Malfunctions due to “limp wristing”

I have a handgun which I have used as my home defense handgun for the past 2 years. It is a full size, 45 ACP, striker fired gun (not a 1911). In general, I shoot the gun very accurately, but have had some problems with FTFs at the range, especially with JHP ammo. Based on this, I recently sent the gun back to the manufacturer. They did not find anything wrong with the gun, which leads me to believe that the malfunctions are probably due to “user error”
Since my carry gun ( and most of my other handguns) are 9mm, it is likely that I need to be more aware of proper grip when shooting 45 ACP, to avoid “limp wristing” and possibly causing a malfunction. However…
- Are malfunctions caused by “limp wristing “ something that is acceptable in a self defense firearm? In a self defense situation, it is possible that I may have to fire one handed, or with a less than optimal grip. I know that no gun is perfect, but malfunctions I had with this gun happened in the normal course of range use.

  • Would it make more sense to use a full- size 9mm handgun as my home defense gun in lieu of a 45 ACP, to make training more consistent?

I know that this is not an exact science, but appreciate any feedback. Thanks!


I would use the 9mm as your home defense gun, you certainly do want a malfunction in a critical situation. Practice with the 45 until you have no malfunctions, perhaps get a instructor to see what is going on. It may be a ammo issue also.


Yes, a poor grip could cause a malfunction, but it could be a combination of things. It could be your gun may not like the ammunition you are using, especially the JHP. It could also be a magazine issue. My suggestion is to number your magazines and try some different ammunition. If it happens with the same magazine all the time, then that is likely your issue. If not, then I’d suggest scheduling some time with an instructor to help diagnose it.


@Patrick151 ,
They say most failures are caused by users. This is somehow the truth… but it’s easy to investigate this by yourself.
First step is to shoot FMJ ammo to see if the failure can be repeated. Failure-to-feed can be also caused by ammo.

Regarding reliability in self defense situation - carry and be prepared to use the pistol that NEVER fails on you. Or at least you are 100% sure about the cause of any failure. If you cannot figure it out, use this pistol as training and range tool only.
These are two reasons you don’t want to use the firearm, that you are not sure if it will fire.

  1. it may not fire when it’s needed
  2. even it fires, you get a big chance to miss, because you don’t trust this tool anymore.
    I’ve been seeing such things on courses and the person who struggle with accuracy with such firearm was shooting fantastic once changed it to the reliable one.

Answering your question about home defense handgun - it’s up to you. Caliber doesn’t matter. Just shoot the handgun that you are more comfortable with. The handgun you trust in 100 %.
Remember - everything is about your life and lives of you loved ones.


Jerky, this is good advice, and what I was thinking. I like the 45 as a range gun, but it may not translate to the best HD gun.
Of course, I can always improve, and more training would be beneficial.


Also, I did try the gun with both FMJ and JHP ammo, and it has malfunctions with both. The malfunctions were worse with the JHP, which was why I was concerned.

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Can you tell us about the JHP rounds (i.e. grain, +p,)? Also, if you have more ftf issues with those than the fmj, what is the difference, other than the obvious? As others have said, analyze your grip. Something you could try is an exercise I was shown once. With the firearm verified unloaded and clear, hold it out in front of you as if you are shooting. Then have a spouse or buddy tap up on the bottom of the front of the frame. That can help show if you have a good grip, wrist lock, etc.


HP bullets get different slope than training FMJ, so that’s usually an issue with FTF.
If you found both ammo problematic, why don’t ask RSO (or any friend) at the range to shoot your 45?
That might be the fastest way to investigate the problem.

I’m trying to find everything you can do before you start blaming your grip. It’s important to know the problem before you proceed with the fix.


Try switching ammo brands, you could have a JHP you use and shoots well with many different guns but then have a gun that just wont shoot them…

An instructor at our range uses an example of going out, buying a new gun, buying his traditional JHP ammo, and as usual, going to shoot a box of it to make sure it functions… To his suprise, this new gun, just kept jamming… this new firearm, just didnt like his traditional carry ammo, he had to find something it liked to feed well.


The ammo in question was Speer Gold Dot 230 grain JHP. All of the range ammo I used was typical 230 grain FMJ (i.e. Winchester White Box, Remington Green box, etc.)


@Patrick151 , are you ok to share the pistol model?

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As far as I can recollect, limp wristing usually only causes “stovepiping”. Some of our instructors here should be of assistance to be sure.

I had a Sig P232SL that just hated hollow points. After a lot of trial and error, I found a hollow point it would reliably shoot. I also polished my feed ramp, which probably helped as well.

Some guns are just fussy about ammo. It is quite common. If you can’t get it predictably and very reliable, you may have to choose another carry pistol. Good luck to you sir.


My mom is really bad with this since her surgery. With her, the slide won’t reciprocate enough to load the next round.


I’m in agreement with others that have posted thus far, with an additional diagnostic consideration. The purpose is to observe the actions of the gun as well as your own actions or possible bad habits (no pun intended).

  1. Properly clean and lubricate the gun. No live ammunition in the cleaning area.

  2. Lock the slide to the rear, remove (source of feed) the magazine, physically look and feel into the chamber ensuring that no ammo is in the chamber and that nothing is in the magazine well,

  3. With the gun pointed in a safe direction, establish a firm grip and press the slide lock/release allowing the slide to return to battery under its own power (do not ride the slide forward). Observe that the slide has indeed returned to full battery.

  4. With the muzzle of the now verified empty gun properly oriented in a safe direction while maintaining “a proper grip” (especially if your model has a grip safety), ensure that the thumb safety is off; press the trigger.

NOTE: If the trigger drops, the likelihood of it being the gun is next to nil. Because if the gun does not return to battery the trigger may not drop (you should have a dead trigger). Additionally, If the grip safety (if applicable) is not depressed, the trigger will not drop.

Remember the whole purpose for establishing a proper grip is to manage recoil and to mitigate muzzle flip (or muzzle rise), but also to ensure the slide returns to battery.

Now if the above is successfully accomplished, then repeat this drill during your next range visit. If all of the above goes as it should, be sure to observe what happens when you put a JHP round in the chamber, does the slide return to full battery. If it does and you experience a FTF, chances are it’s not the firearm, Notice I said, “chances are it’s not…” It could be the guide rod/spring, etc.

If nothing is wrong here, as have already been determined by the Manufacturer, that would more likely point to the type or lot of ammunition that you are using. There is a such thing as having a bad lot of ammunition. It’s rare but it does happen, more especially with handloads or remanufactured rounds.

Now, this is not an exhaustive diagnostic. But the most common FTFs occur with either limp-wristing which can cause the slide not to return to full battery, or bad or unprescribed ammunition being utilized. Also, be sure to consult your owner’s manual which may list or indicate a certain ammunition type not recommended for use.

Just trying to be of help is all…not questioning your skills.

edit: oh, and a dirty gummed up gun can cause a whole heck of a lot of nasty stuff, too. Remember what Momma said, “CLEAN IT UP!”


Limp wrist can cause these two malfunction:

  • failure to feed
  • failure to eject / extract

Both are the consequences of incorrect slide reciprocation.

In @Patrick151’s case… this might be limp wrist problem… or not … :man_shrugging: Impossible to tell based of current information.


My first EDC was a Ruger SR9. I went home and researched the issue–The only “malfunction” I’ve ever had with a pistol was when I didn’t have a firm grip. Later I got a S&W EZ9 that has a grip safety-- that was/is an excellent way to teach a people I was training about a firm grip…


When shooting, does the slide hold open after the last round?


with all my pistols, yes. My Issue was 5 years ago when I was newbe.

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Sorry, that was for @Patrick151 .


Roger that Jerzy, thanks.

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