13 Nov 98

Muzzle masking!

CRAIG, CO–a hunter said he learned an important lesson after he shot (spattered) himself in the face Monday morning when he spotted an elk near a railroad track about 20 miles south of Oak Creek. Jerold Sanchez, 23, rested the barrel of his gun on the track to take a shot. The bullet ricocheted (spattered actually) off the second rail, and the particles blew backward lacerating the side of his face. He was taken to Routt Memorial Hospital where he received 40 stitches and was released. Sanchez said the shooting taught him the barrel of his gun is lower than the sight (no shit!)

Lesson: (1) Don’t let anything but your body ever touch the rifle. Don’t rest the barrel of your rifle on an object in an effort to stabilize it.

(2) Be aware of muzzle masking! In the above case, the sights were on target, but the rifle’s barrel was actually pointed at the rail.

Drop safe?

“The parents of a teenager who was killed when his best friend’s shotgun discharged accidentally while they were hunting reached a three-million dollar settlement with the gun’s manufacturer, Olin Inc, in a Texas District Court on 5 Oct 98. The (now deceased) plaintiff and his friend were dove hunting. The friend was carrying a Winchester M1400 shotgun. The shotgun was placed, leaning, against a tree. It subsequently fell to the ground and discharged, fatally injuring the plaintiff, who was standing only a few feet away.

The gun was supposed to be prevented from firing accidentally (due to an external blow) by a small ledge on the sear. In the case in question, however, dirt and grime had built up on the sear and hammer (due to lack of maintenance), causing a defective sear-hammer engagement. Winchester’s own tests in 1974 revealed that the gun was not drop safe with a blow from a two-foot fall.”

It is not clear weather the manual safety was on or not. I suspect it was not.

Lesson: Military firearms are designed to be “drop safe.” Commercial weapons are generally not. Most commercial shotgun thus should not be carried with a round chambered. I know instructors who would disagree, but the above incident illustrates why I teach it the way I do.