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.
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.