Questions regarding hangfires

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by pblanc, Feb 15, 2016.

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  1. pblanc

    pblanc Member

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    Not sure if this is the best subforum. Obviously, hangfires are not restricted to handguns. Moderators feel free to move to a more apt subforum.

    I suspect that many, if not most of the forum members have experienced light primer strikes with failure to fire. I certainly have with multiple handguns, but I have not, as yet experienced a hangfire.

    The conventional wisdom in the event of a failure to fire seems to be to keep the handgun pointed down range on target for 30 seconds in case of delayed primer ignition.

    I am curious as to how many have experienced a hangfire, and for those who have, how much time elapsed between the primer strike and ignition? If you have experienced a hangfire was it with factory ammunition and do you recall what type of primer was involved?

    Finally, in the event of a failure to fire, how many actually hold their handgun on target for a full 30 seconds? If you do not, how long would you do so?
     
  2. Jim NE

    Jim NE Member

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    We used to never pay much attention to hangfire waiting periods, because the culprit was almost always light strikes or a gun problem, but someone I knew had and actual hangfire. Went off about 5 seconds after he pulled the trigger. Now we pay attention. 30 seconds is probably long, but why take chances? After all, what's the hurry? Best wishes.
     
  3. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Member

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    I think hangfires are pretty rare; I've never had one. If you never load too light a powder charge, you'll probably never get one. That said, when I pull the trigger and the gun doesn't fire when I think it should have, I do keep it pointed in a safe direction for probably at least 30 seconds.

    If when the cartridge is ejected there is no bullet in it, check the barrel but you probably knew that.
     
  4. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Hangfire in 30-06 old military ammo many years ago. Not much delay. You hear click, then bang. In reloads, i had H450 powder start burning, then just stop, so not a hangfire, just a dud.
     
  5. 340PD

    340PD Member

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    I would wager the vast majority of hangfires occurred with shotgun ammo. Grandpa came home and hung up his vest with 30 year old shells still in the pockets. Green scum on the brass? Holes where the paper met the brass? No problem. Wet? It's OK, I dried them off when I got back to camp.
     
  6. joem1945

    joem1945 Member

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    I had a hang fire with 7.62X54R. Waited 60 to 90 seconds. Slowly opened the bolt and extracted the cartridge whic landed on carpet bench. As I reached for it there was a pop and some pain in my finger. Hand and finger went to arm pit and i didn't want to look to see how bad it was. I removed my hand and had all my fingers, no leaks. So now to inspect the cartridge. NO Flash Holes. It was the primer that blew out hitting my finger. Scared the $h*t out of me.
     
  7. beag_nut

    beag_nut Member

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    Max time was about 1/2 second. Still, I wait the full 30 for the occasional light strike/bad primer.
     
  8. 230RN
    • Contributing Member

    230RN I keep pushing that pendulum back.

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    The only one I ever had was in real cold weather. About a second. Old .30-06 ammo, but it was possibly due to a light strike because of congealed lube from the cold. Went back to the house to warm up me, the gun, and the ammo. Never had another one with that ammo or rifle in warm weather.

    Not relevant to modern ammo, but a friend of mine had an old rimfire .38. He got some really old mercuric-primed black powder ammo which was often real slow in ignition. Not click....bang, but click,bang. About half of the ones which didn't fire at all would fire when rotated in the chambers so the firing pin would hit in a different place, just like crappy .22LR.

    Yeah, we waited with the gun hanging off the ends of our arms for the full recommended slow count of thirty before opening the action.

    I kept one round which had been rotated and loaded four times, with four dents in the rim as a souvenir, but don't know what happened to it. Maybe it went off in one of my boxes of firearms junk ten years later. Who knows? Maybe the stench of the black powder got around the house and I just blamed it on the dog.

    Terry, 230RN
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2016
  9. psyopspec

    psyopspec Member

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    I'll freely admit that I don't wait with handguns. If I get a click, I tap/rack/fight.
     
  10. BobWright

    BobWright Member

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    A number of years ago I had a "hang fire" with a Thompson Contender, in .35 Remington. This due to the gun, not the ammumition.

    I was squeezing off a round when the trigger "broke" but the hammer stayed cocked. I slid my finger out of the trigger guard and waited one minute, though more than likely about thirty seconds or so. I was standing, using a two handed hold, and slowly brought the gun down to about 45 degrees when the thing fired. Whacked me under the cheekbone with the front sight, leaving a slight cut and causing me to see stars for a moment.

    This gun frame had been used to test many heavy loads and its innards were pretty well battered up.

    Bob Wright
     
  11. BobWright

    BobWright Member

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    psyopspec said:
    Another case I witnessed with a Beretta Model 92. The shooter experienced a mis-fire and racked the slide back. The cartridge was still part way in the chamber when it exploded. The case was blown open and part of the pistol's chamber went flying.

    Fortunately the shooter wasn't injured, but plenty shaken.

    Bob Wright
     
  12. Shaq

    Shaq Member

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    I've had a light primer strike, waited 10 seconds or so but never had one fire during the wait. Note that when the round is not in the chamber, it can cause only minor injury from brass shards (except in the unprotected eye), but not from the bullet since it won't have much velocity.
     
  13. Ranger Roberts

    Ranger Roberts Become a THR contributing member!

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    A few years ago I remember one of our members posting about a hangfire that took 90 seconds before it went bang. I don't remember which member it was, maybe he will see this thread and re-tell the story. I remember specifically RC's utter disbelief.
     
  14. TimSr

    TimSr Member

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    Its not uncommon at all with muzzleloaders. Usually caused by dropping powder in a gun that has oil residue in it. Sometimes the delay id several seconds. That's why you fire a couple of caps before you load it.

    I've never had one with a smokeless powder gun, but I still keep to the practices I learned by muzzleloading, and hold about 15 seconds after a non-fire.
     
  15. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Member

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    Three possible scenarios, one of them potentially dangerous.

    First is the classic standby of waiting then clearing the chamber.

    Second is the "tap/rack/bang (or assess) typically taught in handgun classes, but it can apply to any cartridge arm.

    However, failure to be familiar with the operation of the firearm and doing so either slowly or exposing yourself or nearby bystanders to the ejection port can be potentially dangerous in the event of a true hangfire.

    Ammunition discharging completely chambered has the predictable result of sending the projectile downrange, assuming you've properly kept the muzzle that way.

    Ammunition discharging uncontained in any manner is a nuisance but not dangerous. Even large caliber rifle ammunition gives a "pop" and neither the bullet nor the case travels very far and neither with much force. Possible enough to cause a bruise if striking bare flesh, but usually not even that. Think of a round laying on the ground after a properly done immediate action drill.

    Where the possible danger lies is in clearing a potential hangfire either slowly or doing so exposing yourself or others to the ejection port. The round is partially contained and if it does discharge, the force is somewhat directed, rather than completely uncontained. This can result in ruptured cases and pieces of it expelled with enough force to injure the shooter or bystanders and possible damage to the firearm. We've probably all seen the pictures of blown out magazines, case shrapnel in hands, etc.

    The two safe options are either wait for a bit to be sure it's a dud or get it out of the chamber NOW. As in expeditiously. And be confident you can do it while keeping yourself clear of the ejection port.

    Personally, I've only had hangfires with shotgun ammunition. None of the hangfires were more than a few seconds, the other problems I had were complete misfires. I spent a summer shooting up my Grandfathers stash after he passed. Piles of 12 gauge shells that had been laying around for decades, a lot of it paper hulls and some of it never even made it into my shotgun, either to decrepit appearance or swollen hulls.

    The stuff I shot through my pump gun and misfired/hangfired got shucked out immediately and kicked into the dirt pile. The shooting I did with his shotguns warranted waiting a bit with the muzzle downrange, as those shotguns are double barrel break top actions and there is no good way to clear them either quickly or without the open chambers pointing at me.
     
  16. Warp

    Warp Member

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    I have not had or witnessed one.

    Appleseed says to wait 30 seconds when you get a misfire just in case it is a hangfire...but in practice I don't know that people actually do, particularly with .22lr. Missfire...cycle the bolt...it's just what people do.

    Handgun defense/fighting training? Get a click? Immediate action drill (immediate!), tap, rack, re-asses. Who wants to practice/train to just stand there waiting if the gun goes click?!
     
  17. Jim K

    Jim K Member.

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    Hangfires are rare, but I had several boxes of Canadian-made 8x57 ammo from WWII that gave a hangfire on almost every round.* The delay ranged from a fraction of a second, just enough to be noticeable, to ten seconds.

    A friend got hold of some old .30-'06 (cheap; I don't think I ever knew the maker) and had a hangfire in a BAR. He forgot himself and applied "immediate action". The round was extracted, but went off in the receiver. Fortunately, the damage was limited to popped rivets on the bolt supports, and was repairable. But registered BAR's are not found in every gun store, so he would not have liked losing his to impatience.

    *The British used 8mm in their Besa tank machineguns and they got a lot of the ammo from Canada.

    Jim
     
  18. Jim K

    Jim K Member.

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    Warp, see the above post. When you have a hangfire, you don't know exactly when the round will go off, if at all. If you apply immediate action, it might go off in front of your face. On a range, there is no reason to apply immediate action. In a life or death situation, the risk is justified but not on a range. (If you can't tell the difference, I don't want to be on the same range when you are shooting.)

    Jim
     
  19. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    I can only remember a very few true hang-fires in 60 years of shooting.

    All were with WWII surplus military rifle ammo in various stages of decomposition.

    6.5 Carcano, .303 British, some 1930's era US 30-06.
    And probably no more then 3-4 at that.

    My feeling is it is only likely to happen with slower burning rifle powders.

    I can't imagine it happening with fast burning pistol powder.

    In that case, if it lights at all, it is going to go off instantly.
    It won't smolder for seconds like a wet firecracker fuse, or old dead rifle powder!!

    So myself pistol shooting?
    Misfire drill = Tap - Rack - Bang.

    If a dud goes off on the ground 30 seconds later?
    It's less likely to hurt me then back-splash from a steel target.

    Shooting old mil-sup rifle ammo, the 30 second rule is a good rule to follow.

    rc
     
  20. Warp

    Warp Member

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    The reason to apply immediate action on the range would be to work on the habit you want outside of the range.

    Whether the risk of a hangfire is worth it to you is pretty much your own decision, but thee is definitely a "pro" to immediate action on the range
     
  21. Jim K

    Jim K Member.

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    Is there a "pro" to practicing dangerous actions on the range?

    Jim
     
  22. Warp

    Warp Member

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    Read the thread/my previous posts.

    If you don't want to train immediate action with your pistol (or any defensive arm), that is your choice. If you think training yourself to stand and wait when the gun goes click is the best choice for you, by all means, it's your call
     
  23. psyopspec

    psyopspec Member

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    Jim, even here in the world of Internet lore where all manner of apocryphal things can be said, we have zero instances of actual injury from a handgun hang fire going off after immediate action.

    I'll take those odds as a cost of doing business to enable training as one fights–or put more eloquently, see my sig line.
     
  24. Jim K

    Jim K Member.

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    I agree that the hangfire odds are slim. But the odds on a misfire are pretty slim also if you keep your gun and ammo in good condition. For several reasons I won't go into here, I don't like the idea of "automatic", unthinking, actions when dealing with deadly weapons. We have too many people (police included) "training" in ways that lead to shooting without thinking. The idea that you must train to do things automatically, without conscious thought, is dangerous to you and everyone else. If you can't "train" to tell the difference between a dangerous situation and a range exercise, you need some real training from real instructors, and it is not in gun handling.

    Jim
     
  25. chas442

    chas442 Member

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    Last winter I had an opportunity to go to a range in Tennessee with my brother in law. I was shooting my savage in 338 LM. They were hand loads. I have been loading for 20+ years. I was using Lapua Brass, Federal Large Rifle magnum Match Primers, 300 gr sierra match king bullets Hodgdon US 896 powder. The temperature was about 30 degrees Farenheit. I only went thru 1 5rd mag. I had 3 hangfires out of 5 shots. The time from trigger pull till bang was about a tenth of a second.I went home a week later an disassembled the 95 rounds that I had loaded. I rebuilt them using CCI LR Military primers with the balance of the same components. They all worked as expected.
     
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