Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What is a function check, and why am I so insistent on it.

Take a few minutes and watch the above video. This isn't a story about a careless gun owner, far from it. This is a story of haphazardly made modifications to a gun that could have killed an experienced USPSA competitor and she never even touched the trigger. This is a cautionary tale, and another skill to add to your firearms toolbox. 

I want to preface what I'm about to talk about by saying, loud and clear, that I am not throwing shade at this young woman. I can't see anything in the description of the incident to lead me to believe after two decades of handling firearms that she caused this. But, I want to stop everyone for a moment and talk about how this, perhaps, could have been prevented. 


Above pictured is a collection of homemade (I handload, therefore have what I need to create) dummy rounds and commercially purchased snap caps. The dummy rounds have their primer pockets filled with silicone, and the rounds are filled with sawdust. The snap caps are aluminum. Neither have any powder, all are harmless. I highly recommend you pick up some for every caliber you have in your home. 

I make it a point to religiously function check firearms after every cleaning/disassembly. In much the same way, I verify that the firearms' safeties all function. I verify they are drop safe (ready the firearm to fire without any ammo in the chamber, sharply strike the butt to simulate a drop and see if the gun will drop the hammer or striker.) I attempt, in any way not guaranteed to break the firearm, to induce a malfunction or cause the firearm to discharge. All of the above is done with dummy rounds of course in the name of safety. 

I'm pointing all of this out specifically because, doing so MIGHT have demonstrated this firearm was unsafe before Ms. Eisenzimmer gave herself a high velocity lead injection into her leg, in doing so causing an incredible amount of damage and potentially killing her. Again, nothing she caused, but a gun modified in such a way it goes off by itself would have failed all of some of my usual function checks. 

I have always maintained that firearms are a tool, l no more no less. We are responsible for making sure that tool functions as expected, and making sure what we place in our holster and strap to our waist is not going to harm us or anyone else by accident. I do truly wish Ms. Eisenzimmer a speedy recovery and a return to competition if she is able, but I hope her misfortunate serves as a cautionary tale to others. Look for a YouTube video in the near future discussing safety/function checks in detail.  - Phil Rabalais

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