Weapon Manipulation Amusement

Student Review: TC3/RMP, CRM, 15-17 Aug: Dane
August 20, 2014
Falklands War 1982 : Video
August 27, 2014

For those who read the blog regularly and in particularly  those who have attended training, you will realize that MVT has really started dialing down on student’s weapon manipulation skills. We mainly went there because of observing training feedback and improving on how to give students best value. You don’t get best value out of a tactics class if your head is in your weapon all the time. That is why we now offer Combat Rifle Manipulation (CRM) and we have also added a day to CRCD to make it a 3 day class.

Of course part of this dynamic is due to students being over confident in their own weapon handling skills. It’s not your fault. You thought you were fine at it on the square range/bench, but you have never run a tactics class before, and you have never been under stress while doing it. You don’t know what you don’t know. That is what MVT is here for. I have lost count of the number of students who have 1) been very grateful to have been run through RMP and 2) been amazed at what they did not know about dealing with weapon manipulation out in the wild.

The reason I put this post up is because I have had various anecdotes come in to me from around the interwebz about weapon malfunction drills. It appears that the tacticool schools like to sneakily read this blog and then adopt what they think is being taught. Funny. It seems they have started with what they know best, which is square range weapon manipulation drills. That is great, because my intent is to actually revolutionize the tactical training industry so that students actually get taught right. I want to force the tacticool schools to adapt to real training or close their doors – tacticool BS services will no longer be in demand! Just beware when they start teaching ‘tactics’ – they may not have the background or facility to do so correctly. Due diligence will be needed by you as the student.

The bolt override clearance drill is not something you hear of much. We teach it at MVT. We teach it so that it can be cleared rapidly without the use of tools. I posted about it in this post and described how to do it: ‘Rifle Stoppage Drills‘ – but of course even that post does not really help you unless you are correctly instructed on the range.

So the amusement comes when everyone appears to be now doing bolt override clearance drills! But the thing is, the anecdotes I receive show them being done wrong. I had one about a weapon being mortared to clear a bolt override, resulting in the breakage of the butt stock. And then their is this, I don’t know from where (photo was sent to me):

Bolt Override Wrong

Which shows what appears to be a blank round the wrong way round for a bolt override!

So it appears people want to copy stuff but without really knowing what they are doing with it.

Which makes me realize that even though I can post a description of these drills on the site (and I will copy them below) it does not mean that you as students will be able to read, understand and conduct the drills. There is no substitute for getting the training straight up from the source. Get the training the right way at MVT, then go away and practice. You will be taught these drills as part of RMP on the new first day of CRCD. You will get them in more depth on the CRM class. CRM should be considered as a preliminary to CRCD, or even additional training if you have already done CRCD. CRM did not take off as much as it should have done initially, with half full classes running, mainly because people don’t know they need it, and how much it would benefit them. Everyone wants to do CRCD, but your CRCD experience will benefit from a previous attendance at CRM.

Here is a good recent review on CRM.

Rifle (AR based) Stoppage Drills:

Assume a right handed firer. The support hand is therefore the left hand. The right hand will be on the pistol grip and operating the trigger. You should be primarily reloading and clearing stoppages with your left hand. Pouches should be set up so that magazine/dump pouches are accessible with the left hand for rapid reloading.

The intent with a stoppage drill is to get the weapon back into the fight as rapidly as possible (note the safety is not applied):


Common First Step: If you are firing your weapon and it fails to fire, immediately cant it slightly to the left so you can observe the ejection port. As you do this, ensure you take better cover. You will then act as a result of what you see:

Speed/Emergency reload:

  • Fire until the magazine is empty and the bolt locks to the rear.
  • On canting the weapon you observe no round in the chamber and no rounds in the magazine i.e. empty magazine.
  • Keeping the weapon pointing towards the enemy (and taking better cover if you need to):
  • Operate the magazine release button with your right index finger. The magazine should drop out of the weapon.
  • Cant the weapon to the right, this will create space when prone and give some momentum to the empty magazine to aid in its ejection.
  • Simultaneously index a magazine from a pouch, (beer can/hammer grip preferred) It helps to have the magazines in the pouch upside down and facing the right way so you consistently grab the magazines in the same manner.
  • Bring the magazine to the weapon. Push it into the magazine well. Pull on it to ensure it is locked in place (Push/pull).
  • Press the bolt release with the thumb of your support hand, it will be there after a proper reload anyway.  Using the charging handle is strongly discouraged.
  • Resume firing.
  • If you have time, situational dependant, you can retrieve the magazine from the ground and put it away.

NOTE: The priority of the speed/emergency reload is to get the weapon back in the fight. Magazine retention is secondary. If you have the time after an emergency reload, you can pick up your empty magazine. Due to the effects of stress it is better to learn one way to perform the emergency/speed reload and if you have time and presence of mind you can conduct a tactical reload.

Tactical Reload:

  • This happens in a lull in the battle, or before moving to a phase where you need to ensure you have a full magazine.
  • You have fired some rounds from your magazine and wish to ensure you have a full magazine in the weapon. There is already a round in the chamber.
  • Keeping the weapon pointed at the threat, from cover, and maintaining observation, index a fresh magazine from a pouch first.
  • Bring the full magazine to the rifle. Make an ‘L’ shape with the full magazine and the partial magazine in the weapon. It is ok to glance at the magazine while you do this.
  • Operate the magazine release button with your right index finger. You are holding on to both magazines at this point.
  • Pull the old magazine out and flip the new one up and fit it into the magazine well. Push/pull.
  • Put the old magazine away.

If you are doing this in a pause in the battle, ensure you maintain security/observation. Take turns to do this. You may also take the opportunity to ‘bump’ your magazine load up and refill your ready pouches with fresh magazines. The reason you bring the full magazine to the weapon before you remove the partial mag, is that if you do it the other way round, and you come under contact, you only have one round in the chamber and no magazine fitted. You will also lose the advantage of the bolt lock when you fire that one round.

Tap, Rack, Bang

  • Trigger does not fire the weapon
  • Canting it to the left, you observe the ejection port and see:
    • The bolt is fully seated
    • The bolt is not seated
    • there is a stovepipe (an empty case sticking perpendicular out of the ejection port, wedged in by the closed bolt.
  • With your left hand:
  • Tap the bottom magazine to ensure it is correctly seated.
  • Rack the slide by pulling back on the charging handle, fully to the rear, and releasing it. Do not ride the charging handle forward.
  • Bang continue firing.

Remedial  Action:

  • Weapon stops firing
  • Canting it to the left, you observe the ejection port and see:
    • 2 or more rounds stuck in the chamber i.e. double feed or similar problem.
    • or
    • Bolt override (covered separately)
  • Strip the magazine from the rifle
  • With the left hand, rack the charging handle at least twice.
  • (You can also shake the weapon to help the rounds fall out of the magazine well)
  • Replace the magazine (push/pull).
  • Pull the charging handle fully to the rear and release.
  • Fire.

Bolt Override:

  • Weapon stops firing
  • Canting it to the left, you observe the ejection port and see:
    • A round jammed up above the bolt.
  • Remove the magazine. This may require considerable force.
  • Allow the muzzle to go into the ground. Lean into the weapon with your right shoulder.
  • Pull the charging handle as far to the rear as possible with the left hand. This may also require considerable force.
  • Placing the fingers of the right hand through the ejection port, put pressure on the face of the bolt and push it rearward.
  • Push the charging handle forwards until it is seated. This should free the offending round and allow it fall through the magwell.
  • Reinsert a magazine
  • Charge the weapon.
  • Fire.

Writing these drills here is not sufficient for you to fully understand them and the detail. This does not suffice for good instruction.

Also, consider these drills as the 95% solution. This does not cover ammunition failures that may require actions such as rodding out a spent round from the chamber, etc. Ammunition failure is separate from the standard 5 stoppages that can be cleared rapidly to get the weapon back in the fight.

Also, the invariable question: what if its dark? The answer is simple – if you cant the weapon to observe, and it is so dark you can see nothing, then simply perform a tap rack bang immediate action drill. This will clear 3 of the 5 stoppages (not double feed or bolt override, and you also may have an empty magazine, requiring a speed reload) . If it was not one of those 3 stoppages, your charging handle will tell you everything you need to know when you do the rack part of the drill. For any more detail, come on a class and it will be demonstrated/explained/practiced. The written work only goes so far.

Live Hard.

Die Free.




  1. Chris says:

    Aw geez, now Operators Operating Operations Operationaly.com is going to cut and paste this to their page!

  2. Aaron says:

    If only someone offered a class where people could come to learn these things!

  3. Andy says:

    Thanks for posting this, during Aaron’s class I could not write anything down. This helps refresh my aging mind.


  4. Albert Johnson says:

    WOW……Thank you, “Deeply & seriously Thank You” for this helpful & useful information.

    Max, You have so much value to offer. (Sad that it so often interlaced with toxic rants, which offend the very people who might enroll in your classes.)

    I know what your thinking…….”FUCK-YOU, Albert Johnson”. hehehehehe

    • Max Velocity says:

      Actually I find the reference to “toxic rants” deeply saddening. It shows that you are taking information that you should be using to improve your survival chances (I.e. sound well meant advice) and taking it personally by getting upset.
      What upsets you? What part of your ego is getting in the way of effectively preparing yourself for combat? Of signing up to classes?
      Is it references to fat-asses needing to get fitter? Is it references to selfish behavior or extremist wackiness?
      If so, I can do nothing for you. Stop reading if you are offended.
      And no amount of ‘useful information’ will help you if you refuse, due to ego, to get the training.
      Good luck to you. You will need it.

      • Albert Johnson says:

        What would I do with the training…..??? For seven months of the year I have “Contact” with sometimes aggressive, sometimes entertaining Grizzly Bears, aka Costal Brown Bears.

        I have been to town for supplies once in the last six and a half months. I have a (read one) human contact once about every two weeks on average in the summer, and a human contact about once a month in the winter months.

        No one will want to recruited me as a useful asset to fight evil. (If I had any useful military value to anyone, it would be as a scout, and not a fighting tool).

        I have little human contact today, it is reasonable that should the SHTF, I would have zero.

        There are no “Known” groups in this remote area for me to form any allegiance. Much less train with. My fitness is level is good, even for someone who is 1/3 of my 68 y/o. This is mostly because of my lifestyle, logging & splitting firewood, Backpacking water 1/4 mile to the cabin, Checking and expanding the Caching program, hunting, and twice weekly patrols of the area with-in 20 miles of the cabin. (On foot) These are generally 15 to 20 miles out, then siwash, then return to the cabin. On snowshoes in the winter.

        No, I do not need training for any type of engagement with humans. My greatest danger is my Grizzly neighbors, or doing something foolish in the wilderness that results in my injury or death.

        However being that I have got along fine for the last 44 years in Alaska, I think my odds are about “even” of making it to 80 y/o.

        Albert Johnson

  5. Christian J.Yingling says:

    I think you may be referring to me when you talk about the broken butt stock. ( it was my weapon if you heard it from JCD.) this was a great drill to go over.. and a real eye opener when it comes to how reliable your gear really is… you truly get what you pay for. glad it happened in training and not in combat. Great article Max! Keep em coming.

    • Max Velocity says:

      I have no idea who it was, same for the photo – I had no context, it just came in in an email.

      Bottom line is that mortaring is not used for a bolt override. Stuck case maybe, to get the charging handle back.

    • Perioikoi says:

      Personally I’ve always been concerned about mortaring an AR with a collapsible stock. My concern is damaging the buffer tube. A broken butt stock is one thing but a broken buffer tube is a broken rifle. Ever heard of Mortaring damaging the buffer tube?

  6. Aaron says:

    I’ve seen broken issued stocks from guys falling on them, from rollovers and from the mortar technique when applied at the wrong angle.

    Anything can break when not operated within it’s characteristics.

    The point of these posts is to illustrate that there are not just one way to do things but many ways. Unfortunately some ways really are wrong. We teach one correct way that works at MVT.

    The second point is that you need good quality training. Without it…..well you die.

  7. Perioikoi says:

    A few questions…. What is meant by keeping the weapon pointed at the enemy while reloading? I’ve heard a number of square range instructors give this same advice. But what they meant is that the weapon is still held against the shoulder, in the horizontal plane, with the magwell pointed down. Such a position is ridiculous and results in a considerable amount of unnecessary flailing on the reload and still requires one to look down instead of in the direction of threat during mag insertion. Now of course the positioning of the body must be considered and these square range trainers are instructing from an upright, not prone position. If firing from the prone position, reloading as Max describes makes since given that he recommends canting the rifle on the reload and the rifle is limited to the horizontal plane by the ground. But how should these upright reloads be conducted given that one cannot always engage from a prone position? In an upright position keeping the weapon in the horizontal plane against the shoulder does not make since. Doing so even with the cant still requires one to look down at the magwell during the reload thereby undermining situational awareness. Instead does it not make since to bring the weapon to around a 45 degree angle with the magwell at eye level? In this position one can still be looking in the direction of the threat and at the magwell upon insertion. But of course this means that the muzzle is not pointed at the threat during the reload. Why does that matter? Our weapon is useless until a new mag is inserted and we are behind cover anyway. This blanket recommendation of keeping the weapon pointed at the enemy seems like institutional momentum to me. “Upon asking a marine why he was manipulating his weapon in a particular way he responded because Gunny said so.” If we are to be thinkers rather than just shooters a better explanation is needed.

    • Max Velocity says:

      Hmmmm. I hope Aaron chimes in on this one.

      However, a couple of things from the hip:

      1) We mostly reload from cover, in a prone or kneeling position. We advocate keeping the weapon in the shoulder and covering your sector for tactical reloads, speed reloads etc. You won’t just stand there, you will be taking cover. But there is no need for this ‘workspace’ thing with the barrel at the sky. Why so set on that? Sounds like institutional inertia to me….;-)

      2) It’s actually easy to do all these drills with the weapon in the shoulder, in whatever position. Why is it ridiculous? Why do you need to look down? Except for maybe a quick glance? What you need to do is drill.

      3) As you get more advanced, you may reload on the run. That is the exception to kneeling or prone. In that case, it is easy to do, so long as you don’t flag your buddies. Bring the weapon up from the patrol ready and push pull a new mag into it, the empty one having been ejected.

      What we teach is not dogma or institutional momentum. It sounds like you have a strong opinion. It sounds like you need a class. Up for it? Leave the ego in the parking lot.

  8. Aaron says:

    Whoa. The idea is to keep the weapon generally pointed in the direction of the enemy. You’re not tracking a moving enemy while you reload. It’s not a movie or anything. There’s more than just what’s written down. I think we hammered that out above.

    Ok? You just bring the weapon up and out a bit to reload. Doesn’t matter if you’re standing, kneeling or flying through the air upside down. It’s all the same. Come take a class and I’ll show ya in person. I promise!


  9. I have NEVER encountered anything in your training or instructional writing that I disagree with or find wrong or “not fitting”. AND I so far have found you to be exceptionally considerate of students and others who learn as far as their egos. So if someone says “toxic rants” well ban him.

    • Max Velocity says:

      Turns out Albert is “sourdough” who was banned from the forum and also for several run ins on Bergmanns site.
      He is the ultimate lone wolf prepper, so he is the type I have been trying to reach, but he’s not listening.

  10. Lane says:

    You mentioned to use the bolt release and that use of the charging handle is discouraged. Several tacticool schools teach use the charging handle. What is your rationale behind it?

    • Max Velocity says:

      Again: come on a class.
      The charging handle is one of those fads made up in someone’s moms basement. The correct use of the bolt release is faster and more than adequate to charge the weapon. The “extra spring power” thing is just BS.
      Hold on, let me make something up that I can teach that will become “if you don’t know this you don’t know the right way.”
      It’s a little like slapping the bolt release catch with your hand rather than using your thumb. How many times have I seen a cupped palm fail to actually hit the button!
      When you insert a fresh mag into the mag well your thumb is already right there at the bolt release catch.
      Rather than ‘rationale’ we are just taking you back to the basic right way of doing things. Cutting through the fads.

    • Aaron says:

      Remember too all of this is done under stress in the wild. We don’t teach using the charging because people will also ride it forward and induce a stoppage thus creating more work and wasting valuable time. There is no chance of that happening with the bolt release.

      • Max Velocity says:

        Yes, good point. What needs to be remembered, before people try to drill down too much into the written word, is that this needs to be trained and demonstrated. Want to really understand these things? Come on the training class and learn.

        • Lane says:

          I was at CRCD last summer.

          • Max Velocity says:

            Yes. Before we made all these changes to benefit the students.
            Since we added RMP, and now with the 3 day CRCD, the class is running smoother and students are getting more benefit – because they are not flailing with the basics, such as weapon manipulation.

  11. Proud American Patriot says:

    Max thanks for such good info. There are also tools out there tha will help with bolt overide. The Letherman MUT tool was designed for this purpose.

    • Max Velocity says:

      The point of the drill we teach is that it is rapid and requires no tools.
      Weapon back in the fight.

      • Proud American Patriot says:

        I concur with the KISS method of clearing a weapon but sometimes the bolt can be a “little” hot. Some people (I don’t understand why not) won’t wear gloves when they shoot, move and communicate.

        I agree that if it can be cleared without the use of a tool that is great but sometimes it is just handy to have. Another tool in the tool box so to speak. Plus its a handy little tool period.

        • Max Velocity says:

          If you get beyond the 3 basic methods to clear to 5 basic weapons malfunctions, then you get into ammunition failures etc. when you get there, you need items like tools and rods – stuck cases comes to mind.
          Don’t confuse ammunition failures with the 5 basic malfunctions.

    • Lane says:

      I plan on coming back for another CRCD (eventually combat patrol) and if instructed, I will of course do it the MVT way.

      Interestingly enough, last year I received a compliment from you on how well I ran my rifle and I was using the charging handle to release the bolt.

      • Max Velocity says:

        LOL. There is only so much I can fix, which is why we have the new classes. Training scars are serious issue with the amount of BS out there on the training-blogosphere. If you were keeping your weapon in the fight, you were doing well.

        • Lane says:

          Don’t get me wrong. My philosophy is that I must un-fuck myself every day. To do that I am always looking to improve. I don’t shoot the same way I did even two years ago. Every time I go to class, something changes.

          The biggest training scars I had was when I got out of the Army.

  12. Bill says:

    All I can say is get yourself to class. After being run through Aarons weapons malfunction training I now feel completely confident that i now have the skills to build on to effectively clear my weapon. Its nice to read about, but until you actually do it, well you dont know what you dont know. These guys truly care about teaching us civilians correctly. Stop making excuses and at least get to a CRM class. I drove 12 hours alone to get this training, because lets face it, square range training is all well and good. But it wont be reality if things go poorly. You ask why? Because fuck you thats why! Still waiting on the T-shirts by the way Max!

  13. […] Advice and counsel – plus urging to attend training. […]

  14. TimeHasCome says:

    First class advice Max, I really enjoyed it.

  15. B Woodman says:

    Mr Max V,
    It sounds as if part of what you are teaching in the misfires (tap, rack, bang) is the same as the (old) US Army SPORTS:
    Slap (the magazine)
    Pull (the charging handle)
    Observe (the chamber)
    Release (the charging handle)
    Tap (the bolt forward assist)
    Shoot (pull the trigger!)

    Funny how some things stay with you seemingly forever, even when you haven’t used them for decades? (I’ve been retired 17 years). And I was commo, at that.

  16. RobRoySimmons says:

    A suggestion if I may a short less than a minute video of Aaron running the CRM class thru various stages. I know the short clips of MV running his drills drove my interest up

  17. Anon says:

    Any AK specific information? (Also applies to Sig 550)

    • Max Velocity says:

      Yes: buy an AR!



    • Aaron says:

      Usually we see that the malfunctions with Ak type weapons are fairly simple, unload-reload. They are however (in my own experience) more predisposed to catestrophic failures and simple random stoppages. Just what I’ve see.

      The other issue is safety. We drill using the safety so much we find that new users hate the Ak style safety. There are more reason we push AR series weapons but these are the big ones.

      Aks are welcome in all of our classes. It’s during class they typically fall into disfavor with the owner!

  18. Tim B. says:

    Are you now discouraging folks who run AK’s from attending your classes? No hidden meaning or sarcasm in my post, just a straightforward question…

    • Max Velocity says:

      I don’t discriminate. Only a little. We have a student here on patrol this weekend with an AK. It’s a personal problem 😉

    • Aaron says:

      I think the best way to answer is we try to show people the best common way to do things. AKs are not the best so we typically don’t recommend them. Of course you’re free to own and do as you please. We understand budgets and all the nonsense floating around about AKs being superior etc. I would encourage anyone to come to class and see what works and what doesn’t. Let training and experience be your guide. Also remember the tactical classes are about tactics and not specific weapons. The weapon manipulation classes are about weapons.

  19. The One says:

    First time here Max, solid advice. Thanks