Friday, April 14, 2017

The comments are sometimes more interesting than the article! (Another KABOOM! Article)

Here's the original article:

POTD: Watch Your Hands When You Unload And Show Clear - The Firearm BlogThe Firearm Blog:

Here's a typical comment:
 A shooter was unloading his handgun when this happened. From what Scott relayed to me, was that the shooter cups the ejection port to catch the round to save time from picking it up off the floor. Now to clarify, this was not a malfunction. It was not a FTF and the primer was never struck. What happened was that during the unloading process the shooter’s hand covers the ejection port. The round most likely ejected into the hand but since the hand was so close to the ejection port it got caught between the slide and barrel.
(The author of the comment obviously intended to say "... the primer was never struck by the firing pin".)

Here's a much more ... atypical ... comment:

I saw that happen at a match I was ROing, the guy covered the ejection port as he was unloading and either the ejector or the edge of the slide creased the primer enough to cause it to go off. The case blew out the bullet got a crease in the nose from the barrel hood and he got one piece of shrapnel that went all the way thru his pointer finger and a piece stuck in his thumb. I was the one that took him to urgent care but despite the flesh wound, he received no lasting injuries. It was an STI 2011 the only damage it got was the extractor spring broke.
In the 30+ years since I started shooting IPSC, I've never seen anyone break the extractor spring on an STI, model 2011.      In fact, I've never seen a STI 2011 with an "extractor spring", although I've had occasion during an IPSC match to take my STI to the safety are and 'retune' the extractor using three rocks as a vice and a hammer.   But that's another story, and one I've told too many times.


Here's another one:
Looks as though the extractor hit the primer from the marks on the case, not the slide port itself. I too have done this technique at the range clearing a malfunction but always push the slide stop up to lock the slide open at the same time while turning the pistol to the side.
Again, I fail to understand how the extractor can work itself out of the extractor well in the slide and allow the pistol to continue firing/

I suspect that the authors of these comments were not referencing an STI 2011.  In the second example, it's possible that the author cited the 'extractor' when he meant to say the "ejector'.

As much as I hate to have to explain a joke: for those who are not familiar with the construction and nomenclature of the 1911-style semi-automatic pistol ... an explanation of why I find these comments amusing can find the technical details.

NOTE: This is a very LONG, detailed, technical and probably boring explanation.   Most people will decide that they just don't have the time to read The Whole Thing, and I don't blame them.
But for anyone who wonders why Experienced Shooters caution you to "don't try to catch the cartridge when you unload your pistol", it  may serve as an explanation. 


(See HERE for a diagram of the 1911-style pistol)

The major components of the 1911 are two:

The Frame: contains the grip (the magazines containing the ammunition are inserted into the grip).  The frame also contains the trigger assembly, the safety, the 'slide lock' (locks the slide back), and the external hammer.

The Slide: contains the barrel, and the firing pin ... which fires the cartridge when the (external frame-based) hammer falls due to the trigger being pulled.

Every time the pistol is fired, the slide moves to the rear, picks up the next round from the magazine, and loads it into the barrel.

The 1911 is called 'semi-automatic' because it reloads a new cartridge into the firing chamber of the barrel, every time a shot is fired.  (Note that a "full automatic" firearm will continue to fire each newly loaded cartridge as long as the trigger is held down by the shooter; a 'semi-automatic' requires the shooter to release the trigger and pull it again to fire the next cartridge.)

The Slide is forced back due to the recoil of the fired cartridge; a short time (milliseconds) after the cartridge is fired, the slide begins to move to the rear of the pistol.

Role of the Extractor:
The 'extractor' is a long thin piece of string steel with a hook on it, seated in a 'channel' (hole) through the Slide.  It's role is to 'hook' the rim of the fired cartridge and pull it out of the barrel.

The 'ejector' is a solid steel flange fixed immovably in the frame.   It acts as a "catch" which pushes the fired case up and out of the grasp of the extractor.   Due to the springiness of the extractor, the cartridge case flies generally up and to the right of the pistol, allowing the next cartridge to be reloaded into the barrel.

The recoil action of the slide also pushes against the hammer, re-cocking it for the next shot.

Going back to the comments:
Looks as though the extractor hit the primer from the marks on the case, not the slide port itself. I too have done this technique at the range clearing a malfunction but always push the slide stop up to lock the slide open at the same time while turning the pistol to the side.

Going back to the original scenario: the shooter attempts to manually eject a loaded cartridge by pulling the slide back.  But the shooter has covered the ejection port, so the cartridge may bounce back against the frame ... where the EJECTOR is located.

The EXTRACTOR cannot possibly hit the primer on a cartridge; it is entirely enclosed except for the hook ... which goes nowhere near the primer on the cartridge.   (That's why I thought the original article was funny's impossible!)

However, it's possible (although unusual) that the extraction of an un-fired cartridge might be interfered with if an obstruction to its extraction and ejection process is interfered with by the shooter, and the semi-ejected case hits the EJECTOR just right so that the primer is impacted ... dramatically!

Note the phrase: extraction and ejection process

Part 1: The extractor pulls the loaded cartridge out of the firing chamber of the barrel
Part 2: The ejector kicks the loaded cartridge out of the pistol.
Part 3: The slide moves forward, and closes on an empty chamber (assuming there are no loaded cartridges in the magazine to replace the previously extracted cartridge).

The supposition is that, instead of an unfired cartridge being allowed to fly free of the pistol ...

 IF the movement of the loaded cartridge is redirected down (because the shooter has interfered with a clean ejection) rather than 'up and out', and IF when the slide is released to push against the semi-tilted (by the extractor, bullet-end up) cartridge ...

... it's POSSIBLE that the primer of the live cartridge will be emphatically slammed against the solid frame-seated ejector in such a manner that the primer is ignited by the ejector.

Not the "Extractor", by any means!


The cartridge is ignited.  Because the resulting 'explosion' is not restricted by the chamber of the barrel, all of the pressure of the fast-burning gunpowder is exerted against the case of the cartridge.

(Note that this only happens if the bullet is pressed against the front of the ejection port of the slide ... because the shooter has kept the cartridge from freely ejecting.

If the attitude of the cartridge is very wrong, this may result in an exploding cartridge outside of the barrel, and restricted only by the soft tissue of the shooter's palm.

Again, the result of the small, and relatively low-power 'explosion' is shown here.

What it does to the shooter's hand?

Not good.

Oh.  And ... it's not limited to the 1911 style.  Almost ANY pistol (not revolver, of course) has the design characteristics which might cause the same consequences.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jerry
Overall, I agree with you, but there is the Aftec extractor that does have springs that is popular with many competitors. I've not used one, but I suspect that a cartridge detonating in the opened slide could flex it to the point of breaking one of the springs.

Bottom line is to not cup your hand over the ejection port when unloading - just in case.


Mark said...

In my years as a CRO, I have seen 2 bloody hands from covering the ejection port to try and catch the ejected round. In one case the ejector was broken and the round hit it as the slide came back. In the other case we never did exactly figure why.

Anonymous said...

Don't the really cool shooters let the ejected live round fly up in the air and then snatch it out of mid air?