I was at a steel challenge match yesterday and one of the guys in our group was shooting a P320 with the TXG grip module. Early on him and one of the other shooters were talking about the gun firing out of battery at a match a month ago and ruining the previous grip module. He said he'd discussed it with several gunsmiths and they said they had seen reports of P320's firing out of battery. On his very last shot of the match it happened again. Luckily his hand was ok but he said "that's it I'm done with this gun". What would cause this?
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The 'voluntary upgrade' was supposed to eliminate the OOB issue...Disconnector NOT functioning properly?
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Anecdotes of the “Gunsmiths have reported …” don’t mean much, and rightfully so because they lack any details and cannot be verified in any reasonable way. If they are so common, why don’t they get reported in places like this forum?
That said, one of the things that was done to P320 pistols when they were “upgraded” following the complaints that they could fire if dropped a certain way was the addition of a disconnector. I don’t know what, if any, mechanism prevented out of battery discharges prior to the change, but if the gun does have a disconnector, it’s easy to demonstrate that it does a good job of doing what it’s supposed to.
The disconnector keeps the striker from being released to fire a cartridge if the slide is not fully forward even a little. In a check I conducted just now, pulling the trigger will not cause a discharge if the slide is pulled to the rear even less than 1/4 inch. When the trigger is disengaged by that small movement of the slide, the barrel hasn’t even started to move down to its unlocked position, and a chambered cartridge is still fully supported by the barrel and breech face. The slide must be much farther out of battery for the case to not be supported as it normally is when the gun is fired. In other words, if the gun has the disconnector, I do not see how an OOB discharge would be possible, or if it occurred due to a small rearward movement of the slide, how anything bad would happen due to an unsupported case.
Slides of pistols like the P320 fail to go into battery for a variety of reasons: bad, out of spec ammunition; inadequate lubrication; and/or weak recoil spring all come to mind. The striker could be released too early, I suppose, if a botched “trigger job” had been performed on the gun to lighten the trigger pull. I can see how at least some of those causes would be likely with competition guns used with handloads. I do not, however, see how a discharge could occur with the slide so far out of battery that the case was unsupported—assuming, of course, that the gun has the disconnector as it should. Anyone who is using a non-upgraded P320 is a fool, but even then I’m not sure if a grossly OOB discharge would be possible.
To return to the reports, though, what exactly happens when all these OOB discharges occur? What did the case look like in the incident you observed? How far out of battery was the slide when it occurred? Did it occur with a non-upgraded pistol? Had the trigger mechanism of the gun been modified for competition purposes? And, most important, how do we know it was an OOB discharge, and not a case failure (if that’s what happened) due to other causes such as an overcharge?
I wish I had taken pictures of the case. Case was blown out about an 1/8th of an inch from the rim, primer was blown out as well. I didn't even think to ask him if he'd had the voluntary upgrade done on it. If I see him at the next one I will ask.
I am just speculating (which is fun, but far from definitive), but I would bet more money on the incident’s being due to a bad round rather than an out of battery discharge. My suspicion is enhanced by the fact that the blowout was limited to a small area which might have been at the top of the feed ramp that doesn’t support the case as much as the rest of the barrel hood.
Based on my understanding of the phenomenon and the few images I found of OOB discharge cases, I would expect more damage to the case, such as pictured below.
In any event, it would be good to know what more you might find out about the matter.
(I’m not, BTW, suggesting that the man deliberately misrepresented what happened. I will point out, though, that without more evidence than a small blown out section of the case it would be hard to know that it was due to an out of battery condition. I assume that if he had been aware that the slide wasn’t fully in battery, he wouldn’t have attempted to fire.)
Was he using reloads? Could have been a squib load. Burning from both ends. Did it blow down or just back or both. They way you describe the shell casing - sounds like ammo from my experience.
My #1 suspect here would be a high primer that detonated against the bolt face while the slide was closing. #2 would be a broken or stuck striker or something else stuck on the bolt face indenting the primer. There are other things that can cause such a thing to happen as well, but I would look for the simple answer.
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1) I heard that some of the early slides they removed a lot of metal when they where playing with the weights of the slides. That was before they had disconnector on the weapon. So those will fire out of battery.
2) If he was shooting at a steel match odds are he is shooting reloaded ammo. The case may have not been sized all the way down and that can keep the slide from closing all the way down. If it left it open enough to fire even if the disconnector is working properly the case now will be unsupported and case can rupture.
3) reloading the cases to may times can weaken them and he may had a partial case head separation. Would have to see the case.
Don't let someone else's problems make you get rid of your weapon. If it only happened once or twice and he is reloading i think i would look at the ammo. If you are shooting factory ammo and you have not had a problem I don't think i would worry much.
A lot of missing info to know for sure.
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