30+ years of training has taught us... the shooting environment is totally critical to what you absorb and retain in regards to "firearms instruction"

Don’t ride the charging handle forward!

I decided to finally write about a topic that has been bugging me since our last Carbine class was held just a couple of weeks ago at the Texas Pistol and Rifle Academy.  The topic is… “Don’t’ ride the charging handle forward!”

So why is this a topic worth writing about, you may ask?

Normally, I would agree with you. For those of us who have grown up using an M16 or M4 in the military we learned early on when handling the weapon to NOT ride the charging handle forward. But many of our students do not have a military background, and most (roughly 90%) are brand new owners of a M4 type assault rifle.

So here’s the rub for all of you newcomers and wannabees, especially those that “think” they are too good to read the weapons manual…. “Learn how to manipulate your weapons systems!” If you fail in this critical task, you will not be the one still standing at the end of the gunfight.

So what harm can “riding the charging handle forward” cause?

#1 – Failure to load a round in the chamber properly.  Translated, this means your gun fails to load… meaning you’ve now caused a malfunction. And worse yet, you as the operator caused it!

#2 – Bolt does not lock forward. Again…. This means your weapon will NOT fire! When this malfunction occurs, it is usually an easy fix to tap on the forward assist to fully seat the bolt forward so that the weapon will fire. But again, as the operator you just caused your own malfunction.

Are you starting to get the point, here?

So let’s review the steps to prevent this type of malfunction from occurring….

Loading your weapon….

  1. Point the muzzle of the rifle in a safe direction.
  2. 2.     Pull the charging handle back and lock the bolt to the rear and return the charging handle to the forward position.
  3. Place the selector lever on SAFE.
  4. With the bolt in the open position, look into chamber to be sure it is clear.
  5. Insert a loaded magazine into the magazine housing and push upward until the magazine catch engages and holds the magazine in place.
  6. Gently tap the base (bottom) of the magazine with the heel of the hand to ensure the magazine is locked in place (seated).
  7. Depress upper portion of bolt catch allowing the bolt to go forward.
  8. Strike (tap) the forward assist assembly to ensure that the bolt is fully forward and locked.

If you read the steps closely, notice in step 7… “Depress upper portion of bolt catch allowing the bolt to go forward.”

THIS IS THE CRITICAL STEP! Nowhere does it say… grab the charging handle, pull it to the rear and ride the bolt forward!  Yet, this is the one thing that many students new to this weapon system do.

At TPA, we conduct several drills to teach this procedure properly but, as students and as firearms enthusiasts, it is up to you to practice this and repeat it properly whenever the situation calls for it.

If you’ve got a question or would like a hot sports opinion, don’t hesitate to ask, my email is stonep59@gmail.com.

See ya’ at the range….

Phil Stone

De Oppresso Liber!

Texas Pistol Class Dates Reserv your spot today!

March 2012 Class Schedule:

  • Sat, 03/17 – Basic fighting carbine class
  • Sun, 03/18 – Basic CQC shotgun class.
  • Sat, 03/24 – Intermediate level 1 fighting carbine series.
  • Sun, 03/25 – Intermediate Level 2 fighting carbine series
  • Sat, 03/31 – Advanced Level 1 fighting carbine series

April 2012 Class Schedule:

  • Sun, 04/01 – Intermediate CQC shotgun
  • Sat, 04/07 – Intermediate Level 3 fighting carbine series
  • Sat, 04/14 – Advanced level 2 fighting carbine series
  • Sun, 04/15 – Advanced CQC shotgun



For Class Info Contact: Josh Duhon 214.663.3910