There you are practicing at the range, committed to your marksmanship basics, peering intently at the front sight as you control your trigger press….anddddd…..CLICK.
How can this be? You’ve done everything right. You’re shooting factory loaded ammunition. Your firearm is squeaky clean and minty fresh.
Get over it. In fact, accept it. As with any mechanical device, things can go wrong with your pistol, and they will. Your acceptance of this will allow you to stay calm and fix the issue to your best ability. Your job is to know which problems you can solve-and how.
That click you just heard is one of the most common symptoms of several issues. Some are operator induced, and some might not be-but in all cases, they’re nothing to panic over. Even better, most of them can be fixed right there, if you do your part.
Let’s take a quick look at the most likely causes of this “CLICK-not-bang,” which is essentially afailure to fire:
- Empty chamber
- Bad ammo
- Broken firing pin or other mechanical failure
In my experience, 1 and 2 cause a majority of these dreaded clicks; broken firing pins or other parts are rare (they also require mechanical repair, and are not addressed further here).
How do we end up with an empty chamber: Did you forget to load your chamber? If you are sure you loaded your chamber, did you check it? Is your magazine seated improperly? If the magazine is not inserted and locked fully into place, you won’t be able to load a cartridge into the chamber.
What about “bad ammo”? In this case, “bad” means that for whatever reason, the cartridge does not fire. This in turn can result from a wide range of manufacturing defects-whether the ammo is made in the factory or at home-and can include anything from backward primers to no powder in the case. It’s nothing to worry about; it’s rare, but it happens. (Note: In this article we are not addressing squib loads.)
So how do we fix these? In each case, our objective is to get whatever is in the chamber and not working for us (thin air, bad ammo) out, and to feed a new cartridge into said chamber….