Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cease Fire!

While shooting handguns at the annual Thanksgiving Family Shoot, we were running through some reloaded .38 Special.  I've loaded tens of thousands of rounds of .38 special during my lifetime, and we saw something during that shoot that I've never seen.  Somehow, one box of ammo was faulty, with three squib loads.  As a handloader, we want to make sure our ammo is safe and effective, we check and double-check, and obsess about quality control.  Still, stuff happens.

There was a time almost a decade ago when I was playing with reduced loads in some calibers, trying to get the bullet to stop, hanging out the muzzle.  I was never actually able to accomplish that feat.  The bullet would  either leave the barrel and drop just a few feet downrange, or it would stick in the barrel.  I finally abandoned that experiment as unworkable.  Then, Thursday afternoon, we saw it happen.

That's a 158 grain semi wadcutter stuck at the muzzle of a 4" Smith and Wesson 66.  Of course, I was confounded at the happenstance, and we took a minute to review safety processes and to educate the assembled crowd on how something like this might happen and why when you encounter a squib load you immediately cease fire.  The handgun was placed back into service by the simple expedient of grabbing the nose of the bullet with a pair of needlenose pliers and plucking the bullet from the muzzle.  A good safety lesson for all of us.

We experienced another malfunction that I've never seen, a legitimate hang-fire.  This happened shooting shotguns during the skeet portion of the festivities.  My son called for a target, swung on it, and the gun clicked.  He took the shotgun off his shoulder, looked at the action, and the shell fired, a full two seconds after the trigger was pulled.  This with factory shotgun ammunition, bought expressly for this activity.  Good gun handling skills, years of training and experience, and no one was injured, the shot charge went downrange into the trees, hurting no one.  In over 40 years of messing with shotguns I've never seen a true hang-fire until last Thursday.

Enjoy the shooting season, but by all means, be careful.


Old NFO said...

WOW x2, I've NEVER seen one hang out the end of the barrel, nor have I ever heard of factory shotty ammo hang firing either! Glad everyone was alert and safe!

Mike said...

I'd like to send a couple pics from a Tampa trip, not too sure if they will attach, Paw- Paw.

Geodkyt said...

I've had hangfires with factory centerfire ammo. But it was 50 year old Pakistani surplus .303 British MkVII ball. . . about 1 in 10 fired like a flintlock with an way overloaded pan, "Click. . . hiss. . . BANG!" Another smal proportion simply had dead primers.

Hanging on to the remainder until I get around to pulling the bullets and reloading them into new brass with new primers & powder, to service pressure and velocity. (The MkVII bullet is not your everyday ordinary BTSP ball. . . )

Shepherd K said...

I've only seen a hang fire once. My brother in law was shooting my .357. Gun went click instead of bang. BIL raised the muzzle a bit and looked at the gun in consternation and then about 5-10 seconds later, BOOM! I'm pretty sure that bullet landed on the next property a few hundred yards away.