Accidental gun death


June 25, 2005, 07:24 PM
A young man was killed in SE Arkansas recently in a firearm accident. He and a friend were firing a Norinko SKS which became jammed. While trying to clear the jam, the round in the action (not chambered) fired and all or part of the casing was ejected and struck the boy killing him. The story can be seen here:

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Matt G
June 25, 2005, 08:06 PM
That's a surprisingly informative story. Apparently it was a piece of the shellcasing that entered the boy's body, rather than the bullet. The sheriff says (and I agree with him) that this was an unforeseeable accident.

If you have a missfire, leave the bolt closed and point the firearm downrange for a minute. Then unload the rifle and sharply eject the round so that it lands in a safe area. Then leave it be for a bit before disposing of it.

If your firearm is malfunctioning, unload it entirely before working on it. Keep chambers clean.

Follow the Four Rules of gun safety (

Would any of these things have saved that boy? I don't know. But they bear repeating, anyway. Come to think of it, I think I'm going to re-read the Four Rules, out loud, right now.

June 25, 2005, 08:33 PM
OK, sad sad story and certainly, all our best wishes goes out to the family. That being said, I would like to commend the reporter for the unbiased, informative and blameless arcticle. This is what journalism is supposed to be.

June 25, 2005, 09:08 PM
When the bolt came forward, striking the round on the side of the casing, the round exploded and fragmented, causing a piece of shrapnel to enter Craig's body in the upper abdominal area.

That reminds me... there's a similar way to hurt yourself with a semiauto pistol. Lots of people set themselves up for it without realizing the danger.

If you are one of those folks who likes to cup your hand over the ejection port when you remove a live round from the chamber, think about what happens if the slide were to slip forward and that pointy extractor smacked into the primer. If the nose of the bullet is jammed up against the edge of the ejection port, you're cupping your hand over a live grenade.

I heard that people have torn their hands up pretty bad this way.

Either let the cartridge eject all the way on it's own, or use your thumb to force it down the empty mag well before it has a chance to get into the ejection port.

June 25, 2005, 09:27 PM
The "four rules" are the biggest of probably many more rules that can be listed. A Budweiser informational packet I have on shooting states 10, those being:
-Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction
-keep your finger off the trigger; don't rely on your firearm's safety device
-unload your firearm when not in use
-Be sure of your target and what's beyond it.
-Firearms must be stored safely and securely in your home
-wear eye and ear protection when shooting
-use only correct ammunition for your gun
-make certain the barrel is clear of obstructions before you shoot
-don't alter or modify your firearm
-know the safe handling characteristics of your gun.

Of course some of them are subject to debate and situation like modifying firearms if you are qualified to do so, keeping a loaded one for home defense, etc.

Either way, rules and guidelines are meant to minimize the risk to the users and those around him/her, not eliminate it. Just as there are a long list of procedures and rules for operating an automobile, accidents can happen even if we follow all the rules. It's the accepted risk, however small it may be.

My Bushmaster instruction manual says if a rifle stops firing and there is a suspected live round in the chamber that cannot be cleared within 10 seconds, dump the mag and leave it in the chamber for a good 15 minutes while pointed in a safe direction before you take further action.

Unforunately, this really was a freak accidental discharge situation, not one of negligent discharges or accidents that could likely been avoided with some care. Sometimes you can do everything right and still get bit.

June 25, 2005, 09:28 PM
Thanks, Mike. I for one had not thought of that.
Much appreciated.

June 26, 2005, 12:28 AM
I had pretty much the same thing happen some years back with a Thompson 1927 A-1. I'm still carrying a piece of brass in my arm from that little episode, and pulled another piece out of my chest where it hit the sternum and stopped. If that sliver had hit a bit lower, things could have been relatively ugly. :eek:

On that particular day, I was shooting at steel plates, had pulled the trigger and............nothing. Hmmm. Waited a few seconds keeping the barrel aimed downrange, then looked up and saw the bolt hadn't closed. A jam.

Keeping the barrel downrange, I waited a little while, then pulled the bolt back to clear the jam. Something we've all done. You keep the barrel downrange, finger off the trigger, wait a bit to make sure you don't have a hang-fire, and clear it. No big deal, right?

Well, as I pulled back on the bolt, the firing pin let go, hit the primer, and the round went off in the open chamber. I remember seeing a blinding blue-white flash. Looked over at a couple of buddies, and we're all thinking what the.....?

Then one of the guys says "Uh, you're bleeding. Are you okay?"

Looking at my chest, I see a little piece of brass sticking out. I pulled it out, and discover it's about 1/4" long. My sternum had stopped it. Then I notice a little blood on my right arm from a small pucture. X-rays the next day revealed another brass splinter up against the bone.

I've thought back on that incident more than once, and other than turning the gun upside down so the receiver would be facing down before operating the bolt to clear the chamber, I'm not sure what else I could have done.

I still have the case and the piece I pulled out of my chest. The case is completely flowered, and missing a few pieces. The bullet ended up about an inch up the tube. I keep them in a little plastic case in my desk as a reminder.

I count myself lucky.

June 26, 2005, 12:42 AM
I count you lucky too. I just wish that kid had gotten lucky too.

June 26, 2005, 01:05 AM
Another potentially dangerous accident is squib loads where for one reason or another, the bullet won't completely exit the barrel and is stuck somewhere along it's length. When repeated bullets are fired, the barrel, receiver, and entire gun can turn into a fragmentation grenade. Fulton Armory has some cases of these (but take advantage of someone elses' misfortunes to promote their own product).

This problem isn't as big a deal for bolt-action shooters since they're usually precision rifles that aren't fired rapidly. For those who own firearms with magazines and have the ability to fire off some rounds a bit faster, it's going to be much harder, or impossible to hear or feel a squib and react accordingly before it's too late. In fact, its such an uncommon occurence that most people probably won't even know if they've had a squib. The next round can be deadly.

June 26, 2005, 06:52 AM
For those who own firearms with magazines and have the ability to fire off some rounds a bit faster, it's going to be much harder, or impossible to hear or feel a squib and react accordingly before it's too late. It is extremely rare (impossible?) for a squib load to cycle the action for a follow up shot. Myself and many others have tried to do it but alas I kno of no one who has suceeded.
A general rule is if the action has cycled then the bullet has left the barrel.
A hard and fast rule is that If the action doesn't cycle, CHECK THE BORE BEFORE FIRING THE NEXT SHOT!

The real danger with squib loads is in revolvers. A primer only load will 99.999% of the time leave you with a bullet half in the forcing cone and half in the cylinder preventing a second shot. But a light load, (a load with some powder but not enough) CAN leave a bullet inside the barrel. When firing a revolver ANYTIME a round doesn't feel or sound right, STOP! CHECK THE BORE!

I cringe everytime I read a THR thread and see the words, "It didn't sound right and then when I pulled the trigger again..." :banghead:

June 27, 2005, 11:05 AM
What a sad story. I have never had any type of hangfire, but I sure as hell will be a lot more careful in the future.

June 27, 2005, 09:24 PM
It wasn't a hangfire. It was a slamfire.

June 27, 2005, 10:18 PM
I don't think it was a slamfire. The case exploded while he was trying to clear it.

June 28, 2005, 01:19 AM
I'll wager that either the bolt closed in such a way thatthe primer was struck or that the primer was struck during attempted ejection.

How many people do you know who have REALLY ever experienced an honest to gosh hangfire with modern ammunition.
Just about the only way you can have a hangfire with modern smokless powder is if it's partially damp or otherwise contaminated.

The only hangfire I have ever witnessed was when someone was using WWI surplus Mauser ammo that looked too atrocious to even attempt to fire. And even then there wasn't enough oomph for the bullet to exit the barrel.

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