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Marshal Hangtree

Hang Fire vs. Light Hammer Strike

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A shooter is firing his/her revolvers, the hammer falls, and no ignition.  Most likely a light hammer strike on the primer, right?  But what if it's really a hang fire?

 

I've seen many shooters just start clicking way, firing the remainder of their rounds, in order to index the cylinder around to re-strike the primer on the round that didn't go bang.

 

If it is indeed a hang fire, instead of just a light hammer strike, isn't this a very unsafe act?

 

When I was in the Police Academy many moons ago, we were taught that if you had a round that didn't go bang immediately, to treat it as a hang fire and hold on target for 30 seconds to make sure that there was not a delayed ignition.  I see no one doing that at our matches.

 

What's the call?

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You are more likely to get a hang fire if you handle the primers one at a time, contamination is the number one cause of a hang fire. Nevertheless, if you have a hang fire and don't address it immediately you are in for a life changing experience.

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I’m not aware of any timed shooting event in which a person is required to wait 30 seconds for a misfire and I am actually surprised that the police would train that way. 

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In 14 years of shooting SASS, I've not seen a hangfire.   Only seen one or two on the range, and those came from real old surplus military ammo.  Have seen a few slow-fire cap and ball revolvers, but the shooter was quite used to the delay of 0.2 seconds or so on his loads.

 

Yes, old safety training recommended a 30 second waiting period.  I was forced to teach that in Hunter Safety classes.     

 

Today, primer and powder technology are so good, a hangfire is never suspected.   

 

No Call.  Let shooter keep on shooting.  Unless you heard the centerfire primer pop - then that call is a "Squib - ground firearm"

 

Good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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This is left over from almost two centuries ago.  Amazing how some things stick around.

 

Back when my father was young (1910 - 1930), there were hang fires were not totally uncommon.  The powders was different, sometimes blackpowder and the primers were very different.  So there was a need to be much more concerned.  And the risk, although low, was significant in it's impact. (Similarly, guns made before 1918 are still considered at risk for metal failure due to inconsistent tempering.)

 

So now, I have to ask, how many of you have experienced a hang fire in the last 50 years?

 

Now I've only shot hundreds of thousands of rounds in that time (a majority rimfire) and observed possibly twice that number if not more.  I don't remember any hang fire in either hobby shooting, hunting or competition.

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1 minute ago, Smokestack SASS#87384 said:

I’m not aware of any timed shooting event in which a person is required to wait 30 seconds for a misfire and I am actually surprised that the police would train that way. 

We don't teach that any longer since it's more important to get back into battery.  An unsupported round going off is far less dangerous than a perp shooting at you.

 

We shot thousands of rounds a month during training and there were a lot of duds with factory rounds from major brands but no hangfires.

 

The rule now is if the gun goes click, Tap, Rack, and continue to fire.

 

I've seen one hangfire in a SASS match with a really old BP shotgun round.  Went off after being shucked and just spun around on the floor of the stage.  

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Another great point, Jim.  A round out of the chamber is much less dangerous than one in the chamber.

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I have some 8mm Lebel surplus ammo that is known to be a problem. Only about 30% go off and out of those half are hang fires. I bought them for the brass, pulled the bullets after being bored trying to fire them. It is good anti-flinch training!

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The only firearms training that I've had that included hang fires was at Ft. Sill in 1969.  While I wasn't trained as a "Gun Bunny" the 13E20 classwork included the safe procedure to follow should their be no boom when the lanyard was pulled.

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The only one I’ve seen in cowboy action was last year. Smokeless .38, primer popped, then as the shooter started to pull back thinking squib (~1/2 second later), it fired.  Think he may have even hit the target. 

Turned out to be a primer seated sideways that actually ignited, and some flame found its way to the flash hole.  

Guess it’s never too late to see something new...

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The ONLY hang fire that I have ever seen came from shooting a Cap & Ball revolver using Pyrodex pellets. 

 

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5 hours ago, Marshal Hangtree said:

A shooter is firing his/her revolvers, the hammer falls, and no ignition.  Most likely a light hammer strike on the primer, right?  But what if it's really a hang fire?

 

I've seen many shooters just start clicking way, firing the remainder of their rounds, in order to index the cylinder around to re-strike the primer on the round that didn't go bang.

 

If it is indeed a hang fire, instead of just a light hammer strike, isn't this a very unsafe act?

 

When I was in the Police Academy many moons ago, we were taught that if you had a round that didn't go bang immediately, to treat it as a hang fire and hold on target for 30 seconds to make sure that there was not a delayed ignition.  I see no one doing that at our matches.

 

What's the call?

 

Just curious.  I realize they don't teach it that way now, but back then, if you were in a shooting situation on the street and you had a round fail to fire, what did the Police Acadamy want you to do? 

 

 

 

Edited by McCandless

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You know, that's a heck of a good question, McCandless.   They never said what you're supposed to do during a shoot out, just what you had to do for safety at the range.  Thankfully, training for Law Enforcement Officers is MUCH better now than it was back in 1979.

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Shake it or dust it off with bandana...Put it back on your head...It's good to go....

 

Texas Lizard

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YES! I have experienced hangfires! This occurred in a Winchester HiWall (original), chambered in .45-90.  I was trying IMR4198 in a moderate charge (28-30 gr. IIRC...been about 45 years ago!!!).  I got a CLICK...BANG! with a noticeable interval of maybe a half-second!  I was not crimping the case mouth into the bullet, for "accuracy's sale" supposedly.  I began adding a one-fourth square of single-ply toilet paper, poke LOOSELY into the case, and allowing the bullet to "seat" it. No further problem with hangfires!  I believe this was a manifestation of what we now call "premature shotstart", where the bullet is propelled out of the case and into the lands, while the smokeless powder builds up enough pressure (5,000-7,000 psi, depending on the powder) to burn stably.  We have seen a number of overpressure incidents that were most likely caused by insufficient retardation of the bullet (mainly by lack of crimp and good neck tension on the bullet).

I was probably fortunate not to have any ill effects. Now, of course, I crimp firmly, but not enough to bulge the case away from the side of the bullet.  Do I still use the TP filler in some of these large straight cases? Yes, and have had zero problems with ringing the barrels.  You do have to be careful not to compress the filler while seating it.

As to waiting 30 seconds, yes, I was taught that.  But I have never seen a hangfire that lasted more than the count of "five" or less. Just keep the muzzle pointed downrange!  Do NOT get antsy to fire the next round, however.  If that messes with your score, so be it!

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23 hours ago, Marshal Hangtree said:

A shooter is firing his/her revolvers, the hammer falls, and no ignition.  Most likely a light hammer strike on the primer, right?  But what if it's really a hang fire?

 

I've seen many shooters just start clicking way, firing the remainder of their rounds, in order to index the cylinder around to re-strike the primer on the round that didn't go bang.

 

If it is indeed a hang fire, instead of just a light hammer strike, isn't this a very unsafe act?

 

When I was in the Police Academy many moons ago, we were taught that if you had a round that didn't go bang immediately, to treat it as a hang fire and hold on target for 30 seconds to make sure that there was not a delayed ignition.  I see no one doing that at our matches.

 

What's the call?

Wait... You're in a situation that required you to pull the trigger... And yet it's okay to wait 30 seconds for a round that didn't go bang????

 

That's logical:wacko:

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I have never actually seen a real honest to goodness "Hangfire."  With Cap Guns you can get a delay in ignition if there is air space under the ball.  Those just go Pop ... BANG.  I don't find it to be any kind of issue with today's ammunition.

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Personally,  I have been privy to what is considered a 'hang fire', or a slight delay between the

'click - bang'.   But I honestly don't remember if it was center fire or .22 rimfire.

 

BUT.....although the time frame between the 'click-bang' was so minimal, I didn't actually have time

to try and fire the next round.   Actually, the lack of the 'bang' made me hesitate just a fraction before

ignition occurred.

 

I'm a firm believer that anything is possible and sooner or later, something will happen to somebody

that proves it.

 

..........Widder

 

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1 hour ago, Phantom, SASS #54973 said:

Wait... You're in a situation that required you to pull the trigger... And yet it's okay to wait 30 seconds for a round that didn't go bang????

 

That's logical:wacko:

Never said it was logical, Phantom.  That was just the training that existed in 1979 for range safety purposes.

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Wasn't a hangfire (delayed ignition) the logic/reasoning behind the slide lock on the 97 shotgun?? :lol:

The slide lock was supposed to keep it in battery ... until the shotshell actually fired. 

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6 minutes ago, Marshal Hangtree said:

That was just the training that existed in 1979 for range safety purposes.

We had hangfire training in my first firearms class in 1972 and for some years afterward but once a full investigation of the Newhall Shootout in California (1970) was completed, range training and felony stop training as we knew it then began to change for the better.  Some departments were stuck in their training regiment and kept to the old curriculum for years afterward for perceived liability reasons.

 

One of the elements that had to be overcome was making range training as realistic as possible since we shoot as we train.  In the Newhall Shootout, one of the dead Highway Patrolman had empty cases in his hand and/or his pocket, clearly a poor range tactic.

 

We have gone away from catching a loaded round in hand when clearing a slide gun.  Empty magazines and cases, loaded or empty, always hit the dirt.  We train to get back into battery as a mindset instinct, not as an afterthought under rangemaster direction.

 

The main element that must be remembered with light loads in SASS is that if you, or anyone else, hear the primer pop, you likely have a squib and less likely you could have a hangfire.  We have the luxury, and obligation, to stop at that point and should be disciplined enough to do it.  It is also common with light springs to have a click, no pop, situation where you continue around for another primer strike.  Again, this is a trained response to auditory input.

 

 

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Well, I might be the only one who’s witnessed a true hang fire on a SASS range. 

 

The shooter had had what she thought was a shotgun misfire on a stage. Dumped the round on the clock, reloaded, and finished the stage. 

 

She he was handed the dud shotgun round at the unloading table, where she slipped it back into a loop on her gun belt.

 

Back at her gun gun cart, the offending round decided to ignite and create a small firework on her hip. No harm other than burned fabric.

 

The situation is so rare that I don’t think it should be considered a possibility when there’s no Bang from the cartridge. 

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I've had one hang fire in my life. My .50 TC rifle. It was damp out and foggy. The cap popped them about 3 seconds later it went off. I was getting ready to recap it but still had it shouldered, resting on the window sill of my blind. Missed the deer.....

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So am I only the only one? shooting my 73 in 32-20 black powder. Click, no fire, pull hammer back, click no fire. SO bad round. As I'm levering it open BANG! case explodes, piece of brass leaves the gun goes through my top hat, cuts my forehead, ricochet's off my forehead and goes up through the top of my hat.

 

A nice ambulance trip to determine if it had penetrated my skull in any way. Nope, heads too hard. But some scary crap right there.

Ike

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Thanks, Irish Ike.  A good anecdote for those who do not believe a hang fire can happen, or appreciate the repercussions of one.

 

All, the subject here is about how should we handle potential hang fires in a revolver, not a semi-auto with tap-rack exercises.  It is also not about whether or not range training back in the old days was adequate.  Let's please get back on track here.

 

According to the NRA, hang fires are most likely to happen with home brew ammunition rather than factory ammo.  Reason being that you are more likely to encounter contaminated primers or powder when loading your own.  Since a vast majority of our SASS shooters are shooting reloaded ammo, I think this is a legitimate topic to be discussed.  Please refer to this article: https://www.nrafamily.org/articles/2018/12/9/gun-safety-misfires-hangfires/

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My reloads. So I went home and took apart 750 rounds of 32-20. Weighing them did no good.

Didn't find anything wrong so who knows?

Ike

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1 hour ago, Marshal Hangtree said:

Thanks, Irish Ike.  A good anecdote for those who do not believe a hang fire can happen, or appreciate the repercussions of one.

 

All, the subject here is about how should we handle potential hang fires in a revolver, not a semi-auto with tap-rack exercises.  It is also not about whether or not range training back in the old days was adequate.  Let's please get back on track here.

 

According to the NRA, hang fires are most likely to happen with home brew ammunition rather than factory ammo.  Reason being that you are more likely to encounter contaminated primers or powder when loading your own.  Since a vast majority of our SASS shooters are shooting reloaded ammo, I think this is a legitimate topic to be discussed.  Please refer to this article: https://www.nrafamily.org/articles/2018/12/9/gun-safety-misfires-hangfires/

How do you know that the shooter wasn't just riding the hammer???

 

What alternative to stopping the shooter before they re-cock their revolver do you see???

 

Thank God we've only had zero seriously injured folks from hangfires.

 

PHANTOM

 

PS: You're the one that brought up range training...

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1 hour ago, Phantom, SASS #54973 said:

 > snip <

Thank God we've only had zero seriously injured folks from hangfires.

> snip <

Clearly ... if you have witnessed a hangfire your name was on a list ... somewhere.

Who are we to attempt to undermine the law of natural selection??!? :ph34r:

 

edit: photo of revolver hangfire (goodbye ejector assembly ... wow ...) ...

Revolver_hangfire.jpg.862cddcd369649c9fcd6844309f311ee.jpg

Edited by Patagonia Pete

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I guess we could always check the SASS rules.  Here is the instruction given at p. 24 of the latest ROI course material:

 

Procedure for handling a possible Hangfire

Keep the fun pointed downrange (in a safe direction)

Wait at least 30 seconds before handling the firearm

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3 hours ago, Patagonia Pete said:

Clearly ... if you have witnessed a hangfire your name was on a list ... somewhere.

Who are we to attempt to undermine the law of natural selection??!? :ph34r:

 

edit: photo of revolver hangfire (goodbye ejector assembly ... wow ...) ...

Revolver_hangfire.jpg.862cddcd369649c9fcd6844309f311ee.jpg

Oh... Somewhere that doesn't exist, you read that I said that hangfires don't happen.

 

Ooookay...

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28 minutes ago, Phantom, SASS #54973 said:

Oh... Somewhere that doesn't exist, you read that I said that hangfires don't happen.

 

Ooookay...

Well ... no ... I didn't say that at all ... 

You said "we have had no serious injuries" ...

I said "Clearly if you have witnessed a hangfire" ... blah blah ... I guess I should have said "Clearly if someone has witnessed a hangfire" so you wouldn't assume I was talking about you personally.

Nope ... I wasn't talking about you ... just making a statement as an add on.  

Edited by Patagonia Pete
edit: oh ... and "being on a list" simply means "being in an extreme minority" ...

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