Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Beware the Squib

A couple weeks ago I actually experienced a squib centerfire round.  It was in a box of Wolf 9x18 (9mm Makarov) that I've had for an undetermined time.  It was maybe only a couple months old or maybe 5 years old.  I can't say I keep that kind of track of my pistol ammo.

What is a squib?  It's a round that either doesn't have powder in it (only a primer) or the primer doesn't ignite the powder at all.  You get some sort of "pop" instead of a bang.  This small pop is often enough to lodge the bullet in the barrel.  If you pull the trigger and nothing happens that's called a dud and isn't the issue here.

In this case the squib load did lodge the bullet about halfway down the barrel.  There was enough power to move the bullet, but not enough to get it through the barrel and headed towards the target.  This is a very dangerous situation!  Anytime you get a squib load, or any cartridge that sounds significantly different than the others you need to stop, unload the gun and inspect the barrel.  If a bullet is stuck in the barrel and you fire again you are likely to burst the barrel, blow the top of the gun up and hurt yourself and others nearby.

How can you tell a squib?  It's very obvious.  This one sounded like a cap gun going off.  If a bullet doesn't clear the barrel then you aren't getting any sound out that way.  If it's way underpowered it's not going to open up the slide and allow noise out that way.  It's a lot quieter than a normal round.  Do not fret, if you experience one you will have known it happened.

So what does a round stuck in a barrel look like?  Well, like this.  Notice the shiny copper bullet in the barrel.  To see it from this vantage point you need a light, and the pistol needs to have been unloaded and preferably disassembled.  Pointing a gun at your eye isn't something you should do without taking all the precautions you can first.

In this case, the primer didn't ignite the powder.  It could be because there wasn't enough powder.  Maybe the primer was weak.  Maybe the powder was bad.  It's a Russian round, and their QC isn't known to be top notch.  I can tell there was at least some powder in the cartridge because it was all over the chamber.  It doesn't look like any powder I use when I reload, but I made a tiny pile with some and lit it with a match and it acted like smokeless powder.  In this picture you can see some of the powder and the base of the bullet.  This particular bullet has exposed lead at it's base, the copper jacket doesn't fully cover the whole bullet.  Because of this it's not as shiny from this perspective.

To get the bullet out I grabbed a section of an old broken cleaning rod.  It was aluminum so I didn't have to worry about tearing up the barrel.  I slid the rod in and gave it a couple taps with my Leatherman.  It didn't budge.  Always push the bullet in the direction it was traveling, trying to push it the wrong way can damage your barrel and make it harder to get it out.  But after an initial try I realized it wasn't going to easily tap out.  It was time to get some real tools and lubricants involved.  This would not have been an easy fix in the field.

I dropped a couple drops of Kroil down the barrel and waited a few minutes.  Then I used a real hammer to tap on the rod.  No movement.  It ended up taking both penetrating oil and 20 solid whacks with a hammer to get the bullet out.  You can see the picture of the bullet most of the way out, it's a perspective you don't get to see very often!

The last picture shows what the bullet looked like once it was removed.  It was in pretty good shape.  The gun it was lodged in uses polygonal rifling, I'm not sure if that made it easier or harder to push through the bore.  But in the end the bullet was cleared and the barrel was undamaged.  It cut a range visit short, but no harm was done and I learned a thing, so I'm calling it a win.

Stay safe out there!

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Sort of Legacy?

Over the weekend I went to an event, a burlesque show that was a fundraiser for a local charity.   This isn't an uncommon way for me to spend and evening, but it left me thoughtful.  It was organized by Zombie Squad, an organization I've volunteered with for a number of years, including some leadership positions.  In fact, one of my most prized possessions came from ZS, a gift given to me after I was in charge of the forums for two years.  As I was observing the show I realized that I had an impact on the organization.  I guess I never realized it as it was happening, but my involvement has shaped the group in at least some small part.  Often I thought I was just treading water and not being very effective.  Last night I realized that probably wasn't the case.  I found that heartening, knowing I had made a difference.
This is precious to me, as silly as that may seem

I discovered Zombie Squad back in 2005 when they were just over a year old.  As I got to know them I realized it was a group of people who wore sturdy shoes and thought you should take care of yourself, help your neighbor and be prepared for emergencies.  But more importantly they weren't also racists, tin foil hatters, wacky militia types or religious extremists that often make up groups focused on emergency preparedness.  This was the peer group I'd been missing and I was instantly attracted to them.  These were my people.

I got involved right off.  I attended events and even started coordinating things like Mock Bug-Outs, Mock Bug Out hikes and Mock Disasters.  None of these are new ideas, but I brought the implementation of the ideas to ZS.  As time went on I became a chapter officer and was then responsible for coordinating and organizing larger events.  The first big charity fundraiser I did was a zombie-themed burlesque show.  Burlesque was really coming into it's own in my town.  Again, I wasn't the first person to come up with the idea that one could raise money for a charity by using scantily clad people, but I'm the one that organized the first one in my town for Zombie Squad.  (I actually got the idea from our Las Vegas chapter who did one a couple months prior).  After I organizing a couple, the ZS charity burlesque show became a regular thing.  I had nothing to do with this last one and little to do with the two before that.  It's an idea that now has a life of it's own, 3 different people ran those last 3 shows.  That's fantastic.  They've raised a lot of money for local charities.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Questions About the Human Condition

I was inspired by a conversation I had with a friend today regarding people's predispositions towards relationships.  The question I really pondered was where the line is between choice and orientation when it comes to human sexuality.  I'm going to share some of those thoughts here.

Is a gay life style a choice?  Of course it is.  At various places and points in history people who had a homosexual orientation chose to live heterosexual lifestyles.  It's not a choice as to whether a person has a homosexual orientation or homosexual tendencies, there is a variety of current scientific data that supports this, but people do make choices in how they live their life.  Choice is one of the fundamental qualities of the human condition.  My daughter well tell you I'm fond of saying "In any situation we have the choice to choose our attitude.".

But this then led to a question about monogamy, marriage and social norms.  I probably have a more diverse group of friends than many people.  I have a friend who ran for local office as a Republican and another friend who worked on the campaign for a Democratic mayor.  I have a lot of friends in between and on the edges of the political spectrum.  I have friends who march in pro-life rallies and friends that have been escorts at Planned Parenthood.  I have friends who are Christian, Buddhist, Pagan, Atheist and even one that leaves weekly offerings at a local tree.  In this group of diverse friends, it seems I know an increasing number that are in non-monogamous relationships.