Friday, August 17, 2012

Firing an AR with the muzzle blocked.....


My friends, stuff happens. If you ride a motorcycle long enough, eventually you will go down. If you work a chef's knife on a board long enough, eventually you will get cut.

Well, if you shoot long enough.... eventually something will go not-right. Usually, almost always, it will involve a slip in concentration and a stupid mistake.

As shocking as it may be, Carteach is not immune. After a lifetime of shooting, a slip in concentration led to a serious whoops... and a severely damaged rifle.

There was no one else at fault, and no one else to blame. This one was all me... and it was dumb. Nothing malfunctioned outside my own brain. Luckily, no one was hurt. In fact, not a single person at the range even noticed the issue but me.

I fired my AR-15 with a foreign object in the bore.

What it was does not matter. How I came to be so stupid, doesn't matter. The series of mistakes I made in procedure leading up the event are of importance only to me. It happened, and I own it.

The Colt upper took the event in stride like it was nothing, but the barrel suffered the damage seen in the image above. The 62 grain bullet upset in the bore on striking the object, and the immense pressure swelled the barrel right at the point where the factory muzzle brake was screwed on and tack welded in place.

I realized the instant it touched off that I had screwed up on a whole new level, and suspected my entire upper unit might be a write off. While not another soul on the crowded ranged had a clue there was anything untoward happening, they may have wondered at my field stripping the rifle right at the shooting bench.

Then again, the folks there are used to me doing unusual things. They hardly even look twice anymore.

I cleared a chunk of bullet jacket from the brake area, and ascertained the bore was clear and straight. Hoping against hope the rifle had escaped injury from my stupidity.... I tried a few more rounds. Sadly, the 100 backstop had become an unobtainable goal. The rifle which held two inch groups with open sights could no longer reliably hit even the target backer.

I packed it up and took it home.

The upshot, I had damaged the end of the barrel quite badly. Not so terribly that it couldn't be cut down, but enough to render it useless without surgery.

After machining, the undamaged part of the barrel measured just over a legal 16" by using the ATF's own method, and that was enough. The rifle now sports a snazzy new look, and if anything shoots better than it ever did before.

Friends.... fellow shooters.... a word of advice from someone who just looked over the edge into that abyss. If you are working on a weapon, keep live ammo FAR FAR away from the area.



Borepatch said...

If you stare long enough into that abyss, the abyss stares back at you.

ZerCool said...

Ouch. Glad you're OK.

Old NFO said...

Yep, there are those who have, and those who will... BTDT, and thanks for the honesty and being willing to admit to a mistake.

jimmie said...

Isn't there a law against cutting down the barrel? I only ask because i was going to cut down a shotgun barrel for my son to 20inches and was told i'd go to jail if i was found out.

Carteach said...

Not as long as you stay above the minimum. Beware that last .250", it's a killer.

Cowboy T said...

Glad nobody was hurt. That could've ended up far worse, and it's a reminder. Thanks.

Secondarily, it's also good to see you could legally save the rifle's barrel, and that it still shoots well after all this.

Willorith said...

Your gift, transferring knowledge to others, shines throughF

jimmie said...

Thanks for the info. Wouldnt help if it happens to mine since it only has a 16in barrel to start with.

Greg Tag said...


Thanks for sharing.

We are professionals here....

As for dumb, stupid, etc., I could tell you a story about 150 pounds of "teabags", "cheese" and loose propellant powder remaining from 5 days of pre-deployment 4.2" Mortar range firing, which I , as OIC was tasked with disposing of prior to turning the range back to III Corps Range Control.

I was absolutely positive there was a faster, better, more efficient way to get the job done than was detailed in the Range SOP.

I was wrong.

I could go on, but even thinking about makes me blush with shame.

So.. dont feel like the Lone Ranger. Im glad you were not injured.



Carteach said...

I took that 16" carbine to the match Sunday afternoon, and managed a 401/500 1x with it.

I think my second best score ever.

Yup, it still shoots.