Handling Rifle Malfunctions: Misfeeds and Failure to Extract

Feb 10, 2023

Common types of rifle malfunctions can include a misfeed, a double feed, or a failure to extract. In all of these cases, it’s important to remember that with proper gun handling techniques, most malfunctions can be cleared quickly without any further damage being done to your rifle. Let’s look at two different malfunctions and how to fix them.

Rifle Malfunction #1: Experiencing a Misfeed or Double-feed

If you’re having issues with your rifle misfeeding or double-feeding, the problem could be in either the magazine or the firearm itself.

Misfeeds are common issues with rifles, but they can be fixed relatively easily. Generally, the root cause of these malfunctions is an obstruction in or around the chamber of your rifle. To troubleshoot this type of rifle malfunction:

  1. Lock your bolt open and make sure there’s nothing blocking the chamber area. This might include dirt, debris, lint, or even a stuck shell casing. If you find something obstructing the chamber, remove it carefully and move on to the next step.
  2. Visually inspect your magazine as well as your round of ammunition to make sure everything looks correct and undamaged. If you find any dings or dents in either one, replace them before continuing.
  3. Clean and lubricate your rifle as needed. This is especially important if you’ve been using it in dusty or wet conditions, as dirt and moisture can quickly accumulate on the bolt and other parts of the rifle.
  4. Cycle live rounds through your weapon with the action open to make sure everything is working properly before closing up again.

Rifle Malfunction #2: Your rifle fails to extract

A common problem that gun owners encounter is a rifle failing to extract the spent round. This can be a bit of an issue, as it prevents you from loading new ammunition and operating your firearm correctly. Fortunately, there are ways you can troubleshoot this issue.

  1. Use a cleaning rod with an attachment such as a hook-shaped brass brush that is designed for clearing jammed rounds from firearms. Push the rod down through the barrel until it reaches the base of the case head, then twist while gently pulling outward; this should help dislodge the round enough that you can manually remove it without having to apply too much force.
  2. Always make sure to inspect your firearm after any issues like these occur. Inspect the chamber of your rifle for any possible obstructions or dirt buildup which may limit its ability to extract the fired round. Make sure to clean out any debris that you find inside with a cleaning tool such as a bore snake or rod brush and wipe it away with a clean cloth. If this doesn’t work, take a look at your rifle’s ejector spring and make sure that it’s not bent or broken. You can replace this part itself if needed.
  3. Another thing you can do is check your magazine for any signs of wear or damage that could prevent rounds from being fed properly into the chamber. If you don’t see any issues, then it may be necessary to replace the extractor or ejector spring.


Knowing how to properly maintain a gun and its components can go a long way in avoiding unnecessary rifle malfunctions, but having a basic understanding of the types of malfunctions that can occur can help you quickly identify an issue when it arises and take the necessary steps for clearing it in a safe a quick manner. As always, remember to practice proper gun safety when fixing any malfunctions you may be experiencing with your firearm.

We invite you to check out our Build Your Own Rifle page and Custom Cerakote Services page or give us a call at (360) 559-6210 for more information.