One of the most common complaints among men and women who shoot a semi-automatic pistol for the first time is the jamming. The first round may shoot fine, but the second or third round may fail to cycle properly. When this occurs, you may have to pull the slide back to manually remove the jammed bullet.
It's frustrating to say the least when you spend more time adjusting the slide and removing jammed bullets than you do actually shooting. Many people automatically assume that semi-automatic pistol jams such as this are caused by a mechanical error, at which point they take their pistol to a local gunsmith. But a more plausible cause is a phenomenon known as “limp wristing.”
What is Limp Wristing?
Limp wristing is a phenomenon in which a semi-automatic pistol fails to complete its operating cycle. It is most often caused by the shooter not gripping the pistol firm enough, or the shooter not keeping his or her wrist straight enough. As a result, the pistol's frame kicks backwards and upwards, preventing it from properly cycling the bullets.
To better understand limp wristing, you must first look at the normal cycling of a semi-automatic pistol. While there are hundreds of different semi-automatic pistols on the market, nearly all of them feature a two-phase cycling process: first and foremost is the rearward motion of the slide, which is triggered by the force of shooting. The energy produced by shooting causes the slide to travel rearward, at which point the recoil spring absorbs this energy.
The second phase is the forward motion of the slide, which occurs immediately after the slide's energy is absorbed by the recoil spring. After the spring has absorbed the kinetic energy of the shot, it pushes the slide back forward, ejecting the spent cartridge while simultaneously loading a new round into the chamber. If you don't hold your pistol with a firm enough grip, the frame will go up instead of back towards your body when you fire, resulting in the energy being released upwards.
Tips to Beat Limp Wristing:
- Hold your pistol with a firm grip. This is the single most important step towards overcoming limp wristing.
- Use a two-handed grip. Holding a pistol with two hands will give you greater control.
- Try a different grip on your pistol. Poly grips are often slick and prone to limp wristing, especially once you get sweat on them. A tackier grip will prevent slipping and firm up your control over your weapon.
- Consider using a heavier semi-automatic pistol, such as steel or titanium alloy pistols. The added weight will give you greater control, reducing the risk of limp wristing.
- Of course, if you are still unable to overcome the problem of limp wristing, you can always switch to a revolver-style pistol instead.
Limp wristing is a serious problem that must be addressed. Having your pistol jam at the shooting range is one thing, but you don't want to fiddle with jams and bullets when someone breaks into your home during the middle of the night.