Firearm Malfunctions: Squibs, Stovepipes, and Limp-Wristing
Officer Dewey Shootornot found himself in a real pickle when he heard that all too familiar muffled “pop” at the precise moment when a pair of armed robbers chose to send a volley of bullets his way. No matter which way he turned the gun, poked it, pulled on it, shook it, or banged it on a nearby lamp post, he simply could not dislodge the faulty round.
Unfortunately, thanks to the malfunction—a squib round—, Officer Shootornot found himself on the receiving end of a baker’s dozen of gunshot wounds to the place where the sun rarely ever shines (he’d been in full retreat mode when the rounds hit).
A squib round, like the one that nearly cost Officer Shootornot his life, is a real danger, especially for police officers and military troops who are sometimes forced to engage in a gun battle with bad guys.
Squibs are caused when a bullet does not have enough force to exit the barrel. This malfunction is typically caused by a round having a primer but a lack of the proper amount of, if any, gunpowder
Primers are located on the flat end of casings opposite the bullet, either in the center (centerfire) , or on the side (rimfire). A trigger-pull causes the firing pin to strike the primer, an action that generates enough heat to ignite the gunpowder. When the gunpowder explodes it sends the bullet on its way to the intended target. Squib rounds, however, remain lodged inside the gun barrel and, if the trigger is pulled a second time, the new bullet strikes the one lodged inside the barrel and … BOOM! The weapon could explode or fall apart. It’s a very dangerous situation. So, if the shooter hears that faint “pop” they should not pull the trigger a second time.
A stovepipe occurs when a bullet casing does not fully eject from the weapon and becomes stuck in the slide/ejection port. When stovepipes occur the weapon will not fire. This type of malfunction typically occurs due to dirty extractors, malfunctioning extractors, or the improper handling/holding of the firearm when shooting (limp-wristing). Limp-wristing is especially common with certain Glock semi-automatics.
Great information, as always. Thank you.