29 Feb 12

Problems associated with repeated (usually unnecessary) loading and unloading of carry pistols, particularly where the same round is loaded, subsequently removed from the chamber, only to be loaded again:

For those of us who carry constantly, the issue of what to do with your carry pistol(s) when you’re home, often comes up for discussion.

The best solution is to wear your pistols, home or not, every moment you’re dressed and awake! Arbitrarily declaring any place “safe,” even your own home, is an exercise in self-deception.

However, you’re going to have to do something with your gun(s) when you sleep, take a shower, relax in the hot-tub, et al. And, with small children around, parents are, of course, concerned with guns, loaded or not, laying around unattended.

My suggestion is that all guns, loaded or not, need to be “adequately secured,” all the time. As noted above, the best place for your guns is physically on you, and thus under your direct control. When not on you, guns, loaded or not, need to be locked within a secure container of some sort.

Applying external “trigger-locks” (any device that goes inside the trigger-guard) to guns is an invitation to disaster. None are recommended. Even “locked,” (cable-lock, internal lock, et al) guns should not be left in plain sight, unattended, no matter their presumed condition. Guns need to be locked within a secure container, out of sight, as noted above. Many such “lock-boxes” are made just for that purpose.

But, back to the original point: When you load and unload the same round multiple times, at least two bad things are going to happen:

1) From repeated contact with the feed-ramp, rounds will eventually experience “bullet set-back.” This phenomenon can usually be detected during close examination of the individual cartridge in question.

2) From repeated impacts with the bolt-face, the primer “pellet” within the primer-cup can fracture and subsequently become dislodged. Unlike the above, this phenomenon is not at all discernable via external inspection!

The former situation yields a cartridge that will not feed reliably, often not at all, as exposed case-rim will catch on the base of the pistol’s feed-ramp. Either way, any cartridge with visible set-back should not be fired, as dangerous over-pressure can occur due to compressed propellant.

The latter is far more treacherous, as dislodged primer compound cannot be detected from external inspection. The round looks normal and will chamber normally, but will likely not fire at all. It will be a “dud.”

So, what to do?

When your routine is, upon arrival at home, to eject your pistol’s chambered round and then store the weapon. Then, upon returning to duty, chamber the top round in your primary magazine, and take the previously-ejected round and put in back into the same magazine. Those two rounds will be repeatedly cycled and re-cycled, as described above.

You need to stop doing that!

A superior alternative is to leave the pistol loaded, and then store it in a locked container, eliminating the repeated loading/unloading routine described above. In military garrisons, there is endless, mostly unnecessary, loading and unloading of pistols. The vast majority can be eliminated by simply leaving the pistol loaded and in its holster, with its bearer, not handling it at all. Unnecessary gun-handling generates NDs, as well as ammunition issues!

Even so, all carry ammunition needs to be carefully inspected before being inserted into magazines. In addition, all carry ammunition needs to be routinely consumed during normal training, and replaced with new ammunition, every few months, certainly no less often than once a year. That way, you’ll always be carrying fresh ammunition.

The two dangerous situations mentioned above are not theoretical. They physically happen often enough to have been well-noted within many departments. And, while neither can ever be eliminated completely, there is no point in begging the question with poor routines we now know are the primary cause.

“… the status-quo will never want for an advocate”