Friday, April 01, 2011

Speaking of gun safety...

Everybody knows that trying to catch a dropped knife is a sure way to get cut, right? So what can happen when you try to catch a dropped gun? Nothing good.

Let it fall.

Incidentally, I personally extend this rule to rounds jacked out of an ejection port: I'm all the time seeing people clear their pistol and do one of two things:
  1. Either they try and catch the ejected round in midair, which looks neat and all, but while they're trying to play Joe Cool, with their attention focused on that glittering piece of flying brass, an appalling number of them forget that... Hey! Ken Griffey Jr.! You've still got a pistol in your other hand while you're trying to run down that pop fly!

  2. Or they carefully place their hand over the ejection port so that the precious live round, costlier and more delicate than a Fabergé egg, can be gently cradled. Which is great, but again, too much attention is being focused on the ejected round and not enough on, you know, the gun. Besides, with you trapping it in the ejection port, if your hand on the slide slips, you're going to get a palmful of red-hot brass shards when the primer gets slammed up against something by the closing slide.
Look, gravity works. I know that precious cartridge cost a whole quarter, but just let it fall on the ground while you pay attention to safing and securing the pistol. A little dirt won't hurt it, and it'll still be right there where it landed when you're done, okay?

40 comments:

Tango Juliet said...

Solid advice! Do I detect the theme of a forthcoming USCCA article?

Anonymous said...

How does not setting yourself on fire balance against the Coolness Factor of catching the round in the air?

You'll note that Rule #1 is "always look cool", not "don't set yourself on fire." Besides I read on the Internetz that guns only go bang when you pull the trigger.

Shootin' Buddy

John said...

Awww, heck. Those new-fangled auto-loaders are never gonna succeed anyway. What the newly-hip wanna=be tactical needs is one of these.

http://forum.usfirearms.com/topic.asp?whichpage=1&TOPIC_ID=375&#1403

Ahem...I'm also thinking that there should be a volume of distilled Tam-write 'Guns and Safe Usage' waiting for popular publishing. No frills, very nuts and boltish, with just the right amount of zinger-seasoning.

Captain Tightpants said...

Don't forget (at least for the Glocks if not others) the possibility of the round kicking back and the primer striking the ejector - remote, but apparently has happened at least once due to some safety bulletins I've seen.

Tam said...

Capt. Tightpants,

Also can happen on 1911s with extended ejectors.

Boat Guy said...

Tam Good post! I'll file it under "words to live by".
Though your last above gets filed under "one more reason NOT to mess with JMB's original design"

Anonymous said...

What if you are in high grass... and it is your duty to mow said grass?

Tam said...

I reckon you should try and watch where it lands. (But keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction while doing so!) :)

Thomas said...

But...but....but I'm paying $2.66 a round for .50ae how could I dare let it fall to the floor?

Ed Foster said...

Doug Donnelly is, above all else, a salesman. If he sees a market, he'll jump for it, and Taurus has done all his advertising for him.

Is it a clumsy, semi-useless piece of doo-doo? Sure. Although I remember seeing somebody years ago, who loaded 4 or 5 round balls into a .410 brass shotshell.

I suppose the idea was to slow the perp by weighing him down with half a pound of lead.

For the weight and bulk and cost, somebody could buy a real pistol and hit something. One more thing about Glock that ticks me off.

ADHD segue. Picture a .45 case shorter than .45ACP, designed to function in a modest sized, economical straight blowback. 185 grain hollowpoint at about 700 f.p.s. A hell of a lot more compact and effective than the pregnant wheelgun .410.

Sadly, the .45 GAP is the proverbial bucket under a bull, fulfilling no purpose really. Maybe somebody could come up with a low velocity/heavy bullet .44 rimless as a short distance parking lot thug stopper.

og said...

Daughter once tried to catch a round. I gave her a handful of 22s and told her to throw them away, and when she did, she understood: Safety is always job one.


Of COURSE I picked them up and shot them.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if anyone has ever set off a lost live round with a lawn mower? Yet I fear it every time I crank up the old rider.

og said...

I set off lost lie rounds with the dryer, quite often. Nothing untoward ever happens, the primer pops out and possibly some clothes get singed, but since we're talking MY clothes here, singing is the least of their worries. now, hitting a BIC lighter with a lawnmower, THAT is impressive!

Stan said...

Most times when I need to unload there's a table or similar useful surface nearby and I just tilt the pistol over the table so the ejection port is facing down and gently pull the slide back so it spits the round neatly onto the table for me.

Bubblehead Les. said...

As I've posted elsewhere, my Father beat it into us kids that you make the Effort to Catch the Baby when it's crawling out the Window, but don't try to grab a Chainsaw if you lose your grip. Several scars on my hand later, I learned that he was right.

Will said...

Tam,
I've heard that the 9mm 1911 versions are prone to light off fumbled rounds due to the placement of the ejector relative to the primer. The only 9mm version I've seen was a Commanding Officers, which I regret not buying.

John Stephens said...

Any sort of debris is a potential hazard when mowing the lawn, be it driveway gravel, cartridges or whatever. The blades are going to give that bullet more velocity than the unconfined powder exploding. I use the same eye and ear protection mowing that I do shooting, for the same reason.

Will said...

When I was last at FrontSight, they were teaching the "cupping the ejection port while unloading" routine. This was to try to eliminate wandering muzzles and putting torsos and heads into zones more likely to have ND's flying, while retrieving dropped rounds. When I mentioned grenading rounds, they seemed to think that has never occurred. Not sure if the potential harm trade-off was a legal decision or what. Should be interesting when it happens. With the number of students they have, It's probably just a question of when, not if. My first class there had a total of 31 students (FS's FIRST four day class). Now it looks like a convention/gun show!

Lazy Bike Commuter said...

I believe this is similar to what I do when I drop my straight razor while shaving.

I jump back and move my feet out of the way too.

Fun fact: This is why I wear pants when I shave. Actually I always wear them when I shoot, too. So far.

Tam said...

Will,

"This was to try to eliminate wandering muzzles and putting torsos and heads into zones more likely to have ND's flying, while retrieving dropped rounds."

Holster first, then pick up round. :)

(Does Front Sight let people pick ammo up off the deck and use it? With a lot of instructors, that's a no-no...)

Drang said...

I've often thought that it would, indeed, be cool as all hell to be nimble and coordinated enough to be able to eject a round and catch it in mid-air, whilst controlling the pistol with my other hand.
I go on thinking it will bending over to pick the live round up off the floor.

Boyd K said...

Teaching Home Firearm Safety these are points my team makes under "Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction". If ppl are showing off they're almost always letting muzzle direction wander. Doesn't matter how long you've been doing it. I also tell folks that people like me watch for indicators like this. If you're safe; you'll always have people willing to shoot with you and share bad advice. If you're not... then not so much.

Anonymous said...

In tall grass, use the hat or cap you should be wearing to serve as a catch bucket for your round.

Ferret said...

Never try to catch a dropped gun, but if one is thrown at you in anger, it's most likely empty.

I've seen the movies, I know how this works. :)

Justthisguy said...

Heh. I am minded of what an acquaintance learned from a very old machinist, when he was a summer student at MSFC back in '67; If you drop that one-of-kind insanely expensive razor-sharp brittle milling cutter, do not try to catch it, just come to attention and take the hit on yer steel-toed shoes with steel instep shields.

P.s. A coupla times, I usedta park the truck so that I could use the back of it, with the camper shell, for a brass catcher. My old almost-shot-out PD suffers from violent extraction and ejection. Somebody please buy me a new recoil spring for my birfday?

WV: atilles. The hybrid of Achilles and Attila. When he's not killing, pillaging and raping, he's sulking in his tent, saying, "Why are they looking at my heel like that?

Weer'd Beard said...

As a rule I've found that if you drop the mag and lock the slide back gently the live round will generally drop down the open mag well and onto thed bench.

Robin said...

Its a bad idea to cup a hand around the ejection port on those guns that have a history of detonating a briskly ejected live round. In fact, I think USPSA/NROI was considering making it a safety vio.

DirtCrashr said...

You're supposed to have a comely assistant catch the ejected round, how else is a Circus act gonna work?

rickn8or said...

I'm glad Weer'd Beard spoke up, I thought I was doing it wrong...

pax said...

Just wanted to second Tango Juliet's post.

Also, I'm surprised to hear that some gun schools allow students to go to the ground while firearms are out. That's a no-no around here; at FAS, we call the line clear and *then* allow people to pick up anything they dropped. Much less likely to have people diving in front of other people's muzzles that way.

Will said...

Tam,
the problem generally occurs during malf drills. You're not supposed to stoop down until holstered and cleared is called, but habits come into play, plus, it's the people still standing that have guns pointed more-or-less at your back. I think that's the major worry for them.

A lot of rounds can pile up on the ground during a session of malf practice, and sometimes you can run short of ammo, especially with short, single stack-ers. I try to fill a pocket with loose rounds, but still...

I think the primary concern there is someone picking up a .40 and mixing it with their .45 ammo. Seems that has caused a problem at least once.

That much live ammo on hard packed dry ground would be a hazard, I think. Bad enough stepping on brass, at least it doesn't roll that much. And trying to rake it would require clearing the range for safety. More time lost. No totally good choices, it seems.

David said...

I was cowboy action shooting a few months ago. One stage required a single round rifle reload on the clock. I emptied my rifle, and with the lever open using my left hand on the stock to pin the rifle against my shoulder I dropped my right hand to my belt, grabbed a round and tossed it into the open chamber of the rifle.

As I tried to close the lever while I simultaneously shifted my sight picture to my last target I discovered that the action would not close. Apparently the last empty round had not ejected out of the chamber before I tossed my reload in.

While dropping my right had back towards my belt I sharply snapped rolled the rifle to the right, trying to toss the empty round and the reload out of the gun. Which worked perfectly. I saw both round and brass fly from my gun where they both just hung seemingly motionless in the air.

In what seemed like slow motion I stopped lowering my hand towards my belt - and snatched both of them out of the air. As they hit my hand, the loaded round seemed to just seek my fingers, while the empty brass rolled down into my palm. I tossed the reload back into the chamber and let the empty drop from my hand as I slammed the lever closed - shifted my aim a few inches left and fired my last shot.

I made my rifle safe, and stepped away from the firing line to be greeted by my 14 year old son who's first words to me were "Oh, sure - chew on me to never try and catch ejected rounds or brass." Then he lowered the timber of his voice put his hands on his hips and did his best Dad impression saying "Never try to catch anything coming out of your gun. Just let it fall." Then he stepped back near the other shooters and snickered at me while he listened to the RO and the counters discuss if what I had done constituted picking up a dropped round or not.

I just want to know who taught my kid to be such a smarta$$.

Will said...

Tam,
I'm thinking that the rule should be that any rounds picked up should go into a bag, and not used until after a lunch break, or similar. This to give you a chance to eyeball each round before it gets reused.
After the fiasco with the Blazer Brass, I think this would be smart. My friend had a pile of ammo at his feet by the end of each session. Lots and lots of bullet setback .45 ammo. His Govt would choke on it while attempting to chamber it, while my Officers would stuff it in anyway. He was into a second case when I finally got a look at the discarded ammo. I think my eyes bugged out then. He switched to regular Blazer for the rest of the class, and had no more problems. They have since told him there is nothing wrong with his ammo. I'm thinking they're full of shit.
The additional problem caused by this crap was random vertical stringing on the targets, due to variable bullet setback causing power levels to fluctuate. Pretty much wasted the class. Thought the problem was my eyes/gun having trouble. Our test results were not good, due to it.

Tam said...

Will,

"You're not supposed to stoop down until holstered and cleared is called, but habits come into play..."

Like Pax said, nobody should stoop down to pick anything up until heaters are holstered and the line is called clear, period. That's a pretty basic safety rule.

And yeah, I've left plenty of live rounds on the ground after malf drills. I came to class prepared to expend 1,000 rounds. I wasn't promised that all 1,000 would get expended by shooting them. ;)

Tremaine said...

I've seen rounds go off hitting the ground exactly twice though. Once a .45 acp and the other a 12ga round.

So I guess it's damned if you do, damned if you don't. Right?

Will said...

I would be surprised by a single round detonating from falling to the ground, as the bullet should hit first. I suppose if tumbling, the primer could impact. I would expect this to be a very rare occurrence.

I did see a round go off inside a loose baggie of ammo dropped onto a glass countertop. At most a one foot drop. Brass shards hit the counter guy.

Tam said...

Tremaine,

I'd rather have hot brass fragments pepper my jeans-covered leg from two or three feet away than have them pepper the palm of my hand from half an inch away.

Tremaine said...

Just sayin they're guns. Dangerous no matter what you do with them. We try to minimize the danger but you can only do that so much.

All three scenarios include a chance of setting a round off accidentally.

I might suggest ejecting rounds into a range bag or other suitable soft surface so that you can reuse them.

Or maybe using snap caps for malfunction drills.

I just know that with the money this college student doesn't make i'd rather send my .65 cents a round down range rather then dump my money in the dirt.

Anonymous said...

"A little dirt won't hurt it, and it'll still be right there where it landed when you're done, okay?"

Not if it's a spent round and there's a reloader roaming around.

Will said...

I think they pay the local kids to come in and rake out the brass on non-range days. I don't recall anyone picking up brass during classes. No time for that!