As defined in the Shooter’s Handbook, a malfunction is the “failure of a gun or ammunition to function as designed or fire satisfactorily.”
It’s important to point out that in regards to the rules, a firearm is considered as malfunctioning only if the shooter audibly declares it so. That is, if the shooter’s firearm malfunctions, they cannot simply lay the gun down and proceed with the stage. The shooter must declare the firearm as malfunctioning before engaging in the next string of fire. If the shooter fails to declare the firearm as malfunctioning, but grounds the firearm nonetheless, the shooter will then be subject to any penalties resulting from this action such as those for live rounds left in the chamber, magazine, or carrier.
The applicable rule from page 27 of version 25.1 of the Shooter’s Handbook:
Malfunctioning firearms still containing rounds will not warrant penalties so long as the malfunction is declared and the firearm is made safe.
Once the firearm has been declared as malfunctioning and made safe–laid on a horizontal surface, pointing in a safe direction–the shooter may continue the stage. At the conclusion of the final string of fire, the shooter should return to the malfunctioning firearm and make an effort to clear the malfunction while still on the stage before heading to the unloading table. Clearing the malfunction while still on the stage minimizes safety risks and should the firearm discharge while being cleared, will not result in a Match Disqualification as long as it is pointed in a safe direction.
If the firearm cannot be expediently cleared while still on the stage, it can then be taken to the unloading table to be cleared. A shooter may only leave the firing line with an un-cleared, malfunctioning firearm if doing so under the direct supervision of a Match Official. Failure to follow this protocol will result in a Match Disqualification.