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Thread: Hangfire question?

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    Member jkb's Avatar
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    Default Hangfire question?

    I went to shoot my rifle at my second deer last week. I pulled the trigger and nothing happened. I figured I forgot to put a round in the chamber so I reached for the bolt and the rifle went off. It was pretty spooky to say the least. What causes this? Its a post 64 model 70 in 300 win mag.
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    Although I have heard of this, I have never personally experienced it, nor have I ever actually witnessed it myself. I have had plenty that failed to fire for numerous reasons and even more that failed to fire on the first try but did go after pulling the trigger on them a second time. Hopefully Murphy or one of the other guys will have an answer for you.
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    The only time I ever experienced a "hang-fire" or "delay fire" was when I was in the Marines during training. It apparently happened often enough that we were given instructions ahead of time should it occur...keep your rifle pointed in a safe direction and don't eject the round until waiting (I think it was 10 seconds)...so that the delayed fire round didn't become a handgrenade as it was ejected from the chamber.

    I have not experienced a delay fire since then. It seems to me that a delay fire must be due to a failure of spontaneous ignition of the powder from the primer, which I assume could be due to many factors, e.g., powder degredation due to environmental factors, powder type, a low ratio of powder to case volume, etc.

    Anyway, I'm sure glad you weren't hurt. Let's see what Professor Murphy or someone else with greater knowledge says about the situation.

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    As a start one of the first things I would do is strip the bolt and give it a GOOD degreasing if you haven't kept up with it. I've seen them bad enough to do exactly what you describe.

    til later

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    Quote Originally Posted by 300S&W View Post
    As a start one of the first things I would do is strip the bolt and give it a GOOD degreasing if you haven't kept up with it. I've seen them bad enough to do exactly what you describe.

    til later
    Thats something I forgot. My partner stripped my bolt the night before, chastising me for having such dirty firing pin. The next day it malfunctions. Is there something that could have been put together wrong?
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming-----WOW-----what a ride!
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    First off, I'm glad that no one was injured. This is a very dangerous condition indeed. I too remember the hang fire procedures taught to us in the military, but I've never personally seen a hang fire with a modern cartridge firearm (black powder, yes). So, it is a good point for folks to remember that if you do have a failure to fire malfunction, keep that muzzle pointed downrange. In tactical work, we do an immediate reload, so if the cartridge "went off" more than about 2 seconds after pulling the trigger, then it's going to be flying through the air. The bullet won't go very far at all, but the case will be projected away from the bullet pretty good. Enough to put an eye out if we didn't have our safety glasses on, but probably without enough force to break skin if you got hit.

    So, when we're not doing tactical training, if you do get a failure to fire it is best to leave the gun pointed at the target for about a minute before messing with it.

    Not going to try and link the two for a fact, but a "theoretical" situation often talked about is excess oil on the bolt face or firing pin can drip onto the head of the case, then seep into the rear of the case around the primer. At this point it can foul the powder at the rear of the case causing a slow burn when ignited. After a variable short delay, the uncontaminated powder is finally ignited and the round discharges.

    If you're concerned about a mechanical situation, then we'd be talking about a firing pin that "hung" briefly before finally letting go and striking the primer. The quick test here is to dry fire (use snap caps) the gun to see if the firing mechanism is functioning freely.

    You didn't mention anything about the ammo. Is is factory or reloads? How old are they and under what conditions was the ammo stored? There is again the "theoretical" possibility with old ammo that the primers may be faulty or contaminated or that the powder is contaminated and all this occurred during prolonged storage in poor conditions.

    You'll certainly want to do a complete function check of the gun, but I'd be more interested in the ammo at this point.
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    Well,if the bolt was degreased and reassembled properly(don't see how it can't be)then,like Joat,we need some ammo info.

    til later

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    I had this very same issue with a VZ 24 in .257 Roberts. I checked the bolt...the ammo...had it looked at by a couple of different smiths. Nothing helped and it persisted. I was about on the verge of getting rid of it when I decided to replace the trigger with a new Timney. That did...it's good as new! I'm not saying that's your problem, but it certainly solved mine.
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    I had a couple of instance of a misfire (not hangfire) that were each due to a dirty bolt/firing pin. After cleaning they were fine. Your situation sounds odd and very coincidental that it was cleaned and reassembled the night before. Was it the first shot after cleaninh that it malfunctioned and did you try firing it again?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaRifleman View Post
    I had a couple of instance of a misfire (not hangfire) that were each due to a dirty bolt/firing pin. After cleaning they were fine. Your situation sounds odd and very coincidental that it was cleaned and reassembled the night before. Was it the first shot after cleaninh that it malfunctioned and did you try firing it again?
    It was the first shot after cleaning. I put another round in and it fired fine.
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming-----WOW-----what a ride!
    Unknown author

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    OK, so in between the cleaning and the attempt to fire that first round, did you perform function checks on the gun to include dry firing? If the firing mechanism was perhaps hanging on something and "self corrected" during that first attempt to shoot it, you might have discovered the problem during a function check after cleaning. So that might be something to consider adding to your cleaning routine as it can catch some problems before you get to the range.
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