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I almost shot myself this morning

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by evan price, Oct 9, 2019.

  1. evan price

    evan price Member

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    Last year I took a part time job working for an 01FFL.
    The owner buys auction lots of "junk" guns, usually police seized or evidence guns. My job is to assess the guns, determine what can be fixed, what parts are needed, then repair what can be fixed or disassemble the junk into parts kits and demil the frames. He's got thousands of parts in stock.

    So this morning after the Smith & Bryco 9mms and a Wingmaster pump, next on the bench was a Bersa Thunder 380.
    It needed a magazine which we had in stock and a general cleaning and oiling. Then function check with snap caps. Then test fire.
    Our test fire setup is a 55 gallon drum full of Mason sand in a cinder block cubby with sheet iron to catch the fragments.

    I loaded three rounds into the mag and charged the gun. Eyes and ears on, my first task is test the safety.
    I flipped the thumb safety down while calling "fire in the hole" to warn the other people which is our custom. I didn't look at the safety, but I felt the tactile "snick" of the lever as it switched.
    Pointed it one handed into the barrel, saw the hang tag with the stock number was hanging down from the trigger guard and used my left hand to pull the tag up out of the muzzle vicinity... I've shot hang tags before and I get razzed if I do it again.
    I pulled the trigger expecting a click and got a bang instead.
    Felt the heat and a nip of pain on the top of my left index finger. There wasn't any blood, I think I just got the heat and blast on the top of my finger.

    It should not have fired.
    So, what happened?

    The Bersa Thunder 380 safety blocks the hammer so it can't touch the firing pin. When it's decocked it has to slightly lift the hammer. The gun's mechanism was still a bit stiff from neglect and it took a little bit more than usual effort to cock the hammer.

    The tactile >snick< I'd felt was NOT the safety moving to the safe position.
    This gun, the thin thumb piece on the safety lever snapped off where it joins the safety shaft.

    Lessons here:
    Follow the 4 rules. Always, all the time
     
  2. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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    What do you plan to do to keep hang tags from getting in the way in the future? Rubber band them to the grip or a bit of tape?
     
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  3. Catman42

    Catman42 Member

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    interesting job, be careful. when we were handling live guns back in the day two guys on the small base i was on got shot though the the stomach with the old typewriter made 45 acp/s they were handed them by marines who said they were unloaded and safe to be looked at. they were not. both those guys lived. they said it was like being kicked by a mule. i accidently discharged a large cal muzzleloader in my basement once. knocked a hole in the cement block wall. never want to do that again. cement patched up the hole.
     
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  4. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    Are you allowed to remove the hang tags and put them back on after test fire? That would be the safest idea to avoid a similar incident, if there was nothing that prevents you from doing so. Glad you managed to avoid injury.
     
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  5. Scooter22

    Scooter22 Member

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    It should not have fired.
    So, what happened?

    Well it did and you were lucky. The gun was still loaded after it had a malfunction and you thought it wouldn't fire but it did. If a gun malfunctions for me I unload pointed in a safe direction. Then look for the problem with a EMPTY gun.
     
  6. BigBore44

    BigBore44 Member

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    Glad you weren’t a statistic. That lesson could have been MUCH more painful and expensive.
     
  7. earplug

    earplug Member

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    I'd do a function test of the safety features with a unloaded firearm.
     
  8. old lady new shooter

    old lady new shooter Member

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    Wow, scary. Glad you are OK. :)
     
  9. Waveski

    Waveski Member

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    I'm not getting something ... The tag was hanging from the trigger guard , which is aft of the muzzle. You used your left hand to move the tag further from the muzzle ... how did that put your left hand in harm's way?
     
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  10. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    He wouldn’t have know if it would have fired or not, on safe, though. Lots of firearms drop the hammer with the safety on, just make it so it cannot make contact with the firing pin.

    Good reason to keep just a primed case though or figure out a solution to the reoccurring tag problem before someone does get hurt.
     
  11. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Member

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    Yes, the safety lever on a Bersa Thunder 380 is supposed to drop the hammer, so the next trigger pull will do nothing but go straight back. In the OP's case, the hammer was evidently not dropped, as the safety lever broke off instead. Or, the hammer did drop, but the breaking off of the lever caused the safety block to fail to finish rotating into place. In either case, something out of whack should have been noticed, either a still-cocked hammer (which would have a trigger still all the way rearward), or a hammer that began to cycle rearward as the trigger pull was commenced. This isn't the first time I've heard of a Thunder 380 safety ever breaking.

    It's good that the weapon was pointed where it was meant to be. I do not test safety levers with loaded-chamber guns. In fact, I get nervous even actuating hammer-drop safety levers on loaded guns without also manually guiding the hammer down (I own the Bersa, as well as several other DA/SA guns equipped with such a safety mechanism.
     
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  12. Corpral_Agarn

    Corpral_Agarn Member

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    THIS.

    I may not be you next time. I might be someone less fortunate
     
  13. evan price

    evan price Member

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    There's a longish piece of string attaching the tag to the gun. With short barrel handguns the tag hangs down past the muzzle.
    I was pointing the muzzle down into the barrel of sand more or less straight down so the tag hangs down.
     
  14. Waveski

    Waveski Member

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    Ok ... I guess you should consider removing such tags prior to testing any firearm , and the rest of us should take your experience as a lesson that the trigger finger should indexed away from the trigger when any body part is near or forward of the muzzle.

    Not a new rule , but a good one.
     
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  15. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    I’ll second that idea, you’ve proven it’s too easy to get distracted by the tag and forget where your other digits are. We are human after all!

    I’m glad you are ok! Nothing is scarier than a close call. :eek:

    Of a similar vein; a guy I used to work with had a habit of holding his palm flat when shooting rifles off hand and keeping his support hand way out. (The dude is about 6’3”) He did that while shooting a short-barreled Mp5 for the first time. The first few rounds were ok, but instead of keeping his fingers flat I guess he curled them a bit as he kept shooting.

    The tip of his left middle finger ended up in front of the muzzle. With the next shot the bullet took the fingertip clean off at the first knuckle, shredding the chunk of flesh and bone that flew off to unless pulp.

    His nickname ever since has been “Nicky Nines.” :what:

    Stay safe!
     
  16. Keith G

    Keith G Member

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    No reason for me to tell you what to do differently in the future - I think you’re probably more convinced right now than any of us behind our keyboards that being careful is important after that incident. Glad you’ve still got all 10 digits.
     
  17. CDMCKY

    CDMCKY Member

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    When I was young (in my 20's, 40 years ago) I had A LOT of negligent discharges,
    and it's a miracle nobody (or me) was shot. I wasn't very responsible, but after the
    last "ND" (I splattered my friend's prize rabbit with a 12 gauge at point blank range)
    I finally changed my ways....
     
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  18. Charlie Horse

    Charlie Horse Member

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    Just spitballing here, but this might be a good use for one of the cheap laser boresighters. Put it in the chamber, and if you see the light, the firing pin hit.
     
  19. entropy

    entropy Member

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    That's why we used the hang tags from Brownell's that have the little ball and loop fasteners so they can be taken off for test firing and cleaning and such.

    Hard to function test a gun that way. Particularly semi-autos.
     
  20. Charlie Horse

    Charlie Horse Member

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    Sorry, wrong one. I thought I had the one that was activated by the firing pin. Can't seem to find those in .380.
     
  21. entropy

    entropy Member

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    What I meant was you cannot tell if the slide will work correctly, mag will function, brass will clear the gun, etc. using the laser boresighter to function test a gun. All it will tell you is that the firing pin will set of the laser in the boresighter.
     
  22. SwampWolf

    SwampWolf Member

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    Most important "lesson" to be learned from this apparent anomaly? The gun was pointed in a safe direction when the bullet left the muzzle.
     
  23. Anglicanman

    Anglicanman Member

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    I have not had a broken safety on a Bersa Thunder but did have a different issue with one I bought new for my late wife. Those guns have a pretty long spring which is held into a slot under the grips on the right side of the pistol at one end. That spring end kept coming out of its slot and then the gun would not fire. The dealer who sold it to us would not help with the warranty so we got rid of it and I imagine most Bersa guns have a similar set up. Too bad as the gun was fun to shoot, but I won't get another.
     
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