What pretty much happened was that I pulled the trigger on an empty chamber.
I'm not 100% sure what kind of problems you're having. When you say "pretty much", do you mean it functioned like the chamber was empty even though there was a round in it, or was the chamber actually empty?
I've seen under-gassed rifles that would still lock the bolt back on some mags, but still often didn't have enough gas to be 100% reliable. Like others have said, this is sometimes cause by a mis-aligned gas block. An easy way to check gas block alignment is just take off the gas block; now that you've shot it some there will be a ring of carbon around the gas port on the barrel. If the barrel's gas port is entirely inside that ring, you're good to go as far as gas block alignment.
Another issue you see a lot is gas tube alignment; the gas tube is off a little bit to one side or the other, and it snags on the gas key each time and slows (or even stops) the BCG from going into battery correctly. The way to check that is to remove your upper, take out the BCG and charging handle, then take apart the BCG until you're left with just the carrier itself and no bolt or anything. Then hold the upper muzzle-down and drop the carrier into battery; it should just drop down without any snags. If your gas tube is misaligned, it will be slowed down (or even stopped) by the gas tube rubbing on the inside of the gas key.