Tiger McKee

Shootrite Firearms Academy

System Check

A system check is the act of checking the status of your weapon. For example after unloading a semi-auto, removing the magazine and cycling the action, we visually check to insure it is actually clear. Before bedding down at night I run a system check on my AR to insure there is a round in the chamber and the mag is full.

When holstering my pistol in the morning I do the same thing, double-checking to confirm that if needed it is ready for duty. If I think I may be involved in a conflict and have the opportunity, I check my weapon to insure it’s ready to fight with. These are the type system checks most of us are familiar with. There are also other checks we need to perform as well.

After running a drill with your carbine it’s a good idea to confirm the weapon is still ready to fight with if the threat returns, gets back up from the ground, or has friends arrive; if the fight continues or escalates in any way you need to know your AR is ready to shoot. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen shooters finish a drill, scan and check their environment, rearrange mags on their body, and the entire time their bolt is locked to the rear on an empty magazine. They just happened to stop shooting before realizing their weapon is empty. After engaging it’s a good idea to bring your support hand back and feel, don’t look, to make sure the bolt is in battery.

If you don’t feel the bolt, it’s locked to the rear, or you recognize that it’s part way out of lock up from a malfunction you need to reload or clear it before the weapon is needed again. After running my check to insure the bolt is in battery I also make it a habit of shutting the dust cover to keep out any dirt or trash that could create a problem.

The same process applies to your pistol. Standing there issuing verbal commands for a threat to leave your house won’t carry much weight if the slide of your pistol is locked to the rear on an empty magazine. When it’s time to engage a threat is way too late to realize your weapon isn’t sending bullets downrange. Again, after engaging, run a check to insure your pistol is operational and ready.

Also, should a situation arise where you acquire a weapon during a fight if all possible run a check to see what you’ve actually got for ammo. This may dictate what your options are when it comes to using that weapon.

A system check is cheap insurance. Don’t rely on memory, assuming your weapon is ready to fight. You know what happens when you assume something, except that “me” won’t be there. It’s up to you to be ready to respond to a threat, which means knowing your weapon is ready to deliver rounds on target if necessary.

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October 10, 2010 - Posted by | AR-15

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