My FN-49 Blew Up!
Well, sort of. I was at the range Friday and I experienced what I think was an out-of-battery ignition. I was shooting my AL FN-49 with Winchester 150grn Power Point JSP (factory ammo, not reloads) and on the third or fourth shot (I wasn't really counting) I noticed that it was much louder and that I felt some powder residue hit me in the face. I immediately locked the bolt open and removed the magazine in order to get the rest of the unfired cartridges out. It was then that I noticed that the bolt would not go foreward because of a shard of brass blocking it, the stock was cracked in front of the magazine, and the reciever cover retainer and sliding dust cover were bent outward. I managed to remove the shard of brass and get the bolt closed, but needless to say I was done shooting that particular gun for tha day.
I later managed to find most of the culprit shell casing which was mangled beyond belief. When I got home, I took the rifle apart and repaired the crack in the stock and bent the reciever cover retainer back into shape (the dust cover fell off when I was inspecting it, but it was already bent and really needed to be replaced anyway). I also disassembled the bolt (I'd already replaced the one-piece firing pin with the later two-piece design) and inspected the trigger, sear, hammer, and auxillary sear and I couldn't find any obvious reason for the accident.
Yesterday, I took the rifle and the magnled casing to the gunsmith at my local Gander Mountain. He seemed to be fairly familiar with FN-49's as his first question was about whether or not I had the one-piece or two-piece firing pin. He inspected the rifle and told me that it was mechanically fine and that the only two reasons he could think of for the mishap were either debris stuck in the firing pin channel or a defective round of ammunition.
I very highly doubt that debris in the firing pin channel was the cause because the rifle had only fired two or three shots before the incident and was cleaned prior to that (I always clean my guns every time I fire them) and the only lube I'd ever used on this particular gun has been a very light coating of oil (usually Remoil). Also, the firing pin was not protruding immediately after the incident, when I disassembled the rifle at home, or when the gunsmith inspected it. This leads me to believe that the ammo was probably the culprit and I plan to send an e-mail to Winchester about the incident.
Honestly, I think it's probably a testament to the design of the rifle that I was not injured and that the gun wasn't damaged any worse than it was. Even so, I'm probably going to sell this rifle now (though at least I can do it with a clear conscience given the gunsmith OK) as it scared me pretty badly. As I was researching the problem Friday night, I read on a couple of forums that FN-49's are somewhat known for slamfires and OOB ignitions and that they can be kind of sensitive about commercial ammo's softer primers. Since I don't reload 30-06 and milsurp ammo is getting scarce, I really have little use for a rifle in that caliber that I can't shoot commercial ammo in. Also, I find myself somewhat questioning the need for a semi-auto in a full-caliber cartridge (particularly when my K-31 is so slick).
Smith, and Wesson, and Me. -H. Callahan
Well waddaya know, one buwwet weft! -E. Fudd
All bad precedents begin as justifiable measures. -J. Caesar