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March 23, 2007

Vol. 1   No. 3

Catastrophic Semiautomatic
Handgun Failure

Do you unload your semiautomatic handgun when you get home in the evening?

If you do, is the same round re-chamber the next morning?

Be aware.  The continuous re-chambering of the same round sets up conditions that could result in catastrophic failure in your handgun.

How?

When the same round is continuously re-chambered, the projectile is eventually pushed further into the shell case.  The projectile can then compress the propellant in the round.  When a normal cartridge is fired, the primer ignites the propellant.  When the propellant burns, the gas pressure drives the bullet out of the case and down the barrel.  However, if the propellant has been compacted, the pressure may increase far beyond safe limits, causing the weapon to break apart.

In one reported incident, directly attributed to repeated re-chambering of the same round, the internal explosion caused the frame to break while the slide and barrel separated from the weapon and traveled down range.  Reportedly no one was injured in the incident.

Note:

I have personally noticed that the .357 SIG round is particularly susceptible to this type of compaction.

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