Two Mechanically-Induced Accidental Discharges

The first happens in the first seconds of this video. The round goes downrange when the shooter cycles the action. His trigger finger was observed to be clear of the trigger guard by the RO.

The gun was pointed in a safe direction, and the shooter’s finger wasn’t on the trigger. The firearm discharged as soon as he cycled the slide.

Usually this on a name-brand gun means someone got creative modifying the trigger without understanding the difference between the degree that trigger is “imperfect” because of manufacturing tolerance stacks, and the degree that the trigger is imperfect because of designed in safety features, like positive angles of engagement on trigger to sear.

More than one amateur smith (and some pros who should know better) has “redesigned” the safety features clean out of a trigger in pursuit of a light, crisp release, using files or even just Arkansas stones.

Note that this occurred during a competition. The shooter was DQ’d because of the AD, even though it was equipment-based, not a result of his own action. But no factory gun does this; it has to be modified, and it has to be modified by someone other than a pro.

Second one, trying to troubleshoot an el cheapo Eibar knockoff of the Browning/Colt .25 in the shop, and as he cycles the rounds through to empty them, kB! He disabled embedding, so you’ll have to go see it on YouTube, but the plus there is you get to see the brain-dead comments (his and others).

Here’s what he says in the video description:

While diagnosing a failure to feed issue a deeper problem was found. The replica was true except the sear spring and sear. The original Browning/Colt used a leaf spring. This replica used an uncaptured coil spring. This spring was old and had just enough strength to catch the striker but not enough to hold it indefinably. This could have happened at any time! It could have been in a holster or beside the bed. Maybe in a safe.. Who knows! Got it all on tape. Please watch for a great example of just how quick accidents can happen.

We beg to differ with him on this. It went off with him handling it. Because he was handling it, and it’s an unsafe gun. It would not have gone off in a safe… probably not even if he left it loaded, chambered, safety off (which he might just have done).

PS: I am using live rounds not because they are live but because snap caps do not replicate all of the various types of ammo out there. I use the exact ammo that the problem was reported to be with. I don’t use dummy rounds because to diagnose a FTF problem you need 5-10 rounds for cycling. These rounds get chewed up over a short period of time. It is now [sic] worth it for me to take the time to produce dummy rounds. I now use a bullet trap for all problem guns.

That is, not to put too fine a point on it, horsefeathers. Wrong again. How many kinds of ammunition are there for .25 ACP?

His decision to bring in a bucket of sand as a Bubba’s Bullet Trap is not entirely a bad idea, if he’s going to persist in the belief that you can only bench-troubleshoot feed problems with live ammo. If you’re really going to maintain pistols and work on them every day for a living, as this guy says in the video he does, a Savage GT bullet trap is a good thing to have.

Can this gun be fixed? Of this problem, yeah, probably. Anything can be fixed, with enough effort and money. But why? Another problem will recur. It was low-quality and marginally safe when it was new, at least 50 years ago. Decades of deferred maintenance will not have done it any kindnesses.

We get guns like this from time to time in auction lots, and we have no earthly idea what to do with them. Some of them are not safe, as is, and they’re not worth fixing. Maybe we could weld them into a gun control sculpture and become a media sensation?

31 thoughts on “Two Mechanically-Induced Accidental Discharges


    Hooboy. about 30 years ago I bought a Tikka varmint rifle in .17 Remington off a digger in my unit, along with 50 rounds of reloaded ammo.

    I got it home and decided to chamber a round to ensure that it would feed properly. As I closed the bolt the sear failed and the round fired, blowing a hole out my bedroom window and into the verandah. It was very fucking loud, and it was, shall we say, a mite surprising. If I hadn’t automatically had it pointed in a safe direction I may well have smoked one of my neighbours. Subsequent tests showed that briskly closing the bolt would cause a sear failure about one time in three. The gun was a catastrophe waiting to happen.

    I was lucky that it happened as it did and nobody got hurt. I returned the gun along with a substantial amount of abusive language to the idiot I’d purchased it from who admitted that yes, he had done a “trigger job” on it.

    The lessons from all that? Mechanisms fail, and Cooper’s 4 rules can save you even so.

  2. Torch333

    The People’s Republik of Massachusetts can help you solve your problem. Turn your clunkers into sculptures, then bring them to gun buybacks in Boston and Cambridge. Boston will pay you good money to get those evil items off the streets, and Cambridge will help you find gallery space for your art.

  3. staghounds

    “This could have happened at any time! It could have been in a holster or beside the bed. Maybe in a safe..”

    There are tens of thousands of gun possession hours reading this blog. Have any of you, ever, had an unmoving, unhandled gun just fire all by itself?

    1. James

      Stag,not yet,but do occasionally hear mutterings in the safe about neglect if I do not then go out and do some shooting.The key to having happy firearms not going off on their own and causing havoc is to use them occasionally/get em out of lockup and let em stretch their legs.

      That said,have heard recently murmuring from me bow case,luckily going out to let fly some arrows later this week!

      1. staghounds

        Ha! But it’s a serious question, actually. I’ve never had a gun (or a mechanical device of any kind) “go off” without some physics being applied to it, but maybe others have.

    2. Torch333

      Depends what you mean by “go off.” They must be doing something, because they seem to keep multiplying in my safe. ;-)

      Seriously, though, the answer to your question is a resounding “hell no.” Never heard of it either, talking to lots firearms owners. The media seems to think that guns somehow fire on their own, though (“when suddenly the gun went off / discharged / shot the victim”).

    3. mobius

      Certainly! Just last week my new Mossberg snuck outside and executed my entire flock of chickens.
      I don’t know what it’ll do next.
      Someone mentioned a buyback?

    4. William O. B'Livion

      How many of the folks here keep. loaded guns in the safe?

      Especially loaded guns that are essentially collectors items?

      In this case I think the Video Maker–if the description of the problem was accurate.

      At one time a “six shooter” was carried with 5 round in the cylinder because they were not drop safe. Some rifles still are not.

      This is the same sort of problem.

      It would not have happened if it was in the safe unloaded, and would have been unlikely to happen just sitting there, but reaching past it to get the magazine behind it? Or bumping the shelf while pulling out a rifle etc? Stranger things have happened.

      It is an unsafe gun, and should probably be retired from service as a shooter.


    Home trigger jobs , is a subject I have been meaning to write about for a while now. Mainly about the mind bending amount of brand new, first time gun owners who have yet to fire a live round, posting on gun forums about their new gun and how “bad” the trigger is and what can they do to make it better.

    It always leaves me a little bemused when I see people with no, or near 0 gun experience declaring their trigger isnt smooth or crisp enough. They have no idea what a good trigger is or what it should feel like in the first place. So in typical gun owner/web poster style. the first thing they do is start thinking of what to modify or parts to buy to fix it. When they have yet to fire one round,

    It’s a pet peeve of mind is “experts” and what they want to do about “bad ” triggers.

    1. Torch333

      Absolutely right. People who don’t know what they are doing with triggers can be downright dangerous. One young guy at my club was bragging about the trigger job he did on his 1911, and insisted that I shoot it. I brought it up on target and BARELY touched the trigger – to find it, not to pull it – and fired the gun. I cleared it, handed it back to him and told him I thought it was dangerously light. He said he liked the “hair trigger.” I packed up my stuff, told the RO and left the range. The kid ND’d later that day, shooting the bench in front of him.

      I have never done any trigger work on any gun (other than installing a short reset on a Sig P226), or really felt the need to do so. Dry firing (with snap caps) and just shooting a gun can do wonders for its trigger. Even the factory trigger on my S&W 442 smoothed out substantially that way. If I listened to everything I read on the internet about triggers, I’d have a helluva a lot less money and would probably have done something stupid.

      Personally, I think that a good shooter can shoot just about any gun reasonably well. I am sure lots of internet “experts” would disagree.

      1. John M.

        I’m a big fan of the 1000 round trigger job. It’s more expensive than an Arkansas stone, but lots more fun and much less prone to foul-ups.

        -John M.

    2. John Distai

      As a person who designs stuff, there are lots of considerations that go into design. I look at stock triggers and realize that I don’t know much or any of the considerations and trade offs that went into the design. Just like people don’t know all those items for the things I design. I trust that the trigger is the way that it is for some good reason, and I leave it alone.

  5. John M.

    Quoth the Eibar-Smith: “PS: I am using live rounds not because they are live but because snap caps do not replicate all of the various types of ammo out there. I use the exact ammo that the problem was reported to be with.”

    Quoth Hognose:
    “That is, not to put too fine a point on it, horsefeathers. Wrong again. How many kinds of ammunition are there for .25 ACP?”

    I think the point he’s making is that some specific brands of ammunition cause problems that aren’t found in other brands. E.g. the gun may feed/fire fine with Winchester white box, but Sellier & Bellot causes problem X with function. Therefore, troubleshooting the gun with WWB or snap caps or dummy rounds may not get you far.

    And I understand your question regarding cheap malfunctioning guns. I have a Marlin Model 60 in my safe that I bought new ~20 years ago that’s basically a basket case at this point. I’m not even sure it’s worth the money to fix, but I don’t know what else to do with it. Maybe somebody out there could start making pro-gun sculptures out of junked guns?

    -John M.

      1. John M.

        1) I lost the bolt handle and part of the trigger group are missing. Before I bought a safe, I used to secure my guns by keeping them disassembled. Hardly foolproof, but it at least would help keep a working firearm out of the hands of a criminal. Anyway, it’s possible those parts are in my “filing system” someplace, but I’ve moved four times since I bought a gun safe, and it hasn’t turned up.
        2) It doesn’t eject properly. The spent case stovepipes pretty consistently.

        So I’d need to buy parts just to get the rifle back to where it will malfunction again. For a rifle I paid ~$100 for, and for which I have since bought an IMHO superior replacement (10/22), I just haven’t wanted to expend the effort.

        Since you asked. :)

        -John M.

        1. staghounds

          You’ll laugh, but part it out on Ebay- you might get more than a new one costs. That was my experience with a couple of old partial .22s.

        2. Pathfinder

          In reference to not ejecting properly, I have A Marlin Model 60 that I picked up at a pawn shop outside of Fort Polk for about $75.00 years ago. I had the same problem with ejection. I did a very good cleaning on it and found that it only likes Winchester ammo. After that, no problems.

    1. William O. B'Livion

      Find some place doing a “buy-back” and get cash for it.

      Then use that cash to buy another gun.

      1. John M.

        “Buy-backs” are a little out-of-style in my neck of the woods, but I’ll keep an ear out.

        -John M.

  6. Jim

    Fired my first 1911 at 15. It was mid 60s, and the pistol was WWII. I was a double qualified expert/genius as I was 15 and had seen damn near every western ever made – movie or TV. I also had consulted with a vast array of other experts/geniuses – all also 15 with similar movie expertise. Pistol was obviously a real clunker as I could not hit near the target. RO heard me sniveling, came over and candidly (obscenity laced) kindly explained to me that I was doing everything wrong. Shocking news to a 15 yr old. He did, however, manage to teach me how to actually hit things with it. The first lesson stupid cannot overcome the best weapon ever designed.

  7. Alan Ward

    I was thinking buyback also. Amazing how much fun one can have with Ammo purchased by gun control freaks.

  8. 11B-Mailclerk


    Take the junker to a Knifemaker of the hammer-n-forge variety. Have them hammered into billets, and thence into new cutlery.

    Problem solved!

    If any are “Zinkies”, have the Zinc parts crushed into paperweights or door-wedges.

  9. SPEMack

    Speaking of buy backs, I’m waiting for the next one in Atlanta to drop off a Jennings, an old single shot 12 ga that rattles when you take the tape off, and an empty LAW tube.

    I saw the chief of the APD holding up a spent AT4 tube and declaring how he’d gotten it off the streets for $75.

    Shoot, $75 times three…uh, carry the two…that’s enough money to go to Hooters and buy Jackie something nice!

  10. Docduracoat

    I shoot the heck out all my guns
    The triggers get better the more you shoot them
    I keep the Steyr Aug in the safe loaded, empty chamber, charging handle back in the notch.
    Pick it up, give the handle the satisfying “H K slap” and it runs forward clambering a round
    The pistols are also loaded magazine, empty chamber, hammer cocked
    (makes for easier racking of the slide if my wife or kids need to shoot someone)
    None of them have ever gone off when we rack the slide to chamber a round
    I do hear them in the safe muttering to each other if they have been put away not cleaned
    I know you all have said here that you do not have to clean them every time
    But they get SO LOUD if they are dirty
    Could that possibly be voices inside my head?

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