26 Apr 17

“Unlikely” doesn’t translate to “Impossible!”

From a friend and colleague:

‘Last week on our outdoor range, while setting-up a pistol (G19) for a stoppage-reduction drill, it unexpectedly discharged when the instructor released the slide. No fingers anywhere near the trigger.

Of course, this pistol was pointed down-range.

The cartridge case in question fired while half-chambered. The bullet itself was in the chamber and went on down-range, impacting into the berm. The case (mostly unsupported) split-open and discharged hot gas out the ejection port.

The instructor handling the pistol received some singeing of his arm, but no serious injury. He was, of course, wearing safety glasses. The pistol was not “totaled,” but did suffer some damage.

As near as I can tell, and it is just a guess, the corner of the slide struck the primer and, in effect, functioned as a firing pin, although it is hard for me to understand how the two came into contact with each other.

It may have been something else entirely, but I can’t imagine what!

In any event, there was no significant injury, as noted above, and the pistol can be repaired and returned to service, so there was a “happy ending,” or as happy as it could have been.”

Comment: We teach competent gun-handling protocols and practice them assiduously on the range, and we expect our students to learn and adhere to them also.

However, I passionately explain to students and instructors alike that, no matter how “safe” we all try to be, no matter protocol we follow, and no matter how competent I am in running a range, risk attaches to every moment guns are in our presence, and not all risks are “foreseeable,” as the above narrative illustrates.

Our job as trainers is to “manage” risk, and, of course, avoid extreme risks, but some risk is always present, no matter what we do or don’t do, and cannot be eliminated.

Our current generation of serious guns, particularly pistols, are about a “safe” as it is ever going to be possible to make guns, and still have them reasonably useable for their intended purpose.

Guns are dangerous! Accordingly, some degree of danger will always attach to serious training with guns. I don’t know how else to put it.

Who cannot abide the thought of personal exposure to even the slightest danger had better pass on gun ownership, and gun training!