My First Slam-Fire


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BHPshooter
April 11, 2007, 06:29 PM
Yep... had my first slam-fire on monday.

That morning, I had one of our customers call. The conversation went something like this:
Customer: I have a question for you. I've got a Russian Makarov pistol that I've had for a few years.
Me: Okay.
Customer: My buddy just got one, but his is 9x18mm.
Me: Right, most of those are.
Customer: Well, I want to know if mine is, because after seeing his, I'm wondering. I've been shooting .380 through mine.
Me: :what:
Customer: If I bring it in there, can you tell what caliber I'm supposed to shoot through it?
Me: Sure, bring it in. :uhoh:

About two hours later, he brings his Russian IJ-70 Makarov in, unloaded, in a plastic grocery sack.

So I take a look at it. On the right (starboard) side of the slide, emblazoned in large text is the caliber: Cal. 9mm Makarov.
So I say, "Yep, you've been shooting the wrong caliber." At that point, my boss and I got down a box of each. She showed him the rounds while I explained the differences.
He was a little defensive. "Well, if it's that other caliber, how come it shoots fine with .380?"
We talked back and forth about that for a minute, and he still wasn't convinced.
So I said, "Okay. If your gun is a .380, then this," I said, showing him the 9x18 Mak cartridge in my hand, "won't chamber. The slide won't close all the way." I slid the cartridge into the magazine, and seated it in the pistol. I pointed the gun down and off to the slide and swiped the slide release... BANG!

My boss screamed, and I don't think she knew it. I just stood still with a stony look on my face and took a deep breath... I knew right then what had happened. :fire: I stood there for a second, which made my boss think that I'd been shot. I looked into the breech, and that cute little nub of a firing pin was poking out, winking at me. Bingo, I was right.
She asked me, "Are you okay?" :eek:
"Yeah, I'm fine," I answered quietly, and then looked at the customer. "How long has it been since you've cleaned this?" :scrutiny:
"Oh, I don't clean my automatics. I'm afraid to take them apart." :what: :banghead:
So I take it apart--it took all of a second--and went into the back to clean the ******* firing pin and its channel. :fire:

My other boss was back there, doing his best not to laugh.
"Do you need to go check your drawers?" :p
I laughed. It was nice to get some of that tension out of me. "No, I'm fine." :D That **** **** firing pin channel wasn't, though. That firing pin was gummed up tight. After about 10 minutes I was done and I went back out there.

He looked up as I approached. "Okay, here's the deal," I said. "I got the firing pin channel cleaned up. You need to get some pipe cleaner and clean this out regularly. You at least need to clean that, and you really should clean the whole thing."
"Well, I'm just afraid to take my automatics apart." :banghead:

So then he started talking about the caliber again. "I can't believe this is that Russian caliber. Why doesn't it say so?"
"Um, it does say so, right here." I pointed to the side of the gun.
"Well how was I supposed to know what that meant? The Europeans have a different name for everything! I didn't know!" He simmered a minute, and then, "Now I'm just wondering what to do with the 400-odd rounds of .380 I've got."
I chuckled, "Well, you could always buy a .380."
"No," he said. He waited another minute. "Can you shoot .380 in a 9mm Luger?" :banghead:
"NO. Completely different caliber. The .380 is a straight-wall case; the 9mm is a tapered case. Don't do it. You'll always be best off if you shoot the caliber that is written on the gun."

He left after that, and I had one of my very rare urges to drink.
My coworkers were all really good about it. The owner has been in the business for 20 years, and has been seriously into shooting for about 25 before that, and he has had slam-fires before. In fact, he had one in the shop, too -- an SKS with the firing pin practically rusted in place.

We went downstairs to see if the bullet came through... it didn't. If it had, I would have killed a perfectly good pressure-washer. Afterwards, we all sat and talked for a while about NDs and ADs (I would classify this as an AD), and then we poked fun at the situation some more.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share. Things turned out well, luckily, because I kept the gun pointed in a safe direction, and although it didn't matter, My finger was straight along the frame.

Wes

PS -- the next day, the coworkers poked their heads out front to say, "We're going downstairs, okay? Just wanted to let you know." :neener:

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BHPshooter
April 11, 2007, 06:30 PM
And some pics, for your enjoyment.

Wes

doubleg
April 11, 2007, 06:37 PM
Sounds like you had one hell of a traumatic day. :eek:

cheygriz
April 11, 2007, 06:37 PM
Thanks for sharing!:p We all get our heads "up and locked" every now and then.:eek:

PinnedAndRecessed
April 11, 2007, 06:41 PM
Never had a slam fire but have had, in about 30 years of shooting, four accidental discharges.

Figured I was the only one.

thanx 4 sharing.

kis2
April 11, 2007, 06:50 PM
thats definately what scares me most about guns. taking them apart. yep. definately not loosing an appendage because it malfunctions do to crud build up. or having the barrell explode because of gas pressure from grime in bad spots. id rather run that risk than have to ask how to put my gun back together. :rolleyes:

*end sarcasm*

i was for certain this post would be about an sks.

good to know everyone is ok though.

stay safe

skinnyguy
April 11, 2007, 07:13 PM
GEEEZ Wes, I agree with your assessment of :what: :fire: :banghead: :confused: :eek: :barf:

I believe that had I been in your place, I would have been somewhat less than High Road with my comments, and I probably would have been sarcastic enough to call him a future Darwin Award winner to his face.

Scary stuff man!!! Glad you live by the 4 rules, someone could have been seriously hurt. I'll have to stop in and see the new floor ventilation system!!!

Later man!!!!
Paul

DoubleTapDrew
April 11, 2007, 07:23 PM
Yikes!!! :eek:
Glad to hear everyone was ok and the mgmt. wasn't ticked about the floor!
Maybe you should get an assortment of snap caps or dummy ammo for future demonstrations? Of course, then he might have found out the hard way on his own the firing pin was stuck with a worse outcome.
I accidentally fired a 9x19 out of my Glock 23 a few months back. I keep the fire-formed .40x19 around as a reminder to be extra careful about keeping ammo separate!

DMK
April 11, 2007, 07:24 PM
At my job, I spilled some coffee once. It was really hot and coulda left a stain. :uhoh:

I complain about some clueless gunshops I've been too, but you all have deal with some pretty clueless customers too and you can't just walk out shaking you head. I'm not sure I could be that patient and polite with them.

Thank God for the 4 rules! Nobody hurt but the linoleum. :)

Lonestar49
April 11, 2007, 07:25 PM
...

:eek: wow! That's one for the books.. Better than a movie.

Thanks for sharing that story, add another one for the book_of_knowledge.

May be one also, for the use of a blank, when the customer is in doubt, and stays in doubt..


LS

quatin
April 11, 2007, 07:26 PM
Does that mean if you had a full mag in there it would've went full auto on you?

MD_Willington
April 11, 2007, 07:30 PM
Does this mean your shop will invest in a Handgun Clearing Trap now?

BHPshooter
April 11, 2007, 07:31 PM
Does that mean if you had a full mag in there it would've went full auto on you?

Yep. :what: :mad:

A member here, BamBam I think, had a Mak slam-fire full auto and was hit in the off hand. The threads (complete with pics :eek: ) are somewhere here on THR.

Wes

meathammer
April 11, 2007, 07:32 PM
Glad everyone's okay. You probably saved that guy's life.

American_Pit_Bull
April 11, 2007, 07:35 PM
Originally posted by PinnedAndRecessed:
Never had a slam fire but have had, in about 30 years of shooting, four accidental discharges. And how did the firearms accidentally discharge... :neener:

Falling off of a shelf during an earthquake and firing pin safety failing and discharging a round?

Hazzard
April 11, 2007, 07:50 PM
Does that mean if you had a full mag in there it would've went full auto on you?

Yes, unless the recoil hammered the firing pin back.

On the subject of .380 in a mak, I had a similar experience. A buddy wanted to know if I wanted to buy his because it was so innacurate. I said I'd look at it. When he brought it out to me with a box of ammo, I saw what the problem was immediately. He was firing .380s in it. The gun shop where he bought it had sold them to him saying that "they will work just fine"!

I did buy it from him as there was no convincing him about the wrong ammo. I bought it for $35.00. With the proper ammo it was very accurate and I gave it to my dad for his birthday. Alls well that ends well.

XavierBreath
April 11, 2007, 08:01 PM
A good reason to always maintain muzzle discipline.

I had a slam fire once in a well maintained SKS. The culprit was a poorly seated primer.

AFhack
April 11, 2007, 08:37 PM
I still don't get why the heck you were chambering a live round inside a gun store in a weapon you don't own/maintain!!!!!!!


If I were the owner you wouldn't be working there anymore.

tubeshooter
April 11, 2007, 08:45 PM
Thanks for sharing that, the story was well conveyed. I'm also thankful that nobody got hurt.


As an SKS owner I always have the slam-fire thing in the back of my mind. I've wondered from time to time what that would be like. I guess I am worried about dropping the weapon if it happens, which I consider "worst case scenario". I hope I don't ever have to find out.

deanf
April 11, 2007, 08:54 PM
So did you charge him for the bullet? You know, like the red chinese do.

doubleg
April 11, 2007, 08:55 PM
So if a gun was to be modified to keep the firing pin extended while the trigger is pulled it would override all the trigger resets in result making the weapon a full auto? Just curious. Way too dangerous and illegal to try.

Hazzard
April 11, 2007, 09:01 PM
Doubleleg:
The problem is that releasing the trigger has no effect in this case as the firing pin will contact the primer each time the pistol chambers a round. It is not associated with the trigger group at all. It will continue to fire if there is ammo in the mag. Very dangerous scenario.

GRB
April 11, 2007, 09:04 PM
Glad you live by the 4 rules, someone could have been seriously hurt. There are at least two instances in this story that show the 4 rules are inadequate, and we should go back to the firearms safety rules of yesteryear. Had such be adhered to, then at least two screwups in this story would have been avoided.

One of the olden rules that was obviously not followed was to:

Always use the correct ammunition in your firearms, and if there is any question, determine the correct ammo before loading it.

The other is to:

Make sure the firearm is safe to operate before operating it. (Note I did not say before shooting it, but before operating it.)

Then there is another that, while not completely overlooked, could have been carried out in a safer manner, especially considering this was a gun shop. That would be one of the so called 4 rules: 'Always point the gun in a safe direction', or how is it said nowadays to be cool - I think it goes like this: 'Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to destroy'. It was not pointed in a very safe direction, as evidenced by the hole in the floor, the fact that had the bullet penetrated it could have hit whatever it was that was mentioned in the original post. I know from experience that even while relatively safe, it would have been much safer to have the gun pointed into an unloading/loading station. To not have one of these in a gun store, at a range, in a gunsmith's shop, etc. is negligent if you ever load ammo into guns in the store such as in this case. I am even thinking of getting one for my home.

Please note, while you may think I am being critical of the folks in this incident, I am not. What I am doing is reminding people that there are other cardinal rules of firearms safety that are overlooked when you rely on just the so called '4 rules'; and these things are not necessarly common sense, especially for the newbie to shooting. As for the older, more complete, rules - I think the NRA still lists most of them at their site, and you can probably find them in old books on firearms. They make as much sense today as they would have 100 years ago; there is no replacing, for satety's sake, them with an abbreviated version.

Safe shooting,
Glenn B

default
April 11, 2007, 09:20 PM
Afterwards, we all sat and talked for a while about NDs and ADs (I would classify this as an AD)

Glad to hear nobody was hurt, and that following the 4 rules prevented a more serious incident, but with all due respect I would call it a (less egregious than most) ND, if only for the reason that one should always shake a potentially dirty Makarov before chambering a round to hear/feel the rattle of the free-floating firing pin.

I'm not trying to be contrary, but that is one of the quirks of the Mak that attention must be paid to in order to shoot it safely. :)

American_Pit_Bull
April 11, 2007, 09:27 PM
Afterwards, we all sat and talked for a while about NDs and ADs (I would classify this as an AD)I would agree with that assessment. It was about as accidental as you get. Negligence lead up to it, due to poor firearms maintenance, but the firearm malfunctioned while in your possession.

Stevie-Ray
April 11, 2007, 09:27 PM
Does this mean your shop will invest in a Handgun Clearing Trap now?How bout a barrel filled with sand? Works at the police dept..


I give it about 2 more posts before the no such thing as ADs crowd gets here.:rolleyes:

gezzer
April 12, 2007, 01:05 AM
Pucker Time!! I love the adrenalin.

That is why we have a 6 gallon pail of sand tipped at an angle in my shop. ALL firearms are loaded and unloaded with the muzzle pointed into the center.(carry over from working as Deputy Sheriff)

This is an AD mechanical failure not a negligent discharge.

Glad your training kept it from hurting anyone.

default
April 12, 2007, 02:14 AM
Hmmm. This is a Makarov-specific case. Makarov users are advised, if they weren't already aware (and I'll admit that it's an obscure topic) that Maks have a floating firing pin that may be immobilized by cosmoline, or gummed up with oil and fouling, and can slam-fire or go full-auto when a round is chambered, unless it has been confirmed that the firing pin is moving freely in the firing pin channel (most easily done by shaking the pistol).

We generally assume that it's fairly safe to chamber a round, without fear of a slam-fire, on a modern (I'm defining "modern" pretty broadly here) automatic pistol without any other unusual precautions being taken. This assumption can be incorrect in the case of the Makarov PM. In other words, a Mak in excellent condition (nothing broken, modified, or missing) is still a slam-fire risk if it's fresh out storage, or extremely dirty. As far as I know, this is not the case with most other commonly-encountered pistols.

Sorry to harp on this, I'm not trying to be a judgmental safety Nazi or to make Thefumegator feel bad, and of course this one of the various situations that the four rules help protect us in, but as Maks are a popular little gun (for good reason, I love mine), this peculiarity in what is otherwise in my opinion an exceptionally safe pistol should be known before using one. :)

Oohrah
April 12, 2007, 02:47 AM
I have a Mak in the 380 ACP. It surely makes it doubly important
that the correct ammo is used without a question. It is the imported
Russian with adjustable rear sights:)

Frog48
April 12, 2007, 02:49 AM
That'll get your attention.

Bix
April 12, 2007, 09:49 AM
You'll always be best off if you shoot the caliber that is written on the gun

Sound advice ;)

Thanks for sharing this.

PinnedAndRecessed
April 12, 2007, 10:22 AM
And how did the firearms accidentally discharge...

Falling off of a shelf during an earthquake and firing pin safety failing and discharging a round?


No, # edited by moderator # accidental discharge vs. an intentional discharge. Got it?

ZeSpectre
April 12, 2007, 10:36 AM
Pinnedandrecessed
Attack the post not the poster. (please don't start that "#of posts" BS).

Back on topic, this was a good thread to post!

I think lessons learned (for me) are along the lines of...

-Obey Rule #2 (point in a safe direction) ESPECIALLY when dropping the slide.
-If it's not your gun and you don't know the maintenance history, treat it as unsafe until proven otherwise.
-Never use live ammo in a handling demonstration (yea for snap caps).

LAR-15
April 12, 2007, 10:44 AM
What is a good way to clean the firing pin area of a Mak fresh outta storage?

RavenVT100
April 12, 2007, 10:47 AM
Wasn't there a member of this board who was accidentally shot through the hand when his Makarov went full auto at the range?

ZeSpectre
April 12, 2007, 10:48 AM
I don't know about a Mak specifically, but when I need to clean an SKS I use a 3-to-1 ratio of HOT water and simple-green concentrate along with pipecleaners. It seems to strip all of the grease and cosmo and crud out.

WARNING: Simple green at that concentration can be corrosive. Once things are clean rinse it all off VERY well with lots of water and then oil it up ASAP to prevent rust.

entropy
April 12, 2007, 10:58 AM
I still don't get why the heck you were chambering a live round inside a gun store in a weapon you don't own/maintain!!!!!!!


Maybe he's a gunsmith. Hard to work on them otherwise. (Or test fire them either before or after working on them.)

Glad no one was hurt, Thefumigator.

orionengnr
April 12, 2007, 11:00 AM
I am not a Mak or SKS owner (yet) and had never heard of this apparent common knowledge.

I will reconsider using my sand bucket for any slide-dropping on any semi-auto pistol, not just for hammer dropping on an "empty" chamber.

RavenVT100
April 12, 2007, 11:02 AM
I don't know about a Mak specifically, but when I need to clean an SKS I use a 3-to-1 ratio of HOT water and simple-green concentrate along with pipecleaners. It seems to strip all of the grease and cosmo and crud out.

I'll use brake cleaner or acetone. It strips ALL the oil out, so watch out. When the hot water evaporates (if you use hot water) it can leave rust spots, which is why I stopped using that method.

Lucky
April 12, 2007, 01:41 PM
Glen can you post a list of the old rules?

kungfuhippie
April 12, 2007, 02:01 PM
Glad to hear everything was okay.

This reminds me of the only question I got wrong in the PRK handgun safety test when I got my Star. Which direction should you point the gun when not firing it? In the safest possible direction. SInce there was a basement/lower floor you should have pointed the gun up, unless there was a floor above you...
I got that wrong because I never thought about having a basement or being on the second floor.

default
April 12, 2007, 02:15 PM
I am not a Mak or SKS owner (yet) and had never heard of this apparent common knowledge.

I will reconsider using my sand bucket for any slide-dropping on any semi-auto pistol, not just for hammer dropping on an "empty" chamber.

That's just it. It's not really common knowledge. Always having any semi-auto pointed at a safe backstop when chambering a round is a good idea - rules 2 and 4 protect you if you fail to observe rule 3. But, as I understand it, the likelihood of a GLOCK, or a 1911, or a Beretta 92, or any number of other common automatics with firing pin return springs, out-of-battery safeties, etc., slam-firing when the slide released is extremely remote, or even essentially impossible in some designs, no matter how dirty they are.

With a Mak, the firing pin (which looks like a crude iron nail you might have pulled out of the wall of an abandoned house built in the 1700s) just sits in its little tunnel in the rear of the slide - no spring, no nothing. Remove the safety/decocker lever, and it falls right out the back. Q-tips are good for cleaning this channel. If you shake the pistol in your hand, you will hear the pin rattling back and forth in the firing pin channel.

Gunk in the FP channel of any pistol is bad - just for the opposite reason in a Makarov than in most other autos - you might get a "bang" rather than a "click".

AFhack
April 12, 2007, 04:58 PM
"Maybe he's a gunsmith. Hard to work on them otherwise. (Or test fire them either before or after working on them.)"


All of the gunsmiths I know use snap caps, action proving dummies, or homemade dummies to test an action.

matt9052
April 12, 2007, 09:57 PM
a snap cap would have have been a good idea, but it may have caused a bigger problem. the cap would chamber and you wouldn't have known about the problem. I gun owner would have probably found out at the range with a full mag. Just be thank full no one was injured.

Hemicuda
April 12, 2007, 10:30 PM
Pinned and Recessed...

4 AD's (with that many, I bet they are ND's) in a lifetime?

Sorry to say this, but it would appear that your gun handling procedures are lacking somewhere, and that you need to study the 4 rules carefully...

MOST of us only need ONE AD/ND, and we learn... MAYBE a second one... but four?

I have had one AD... YES, it was a REAL AD, as in, my finger was NOWHERE near the trigger, and I was following all 4 rules... the gun malfunctioned, went off, and buried the bullet into a magazine loaded with .17 HM2 bullets... I still have the .22 round that AD'd, and the destroyed magazine and rounds...

IF I ever have another, it'll be a TRUE AD again, because the first one scared the CRAP outta me...

DWARREN123
April 12, 2007, 11:33 PM
5 gallon bucket full of sand for this type thing would help with the dirty drawers a lot!:D

Kimber1911_06238
April 12, 2007, 11:37 PM
that sucks, i feel for you. at least nobody got hurt and u still have your job.

Plink
April 13, 2007, 02:27 AM
I haven't had an AD (yet) but I went through that same exact episode with a friend who had bought a Makarov, about eight years ago. Last I heard he was still shooting .380s through it because they were easier to find! I haven't heard from him in years, so I hope nothing bad happened.

Sorry to hear of the slam fire though. That had to be scary. Maybe you guys should put a sand filled barrel in there, just in case? AD's in a gun shop aren't as rare as we'd like to think. Never hurts to be safe though. Heck, I have one at home for loading/unloading my CCW.

CK
April 13, 2007, 04:16 AM
Why do I have the nagging feeling that the guy will go home and continue shooting the 380?:uhoh:

ZeSpectre
April 13, 2007, 07:49 AM
Why do I have the nagging feeling that the guy will go home and continue shooting the 380?

Because you can't fix stupid. :scrutiny:

kungfuhippie
April 13, 2007, 11:59 AM
Why do I have the nagging feeling that the guy will go home and continue shooting the 380?
Because you can't fix stupid.

Darwin fixes stupid.:neener:

BHPshooter
April 13, 2007, 12:48 PM
Darwin fixes stupid. :neener:

So I guess I can probably be blamed for robbing Darwin... :uhoh:

Wes

Blackfork
April 13, 2007, 01:02 PM
That's a pretty wild story. Good thing he ran into you.

I always feed junior shooters one 5.56 when I am coaching them offhand so they can experience an AR going off when they drop the bolt. When it happens to them once, they never seem to forget it. The AR firing pin floats and gives the primer a little dink when you drop the bolt.

I'd never load one inside, but I don't run a shop either. Hope the guy takes this lesson to heart.

savetheclaypigeons
April 13, 2007, 01:38 PM
wow, scary situation, good thing the person who loaded the gun was trained to point it in a safe direction. Might be a good idea to get some 'dummy' reloads of every caliber. This way customers can view and compare various calibers and if a barrel needs to be tested...tada! Certainly wouldn't stop treating it as live ammo, but I have a feeling you wouldn't :)

Tom488
January 21, 2008, 04:35 AM
Sorry to re-hash an old thread, but I thought I'd share a (somewhat) similar story - with an important lesson re-learned:

My buddy and I were at the range, shooting pistols. I was shooting an XD .45, and he had his well-used Auto Ordnance 1911A1 .45, which we've both shot on numerous occasions before. We're both shooting our targets, stopping, reloading magazines, and continuing. We're both reloading, and I'm only slightly aware that he slaps a magazine into his pistol, and drops the slide.

<BANG!>

I look over at him, and he's got this incredulous look on his face, staring at the pistol. Yep, it slam-fired. We look at each other for a good long second, until he says, "Well... THAT ain't supposed to happen!". Me: "Uh - nope". (I know - I've got such a way with words). While we were both relieved that he had the pistol pointed downrange when chambering a round, we were both extremely aware of what COULD have happened had that not been the case.

So, yes - this was one of those rare times when it can really be called an ACCIDENTAL discharge. Lack of negligence saved him from property damage, personal injury, or involuntary manslaughter.

Afterwards, we both handled the UNLOADED pistol, and dropped the slide several times (still pointed downrange, of course), and a couple of times, the hammer would fall.

After disassembling and examining the pistol, the notch on the hammer was pretty worn. Whereas on a new hammer, the notch forms an almost perfect 90 angle for the sear to enage, the notch on this hammer was worn to maybe 70 or so. The sear, instead of being a nice crisp, squared-off edge, was slightly rounded off. In short, both hammer and sear were "well worn".

Now, I can't answer why the sear didn't catch the hammer at half-cock... it certainly should have (seeing as that's the whole point of the half-cock notch to begin with) - but it just goes to show: NEVER rely on any mechanical safety device. ALWAYS assume the gun will fire when chambering a round. If I only understood that concept at an academic level before, it sure was driven home that day at the range.

GrumpyUnk
January 21, 2008, 07:22 PM
My boss took me trap shooting when I was kid and let me use his new auto shotgun (1100 I think). Aimed and pulled the trigger and nothing happened. I dropped the muzzle down and was standing there, finger off the trigger, looking at it for about 5 seconds when, BOOM. Big smoking hole in the dirt about 10 feet in front of me.

Scared the crapola out of me. He started yelling at me till the guy standing behind me told him what happened. Stuff happens some times and muzzle control was sure drilled into my head that day.

entropy
January 21, 2008, 09:00 PM
Time for an overhaul on the 1911. Replace (at a minumum) the hammer, sear, and sear spring. I'd replace the disconnector also.

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