loading gate.
  3. Roll the shotgun to the right, which allows the shell to roll out of the ejection port.
  4. Push the shell carrier up until it stays up and turn the shotgun upside down.
  5. Depress the shell latch located on the ejection port side of the gun. This will release a shell from the magazine through the loading port.
  6. Continue until the weapon is unloaded.
  7. Visually and physically inspect the chamber and magazine to ensure that they are empty.
  8. In low light conditions, use a finger to feel the chamber and magazine tube.
Tactical Reloading

Tactical reloading is the manner used to load an empty shotgun quickly when extra ammunition is available. It can also be used to “top off” the magazine during a pause in firing. The following procedures should be used for tactical reloading:

  1. If the gun is empty, keep it mounted to the shoulder, supporting it with the dominant hand.
  2. Pull the forearm all the way to the rear, opening the action.
  3. With the non-dominant hand obtain a new shell and load it into the open ejection port.
  4. Push the slide forward. The gun may now be fired if necessary.
  5. If firing is not immediately necessary, load subsequent shells into the magazine tube until it is full.