Repeated cycling of ammunition can lead to a critical failure according to a training bulletin released by the Gwinnett County (GA) Sheriff’s Department.
According to the bulletin, a Gwinnett County police officer’s pistol failed to fire in a deadly force situation. The officer executed a “tap-rack-bang” drill to get back in the fight and successfully resolved the encounter.
The round was returned to the manufacturer for analysis. They determined the primer had been rendered useless due to the cartridge having been cycled through the gun multiple times. An interview with the officer determined he unloaded his pistol when he got home every night, meaning two rounds were repeatedly chambered as many as 100 times each prior to the incident.
If you repeatedly cycle the same ammo through your firearm, you may want to reconsider that action. The occasional unloading isn’t likely to lead to the same problem, but repeated cycling may.
From the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department:
Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department
January 1, 2012
In September of 2011, a GCPD officer was involved in a situation which quickly became a use of deadly force incident. When the officer made the decision to use deadly force, the chambered round in his duty pistol did not fire. Fortunately, the officer used good tactics, remembered his training and cleared the malfunction, successfully ending the encounter.
The misfired round, which had a full firing pin strike, was collected and was later sent to the manufacturer for analysis. Their analysis showed the following:
“…..the cause of the misfire was determined to be from the primer mix being knocked out of the primer when the round was cycled through the firearm multiple times.”
GCPD also sent an additional 2000 rounds of the Winchester 9mm duty ammunition to the manufacturer. All 2000 rounds were successfully fired.
In discussions with the officer, we discovered that since he has small children at home, he unloads his duty weapon daily. His routine is to eject the chambered round to store the weapon. Prior to returning to duty he chambers the top round in his primary magazine, then takes the previously ejected round and puts it back in the magazine. Those two rounds were repeatedly cycled and had been since duty ammunition was issued in February or March of 2011, resulting in as many as 100 chambering and extracting cycles. This caused an internal failure of the primer, not discernable by external inspection.
This advisory is to inform all sworn personnel that repeated cycling of duty rounds is to be avoided. As a reminder, when loading the weapon, load from the magazine and do not drop the round directly into the chamber. If an officer’s only method of safe home storage is to unload the weapon, the Firearms Training Unit suggests that you unload an entire magazine and rotate those rounds. In addition, you should also rotate through all three duty magazines, so that all 46 duty rounds are cycles, not just a few rounds. A more practical method of home storage is probably to use a trigger lock or a locked storage box.
Thanks to the Georgia Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors for passing this information on. GALEFI membership is a “must” for all firearms instructors in Georgia. If you are an instructor outside of Georgia, you can still join.