Has anyone ever had a slow primer?


Zach S
December 15, 2003, 07:50 AM
Seems like all the manuals that came with my pistolas say something about keeping a gun on target for at least 30 seconds if it fails to fire, in case the round has a slow primer. Out of thousands of rounds, I've never had one, just a few stubborn ones (less than a dozen) that needed the primer hit twice to fire.

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December 15, 2003, 08:55 AM
I had one that hesitated, just long enough to know it was not right (less than a half second?) but it was many years ago, and was a paper shotgun shell that had been stored in a kitchen drawer for years. There is no way to know what it had been exposed to, but it did not show any signs of moisture. When it did fire it was weak enough to make me check for barrel obstruction.

I bought some egyptian surplus military rounds that were unreliable and many of them did not fire, but I did not have any fire late.

A few seconds for safety is cheap insurance.

December 15, 2003, 10:28 AM
It's called a hangfire. Ge them all of the time with Pakistani .303, and some 1944 dated Radway Green .303. Just can't use them for rapid fire, other than that no troubles.

Mal H
December 15, 2003, 10:46 AM
I had a couple of short hangfires - about 1/2 second or less. They were with some surplus .303 out of Mike Irwin's just-purchased Lee Enfield. That sure does mess up your target with stray holes (or no holes). :) They are extremely rare with modern or recent manufacture ammo of any variety.

I usually wait no longer than 10 seconds if I get a "hangfire". Almost always it is caused by a failure to feed, but you never know.

December 15, 2003, 01:29 PM
What my defensive pistol instructor said about hangfires is that they are a "documented phenomena" that are extremely rare. When they do happen, it's invariably the result of really old ammunition, or a contaminate that seeped into the case.

His take on it, was that he's personally lit up about a half a million rounds of ammo, and never seen one, and neither does anyone he knows.

Accordingly, since people shoot in an emergency the same way they practice, it's best to get on with immediate action when your firearm doesn't go bang, rather than worry about a hangfire.

He then caveated the thing saying, "remember, IT CAN HAPPEN, so when you do immediate action, keep your hands away from the ejection port, and move away from wherever the round lands"

Seems like good advise to me, in a defensive context.

December 15, 2003, 01:59 PM
A friend of mine bought a couple thousand rounds mail order... "a deal!"

It was 9x19 if I recall correctly. At any rate, he was shooting it in one of our local matches... "click ....... bang!" "click ....... bang!" "click ....... bang!" every once in a while it would fire several without incident.

The boy did learn about follow through!

If you shuck such a round, the dangerous time is when it's half in and half out. Once it's on the ground it's not very dangerous. Nerve-wracking, I suppose... but not a serious projectile. Don't try to catch any bits of it, of course.

December 15, 2003, 02:09 PM
Never had a pistol hangfire, but had a shotgun shell hang fire. It was a brand new Rem STS 12ga.

Was shooting skeet and was tracking a clay and pull the trigger then nada, Pull again nada. Lifted the SG off my shoulder an inch or so but kept pointed in a safe direction and looked back at my buddy and then boom. It rammed into my shoulder, but since it was a light not a big deal but definitely surprising. It must of been 4 seconds after I pressed the trigger till the round fired off.

December 15, 2003, 02:27 PM
Yes, with some Portuguese surplus 8mm Mauser dated 1971. I kept the action closed and gun pointed down range. No problem, but it opened up my group quite a bit!

ballistic gelatin
December 15, 2003, 02:48 PM
It happened to me two years ago with Remington .223 in a Colt HBAR. My Uncle had "thouroughly" cleaned his rifle and oiled it a little too much I suppose. The mags were really saturated with oil and seeped into the cartridges. That's the only thing I could figure.

Click.....bang, click....bang, Hey! Did you guys notice something different about those shots? No, why? Click...whistle, whistle...bang.

Tossed about 55 unfired rounds into the pond just to be safe.

December 15, 2003, 02:58 PM
I haven't had one yet. However, everyone that does a lot of shooting will eventually have one. Always expect one.

I will always take the possibility seriously. One local trainer I had once actually lost a friend to a slow fire. A guy he was training had a hangfire with the .22lr he was shooting. He thought it was a dud, turned around to tell his instructor (my instructor's friend) that he had a dud and ask what to do (of course he turned around with the gun in his hand thus pointing it right at the instructor's head) and then the gun went off. The instructor died within moments. After that story I'll never take a seeming misfire lightly and I always count slowly to 30 before doing anything else.

December 15, 2003, 04:13 PM
Plinking with a friend in the forest using my SLR-95. Russian surplus ammunition. Burned thru a 30 round mag as fast as I could, just enjoying the sound and concussion. Then the weapon was empty, or so I thought. I swear this was the first time I didn't clear and check the weapon after shooting, just let it point at the ground along the side of my body. My finger was nowhere near the trigger, I said something to my friend and BOOM!, there is a smoking hole in the dirt next to my right foot and a helluva shocked look on both our faces. The rifle had stopped firing, my finger was not on the trigger, and ten seconds later a 7.62x39 bullet tries very hard to clip my toenails for me. The only thing I can think of is that I had a "hangire". I had never encountered one before, but the incident has made me much, much more vigilant about them.

December 15, 2003, 04:48 PM
All the ones I've had were from old 7.62x54mm. I dont get a whole lot of them, but ANY are too many when you're expecting a BOOM and instead get a CLICK....BOOM.

I always keep pointed downrange for a count of about 20 or so (slow count), then work the bolt. My 20 count is probably almost 30 seconds.

December 15, 2003, 05:05 PM
I bought a box of 8mm off some guy I barely new once. 48 rounds were fine, but one had a two second delay between the firing pin dropping and the round firing - the next one didn't shoot at all - kept it on target for about a minute just in case though before taking it out and burying it...


December 15, 2003, 05:12 PM
Quail hunting with my brother just yesterday, he had one. Maybe a .25 to .50 second delay, but certainly enough to miss the bird. Factory 20 gauge ammo. (Federal)

NRA definition of hangfire is "a perceptible delay in the ignition." As an instructior, definitions of misfire, hangfire, squib load and slam fire are discussed in first hour of each and every type of class at our mandatory range orientation.

The story above about student shooting instructor is quite scary. I had a student who had a hangfire several years ago while one of about 6 people doing qualification at the same time. It was the last CHL class I did at an outdoor range just before getting our new indoor range completed in 1996. An older gentleman, shooting a .45 with Remington UMC ammo. About a 1 to 1.5 second delay after hammer dropped. Fortunately, he did somewhat follow procedures. Round hit the top of target carrier only 3 yards away and splattered. Scared the you-know-what out of him.

So yes, hangfires are rather rare, but they can and do happen.

I just heard sketchy details over the weekend of a friend of family who recently died on hunting trip near Odessa TX. Something, unknown to me at this point, caused gun to blow up, taking off a hand or a large portion thereof. 42 year-old man was attempting to help injured shooter when he had a heart attack and was DRT. My best guess at this point is that a hangfire may have been involved, as stated above, when the round was just partially in the chamber.

December 15, 2003, 05:20 PM
I saw a shotgun round go off 3-4 seconds late once.

It was some scary poo, let me tell ya.

- Gabe

W Turner
December 15, 2003, 06:02 PM
Early in my shooting experience I ws shooting .40 Blazer out of a G22. Pulled the trigger...click.........wait 30 seconds, "oh, ok a dud"......eject the round and go back to shooting. In between magazines about 2 minutes later I hear what sounds like a gunshot behind me. I turn around to see a small crater with what looked to be small shards of aluminum around it and the ejected shell was nowhere to be seen. Scared the crap outta me.


December 15, 2003, 08:56 PM
I got four ten-round boxes of .303 for my Enfield at a gun shop at a really good price. I later found out why the price was so good.:rolleyes:

Every round in the first box went off 1-2 seconds after being struck. I got a few bruises that day and still have the other three boxes!

December 15, 2003, 10:56 PM
I get these a lot with old lots of 22lr.

My dad just gave me about 1500 rounds of 22lr to shoot up which he has had laying around for several years. I'm expecting trouble with those. He said he was getting a couple duds per box of 50. I wait about 10 seconds before cycling to the next shot. I can't recall one of these ever having a delayed fire or even going off on a second hit. But I will continue to wait.

I wait quite a bit longer with black powder misfires! Those bug me more for some reason :)

My only two centerfire misfires (which I can recall) occurred during hunting. Those get ejected within micro-seconds. Once with a shotgun and once with a lever action rifle. Both times I cycled two rounds instead of just the dud. Seems I get a little excited when it counts for more than hole in a piece of paper. :D Niether of those exploded after ejection.

I don't think asking a criminal to wait 30 seconds in a self-defense scenario makes much sense.

December 16, 2003, 10:29 AM
Dear god, I cannot belive there are so many incidences.

This thread should be stickied for gun safety reinforcement.

I would like to see more info on what a 'hung' round does when it coosk off on the ground after being cleared. I wonder just how dangerous those are. (and if their behavior is any different than rounds that cook off by themselves in a fire. Does the fire activate the primer first, or does the powder flash by itself? The two situations could be vastly different in terms of flame front and multiple ignition shock waves.)

December 16, 2003, 10:51 AM

So I could get a delayed detonation in my 22 SA revolver ... AFTER I had cocked the hammer again and rotated the dud to a position not in line with the barrel.

December 16, 2003, 11:42 AM
Anybody ever work out the physics (i.e. how much damage would it do) for a round that cooks off on the floor by itself?

Bill Hook
December 16, 2003, 11:54 AM
I wouldn't want to hold one in my hand is all I know, but I'd say that it would be a brass cased firecracker for all intents and purposes, though some calibers might be M-80s.

December 16, 2003, 12:02 PM
Yes I have had Hangfires in the past. I haven't in quite a long time tho'.

Older ammo, and ammo improperly stored, or exposed to elements, especially shotshells not sealed for elements the culprit it seems. I don't buy "inexpensive" 22lr ammo. In my area the Win X22lr is more readily avail. Works in everything I run it through and across the board accuracy is good, Same with T22 in standard Velocity. Friends use CCI ( mini mags) in other areas with same results as that seems to be more readily avail to them.

Speaking of which, related for those whom have not seen this thread:


Second page, gives the Dx:
I just spoke to the manufacturer. He said that as soon as he saw the photo and then examined the shotgun, he immediately knew what happened and it was the shell that was to blame. He called it a shell that "was slow to peak" . He said it was kind of like a firecracker that just fizzed instead of went "bang". The primer did ignite the charge and the charge did build pressure but it was much too slow and took too long. That allowed the shotgun to unlock prematurely and with a lot of gas still behind the shot. That slammed the bolt back severely and produced the resulting destruction of the shell itself.

Mike Irwin
December 16, 2003, 12:05 PM
"Anybody ever work out the physics (i.e. how much damage would it do) for a round that cooks off on the floor by itself?"

By far the most dangerous part of a center-fire round popping off uncontained is the primer. It can be blown out with considerably force and velocity if the primer actually cooks off, and can cause severe injuries.

Because of its light weight, however, normally if you're more than a few feet from the flying primer all you get is a bruise unless it hits you in the eye.

December 16, 2003, 05:18 PM
Bought some spanish 1955 .45 acp in a baggie about 20 years ago

It was $2 for 80 rounds

In an old 1911 it was (click 3 seconds bang) seriously degraded primers.

After one mag the ammo was retired into a shadowbox display

December 16, 2003, 08:04 PM
Never had one. It's always in the back of my mind when I get a click instead a boom though.

December 16, 2003, 09:36 PM
Mostly with old or poorly stored rimfire ammo.

As a poor student, I couldn't pass up FA 1936 ammo at $2.00 per box.

That was in 1973, and nearly every round had a second or so delay before firing.:eek:

It does help with learning steady 'follow-through', though.:D

December 16, 2003, 09:40 PM
2 second delayed shot...very weird..FN Browning High Power and Winchester whitebox 9mm

December 16, 2003, 09:40 PM
Back in summer of '95 I observed a semi-spooky incident during CHL Instructor qualification in Austin. I was in the awaiting relay preloading magazines for my partner, who was one of of 30 shooters on the line. Shooter next to us had a misfire with .40 and promptly continued with slap-rack-bang. The ejected cartridge had not been on DPS's immaculately-kept bermuda grass for more than 3 seconds when a trooper acting as line officer promptly picked it up and dropped the round into his front pants pocket. :what: I'm happy to report that one remained only a misfire. :eek: :D

December 16, 2003, 09:53 PM
Hangfires with real old Milsurp .303 Brit not too uncommon. I still have some real old (C 1945) stuff .. corrosive of course .... and cordite ...... that stuff can, every so often give a round that feels like a flinter :p

Pull trigger .......... click ........ pause ...... bang!!!! They always seem to go off but the delay feels quite strange... probably tho in this case only in the order of .. what?? say - 100 to 200 msecs.

Not really related but . had one round of 7.62 x 54R where it ''didn't go'' and after ejection the primer FELL OUT!! :D

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