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Old December 30, 2009, 12:50 PM   #1
LaserSpot
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Gun goes off by itself

How is this possible? Someone must have a better guess than I can come up with. I don't believe the explanation handed down.

Quote:
Not a soul touched the gun. There was no dimple in the primer cap. The gun recoiled off the nightstand and landed on the floor, fully cocked and with a new round in the chamber.

I had the shell casing examined in the crime lab. They determined the primer was not fully seated, the powder was cold and static electricity had arched on the cap setting it off. I have not shot a reload since.
From: http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/...&postcount=237

This came up in another thread:
http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/....php?p=3857621
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Old December 30, 2009, 12:59 PM   #2
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Poltergeist?
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Old December 30, 2009, 01:15 PM   #3
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That's a better explanation, but not by much. I think the crime lab saying it was caused by static is kind of like a doctor saying your mysterious pain was caused by stress.
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Old December 30, 2009, 01:18 PM   #4
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Quote:
Both he and I were off duty and the weather was below freezing with sleet falling. We were out for about 1.5hrs. I came in and laid my .45 Colt 1911 on the nightstand. It was not cocked but had a round in the chamber.
With the caveat that I know very little about the workings of a 1911, my lame guess is that it involved the rapid warming of the 1911 with a round in the chamber and the hammer down: As the chambered round quickly warmed up, the primer and its components expanded. But since the hammer was down, the expanding primer couldn't go much further backward and eventually forced the anvil hard against the propellant, setting the gun off. Would explain the lack of dimple, and maybe even the unseated primer.
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Old December 30, 2009, 01:23 PM   #5
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
How is this possible?
It is very hard to believe. The rest of the story indicates that he was in sleet and freezing rain conditions for an hour and a half. Sleet and freezing rain are hardly primer conditions for static electricity.

Determining that the primer was not fully seated is pretty meaningless by itself. The action of firing the cartridge could have easily unseated the primer.

1 in a Gazillion freak accident, based on the facts presented.
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Old December 30, 2009, 01:57 PM   #6
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Wasn't there some problem with revolvers and static electricity a long time ago? I seem to remember an article about the issue.
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Old December 30, 2009, 03:19 PM   #7
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I still have the .223 round that went bang. The hard part is finding it in a ammo can full of other primed brass. From what I could tell from the first go through they all looked and smelled the same. Thought I could smell the fired round but no luck.

Doug
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Old December 30, 2009, 07:34 PM   #8
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That's what I try to tell my wife just before she slaps me side the head, its not my fault, my mouth went of by itself.

Static electricity, I may buy it with black powder, but modern smokeless? Heat and I do mean HEAT, is the only thing I can think of. Does brass even spark, if not would it transmit static electricity? I thought brass was used in some petroleum industries because it doesn't create a spark.
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Old December 30, 2009, 07:42 PM   #9
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Wow That is amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old December 30, 2009, 08:32 PM   #10
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No way

If the pistol went off without anyone touching it,the gun would not have cycled and loaded a new round.
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Old December 30, 2009, 08:35 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pistol1911
If the pistol went off without anyone touching it,the gun would not have cycled and loaded a new round.
That's not always a given. Likely, perhaps. Guaranteed, no.
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Old December 30, 2009, 08:43 PM   #12
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Quote:
With the caveat that I know very little about the workings of a 1911, my lame guess is that it involved the rapid warming of the 1911 with a round in the chamber and the hammer down: As the chambered round quickly warmed up, the primer and its components expanded. But since the hammer was down, the expanding primer couldn't go much further backward and eventually forced the anvil hard against the propellant, setting the gun off. Would explain the lack of dimple, and maybe even the unseated primer.
It usually takes a fairly stout blow from a firing pin to ignite the primer. It would seem that mere pressure on the primer, ergo pressure on the cup, wouldn't generate enough of a hammer blow to ignite. Besides, it seems as though there would have to be a large temperature change to cause that much metal expansion.
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Old December 30, 2009, 09:00 PM   #13
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This does not add up. I wish the poster had included photos of the case and gun, not just the nightstand.
Also, where are the burn marks on the nightstand? If a 1911 "went off" on a nightstand at that kind of close range it seems to me there'd be some powder burns to see even after cleanup.
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Old December 30, 2009, 09:21 PM   #14
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Quote:
If the pistol went off without anyone touching it,the gun would not have cycled and loaded a new round.
I agree that it's extremely unlikely--but I can't say it's totally impossible.

However, at some point one has to begin to wonder how many extremely unlikely things can happen to one person in one night.
Quote:
The rest of the story indicates that he was in sleet and freezing rain conditions for an hour and a half. Sleet and freezing rain are hardly primer conditions for static electricity.
Actually below freezing outside and heated inside will make things very dry inside--good conditions for static electricity.

The hardest part for me to understand is why the static arced from the powder to the primer instead of to the case walls of the cartridge which were obviously much closer to the powder and which were electrically identical to the primer in terms of charge. The only way that would make sense is if the primer were somehow electrically insulated from the cartridge case which is, again, extremely unlikely.
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Old December 30, 2009, 09:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
It usually takes a fairly stout blow from a firing pin to ignite the primer. It would seem that mere pressure on the primer, ergo pressure on the cup, wouldn't generate enough of a hammer blow to ignite. Besides, it seems as though there would have to be a large temperature change to cause that much metal expansion.
Very possible, but I couldn't help of thinking of tin roofs when they heat in the morning sun. ping! It's the sound of constrained metal warming and straining, then suddenly snapping into place. A gradual increase in pressure wouldn't set the primer off but a snapping of the anvil might: I'm speculating, of course, but the combination of temperature change and condition 2 (hammer down on a live round) might be enough to snap the relatively delicate anvil and detonate the primer.
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Old December 30, 2009, 09:42 PM   #16
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnKSa
Actually below freezing outside and heated inside will make things very dry inside--good conditions for static electricity.
I agree, but I was thinking specifically of the gun. It seems to me that the gun would be cold and damp from rain and sleet, if it were worn in any way that was not completely protected or it would be warm and damp from perspiration if it was worn in a protected manner, say IWB. Either way, I figured that the gun would not be in a condition conducive to static charges even though the air inside the house certainly would be.


Either way, I agree with the assessment that it seems like a fairly long string of highly unlikely events.
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Old December 30, 2009, 09:43 PM   #17
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Quote:
Very possible, but I couldn't help of thinking of tin roofs when they heat in the morning sun. ping! It's the sound of constrained metal warming and straining, then suddenly snapping into place. A gradual increase in pressure wouldn't set the primer off but a snapping of the anvil might: I'm speculating, of course, but the combination of temperature change and condition 2 (hammer down on a live round) might be enough to snap the relatively delicate anvil and detonate the primer.
Interesting thought. I wonder how you'd test that to try and reproduce the circumstances.
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Old December 30, 2009, 10:21 PM   #18
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I'm not a chemist, but is there any way that a poorly mixed batch of priming compound could have something in it that makes it way too sensitive?

I suppose ice could have prevented the hammer from dropping all the way when he decocked it. The ice might then shatter when it starts to warm up and let the hammer drop the rest of the way. The round in question was found to have a high primer; maybe the hammer falling pushed the slide forward and caused a slam fire without dimpling the primer.
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Old December 30, 2009, 10:24 PM   #19
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Pending further info (proof) I'm calling BS on this one.

Quote:
Not a soul touched the gun. There was no dimple in the primer cap. The gun recoiled off the nightstand and landed on the floor, fully cocked and with a new round in the chamber.
Three pics of where the round went. I have no doubt that the round went where it was stated.

No pics of the primer. Obviously, no pics of the pistol which reloaded itself.

Not to say that anything is impossible...just to say I'm not buying it.
FWIW, it is possible that ghosts walk the earth. Just never seen one, and (philosophically) I'm from Missouri....the Show Me State.

Got it?

Last edited by orionengnr; December 30, 2009 at 10:40 PM.
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Old December 30, 2009, 10:28 PM   #20
LaserSpot
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My last post sure is.
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Old December 30, 2009, 10:33 PM   #21
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Quote:
As the chambered round quickly warmed up, the primer and its components expanded. But since the hammer was down, the expanding primer couldn't go much further backward and eventually forced the anvil hard against the propellant, setting the gun off.
Aside from the fact that primers need a blow to set them off (I've decapped thousands of live primers on my loading bench without a single one igniting, all by simply going slowly), this doesn't align with how the 1911 actually works.

The 1911 firing pin is shorter than its channel in the slide. It does not protrude past the breechface when the hammer is down, and the firing pin spring keeps it rearward in the slide. Only a sharp blow to the back of the firing pin can overcome the spring pressure and drive it forward past the breechface into the primer. (This is, incidently, also why a decocked 1911 cannot be made to discharge solely from a blow to the hammer, such as would occur during a fall... Only the inertia of the firing pin itself and the lack of a FP block in the original design rendered the pistol less than completely drop safe.)

Quote:
If the pistol went off without anyone touching it,the gun would not have cycled and loaded a new round.
I believe this to be a correct statement. Talk about limp-wristing a pistol..

Sorry - the story does not ring true to me.
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Last edited by rbernie; December 30, 2009 at 10:38 PM.
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Old December 30, 2009, 10:37 PM   #22
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I agree with calling ity BS. I question the so called expert saying the primer wasnt seated. Primers move with any gun is fired. How could he know.

Having taught Bomb Disposal (EOD) & Post Blast investigation & CSI I'm a hard one to convince on this static electricy BS.

Think about it, we all have delt with Static elect. You walk across the rug and turch something, or someone else walks across run and touches you.

It requires action. Who here has set perfectly still, nothing around you moves, get zapped.

Sorry unless you can convince me about grimlins, I call BS.
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Old December 30, 2009, 10:45 PM   #23
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+1 to kraig's assessment. Sounds like poppycock to me.
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Old December 30, 2009, 10:45 PM   #24
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How come only the one in the chamber went pop??None in the mag???
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Old December 30, 2009, 10:49 PM   #25
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To expand--

My first real handgun instructor had a few "canned statements". The most memorable of which was, "When I am doing an investigation on a firearm that has discharged, I only have one question. Whose **** finger was on the trigger?" He then outlined a number of unlikely circumstances, up to and including an S&W revolver dropped from a police helicopter at ~500 feet. No, it did not discharge.

That was 20+ years ago. In all that time, I have yet to find a case wherein those words did not apply....

To recap: guns do not "go off by themselves".

Period. End of story.

Last edited by orionengnr; December 30, 2009 at 10:55 PM.
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