Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Risk of Carrying an Untested Firearm – Life’s Easy Lesson #2


I prefer to learn my lessons of life by other people’s mistakes. Based on what other people have told me, I already knew not to trust my life to a firearm that is new to me without testing it. In my “narrow-mindedness,” I assumed this was just generally accepted knowledge by anyone that owned and carried a gun. Well, I’m a little less narrow-minded now.

For a couple of months now, one of my coworkers has wanted to go out to the gun club that I’m a member of to shoot. He is new to the area and didn’t know where to go to shoot so I told him I’d take him out to the club. He told me back then that he had bought his wife a new carry gun and wanted to try it out.  Now that it stays light out longer, and the weather is warming up, we finally got the opportunity yesterday evening after work.
He bought her a Taurus PT22 with pink grips. According to him, she picked it out. Being the good husband that he is, he got her all the pink accessories too, the pink holster, pink safety glasses, and pink ear muffs.

After hanging our targets, he loaded up the one magazine he brought along with him. I didn’t see how he loaded his first round, whether by inserting it into the chamber manually via the tip up barrel or by working the slide to feed a round from the magazine. He got one shot off, and the gun jammed. We both fiddled with it for a couple of minutes. It finally cycled manually, and he got one more shot off before jamming again.

Being Quality Engineers, it had just become an official science project, and we were determined to figure out the root cause. We looked at the ammo. It was .22LR, and the barrel of the gun was marked for that caliber, the bullets were fully seated and not oversized in length, so that’s probably not the problem, but we weren’t ruling it out yet. Closer examination of the magazine we could see a small rub on the back showing bare metal, and looking at the front it looked like the opening under the bullet was slightly bent to one side. So we are chalking this up to the magazine for now. We’ll test the other magazine and any new ones he has in the future. All this time, he’s getting madder and more flabbergasted.

Now for the scary part, I asked him the rhetorical question, “You bought this for your wife to carry for personal protection?” This is when he tells me what I had expected based on his expressions. She’s been carrying it for over a month. I’m sure we are all glad she never had to use it, but he learned the valuable lesson I had trusted from others. If at all possible, always test any firearm you expect to use to protect your life or the lives of others. Know that it is reliable with the equipment and ammunition you intend to carry it with.

Now, how do you do that? I had read that you should run three full magazines of your carry ammo without any failures before you can trust the ammunition/magazine combination for personal protection. Is this the standard method of testing a carry combination? I don’t know, but it seemed like a sound process to me. When I bought my M&P45, I intended to carry it with 230 grain jacketed hollow point ammunition. So I bought 100 rounds (obviously back before the Panic of ’12) each of several different brands. I ran all the rounds through three different magazines without any failures. Those magazines are numbered 1, 2, and 3 with an electric etcher and are the ones I carry with that gun. I've since added more magazines to my collection, and each one was tested with my brand of carry ammo. So I know I can trust all of my magazines with Remington 230gr Golden Sabers, and the first three can be trusted with that and other brands as well. 

If any you know of another method for testing firearm reliability, I’d love to hear it in the comments.

Be safe.

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