How to Deal With “Bad” Ammo

I spend a considerable amount of time in my firearms training classes discussing possible gun and ammunition failures and ways to fix them. While ammunition failures are not what I would call “common,” they do occur frequently enough to justify spending time explaining them and teaching ways to correct such malfunctions.

Among the failures I see at the range, which includes gun and/or ammunition failures are:

  • Failure to fire, also known as a Type 1 malfunction. In this case, you’ll hear a “click” instead of a “bang.” This can occur with a revolver or a semi-auto pistol.
  • Failure to eject, also known as a Type 2 malfunction or a  “stovepipe.” In this case, you will see an empty case stuck in the ejection port, often vertically aligned like a miniature stovepipe, hence the name. This is a semi-auto problem only.
  • Feedway blockage, also known as a Type 3 malfunction. This is a stoppage caused by the meeting of cartridge case which is trying to eject from the chamber with a cartridge that is trying to feed into the occupied chamber.  This is a semi-auto problem only.
  • Failure to feed – here the cartridge will not enter the empty chamber. This is a a semi-auto problem only.
  • Squib round, also known as “pop, no kick.” Here, the bullet did not have enough propelling gas behind it to push it all the way out the barrel. It launched partly into the barrel, then stopped. The lack of recoil is a strong initial indicator that you have a squib. A weaker  “report” (“bang”)  is another indicator. I have personally witnessed nine (9) of these at the range over the years. It can occur in a semi-auto OR a revolver.
  • Hangfire – this is a perceptible delay in the ignition. You’ll hear the firing mechanistic (striker or firing pin) “click” but the gun will not fire.  After X number of seconds, the gun then discharges. A hangfire can occur in a semi-auto pistol or a revolver. The danger here is that if you do not give the firearm a period of time to fire off, you could have a catastrophe.  The NRA recommends that you continue to hold the firearm in a safe direction for 30 seconds after the “click, no bang.”Only then can you move on.
  • Cylinder fails to rotate and fire the next cartridge. This is not common but possible due to a bullet that “jumped the gap” and stopped between the front the chamber and the rear of the barrel. I have also seen a cartridge case that had a rim machined thicker than factory specs and it would not allow the cylinder to rotate. It is a myth that revolvers are 100 percent reliable, and that they do not fail. They do fail, in ways you will not expect. Trust me on this.

Lest we stray too far of the subject of bad ammunition, let us return there.

Many malfunctions are fixable on the spot, via multi-step hand actions. None of these procedures however,  are intuitive – they must be taught beforehand. How do we do this? At the range by deliberately causing malfunctions and then having the students correct them.

Here is a good video on some malfunctions and failures that you might experience.

At Semper Firearms Training we encourage you to buy a good firearm, get trained in how to use it, get a Nevada CCW permit, and continue your firearms training as part of a defensive lifestyle.

Image courtesy of Oleg Volk