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ND

People say to me Hey, Uncle, how was your weekend?

And I say Mostly uneventful, except for that negligent discharge.

This weekend, I negligently discharged a firearm. Everyone is OK, so no worries. I followed the four rules of firearm safety so no one was hurt. But even following the rules, it can still happen.

A bit back, I wrote of my Walther P22 that I was not a fan of the magazine disconnect safety. I said:

Get rid of the magazine disconnect safety. I cannot decock the pistol without a magazine inserted into the magwell. Why is that considered safer?

Well, it’s not safer. And, no, I am not blaming my negligent discharge on the magazine disconnect safety, rather stating that the magazine disconnect safety led to my actions preceding the negligent discharge. For those not in the know, a magazine disconnect safety essentially renders the trigger non-functioning unless there is a magazine in the weapon. This also means in the case of the Walther P22 that you cannot decock the firearm unless a magazine is inserted into the magazine well. Here’s how it happened:

I get the Walther, and check to be sure that it is clear. It is. No magazine and no round in the chamber. I don’t like to keep the pistol cocked so I set out to decock it.

I insert the magazine and rack the slide. I know have a loaded and cocked weapon. To decock the weapon, I point it at the ground. And, as I’ve done thousands of times, I place my thumb on the hammer to hold it in place as I squeeze the trigger to release the hammer, which will then be eased down by my thumb. Unfortunately, my thumb did not have as sure a grip on the hammer as it should have and I neglected to engage the safety. And I fired the gun. There was a bit of silence and then I finally realized I should say something so I said loudly that everyone in here was OK.

This occurred in front of my gun safe, in my basement. The weapon was aimed at the hard concrete floor (i.e., a safe direction with a sure backstop, as should be the case when handling any weapon). No damage either, except to the padding that covers part of our basement floor. It had a small hole in it. The concrete was mostly unscathed. It looked as though it had been barely scratched. I’m guessing the bullet disintegrated as I could only find a few shavings and a shell casing.

So, even if you’re familiar with handling a gun and have performed a task thousands of times, it still happens. But if you are mindful of the four rules of firearms safety and it happens, nothing and no one will get damaged. Except your ego. That was an eye-opener for me. No longer batting 1,000 in gun safety. And the fact that I felt like a complete moron.

My wife is still pissed.

Be safe out there.

50 Responses to “ND”

  1. Nate Says:

    Same thing happened to me, but in a worse location…future in-laws basement! Yeah, I felt like a jackass confessing that one…It happens, don’t be too hard on yourself.

  2. Ahab Says:

    They say that if you’re a shooter and you haven’t had an ND, you haven’t been shooting long enough. I had one once during a bullseye match about a jillion years ago.

  3. drstrangegun Says:

    My P22 has been in it’s box for a long time now.

    A pistol either needs a striker, a decocker, or some means to positively lock the hammer back, *period*. The only reason it’s not gone is that I’ve never sold a gun and don’t intend to… the little bugger may find itself with a suppressor on it’s nose as well.

  4. JKB Says:

    Got to take issue with calling it a negligent discharge. Perhaps that is norm but that implies that you failed to take the usual care under the circumstances and would frame any legal proceedings against you. From your description, you took proper care in the decocking, i.e., it was an accident.

    I’d call it an unintentional discharge (UI). Could be negligent, could be accidental but it was unintentional.

    You have to think about how the naming of such things will appear in court or the newspapers.

  5. Bruce Says:

    Can I assume the pistol can be decocked with an empty magazine in it?

  6. Alan Says:

    I had one of those, similar situation. Divot in the concrete, bruised ego, and “boy am I glad I was following the 4 rules.”

    Oh yeah, the pissed off wife too.

    And you know they never forget anything, right?

  7. SayUncle Says:

    JKB, I say negligent because I could have engaged the safety; not bothered decocking it; or just not loaded it.

    Bruce, it can be. but try finding an empty mag in my house.

  8. mike w. Says:

    That seems like a weird/stupid design. Why not just design it so the safety doubles as a decocker? with my Firestorm .22 simply pushing the safety past safe will decock the weapon.

    If I’m reading your post right the mag disconnect requires you to pull the trigger in order to release the hammer?

  9. drstrangegun Says:

    Mike W,

    On the walther P22 there is no decocking function, and there is also no positive lock. The only safety beyond the mag disconnect is a slide-mounted hammer block, which engaged allows the pistol to do everything else normally (chamber, extract, drop hammer) except fire.

    That is, then it can be trusted. Some P22s loosen to the point where the safety will engage itself… wouldn’t be too far off having one where the safety DISengages itself under pressure from the hammer.

    I have one. Tremendous concept, lousy execution.

  10. Sebastian Says:

    Bruce, it can be. but try finding an empty mag in my house.

    Either you don’t have enough magazines, or I don’t have enough ammunition 🙂

  11. Billy Beck Says:

    I had my ND about thirty years ago with a Winchester Model 94. I was letting the hammer down and it slipped my grip. Very surprising, and I got away with it because I knew where it was pointed: at the ground.

    My thumb ended up right up against the hammer when it went off. The blood-blister was a thing to behold.

  12. gattsuru Says:

    Some people on the Rimfire Central Forums have reported both forms of that issue, drstrangegun. Seems extremely rare to have safety failures, but it’s been reported. As always, do not trust mechanical safeties.

    And, yeah, not too impressed by the P22. It’s got its place, but there are better, cheaper 22s out there for most uses.

    Good luck placating the Wife, saysuncle.

  13. Jay G. Says:

    Unc, I posted about my ND a while back. It was a .45. In Mom & Dad’s house.

    Fortunately, no one was hurt.

    Good on you for posting this.

  14. Tomcatshanger Says:

    The magazine safety was causing functioning issues with my wife’s P22, so I removed it.

    It made the little .22 much more reliable, not 100%, but the hammer doesn’t fall and fail to ignite the primmer nearly as often.

    And it makes dry firing with the safety on a much better proposition.

  15. Weer'd Beard Says:

    Can’t with a P22 you put the saftey on and pull the trigger to drop the hammer on the cross-block?

    Also I’ve had a pair of NDs, both happened to be on hot ranges on guns I thought were unloaded, or forgot I had loaded. Other than a bit of suprise, and damaged pride, no harm, no foul.

  16. Laughingdog Says:

    Technically, you didn’t follow all four rules, since your finger was on the trigger. Granted, the design of the gun pretty much forced you to violate that one.

    That’s the one thing I really don’t like about my Glock, since it forces me to pull the trigger in order to field strip it. Because of that, I’ve gotten into the habit of cycling it three or four times before I disassemble it. On the last one, I hold it open and stare at the back of the barrel for 5-10 seconds to be absolutely sure it is empty before pulling the trigger.

    That’s also why I never lower the hammer on a loaded 1911. All it takes is some extra slick fingers one day for me to put a hole in my floor, and the ceiling of the apartment downstairs.

  17. SayUncle Says:

    Technically, you didnt follow all four rules, since your finger was on the trigger.

    Because i intended to pull the trigger.

  18. Sebastian-PGP Says:

    Scratch the P22 off the list of pistols I’ll own. No need to decock my semi pistol of choice (asbestos underwear on, check :))

  19. Laughingdog Says:

    On a side note, I’m glad my first ND was at the range, with the gun pointed down range. I can’t think of a luckier way to discover that your trigger control sucks. I had loaded the gun, and was bringing it up and pulled the trigger while I was still 10-20 degrees from being on target.

    I spent that night at home with an empty Glock in my hand almost the entire evening, training myself to keep my finger on the frame.

  20. Robert Says:

    The house I was lived in whenI was born had a divot out of the hardwood floor in the living room where my uncle (not you) shot a hole with an unloaded .22 rifle from the gun case at the top of the stairs. They never let us forget it.

    Thanks for posting. I think you are good to go on this. Tell your wife Robert said you were absolved of all sin.

  21. Justin Buist Says:

    For what it’s worth I’ve found that holding my P22 upside down while pulling the trigger allows the hammer to drop w/out a magazine inserted.

    I tend to do this instead of inserting a magazine, because, well, see above.

  22. Rob Says:

    Same thing happened with a friend of mine in my kitchen with his .45. Fortunately, his pistol was pointed in a safe direction when his thumb slipped off the hammer. Destroyed my sink and pissed off my wife. But she got a nice, new sink and fixture out of it in the end, courtesy of my friend.

  23. pax Says:

    That’s exactly the way an ND should occur, when it occurs: no risk to anyone else because you were following the rules. I’d even go so far as to say it was an unintentional discharge, not a negligent one, because you were consciously following the rules and treating the gun as if loaded. Bummer about the painful ears & the hole in the floor.

    Next time, before you decock, put the safety on that P22. It’ll prevent the discharge even if your finger slips, and yes – you’ll still be able to manipulate the trigger and lower the hammer with the safety on.

  24. sevesteen Says:

    I’ve got rituals that go beyond the 4 rules. Most of my semiautos require a trigger pull to disassemble. If I am pulling the trigger for disassembly, I put all compatible ammo in a different room.

    If I had known the reassembly procedure for the Ruger 22/45, I probably would have bought something else. Requires that you pull the trigger, with a mag inserted, with the gun pointed in various directions. I don’t clean it near as much as I would otherwise.

  25. Gun Blobber Says:

    I guess this is the one big difference between the P22 and the Sig Mosquito (I have heard some claim that the internals are virtually identical, and that they are made at the same factory — no idea if it’s actually true, but I’ll grant it for the sake of argument). The Mosquito (like most Sigs) has a decocker. It is stupid that you have to decock manually (“thumb on the hammer”) on the P22, or on ANY modern, hammer-fired semi-auto for that matter (designed in 1990 or later). AFAIK, the Beretta 92 uses its safety as a decocker — the P22 doesn’t do that?

    As far as loaded magazines in the house, I keep loaded mags around for things that I might need for defensive purposes. A couple for the Sig P226, and a couple for the AK’s…. the .22’s are stored with empty mags, because I only ever shoot them at the range and can’t anticipate a need for them in an emergency.

  26. Tom Says:

    glad nobody was injured.

    Not impressed with over-lawyered guns.

  27. Robb Allen Says:

    LaughingDog, I actually am glad the first semi handgun I purchased was a Glock. Because of having to pull the trigger to pull it apart, I’ve done exactly what you say – cycle it several times to clear out anything. I also put my pinky in the chamber to ensure I’m not being fooled by my lying eyes. I then always point at the ground and pull the trigger, just in case my fingers are in cahoots with said lying eyes.

    Because of this, all my firearms go through an overly rigorous inspection each time I have to dry fire or for whatever reason. Never hurts to be overly cautious.

  28. morte Says:

    A method to help prevent just this sort of thing that was taught to me years ago is to place the thumb of the offhand in front of the hammer, blocking access to the firing pin. If the stronghand thumb slips, the hammer has no way of hitting the firing pin. As the instructor said, “”Ow”, is better than “bang.””

  29. Ross S. Says:

    The two loudest sounds in the world: a BANG when you expected a click, and a CLICK when you expected a BANG.

  30. drstrangegun Says:

    Morte, slight issue with that and the P22, your thumb really won’t fit in there. The P22’s hammer is very short.

  31. mariner Says:

    Laughingdog:

    “That’s the one thing I really don’t like about my Glock, since it forces me to pull the trigger in order to field strip it.”

    Can I have it? 😉

    This is not a problem for me — I simply make sure the chamber is empty before I do it.

    (Oh, and if you field-strip XDs, M&Ps or some SIGs you’ll find the same thing.)

  32. Crucis Says:

    Back when I was shooting IDPA, I used to carry an
    empty mag in a shirt pocket just to let the hammer
    down on my Browning Highpower. I have had more than one RO insist that I not use an empty mag but to let the hammer down without a magazine inserted. I had one
    RO refuse to let my use my BHP because I didn’t have
    the Magazine Disconnect removed.

    (Browning Highpowers have a magazine disconnect
    “safety” and you cannot let the hammer down without
    a magazine inserted.)

  33. Sean_Galt Says:

    BTDT. A brand spanking new semiauto 20 gauge, partially disassembled, with live rounds STUCK in the action.
    It jammed on the first shot, and was brought indoors loaded for unsticking. Boy, did the OTHER 2 guys in the shop get wide eyed- but , same as your situation, concrete backstop, muzzle away from everyone, and I knew it was a possibility. Still has some pucker factor to it though, even when you know its likely coming.
    I’m so glad I don’t do warranty work. I ended up with one pellet in my drywall, and the customer left with a recommendation to send it directly back to the factory, as it fired when the action closed, sans-trigger pull. So, a gunnut for 20 plus years, and 1 ND. Hopefully the last.

  34. Regolith Says:

    I’ve done that with an old lever action .22, but it
    was in the field. You HAVE to manually decock those
    to cary them safely, as there are no safeties on
    them besides placing the hammer at the half-cock position (which helps prevent the gun from going off if dropped as well as preventing the gun from going off if the trigger is accidentally puled). I think I was around 15 at the time.

  35. Kristopher Says:

    When I bought my current .22lr pistol, I ended up with a choice between a new Walther, and an old High Standard.

    I bought the High Standard.

    It looks like I made the right choice … all of the controls do what you expect them to do, without any back talk.

  36. nexyjo Says:

    i also own a p22 (yes, in pink) and i also don’t like the magazine disconnect safety. i don’t like to keep any gun around cocked, with or without a magazine in it. if it’s cocked, inserting a mag just seems dangerous to me. what kind of gun designer from hell thought of that “feature”?

    i’m now going in search of the instructions to remove the magazine safety…

  37. Linoge Says:

    Good to hear that you and everyone else over there is ok, Uncle. I have to admit – I do very much like that the adjustable backstraps on the back of my PPS also function as a decocking system… Reduces the chances of an ND, but certainly does not remove it.

    At any rate, thanks for having the nerve to share the experience.

  38. ben Says:

    I did that too once a couple years ago. Sucks. Put a hole in my wall. 4 rules = nobody hurt (except my ears).

  39. Lyle Says:

    Just to be clear; you weren’t following all the rules. You loaded the gun.

    Talk to yourself outloud; I am now finished (dry firing, shooting, whatever) and will check the chamber and the magazine well…

    The nice feature of the rules is they’re redundant. You have to violate more than one for anyone to actually get hurt.

    I would like to add another rule here; Always keep a firm grip on (i.e. complete control of) the gun. Losing your grip and dropping a gun isn’t a good thing.

  40. doubletrouble Says:

    I wear mine all day here around the homestead. When I need to clear it, I put the hammer block safety on, remove the mag, eject the chambered cartridge, re-insert the mag, then drop the hammer on the cross block (pointed, well you know).
    It works, but IS a PITA.

    My ND was a similar situation, except it was a 9mm, also in my basement. Lil’ crater there now, & the ears were ringing for a while…

  41. the pawnbroker Says:

    well young ones, i’ve had three…different decades, different circumstances, and no injuries, but all negligent, and as i said here i think they all are.

    http://poetnthepawnbroker.blogspot.com/2008/04/negligent-dischargesaccidental-sounds.html

    i posted about the first one here, less painful to my ego i guess as i attributed it to youth and ignorance.

    http://poetnthepawnbroker.blogspot.com/2008/04/negligent-discharge-number-one-1978.html

    haven’t written about the other two yet…the second one is just too scary and painful to think about, and it would be out of order to post about the third before the second, but suffice to say it left a fair-sized hole in the floor behind my counter and a wide-eyed sheriff’s deputy in front of it…

    jtc

  42. straightarrow Says:

    My hands are small and have been sorely used, resulting in them being very thick and stiff. I never let the hammer down one-handed. I use both hands to do this. I have never had an ND, but that is probably as much due to having to accomodate my physical limitations as to ability.

  43. Mike Gallo Says:

    Mine was with a WASR-10 in my basement; I was cleaning it right after purchase (cosmoline), and was having trouble chambering a round (the bolt wouldn’t lock in battery). Yes, I was using live rounds, but I had the firing pin out. Well, after futzing with it for hours, cleaning the chamber the best I could and such, I reassembled the bolt, figuring I would try again later on. Well, after reassembly, I thought I’d try it one more time, and sure enough, it chambered. I reached over the top with my right hand to grab a flashlight off the bench, and my sleeve caught on the safety. Well, it turns out that if you rotate an AK-style safety to the removal position, it looses the hammer and BANG. I dug the slug out of the stairs and kept it as a reminder of why I should continue to follow the four rules.

    I haven’t really done any research, but Century Int’l. has a reputation, so I’m wondering if this is the function of a FA selector switch in a SA gun?

  44. Sebastian Says:

    Mike, I just tried that out with my Bulgarian AK-74 clone, and it did not have that behavior.

  45. farm.dad Says:

    Over the course of some years i have learned that some slide action shotguns do not have disconectors , the disconector on 1911s does no more than it should , and that there is a reason to load any and all auto pistols via the mag rather than drop a round in the barrel and release the slide , just to mention a few lessons . You did well , dont beat yourself up but do take the lesson to heart .

  46. Master of Obvious Says:

    If your wife found out you can’t say that no one was harmed.

  47. nk Says:

    Old country saying: A gun or a mule will think about killing its owner two times a day.

  48. Kristopher Says:

    Century AK semi parts sets were a bit funky … the disconnecter has an unneeded flange on the back.

    Consider replacing the trigger group with a G2 set … you’ll also get rid of that annoying trigger push back.

  49. Mike Gallo Says:

    I’ll look into it – I really like the clean two-stage on this thing (surprisingly nice break), but it does tend to be really easy to bump-fire because of the short reset stroke. No doubt, though, 7.62×39 going off in a basement at 2030 hours is LOUD.

  50. jimmyb Says:

    Shot my dresser once when I wss in my 20’s.
    Still feel bad about it.

Used three kinds of generics. I liked the Levitra Pills more, although the others acted quite well. Perhaps it all depends on the characteristics of each organism.