Monday, January 11, 2010

Failure to Fire, or when things DON'T go Bang.

Over the New Year weekend, I took my brother, a bunch of his friends and my small collection of firearms to the range.

It was a good time. But while there, I had two failures to fire, neither of which were ammunition related. One I repaired at the range, one I had to wait until I got home. I had brought my dad's .22 rifle, a Westernfield M830 bolt action - which is a nice little gun, built back in the late fiftys and which I had spent a couple days cleaning up, and my .45 XD with the 5 inch barrel. One of Mark's friends also owned a XD(M) in 9mm so that came along as well. (He didn't bring nearly as much ammunition as I did...)

It was bloody cold that day, and while neither firearm spent much time out in it - when its -25 or so on the old mercury, it don't take long to freeze things up. Ask the Russians and Germans around Stalingrad in WWII.

I pulled out the .22 first when we got to the range, because I had tons of ammo for that, and its an easy rifle to use, and hell, its .22 so its not exactly a 'scary' caliber either. I only have the one mag for it, which I need to correct - but I loaded it up, slide the bolt forward with and pointed down range and pulled the trigger. And got an anemic 'click'.

Since I was dealing with bulk rimfire my first assumption was bad ammo, so I ejected the shell, rammed a new one home and tried again. Same thing. Tried a third time, and got the same result so I eyeballed the bolt when firing. The firing 'pin' (More of a bar on this 22) is noticable along a top grove of the bolt, and it was clear that in a test fire, it wasn't moving at all. When I'd cleaned up the gun, the only thing I hadn't torn apart was the bolt, because I'd never pulled a bolt apart, I couldn't find a diagram for it exploded online, and honestly, it wasn't my gun. But now it was clear I was going to need to.

So with a failure on that end I brought out the XD. Slapped in a fresh mag, racked the slide and pulled the trigger. Click. No bang. What. The. Hell. I racked the slide and tried another round (I was firing Blazer, non-reloadable ammo for the first time, my brother had bought it and I didn't know much about the quality) Three times, three failures. And I noticed there was no dimple on the attempted rounds. on the primer. So my firing pin was stuck... again.

I field stripped the XD and rammed the striker forward manually about ten times, reassembled and that time she went bang.

So things were back on. My brother and his friends had a good time. They all learned a bit about guns, and they all did rather well with firing, in some cases, thier first rounds through hand guns.

Once I got home I stripped the .22 and after some initial trepedation disassembled the bolt, which was coated, especially internally with a lot of field grit and heavy grease. After a twenty minute soak in some rubbing alcohol, and some liberal cleaning and drying I greased it lightly with the rifle grease I prefer and reassembled. Took it to the range the next day and it went bang.

My XD I have not done a detail strip on, and since I never have, I'm a little hesitant to do so, but I think a bit of the grease I use on the rails has migrated to the striker assembly so the parts probably need to be degreased and cleaned up to avoid future failures to fire.

I'm still doing research on that, and while from what I've seen its within my technical knowhow to handle, I don't have the right tools for the job. We'll see. I might just take it to a gunsmith, if for no other reason then to have a little makee learnee time.

If anyone's got any pointers, I'd love to hear it.



Tam said...

If I recall correctly, you're someplace in the howling arctic prairie, right?

In other words, it was probably below freezing at the range?

Jon said...

I am.

Range is indoors. They were not the whole time

I know what froze them up :D. Detail stripping a XD so I can clean up the striker -because it functions, just not quite as acutely as it used to - that I don't know how to do. :)

Tam said...

Yup. Grease is not your friend in low temps, especially around strikers and firing pins.