Preventative Maintenance

The maintenance of your pistol, magazines, and duty gear is absolutely essential to the performance of your firearm.


Safety is the first order of priority when performing a function check. A function check is used to verify the proper working order of all mechanical features of an unloaded firearm. This may be accomplished by proper weapon handling and the removal of all ammunition from the work area. Check the firearms and the work area a second time before proceeding.

The magazine, frame and slide will be checked simultaneously. The magazine should be inspected as previously described for serviceability. The first step in the function inspection is to insert the magazine into the pistol, ensuring interlock with the magazine catch. The automatic lock back of the slide is verified by pulling the slide completely to the rear to verify proper engagement of the magazine follower and slide catch lever.

The magazine should fall free from the pistol of its own weight when the magazine catch is depressed. This verifies the correct relationship of the magazine, magazine catch and frame of the pistol. The slide should spring forward without hesitation as the slide catch lever is depressed. This verifies correct engagement and release of the slide catch lever in the arresting notch of the slide. Additionally, it checks that the slide moves freely on the frame and that the recoil spring has the strength to close the action.

Moderate thumb or finger pressure should be exerted on the spur of the hammer while in a cocked state in an attempt to push it forward. The hammer should remain cocked. This shows that correct hammer/sear engagement is being maintained. If the pistol is so equipped, check the decocking lever by thumbing it in the appropriate direction and visually observing the hammer as it moves forward to its rest position. This verifies the action of the decocking lever.

The double action function of the pistol may be checked with the hammer starting forward in the rest position. By pulling the trigger and observing the hammer, the cocking and releasing of the hammer should be accomplished with one full compression of the trigger. This verifies that the pistol may be fired from its normal rest position.

One of the internal safeties found on all semiautomatic firearms is the disconnector. The disconnector may be checked by depressing the trigger and holding it to the rear while retracting and releasing the slide. The trigger should have to be released forward in order to allow the firing of the next cartridge. Another way of checking the disconnector is to retract the slide until the barrel and slide are no longer locked together. Movement of the trigger should have no effect on the hammer.

What has been accomplished in performing these operations is to verify that the pistol will only fire one shot per pull of the trigger and that it will not fire in an unlocked condition. If the pistol has single action capabilities, cocking the hammer and then releasing the hammer by pulling the trigger ensures that the single action function of the pistol is working, as it should.

A firing pin function check may be incorporated into the overall weapon inspection. First force the firing pin forward. No protrusion should be observed at the breech face. Next operate the firing pin blocking mechanism to release the firing pin. The firing pin should now protrude through the breech face when forced forward. The firing pin spring is tested for strength by releasing the safety mechanism and then firing pin. After the firing pin resets itself force it forward to ensure its interlock with the safety mechanism.


Ammunition should be inspected for the following:

  • Overall length of the cartridge
  • Bullet seating: tightness and depth
  • Deformed or inverted bullet
  • Defective jacket or core
  • Crimp in the mouth of the case
  • Damage to the cartridge case
  • Condition of the extraction groove
  • Condition of the case rim
  • Condition of the primer
  • Corrosion or discoloration
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