To make a short story long, it started when I bought a couple of barrels for my Encore back in March. After getting some good advice about bullets and powder from the forum members I put together some hand loads and headed for the range. I also bought one of those new Leupold magnetic pocket bore sighters. For three weeks everyday that I could have been at the range it poured, and when I finally did get a chance to sight in the barrels I couldn't get on paper at 25 yards with my limited amout of break in ammo and that stupid bore sighter, and once I left one of the barrels at home. (I finally went back to an ancient Bushnell pocket bore sighter I bought 35 years ago hoping it would work.) Then I got whatever bug was going around and missed two more weeks of opportunity. Throw in some days that I couldn't go because of family obligations and I was getting nowhere fast.
Today I went to the range and I had everything I needed including a larger supply of ammo and a spare scope in case the problem was with the one I had on one barrel that was particularly problematic. The old cheapo plastic pocket bore sighter was right on the money horizontally with all my rifles and barrels, and they all only needed a couple of inches of vertical adjustment at 25 yards. The new Leupold bore sighter didn't even register on the grid with any of the rifles, and that was after I returned the first one for a replacement. Go figure. Everything was coming along just swell with only a sighting shot, adjustment, and a couple of follow up shots. All my shots were one ragged hole.
I was taking my time, letting the barrels cool between shots and had brought along some new loads for my 270 and 30-06. I would shoot the Encore then the other two rifles in rotation. After shooting each rifle I placed it in the rifle rack between the benches. The shooter next to me finished and another shooter with his son took his place. He had a new 1895 Guide Rifle in 45 -70. Since I was planning to test some new loads for my 1895 that I purchased in the early 70's. We struck up a conversation and compared the two rifles. I had 20 rounds of 405 gr Remingtons with a max load of H4198 I was testing and he had a box of factory rounds. He offered me his empty brass for a couple of rounds of my hand loads and I swapped him a couple of rounds. It was kinda fun watching him get tossed around the bench when he touched them off. He told me that he was having problems with black bears at his W.VA property, and bought the Guide Gun to hunt them. We went back to shooting.
I finished with one of the Encore barrels and went to the other side of the bench to swap out the barrel to another caliber. BLAM!!! Out of the corner of my eye I saw him pitch the Guide Gun to the ground. Through my earmuffs I thought I heard him say, "The rifle blew up." It didn't make sense to me because he was shooting factory ammo and had shot mine at least 5 rounds before. I said, "You blew up your gun?" He said, "No, yours. I shot it!"
Sure enough, there was a neat little 45 caliber hole in the forearm of the stock on the nearly new Savage 30-06 I bought as a back up rifle. It had drilled straight through the bottom of the stock and hit the barrel, blowing up and shattering the wood in the barrel channel. I had less than two boxes of shells run through it. I thought, "At least he didn't shoot my McMillan stocked 700 in .270 win that wears my best (because it has been flawless in 35 years) Weaver 3x9 AO scope.
I picked the rifle up and examined it. At the very least it would have to be rebarreled and restocked. By now he was offering to buy my rifle at replacement cost. Then I picked up the 270 from the rack and laid it on the bench to be cased. The AO lens and the guts of the scope fell off and out onto the bench. A bullet fragment had come out of the side of the stock and hit the scope with enough force to break off the AO lens and leave a big dent in the tube just behind where the adjustment is made. There were smears of lead on the knurled part of the adjusting mechanism.
It seems that as he was sitting at the bench, he chambered a round without the crossbolt safety engaged. He had the gun on its left side, the barrel pointing down range but also slightly down and to the right. As he moved the hammer to the half cock position it slipped off his thumb and the gun discharged. He couldn't have hit more dead center in my stock and barrel if he had been trying. Needless to say it ruined the day for both of us. I still don't have the Encore barrels zeroed for 100 yards (after 12 weeks of trying), but I'm pretty sure I could shoot the eyes out of a gnat at 25 yards with them. He now owns a left hand Savage of questionable structural integrity, and I have an uncashed check (that had better not bounce or his wife will find out what happened. Remember I said he had his son with him?) for enough to replace my losses. Like so many accidental discharges with guns, only one or two inches is the difference between a laugher and a tragedy. After he wrote me the check, he commented that he couldn't believe how nice I'd been about the whole thing. My reply was that no one had been hurt and that these things happen. The gun had been pointed down range and it was just bad luck that he hit my equipment. I did point out that in the future he would probably want to use the crossbolt safety. I thought back to the time when I read about how to adjust a trigger on a 700 and hadn't fully understood the implications of messing with the travel and pull weight. When I took the safety off, I was luckier than him. My accidental discharge went into the side of a PA mountain. At that point I was grateful for my father who was no nonsense about never pointing a gun at anything you didn't want to shoot or kill. Something I'd had drilled into me since the days of my first cap gun.
For all you Guide Gun users out there, the crossbolt safety may seem redundant, (and it is a feature not found on my older 1895) but after today I would not consider its use optional and wish my gun had one.
Hope all of you had a better day than I did.