A Nurse with a Gun

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What Is Wrong With This Picture?

Hint: Not paying attention can harm you and your gun.

Got it yet?

I share this picture and accompanying story to serve as a reminder for those of us who send lots of lead downrange as well as those shooters who are new to shooting sports. Knowing how to recognize a squib load and what to do about it is a necessary fundamental of safe firearm handling.

I have only encountered a couple squib loads in my lifetime; this is the first time one has resulted in plugging my barrel.

On the 5th shot of a rapid-fire, double-action string, the sound and recoil resulting from pulling the trigger of my Model 19-3 were substantially different. Substantially different. The bang was more like the weak "pop" of a cheap firecracker, and the recoil was practically non-existent. Fortunately, and likely due to my having taught about squib loads and their potential hazards so many times in NRA Basic Pistol course, I didn't fire that sixth shot.

I was shooting .38 Special, 158 gran SWC Factory Reloads from The Outdoor Marksman.

It turned out to be a great object lesson for my two sons and wife who were watching. Being able to open the cylinder, see the slug lodged in the barrel, and to talk about what would have happened had the sixth shot been fired was a terrific object lesson.

I'm going to make a color copy of this picture and share it with my future students when talking about the various types of ammunition malfunctions. Feel free to share these pictures if you think anyone you know could benefit from them.

From orygunmike

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Anonymous Robb Allen said...

Happened to me when I first started reloading. Somehow I measured some powder on a scale and forgot to put it back in the case.

A large primer will put a 10mm bullet about an inch down the barrel. Far enough where you can't see it when you pull back the slide.

But here's what happened. I fired, and there was nothing but a pffffft and nothing ejected. I racked the slide and a spent case came out, but my brain was telling me something was wrong. I felt no recoil so I didn't think I had shot anything, yet here was a sooty looking case.

So, being a Glock, I took the extra 3 seconds and field stripped it. And lo and behold, 1" down the pipe was the bullet.

I'm glad I didn't just rack the slide and try shooting again. I've fired enough to know when something goes wrong (usually a failed primer)but I still consider myself lucky for thinking of disassembling the pistol so I could look down the barrel better.

It's good advice that if you hear a funny sound or something just doesn't feel right, unload the weapon and check everything out.

8:17 AM  
Anonymous 1894C said...

Been there done that.


I had the same happen with my model 49 bodyguard. Realizing how close you were to a KABOOM gives you the willys.

Thanks for the post.

9:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a similer thing happen with a Taurus 605. Round went "fzzt" instead of "bang". 158 grain Speer Gold Dot. Lodged right in the forcing cone.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Mulliga said...

Yipes! Never had a squib, but I'm glad you're okay.

I guess sometimes the hardest bullet to dodge is the one that never leaves the barrel.

6:41 AM  
Anonymous Keith said...

When I was still in my teens, I was handed a revolver by a gunsmith friend. The barrel was full of jacketed SWCs. The front one was visible at the muzzle.

Apparently it was the owners first attempt at hand loading and he just kept firing (despite the lack of loud bang and recoil) until the last one couldn't get out of the cylinder and prevented further rotation.

that was in the not quite so bad days of the early 80's in Britain. The rsult posed an interesting problem, as the cylinder was locked closed by that last bullet, but with remaining (possibly)live loaded rounds in the cylinder... Technically it was a loaded firearm and not legally allowed away from the range....

Thinking back, the guy must have re-loaded part way through as 6 bullets would not have filled that barrel and there were still a few unfired rounds!!!

Others that I have seen after the event included a mossberg 500. someone got a slug stuck up the barrel after a squib, and the story goes that the firer had said "i'll soon shift that!" racked the action and fired a second shot.

the predictable result was about 4 or 5 bannanna skin like strands of steel in an interesting onion shape where the barrel had been. The firer was un hurt(amazingly).

I've also seen about a dozen shotgun barrels and an M1 Carbine with simillar bursts following snow, mud or just a patch up the barrel.

To add to the danger of a Squib, is the danger of a hang-fire.

Keep that muzzle pointed down range, aimed at the backstop, and count probably 60 seconds before investigating... Brass shrapnel is unpleasant.

7:01 AM  
Blogger Aaron Friday said...

Same as Robb. I had 3 squibs in my first 500 rounds of reloads. OAL was too long resulting in too little pressure.

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Derek said...

Bravo! Your most recent entries regarding firearm safety have been very useful examples to share. The ND example is definitely one that will be ingrained for quite some time.

Thank you. I enjoy reading your thoughts!

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

I was SOing for an experienced IDPA shooter. I was just thinking that he must have downloaded his 9 mm ammo considerably because of the quietness of his shots, when suddenly there was a weird sound instead of a clear POP when he pulled the trigger. He racked the slide back and tried to chamber the next round. Something in my head went "SQUIB!!! EVEN GLOCKS DON'T LIKE SQUIBS!!" and I yelled the stop command. I took his Glock away from him, unloaded it, disassembled it and found a bullet blocking the barrel. I saw unburned powder on the barrel where he was standing when it happened, so apparently the round just didn't have enough powder in it for the flame from the primer to ignite it. I acted correctly, but it still creeped me out. I think anyone into handloading should deliberately make a squib round and fire it so they will know how to recognize it.

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Rchjr said...

Had my first one the other day with my PA-63. I had never run across one before. Something I had read on the internet about squibbs stopped me from pulling the trigger again. I don't think I'll ever forget it.

9:00 PM  
Blogger Les Jones said...

Good post. Squibs are one case where revolvers are more problematic. With an autoloader you have to manipulate the slide to chamber the next round. With a revolver you can just pull the trigger again (assuming the cylinder will turn), and that second trigger pull is what destroys the gun.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Nick said...

Been there, did that a long time ago. Didn't dare send another 45 into the barrel!! Seen too many people not know what one is and end up with something of a gun afterwards too!

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had A 230 grain 45Cal. squib load jam the barrel of my AMT s/s long slide Hardballer and the second round got fired in a rapid fire sequence and the barrel was destroyed with a crack running the full length of the barrel. Luckily no one was hurt but I had a heck of a time trying to find a replacment barrel for my favorite hand cannon.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Don Gwinn said...

Man, squibs are scary. The only one I've ever had was in a USP .45. I think it made it about three inches down the barrel--almost out. It only felt a little lighter than a standard shot, and the target was far enough away that I hadn't been able to see my shots hit very well.

I'm still not sure what made me stop and check it, but something wasn't right.

10:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK...I've been reading all the posts and apparently I'm the only idiot around. Being new to the hobby of hand guns, I had never heard of a squib load. I now know first hand. I'm waiting to hear how bad the damage is on my brand new Sig. Even though some debris was blown back into my face, the only injuries were to my ego. Lesson learned.

8:56 PM  

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