Month: July 2007

Weapon Reliability

Posted by on July 30, 2007

We are all familiar with the golden rule of gunfights that one must have a gun. But I reckon the real golden rule is to have a gun that works. I’ve seen plenty that don’t. I previously told the story of a revolver belonging to a friend of my wife’s that wouldn’t fire more than one round in ten the first time she took it to the range. It is an Astra and was easily fixed by adjusting the hammer spring compression by means of the adjusting disc inside the grip. The important point however, is that she had had the gun for several years without ever having fired it. What’s worse is that her mother who had bequeathed it to her had never fired it, nor had it’s first owner, her aunt ( mother’s sister ). It had been kept as a dysfunctional defense piece for 35 years in all.The present owner also complained that the cylinder was a bit “sticky” on opening. I didn’t notice any obvious problem on casual inspection so she soldiered on with it until it got worse and I was forced to do something. The screw in the cylinder release catch is not in the centre, that is the catch is asymmetric about the screw. It was the wrong way round, and being thus closer to the recoil shield it was limiting forward movement hence the slight resistance of the cylinder when opening. There was enough movement of the catch to allow the cylinder to open, but only just.It was a simple to reverse it. But that was not the end of it, because a few months later it exhibited the same fault. The screw had worked loose enough for the catch to rotate 180 degrees into the position that had caused the problem first time. And to be fair to the owner it was not apparent to casual inspection. That is, although it had worked loose enough to cause the problem it was not obviously loose except to close inspection. Indeed, if I hadn’t had the first experience with it I probably would not have found it quickly the second time.The lesson? Screws work loose. It pays to keep a small set of screwdrivers to fit all screws on your guns and to regularly check the screws.It is surprising how many people seem not to grasp the importance of this reliability issue. Maybe they think waving it at the perps will be enough. I was on RO duty last week. We had a new member on the range, a guy of about 40 with a CZ ( Model 70 I think ) in 7.65 auto. It failed to feed about every fourth or fifth round. A casual glance suggested the mag lips judging from the angle at which the cartridges presented to the feed ramp. I pointed out to the guy, in case it wasn’t obvious, that it was no better than a paper weight as a defense piece and that he should get it fixed or better yet get a better gun, notwithstanding the FCA. For heaven’s sake there’s some good stuff out there for nothing if one takes some trouble to look. Not long ago Strand Guns had a Sig Sauer P220 for R2200 asking price. Somebody was smart enough to buy it.That same day, a long time member and experienced shooter and handloader had feed problems with his Beretta 92. Not as bad as the CZ but enough to render it useless as a defense piece. I noted that he was shooting handloads loaded with the RCBS 124 grain conical flat point seated a hell of a long way out. Whether that was the problem who knows, testing it with better loaded rounds might have shown it up, but he’s not the sort of guy to accept any suggestion that his loads might be at fault. Could also have been too light a load not cycling the slide properly. Whatever it is, an experienced shooter shouldn’t be having reliability problems with his primary defense piece.Reliability is paramount. By far the important thing in a gunfight is that the gun must work, calibre is much less important, as a 22 that works beats a 155mm howitzer that doesn’t.[Originally posted to SATalkGuns -- Admin]