If you find yourself in a firefight, it's important to remember you don’t have time to waste, so in some situations getting your primary weapon system operational should necessarily take a backseat to your own safety or other avenues of self-defense. The long and short is this: if you find yourself within handgun range, dump the AR and transition to your sidearm or secondary weapon. A good rule of thumb is 25 yards. So, if you’re within 25 yards or less of the target and you experience a malfunction (of any kind), transition to your secondary weapon. It would also be a good idea to seek cover.
If you’re 25 yards (give or take a few yards) or more away from the threat, fix your primary weapon system—in this case your AR15—and get back in the fight. First you'll need to find cover (and hopefully a lull in the action), then you’ll need to get your primary weapon back up and running. Here’s the three-step process of what to do after you pull the trigger and hear a click:
1. Put your trigger finger straight and off the trigger. This is called the “index” position and it will help prevent a negligent discharge.
2. Tap the magazine once you’ve got your finger in the proper index position.
3. Rack the charging handle.
These must be done in this order. If your magazine isn’t fully seated, all the racking and manipulating of the bolt and bolt carrier in the world won’t help you. Why? Because the rounds aren’t up the mag well high enough to load. Again, you must tap then rack. Now, you’re back in the fight.
The immediate action drill is often abbreviated IAD and is also known as Tap, Rack, Ready. Doing an IAD with a rifle is very similar to a pistol IAD, so AR15s are a wise place to start when practicing this technique.
The most efficient and tactical way to do a IAD, is to tap the mag with your support hand. In fact, you should always touch, tap, load and reload the magazines with your support hand.
Then, you’ll want to charge the weapon by racking the charging handle. It’s best to do this, again, with your support hand. That will leave you free to put your finger back on the trigger and shoot a lot of rounds quickly at your threat.
Make sure to keep your muzzle up, looking for threat. Remember, head up, eyes up, gun up.
Be safe. Train hard. As you may have heard, “it’s better to sweat in training than to bleed in battle.” Until next time, continue to hone your skills and keep adding to your tactical toolbox.