Tap. Rack. Bang. A Good Way to Train?

Tap. Rack. Bang.

A Good Way to Train?

Immediate action drills have taken off in popularity for firearms training. What exactly are they, where did they come from, and how could I consider them potentially dangerous? Let’s delve into that.

What is it?

The specific procedure you learn is largely dependent on your firearm. As most people have a semi-automatic pistol, the most common procedure is to perform a tap, rack, bang (TRB.) That is: tap the magazine, rack the slide, and continue firing. This will vary depending on your specific firearm (rifles sometimes use the forward assist) and will clear about 90% of stoppages.

Why is it so popular?

Again, a solid TRB will clear about 90% of stoppages and get you back in a gunfight. Who doesn’t want to know that they can shoot and train like the military?

Train like the military?

Yes, immediate and remedial action drills were developed by the military for forces engaged in combat. Understanding that a mid-combat delay could be fatal, there are risks the military is willing to take to ensure that their members can return fire. The military teaches its members that if they are in a firefight and they encounter a weapon stoppage or weapon malfunction, to apply immediate action procedures first to attempt to get back into the fight, as the incoming hail of bullets far outweighs any risks that could come from encountering a catastrophic failure. If immediate action does not fix the firearm, the military instructs its members to take remedial actions if the situation allows. This includes a minimal in-field weapon breakdown to investigate the issue further. Typically, this would consist of a soldier clearing their weapon and removing all ammunition, inspecting the chamber for blockages or ammunition, clearing any observed blockages, and then reloading the firearm with a fresh magazine and continuing to fire. Again, this is all done while under fire.

stovepipe malfuntion

Stovepipe jam in a semi-automatic pistol.

Is it a good way to train?

I absolutely think that it is a good idea for anyone that may ever be in a combat situation or a gunfight to train on how to employ immediate action. There are drills that are easy to find online and aids to help with this training. However, I believe a TRB should be done as a training drill. I do not feel it should be employed as a regular tactic when on the shooting range or at casual shooting events. The risk of a catastrophic failure that can cause damage to the firearm or serious injury or death to the shooter or innocent bystanders is not worth employing this procedure in every situation. Immediate action drills should be reserved for real-world gun fights and training specifically designed to develop that muscle memory.

You can easily load up a magazine with a random number of live rounds and stick a dummy round in the magazine at a random spot to train specifically for this situation and build that muscle memory. Should you ever find yourself in a combat situation or a gunfight, you’ll still have the muscle memory to know how to employ those immediate action skills.

However, if I’m at the range and I’m working on my point of aim, trigger squeeze, breath control, or any of the other myriad of things that go into making an accurate shot, and my firearm acts in a way that is unexpected, my actions would be different. For the safety of myself and those around me, here are the steps I take and encourage others to follow when encountering a malfunction at the range:

  • Keep the firearm pointed down range for a few seconds in case of a hang fire.
  • Place the firearm on safe
  • Remove the magazine
  • Lock the slide to the rear and inspect the chamber for unfired ammunition
  • Perform a visual inspection of the firearm, including looking for barrel obstructions
Remove the magazine.

Remove the magazine.

Lock the slide to the rear.

Lock the slide to the rear.

Inspect the chamber.

Inspect the chamber.

Depending on your specific situation and as you become more familiar with your firearm, this can all be adjusted to your needs while still being safe. For example, a stovepipe jam may preclude any possibility of a hang fire, so I can probably eliminate waiting for a few seconds. However, why did it stovepipe? Was it a light powder load? Could the projectile still be in the barrel?  I’d feel a lot better checking that before I fire another round.

Immediate action has its place for anyone in a situation where they need their firearm to get back in the fight. I believe anyone with a firearm should conduct this training, as you never know. However, can we do it smartly? I believe so. We can do it in a controlled setting to keep the risks minimal.


Tap. Rack. Bang. A Good Way to Train?


With over two decades of experience in both civilian and military marksmanship programs, Teeps has developed a profound passion for shooting. Not only does he find great joy in introducing newcomers to the sport, but also continually seeks to expand his repertoire in the pursuit of shooting excellence.

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