Please be safe!

by B.B. Pelletier

This posting comes to you at the request of Pyramyd Air. They have had a gun returned that shows evidence of a dangerous mishandling accident, and they asked me to address some common and dangerous airgun “accidents” that we all have to learn to avoid. I will cover the incident at the end of this post.

“Accidental” discharge
Accidental discharges are extremely rare, but guns do get fired all the time when they shouldn’t be. One place this happens is at gun shows. Several years ago, an airgunner I know had a table at a gun show on Long Island. He had a semiautomatic firearm pistol on his table, into which he inserted a loaded magazine, for reasons I cannot fathom. It is against the policy of every gun show to load a weapon in the show for any reason, but enforcement is left up to the tableholders, of which my airgunner acquaintance was one.

Then he showed the gun to a potential buyer, but before he handed it over he “cleared” it in the classic backwards method that’s usually the cause of accidental shootings. He pulled the slide back to look into the chamber, which was empty of course. Then he released the slide and removed the magazine. Of course the act of releasing the slide stripped off the top round from the magazine and chambered it, so when the man pointed the pistol toward the ceiling and pulled the trigger, he ventilated the ceiling with a 9mm hole! After everyone in the show recovered, the man was escorted out and asked never to come back.

At the SHOT Show last year, a new exhibitor showed up with his custom .45 pistols that he built and some live ammo to demonstrate to potential buyers how well they fed. One of the other exhibitors warned him to get rid of the ammo immediately, but he just laughed it off. Half an hour later, I saw him being escorted out of the exhibit hall by several security guards. He was pulling a wheeled cart with everything that had been in his booth. He lost his $3,000 booth fee, and he’ll never be allowed to display at the SHOT Show again!

At an airgun show, I once had a Daisy model 25 pump gun for sale on my table. It was loaded because I had just demonstrated that it fired to a potential buyer. While I was away from the booth and my wife was watching the table, another man came up and picked up the gun. He cocked it and when my wife told him it couldn’t be uncocked (the No. 25 cannot be uncocked), he said, “No problem,” put the muzzle on the toe of his shoe and pulled the trigger. He was thinking that by putting the muzzle against his shoe he was creating a cushion of air to slow the piston (which doesn’t work). What he actually did was shoot himself in the foot! He then expressed surprise that the gun was loaded (he was right about that – I should have been thrown out of the show for leaving a loaded gun on my table), and then he bought the gun! My wife said he looked embarrassed, and she thought he bought the gun to cancel his embarrassment.

The BAD one!
Now to the business of the day. A customer sent back a Fire 201 9mm rifle with a ruined nosecap. He told Pyramyd Air that the “accident” happened as he was pumping his rifle with a hand pump, but that story doesn’t hold water. Folks, there is NO WAY using a hand pump could cause the damage you are about to see. So, let’s get to it.


This is what happens when a VERY HOT flame is held against aluminum for a long time! It looks like a cutting torch has been used on this gun from the inside out.


Note the discoloration of the anodizing. Forensic scientists use clues like this and the bending of the steel barrel to determine how much heat caused the damage and how long the fire lasted.

The probable cause of this damage is the use of oxygen instead of compressed air to charge the gun. People have done this before, and the results are always the same. Someone is too lazy to get his scuba tank filled or to use a hand pump, so he figures there isn’t much difference between compressed air and compressed oxygen in a welding tank. Oxygen and petroleum products combine to make an explosive gas that takes very little to ignite. The friction of a pellet or bullet passing through the bore is enough to set it off. The resulting fire would have looked like a cutting torch flame that would have lasted until the last of the oil was burned from the outside of the gun. The air reservoir could easily have ruptured like a hand grenade in a lethal explosion. At least one shooter in England is believed to have died from this kind of abuse.

The heat generated by this fire vaporized a major percentage of the aluminum nose cap of the rifle. It also heated the barrel hot enough to bend it, so in a few seconds the gun got up over 1,200 degrees, and more likely closer to 2,000 degrees.

The damage you see here is the reason every precharged airgun maker in the world specifies the use of compressed air only in their guns. With compressed air, a fire like this cannot occur. This damage is just as much the fault of the user as an “accidental” discharge of a firearm is the fault of the shooter. I think you can see just how close this user came to never having accidents again!

One of the best things about shooting airguns is their relative margin of safety compared to firearms. But, airguns are not toys for big kids. They demand the same respect as anything that shoots, and their users have to be willing to play by the rules, because the consequences of some thoughtless acts can be too high to pay.

24 thoughts on “Please be safe!

  1. With all due respect, I say there is no such thing as an “accidental” discharge. A weapon does not discharge accidently. It shoots from a component failure (something breaks) or the operator initiates it (pulls the trigger). I believe the correct term is “Negligent” dicharge, any time there is no mechanical failure. Anytime safe and proper gun handling techniques are not observed, and the gun fires, it’s negligence on the part of the handler. In your case, you were wrong for leaving the Daisy loaded and unattended. Remeber, assumption is the mother of all screw-ups. But the other person was just as wrong for shooting his own foot to unload it! That goes against the very basic safe and common sense gun handling rules taught by most shooting organizations, hunter safety classes and especially the NRA.
    Repsectfully
    Nathan


  2. B.B.
    Thanks for the important safety reminder. I am guilty of doing things I know are dumb and getting away with it, and unfortunately it often takes a close call to snap me back to where I need to be. I lost a finger to a table saw when I was 15 by doing something I didn’t realize was unsafe. Now, many years later, I know better so the fault and responsibility are 100% mine. The discussion yesterday about holding the cocking lever while putting fingers into the sliding breech is another good example. I have a Chinese underlever and thanks to this blog, now know how to properly load it so I can keep my other 9 fingers. And I appreciated the eye safely blog you had a few months ago. I now have some proper shooting glasses and both eyes. Being young and stupid is expected. Being old and stupid…..not so much.
    And one question you’ve probably already answered: what are your favorite .22 pellets for the TX200 III for accuracy in the 10-40 yd range.
    Thanks again,
    Pestbgone


  3. Nathan,

    Guns can be dropped and fire as a result. That’s one definition of an accident. I once had a Sako Vixen .222 rifle fire as I closed the bolt. That’s another accidental discharge. Fortunately, the muzzle was pointed at the ground when this happened.

    Accidents are very rare, I agree, but under certain circumstances they do happen. Law enforcement organizations even define what an accidental discharge is, and they use that specific term.

    Most “accidents” that are reported, on the other hand, are die to careless (negligent) handling, as you indicate.

    B.B.


  4. B.B. wrote: “…A customer sent back a Fire 201 9mm rifle with a ruined nosecap. He told Pyramyd Air that the “accident” happened as he was pumping his rifle with a hand pump…”

    Hi B.B.,

    Thanks for the interesting report. I’m real glad no one ended up wearing a toe tag!

    But, by trying to pass off that… umh… “ruined nosecap” as being a result of ‘normal’ usage, the person involved doesn’t demonstrate having a very good grasp of reality.

    I can just see liability lawyers smacking their chops, insurance companies pondering their actuary tables, and retailers everywhere breaking into a cold sweat over this kind of nonsense.

    Maybe it’s a good thing stupidity isn’t illegal… I think that’s a good thing, but sometimes I wonder!

    Cheers,
    GH


  5. Pestbgone,

    Thanks for your kind remarks. I passed the one about eye safety along to Dr. Ungier.

    For the TX200 in .22 (or the Hunting Carbine) my choice would be JSB 15.8-grain domes, followed by Crosman Premiers. I’d have to shoot both to learn which are the most accurate.




  6. B.B. wrote: “…It is a cause for concern.”

    Yeah,

    I bet it is! In the unlikely event no one thought of it, I’d suggest promptly sealing that airgun in a sanitary container for the time being.

    Cheers,
    GH



  7. Is it possible an “accident” (like the one with the Fire 201) could be caused by using a petroleum based lubricant with air, not oxygen?


  8. i remember reading about the buyer who shot himself in the foot in one of your earlier posts bb. anyway, is the daisy a powerful gun and what happened to his toe because i am not farmiliar with this model daisy airgun. and off topic, what type of pellet would you recommend for squirrel hunting with my suped up 2240. i already have crosman premier hollow points.


  9. Accident,

    If you fill a reservoir extremely fast with air, it can cause a small explosion if it comes in contact with petroleum oil. It will not create a fire that reaches the heat generated in this accident, however.

    The only way to have an accident with air is to use a scuba tank and to fill the oily reservoir in a few seconds. And even then, it wouldn’t happen very often.

    With a hand pump there is absolutely no way to have an accident. The pump would melt if you tried to operate it anywhere near fast enough to cause an explosion. The electric compressor from FX uses a hand pump cylinder attached to an electric motor and it’s completely safe.

    B.B.


  10. B.B.,
    Thanks for the recommendation on the .22 pellets for the TX200. They will be my first try. You are right, Dr. Ungier’s article did get my attention. When I went to my optometrist after that and talked to him about shooting and lenses and such, I was surprised how much practical help he was able to give me. He even explained the physics of how the iris effect works with a peep sight. He said a target shooter actually brought his rifle in one time so he could get the prescription and lenses in his glasses positioned just right in the frame for his shooting posture. Makes a lot of sense now that I think of it.
    Best Regards,
    Pestbgone


  11. 2240,

    The buyer who shot himself in the foot got a small red mark on top of his big toe. That model gun reaches about 275-300 f.p.s. Ironically, had it been a vintage model 25, it would have been much more powerful.

    For your suped-up 2240 I think the Crosman hollowpoints are pretty good. You might try their wadctters and perhaps fsome Devastators from JSB.

    B.B.


  12. pestbgone
    i find when shooting with glasses i get more inconcistent results with peep sights. i think the extra lense in between adds paralax. when i have my contacts on its a whole different story. i can shoot tight groups and have more concistent results. of coarse this is a hassle because i have to plan my shooting so i have my contacts in.
    Nate in Mass


  13. that’s an interesting story. luckily it was a weak bb shooter not capable of breaking skin. must of hurt pretty badly though. to think, if that was a modern pneumatic pump rifle his toe would be gone and he would have needed to be shipped off to the hospital. you would think people would have more common sense with airguns, right?


  14. This is a really off topic comment…

    About two weeks ago I purchased a Logun Solo from Pyramydair. I got it early last week, and after pulling it out of the box I noticed some obvious damage along the bolt action. I sent it back to Pyramydair and thought that they would exchange it.

    I got a call today from a customer service rep that said the gun was indeed broken and they could send me a new one…. only catch was, there wasn’t a new one. So, I regretfully said I would take a refund.

    About two hours later, I get another call from Pyramydair. This time it was Joshua Ungier on the line! He apologized himself for the broken Solo and told me that they did indeed have a replacement. I had a question about the replacement model and he got up and acutally checked the replacement rifle himself. Excellent customer service right there!

    To anyone who is concerned about buying an airgun from Pyramydair, I can personally say that you don’t need to worry about it. I know that getting a broken gun was one of my biggest worries, but even though my worst fear was realized (getting a broken gun), the bad has been completely outweighed by the good service.

    The bottom line… Pyramydair actually cares about their customers and they will definitely take care of you.

    Tyler





  15. Thanks for the all the info on what kind of accidents could happen with different fill methods. I would never use a petroleum oil, but it is nice to know that with proper use, it is impossible to have that type of accident. I have been gun shy (pun intended) of PCPs because I had questions about their safety.

    Accident


  16. STOP ====

    “i have to plan my shooting so i have my contacts in”

    Contacts DO NOT OFFER ENOUGH EYE PROTECTION.’

    Possibly you are wearing shooting glasses over contacts and I misunderstood. If so my apologies.

    Ray


  17. “The buyer who shot himself in the foot got a small red mark on top of his big toe. That model gun reaches about 275-300 f.p.s. Ironically, had it been a vintage model 25, it would have been much more powerful.”

    Can you tell me what years the Daisy Model 25 was produced, which years would be considered vintage with respect to power, and what velocity those produced?

    ” I once had a Daisy model 25 pump gun for sale on my table….He cocked it and when my wife told him it couldn’t be uncocked (the No. 25 cannot be uncocked)”

    I was able to uncock my Model 25 by depressing the trigger partway, pulling the slide fully rearward, holding it there securely while I fully depressed the trigger and then allow the slide to return forward under decreasing pressure.
    I would remove the magazine before doing this, both for safety reasons and because a BB still in shooting position in the magazine (being held by that small spring in the bore) would be pushed forward and could drop out of the barrel and then be lost.


  18. The Daisy Number 25 was produced from 1913 to 1978, or so. A commemorative model was issued in 1986.

    Guns made before 1952 are considered the powerful ones.

    I was unaware of your method of uncocking the Number 25. I wish I had know that at the show!

    B.B.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


4 + 7 =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>