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Old February 23, 2013, 01:58 PM   #1
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Thoughts on Pistol Malfunctions

The thought of a pistol malfunction at the most critical time is just about any good guy's worst nightmare. And, malfunctions seem to occur more times than you would think. Not pervasively so, but enough that it should get your attention. For example, how many knew that at Ft. Hood 2009, both the active shooter Nadal, and the first engaging police officer Sgt. Munley, would experience pistol malfunctions at the exact same time? Nadal approached the downed helpless wounded police officer and kicked her jammed up Beretta away from her, all because his pistol an FN 5.7 had jammed up so he couldn't finish her. He couldn't fix his gun in time and this fact then allowed Sgt. Todd to put the murderer down and out of the fight. Interestingly enough, sometimes a police officer's weapon malfunctioning saves his or her live because the bad guy can't use it or can't figure out how to clear it after he has struggled to take it away. It is one of those oddities of confrontation and is a product of luck, not something you would hope to rely on. Additionally, how many lives have been saved after a bad guy's gun malfunctioned in the middle of his killing spree. Thank God so many have cheap and poorly maintained weapons. All of this leads to best practices which is a good clean reputable pistol, good ammunition, a second gun as plan b, and regular practice in clearing malfunctions.
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Old February 23, 2013, 02:35 PM   #2
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interesting, the FN 5.7 is not considered to be a cheap piece of crap. yet it basically failed when it was really needed by the user.

havent you heard of mr murphy?

statistically speaking, the odds of two pistol malfunctions happening to two people fighting each other are well very low. by statistics they both had a better chance of having died the previous night while having a bowelmovement.
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Old February 23, 2013, 03:23 PM   #3
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I guess my thought would be, could these malfunctions have been prevented if the pistol was properly taken care of, or is this a matter of shooter error under times of high stress?

Furthermore, I would be willing to bet that there are far more cases of a weapons malfunction ending badly for the shooter than there are of them ending in the shooter's favor.
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Old February 23, 2013, 03:54 PM   #4
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To the FN's credit, it cycled around 150 rounds before jamming up. I don't know what happened to the pistols but it seems that neither person was able to fix the problem quickly so I am thinking something more complex than a stovepipe. Additionally, upon review of the news reports and blurbs of testimony, it is not clear if the suspect's gun jammed up twice during the encounter with police or just a reload needed when he kicked her pistol and then a jam when he engaged Sgt. Todd. It was reported by Sgt. Munley that Nadal was having problems with his pistol when he was near her. A nearby military officer picked up the jammed up FN and cleared it because he thought there could be more than one shooter and he wanted to be armed.

If the weapons were clean and lubricated then my guess would be that the malfunctions were a product of the dynamics of high stress fire meaning shooter induced somehow. I do know that Sgt. Munley was wounded on one hand at some point. I wonder if that was a contributing factor. Hopefully, more analysis will come out over time by the experts who have direct access to the details.

Last edited by bds32; February 23, 2013 at 04:19 PM.
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Old February 23, 2013, 06:23 PM   #5
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I always carry 2 guns. I have had guns break. My wife asks why I carry 2 guns, because guns can and will break or develop the strangest malfunctions at the most inopportune time.
My rifle and pistol are tools, I am the weapon.
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Old February 23, 2013, 09:16 PM   #6
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Malfuctions can happen, but my personal experience has been guns that work well out of the box usually keep working generally, but the main problems I have had is there are so many manufacturing issues with either design or quality control that many many guns get out of the factory in less then 100% reliable working condition.

I have sure had my problems with lemons over the years.
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Old February 24, 2013, 02:32 PM   #7
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Nothing man-made is perfect. Both guns could have been cared for and cleaned very well, but just happened to both malfunction at the same time. A high-stress situation can certainly add to it.
"Vegetarian, an old Indian word for bad hunter."
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Old February 24, 2013, 02:48 PM   #8
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FTFs, jams, problems....

To clear jams or be ready to use a BUG(back up gun) is smart.

Years ago(late 1990s), I had a new in box model Beretta 96D(treated with Robar NP3) that had a minor problem. On a gun range, a tiny bit of brass got caught in the pistol's extractor.
I took the 96D apart & fixed it but the event showed me that even a custom grade, high quality model like a 96D could have a problem.

PS: FWIW, I never carry any sidearm(pistol) that I can't field strip without tools.
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Old February 25, 2013, 05:37 PM   #9
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Having been involved as a trainer in one capacity or another as both a military officer and now an NRA PP instructor, it has been my observation that almost all of the malfunctions I have observed have been the result of poor maintenance (in particular lack of lubrication in new guns). Equally as common has been unfamiliarity with a borrowed gun or one that just hasn't been fired much.

A decline in malfunctions has been obvious at our club's monthly action pistol matches. Members who attend regularly have far fewer issues, and seeing shooters learn and develop from novice to skilled has been a gratifying trend.

Any decent quality gun has been designed to work, not fail. Lack of practice, maintenance and familiarity are the main problems, regardless of specific make or style.
The United States Marine Corps: Providing the enemies of America the opportunity to die for their countries since 1775. Semper fi.
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Old February 26, 2013, 01:43 PM   #10
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Feeding stoppages and other malfunctions can happen.

While an ammunition, maintenance or environmental-related problems may occur, the most common cause of "malfunctions" with semiautomatic pistol usually falls under the heading of "shooter-related", or shooter-induced.

As a firearms instructor & armorer I've seen all manner of stoppages and malfunctions occur during training, practice and quals, involving all kinds of factory & costly custom pistols.

As long as good quality guns and ammunition are being used, it's the shooter-induced "problems" that seem to require the most effort and attention, particularly in getting the shooter to recognize and accept their involvement as the underlying cause. Once that's done, resolving the "problems" becomes easier.

One of the mechanical/maintenance issues that seems to sneak up on folks involves proper maintenance of magazines ... meaning everything from cleaning & proper reassembly, to proper periodic inspection and maintenance, including any required replacement of parts or even the entire magazine.

Learning to recognize and prevent conditions and issues that may potentially interfere with a pistol's normal, optimal functioning is probably prudent.
Retired LE - firearms instructor & armorer
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Old February 26, 2013, 03:34 PM   #11
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Samuel Lyman Atwood (SLA) Marshall had his M1911 malfunction in WW1 while being bayonet charged by a German. A bud had a M1917 handy and shot the German before he reached SLA.

Sometimes bad things happen to even the most reliable mechanisms.
If I'm not shooting, I'm reloading.
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Old February 28, 2013, 09:15 PM   #12
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A few things learned over time. Always test any new gun by making sure it will fire at least 200 consecutive rounds without any failure. With an auto pistol, that is 200 consecutive rounds with each carry magazine and with the carry ammo. I have known cases where the cheap practice ammo worked perfectly but the expensive carry stuff failed. In one case, the gun owner had not fired the high price stuff because it was too expensive. Fortunately he learned of his error on the range, not the street.

Sure that is a lot of ammo, but those who cheap out just don't get it. The idea is not to show off macho by carrying a gun, it is to save your life. So how much is your life worth? If no more than a cheap gun and bargain ammo, forget the carry; you are not worth it.

Avoid the latest and greatest gun/ammo. Rely on a gun and ammo with a proven track record. Sure any individual gun could be a lemon and any brand of ammo can have a dud. But that gun that came out last month is more likely to have bugs than one that has been on the market for 30 years. Same with ammo.

Everyone scorns FMJ bullets, and all the gunzines get ecstatic over that great new expanding bullet; but that bullet can't expand in a bad guy if it is hung up on the feed ramp and that funny feeling in your stomach is a knife going in and being twisted. Unless I have thoroughly tested some exotic bullet, I will go with FMJ.

What counts when you need it is reliability, not "cute" or a "cool" shape, or a high price, or a gunzine writeup.

And speaking of price, if you carry, choose a reliable, but relatively inexpensive gun. No, not a $12 RG-10, but not an engraved, gold inlaid, diamond studded pistol, either. If you have to use that gun, there may/will come a point where police officers will order you to drop it. If you hesitate because your nice gun will be damaged, you won't have any further worries about the gun or anything else. Believe me.

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