The firearms experience at a well-managed gun range is (or at least should be) a safe(r) and controlled one, with optimal lighting and ventilation, not to mention good separation of shooters and a proper backstop. The potential firearms experience in the “real world” (especially in a self-defense context) is naturally chaotic and full of variables beyond one’s influence.
Assumption Is the Mother of All F*ckups
The simple assumption of having both hands available and usable for handling one’s pistol is no longer simple nor can be assumed in a defensive gun use scenario, but proper training and practice can help address that. PSTC’s PST 103: Advanced Defensive Handgun course includes a section on single handed gun handling and malfunction clearance, which expands on both concepts introduced in the precursor PST 102 course.
A Transitive Proposition
If all machines will eventually malfunction, and guns are machines, then guns will eventually malfunction, right? Starting with PST 101A, we learned the major types of handgun malfunctions and how to address them. I got further practice setting up and clearing these malfunctions while teaching the Liberal Gun Club’s Firearms Fundamentals class.
He Played It Left Hand
In PST 103 we were presented with the challenge of doing all those clearances using only one hand. Like the above-pictured double feed, but left-handed. I can imagine the hypotheticals where one’s main hand is unusable once the proverbial has hit the fan, and it’s not pretty. So it stands to reason to learn and practice how to do this sort of stuff in a safe and controlled setting.
Yes folks, no live ammo used while practicing these exercises at home. Snap caps for the win. And we had lots of proper supervision in class.
Tee-Ell Slash Dee-Arr
Without going into much detail on how one-handed malfunction clearance is done, as I strongly recommend the reader to seek out professional, in-person training rather than blazing the Interwebz Autodidact Trail, I’d like to mention a couple of takeaways from this learning experience.
Make Use of Those Pockets
Most, if not all modern handgun magazines feature a gap between the baseplate and the magwell and/or a flared baseplate. In the case of the IWI Masada, there’s a notieable gap.
This is extremely useful when attempting to pull out a magazine using one hand, as you can use the edge of your trousers pocket to provide just enough grasp on the magazine. It takes practice and patience to pull this off to be sure.
Ergonomics for the Win
Another nugget of learning has to do with ambidextrous controls. Unlike the Sig P365 pictured above, the Glock G19 below has a slide lock that can be manipulated with either hand, which is more than convenient when you’re futzing with it left-handed.
The IWI Masada’s magazine release button is ambidextrous, which further reduces the awkwardness of wrangling a pistol.
The Rear Sight in Hindsight
The pistol’s rear sight becomes an indispensable leverage point for racking the slide with one hand. Any number of places on one’s body - e.g., trouser pocket, keys or other objects inside said pocket, the edge of a rigid holster, belt buckle - can be used for the sight to catch against, although it sure takes patience and practice to get it right.
Key Safety Points
Underscoring all these activities are two cardinal points to constantly keep in mind: 1) keep fingers off the trigger and 2) make sure the handgun is pointed in a generally safe direction while clearing that malfunction. And as mentioned above, don’t use live ammo when practicing at home!