8 Feb 16
I normally advise students, when they retrieve live rounds of ammunition from the ground, to check them carefully before stuffing them back into magazines. Sometimes, I fail to emphasize the “check them carefully” part enough!
Yesterday, during an Urban Rifle Course in TN, a student came to me complaining that the bolt on his AR would not close. Examination revealed
the base of a live round protruding out of the chamber. However, the bolt, even with a running start, refused to close on the round.
The student switched to another rifle and continued with our Program.
During the next break, we attempted to knock the recalcitrant round back out of the chamber with a cleaning rod inserted from the muzzle end. We had no success! That round was really wedged in there.
At the shop later in the evening, we finally got the stuck round knocked loose, and the rifle was returned to normal service.
My student had inadvertently picked up a Soviet 5.45×39 round off the ground, and, mistaking it for a 5.56×45 (223) round, nonchalantly inserted it into his AR magazine. When he subsequently reinserted the magazine into his rifle and attempted to close the bolt, the errant round went partway into the chamber, but then became hopelessly wedged with the base sticking out the back, as noted above.
In retrospect, it is a good thing the round did not chamber!
No harm done, and my student successfully completed his training, and his rifle (once we freed the stuck round) was none the worse for wear.
However, had something like this happened during a tactical scenario, the rifle would have been out of action at a critical moment and could have not been returned to service quickly.
Live rounds of ammunition picked-up off the ground during training exercises need to be segregated and examined at a later time, not casually returned to magazines with the intention of immediate reuse. That is the procedure we will recommend from now on!
This important lesson was not lost on me, nor on the balance of our students!