Questions regarding hangfires

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

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  1. Coyote3855
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    Coyote3855 Contributing Member

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    We had this exact question come up in an NRA basic pistol class last night. As other posters have noted, a hangfire is exceedingly rare with modern handguns and modern factory ammunition. I agree with Warp that one fights as one trains. The recommended 30 second delay if a hangfire is suspected could be fatal in a gun fight.
     
  2. Warp

    Warp Member

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    It's a good thing nobody in here is talking about shooting without thinking or shooting automatically, eh?

    So I shouldn't be training to automatically disengage my holster's retention devices when I draw? I am supposed to consciously think about how to activate this and then rotate that in order to get the gun out? It's bad to just think "draw" and automatically draw it?

    And when my slide locks back, it is bad to automatically reach for a spare magazine? I'm supposed to stop, look at the gun, think...hmmm...what happened? Can I fix it? Should I fix it?

    Learn something new every day!



    ...although I don't yet know what new thing I will learn today, because it certainly wasn't something from that post
     
  3. psyopspec

    psyopspec Member

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    Jim,

    Warp beat me to it and articulated a rebuttal better than I could have, and I concur with his points.

    More personally, I'm befuddled given your myriad well-though posts over the years as to why you'd go out of your way to recast me as your straw man to make an argument about "shooting without thinking." Consider this a concession to your point, which was never in contention to begin with. And suffice it to say we take different approaches to applying critical thinking to training.
     
  4. Traffer

    Traffer Member

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    I have had many "duds" reloading 22 Rim fire, Also several "hang fires". However the hangfires only took a maximum of 1 second to go off. More often like a flintlock. Maybe a quarter of a second. With any dud, you have to treat it like a potential hang fire. You don't know until after the fact if it is going to go off or not. For those, I usually keep my aim at the target for a few seconds. 3 to 5 seconds maybe. Then (this is the important part) eject the round while pointing downrange with the breach opening away from you face. You don't want to be looking at the round coming out of the chamber when it may go off. Once the round is out of the gun, leave it lay for several minutes. If it goes off on the ground, it won't hurt anyone. This may not be standard procedure. To me it is just common sense.
     
  5. GLOOB

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    Just because you can learn to do something automatically doesn't mean you can't also try to be aware of what you're doing.

    A lot of people can ride a bicycle without actually being aware of how they are steering it, broken down into the multiple things they are subconsciously doing. In a high speed quick decision emergency, they might actually have cause to THINK, because the situation is maybe slightly different than anything they have done before, regarding the amount of turn they need to make at the current speed. Or maybe they will consciously think about steering (or some aspect of it) for the first time, simply because it's a moment of life and death and there is only one chance to choose and correctly execute the right action. If they had been conscious of what they were doing all along, their instinct and conscious decision will be congruous, which is probably the better scenario. If they have not, they will have a moment of doubt, and a moment may be all they have to act.

    This is more or less a personal anecdote. It so happened to me after months of comfortably riding a motorcycle. I clearly remember that "oh ****!" moment of conscious thought and the doubt and realization I had at the time. In that brief moment of time dilation, I became painfully aware that I didn't actually consciously know what to do; I made the conscious decision to completely trust my instinct. This was scary, because I was doing things I had never done, before, without understanding why. And I would have probably died if I had been wrong. As it turns out, I threw the bike into a turn harder, faster, and tighter than I could have previously imagined (correctly). I can see how/why a lot of people maybe have died in similar situations, either through indecision or through the incorrect action/execution. After that, I immediately studied the physics and experimented with the mechanics, by becoming actively conscious of the execution, until I understood exactly what I was doing and why I was doing it, so I would never have to blindly trust my instinct, again.

    No, I don't know how this relates to firearms, exactly. Maybe Tex Grebner shooting himself is a better example.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2016
  6. Shimitup

    Shimitup Member

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    The only hangfires I've had were from 30's era Frankford berdan primed 45 acp. I went through a whole box and got 3 or 4 hang fires, none of the ones that fired hung more than 3/4 of a second would be my guess.
     
  7. Stumper

    Stumper Member

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    Many misfires (all with factory ammo) but only one hangfire in many thousands of rounds. That one hesitated perhaps a half second.... probably less.
     
  8. MyGreenGuns

    MyGreenGuns Member

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    Counted to 30 every time

    Counted to 30 every time I got a click with no boom.

    So far, just duds or light strike.

    Somewhere along the line, I heard this sage advice. It sounded reasonable.
     
  9. unspellable

    unspellable Member

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    Odd misfire

    Not a hang fire, but an odd misfire.
    This with a rifle. The primer went off as normal but the powder didn't!
    The primer drove the bullet about six inches up the barrel. Left loose powder in the action.
     
  10. Warp

    Warp Member

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    Squib loads, while uncommon with factory ammo, can happen and are very dangerous, particularly in rifles.

    When you get a different feeling or sound from a round firing, that is a time to stop and inspect. It doesn't take much to know what your gun(s) firing should feel/sound like. If it's off...check that bore prior to firing another shot (especially if shooting reloads). Much different than a click and nothing.
     
  11. zb338

    zb338 Member

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    I have shot bullseye all my life. Got one hangfire with an old .38 S&W
    using ammo that was probably 100 years old. Never got one with modern
    ammo pistol, rifle or shotgun.

    Zeke
     
  12. 230RN
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    230RN Please Read the Preamble to the Bill Of Rights

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    Gee, I used to practice duds with a dummy cartridge at random in the magazine. And it's essentially the same muscle-memory set as with jams, too, especially if the last round in the mag is a dummy. Eject, slide lock, dump mag, insert the spare.

    Only problem was locating the dummy after ejection.

    I actually haven't done that for a while... maybe I should start to practice that regime again.

    As far as practicing the draw, my range doesn't permit that, so I practice at home with dummies. (ALL LIVE AMMO is moved to another room for this.) Can't practice for double-tapping with dummies, but the world isn't perfect. I used to practice that when out in the boonies, far away from any range officers.

    Terry, 230RN
     
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2016
  13. Warp

    Warp Member

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    Why don't you use dummy rounds or snap caps to practice malfunctions any more?

    It seems like a lot of semi-serious shooters will do that since their reliable guns/mags/ammo don't give them a great enough frequency of malfunctions to come about that training naturally.
     
  14. JohnhenrySTL

    JohnhenrySTL Member

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    I've experienced 2 or 3 in my life. One was in high school, with a unmarked 70 winchester. It didn't say what it was chambered in. My friend had bought it used and was told it was chambered in something wrong. We had a hang squib as I recall.

    More recently I've experienced slight hang fires with horrible surplus anmo.
     
  15. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    I've only seen two actual hangfires, and both were with very old milsurp ammo.

    In contrast, I have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of times when triggers were pulled and the gun didn't go off NOT because of a hangfire.

    I have seen hundreds of instances of competitors in USPSA (a game where tenths of a second count, and where waiting 30 seconds for anything would lose you the match AND would get you taunted and booed by the other competitors waiting to shoot and move to the next stage) having a cartridge not fire and dumping that round on the ground IMMEDIATELY. I've had to do it a few times myself.
     
  16. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    Never had one, only a few dud rounds and one squib.

    I do try to wait the full 30 seconds, but usually only make it to about 20 seconds.

    I do not feel practicing a malfunction drill is important in that situation as there is a chance it will detonate after ejecting or only partially chambered. Chances of injury are small though. If I really want malfunction practice, I will have a friend or RO load a snap cap into my magazine and not tell me where.
     
  17. Warp

    Warp Member

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    I don't think that way of practicing them is as effective, actually. You KNOW it's coming, you are ready and waiting for it, you are thinking about it...that's not the way it's going to be if you actually have one when it matters.
     
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2016
  18. Captain O

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    There you have it!
     
  19. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    I agree, the truly random chance is a better test. I just don't feel it gives me enough benefit to risk it on the firing line as an ejected hang fire could detonate in the air near my face if timed right, or on ground behind me, startling other shooters on the firing line.

    In a true survival situation, I won't care of course. I'll jest eject the bad round as fast as I can.

    It helps if you give your buddy a handful of snap caps and tell him to load all, some, or none. Keeps you guessing more. But that's just me. Given my location, the chances I will ever even need s gun are next to zero. I practice enough to feel comfy.
     
  20. Warp

    Warp Member

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    Does this ever happen?

    I mean, we're talking about odds here along the lines of somebody says "I don't even go to a range, any range, regardless of safety rules and staffing, to practice because I might get shot by a negligent discharge". And that's to make no mention of the stakes of a hangfire being seemingly pretty low.


    Of course, but you know there's a very very good chance of one coming in that magazine. The idea is go right to immediate action when you absolutely do not expect it at all. Intentionally treating an unexpected malfunction differently just doesn't lend itself to this
     
  21. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    Probably not. The chances are probably about as low as having a hang fire at all which I just don't think is common with handgun cartridges. I think the chance is even lower if you're using premium defense rounds.

    But none the less, when on the range, it's just my choice. I'm usually taking my time on at an actual range and am going for precision. If out shooting alone in the woods and practicing defensive shooting, I tend to let her rip a little more. If I saw someone use a dud as an opportunity to practice clearing a malfunctioning round fast, it's not like I'd chastise them or anything. And I have no doubt competitors eject possible hang fires fast all the time, and it's not like they all have burns on their necks and heads from mid air detonations.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2016
  22. litework

    litework Member

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    I have never experienced a hang fire. Yesterday, while I was on a public range I experienced two failure to fires and I waited a full 30 seconds each time before removing the cartridge from my gun. I probably wouldn't have done this if I was at my house but I wasn't alone on the line. Real or imagined safety concerns, I would hate for my actions to injure the person sharing range time with me. I would hope that the same courtesy would be extended to me.

    I loaded both cartridges in a different gun and they fired without issue.
     
  23. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    I don't know why 30 seconds is better than 5 seconds or 1 second. I think the time line comes from Artillery. I know muzzle loaded cannon, those things are dangerous as heck because the embers have to be swabbed out. I read a story where a guy lost his arm as the rammer. An ember ignited the charge just as it was being rammed down. Large Artillery, if the charge goes off when the breech is open, it will kill everyone in the area. The turret explosion in the Iowa killed around 60 Sailors in the turret. The Navy issued old WW2 era propellant. Old gunpowder is dangerous, nitroglycerine migrates to the surface, and very old stuff will autocombust. I read that the charge was smoking as it was being rammed in the breech. That indicates to me dangerously old gunpowder, gunpowder that is outgassing nitric acid gas. The charge went off before the breech was closed.

    I think it is best practice to wait a bit before opening the action and ejecting a misfire. I have had hangfires, but the period between click and bang was milliseconds.
     
  24. sawdeanz

    sawdeanz Member

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    I hate the ones where your pistol just doesn't lock back. Everytime I sit there feeling stupid cuz I know the click was because there is no round in the chamber but how do you know if you don't have a loaded chamber indicator?
     
  25. Warp

    Warp Member

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    When you tap rack re-asses, if you are observant or look or listen for it, or maybe somehow have video to look at later, you either see something come out of the chamber, or you don't. If something comes out, is there a live round on the ground/floor when you look later?

    Works for me.

    But I haven't actually had a failure to lock back like you describe, for me it was a reload on a timed course of fire where, as it turns out, I jostled the slide forward before the mag was inserted far enough for the round to chamber, so I 'chambered air'.
     
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