Accidental Discharge

(Posted to Bullseye-L.)

It’s worth mentioning an “oops” (Accidental Discharge) I had while doing the Ball and Dummy drill in the hope that someone else may avoid doing likewise.

I loaded five live and two dummy 45 caliber rounds in random order into a magazine, readied the magazine and proceeded to fire.

After one of the dummy rounds, I pulled open the slide with my hand over the ejection port to catch the dummy round and then (somewhat clumsily) released the slide to chamber the next mystery round. This usually works but, for whatever reason, the next round didn’t fully chamber and, looking at the back of the gun, I could see the slide had not gone completely forward.

Having done something similar with my S&W 41, I knew better than to push forward on the slide. (The extractor [I erroneously wrote “ejector” in my original posting] crushes the edge of the 22 caliber rimfire cartridge and, BANG!)

Instead, I removed the magazine and carefully pulled the slide open to inspect the chamber. Sure enough, a 45 round was sitting in the chamber and, somehow, the extractor had not engaged it.

At this point I *SHOULD HAVE* locked the slide open, and then tilted the gun and shaken it to remove the live round. (Or is there a better way?)

But I didn’t. Instead, I did the wrong thing and released the slide and, BANG!

Before you ask, Yes, I was following safety rule #1 and had the muzzle pointed down range. Thank you everyone else for presenting such good examples. That’s a sincere “thank you”.

My ignorant (tired?) mind was presuming the extractor would “snap over” the rim and I’d then be able to fire that round. But instead, when I released the slide, the extractor crushed the side of the round’s base which, in turn, crushed the primer and set it off.

When the round fired, the slide was apparently not completely closed because, when I inspected the brass afterward, the case was puffed backward around the deformed base and primer. I was lucky it hadn’t split and let loose in my direction.

Moral of the story: Open the slide fully to eject the dummy round and lock the slide open. Then, close the slide in the same manner you would as if you’d just inserted the magazine.

Here’s the sequence I had demonstrated to do that: Right thumb on hammer under the locked open slide, left thumb on grip safety, left forefinger depresses the trigger, move left thumb releases slide and round is loaded into the chamber, move left thumb in front of hammer, right thumb releases hammer and you find out if the hammer has been released or not, remove left forefinger from trigger and if necessary, recock the hammer and release the hammer and, finally, assuming the hammer is not pressing on it, remove the left thumb from in front of the trigger. The gun is ready to fire. Sounds complicated but with a little practice, the “dance steps” become automatic.

Addendum

It was the opinion of several respondents, some of whom are accomplished gunsmiths, that the gun did not fire as a result of the extractor crushing the case as I had theorized. Speculations included a stuck firing pin and other ideas but, after the fact, there was no way to tell for sure.

I had the gun checked (before cleaning) but the gunsmith found nothing amiss. The actual cause of the gun firing will, therefore, remain a mystery.

But it is clear that dropping the slide on a chambered round is a very bad idea. I won’t do that again!

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