14 December 2009

Another AD, this time with injury...

- I'd like to start off saying- this one wasn't mine. Thank goodness!

We'll call him Mr. Z, one of the engineers I work with. Apparently he had been cleaning his carry sidearm (I don't know what sidearm he carries, nor is it terribly important. Suffice it to say, it's a 9mm semi-automatic).

To clean said sidearm, he dropped the mag, racked the slide, checking the chamber visually as he did, reinserted the mag, racked the slide again, riding it forward.

Some of you already see the problem- bear with me.

What he neglected to do, if he is going to use the mag as a hold-open method when clearing the weapon, is to *check the mag* AND ENSURE it's empty.

So that was first gig...

Then he inserted the mag into the weapon, and rode the slide forward. This is two failures, way I see it: he didn't slingshot the weapon (pull slide back forcibly, and release), and he failed to maintain control of the weapon, ending up with his hand in front of the muzzle.

Additionally, he apparently had his finger on the trigger throughout this. I can attest to how easy this can be to do, and yet swear you never touched the trigger-- I have a 45ACP hole in my wall to this day to remind me of it, from my own AD about this time last year.

Adding insult to (severe) injury, the weapon sent a 9mm bullet through his (I am not a doctor, I am relating what I was told) 2nd metatarsal near the radius, effectively shattering the metatarsal and causing damage to the 3rd metatarsal, and perhaps some damage to the wrist as well. Subject has no feeling at all in his offside index finger, and no feeling in the near side of his middle finger on same hand. He's visited a (hand surgeon- what're they called?) today and will likely be out all week in the near term before attempting to come back to work- nevermind the time he'll have off work for PT, surgery, etc. There may even be a concern of him losing the finger, the way it sounds. (Again, I am relating info third-hand, as "what the Doctor said")

I won't relate any of the "black humor" that's circulated around the office regarding this. Let's just say that once we'd related our wellwishes for his recovery, he was fair game- most of us are former military, and a lot of us are former military shooters at an above average level. Yeah, once he's healed up, he's gonna have to run the gauntlet... this is our way of saying "we're sorry you had an accident, hope you get better soon... NOW- don't ever do that shit again!"

(I have mentioned, I am not a Politically-Correct person, haven't I?)

So- I've said it before, I'll say it again. I am kinda OCD about clearing weapons after my experience. To clear a semi-auto, I:

-Drop the mag- examine the mag. DO NOT put the mag back in the weapon. Verbally state if the mag is cleared or not- if it isn't cleared, clear the mag of all ammo.

Parenthetically: if you're one of these folks that uses the mag as a hold-open- stop it! Stop working around the system, stop being lazy! Use the slide lock, or hold the slide open manually if your weapon doesn't have one! Hell, stick a spent casing in it- stovepipe it intentionally, if you're using that special semiauto that doesn't have a slidelock! I use spent shtgun shells as holdopens/chamber flags on my AK for exactly this purpose.

-rack the slide and lock it in the open condition. Visually look in the chamber for a round. Insert the pinky finger into the chamber as you do- verbally state the condition of the chamber, and make it clear if need be. Then and only then:

-visually examine and touch the breech. Verbally state the condition of the breech. Make it clear if it isn't. Then and only then:

-look down the magwell via the ejection port. See daylight or other light through the empty well. Verbally state the condition of the magwell. Then and only then:

-State the condition of the firearm as "Weapon is clear".

-if you put the weapon down, immediately clear the weapon upon picking it up again. Same, if a weapon is given to you, even if you've seen it cleared by someone else. NO exceptions! I will often do this three times in succession- I've seen an old rusty shotgun that had a shell stuck in the tube come free unexpectedly- could have been a horrible surprise.

Is this OCD? Why yes, it is. Will someone likely comment that it's too much work, or duplicative? Of course- that's the point.

I haven't been shooting for all my life. I am not a dummy, either. I know intellectually that a weapon I just set aside, turned my back on, with no ammo in the house, and noone else home, IS empty. But how long does it take me to clear the weapon every time I handle it? 10 seconds, on a slow day. Isn't that worth it?

I hate to play Armchair Quarterback, but if my friend had done my little OCD clearing drill, he would not be looking at possibly losing a finger, nor would he be in great pain as he is presently. Also, we wouldn't be writing rude nicknames on his whiteboard for his return ;)

Worst of all, by far-- he's gonna have to listen to the Misses rag his arse about this one till he dies. Believe it. ;)

Clear 'em, folks. Laugh at me when you see me clear a weapon three times as I pick it up. I'll laugh with you, and hope like hell I am wasting precious seconds of my life. But remember- the moment you quit respecting these weapons, they can and will bite you, and they exact a heavy price.

- and most importantly, Teach your kids better than you yourself were taught! None of this circumvents the 4 rules- in fact, it reinforces them.


Anonymous said...

Well said.Thank-You for the tips about gun safety.

Evyl Robot said...

OOOWWWWWW!!!! I hope your friend has a full recovery and learns to perform better. I wouldn't call your gun handling OCD, I would call it thorough. You can't be too thorough with these things!

Crucis said...

The only pistol I own that reguires a mag to release the trigger is a BHP. My local 'smith refused to remove the mag safety so I seldom shoot it.

It's my next trade-in when something stolls along. All my carrier weapons don't have mag safeties. When I ordered my S&W M&P9C, I specified no safeties at all. The only one it has is me keeping my finger off the trigger.

I'm comfortable with that.