Tactical Thoughts

Today’s tactical thought is how to set up a double feed in your AR-15 platform rifle. The purpose in setting up the dreaded double feed is so that you can train yourself to rapidly (relatively) clear the double feed. This drill works best with a training partner, as it keeps the element of surprise. First, here’s how to create a the double feed jam in your AR.

1. Remove the magazine and lock the bolt to the rear.
2. Insure that the chamber is empty.
3. Insert a loaded magazine in to the magwell, but DO NOT close the bolt.
4. Lay a round on top of the loaded magazine in the chamber.
5. With your hand, gently lower the bolt until it has picked up the round from the top of the mag and the round laying on the mag and created a double feed malfunction.

Now that you know how to create a double feed, here’s a drill you can do with a friend to train on clearing a double feed. Set up two targets downrange, and tell your friend that you’re going to hand him or her either a live weapon, or a jammed weapon. They will be “on the clock” to clear the malf and engage the two downrange targets with 2 rounds each, or if the weapon is hot, just engage the targets. Make sure you close the dust cover when you’re setting up the gun so that your training partner can’t “see” the malf.

Of course, if you’re on the receiving end of a busted gun, what do you do? How do you go about clearing the malf and making the weapon ready to fire?

1. When you get a “click” instead of a “bang”, the worst thing you can do is stare at the gun. Even though we “know” it’s a double feed, we want to train right – so first we’re going to smack the base of the mag to make sure it’s seated, then try to run the charging handle.

2. “click” – Okay, that didn’t work. Now we clear the double feed. Lock the bolt to the rear, and then remove the mag from the magwell.

3. Now with your left hand (for right handed shooters) reach inside the magwell and dislodge the rounds, or if they already have fallen clear, feel the magwell chamber area to make sure it’s not obstructed. Train like this so that you can clear a double feed just as well at 2am just as well as you can at 2am.

4. Put a fresh mag in, close the bolt, and you’re off to the races!

Once you do this several times, you won’t fear the double feed. It will be just another routine weapons manipulation drill, just one that takes a little longer to clear.


  1. Great description!

    Just want to add three things…

    1. Muzzle discipline, muzzle discipline, muzzle discipline!
    2. For folks who are more visual learners, the Magpul Art of the Carbine videos feature some great malfunction drills.
    3. If you have an opportunity to take a carbine class, do it.

  2. Several times? Several thousand times you mean? 🙂

    “so first we’re going to smack the base of the mag to make sure it’s seated, then try to run the charging handle.”

    Too gentle, Caleb: we’re going to smack it and pull it (the magazine, you naughty boy). We’re not going to run the charging handle; we’re going to rip that thing off the gun and let it go.

    Tap/pull-rack-it won’t work-unload the gun-reload the gun.

    Everytime you shoot you should practice malfunctions. It takes 10K-13K repititions to embed manipulations in long term memory so that you can do it without thinking. Every single time we shoot we practice malfunctions.

    If the range will allow, we practice malfunctions blindfolded (or at least with eyes closed). Regardless, we always practice our malfuntion clearances.

    I can recommend Thunder Ranch’s excellent DVD and videotape on “Urban Rifle”.

  3. Caleb,
    After a couple of years as an Army Drill Sergeant, and having attended a couple of ranges over the years, the acronym SPORTS still rings a bell.

    S-lap the bottom of the magazine
    P-ull the charging handle
    O-bserve the chamber (see if it is clear)
    R-elease the charging handle
    T-ap the forward assist
    S-queeze the trigger (after reacquiring the target)

    BUT (!!!) this was changed to just PORTS. It seemed that the magazines, having been true and faithful companions for many years, had reached the end of their service life. A good slap on the bottom of the magazine would oft times spill one or two extra rounds into the receiver, thereby causing more trouble. On a rifle qualification range, losing those extra two rounds (falling out) might mean the difference between qualifying or not.

  4. The only reservation I would have about that is the “observe” part. I’d rather train to feel the chamber manually, because when it’s dark out, I might not necessarily be able to see the chamber, but regardless of light and weather, I can always feel it.

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