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  #1  
Old 05-28-2013, 1:01 PM
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Default SAFETY: please think about no-fire/delay-fire ...

[Mods: I figure this may reach more general audience here than in specialty pistol/rifle forums...]

This past Sunday afternoon, my buddy Phil & I were shooting at a local indoor range breaking in two new guns (my Sig P226 Mk25 and Henry 44Mag lever action rifle), plus doing some general shooting. Zero problems with these guns.

Gun: Ruger Stainless Bisley Blackhawk 44Mag single action, 5.5" bbl.
Ammo: Miwall 44Mag TMJ (new loads, not reloads)

The only time I've had a no-fire (hangfire?) in ages has been in autoloaders - where there a click and no action cycling, and a 'second strike' was used to fire it, no muss/no fuss.

This time, I was firing a fairly rapid progression in a revolver, down to last 3 rounds. Then there was a 'click' - then "Boom" and "Boom" - I didn't stop. (I would have if there were a squib load; been thru that w/reloads.)

I then spun the cylinder around to the nonfired position. As I was moving to aim position and almost beginning to cock, the gun fired on its own (no trigger pull, and the gun wasn't even cocked) - a true "hangfire", it was 'cooking' in the cartridge for a bit of time before detonation.

  • Approx. 10-15 sec elapsed between initial 'click' vs. discharge
    .
  • Discharge felt a *tad* light but in no way a squib load (verified clear barrel from rear
    after discharge!)
    .
  • If I had NOT rotated the cylinder back to the nonfired position, the discharge WOULD
    have damaged the gun - and likely my hands to some extent - depending on cylinder
    position.
    .
  • If I WERE rotating cylinder back to the problem nonfiring position and the hangfire
    discharge occured before getting back to that position, then my left hand could have
    really been torn up. [Fortunately there may have been mitigating factors - Bisley
    Blackhawk is a big strong gun - and these loads were not the hottest.]


HOW TO PROPERLY DEAL WITH SUCH PROBLEMS:
  • ALWAYS need to wait 30 or more seconds if there's a "click"/ hangfire before taking any
    measures to cycle/eject/remove/round.
    .
  • On revolver...

    • STOP FIRING and leave 'dead' round chambered in firing position.
      .
    • KEEP HAND AWAY FROM THE CYLINDER and of course the BARREL/CYLIDNER
      GAP AND FRONT OF CYLINDER areas. (Duh, but just in case.).

      .
    • KEEP GUN POINTED IN SAFE DIRECTION. Do NOT do anything to rotate cylinder
      nor try to eject problem hangfire round until at least 30 seconds (if not more).

      .
  • On an autoloader pistol...

    • a non-fire involves no action cycling, so a 'second strike' is possible
      and may well work. - esp. if a full double-action pistol.
      .
    • Single-action pistols require recocking of an an exposed hammer - so there
      is small risk of a hangfire discharge kicking the slide back into your thumb
      while you're trying to (re)cock the hammer. At worst you might get a minor
      cut from this.
      .
    • Hammmerless striker-fired pistols generally do not have any 'second strike'
      opportunity without hand-racking the slide: this should not be done, as the
      problem round could discharge while the slide is being racked, with breech
      unlocked... leading to "Ka-Boom" issues and certainly damage to gun.

What I did right: kept gun in hand, pointed in safe direction!

While this involved a revolver and I've generalized to pistols, you should also keep this in mind on rifles too - esp since a rifle cartridge is generally is of higher energy than revolver ammo!
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Last edited by bwiese; 05-28-2013 at 1:08 PM..
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Old 05-28-2013, 1:14 PM
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Thanks Bill. Something to keep in mind both for myself and when I take others out shooting. You just don't think about bullets malfunctioning in this way.
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Old 05-28-2013, 1:21 PM
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I don't get it, your saying the primer went off without being hit? Or it went off but was not strong enough to pop the projectile out of the case?

I have never even heard of that, I didn't know it was possible.
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Old 05-28-2013, 1:25 PM
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Good info Bill

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Old 05-28-2013, 1:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justintoxicated View Post
I don't get it, your saying the primer went off without being hit? Or it went off but was not strong enough to pop the projectile out of the case? I have never even heard of that, I didn't know it was possible.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hang_fire
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Old 05-28-2013, 1:55 PM
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THanks for that. I'm a new shooter and never had any issues, but was just wondering what to do in a situation like this. When the trigger is pulled and it doesn't fire, I've heard to wait to see if the round will fire for 30 seconds or a minute, but I like how you broke it down. Also, I'm not sure what a squib feels or sounds like, but how would you check the barrel on an autoloader if you think you may have one stuck in the barrel?
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Old 05-28-2013, 1:59 PM
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Scary stuff. Thanks for the reminder.
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  #8  
Old 05-28-2013, 2:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justintoxicated View Post
I don't get it, your saying the primer went off without being hit? Or it went off but was not strong enough to pop the projectile out of the case?

I have never even heard of that, I didn't know it was possible.
This is a "hangfire" - where there is a delay in ignition of several (or more) seconds. That's why it started out with just a 'click'.

Inside it's just sizzling a bit until it finally detonates. This could be due to a weak primer, or sometimes (usu not in production ammo but "working up a load") due to inappropriate powder volume/powder type vs primer, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by numpty
.... just wondering what to do in a situation like this. When the trigger is pulled and it doesn't fire, I've heard to wait to see if the round will fire for 30 seconds or a minute,
Yup. And I didn't not do that on my "shot string".


Quote:
Originally Posted by numpty
... not sure what a squib feels or sounds like, but how would you check the barrel on an autoloader if you think you may have one stuck in the barrel?
A 'squib' round is one that somehow went 'bang' but the powder didn't fully detonate, did not detonate at a high order, or did not detonate at all and only the energy of the primer was used to move the bullet down the bbl.

In these cases the primer-only detonation often will leave the bullet within the barrel.

However, in any of these cases, the 'bang' is much weaker, etc. If you feel something "not quite right" and a very "weak" bang that has far less recoil or noise level, DO NOT FIRE FURTHER: YOU MAY BE FIRING ON TO A BULLET ALREADY STUCK IN BARREL/CHAMBER. The first (stuck) bullet will not damage anything, and a brass/Delrin rod will easily remove the stuck bullet. The bullet AFTER the stuck bullet is the one that causes damage: at best, the barrel bulges due to very high pressure, but metal splitting/debris could also occur.
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  #9  
Old 05-28-2013, 2:30 PM
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scary... good to know... thanks bill.
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Old 05-28-2013, 2:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by numpty View Post
Also, I'm not sure what a squib feels or sounds like, but how would you check the barrel on an autoloader if you think you may have one stuck in the barrel?
Squib feels like a very light load. Think 22LR or weaker out of an 45ACP handgun. Sound will not tell you much since you're wearing muffs, but you'll feel that something was wrong with the round. The slide might not cycle, but it often does.

After your time window for a hang fire, when you eject the round, look from the breach end into the barrel and see if any light is coming through. If you have a flashlight point it into the barrel from the front and you should see some of it coming through. Remember, if you see the light it doesn't mean you're in the clear after a malfunction, just that you *might be* in the clear. If there is no light coming through, you can be pretty sure that the bullet is still in the barrel.
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  #11  
Old 05-28-2013, 2:39 PM
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I was at an outdoor range recently and witnessed this first-hand (not Bwiese). A guy was shooting a small caliber rifle. Rifle went click. Shooter angled the gun up(ish) to look at the action. Satisfied all was well, he lowered the rifle back down toward the target. About half way down, the rifle went off.... no idea where that round landed.
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  #12  
Old 05-28-2013, 2:47 PM
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Glad to see no one was injured. Could have turned out really bad if you weren't paying attention.
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Old 05-28-2013, 2:56 PM
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My son had a squib round in his Beretta PX4 this weekend at the range. After it happened, he tried to load another mag, rack the slide and it wouldn't let him. After I disassembled the gun to see if I could tell what was going on, the range officer was able to tap out the bullet which was about a half an inch down the barrel. My son said he saw a bit of smoke come out of the ejection port when it happened, but hadn't thought that it was an issue. He learned a bit.
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Old 05-28-2013, 3:10 PM
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This is an important topic ,thanx for posting BW . Glad everything worked out well and no injuries occurred ! It sure could have been a problem.

I had an incident at the Kingman Arizona range where I pulled the trigger on my m14 and nothing happened . Pulled harder a still nothing .

I then lowered the buttstock from prone and when removing the mag the hammer hit and the round fired .

Fortunately there was nothing beyond the berm , if that had been a different range like Eureka , a 308 rd could have went into a population area.

The cause was a broken pin within the firing mechanism !

If you experiance uncommon circumstances its best to wait as outlined and keep the gun in a safe direction

Last edited by ja308; 05-28-2013 at 3:16 PM..
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Old 05-28-2013, 3:28 PM
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That would not have turned out well...glad you are OK.
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Old 05-28-2013, 3:37 PM
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Thanks for posting this event for us to be reminded that it does happen, rarely, but we all need to keep the safety procedures in mind in the event it does.
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Old 05-28-2013, 3:47 PM
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thanks for the reminder, its great to hear this now and again to stay as sharp as can be.
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Old 05-28-2013, 3:55 PM
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Yet another reason to never buy a revolver ;-)


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Old 05-28-2013, 3:56 PM
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Thank you for this reminder.

When S&W introduced their Nightguard revolvers a few years ago their were a few incidences of no-fire that were posted on the S&W forum. The problem turned out to be a too short firing pin rumored to ensure the gun would pass a drop test to allow the guns to be allowed for sale in CA (not sure if this is true, but oddly enough one of the fixes was to replace the stock firing pin with an Apex which is a CA company - how ironic is that?). Nobody on that forum ever cautioned about possible hang fires, and fortunately there were no accidents to report. You were lucky you could get the cylinder back into position quickly enough.
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Old 05-28-2013, 4:10 PM
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I'd like to note that many of those safety rules, are not designed for defensive shooters in mind.

If "every gun is loaded" how do you dry fire? How do you do force on force? Gun disarms / techniques? NRA even goes as far to say that even orange safety / blue guns are "loaded guns." To me, "Know the status of your firearm," is much refined and more apt concept. Should not know the status, then a status check is in order.

As far as always waiting 30 seconds, what if that person is training with a .22lr, where misfires are common? That's a lot of potential for training scars to develop. NRA only teaches this 30 second stuff in first steps / basic pistol. They do mention it as you get into PPITH, but soon after, in the same book it comes into malfunction clearances. Your revolver presents some very platform specific considerations on a hangfire, one that I will have to try and consider for the future. I'm much less concerned about a handgun cartridge detonating in air than I would be a revolver cartridge that is still stuck in the cylinder. So that is something I want to kind of think about for a bit, and may even lead me more to think that revolvers are not the best idea.

Hangfires are quite the rarity in my experience. In the past two years we have done like 400+ students through our class and I have never seen one. I know they exist, we teach about them, but it's not my focus.

I think you should go to Vegas with this kind of luck :O.

I'm not trying to discount the practice of waiting, I just don't think it is practical for most people - and I don't think it's a "golden rule" so to speak.
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Last edited by Funtimes; 05-28-2013 at 4:21 PM..
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  #21  
Old 05-28-2013, 4:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ccmc View Post
When S&W introduced their Nightguard revolvers a few years ago their were a few incidences of no-fire that were posted on the S&W forum. The problem turned out to be a too short firing pin rumored to ensure the gun would pass a drop test to allow the guns to be allowed for sale in CA...
This is urban legend and has to be false. Everyone who doesn't understand CA Roster blames Roster for everything.

The S&W NightGuard revolver series began production/issuance in 2009 - this was about a decade after DOJ testing vagaries were worked out, and prob somewhere about the same timespan after S&W moved to transfer bar safeties and removing 'spur' hammers with firing pin on them.

Whatever problems these guns may have had, they didn't have to do with the drop test.

[Now, qualifcation for CA Rostering testing does include a operation test: CA actually does apparently want your gun to actually work and not fail.]

Quote:
You were lucky you could get the cylinder back into position quickly enough.
The time delay may even have been closer to 15 seconds, not sure.

A modern Ruger SA wheelgun is indeed easy to index cylinder - open loading gate, free-spin to right position, close loading gate, ensure cylinder is latched.

It's second-nature to me.
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  #22  
Old 05-28-2013, 5:19 PM
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That's good news Bill! Almost anyone could have moved the pistol from downrange position if not well trained, with that much elapsed time.
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Old 05-28-2013, 5:25 PM
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Glad you turned out OK Bill. I've never had a hang fire before, but I can say I can improve my patience when getting a dud and waiting to see if it is a hang fire. I've had a squib load on a .22lr rifle before, but I understood what happened before I tried to fire again and removed it from the barrel.
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Old 05-28-2013, 6:41 PM
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Thanks for the reminder. With crazy ammo prices, people are having less range time and could forget these things.
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Old 05-28-2013, 8:08 PM
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Thanks for posting this.

I was shooting some lower priced tula ammo a few months ago, and about every 4th round would hang for a second or two.

The hangfire was bad enough, realizing I was flinching was worse!
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Old 05-28-2013, 8:58 PM
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Great post. It's easy to pick up lazy habits going though a box of bulk cheapo 22 with a 3% fail-to-fire rate. Granted, there is minimal risk clearing a 10-22 early if exercising muzzle discipline and wearing eye protection. I'm guilty... Thanks for the reminder of how dangerous it is, particularly with centerfire cartridges and other guns. Looks like my last remaining 'green box' may take a couple minutes longer to shoot but I'll be following the 30 second rule religiously from now on.

Last edited by Rusty Scabbard; 05-28-2013 at 9:01 PM..
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Old 05-28-2013, 9:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwiese View Post
This is a "hangfire" - where there is a delay in ignition of several (or more) seconds. That's why it started out with just a 'click'.

Inside it's just sizzling a bit until it finally detonates. This could be due to a weak primer, or sometimes (usu not in production ammo but "working up a load") due to inappropriate powder volume/powder type vs primer, etc.

A 'squib' round is one that somehow went 'bang' but the powder didn't fully detonate, did not detonate at a high order, or did not detonate at all and only the energy of the primer was used to move the bullet down the bbl.

In these cases the primer-only detonation often will leave the bullet within the barrel.

However, in any of these cases, the 'bang' is much weaker, etc. If you feel something "not quite right" and a very "weak" bang that has far less recoil or noise level, DO NOT FIRE FURTHER: YOU MAY BE FIRING ON TO A BULLET ALREADY STUCK IN BARREL/CHAMBER. The first (stuck) bullet will not damage anything, and a brass/Delrin rod will easily remove the stuck bullet. The bullet AFTER the stuck bullet is the one that causes damage: at best, the barrel bulges due to very high pressure, but metal splitting/debris could also occur.
Quote:
Originally Posted by IVC View Post
Squib feels like a very light load. Think 22LR or weaker out of an 45ACP handgun. Sound will not tell you much since you're wearing muffs, but you'll feel that something was wrong with the round. The slide might not cycle, but it often does.

After your time window for a hang fire, when you eject the round, look from the breach end into the barrel and see if any light is coming through. If you have a flashlight point it into the barrel from the front and you should see some of it coming through. Remember, if you see the light it doesn't mean you're in the clear after a malfunction, just that you *might be* in the clear. If there is no light coming through, you can be pretty sure that the bullet is still in the barrel.
Thanks guys. I just bought reloads for the first time, and was a tad hesitant to take them to the range. (probably misplaced concern, but I'm rather cautious after a friend's Sig blew up in his hand...although he thinks that was an overloaded reload) This will give me a bit of confidence...think...wait...etc.
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Old 05-29-2013, 7:24 AM
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Good report to remind us that firearms harness and control massive energy releases and we to be ever vigilant when using them. complacency can kill.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bwiese View Post
Everyone who doesn't understand CA Roster blames Roster for everything.
When in fact it's simply fulfilling it's primary purpose—to restrict the pistols Californians can legally purchase and make pistols more expensive to own affording fewer choices in finish on most pistols.
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Old 05-29-2013, 8:28 AM
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Excellent reminder to really THINK at the range, and to consider all the possibilities when something doesn't go as it should. I have seen horrible discipline from naïve and inexperienced shooters at the range on a Failure to Fire cook-off, and have had to scold a few when very dumb things were subsequently done like sweeping the line with the muzzle after a failure to fire (or like a couple of newbs at a table next to me once, shortly after the 2000 ban, inadvertently aiming the muzzle at my head and banging the butt of the rifle on the ground to un-stick a cartridge that did not fire).

I suppose this situation might even catch even some of the most experienced shooters off guard - well done. It's always good to hear first-person anecdotes of the odd anomaly so it does NOT get disregarded as urban-legend or something relegated to Mythbusters.

Thanks for sharing! You may have well saved a few hands, eyes, and lives in the future!

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Old 05-29-2013, 9:03 AM
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I had a hangfire shooting surplus 7mm Mauser out of my FN-49. Pretty scary as I heard the click, waited a good 10 seconds, went to charge the gun while keeping it shouldered and pointed downrange, and as I grabbed the charging handle, "PLINK" the round fired and the casing ejected into my hand that was on the charging handle
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Old 05-31-2013, 4:06 PM
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Serious subject, mandatory to remember.
Hope this guy learned his lesson:



Edit: OK so ppl are saying that this is fake. Well regardless, its no joke.
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Last edited by fallenknight308; 05-31-2013 at 4:10 PM..
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  #32  
Old 05-31-2013, 7:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Casual_Shooter View Post
I was at an outdoor range recently and witnessed this first-hand (not Bwiese). A guy was shooting a small caliber rifle. Rifle went click. Shooter angled the gun up(ish) to look at the action. Satisfied all was well, he lowered the rifle back down toward the target. About half way down, the rifle went off.... no idea where that round landed.
That isn't cool at all. Glad he kept the muzzle pointed downrange.
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Old 06-02-2013, 8:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnP View Post
when i get a misfire, i tap & rack. the round would be on the ground in about 1-2 seconds.

anybody know what would happen to that cooking round if it was just on the ground? i'm guessing it wouldn't actually fire the way it would in the barrel. would it be harmless or could it shrapnel some legs?
Without a breach to contain it and force the explosive force in a focused direction down a barrel, the bullet will just pop off with little directed or concentrated force. It is extremely unlikely that the casing would rupture—the bullet is the point of least resistance and will most likely pop off with little force leaving the casing intact. i suppose it could put your eye out—you do wear eye protection right?
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  #34  
Old 07-01-2013, 9:47 PM
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Thanks for the insight, will stay cautious accordingly.
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Old 07-02-2013, 5:49 PM
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Thanks for the info. It occurred to me that this might be something harder to recognize on an indoor range where the noise level is amplified, or at least bouncing off the walls. Be extra alert there.
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Old 07-29-2013, 2:46 PM
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That is very good info that i will take to heart. Thank you very much.
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Old 07-29-2013, 2:59 PM
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I had two boxes of Remington UMC that gave me 13 out of 100 completely non-fire. They were completely inert, and second attempts did not make them go off. The stack grew and eventually just disposed of them. The primers were pushed in and all sorts of crap. Never buying that in 10mm again.
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Old 07-29-2013, 3:00 PM
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Attachment 252733

The Remington UMC
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I'd go to the grocery store with polymer, and I'd go to war with steel.

Last edited by Artema; 12-24-2015 at 6:49 PM..
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  #39  
Old 10-17-2013, 3:39 PM
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I am a relatively new shooter, and I have never heard of this - and it is scary...

So if I'm at the range, shooting, well, anything, it sounds like, and I hit a "dud" (which I do, on occasion), I should wait 30 seconds before opening the slide and dumping out the dud?
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Old 10-18-2013, 3:19 PM
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Thank you for this reminder Bill! Glad you're okay!
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