A few posts ago, we featured some causes and effects of AR-15 weapons malfunctions. Suggestions were made regarding why things may be happening the way they were in an attempt to help the shooter diagnose and resolve a simple problem and get their weapon functioning the way it should without having to send it in for repair when the cause or problem is not an extensively mechanical or technical one. This time we will consider the standard "S.P.O.R.T.S." method of clearing a malfunction that is designed to quickly resolve a situation and return your weapon to service immediately. This method may not address all problems or what may be at the "root" of the problem, but it is ideal for a situation that requires your weapon to be immediately usable.
Before we start, a safety warning: if your rifle fails to fire with a "live" round in the chamber, attempt to remove it via the method described below quickly. If you cannot do this within a few seconds, remove the magazine from the weapon, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and wait around five minutes or so for the weapon to cool (if it is hot from earlier use), before attempting to investigated further. Keep your face and other body parts as far away as possible from the ejection port, magazine well, and chamber until you are certain the weapon is cool and the unfired round will not experience a delayed detonation.
If you have a history of recent military service, you will likely remember learning this method in basic training. S.P.O.R.T.S. is an acronym:
S Slap the magazine upward (make sure it is firmly seated)
P Pull the charging handle (all the way to the rear)
O Observe the ejection (or lack thereof) of the case or cartridge
R Release (pull and release the charging handle to chamber a cartridge
T Tap the forward assist (to ensure the bolt is in battery)
S Squeeze the trigger to fire the newly chambered round.
This typically will quickly resolve an issue related to improper chambering, ammunition quality, or improper magazine seating. If the rifle still fails to fire, the sequence should be performed again. While this is a quick and easy to remember method, the steps must be performed properly. The third step of observing the ejection of the case or cartridge is extremely important. If the cartridge (spent or unfired) is not extracted and ejected, the sequence should not proceed or it will only cause a new problem (double feeding, etc...). The cartridge must be removed and the reason it remained in the chamber should be identified and addressed.
earlier blog post, so please use this resource for ideas and methods that may help to resolve any malfunction or performance issues. Something as simple as using a different magazine or fixing a problematic one or even performing a proper cleaning of the entire weapon may resolve malfunctions that are not remedied by the S.P.O.R.T.S. process.
It is a great idea to familiarize yourself enough with this process so that it can be performed quickly and properly if necessary. Start slow to do it right. If you have inert/dummy rounds/snap caps (Magpul often includes them in their stock packaging), placing one in the middle of a magazine can help you train to use this in a realistic manner so that, should you ever need to use it in a dangerous scenario, you will do it right and do it fast and can "stay in the fight."
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