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The photos below illustrate a catastrophic failure of a Glock 21. Again, this incident did not happen at Front Sight Firearms Training Institute, but is one of many reasons why Front Sight has always required students to use factory, new ammunition. The shooter of this pistol was using reloaded, full metal jacket ammunition. To the best of our understanding of the incident, the cartridge case was not sized properly, preventing the action from locking up fully, but allowing the action to close enough to fire the weapon. The result was an open breach detonation of the cartridge. The photos speak for themselves. The shooter received severely bruised hands, with minor to moderate lacerations to his hands and face. We have received reports of similar incidents with the Glock 21 and I have personally witnessed a less dramatic incident with a Glock 21—magazine blown out of the weapon and shooter’s hand bruised. In all incidents reported, reloads were used.
Click on any of the three images for a larger view.
With millions of rounds fired in Front Sight courses, by thousands of students each year, Front Sight has experienced only one self-inflicted gunshot wound when a student negligently discharged his weapon into his leg while presenting his pistol from the holster. The good news is that the student is recovered completely. He would like all students to learn from this incident.
This student was VERY LUCKY. When I first observed the location of the entrance wound on the lateral aspect of the upper thigh and the bullet was found lodged in the medial aspect of the lower leg, my immediate thoughts were broken leg, internal bleeding, permanent nerve damage. The fact that no bones, arteries, veins, or nerves were damaged is truly amazing. Equally amazing was the calm and cool attitude of the student. We kept checking his pulse because we expected it to be higher than 60 to 70 beats per minute. His stable blood pressure, strong distal pulses, and lack of swelling or discoloration indicated that his injury was much less severe than it could have been. Diagnostic tests at the hospital confirmed that he had no major damage. Again, it could have been much worse. He is very fortunate.
The student sent his Sig P229 to a competent gunsmith for evaluation of any part failure that could have caused the weapon to discharge. The student did not recall placing his finger on the trigger and firing the weapon.
The gunsmith analysis failed to find any malfunction in the weapon.
The only way a weapon can be fired is to place the finger on the trigger and press the trigger. Attempting to piece together how this could have happened with the physical evidence available, it appears the only explanation is the following:
Speculation is that the student may have failed to fully depress the decock lever or depressed the slide release lever, thinking he had depressed the decock lever. This resulted in holstering the weapon with the hammer cocked back on a loaded chamber. Upon hearing the whistle to present his weapon, he swept the concealment garment away, established the proper firing grip with finger along the outside of the holster. As he began to withdraw the weapon from the holster, he may have violated Safety Rule 3 and allowed his finger inside the trigger guard which contacted the lighter, single action trigger instead of the heavier double action trigger causing the weapon to fire. Another possibility, although much less likely is that upon sweeping the concealment garment away, it caught the hammer and cocked the weapon, resulting in the same hammer back condition. Either way, the main problem is a violation of Safety Rule 3.
Please remember that the proper draw stroke involves keeping your finger out of the trigger guard and off the trigger until the weapon is placed on the target and sight alignment is acquired. Any violation of Safety Rule 3—Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target—will result in a negligent discharge of the weapon.
As our student requested, let this one-in-a-million incident be a learning experience for all.
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