Answers To Your Firearms Questions

I get a lot of questions regarding failure to fire. If that is your question check here first.

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Use the form below to ask a question about firearms.

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Firearms Advantage reserves the right to post only what I deem appropriate.

I don't answer every question and it may be a few days or even weeks before I get to yours, so check back.

I answer questions to the best of my ability, but you are responsible for your own safety and the possibility that you damage your firearm.

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Question: I recently purchased a used 1911 .22 to play with at the range. My first time attempting fire i pulled the trigger and had no fire. Inspecting the shell I noticed a faint indent on the shell but nothing strong enough to ignite the primer. Is that an indication of a old firing pin?

Answer: Could be.  Basically something is keeping the firing pin from hitting the primer correctly.

This could have to do with the length of the firing pin and its related parts or how hard the firing pin is striking the primer or the shape of the end of the firing pin.

In other words the firing pin has to reach the primer and hit it hard enough and that force can't be spread over too large of an area.

So this is a detective job requiring some disassembly, cleaning and evaluation of parts.

Question: On my 40 Cal smith & Wesson why is my barrel lose when my Bolt is locket back?

Answer: On this type of action the barrel moves back and toggles down to unlock the breech and position the barrel for the next round.

When the slide moves forward the barrel toggles back up and locks in place.

Question: I have a S&W 915. When I chamber a round, and then remove the clip; a loose round fall out from the handgun. There is still a round in the chamber that comes out when I clear the slide. I gave the gun a thorough cleaning, but it is still happening. What is causing this?

Answer: When the top round chambers it is dragging the next round with it until it is no longer held by the magazine.

This could be a magazine problem.  Make sure it is the right one for the gun.  Make sure that the lips that hold the rounds are not damaged, that the magazine catch and catch slot are not damaged  and that the front of the magazine is not cut too low.

Also check the length of the rounds.  They should not have a lot of room to move forward.

Question: How to put a 1911 magazine back together?

Answer: The base plate is welded on so it has to be assembled from the top.

Put the spring in, push it half way down and put a pin or nail or drill bit through the holes in the side to keep the spring captured in the bottom half.

Put the follower in then turn it upside down and get the follower in the right spot.

Pull out the pin to let the spring expand.

Question: A family member cocked back the hammer and now I cannot get the bullets out. It's a 38 special and Wesson special SPLP that's the type of gone I have and it's a five bullet shooter was a woodgrain handle. This is never happened before so I don't know what's going on. Can you please help me out so I can have my family leave me alone

Answer: The cylinder won't open with the hammer cocked.  You will have to lower the hammer.  The only way to do this is to carefully control the hammer while pulling the trigger.  If you let the hammer fall, the gun will fire!

Point the gun in a safe direction, put a finger between the hammer and the frame, pull the trigger and carefully lower the hammer.

Question: I have a 9mm Ruger. When I go to fire it, it just clicks but the firing pin leaves a perfect dent in the center of the shell. However the gun won't shoot. What could this be?

Answer: Bad ammo.  The fire control system has just one job: put a dent in the primer when the operator pulls the trigger (and only then).  Since your gun does that, there is nothing wrong with your gun.  The only other possibility is the ammo.

Question: Will a 44 mag fire while half cocked?

Answer: It should not, but that depends on the half-cock notch and sear being in good condition.

It is generally not a good idea to use half-cock as a safety.  It is for loading and unloading.

Question: Why does the bullets fly out the slide before even firing when I cock the slide back?

Answer: The slide contains the extractor.  It is its job to extract and eject any round in the chamber when operated.  It does not matter if the round has been fired or not.

This is a semi automatic firearm.  With a round in the chamber it can be fired without racking the slide.  It will load the next round and be ready to fire again until the magazine is empty.

Question: Is it possible for a firearm to be discharged without a firing pin impression on the primer?

Answer: No.  The only exception being if the chamber was so hot that the round "cooked off" but this takes a nearly red-hot chamber.

Question: My dad has been said to have early signs of dementia, he carries a pistol and I know he will never give that up... wondering if it can be disabled without seeming different to him.... he never shoots anymore, but I know he removes cartridge and clears it every night.

Answer: Bad idea!  He is relying on that gun to work when he needs it.  It is like taking the batteries out of his smoke detector without telling him.

If you are concerned that he may misuse his pistol then have the courage to talk to him about it.

Beyond that take legal action if required.  Dementia or not he has the right to due process before he is disarmed.

Question: My new Taurus 380 never been fired but the slide lock button won't release unless the clip is out.

Answer: The empty magazine holds the slide lock in the locked position.  It will release if you push it hard enough, but if you are clearing the firearm anyway just remove the magazine.

With rounds in the magazine it should release easily, but of course this will chamber a round.

Question: My ar 15 is semi auto, after I took it apart its fires single rounds now.

Answer: The problem is likely in the gas system.

Most semi-auto rifles use the high pressure gas generated by the burning propellant to drive the mechanism.

Gas is drawn from a port partway down the barrel.  In the case of an M1 Garand or an M1A the gas acts on a piston under the barrel.

In an AR15 the gas acts directly on the bolt.  It is delivered via a tube above the barrel.  The gas causes the bolt to expand, which rotates the locking lugs and moves the bolt to the rear.

There are gas rings in the bolt assembly that have to be there, and the gaps in the rings should be staggered.  The tube on the bolt must not be obstructed.  The same goes for the tube that comes from the barrel.  And the gas port must not be clogged or, in the case of adjustable gas blocks, shut off.

Question: What is the small piece of wood that is attached to the underside of the barrel of an old shotgun?

Answer: The foregrip.

Question: Remington 700 25-06 bolt is stuck in the down position and will not let me move it up.  it was shot with a 308 round by accident.  Any ideas?

Answer: Take it to a gunsmith.  The extreme pressure generated by this event could have done serious harm to your gun.  It needs to be evaluated by a professional.

Question: Will a 38 revolver fire off if it's loaded but not cocked?

Answer: Probably.  Double action revolvers will fire from the hammer down position or the hammer cocked position.  That is why they are called double action.  Most modern revolvers are double action.  If the cylinder swings out of the frame for loading and unloading it is most likely a double action.

     Single action revolvers will not fire from the hammer down position.  You must cock the hammer for each shot.  "Cowboy" guns are usually single action.  They are typically loaded through a loading gate, one round at a time, rotating the cylinder under the loading gate until it is full.

     If the revolver has no visible hammer it is probably double action only (DAO) meaning it can only be fired from the hammer down position.

Question: I have two different Revolvers one revolver when I fire the cylinder turns left. The other revolver turn to the right. I noticed there is a pin just inside the cylinder holder. one looks to be on the left side and the other gun its on the right. It don't look like it is in the center just curious as my spouse and I were debating it.

Answer: The pin you see is called the "hand" or sometimes the "pawl".  It is the hand that turns the cylinder by engaging the ratchet on the back of the cylinder when the hammer comes back.

     Revolvers can be designed to turn either direction, but often double action revolvers turn to the left and single action revolvers turn to the right.

Question: Armorlite 22 semi caliber is not advancing the next bullet into the chamber. One round will fire and the next gets stuck trying to get into the chamber.  Just thoroughly cleaned and the last time I used it 15 years ago it worked great. Any advice?

Answer: .22 rimfire is notorious for feeding problems because of the rim.  Make sure that every part that touches the brass case is clean and has a tiny, tiny amount of gun oil on it.

Question: What's it called when I take the top of the gun (handgun) back and forth so it's ready to shoot?

Answer: Most people I know here in the north east call it "racking the slide".  A lot of my readers refer to it as "cocking it back".

Question: What's the difference when the top of a magazine is more open causing more bullets to be exposed as opposed to when its closed and 1 bullet is exposed at a time?

Answer: Rifle magazines tend to have the open tops and handgun magazines the one-at-a-time tops.

The open top type are easy to load but it seems like they would not work well with the short rounds typical of handguns.  Rifles have the long rounds and the space to strip rounds alternately from the left and right, but handguns feed from the middle.

Question: How do i fix my Mossberg & sons model  25-A single shot .22 with a weak firing pin spring? I cant find parts for it.

Answer: Try Numrich.  Or one of the parts guys at a gun show.  Or match it up: exact same OD, ID, number of turns and end treatment (closed and ground flat, just closed, open).

As a last resort you could try stretching the spring you have, but you might damage it.  Measure the length and stretch it until it is five percent longer (current length x 1.05) and see if that seems to help. If not try another five percent.

Also make sure the firing pin itself is not the problem.  The end should not look all mashed.  Compare the dent it makes on the case to the dent on a .22 that fires reliably.

Question: Should you be able to drop the hammer on a series 70 model Cimarron 1911A1 without touching the grip safety? i.e pulling hammer back slightly from full cock, depress trigger hammer falls. I have a Auto Ordnance series 80 1911A1 that doesn't do this. Not much experience with either but something tells me the grip safety is there for a reason. Thanks.

Answer: You are correct.  The grip safety should prevent the trigger from releasing the hammer, but some hammers contact the top of the grip safety when pulled back far enough, and move it to the fire position.

You can probably fix this by changing or modifying the hammer, but as long as the hammer won't fall from where it is held by the sear, it should not be a problem.

Question: Why will a resized cartridge not accept a primer?

Answer: Some primers are crimped into the case.  You need a primer pocket swager or a reamer to remove the crimp.

I prefer the swager because I believe there is less chance of damaging the primer pocket.

Question: I have a Henry big boy carbine in 44mag with less than a box of shells shot through it. I took it out to sight in the scope I put on. loaded it and when I tried to jack a shell in to it, the lever released but locked up like the bolt was locked. Any ideas?

Answer: Are the scope mount screws too long, thereby poking through the receiver and binding on the bolt?

Question: Hi, I'm not super familiar with rifles and am wondering why my R700 can only be put in the safety position after first opening the breach? Growing up i learned immediately following a shot the gun needs to be put in the safety position however my R700's safety lever physically won't move to the S position until i first open the breach. Essentially the only way to have it in the S position is to also have the firing pin engaged. Does that sound normal? Also i know about the R700's safety mechanism's recall around 2014 and this problem isn't dependent on that. Thanks!

Answer: According to the Remington 700 manual the safety can be engaged with the bolt closed, whether or not the rifle is cocked.

To answer your question though, there are bolt action rifles that can not be put on safe unless they are cocked.

On this rifle the safety is part of the trigger group.  Make sure the trigger is resetting, that is going all the way forward, after the shot.

If that is not the problem contact Remington directly.  They should have more info.

Question: I am writing a historical western novel set between 1898-1910.
I thought I once came across a note on a historical revolver (a Colt model perhaps) that was known for having a problem of accidentally discharging, but I can't find anything that matches that description now, and really need something like that for the premise of a new novel I'm working on. Basically, I need a model of revolver from that time frame, (or possibly even pre-1898, too, I can make that work) that was discovered to have a problem of accidental discharge, for any reason, once the hammer was cocked. Excluding drops, however. The particular scene I'm writing (the cause for an unintended murder) wouldn't really work because of an accidental discharge by a drop. Ideally, I need a model that was discovered back then to have some sort of manufacturing design issue that could cause that. Know of anything that could fit this description? Appreciate any sort of feedback, thanks!

Answer: The Colt Single Action Army or SAA, also known as the Peacemaker, Model 1873, Model P, the gun that won the west and simply the Colt .45 is the revolver most closely associated with the American west.

The SAA has a hammer with three notches.  With none of the notches engaged the hammer sits in its lowest position with the firing pin resting on the primer of the cartridge, if one is present.

This is a dangerous condition since any blow to the hammer for will fire that round.

The first notch raises the hammer such that the firing pin does not contact the primer. This should be a "safe" position to allow the revolver to be carried fully loaded.

Unfortunately, probably due to the metallurgy of the day, that notch was prone to breakage, leading to unintentional discharge.

For that reason the SAA was, and still is, carried with the hammer down on an empty chamber.

Because the problem was so widely known many single action revolver users today carry their revolvers with the hammer down on an empty chamber even though their brand or model does not have this problem.

The remaining notches on the Colt SAA hammer are half cock, for loading and unloading, and full cock, for firing.

Question: I just bought a shot gun and it doesn't have a brand name on it. The original owner said it was over 40 years old. Is there any way I can find out?

Answer: Unless it is home made it has markings somewhere.  They could be hidden under the wood, or on a part of the gun that is only visible after partial disassembly.  Also use a magnifier and bright light.  If the markings are faded you might see them if you get the light at the right angle.  Even if all you find are symbols (crowns are popular) you might be able to match the symbol (proof mark or cartouche) if you search the internet.

Question: Can you put an after market stock with a clip on a gun that doesn't have a clip from factory?

Answer: No.  The receiver has to be able to accept a magazine.  I have heard of a few cases where the receiver was modified to accept a magazine, but this would probably cost more than a new gun.

Question: My old model 10116 sometimes won't eject the shell then the other bullet gets jammed up and that causes a mess. What can I do to fix the problem?

Answer: Ejection is a two stage process.  First the case is extracted from the chamber, then it is ejected from the action.

You must determine which stage is failing.  If the case stays in the chamber then the problem is with the extractor which hooks onto the case and pulls the case out of the chamber.  Look for a missing or damaged extractor or the associated spring.

If the case comes out of the chamber but is not flung clear of the action, then there is a problem with the ejector.  The ejector could be a spring loaded plunger that is part of the bolt, or it could be part of the receiver, with or without a spring.  Make sure it is free to move if it is supposed to move, that it does not move if it is the fixed kind (some ejectors are just a projecting tab that kick the case to the side as the bolt moves to the rear) and that the spring is not damaged if there is a spring.

Question: I have a Marlin 39A golden 22 lever Action Rifle. I know I can fire 22 Short and Long and Long Rifle. But can I fire 22 Long Magnum with this Rifle?

Answer: I am not aware of a cartridge by that name.

The .22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire) will not chamber in a firearm meant for .22 LR because its case is longer and bigger in diameter.

If you are talking about a cartridge with the exact same dimensions as a .22 Long or LR, whose manufacturer calls it a "magnum" for promotional reasons, then yes, you can fire it from your rifle.

Question: I am loading 9mm with 6 grains of powder with a hornady fmj 115 grain projectile. I would like to load lead 115 grain bullet for plinking. Would I need to drop the charge to do that.

Answer: All my reloading manuals show lower maximum charge weights for lead bullets than for the same weight jacketed bullet.  If the 6 grains that you use for your jacketed bullets is at or near the maximum, then starting with a lower weight would be a good idea.

Question: Why my .22 hpA Phoenix doesn't feed well in a CCI  22 or with 710 fps?

Answer: These cartridges are under-powered for the semi-auto action.  Try some Federal or Remington high velocity with a 40 grain bullet.

Question: What do you call the old hammer single ball guns (the ones you have to put a rod down to load it)?

Answer: In general "Muzzle Loaders" because they load from the muzzle as opposed to the breech.

They were often also called by the type of firing mechanism. "Match Lock", "Flint Lock", "Percussion Lock".

Or by the intended use/barrel type "Fowling Piece", "Musket", "Long Rifle".

Question: I recently inherited a Ruger Single Six. When shooting I had one chamber that the empty cartridges would stick in. This was the standard cylinder and I was shooting Winchester 22LR ? Dirty cylinder? I have gathered that 22 LR is the correct load but the cartridges felt tight. My dad was real careful about cleaning after shooting?

Answer: You are correct; .22 LR is what the Single Six shoots.  It will probably also shoot other cartridges in the .22 rimfire family.  The other cylinder is probably for .22 magnum.

Ruger makes a great product so if one chamber is sticking it is almost certainly dirt or rust.  Give it a good scrub with a .22 caliber bronze brush and some cleaning solvent.  If the problem persists have a look with a magnifier and plenty of light.  The chamber walls should be very smooth.  Any scratch, pit or rust may cause sticking.

Question: What are the chances of a loaded gun not firing?

Answer: There are only two reasons for a gun not firing; bad ammo or the firing pin does not strike the primer hard enough.

It is very rare for brand name ammo in good condition to be bad.  Off brands can be more prone to misfires, but are still fairly reliable.

So if your gun is in good working order and your ammo is new, brand name stuff the chances that it won't fire are almost zero.

Question: I have a Taurus TCP 738. Fired over 200 rounds. No problem. Well today I was loading a clip to leave a loaded clip in my gun, and when I stick the magazine in, it doesn't fully go in. I have to smack it real hard to get the clip in. This is when it's loaded with 6 rounds. Now, when I have 5 rounds or when it's empty, it goes in easily without me having to slap the clip in. Any ideas why It does this?

Answer: I suspect that the magazine spring or the follower is binding up at the bottom of the magazine.  To confirm this try inserting the full magazine with the slide locked open.

When a magazine is inserted under a closed slide the top round has to move down a bit.  With five or fewer rounds there is plenty of room for this.  With a full mag there is very little room left.  But with the slide open the top round does not have to move so it should go in easy.

Disassemble the magazine, clean it and check for damage to the spring, follower and magazine body.

Question: Found a .22 revolver in a storage unit and it is completely rusted: the action, all the metal, inside the barrel. What is the best way to get the rust off this gun, and possibly get it back into functional shape?

Answer: Disassemble it.  You may need penetrating oil.  Try not to damage the screws.  Take lots of pictures as you go and label everything so you can get it back together.  You tube is a good resource for the procedure (revolvers are remarkably similar regardless of brand or caliber).  Don't take the barrel off the frame.

Clean it up starting with cotton patches and cleaning solvent.  If you need to be more aggressive use bronze wool (not steel wool or stainless steel wool) and bronze bore brushes of the correct size.  WD40, CLP and Frog Lube seem to work on rust.  If one doesn't work clean it all off and try another, don't mix them.

Give the cleaned up parts a close look with magnification to see if anything looks worn or broken.

Put it back together lubing up moving parts with good gun oil as you go.  Cycle the action without ammo to be sure it works as it should.

This is likely to damage or remove the original finish.  If this is an antique or collectible it might be worth more rusted.

If the bore and cylinder do not look pretty good after repeated cleaning you might want to get a professional opinion on whether it is safe to fire.

Question: When I cock my Winchester 1873 (circa 1882) the trigger drops down to the "half cocked" position. It won't stay fully open unless I manually pull it back with my thumb. I have looked at the guns nomenclature and watched a "tear down" video. Any suggestions on what might be broke and is this a job for shade tree gunsmith or something I should take to a professional?

Answer: The 1873 uses a fairly simple system.  As the bolt moves to the rear it  pushes on the hammer thus moving the hammer to the cocked position.

But as parts wear (your Winchester is 134 years old) things might not go according to plan.

The bolt may have enough play to ride over the hammer rather than cock it, or the bolt may not travel as far to the rear as it should, due to wear.

So a shade tree gunsmith can certainly take it apart and look for broken or worn parts and replace those parts as needed, but if the wear is to parts that are not easily replaced you may need more expert help.

Also consider the value of an original 1873 and how repairs might affect that value.

Question: Surplus pakistani 30-06 too long to chamber. Can I reset the bullet in the casing to shorten the overall length of the cartridge so that it will chamber?

Answer: Changing the OAL will change the pressure the cartridge develops.  It is hard to say by how much, and it depends on how much you change the OAL.  You don't want to exceed the max allowable pressure.  It is for this reason that the reloading manuals specify the OAL that was used to develop and test the load.

Do they fit in the magazine?  If so, is it the location of the shoulder, rather than the OAL that is wrong?

Question: I was hunting with my 223 rifle and put the safety to fire and didn't touch the trigger and it fired all by itself. is that possible? No one believes me.

Answer: Yes.  Some safeties work directly on the trigger.  Since this has the potential to move the trigger to some degree it is possible to have an unintended discharge.  Of course this is not supposed to happen, but not all manufacturers build in robust safety systems.

Question: Do shell casings still fall out when u fire a gun without a clip?

Answer: Yes. The extractor and ejector are not dependent on the magazine.

Question: Howdy, I have a question about my  44 black powder revolver. I used to shoot it all the time and the other day when I cocked the hammer back the cylinder didn't lock like it's supposed to. Can somebody tell me what's wrong with it and what to do to fix it?

Answer: There is a metal tab called the bolt that pops up out of the frame under the cylinder to lock the cylinder.  At half cock it is retracted so you can rotate the cylinder for loading.  This part is probably stuck.

Here is a video on removing this part.

Clean it and lube it up, and the other parts as well, and it should work again.

Question: My Ted Williams model 3t 22 rifle not chambering properly and firing pin hitting edge of round.

Answer: .22 rimfire can be temperamental about chambering.  All the parts that handle the cartridge have to be clean and properly lubricated.  It is also possible that one or more parts are worn, but I am betting a good cleaning and lube will fix it.

The .22 rimfire has the priming compound in the rim of the case, rather than a separate primer in the center, so the firing pin has to strike out at the edge.

Question: I have a brand new savage 270 axis. Well when I pull the bolt back it doesn't catch the rim of the bullet. Sometimes it slides right over the top of them and sometimes it catches half way and dents the bullet up. I have to pull it back again to finally catch it.

Answer: It sounds like the magazine is not feeding properly.

Question: Winchester model 70 243 super short mag the casings are tight in the chamber why the only way I could get it to loosen up was to file the back of the casing.

Answer: Make sure you are using the correct ammo.

If so, and it is brand name ammo and therefore not likely to be out of spec., then check it with a head space gauge, or have a gunsmith do so.

Ammo and chambers are held to tight tolerances.  If the ammo doesn't fit, one or the other is not to specifications.

Question: What's the thing called on the 22 long rifle that you twist off so you can put the bullets in

Answer: It is the Tubular Magazine or the Tubular Magazine follower.

Question: If a cartridge fails to fire how long do you have to wait before removing it.

Answer: Wait 30 seconds, then place it away from people for a while before dropping it in the dud box.

Question: Do hollow tips shoot differently?

Answer: They might.  The biggest factors are the weight of the bullet and the velocity.

Hollow points are usually for self defense or hunting and are likely to shoot differently than target loads.

Any two cartridges with different characteristics may shoot differently, or may not.

Question: What will happen if I unscrew the top of a bullet off?

Answer: They don't unscrew.  They are pressed in.  You need a bullet puller.

If you stress the primer there is a chance that it will go off.

Question: I just bought a new Ruger super Blackhawk .44 Magnum. How do you release the hammer without firing the gun?

Question: I have a smith and Wesson 38 snub nose revolver with a hammer. I've cocked the hammer back but need to get it to go back down without the gun firing. It won't let me take the rounds out of cylinder. How do I safely go about doing this?

Answer: You must carefully control the hammer while pulling the trigger.  If you slip and let the hammer fall it will fire, so you must have a safe place to point the gun for this.

Question: I have a friend who has an old 38 that had been stored for years.  He got it when his mother passed.  There is a sticky goo that has sealed the bullets in the revolver part of the gun.  He has tried to find something that will dissolve it but has had no luck.  He doesn't want to get rid of the gun because it belonged to his mother. Do you know of anything that will work?

Answer: Remember that you must be very careful with this.  Loose bullets are not very dangerous, but contained in the cylinder they can be deadly, even if the cylinder is open.  Do not apply a lot of force to these potentially live rounds.

I don't know what this goo is, but I would try a gun cleaning solvent on the grounds that it is unlikely to damage the gun.  After that WD-40.  Some people say WD-40 will damage the finish, but I have not had this problem myself.

There is probably a screw on the right side of the frame below the cylinder.  If you remove it, the crane and cylinder will come off the rest of the gun.  Use a screwdriver of the proper size so you don't mess up the screw.  This will allow you to work on the problem without putting the rest of the gun at risk.

Be mindful of where both ends of the cylinder point!

Question: Can you still fire a bullet if the lead wont fit in the tip of the barrel?

Answer: You can fire only the cartridge that is stamped on the gun.

That said, bullets are typically .004" - .008" bigger than the barrel they are meant for.  Under the extreme pressure of the propellant they deform to engage the rifling.

Question: Do the shells in a revolver stay in a gun?

Answer: Yes.  The gun does not eject them automatically.

The operator must eject them when he wishes to load un-fired ones.

Question: As soon as you put in the magazine can u start shooting?

Answer: Maybe.  There must be a round in the chamber to shoot.  If there was a round already in the chamber before the magazine was inserted and the slide is forward then, yes, you can shoot immediately.

If the gun was empty you must chamber a round after inserting the magazine.

If the slide is forward it will be necessary to draw it to the rear and release it to chamber a round.

If the slide is locked open then depress the slide lock and the slide will fly forward chambering the top round from the magazine.

Question: Recently i took out my 22 long rifle just to target practice. But i shoot high. Like really high. I adjusted my sightings to the lowest possible but i still keep shooting over the target. I never used to shoot like this. I aimed a lot lower and my shots hit the top of the target, and they where all centered. I got someone else to shoot it and they weren't shooting high. So it's obviously me but I don't know whats wrong.

Answer: To review there are two elements that need to be considered when shooting with iron sights:

Sight alignment and sight picture.

Sight alignment gets the front and rear sight in the proper orientation and sight picture puts them in the correct place on the target.

High shots often indicate that the front sight is too high compared to the rear sight.  Try snuggling that front sight down real low when viewed through the rear sight.

Also watch out for reflections which might change the way the sights look.  Put soot or some other anti-reflective material on the sights if reflections are a problem.

And don't forget the basics:  Focus on the front sight, squeeze that trigger.

Question: I have an AR. After loading a magazine, when I insert it back into the gun, it won't lock in. Just keeps falling back out of the lower receiver. If I pull the charging handle back and chamber a bullet, it will then lock the magazine into place.  Surely this can't be normal. Any suggesting?

Answer: When a magazine is inserted under the bolt, the top round is pushed down a bit.  If there is no place for it to go the magazine won't lock in place.

To test this, load one fewer round in the magazine and see if the problem persists.

Also try inserting the magazine with the bolt locked open.

Assuming either of the above solve the problem the next step is to understand why a full magazine won't work.

Does the design of the magazine allow an extra round?  21 in a 20 round magazine for example.

Or does the magazine design not allow for enough give when loaded to standard capacity?

In the first case just don't load the extra round.

In the second case remove the spring from a magazine and load it to determine if it is the spring or the follower that is binding up at full capacity.  If it works without the spring then the spring is binding.  If it still won't go in under the bolt then it is the follower.  Try different magazines or, if you are handy and don't mind risking a magazine, try shortening the legs of the follower a little so there is a tad more room for the top round.

Question: Does shooting 45 shell out of a 410 browning shotgun hurt the barrel?

Answer: If the barrel is stamped for .45 as well as .410 then there should not be a problem.  If the barrel is stamped only for .410 then don't do it.

There are manufacturers that make this combo, but they have designed it and tested it for this.

While it might work, the risk to you and your gun is not worth it.

Question: Is a .40 caliber Springfield XDm 3.8 handgun a suitable firearm for personal protection both at home for the family or on the go holstered to my hip? Had a friend try to tell me a 40 isn't enough to stop a human in a self defense situation which i hope is incorrect.

Answer: The .40 cal is an excellent self defense round.  It is more powerful than a 9mm and less than a .45 ACP, but there are other factors to consider.

The most critical factor is shot placement.  No handgun will produce an instant stop on a determined attacker, except perhaps a head shot, but this is ill advised due to the high probability of a miss.

Therefore the fastest stops are achieved with well placed shots to center mass.  While more powerful rounds potentially have more stopping power, they are also generally harder to shoot well, especially in smaller guns.

Another critical factor is bullet design.  But not all bullets work in all situations.  You need penetration and expansion, but these often work against each other.  Heavy clothing can change the way the bullet behaves.  So can barrel length.  A bullet that works well when fired from a 5" barrel may not work as well when fired from a 2" barrel due to the lower velocity.

If you are into researching this stuff there is plenty of data out there that will help you find just the right bullet for a particular situation.  If not, use a popular, brand name, self defense round as a compromise. Make sure it functions well in your gun.

The final factor is this:  The little gun in your pocket is way more useful than the big one in the safe.  In other words pick one that you are comfortable with and can practice with.  And remember it is not against the rules to have different guns for different situations.

Question: If I do not have a concealed license can I have one bullet in the chamber?

Answer: It depends on the state.  Some do not require any license at all and others barely tolerate private gun ownership at all.

Check out your state here: Handgun Laws US

Question: I have a single action revolver 38 cal. When you fire a round you can't pull the hammer back and the cylinder will not move. Can get to half cock and pull base pin out to get the cylinder out.

Answer: If it works without ammo, then the cases may be expanding and jamming against the frame.  Try some lighter loads of brand name ammo as a test.

But if typical loads still jam there could be problems with your gun and a gunsmith will have to take a look.

Also, don't know if this applies, but remember you can't fire modern ammo from antique black powder guns.

Question: Pk380 has mag in gun but won't close.

Answer: You may have to remove an empty magazine to close the slide on this gun.

If there is at least one round in the magazine it should close with the slide lock lever or by pulling the slide to the rear and releasing it. (And it will chamber that round when it closes).

Question: Can a .25 rg pistol fire a .22 pistol round ?

Answer: No.  Not only are the dimensions different, but a .25 is a centerfire and a .22 is a rimfire.

Question: When you cock the trigger of a  1873 peacemaker that only shoot blanks how many clicks are there? 1, 2, 3, or 4?

Answer: A genuine Colt or a faithful copy will make four clicks.  There are three hammer positions and the other click is the cylinder bolt locking the cylinder in place.

If it is a custom made gun that only looks like a colt, I couldn't tell you how many clicks it will make.

Question: I have a 12 gauge silver eagle and when I fire it doesn't slide back to load another shell/doesn't eject the shell. How do I fix it?

Answer: There is probably something wrong with the gas system.  Many semi-auto rifles and shotguns work by bleeding high pressure gas from the barrel to drive a piston that works the action.

Some Silver Eagle models have a reversible gas piston to optimize the action for light or heavy loads.  Make sure yours is set correctly if so equipped.

Also check the gas port to be sure it is not clogged.

Link to the Manual

Question: Is there a certain way the firing pin needs to be in because every time I cock my gun and release it it fires

Answer: If your gun fires when the slide goes forward this can indeed be a problem with the firing pin.

If the firing pin is protruding from the bolt face and won't easily push back in, then this can cause the gun to fire when the slide closes.

But it could also be a problem with the fire control system, meaning the trigger, hammer or striker and associated parts.

If a thorough cleaning and careful re-assembly does not fix it, then a gunsmith will have to take a look at it.

Question: how do I unload the spent shells in my Strom Ruger 9mm revolver?

Answer: 9mm is a rimless cartridge and will not extract from a revolver in the same way as a rimmed cartridge.

Although the gun can be loaded and fired without them, if you use the moon clips the extractor rod can then be used to remove the fired cases.

The moon clip holds five cartridges by the extraction groove.

9mm Moon Clip5 shot 9mm Moon Clip for Ruger revolver

Question: I have a 60s first gen 22 pathfinder and i took it apart to clean. And now i cant figure out to it goes back. I have it all down just this one spring. Can anyone help with a picture or diagram or any info. Thank you

Answer: Here is a diagram of a Pathfinder.

Question: Do u have to cock a ar15 after every shot?

Answer: No.  An AR15 is semi-automatic, meaning that it uses energy from the previously fired round to extract the empty case, load a new round from the magazine and cock the firing mechanism for the next shot.

This will continue until the magazine is empty or the operator clears the rifle of ammunition.

Question: I have a Rossi single shot break action 243 I put 3 different scopes on it new scope mounts and I cannot figure out the grouping on this rifle - youth model for my daughter but I cannot get consistent grouping on this thing within 2 feet I can't figure out what's wrong with it. The barrel does not appear to be bent and like I said I've had 3 different scopes what could be the cause of this

Answer: First thing be absolutely sure you are using the correct ammo for this rifle.  The .243 round is based on the .308 case so it may chamber in a rifle meant for .308.  Check the cartridge info that is stamped on the barrel, and (with the rifle unloaded of course) compare the diameter of the bullet to the diameter of the bore at the muzzle.  The bullet should be a few thousandths bigger than the bore.  (A bullet does not fit down the bore it is meant for.  It must be deformed by the extreme pressure generated by the propellant in order to engage the rifling.)

If that is not the problem then revert to the iron sights and try to get a group on a big target that is very close, say 20 or 30 feet.  A really, really bad rifle should still shoot better than 2" groups at this distance.  Don't worry about where the group is compared to where you aim, you just need a group.

If you get good groups with the iron sights at this distance, try 25 yards.  If that works, put the scope back on and try again.  This will tell you if the problem is the gun or the scope, which could be the scope mounts rather than the scope itself.

Question: Have a 7mm Browning bar semi-auto rifle.  The gun will eject empty and rechamber next round, but doesn't cock when it does, so it doesn't fire.  If you manually pull the bolt back, it will fire!

Answer: Two possibilities that I can think of.

1) The gun is short cycling, meaning that the bolt does not go back far enough due to under powered ammo or a clogged gas port or a gummed up mechanism.

2) Since the bolt cycles so fast in a semi-auto, there has to be a mechanism that catches the hammer or striker while the trigger is still to the rear.  This could be broken or gummed up.

Remove the magazine and pull the trigger on an empty chamber but hold the trigger to the rear.  Now cycle the bolt by hand.  Release the trigger and pull it again to see if the gun was cocked.

The goal is to find out if the trigger mechanism will catch the firing mechanism with the trigger held to the rear.  If it will not, you need to clean or repair the trigger group.  If it does, look more at the first suggestion.

Question: Can I shoot 9MM rounds through my Glock Model 22 without converting the barrels?

Answer: No.  You can shoot the cartridge that is stamped on the slide,  .40 S&W, and nothing else.

Question: I have a 22cal Jennings. The pin part that holds the clip in is broken. Is that replaceable?

Answer: Nearly every part of every gun is replaceable, if you can find it. 

This outfit stocks lots of hard to find parts.

Question: I have a Beretta 92FS 9mm, put new rear sight.Cycle slide by hand and pull the trigger,but hammer doesn't fall. But put gun back to safe position and hammer falls

Answer: The safety is also a de-cocker so the hammer is supposed to fall when you engage it.  If you look in the pocket where the hammer falls, you will see the firing pin rotate out of the way when you engage the safety.

But pulling the trigger when the gun is in the "fire" position should cause the hammer to fall.  For that matter it is a double action so the trigger should raise the hammer if it is not already cocked.

Make sure the slide is all the way forward because otherwise the disconnector will not allow it to fire.

Also make sure the trigger goes far enough forward to reset.

Beyond that it will need to be checked for broken or missing parts.

Question: how to examine bullet of a cal. 45 if it is a live ammunition?

Answer: If the primer does not have a dent, it is live.

If the primer does have a dent it may still be live if the strike from the firing pin was not hard enough.

If there is no primer or powder it is not live, but you have to pull the bullet to check for powder.

When inert rounds are created for practice or demonstration they typically have a used primer and a hole drilled through the case to show that there is no powder.

Question: How do i know if my firing. Pin is working. Properly in my 22 caliber colt long rifle. pistol

Answer: If it makes a dent in the rim of the case.  If the gun fires reliably you can assume that the firing pin is working.

Question: I just received a Colt 1894 DA 38 that belonged to my great grandfather (a policeman). My grandfather filed off the firing pin. Q1 How much does this devalue the gun? Q2 Is it worth fixing before trying to sell?

Answer: Modifications almost always devalue a gun.  How much depends on how collectible the gun and how obvious the modification.  I am not an expert on gun values, but if the buyer has to fix the gun I would assume this reduces the value.

Question: Can you fire a 12 gauge round out of a 16 gauge shotgun

Answer: No.  They are a different size.

The gauge number is arrived at by dividing a pound of lead into equal spheres the diameter of the barrel.

So a 16 gauge barrel is the diameter of a sphere made from 1/16 pound of lead (1 ounce) whereas a 12 gauge barrel is the diameter of a sphere made from 1/12 pound of lead (1.33 ounce).

Note: .410 gauge is really a caliber.

Question: if a rifle cartridge does not fire can the primer be replaced?

Answer: Yes, but you will have to pull the bullet, remove the powder, push out the old primer (which can be dangerous if the priming compound is still there) seat a new primer of the correct type, put the powder back and re-seat the bullet to the correct depth.

This takes a pile of equipment, so just drop it in the dud box at the range and move on.

Even shooters who have all this equipment because they load their own ammo don't bother to salvage a misfire.

Question: I recently acquired a 1906 Colt .41 cal. 'Thunderer'. According to the literature, all Thunderers were double action. This one is not. Is there an explanation?

Answer: Yes. This was Colt's first attempt at a double action revolver.  The trigger mechanism was prone to breakage which would leave the gun a single action.

Gun Digest once referred to it as "the worst double-action trigger mechanism ever made"

There are broken pieces in your gun.  If you repair/replace them you can restore the double action function.

Question: How do you check for a weak striker or hammer.

Answer: Look at the primer.  If it has a nice big dent everything is ok.

Unless the gun fails to fire sometimes, or all the time, you can assume your striker or hammer are doing their job.

Question: can a walther ppk built by Interarms fire a chambered round without a magazine installed

Answer: Yes. The feature is called a magazine disconnect and no version of the PPK has this feature.

Question: Re: semi auto shotguns... after cleaning & reassembly (when the bolt is pulled back) I hear something sliding when I tip the barrel up & down. Is that normal, or "what did I do wrong"?

Answer: Semi-auto rifles and shotguns often have a gas piston that is free to move when the bolt is open.  An M14 type rifle is one example.  The sliding noise is an indication that the gas system is not fouled with carbon.

Other "gas guns" do not have the free floating gas piston.  The AR15 piston is part of the bolt and in the M1 Garand the piston is attached to the operating rod, so neither of these make this sound.

Question: Can a automatic 9 mm fire when flush with skin? I've heard the slide won't allow it to when right up next to the skin.

Answer: Semi-auto pistols have a part called a disconnector that disconnects the trigger when the slide moves to the rear.  This is because the trigger will still be to the rear when the slide loads the next round.  Without the disconnector the sear would not catch the firing mechanism and the gun would not be ready to fire.  When the trigger is allowed to go forward it resets and is once again able to release the firing mechanism.  You can hear the click when the trigger resets.  Try it with an unloaded gun, but continue to observe all the safety rules.

So, if the slide is pressed hard enough against an object to activate the disconnector the trigger will not be able to release the hammer or striker.

This does not mean that this is a safe thing to do.  Experimenting with guns where there is any possibility of injury or property damage if the experiment fails is foolhardy.

Question: So I've got an FNX-40 which will not fire. The person i bought it off of said that most likely the reason it will not fire is because of the "hammer pin" needing adjustment. I have seen the gun fire before, but before i bought the pistol, he had taken it apart to do a full clean, and now it will not fire. What can i do to adjust the "hammer pin" and is that the actual problem?

Answer: It is probably not assembled correctly, or has missing or damaged parts.

Here is a link to the manual.

Parts diagram below.

When you are sure you have all the parts and the gun is assembled correctly, test fire it.

If it still does not fire:

     Big dent in the primer:  Bad ammo

     No dent in the primer:  Something is still wrong with your gun.

FNX-40 Parts DiagramFNX-40 Parts Diagram

Question: Why do I have Difficulty raising bolt on unfired round

Answer: Assuming the bolt works well with no round at all, you may have a head space problem or are using the wrong ammo.

If there is no reason to think the head space of the rifle is wrong, it could be a dirty chamber or dirty or out of spec ammo.

Question: I have a Hi point 9mm handgun. When I pull the slide back it stays in a locked position, can't get it to go ahead unless I let the mag drop about 1/2 and inch.
This only happens when no rounds are in the magazine

Answer: This is how this gun, and many others, work.  The slide locks open on an empty magazine.

This serves two purposes:

1 It lets you know the mag is empty.

2 it shortens reload time.  Slap in a full mag, hit the slide lock and you are ready to go.

Question: Why do fired brass cases stick in hand gun cylinder?

Answer: Cartridges develop high pressure when fired.  This causes the brass to expand.  The expanded brass seals the breech so that hot gas does not leak out.  The expanded brass sticks a little so there is an extractor to help get it out.

Question: I have a .45 Taurus 24/7 pro and I just want to know if I leave a hollow tip bullet in the chamber for a periodic of time (couple of months) could i damage up my spring coils or the gun itself?

Answer: Probably not.  High quality springs should last decades even in their compressed state.  If at some point they show signs of fatigue they are cheap and easy to replace.

Moisture is the enemy of firearms.  As long as they are kept dry, lubricated and not too hot, they too should last decades if not hundreds of years.

Question: If u shot a 22 rifle inside of a house will the gun powder be on you or your clothing?

Answer: Yes. Inside or outside or just being near the gun when it is fired.  The equipment used to detect powder residue is able to detect very tiny amounts.

Question: I have a 22 bolt action made in the 80's no name brand and it will not fire at all. Dry fire or anything. What can I do??

Answer: Some inexpensive .22 rifles had to be manually cocked by pulling back the knob on the rear of the bolt.

If yours is not one of those, then the problem lies in one of two areas: either the sear does not catch the striker when the bolt is closed, which is probably a problem with the trigger mechanism, or the striker mechanism, which is inside the bolt, is malfunctioning.

It is a simple system.  A cam on the bolt compresses a spring which pushes on the striker/firing pin.  When the bolt is closed the trigger mechanism holds the striker and spring in the compressed state until the trigger is pulled.

Remove the bolt, look down in the receiver and play with the trigger to be sure it moves freely and returns forward under spring pressure.

Look at the bolt to be sure the firing pin is there.  Determine if the spring is there and the firing pin is free to move.  Make sure the cam mechanism functions.

Question: I put a 2 3/4 shell in a j.c Higgins it shot but the shell is stuck how do I get it out?

Answer: If you are sure there are no live rounds in the gun, put a wooden dowel down the barrel and gently tap it out.

Question: gun was fired, but when extracted the head broke off shell leaving the body and neck inside of chamber. (Both ends open) How can this be removed?

Answer: Broken shell extractor.

Amazon page of broken shell extractors.

Question: I have 38 revolver and when you pull the trigger the cylinder doesn't turn.

Answer: The hand could be broken, missing or stuck, or the linkage to the trigger could be broken or disconnected.

The hand comes out of a slot in the frame behind the cylinder.  You should be able to see it with the cylinder out.

This video shows how to replace a hand.

Question: I have a Smith and Wesson Model 59. What does it mean when I pull the trigger and the hammer does not move to fire.

Answer: The linkage to the hammer is broken or missing or not assembled correctly.

It will have to be disassembled and inspected.

Question: The firing pin of my m1 carbine doesn't hit the bullet.

Answer: If the hammer snaps forward when you pull the trigger, then the firing pin (#2 below) may be broken or stuck. It should move freely in the bolt.

Also check to be sure the bolt is rotating all the way into battery when closed, otherwise the hook at the end catches on the receiver bridge.  This is so the gun won't fire if the bolt is not locked.

If the hammer is not snapping forward you could have a problem with the sear or the spring.

M1 Carbine Bolt DisassembledDisassembled M1 Carbine Bolt

Question: Hi
Can a rifle pass the go gauge test but the Head space still be just a bit too tight. I have a Remington with a Broughton bbl which seems to need (way too much pressure) to close the bolt on factory ammunition. Definitely not my idea of a smooth closing bolt action rifle. I notice this when I received the rifle 2 years ago but I only fired 4 rounds and for medical reasons had not had the chance to really put the rifle at work on the range until today. The smith is a top 10 smith "in the united states. All my reloads were tight, using new win brass. I couldn't close the bolt on one cartridge at all. The bullet is 40 thousands off lands. The gun shoots tight groups but the tight bolt worry's me. I thought I'd question around before calling the smith. I think the barrel needs to come off the head space reset . I have never had a bolt this tight on factory ammo. Maybe with neck sizing and a need to bump the shoulder back. Seems like I might have to do that with new brass. Thanks .

Answer: You seem to have a good handle on this already.

Factory ammunition and rifle chambers are made to Sporting Arms and Ammunition Institute (SAAMI) specifications.  If the bolt won't close something is wrong.

Assuming the bolt closes on an empty chamber, and since it appears you reload, I would try pushing back the shoulder on a few cases (as you indicate, the shoulder is the head space datum).  If that allows the bolt to close as it should, then your head space is probably wrong.

At that point you could get your own gauges and chamber reamer, find someone who has them or bring it back to the smith who put on the new barrel.

Question: Sir, is there any possibility to a revolver fire itself by puting on the ground by mistek and the person hurts ad die.

Answer: Yes.  Dropping a loaded gun can be dangerous.  Most modern firearms have mechanisms to try to prevent accidental discharge, but always keeping a gun pointed in a safe direction is the only foolproof way to prevent injury.  It can't harm anything it does not point at.

Question: Hi, I cleaned my Taurus 809e 9 mm, but when I pushed the firing pin where the hammer hits the pin moved but did not come out as far to even touch a bullet, is that normal?

Answer: Probably.  Many handguns have an inertial firing pin.  That means that the hammer strikes the firing pin hard enough that it continues to move against its spring even after the hammer has stopped.

The mass of the firing pin is enough that it will activate the primer and then the spring will retract it so that it will no longer be in contact with the primer.

Question: 7.62x39mm what do the two numbers signify?

Answer: 7.62 is the caliber and 39 is the case length in mm.  In inches it is .30 x 1.52

Question: The safety on my beretta 96a1 disengages the hammer on the gun. If I were to cock my weapon and accidentally leave the bullet in the chamber, once my gun slides back and the safety brings slams the hammer back, will my gun fire?

Answer: It should not.  The Beretta safety/decocker  rotates the firing pin out of the way of the hammer.

However it is never a good idea to rely on mechanical devices to prevent accidents.  Constant vigilance to keep you gun pointed in a safe direction is the best safety measure.

Question: I have a Ruger 10/22 with a stainless steel bull barrel custom stock and I put it all together it looks amazing but when I pull the bolt back it doesn't retract the round I'm sure it would if I fired it but I end up getting it out with tweezers. What could be the cause?

Answer: Missing or damaged extractor or extractor spring.

The picture below shows the extractor and its spring.  Note that the pointy end of the hook should be sharp. The spring should keep the extractor in contact with the cartridge.

The diagram shows how a good extractor may not engage the rim correctly due to excess material opposite the hook.

Ruger 10/22 extractorRuger 10/22 extractor
Ruger 10/22 extractor problemRuger 10/22 extractor problem

Question: Why do some guns have a 2 position hammer? Ie. You pull the hammer back and it clicks once, and then you pull it all the way into its fully cocked position and it clicks in place again.

Answer: For various reasons.

Flintlocks included a half-cock position to get the flint off the frizzen in order to prime the pan without the chance for an accidental discharge.

Likewise percussion locks need the hammer off the nipple in order to install the cap.

The Colt Single Action Army has two "extra" positions.  The first gets the firing pin off the primer and the second frees the cylinder for loading and unloading.

(You will hear four clicks when you cock a Colt SAA, the third is the bolt locking the cylinder in place.)

A Trap Door rifle also has three positions with one to lift the hammer off the firing pin and the second to allow for loading and unloading.

Sometimes the half cock position is included to catch the hammer if it is accidentally released during cocking.

Question: Hi, I don't know much about guns in general but I recently inherited a old revolver. It is old and worn, I can't see a model number or anything of the sort nor do I know what kind it is. What I do know is that it is something wrong with it, when I pull the trigger everything works, except for the fact that the trigger does not go back.
Is there some way I can fix this?

Answer: The link you included to the internet picture of a similar revolver shows a pinfire revolver.

This is an early type of cartridge that had an internal primer and a firing pin built into the cartridge.

The problem with yours is probably a damaged or missing trigger return spring.  It may be a coil spring but flat springs were also very common at the time.  A coil spring can be easily matched and flat springs are still used and easy to make if you have some skill.

The picture below is a Belgian pinfire revolver.

If you search the internet for "pinfire revolver" you may find a matching one that will help you identify yours.

Question: Hi, I have an old Ranger 34 single shot that fire about 25% of the time using the same ammo. Fed Auto match. Get nice firing pin pings on all, even the ones that don't go bang. Took the ones that didn't fire in the Ranger and shot them through Henry Golden Boy and all fired fine. It has new firing pin also. Any ideas? Thanks, Mike

Answer: It could be that the spring in the old Ranger is weak  You could try stretching it just a bit, or replace it.

Also compare the firing pins in these two guns.  If the one that works looks sharper than the other one you could try reshaping the older one.  Try not to make it shorter though.

I have seen a number of guns that function better with a particular brand of ammo.  Finding that brand may be the easiest solution, but that does not address the fact that the firing mechanism in the Ranger is on the edge.

Question: Do double barrel derringers fire both barrels at one time?

Answer: Typically not, although I am sure you can find examples that do.

Rather there is some sort of selector, either manual or automatic, or even two separate triggers.

Question: I have A 22 long rifle H&R sportsman double action.
How can I put my trigger n pin back together?

Answer: Here are a couple of links:

H&R model 999 schematic

Other H&R schematics

Question: Hey there, I have a very very old colt revolver I just inherited from the late 1800's. Apparently it's my great great great grandpas. I've had quite a bit of experience with firearms and I've always seemed to be able to load them without pulling the hammer back at all. With this pistol It seems I have to have the hammer pulled back slightly for the cylinder to rotate at all and make it possible to load. Is this normal for older guns or am I doing something wrong?

Answer: This is normal for single action revolvers whether new or old.

Unlike double action revolvers that have a cylinder that swings out of the frame, single action revolvers load through a gate that exposes just one chamber, therefore the cylinder must be rotated to load all the chambers.

With the hammer down the cylinder is locked in position to ensure alignment of the chamber with the barrel.  Likewise when it is cocked.  The half-cock position is included for loading and unloading.

Colt Single Action Army revolvers were not certified for smokeless powder until serial number 192,000 so you will need to obtain black powder cartridges to safely shoot this gun.

Question: I have heard that a 9mm Hi Point carbine will slam fire if the firing pin spring is this true?

Answer: Probably.  The firing pin spring is there to keep the firing pin off the primer until the struck by the hammer.  If it is missing, the firing pin is free to float and will strike the primer when the bolt closes.  If the firing pin has enough inertia (combination of mass and speed) it will fire the cartridge.

Some rifles have a floating firing pin by design.  The AR-15 and the M14 types are examples.

In these rifles the designer has specified a firing pin mass and bolt speed low enough to keep the inertia of the firing pin below what will fire the cartridge, although a slam fire is still possible if primers are used that are softer than the original design.

Question: I have a river super Blackhawk, when I point it in the air and pull the hammer back the cylinder does not advance in any other position it advances fine. Any idea if there is a problem or is this a built in safety feature?

Answer: Your revolver should work in any position.

There is a component that advances the cylinder called the hand or sometimes the pawl.

If you remove the cylinder you can see it sticking out of the frame and watch it move when you cock the hammer.

There is a spring that keeps it in contact with the cylinder.

I suspect that the spring is missing or damaged so that when pointed up, gravity makes the hand fall into the frame.

Question: I have an old 22 six-shooter HR. The cylinder says 22 LR. Is it OK to fire 22 shorts? Thanks

Answer: Yes.  The whole family of .22 rimfire will chamber in any gun marked for .22 LR, so revolvers and single shot firearms will work with any of them.

The lower power rounds may not cycle a semi-auto and the shorter ones may not feed well through a repeater.

Question: I'm developing a TV series set in early WWII Europe.  My main character has a post WWI bolt-action rifle.  She has no clip and must load one round at a time.  Is there anything she can do to increase the range?  Like lick the round?  Dry it off?  Coat it with something?  Or would anything she does actually reduce the range?

Answer: Range is a function of muzzle velocity and ballistic coefficient.

Ballistic coefficient is a function of the shape of the bullet and its sectional density.  Since your protagonist is stuck with a specific rifle and ammunition there is nothing she can do to about sectional density, or for that matter the shape of the bullet. (The spitzer type bullets in use since 1906 are close to ideal.  Modern match bullets tend to be boat-tailed for a slight gain in BC but your character probably can't make her own bullets.)

Muzzle velocity is related to barrel length, powder type, friction in the barrel, and chamber pressure.

Various anti-friction measures, like graphite, molybdenum, other lubricants and barrel polishing have been tried with debatable success, but that is real life VS Hollywood, so you might consider some rustic lubricant (neatsfoot oil, beeswax, bayberry wax, lard or the like).

Chamber pressure on the other hand is affected by the temperature of the cartridge.  I have heard of leaving cartridges in the sun to squeeze just a little more range out of them.  Your woman could tuck them in her bra to raise their temperature.  There is some danger of receiver failure any time chamber pressure is increased above the maximum design pressure, but of course the outcome can justify the risk.

A couple of technical points:

Clips hold cartridges together for easier handling.

Magazines feed cartridges to a firearm.

What is often called a clip is in fact a detachable magazine.

Many WWI era rifles had internal fixed magazines (K98 Mauser, 1903 Springfield, and others) which could be loaded one round at a time or from stripper clips.

For your character to be forced to single load, her rifle must be one that uses a detachable magazine that she does not have, or one that is missing critical parts to its internal magazine.

Question: Do all guns eject the cartridge after firing?

Answer: By definition all semi-automatic firearms must eject the fired cartridge in order to clear the chamber for the next cartridge.

Manually operated repeaters (lever action, bolt action, pump action) must also eject the fired cartridge when the action is operated in order to be useful as repeaters.

Single shot firearms could leave it to the shooter to remove the empty cartridge but most have some mechanism that either ejects the cartridge or at least assists the shooter in removing the empty.

Likewise most revolvers have manual ejectors of some sort.

Question: my 45 empty shell does not released from the barell chamber after firing.

Answer: The extractor is missing or damaged.

The picture below is the extractor from a Colt model 1911.  The hook on the left end is what extracts the cartridge.

In a 1911 the extractor lives in a channel on the right side of the slide and extends all the way to the back of the slide where it is visible next to the hammer.  It is held in by the plate that surrounds the firing pin.

To remove the extractor:

Unload the gun and lock the slide open.  Depress the firing pin with a pen or other pointy thing and slide the small plate down out of its groove.  The firing pin will want to jump up because of its spring.  Remove the firing pin.  Don't lose the spring.  Pry the extractor up and out of its channel.  You can use the firing pin to do this if you are careful not to damage it!

1911 Extractor1911 Extractor

Question: When you cock a gun and the barrel moves about 1 centemeter down does it mean its been fired a lot ?

Answer: No. Many semi-automatic pistols operate on a variation of a John Browning design.

In this design the barrel is locked to the slide in one way or another when the slide is in battery (all the way forward).

When the gun is fired the barrel and slide move together toward the rear a short distance, then a toggle link or a cam or some mechanism lowers the barrel to unlock it from the slide.

The slide continues to the rear extracting and ejecting the empty case and then the spring drives the slide forward again where it strips the next round from the magazine and into the chamber.

When the slide is almost all the way forward the cam or whatever toggles the barrel back up where it is once again locked to the slide.

Animation of a 1911 pistol.

Question: If I bought an antique revolver at an up coming auction hat is a .450 cal. What are the odds I could get modern day rounds to work in it?

Answer: "Antique revolver" covers a lot of ground.

Does this revolver shoot fixed ammo or is it a cap and ball revolver?

If it shoots fixed ammo is it center fire or rim fire?

Was it designed for black powder or smokeless powder?

Is it even safe to shoot?

Should you shoot it and risk damage to what might be an irreplaceable firearm?

If it was designed for black powder you must not use modern ammo in this gun because it will not hold up to the high pressures generated by modern ammo.

If it was designed for fixed center fire ammo, and it is in good condition, you can almost certainly obtain the components and tools to load your own ammo specific to this gun, but you have to know what you are doing.

Owning and shooting antique guns can be a lot of fun, but there is a learning curve that must be followed in order to do it safely.

Question: I am very new to having a gun and have an old 38 revolver with no safety. It is in a gun case in a drawer. Is it possible to be bumped/knocked over and go off? Or is there anyway for it to go off without pulling the trigger?

Answer: It depends.  Most modern revolvers have some passive safety device to prevent accidental discharge.

The danger comes from two possible situations.

In the first the hammer and firing pin rest on the primer when the hammer is down.  A shock of any kind may fire that cartridge.  The solution is to lower the hammer on an empty chamber.

The other is a gun that is loaded and kept with the hammer cocked.  Once again anything that causes the hammer to fall will fire the gun.  The solution is to not store or carry the gun with the hammer cocked.

I encourage you to learn all you can about your revolver and practice with it in order to become proficient in its use.

These pages contain a lot of useful information for new gun owners.  The make and model number are probably stamped right on the gun somewhere.

This link is to a site with many manuals (but not Smith and Wesson).

Smith and Wesson Manuals

Smith and Wesson Model 10 manual

Your gun can not hurt anything it is not pointed at.  Always keep it pointed in a safe direction.

Question: Hi I have a .357 Taurus 8 shooter and I just finished loading it up, and I think I made a slight mistake.... I just pulled the hammer back, do I need to shoot that round or is there any way I can put the hammer back in place without wasting that bullet??

Answer: You can restrain the hammer with one hand, pull the trigger and gently lower the hammer.

Obviously there is some danger of an accidental discharge, so do this at the range or some place safe.

Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction at all times.

Question: I have a 450 John Rigby double underlever hammer rifle. If the hammers are down, the firing pins protrude out, making it difficult to close the breach with cartridges. Are the hammers required to be cocked before loading?

Answer: I have never handled this rifle and a quick search of the web did not turn up a manual.

However Rigby is still in business. Here is their contact info

Based on what I know about guns in general I will suggest the following:

Since the hammers seem to rest on the firing pins I would not attempt to close the breech since this could fire the cartridges.

I suspect there must be a half-cock position that will raise the hammers off the firing pins allowing the breech to close.

Another possibility is to cock the hammers and engage the safety.

For an added measure of safety the rifle can be carried with the action open and only closed when firing a shot is imminent.

Question: How do i take a clip out of a 22 caliber long rifle?

Answer: There is a magazine release somewhere.  It might be a button or lever on the frame or it could be on the magazine itself.  There is no real standard for where the magazine release is or how it works.

Here is a link to many firearm manuals.

Question: The slide is open the clip is in and a live round is in the do I close the slide without it going off?

Answer: Remove the magazine, then tip the barrel up and the round should fall out.  If not you can hook it with a fingernail, but be careful the slide doesn't slam on your finger.

The correct way to chamber a round is to let the slide strip it from the magazine.  If the gun is working correctly, and you keep your finger off the trigger, it will not fire.

In any case always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction, loaded or not.

Always let the slide fly.  Don't try to slow it down.  It was designed to work this way.

Once the round is chambered you can engage the safety, if it has one, or use the de-cocker if your gun is so equipped.

Question: Will firing a22lr round safely discharge from my 22 revolver?

Answer: Unless your revolver is an antique it was probably designed for the .22LR cartridge.  This info might be stamped on the barrel or elsewhere on the gun.

.22 rimfire comes in several variations with .22 LR (Long Rifle) being the most common.

Others are:

.22 Long

.22 Short

.22 CB Cap (CB stands for Conical Ball)

.22 BB Cap (BB stands for Bulleted Breech)

All of these will fire from single shot rifles and revolvers chambered for .22 LR.

Some repeating rifles will feed the shorter rounds and some won't.

Most semi-autos require the .22 LR to function correctly.

Question: is it bad if a gun is missing its firing pin?

Answer: Only if you want to shoot it. A gun will not fire without a firing pin because it is the firing pin that strikes the primer, which is a compound that is sensitive to impact, and the primer then ignites the powder.  The rapidly burning powder creates expanding gases that drive the bullet down the barrel.

Question: My .450 john rigby double hammer rifles breech won't close after placing cartridges

Answer: Be sure you are using the correct cartridge.  What your double rifle probably shoots is the .450 Nitro Express and not the .450 Rigby. 

Also check the chambers for separated case necks or other debris that would prevent the cartridge from fully chambering.

Question: just replaced the cylinder advance on my 36 cal black powder pistol. i am now having trouble having the cylinder advancing too far when i pull the hammer back. What should I do???

Answer: You need to shorten the "hand", sometimes called the "pawl" a little.  It is the part that comes out of the frame and turns the cylinder when you cock the hammer.  This is likely the part you replaced.  The new one probably comes long because it is easier to shorten it than to lengthen it.

It might be too hard to file in which case you have to use a stone.  Try to keep the original shape, go slow and check often to see if you have improved the timing.

Question: model 34 22 cal semi auto rifle Ted Williams Sears Robuck. the trigger doesn't reset after fireing.

Answer: It probably just needs a good cleaning but check the trigger return spring as well.

These rifles were made by Hi Standard.  Here is a manual that should be close.

Question: Can a bolt action rifle be decocked and have a round chambered? Then when a shot is needed quick the bolt can be lifted and lowered to cock instead of cycling the whole action.

Answer: No.  Some bolts cock on opening, others on closing, but the only way to de-cock them is to pull the trigger.  Obviously this will fire a chambered round.

Either keep the bolt open with a round in the magazine or chamber a round and engage the safety.

Question: I have a cimmaron single action that will not cycle the cylinder I've been told it's a easy fix but nobody seems to know.

Answer: The "hand" comes out of the frame behind the cylinder and engages the ratchet-like projections on the back of the cylinder.  If the ratchet-like projections are not worn or damaged then the hand or hand spring may need to be replaced. (or it could just be gummed up)

If you remove the cylinder and cock the hammer you can see the hand (sometimes called the pawl) sticking out of the frame.  If you push it in it should pop back out under spring pressure.  Clean and replace parts as necessary to get it working.

Question: Rossi 30-06 will not eject a fired bullet?

Similar question: My llama .45 cal keeps jamming  what should I look for?

Answer: For guns that feed from a magazine this is a two step process.

First the case must be extracted from the chamber.

Then the case must be ejected from the action.

Failure to extract: (the case stays in the chamber)

     The extractor is a spring-loaded hook-like part that grabs on to the rim or the extractor groove of the case.

     Make sure it is not missing or damaged and that its spring is not missing or damaged. (There may not be a separate spring.  The extractor itself may be springy.)

     Work the action slowly with an empty case to verify that it hooks on and extracts the case.

     Check your cases for damage to the rim or extraction groove.  If the case sticks in the chamber the extractor may just tear through the case rather than extracting it.

     Possible causes for sticking cases include over-pressure ammo, dirty, rusted, pitted or otherwise damaged chamber and dirty or sub-standard ammo.

Failure to eject: (the case comes out of the chamber but jams in the action)

     Once the case has been extracted from the chamber it must be thrown clear of the action.  This may be done by a spring-loaded plunger in the bolt face or there could be a fixed obstacle that contacts the case as it moves to the rear, thus kicking it out the ejection port.  There are other schemes as well.

     You must identify the component that does this job and make sure it is not missing or damaged.

     A parts diagram is very useful.

     Most manufacturers have the manual available on line.

     This site has many manuals.

Question: Ok I bought a 380 hand gun when I got my cwl. I bought some ammo for target practice to break it in. When I ran out I bought hollow points for self defense. When loading the clip, the third bullet gets hung and won't go down any further to load another one, and if you slide them out like it would do when cocking the gun, they won't release either. I've bought 4 different boxes of hollow point ammo and every one does the same thing. I have 3 different clips and they won't work in any of them. And yes I'm buying 380 ammo for a 380 gun. Any advice?

Answer: Bring it back to the dealer, demonstrate the problem and ask him to correct this in some way.  New mags, better ammo, trade in for a different gun etc.

If that is not possible you could launch into a project to understand what is different about the hollow points compared to the practice ammo.

My S&W .380 and my Ruger .380 work with any ammo you throw at them and so should yours.

Question: A 25 caliber bullet and a 22 caliber bullet are hard to distinguish, at least for me.
Can a 25 caliber bullet be fired in a 22 caliber rifle?

Answer: No.  Not only are the dimensions different, but the .22 is a rimfire cartridge while the .25 is a centerfire cartridge.

Question: how to check which bullet is good for your rifle accuracy i mean so say which brand , which  load to give you maximum accuracy without shot fired ?

Answer: It will be hard to beat factory loaded match ammo. 

But, if you don't mind doing a little research, you can search through back issues of American Rifleman magazine published by the NRA.  Each issue has reviews of firearms that include shooting results with a few different factory loads.

American Rifleman online

The problem is that different rifles seem to shoot better with different loads, so it isn't possible to say this load or that load is the most accurate.

Competitive shooters tend to work up their own loads by trial and error, but this takes a lot of time at the range.

Question: what it means when you have to hold your clip in so it don't fall out

Answer: The magazine latch or the magazine latch spring is missing, damaged or stuck.

If it is not obvious which, try putting some CLP (Cleaner Lubricator Protector) on the latch.  You can get at it from inside the magazine well.

If that doesn't fix it you will have to take the latch apart to check for damage or a missing spring.

Question: When I cock the hammer back to the firing position on my Pietta Army model 1860 revolver, it has stopped locking. I have to ease the trigger forward a bit and the hammer locks as it should, and is ready to fire.

Answer: The trigger and sear assembly need cleaning.  You might be able to flush it with CLP or you might have to take it apart.

Question: My chambers is a little rusty how should I clean it

Answer: Bronze brush of the correct size and gun cleaner.  Brush it with the cleaner, let it sit, clean it out with a patch, repeat if necessary.  If your favorite cleaner doesn't work try another. Don't mix them.  Clean one out before you use a different one.  I have had good luck with Frog Lube.

Question: Which barrel is full choke on my Savage double barrel?

Answer: The one with the smaller inside diameter.  The difference is probably only .01" so you will need calipers or an inside micrometer to measure the barrels.  Or find a plug that just fits one barrel so that you can tell by comparison which is smaller.

Question: Why does the pin keep hitting the side of the bullet instead of the middle?

Answer: Because it is probably a rimfire, like a .22 LR, or .17 HMR.

Rimfire ammunition has the priming compound in the rim instead of in a separate component pressed into the center of the case.

If your gun fires it is certainly a rimfire.

Question: I bought a new mossberg 243 bolt action when i went to shoot it it wont take the round into the chamber to shut the bolt but the bolt worked fine empty any answer.

Answer: Most likely you are using the wrong ammo.  Don't confuse .243 Winchester with .243 WSSM.  Compare what is stamped on the barrel to what is written on the box of ammo.  If it is not factory new ammo be sure that what is written on the box is in fact what is in the box.

Question: Why does my 1911 drop to the halfcock position when the trigger is pulled to fire the weapon?

Answer: The hammer might be sticky, the mainspring might be weak or the hammer is damaged.

If it seems to take the right amount of force to cock the hammer and a good cleaning doesn't fix it, then remove the hammer and sear and inspect for damage.

Question: I just bought a .357 Taurus Revolver, when I fire the bullets, the cartridges get stuck in the chambers and I have to pry them out with pliers, but they load in with almost no effort, they are American Eagle .357 ammo. Is it the gun or the bullets? putting them in is just fine, but taking them out after they have been fired is like pulling teeth. 

Answer: The cases expand when fired so it is normal for them to stick a little, but the extractor should push them out.  If it takes an unreasonable amount of force on the extractor rod to push the fired cases out then there could be a problem with the gun.

Since the ammo goes in easily and American Eagle is a good brand, I don't suspect the ammo.

Dirty chambers can lead to stuck cases.  If the chambers are clean then look at the finish of the chambers.  If they are not very smooth on the inside this can cause sticking as well.

Also try nickel plated cases and shoot some .38 special ammo to determine if it is only the longer, higher power .357 that stick.

If they do stick put a wooden or plastic rod in from the front of the cylinder and tap the cases out so you don't damage your cylinder by prying on it.  Make sure all the cases have been fired before you do this!

Question: I have a charter arms 38 special. The hammer does not stay locked back. Is that normal. I'm new to firearms world. I thought the hammers on revolvers stay pulled back until it's fired or released. I'm worried that when loading if hammer is pulled back accidentally that it will fire premature. Any help would be appreciated.

Answer: No, that is not normal.  If there is an external hammer with a hammer spur, it should stay cocked. (There is a double-action-only version of this gun but it has no hammer spur to cock it with.)

Parts 40 (with spur) and 41(DAO, no spur) in this diagram.

It is a bad idea to fire guns known to be defective. You can bring it to a gunsmith or return it to the factory for repairs.

Question: i took my357 tauras appart and when i took my side plate off a sping flew out what do i do now the cyclender dosent revolve

Answer: Here is a link to the manual.

Make sure you have all the parts.

Read this Taurus disassembly page.

Watch this Taurus gunsmithing video.

This should help you get your Taurus working again.

Question: My H&R  243 handirifle will lock in 40 % of the rounds that I reload with casings previously fired in that rifle . 60 % will not load . Any suggestions?

Answer: The cases stretch when fired.  If the shoulder of the case gets pushed too far forward the head space will be too long.  You might have to do a full-length resize.

Also check the overall length and trim the case mouths as needed.

Question: Can a smith n wesson 32 cal kimmel shoot 380 bullets of i switch the cylinder

Answer: No.  Most .32 cal bullets are .315" in diameter whereas .38 cal bullets are .357 in diameter.

The .38 won't fit down the barrel.

Question: I was an ammunition spec. in the army and have 2 honorable discharges. How hard would it be for me to get a federal firearms license?

Answer: Your background is irrelevant unless it includes criminal activity.  All applicants who meet the criteria will be issued a license.

From the ATF website:

ATF will approve the application for license if the applicant:

  • Is 21 years of age or older;
  • Is not prohibited from shipping, transporting, receiving or possessing firearms or ammunition;
  • Has not willfully violated the GCA or its regulations;
  • Has not willfully failed to disclose material information or willfully made false statements concerning material facts in connection with his application;
  • Has a premises for conducting business;
  • The applicant certifies that: the business to be conducted under the license is not prohibited by State or local law in the place where the licensed premises is locatedwithin 30 days after the application is approved the business will comply with the requirements of State and local law applicable to the conduct of the business;the business will not be conducted under the license until the requirements of State and local law applicable to the business have been met;the applicant has sent or delivered a form to the chief law enforcement officer where the premises is located notifying the officer that the applicant intends to apply for a license; andsecure gun storage or safety devices will be available at any place in which firearms are sold under the license to persons who are not licensees ("secure gun storage or safety device" is defined in 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(34)).

A federal firearms license (FFL) is a license to conduct business in firearms (gun smithing, gun store, collecting, manufacturing), not a license to carry firearms.  A license to carry (LTC) is issued at the state level.

Question: I have a star model super b. What type of ammo does it shoot?

Answer: Probably 9mm but the correct ammo should be stamped right on the slide.

Generally 9mm means 9x19, 9mm Luger and 9mm Parabellum, all of which are the same and will work in a Star model B that says 9mm on the slide. (They may have only been made in this chambering, I'm not 100% sure.)

There are many less common 9mm cartridges that can not be fired from this gun.  Examples include 9x18 Ultra and 9x23 Largo

Question: My bolt will not slide back into the receiver  if my 30-06

Answer: Often there is a latch or button or lever that must be moved to the correct position to re-insert the bolt.  Sometimes the trigger has to be held back as well.

Here is a link to many manuals.

Question: I have a question. But more or less a curiosity
You see, in the Movie The Dark Knight, the joker holds the hammer of a magnum so that the gun wont fire no matter what the other guy does. My question is, will the gun shoot?

Answer: No. It is the hammer that either has the firing pin on it, or strikes the firing pin, which in turn fires the gun.  If the hammer is restrained from falling, the gun will not fire.

Question: y does my 22 revolver firing pin hit the side of the bullet instead of the middle?

Answer: Because most .22s are rim fire.  The priming compound is in the rim rather than in the center.  Center fire cartridges have a primer that is a separate component, pressed into the center of the shell case.

Question: when you pull back the hammer to fire ,it doesnt rotate to the correct position. nore stop to un  load. cowboy  stile 38.

Answer: Revolvers have a mechanism that rotates the cylinder and locks it in place during firing.

Single action revolvers (cowboy style) also have a half-cock position where the cylinder will turn so that you can load and unload them.

Getting them to stop and lock in the correct position is called timing.

Incorrect timing is usually due to worn or broken components.

This is a video about revolver timing.

In this video he stretches the "hand" to change the timing.  This works if your timing is off a little.  If it is off a lot you probably need to replace the hand.

You should also be sure the bolt spring is ok.  It is what pushes the bolt up to engage the notches on the cylinder.

This video is about the bolt.

Question: I have a new Ruger SR9c... Have shot approx. 100 round through it.. Bought a box of Remington 115gr... About every 5th round, it seems, jams. Aside from not buying Remingtons anymore, Is it OK to retry the rounds that jam, or should I dispose of them?  Thanks!

Answer: If they are not damaged or shorter, then it is ok to shoot them.

If the bullet gets pushed deeper in the case it can cause an over-pressure condition.

Question: When I depress the trigger on my M1 .30 carbine (after charging the bolt and releasing), the firing pin does not release until after releasing the trigger.....

Answer: There is a mechanism that catches the sear while the trigger is depressed.  When the trigger resets (goes forward) the trigger should hold the sear and the other mechanism should release it.

It sounds like there is a problem in this sequence.

Here is an article on the M1 Carbine trigger group.

Remove the trigger group and play with it for a while until you can see how the parts interact.  Don't let the hammer fly forward without controlling it, or something might break.

Try to determine if anything looks sticky or damaged before you take it apart.

There are five springs in there.  Don't lose them or get them mixed up.

Pay attention to which pin goes where and from what direction.

Clean it up and inspect the mating parts of the sear and hammer for damage or wear.

Give it a light coat of oil, put it back together and it should work right again.

If you are not good at this kind of thing you might want to take it to a gunsmith.

Question: While shooting my semi-automatic pistol it's Cycles the empty cartridge and a new cartridge in but it seems like the slide doesn't go back far enough to engage the hammer. Is my spring too strong?

Answer: Assuming the hammer will cock when you cycle it by hand, in other words there is nothing wrong with the hammer mechanism itself, then I would say the action is short cycling which could be due to under-powered ammo or, like you say, a spring that is too strong.

The designers usually get the spring right, so I would try different ammo first.  I have seen many guns that work better with one kind of ammo than another.

Question: Why does my auto 22 rifle push the ammo up to high and miss the chamber ?

Answer: This is probably a magazine problem.  Rim fire magazines can be a little finicky.  This is because the rim is bigger than the rest of the case and the cartridges can move around more than the rimless variety.

Clean and inspect the magazine.  If it still does not work try a different one.

Question: My dad was accidentally killed last week by his .44 cowboy pistol falling out of the holster and the hammer hit the payment and fired. Is this common on this old pistols which I was told has "no" firing pin block?

Answer: Sorry to hear about your dad.

Yes, old single action pistols have no safety features at all and are typically carried with the hammer down on an empty chamber.

Question: I have a cw 9 made by kahr some times when I slide it back there are no bullet coming up and I can only put 3 bullets in the clip can you tell me how to fix this problem

Answer: Sounds like a problem with the magazine.  Make sure it is assembled correctly and that none of the parts are damaged.

Here is a video.

Question: Every time i load the first shell in my auto 5 light 20 the bolt lock so hard that i cant open it and unload the shell that was in the barrel what the problem ?

Answer: Be sure you are using 2 3/4" shells and not the 3" magnums. (unless yours is chambered for the magnum)

Also make sure the chamber is clean and free of any debris that might prevent the shells from going in all the way.

Use brand name ammo that is certain to be made to the proper dimensions.

Question: I just started reloading. I have read not to deviate from the book starting out, but I am. I am using Speer 168 gr BTHP bullets on the .308 platform. I use a Lee classic loader so I simply utilize a 3.1cc scoop instead of a scale for my powder. I can't remember if it comes out to 40 or 42 gr offhand. I am using CCI Lg rifle primers. They shot light but well. I have a Lyman reloading handbook as well. My question is this; my reloading handbook doesn't have the bullet (Speer) I am using. I don't understand how do I go about reloading differing loads without upper and lower limits on a particular bullet. Because bullets are different lengths how do I know what's what  as far as the upper and lower limits of a powder I can use, or the total overall length a round should be, etc, etc.

Answer: Bullets of the same weight and type will give similar results regardless of the manufacturer.  The 168 gr BTHP Sierra data will work for 168 gr BTHP Speer bullets.

That said, each manufacturer publishes load data as well.  So do the powder manufacturers.  Some of it is available online and some is in a printed book you have to buy.

Since this is a match bullet I will assume you are looking for the ultimate in accuracy.  Consistency is everything, so most serious competitors weigh every load. (Many have automated scales for this.)  You should have at least a basic scale so at you know what your scoop holds.  it will be different for different powders. Ball powders meter better than other types.

Start low and work up, looking for signs of over-pressure.  The most accurate load is not necessarily the hottest.

Other competitors can be a good source of advice (if their scores so indicate).  Many of the competitors I know shoot one load for rapid stages and a different load for single-loaded stages.

This is because rapid stage loads must fit in the magazine whereas single-loaded rounds can use heavier bullets set to nearly touch the rifling, which is widely considered to lead to the best groups.

Reloading is a learning process.  Keep reading, develop techniques that promote consistency, change things slowly and one thing at a time, upgrade your equipment over time, keep notes and have fun.

Question: I bought some ammo that has steel casings and the rounds seem to travel left of target.  I have a MP9 and a MP9 shield and both will shoot left of target.  I bought the shield new about one month ago.  The ammo is priced cheaper than others; would the steel casing effect the firing of the weapon vs. brass or zinc coating casings?

Answer: It certainly could.  Any factor may or may not change the way a gun shoots.  There are so many factors involved that It is a little bit like alchemy to try to predict how they will interact. 

If they group well you could adjust the sights, use Kentucky windage (aim to the right knowing the rounds will then be on target) or change your grip, which is another factor that may change the impact.

But if this is your primary self defense weapon you should probably keep your training consistent and  use practice ammo that shoots like your defensive ammo or accept the fact that the cheaper stuff shoots left, because there is something to be said for the increased practice you get with cheaper ammo.

Question: I'm currently looking for an ejector for my AMT Kurz .380. The ejector broke so when i cleaned it after use i took it out. My gun is fully assembled but just without the ejector. Is it still safe to fire?

Answer: It will jam after each shot since the case will remain hooked to the extractor, which could be considered a safety issue. You might want to load rounds one at a time, but otherwise it should be ok.

PS: Numrich has this part.

Question: I have a phoenix arms .22 pistol. After each shot, the slide will not slide back which is causing the spent casing to stay in the chamber. Is there any solutions as to how to fix this problem?

Answer: This is a blow-back operated pistol, meaning the breach does not lock.  When fired the pressure generated by the burning propellant simply drives the empty case against the slide, causing it to move rearward against its spring.

The mass of the slide and the spring are chosen to work with specific ammunition; in this case .22 LR (Long Rifle).  Although other .22 rimfire ammo can be fired from this pistol, they won't have the power to cycle the action.

If new, brand name .22 LR ammunition will not cycle the action then another problem exists.

Make sure that the slide is clean and oiled and that the chamber is clean so that the case does not stick in the chamber. Also check that the hammer moves freely, since the slide cocks the hammer when it cycles.

Question: Will a 32 Walter asp bullet fire from a smith and Wesson 38 snubs nose?

Answer: No. You must use the cartridge that the gun was designed for.

In this case most .32 bullets are .315" in diameter whereas .38s are .357" in diameter.

Even in cases where the bullets are the same diameter the cartridge cases are typically vastly different.

Question: I have a CBC model 151 single shot 12 gauge. When i break the barrel down and try to take it apart from the rest of the gun it will not come apart. What is wrong?

Answer: You must first remove the fore stock by just pulling down in the front.  Then break the barrel and slide it up and to the rear.  Here is a You Tube video.

Question: I have a 9 mm luger and after I load the clip and cock it , it jams in the middle of cocking it. Can I fire that bullet or should I take it out the head?

Answer: Don't fire any cartridge that has visible damage.  Also compare the length to be sure the bullet has not been pushed deeper into the case.  Otherwise it should be ok.

Question: I have a Remington 700 25-06 sendero and the bolt will not close all of the way. It will close about a quarter way. The firing pin will engage. I did take the bolt after and clean it after I notice the bolt not closing. After cleaning the bolt and oiling it, it still will not close. I have no idea what it may be. Hopefully you may know what the issue may be.

Answer: If the bolt will not close on an empty chamber there is a problem with the rifle.  Use plenty of light and some magnification to inspect for damage or debris that might cause this.  Otherwise a gunsmith will have to look at it.

If the problem is only when there is a round in the chamber it may be the ammo.  Try some new, brand name ammo.  It could also be a head space problem.  A gunsmith will have the gauges to check the head space.

It is dangerous to fire a rifle if the bolt does not close all the way.  If the locking system fails it will result in catastrophic destruction of the rifle and possibly serious injury or worse.

Question: I have a Beretta 92fs. When I load it the hammer doesn't hold. Any ideas what's wrong !!?

Answer: The drawings below show the hammer and the sear.  The sear is what holds the hammer back (cocked).

Note: In these drawings the hammer is shown from the left while the sear is shown from the right.  When assembled, the sear faces the other way such that the surfaces labeled "critical area for single action" engage each other.

Check those surfaces to be sure they are not damaged. (smooth with sharp corners)

The sear is held against the hammer by a spring.  Make sure the spring is not missing, damaged or installed incorrectly.

The sear is released by the trigger bar (not shown, but it pulls on the sear where indicated).  Make sure the trigger bar is not stuck, thus keeping the sear from engaging the hammer.

With the slide and the grips off you may be able to see the problem.  (Don't let the hammer fall uncontrolled with the slide off.)

If not, here is a video on removing the hammer.  You probably won't need to remove the sear unless it needs to be replaced.

Question: I have a heckler & koch p9s (sorry if thats the wrong name) and when i load the gun and pull back the top it puts a bullet in the chamber but when i point it down the bullet comes out

Answer: If you mean the entire cartridge falls out the end of the barrel then you are using the wrong ammo or the wrong barrel is installed, which is unlikely.

The correct chambering should be stamped on the slide and it should match what is printed on the box of ammo.  Also check the head stamp on the actual cartridge to be sure it also matches. (Not all cartridges have this info stamped on them, but many do.)

Question: I have a Spanish Star model B with a live round in the barrel and I cannot get the slide to rack to unload, can you plz tell me what I need to do to unload it without wasting the round ?

Answer: This gun is almost an exact copy of a Colt 1911.  Almost.

Like a 1911 the slide won't rack if the safety is on, so check that first.

Otherwise, in the interest of safety, I would just fire the round before trying to diagnose the problem.

Unlike the Colt this gun has no grip safety.  If the hammer falls it WILL fire.  Extreme caution must be used.

These guns were made by Spain for Nazi Germany and then most of them were captured by the Russians who disassembled, cleaned and reassembled them without regard for which part came from which gun.

Then they were drowned in cosmoline.

The mis-matched parts and the cosmoline could make stuff stick.

They break down like a Colt.  Try releasing the spring by rotating the barrel bushing.  Without the spring tension you might get some insight as to why the slide won't move.

If it moves a short distance and then stops, it could be that the barrel is not unlocking / toggling.  Try pushing down on the barrel through the ejection port.

Without the gun in my hands the only other thing I could suggest is lots of oil in case something is just corroded.

Question: have a 243 Remington and when i fire a cartage out of it the bolt gets stuck closed what would cause that? had gone through cleaning it and still happens slide is smooth to the inside.

Answer: Hard to say.  If it is smooth without ammo and with un-fired ammo, then it is probably safe to say that the empty cartridge has stretched and is binding on the bolt face.

Check for signs of over pressure and also for correct headspace.  And double check that you are using the correct ammo.

Question: Need help w Glenfield Marlin mod 70 22 long rifle . Need the diagram of gun. Took it apart . Have clip and it's not feeding the bullets into gun.

Answer: Here is a link to the Marlin manual.

Also a you tube video.

Question: I have a S & w model 36, the cylinder rotates and locks in place on all notches except one and it's the same spot every time. what could cause this problem?

Answer: There is a series of notches around the cylinder.  A pawl extends out of the bottom of the frame  and into the notch to lock the cylinder in place during firing.

Chances are that the one notch has a burr or something preventing the pawl from going in the notch.

That notch could also be worn to the point that it does not hold, but that seems unlikely.

Also check the pawl for burrs.

Also check out this video on revolver timing.

Question: when i use my revolver does not shots all six bullets & strike is off the center of the bullet

Answer: Sounds like the timing is off.

Watch this video on revolver timing.

Question: A .22 cal magnum was fired while bore sighter was still in muzzle. The part of the sighter that was external of the gun was blown away but the smaller end stayed inside;about 2 1/2 inches from muzzle end. Sighter is aluminum with a small screw and rubber expander at the bullet end.the aluminum drilled well until the small bit broke off and that is the prob. Will a hard bit get the softer one out?

Answer: You have a couple of problems.  It sounds like there is also a bullet stuck in the barrel.

This often results in a "ringed" barrel, meaning the barrel has stretched in the area of the obstruction leaving a ring of larger diameter.

Drill bits are harder than woodpecker lips and can't really be drilled by other drills.

If you can't drive the bullet and sighter out from the breech end with a brass rod, there are a couple of other possibilities.

See what a local gunsmith can do.

Replace the barrel.

Cut off the barrel and re-crown it.  Be sure not to go below the 16" required by federal law.

Question: How much does a firing pin for a 22 revolver cost and where can I get it from in Dayton Ohio?

Answer: The cost will depend on the make and model.  $8 to $20 if it is readily available.

Gun stores can often order parts.

Here are links to some on-line parts stores.



Midway USA

Gun shows can also be a source of hard to find parts but you need to know exactly what you need.

Question: Is it okay to tap the end of the magazine on my ruger 380 lcp to get it to seat properly?

Answer: With your hand, yes. In fact it is good practice to give it a good whack with the heel of your hand to be sure it seats.

In a self defense situation an unlatched magazine could fall out or fail to feed and that would be bad.

Question: I have a new manufactured Inland/MKS M1 Carbine that has maybe, 300 rounds through it. I recently encountered a box of cheap .30 carbine ammo that was underpowered.  It would not fully cycle the action.  The strange part (to me) was the ammo created a black, lint like residue inside the receiver. This linty substance formed clumps and went everywhere after just a few rounds. It would stay intact when compressed.   It was also light enough to easily blow out of the gun. The gun was nice and clean before the shooting session and had functioned fine before and after when we switched to a different ammo maker. Gun was not stored in a fuzzy container either. Have you seen this kind of lint-like gunpowder residue before (if that's what it is)? 

Answer: I have not seen this exact condition but I have seen plenty of dirty ammo.

Modern smokeless powder is nitro-cellulose based.  Cellulose is the organic material found in plants.  In fact at one time smokeless powder was called gun cotton.

So it does not surprise me that the residue looks like lint.  Sounds like the powder is defective.  Maybe too much cellulose and not enough nitro. 

Of course the manufacturing process is more complicated than that, but you get the idea.  High quality powder, properly applied, burns very clean.

Question: I have a 9mm high point. The magazine will not stay inside the gun but if I hold it In it still fires. Any idea what's wrong ??

Answer: Try it with the slide locked open (or removed) and the magazine empty.

    There is a notch on the right hand side of the magazine and there is a latch that pops into that notch when the magazine is in place.  The latch is connected to the magazine release but is on the opposite side of the grip.  It is spring loaded.  If you look into the magazine well you should be able to see it and watch it move when you press the mag release.

    Make sure the latch and its spring are not damaged.  The latch should have a nice square edge on the top and the spring should pull the latch into the mag well.

    If they are ok then make sure the latch pops into the notch when the mag is inserted.  If it doesn't you have to figure out why.  Possibilities include wrong magazine for the gun, damaged magazine or defective magazine.  Also look for dirt, debris or something else that prevents the magazine from going in far enough to latch.

Question: I have a 40 cal.walther ppx with a double stack magazine. It's supposed to hold 14 in the mag and 1 in the pipe. But it will only hold 13 in the magazine. When through much struggle I pack the 14th bullet in. The magazine won't reinsert all the way. I'm confused

Answer: The word is those magazines are hard to load.  But they do hold 14 rounds.

Try inserting the fully loaded magazine with the slide locked open to be sure there is not some other problem.

When you insert a magazine with the slide closed, the top round must be pushed down a little.  Since it is hard to get the 14th round in to begin with, it might take a little whack with the heel of your hand to seat the loaded magazine under a closed slide.

With luck it will loosen up a bit with use.

Of course there is always the possibility that you have a defective magazine.

Question: I just got done building an Ar15 and on test fire it would not cycle everything worked it would chamber a round eject the round but would not chamber the next.

Answer: Sounds like the gas port is the wrong size, clogged or, if you have an adjustable gas block, shut off.

The gas port must be matched to the barrel length and the ammo.

If the bolt does not cycle at all when fired, but works correctly by hand, this would indicate a clogged or closed gas port.

If the port is small / partially clogged / adjusted too low, the bolt will short cycle to some extent, may eject a case but won't strip the next one from the magazine.

The other possibilities are ammo that is way under powered, or the gas rings missing from the piston.

Question: what causes slide to not go into battery

Answer: If it won't go into battery without ammo then the pistol is dirty, not assembled or lubricated correctly, or has missing or damaged parts.

If this only happens with ammo it could be dirty, bad or wrong ammo.  Also rough feed ramp, magazine problem, weak spring, damaged or dirty bolt face or extractor.

New guns often improve after a few hundred rounds.

Question: Will a Walther 380 fire with one in the chamber but hammer not pulled back?

Answer: Yes.

The Walther PPK, PPK/S and PK 380 are all double action handguns.  They can be fired from the hammer down position or from the cocked hammer position.

Since they are also semi-automatic the slide will cock the hammer after each shot. Therefore all shots after the first shot will be in single action mode unless you lower the hammer manually.

Question: I put 180 grain into my 20 yr old 30-06 and the casing is stuck had to tap the slide down with a rubber mallet. Now how do i get the casing out without hurting the barrel?  

Answer: It depends.  If the round has been fired and the case is empty, put a wooden dowel or brass rod down the barrel and tap it out.

If it is a live round you have a dangerous situation.

You don't want to be in front of the muzzle with a live round in the chamber, but even working from the breech end is dangerous because if the round goes off with the bolt open the case will rupture and destroy the gun and probably any personnel in the area.

If you are sure the round is the correct one for the rifle, it is in otherwise good condition, and you are sure the barrel is not obstructed, you could close the bolt, making absolutely sure it locks up, and fire the round.

Otherwise I don't know what to tell you except to find someone who deals with this situation on a regular basis and may have devised a safe way to extract a stuck live round.

Of course at some point you have to figure out why it got stuck since this is not a normal thing.

Question: I own a Taurus 24/7 pro DS G1, .45 ACP with a 12 round magazine. (yes, I'm aware of the pending class action suit).  I have found that G1 magazines are discontinued.  I can find G2 magazines. My question, will G2 magazines work in my G1 handgun?

Answer: The Taurus site does not seem to distinguish between G1 and G2 magazines leading me to believe that they do.

On the other hand, comments on the Midway site claim that G1 magazines do not work in G2 pistols, but that is the opposite of what you are asking.

I would find a friendly gun store that might let you try one.

These guys seem to have both in stock.

Question: Does a 45 have a hammer to pull before it fires?

Answer: Some do some don't.  It depends on the type of action, not on the caliber.

The famous Colt .45 revolver is a single action revolver. The trigger will not cock the hammer, therefore the shooter must cock it.

Likewise the Colt model 1911, granddaddy of the semi-auto pistols, is a single action firearm. The hammer must be cocked before it will fire, but the slide cocks the hammer whether the slide is racked by hand or by firing a round.

Other .45s are of the double action type. In a double action pistol the trigger will lift and drop the hammer to fire the pistol, or the hammer can be cocked by the user or the slide.

Other pistols have a hammer that is internal or a striker in place of a hammer. These pistols must be fired by pulling the trigger since there is no hammer that the user can manipulate.  They are called double action only or DAO.

Question: What is the purpose of half cocking a .380 Ruger LCP? Can it be drawn and fired from the half cocked position?

Answer: The Ruger LCP is a double action only (DAO) semi-auto handgun.  The hammer is visible but not meant to be directly manipulated.

Movement of the slide, either to chamber a round or when a round is fired, partially cocks the hammer.

This is done to lighten and shorten the trigger pull compared to what it would be if the trigger did all the work.

The trade off is that it is not capable of double strike.  In other words, if a round fails to fire, pulling the trigger will not cock and release the hammer again.  The slide will have to be pulled to the rear to partially cock the hammer.

So yes it can be drawn and fired from that state.  In fact that is the only state from which it can be fired.

Question: What does the numbers 32 44 22 & 357 mean ?

Answer: These numbers denote the caliber of the gun more or less.  Roughly speaking they represent a diameter in decimal inches.  So a 44 caliber gun will have a bore .44 inches in diameter.

I say roughly because often the caliber is an approximation and other times it is a historical artifact.

For example most 38 caliber handguns are in fact 35 caliber, for reasons related to manufacturing efficiency.

What needs to match is the cartridge and the chambering.  The chambering denotes the cartridge the gun is designed to fire and is often stamped on the barrel or frame.

So a gun chambered for .45 ACP can not fire .45 Long Colt and vice versa.

A gun chambered for .30-'06 can not fire .30-30 or .30 Carbine.

Although the calibers are the same or similar, the cartridge is different.

Question: M1 carbine short-stroking.

Answer: Under power ammo, dirty gas port or dirty gas piston/cylinder.

Question: My JC Higgins model 29 will only eject the spent casing when fired. When many last working the action however, it will not eject the cartridge. What could be causing this & how can I correct it?

Answer: Since this is a semi-auto the just-fired case is what drives the bolt to the rear.  If you manually work the action the case must be pulled from the chamber by the extractor.

Check to be sure the extractor is not missing or damaged.  The extractor is a hook like part on the right side of the bolt that hooks over the rim of the case when the bolt closes.

Question: I accidentally shot a .308 bullet in my .30-06. I was able to get the shell out of the chamber but do I need a gunsmith to inspect it to ensure nothing's wrong?

Answer: These two cartridges generate similar pressure.  The .30-'06 action should be able to handle that.  The bullets are the same diameter.

Make sure the bullet or parts of a case are not stuck in the barrel.  (Unlikely but check anyway.)

If a .30-'06 chambers correctly it should be ok.

The real danger was a ruptured case.  Since the chamber is not cut for a .308, the head space was wrong and could have led to a ruptured case.  If that happens you get high pressure gas in the action which can cause injury and damage.

Question: I have a brand new CZ mallard 12 gauge, it will not close unless you move the opener lever to the right, shouldn't it close without having to do this, it says that when you close it the opener stays to the right just a little.

Answer: It should.  The mechanism is spring loaded.  It may be a little stiff because it is new.  Make sure the moving parts have a light dab of oil on them.  Close it with a bit of authority.


Answer: It should work like a door latch: you must turn the knob to open the door but it should slide up the ramp and snap in place when you close the door.

You could try moving the latch with a screw driver to confirm that it will move.  You could see if moving the lever just a bit helps get it started.

But basically you are trying to diagnose a problem with a brand new gun.  It should work or they should make it right.

Question: Will a 38 caliber handgun fire correctly if the barrel is sawed off to be the same length of a snub nose 38?

Answer: Yes.  Of course you will loose your front sight and you should re-crown the muzzle.

Here is a link to crowning tools.

Question: Ruger LCP fires cycles but it will not fire again unless you rack it ejecting a live round.

Answer: Sounds like the trigger is not resetting.  Make sure the trigger itself does not stick and also that the disconnector does not stick.

If you remove the slide you can see the disconnector sticking up like a little shark fin on the right side of the frame rail in the rear.  If it sticks down the trigger won't reset.

Check to be sure that the slide goes all the way forward after each shot because if it does not the slide holds the disconnector down. (So that the gun won't fire until The slide is locked up.)

Question: I have a marlin 25N and the clip keeps falling out. Can someone please tell me why?

Answer: Either the magazine, the magazine catch or the magazine bracket could be worn or damaged.

Here is  link to the manual.

Question: 12 gauge shotgun shell without explosive charge used to release the hammer, What is the name this device?

Answer: It is called a snap cap.

12 Gauge Snap Caps

Question: What do i do if the hammer on a 9mm Beretta won't stay back when i pull it?

Answer: Check the hammer, sear and sear spring for damage.

Question: How can I modify and bore a Rg 22lr to shoot a bigger round with all of the original parts

Answer: You can't. And even if you managed to reconfigure the parts they would probably fail under the higher pressure of a bigger round leading to serious injury.

There is a lot of engineering and metallurgy that goes into firearm design. It is best left to the experts.

Question: Why does the 45 cal pt pro millineum have to be hit on the back after u cock it back for it to set in place for firing?

Answer: This is called failure to go into battery.  There can be a number of causes or a combination of causes.

Make sure you pull the slide all the way to the rear and let it fly.  If the gun goes into battery in semi-auto mode but not when the action is worked by hand then this could be the problem.

Also a dirty chamber, dirty or bad ammo, wrong bullet shape, a rough or dirty feed ramp, a worn or damaged magazine, a dirty or improperly lubed slide or a weak spring.

Also some brand new guns take a couple hundred rounds to break in.

Question: I have a RG model 14 .22 caliber snub nose revolver. I need a diagram to show me how to assemble and reassemble the gun.

Answer: Here is a link to the manual with an exploded view.

Question: I just got an RG model 14 22. caliber . When i dry fire the gun the cylinder only moves maybe 25% of the time. I know these are cheap crappy guns but i like it and it has been in my family for years,  since i was a tot. Any clue as to why cylinder isn't moving?

Answer: On the back of the cylinder there is a ratchet-like set of projections.  In the frame there is a part called a "finger" that is supposed to push on the ratchet to turn the cylinder.  One or both of these is worn or damaged (or the related parts that move the finger.)

If you are good with mechanisms you might be able to diagnose / replace / repair these parts. Otherwise a gunsmith will need to look at it.

Question: On a 22 rifle what is it called where you load the bullets under the barrel and put the stick back in?

Answer: A tubular magazine.

Question: My 22 Revolver won't fire when pulling the trigger! only when pulling the hammer.

Answer: Is it a single action revolver?  A Ruger Single Six for example? (Single action revolvers usually load and unload through a loading gate one round at a time. Double action revolvers usually have a cylinder that swings out to the side.)

Single action revolvers must be cocked with the hammer before they can be fired.

Double action revolvers can be fired from the hammer down position with the trigger or from the hammer-cocked position.

Double action only (DAO) must be fired with the trigger because there is no visible hammer.

If this is a double action revolver and it won't fire from the hammer-down position then internal parts are broken or missing and a gunsmith will have to look at it.

Question: I have a S and W .38 two inch Chief.  I shoot full load with smoke blanks at Track Meets.  The cylinder will not rotate nor will the trigger pull.  I have attempted to oil into hammer and trigger but with no results.

Answer: It could just be dirty or it could have some defective parts.  If you are good with tools and mechanisms you can do some disassembly.

There is a screw on the right side just above the trigger.  If you remove it the crane will come off with the cylinder.  (Don't lose it or get it mixed up with other screws because it is a special type.)

Then the cylinder should slide right off the crane. If it won't spin or come off the crane this could be the problem. Oil, gentle persuasion and patience is called for.

For more disassembly see this You Tube video.  It is not outrageously complicated but there are springs and screws and parts that must not be lost or damaged.  If you go this route go slow and don't take apart more than you need to to fix the problem.

If you are not good at this kind of thing, take it to a gunsmith.

Question: My son has a Browning Buck Mark .22 semi. How can he lower the hammer (without firing the gun) when a cartridge is chambered? There is no exposed hammer.

For example, he inserts a mag, pulls back the slide to load the first cartridge, then decides to not fire it.

Answer: You can't. If the round will be fired soon just engage the safety and keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.

To clear the gun of ammo: Remove the magazine and cycle the action (pull back the slide). Check the chamber to be sure the chambered round ejected.

This is also the general procedure to clear any gun that is not a revolver.

Remove or empty the magazine then cycle the action to eject any chambered round. Check to be sure the magazine and chamber are in fact empty.

Note that it has to be done in that order. Remove the magazine first, then cycle the action. Cycling the action with rounds in the magazine will eject one round only to chamber another.

Question: 1873 Winchester chambered for 357   Question  The cartridge will not slide all the way into the chamber.  Fired the gun 30 times will same cartridges no problem but now it looks like a ridge in the chamber is blocking the cartridge from loading completely. any thoughts?

Answer: That ridge is most likely powder residue. A good cleaning will probably fix it.

However I did have a case neck separate and get stuck in my 1873 once, so be sure it isn't that!

Question: What is it called when you go to fire a bullet and the primer is not struck hard enough to fire the round?

Answer: It is called a "misfire" and it means there is a problem with your gun.

See Failure To Fire.

Question: Just bought my very first fire arm ever. Took it home to clean off the grease they smother it in for packaging purposes, checked safety and everything but with the safety in the OFF position, my trigger won't release. It's "stuck" if you will in a position that prevents me from shooting in anyway. Like I said, this is my first fire arm, I am obviously new at all of this. How can I release my trigger?
12 gauge Long Island shotgun.

Answer: I am not familiar with the Long Island brand.  Any chance this is a Rock Island M5?

Either way it sounds like there is still some grease keeping things locked up.

On the RI M5 the trigger group is held in by a pin that is removed from right to left. and the trigger group then pivots out from rear to front.

Since this is a brand new firearm I have to assume it will work once it is thoroughly cleaned and properly lubed.

Read the relevant section of the manual again and if you have no luck call the manufacturer.

Question: I just got a marlin 22 105m. It is probably the best shooting 22 I've ever had.  But when I shoot it and pull the bolt back it doesn't withdraw the bullet from the barrel.  Any way to fix this old gun?

Answer: It sounds like the extractor is damaged or missing.

This is a link to a Marlin manual.

On page 13 is the exploded view.  Part 14 is the extractor.  Be sure you have this part, or one like it, on your bolt.

If it is there you might be able to tweak it until it works.

If it is missing you need to find one.  Start with the contact info in the manual for Marlin.

Also try Numrich.

Question: Our Range Officer has decided because of a few "newbies" they are going to steel rod every barrel as one exits the shooting range.  Isn't this dangerous and shouldn't opening the firearm (by moving the slide) be the only proper way to check for a chambered round?  "Ram Rodding" could cause a bullet's primer to be hit and the gun would go off WITH the rod down the barrel.  Isn't that a greater risk?

Answer: I have never encountered this method of checking for an empty chamber. While I doubt this would set off a round, it does require breaking rule number one, which is to always keep a firearm pointed in a safe direction. Someone has to put at least a hand in front of the muzzle to do this, so I agree that this is not safe.

In addition I see potential for damage to firearms or ammunition.

In every class or training session I have attended the command is "unload and show clear." At this point magazines are removed and slides are locked open and firearms are kept pointing in a safe direction while the range officer walks behind each shooter to verify that the firearm is clear. Then the firearms are holstered or cased and removed from the firing line.

One final point is that since many of us carry, at the end of the session firearms are reloaded and holstered. This of course depends on the rules of the facility.

A holstered gun under the control of a trained person is a safe gun.

Question: Very hard to press cartridges into a Beretta  92 magazine.

Answer: Magazines are very simple devices.  Good quality ones work until they are absolutely filthy or worn out.  Poor quality magazines may not work correctly right out of the box.

Loading them takes somewhat of a technique and strong fingers.

Here is a You Tube video.

I load mine almost the same way but I tend to use my index fingers instead of my thumbs.

There are also various loaders available.

Magazine Loaders

Question: Will a 380 high point pistol shoot if you don't cock the gun?

Answer: Semi-auto handguns will not fire without a round in the chamber.

If there is a magazine with at least one round in the pistol then racking the slide will chamber a round and cock the firing mechanism.

Many are double action (including the Hi Point) meaning that the trigger will cock and fire the gun if there is a round in the chamber, but the trigger will not chamber a round.

Question: I have a Reck p8 kal 6.35mm made in west Germany and when I pull the slide back it won't stay locked it just sides back what could the problems be?

Answer: Probably nothing is wrong.  Some semi-autos don't have a slide lock. I have seen one that only locks when there is no magazine in the pistol.

If there is no slide release lever or button then chances are there is no slide lock.

Question: Is there a danger of advancing the cartridge by pulling the trigger in a revolver when the last cartridge did not fire?

Answer: Any time a cartridge does not fire as expected is cause to wait 30 seconds in case it is a hang-fire.

Pulling the trigger or cocking the hammer of a revolver will advance the cylinder to the next position and move the potential hang-fire to a position that will cause problems if the cartridge fires at that point.

How much of a problem depends on many factors but it should be avoided.

After waiting the 30 seconds remove the cartridge and put it in the "dud" box or away from people.

Question: I have a Smith & Wesson 5 shot snub nose revolver with a swing out cylinder for loading, But when I swing it out to load the cylinder comes lose and will fall out in my hand  I have to purposely hold the stem in to keep this from happening.  What would cause this, it all looks okay?  I don't see anything broken?

Answer: There is nothing to hold the cylinder to the crane. If the crane and cylinder are removed then the cylinder slides right off the crane. With the pistol assembled the only thing that prevents this is a projection on the lower left side of the frame just above the trigger.

Question: My Taurus pt25 doesn't "click" when I do "dry" practice.  There is no empty magazine in is completely empty.

Answer: The Taurus PT25 has a magazine disconnect; it won't fire with the magazine out.

In addition it is a double action only (DAO) design with no visible hammer.

It is, however, capable of double strike (the slide need not be racked to semi-cock the gun like many DAO handguns).

So pop in an empty magazine and you should be able to dry fire.

Question: My cousin purchased some ammunition, for his lever action .308 is there a way to determine if the round is still good without actually firing it? May seem like a retarded question, but he fears it may miss fire or dismantling it and checking the powder is there a way to determine this? , or are there signs that it may be bad?? Just by looking at it? Also what is the shelf life of .308 ammo?? The rounds don't look corroded or have no green patina on them. Thanks.

Answer: Ammo stored in a cool dry place lasts a long time. (sixty years or more) If it looks good it probably is OK.

The year of manufacture might be stamped on the base of the cartridges.  It can also be found on the box if it is in its original box.

My biggest concern would be rounds that don't sound right.  If you get any of those unload the rifle and make sure sure the bullet is not stuck in the barrel.

Disassembling rounds has its own dangers and I doubt you would learn anything.

Question: Is it normal to still be able to fire a marlin 336w lever action rifle with the side safety  pushed to the safe position?

Answer: No. The safety should prevent the rifle from firing.

Question: Single action  Uberti colt navy 36 five inch barrel 1975 proof mark   Fires on load cock position;  not good since is a cap n ball.  What the deal is my man ?

Answer: Probably a broken tumbler.

The picture below shows a flint lock tumbler and sear at half-cock.

The tang of the sear is captured in the deep notch of the tumbler preventing the trigger from being pulled.

But if the bottom section of that deep notch breaks off then it will no longer capture the sear and pulling the trigger will cause the sear to slip off the tumbler and the hammer will fall.

The other possibility is that the tang does not fit in the notch.

The second picture is of the hammer from a single action revolver.

Here you can see the three notches in the hammer.

The first, which is highest in the picture, keeps the hammer off the primers.

The second is the load position (half-cock).

The third, at the bottom, is full cock. It does not capture the tang, thus allowing it to slip off when the trigger is pulled.

Question: The bullet feeds in the chamber but never leaves the chamber?

Answer: The cartridge feeds into the chamber. The primer is activated by the firing pin but stays in the case. The powder is ignited by the primer and burns, producing high pressure gas. The bullet is driven from the case and down the barrel by the high pressure gas. The empty case and spent primer is ejected from the chamber.

Disassembled .308 cartridgeDisassembled .308 Cartridge

Question: When I load bullets in to my riffle and then try to take them out my bolt won't grab them and they get stuck in the barrel how do I fix that?

Answer: There is a hook-like part at the edge of the bolt face that latches onto the cartridge case. When the bolt moves to the rear this part, called the extractor, drags the case out of the chamber.

If this part is missing, broken or not under proper spring tension then it won't do its job.

If the extractor does latch on but damages the rim because the case is stuck in the chamber then you need to figure out why the cases stick.

Some things to check if your cases stick:

     Dirty chamber.

     Corroded or otherwise damaged ammo.

     Over-pressure ammo. (If the empty case sticks but not the unfired cartridge.)

     Wrong ammo for the gun.

.308 Savage Bolt

Question: Mother-in-law has a Ruger SS 357mag.and cylinder will not drop out to load or unload. Cylinder will revolve around like its supposed to, just wont drop away, any suggestions?

Answer: Sounds like the cylinder release is broken or dirty. If blasting it with WD-40 doesn't fix it then it will have to be disassembled to see what the problem is. Clean up any excess WD-40 and run a patch or two through the cylinder and barrel before you shoot it. (NOTE: WD-40 has been reported to damage bluing.  You might want to use a similar product intended for guns.)

Question: If you have one bullet left in your pocket can you use that single bullet on a revolver the same way you can use a single bullet on semi automatic pistol?

Answer: Yes. A revolver cylinder does not have to be fully loaded to function. Of course the round you want to fire has to be in the position that aligns it with the barrel. Remember that the cylinder will rotate one position when you cock the gun, so position the round accordingly.

Question: I am new to handguns but I have noticed a difference in the flash with various ammunition. So does a bigger flash mean a cleaner ammo? I am shooting 9mm in a Walther PPX.

Answer: I'm not sure if the flash size is related to the cleanliness of the ammo. My guess is that it is more related to the burn rate of the powder.

An excellent observation. Let me know if you find an answer.

Question: I have a 32 acp derringer, every time I cock it back to shoot it won't cock back & stay. Do you know what the problem may be?

Answer: The sear or sear spring is damaged or the trigger is stuck.

The picture below shows a simple sear and tumbler arrangement. This one is from a flintlock, but every gun has some version of this. The key parts being the notch and the tab right where it says "Full Cock".

As you can see if the tab gets broken off the sear, or the notch on the tumbler is worn, or the sear spring does not hold the sear in contact with the tumbler, or if the trigger is stuck thus keeping the sear away from the tumbler, then the tumbler (which is part of the hammer or connected to the hammer) won't stay cocked.

Question: I have 30 year old .357 hollow points that have been in a controlled  environment safe. Are they safe to fire?

Answer: Probably. Ammo that has been kept dry and cool lasts quite a long time. If it is not visibly damaged it should be ok.

The problems I have encountered have been inconsistency and split cases, but that ammo was not kept in a controlled environment.

Any round that doesn't sound right is cause to ask yourself "Did that round exit the barrel?" since an obstructed barrel is dangerous. This goes for any ammo.

Question: I have a Taurus pro series 45 semiauto. Can the slide action be adjusted to work easier?

Answer: Probably not. The designers picked the components they did to ensure reliable functioning under a variety of circumstances.

However there are accessories available to get a better grip on the slide.

Question: How to check head space on a marlin 39a, 22 lever action?

Answer: Head space is specific to the cartridge not the gun. All firearms chambered for .22 rimfire can be checked with the same two gages, a "go" gage and a "no-go" gage.

The bolt should close with the "go" gage in the chamber and not close with the "no-go" gage in the chamber.

Question: I bent the recoil spring in my 702 Mossberg rifle. I want to replace it. what is the psi on it so I can match it with another one?

Answer: Springs are matched by their physical characteristics. You need a spring with the same outside diameter, length, number of coils and wire diameter (the size of the wire from which the spring is wound). That last one, wire diameter, is important. You need to measure that with a micrometer or calipers.

The other property is material, but most springs are made from plain old spring steel, so as long as the one you are considering doesn't claim to be made of stainless steel or some exotic material you should be ok.

You can also order this part from Mossberg.

830 773-9007

[email protected]

Here is a link to the manual.

Question: I have a Remington 30-6 model 7400 semi auto that fires and ejects first round and loads second live round but does not fire. I eject live round and it fires next round. Any ideas?

Answer: One idea is that it fires only when cocked by hand. This might indicate that the action is short-cycling due to problems with the gas system or under-powered cartridges.

Another possibility is that it doesn't feed as well from one side of the magazine and the bolt isn't locking up. When a round fails to fire check to see if the bolt is all the way home and locked up.

Use caution! If a round does fire while the bolt is unlocked bad things happen, including destruction of the firearm and injury to the shooter.

Question: I have a model 74 Winchester 22lr semiautomatic. When firing it will fire and eject the shell but will not cock to fire the new round in the chamber. Everything is clean and all the springs and mechanisms seem to be ok. There is a slight sticking point when cocking manually but not heavy. Any help would be appreciated.

Answer: .22 rimfire semi-autos work on an uncomplicated blow-back system. When a round is fired the force on the shell casing simply pushes the bolt to the rear against its spring and weight. If it sticks even a little it may not travel far enough to pick up the next round and / or to cock the action.

Try to determine why it sticks a little and correct that. You could also try a different brand or velocity of ammo that might give a little extra push on the bolt.

Question: If you cock a gun and a bullet flies out the chamber what does that mean?

Answer: It means it was already loaded and ready ti fire.

Question: On a glock19, say you have a full magazine in, but not one in the chamber, could you pull the trigger and still fire? Or, do you have to always use the slide release first then fire?

Answer: I am not aware of any handguns that fire from the open bolt, although many sub-machine guns fire from the open bolt.

So yes, you must chamber a round before you can fire.

Question: Have a problem with a Beretta al390 silver mallard 12 gauge shotgun. When loaded and ready to fire, the firing pin will not strike the primer on the shell. When disassembled, it seems as if the firing pin mechanism is blocking the pin from fully engaging. Why won't the pin fully engage?

Answer: Modern firearms often have a mechanism that prevents the firing pin from striking the primer unless the trigger is pulled.

Typically this firing pin block is moved out of the way when the trigger is intentionally pressed.

Is it possible these parts are missing or damaged? Are they incorrectly assembled?

Could the firing pin be broken or the wrong one?

Here is a link to the manual.

Here is a link to the schematic.

Question: The end of my .44 cartridge is scrunched together with no projectile visible. Is it live?

Answer: Any cartridge with an unused primer is live.

The one you describe is probably a blank or possibly "snake shot"; basically a .44 caliber shot shell.

Caution! Blanks are still dangerous because of the hot, high pressure gas and fillers they discharge.

Question: My Remington 30 30 lever action dents primer but don't fire.

Answer: Bad ammo. The job of the fire control system in any gun is to give the primer a good whack with the firing pin. If it does that, and the cartridge does not fire, then the ammo is defective.

properly dented primers

Question: Is it safe to shoot a fm just round that is pressed to far down into the brass?

Answer: No.  The round will likely be over pressure.  How far over is hard to say.  It might work fine but it might destroy the gun and injure the shooter.  Don't shoot any ammo that is obviously not in good condition.

Question: Can you put a bullet in a pistol without involving the clip?

Answer: Yes.  Just stuff it right in the chamber.  Be sure the slide is closed and locked before firing it.

Don't put a round in the chamber if you have a loaded magazine in the gun because you will get a double feed and possibly a jam.

Some pistols have a magazine disconnect and won't fire with the magazine out.

Minor Technical Point: Clips hold rounds together for easier handling and faster loading. Some examples are moon clips for revolvers, en-bloc clips for the M1 Garand and stripper clips for fast reloading of magazines.

Magazines, including detachable magazines, feed ammo to the firearm.

Question: Is it possible to set a round off of a bolt action rifle by working the bolt?

Answer: Not if everything is working properly.

The primer must be struck a hard enough blow to activate it.

But I once had a rifle with a malfunctioning sear (the part that holds the firing pin or hammer cocked until you pull the trigger), and that rifle would sometimes fire when you closed the bolt.  I repaired it and it has been fine since.

In another case I know of, the firing pin was stuck and protruding from the bolt face, so closing the bolt set off the round.  If this happens before the bolt is locked (and it did) the firearm typically suffers significant damage and the shooter is often injured. (minor injuries in this case)

The moral of these stories is: Keep your firearms in good working order and wear safety glasses.

Question: My firing pin on my +- 40 year old 30-06 savage 110 broke off. Took my bolt to the only gun smith in town where he ordered one but this one is approx. 1/4" too long from the cocking pin end to where the pin narrows into a cone shape. Unfortunately he said find someone that will grind it down to match my old one. I can measure up to the part that broke off but I need to know all the dimensions or better order the correct firing pin. The gun smith mentioned something that this my be a 110 E Model?

Answer: Midway lists a firing pin for the model 110 but it may be the same as the one you have.

Or try the Savage Arms part finder.

If there are any gun shows in your area there are often guys with lots of hard to find parts.

Question: I have a marlin 30-06 bolt action rifle. It will not pull spent she'll from chamber. But if I hold the gun up she'll us ally just falls right out. Why won't bolt pull spend round out?

Answer: The extractor or the extractor spring is damaged or missing.

There should be a hook-like part at the edge of the bolt face that snaps onto the rim of the cartridge under spring tension.

This is what pulls the case out of the chamber.

Question: I have a lakefield mossberg .22 and the trigger mechanism doesn't retract back to the firing position, (so the trigger stays back when I pull it) and I don't know anything about guns of this style so does anyone know what might be wrong with it (ps there are no gun shops in my area so I can't just take it in to get it looked at)

Answer: It is probably just dirty, or a spring could be damaged or missing.

Remove the stock so you can get a better look at the trigger mechanism.

If nothing is obviously damaged blast it with WD-40 to flush any dirt and grime away. Work the moving parts around and repeat if necessary until it seems clean.  Blot up the excess WD-40 before you put it back together. (NOTE: WD-40 has been reported to damage bluing.  You might want to use a similar product intended for guns.)

If it still sticks you will have to try to determine why and correct it.

Question: Can a 38 special go off if you hit the hammer?

Answer: It depends. Most modern handguns have mechanisms to prevent that, but some, especially older models, do not.  Also mechanisms can fail.

If you are worried about it put an empty chamber under the hammer.

Question: I have a Mossberg patriot 30-06 all wood and I noticed my barrel sets more to the right then center of the forestock is that normal?

Answer: Mossberg probably intended for the barrel to be centered, but if it shoots ok I wouldn't worry about it.

Question: What is wrong with a bereta shotgun when the shells are not wonting to fire?

Answer: If the primer in the center of the shell has a nice deep dent then the ammo is bad.

If there is no dent then there is something wrong with the fire control mechanism which includes the trigger, sear, mainspring, firing pin, hammer (if present) and maybe some other parts depending on the model.

If you can hear the click when you pull the trigger but there is no dent on the primer then the firing pin is probably broken, missing or stuck.

If there is no click then the fault is probably in the trigger, sear, main spring or safety.

If there is a small dent in the primer it gets harder to pinpoint the trouble but start with a good cleaning and lube, and while you have it apart check out the main spring and the firing pin.

Question: Why does my 30 30 marlin dry fire instead of firing the bullet?

Answer: If the primer in the center of the shell has a nice deep dent then the ammo is bad.

If there is no dent then there is something wrong with the fire control mechanism which includes the trigger, sear, mainspring, firing pin, hammer (if present) and maybe some other parts depending on the model.

If you can hear the click when you pull the trigger but there is no dent on the primer then the firing pin is probably broken, missing or stuck.

If there is no click then the fault is probably in the trigger, sear, main spring or safety.

If there is a small dent in the primer it gets harder to pinpoint the trouble but start with a good cleaning and lube, and while you have it apart check out the main spring and the firing pin.

Question: Can you shoot leaver action shells out of a revolver?

Answer: Yes, if the revolver is chambered for that shell.

Generally what makes a cartridge (shell) "lever action" is the flat topped bullet.  This is because most lever action rifles have a tubular magazine so the primer of one cartridge is sitting on the bullet of the next. Pointy bullets might cause cartridges to go off in the magazine because of recoil or if the rifle is dropped.

Revolvers don't have that problem, so if you have a revolver chambered for .44-40 for example, you can shoot any .44-40 from it regardless of the shape of the bullet, unless it is too long for the cylinder.

Be careful about using modern cartridges in antique firearms.  Most of the antiques were intended to fire black powder and won't hold up to modern powder.

Question: If clip is not releasing by pressing button?

Answer: Lock the slide open and make sure the chamber is empty.

Try pulling down on the magazine while pressing the button.

If that doesn't work, empty the magazine. If you are at the range you can fire the ammo in the magazine or you can cycle them through the action without firing them, while keeping the gun pointed in a safe direction.

The magazine catch is at the height of the button but usually on the other side of the magazine. By depressing the magazine follower you can get at the latch from inside the magazine. You may also be able to remove the floor plate of the magazine and take out the spring and follower to get at the latch from that end. Not all floor plates are removable.

The goal is to push the latch out of the slot in the side of the magazine. You may need to craft a makeshift tool for this.

Another option is to remove the grip panel to see if that gives you access to the latch.

Once you get the magazine out try to understand and correct the problem (bad magazine, damaged latch, spring or button etc.) before you put another magazine in.

Question: When revolver rounds, like .38 special, .357 magnum and .44 magnum are chambered in an auto loader with a closed chamber, such as the Automag series and the infamous .44 magnum Desert Eagle, does the closed chamber significantly increase the muzzle energy and velocity?

Answer: No. The barrel length is the biggest factor. Revolvers leak a little gas at the joint between the cylinder and the barrel, but auto-loaders use some energy to cycle the action. The Desert Eagle has a gas piston, like a rifle.

Question: I was on the way to the stand and I got dirt in my barrel. Will my gun still fire with it in there?

Answer: It is a REALLY bad idea to fire a gun with an obstructed barrel. The results will be somewhere on the scale from "no problem" to "catastrophic explosion." Clean it before you fire it again.

Question: I have 30-30 ammo that is loaded and unloaded several times during deer season.  (lever action)

Some cartridges are now loose in the brass.  Safest way to remove  and disassemble the bullet?

Answer: There are a couple of types of bullet puller.  One is like a hammer.  The other works with a reloading press.

Here is a link:

Bullet Pullers

Question: Little part of on the hammer that hits the bullet to make it fire seems to slightly move is that normal

Answer: Probably.  Often the firing pin is a separate part of the hammer and is held in place by a spring pin.  In that case it is ok if it moves a little.  The dent in the primer of a fired case should be close to the center, except of course for rim fire ammo.

Question: How can you tell if something is wrong with the trigger of the gun

Answer: If it doesn't do what it is supposed to do, or if it does it poorly or differently than it used to.

See my page on triggers for more info.

Question: Can you show me a picture of a 22 snub nose revolver?

Answer: Sure.

Question: With a round in the chamber and the magazine removed are there any semi auto guns that will not fire?

Answer: Yes. Those with a magazine disconnect.

There are models available from many manufacturers and some manufacturers make both versions of the same gun.

Question: 22 ammo TIGHT in cylinder

Answer: Wrong ammo, dirty or damaged ammo, or dirty or damaged gun.

Question: If I have a gun with no magazine inside of it and I put a bullet in the chamber what are the chances of it not firing ? (Semi automatic hand gun)

Answer: Guns fire when the firing pin strikes the primer of a chambered round with sufficient force. It doesn't matter how or why the firing pin struck the primer.

Most (but not all) modern guns have design features intended to prevent the firing pin from striking the primer unless the trigger is pulled.

Some semi-auto designs also have a magazine disconnect that prevents the gun from firing if the magazine is out. Most do not have this feature and will fire a chambered round with the magazine out.

If the trigger is pulled, whether deliberately or not, the chances are high that a chambered round will be fired.

Read the manual and understand how your particular gun works.

Question: Is there a difference in "Lever" action bullets that won't allow them to be fired in bolt action?

Answer: Center fire rifles with tubular magazines require flat nosed or rubber-tipped bullets because the primer of each round in the magazine is resting on the nose of the next bullet. It is possible for pointy or round nosed bullets to set off the primer during recoil.

It is mostly lever action rifles that have tubular magazines.

These flat and rubber nosed bullets will fire from a bolt action rifle that is chambered for that round, but they might not feed as smoothly as a spitzer (pointy) or a round nosed bullet.

Question: My EAA .357 has a habit of jamming on the same 3 holes. It jams even unloaded. But always on the same 3 adjacent holes. When it occurs, I cannot open the cylinder without a lot of effort. The 3 good holes work fine. Whats going on?

Answer: Sounds like the cylinder is not turning true.

Open it up and give it a spin. Does it wobble?  If so the bore for the rod running down the center of the cylinder might be askew.

If it passes that test look at the ends of the cylinder to see if there are marks where it jams.

Look at the extractor plate to verify that it seats flush with the end of the cylinder and is not damaged.

If you have calipers measure the length of the cylinder in the good section and the bad section to see if they are the same.

Bottom line is I suspect either the cylinder is damaged or it was machined incorrectly in the first place.

Question: Bullets will not fully sit in a taurus 44 special 5shot cylinder.

Answer: You may be trying to load .44 Magnum cartridges into a revolver chambered for the shorter .44 Special round.

Check the markings on the barrel of the gun, on the box of ammo and on the bottom of the brass case.  (the head stamp)

Question: I have a 7mm A-bolt with a case stuck in the chamber. The bolt won't open. What to do?

Answer: The bolt won't open with the safety on. Be sure the safety is in the "fire" position when you try to open the bolt.

Otherwise you could try prying with a piece of wood, being careful not to damage the finish.

Or tap on the bolt handle with a plastic hammer.

You might need to take it to a gunsmith to avoid damage to an expensive rifle.

Then try to understand why it got stuck, and correct the problem so it doesn't happen again.

Question: .44 magnum s&w cylinder is stuck do to firing off a shot. everything looks fine but the extractor cant turn it..i was thinking it could be the problem..i was wondering if i can hit it out with hammer  while live rounds are still in their?

Answer: Live rounds are always dangerous. Always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction!

Typically the primer must be subject to mechanical force to set off a round.

I would spend some time trying to figure out what is wrong before I started hammering on the gun.

The gun is designed to fire .44 magnum cartridges.  If it is now malfunctioning, what happened?

If you are saying that the cylinder won't turn or swing out to the side then what exactly is stopping it?

Is it possible the bullet did not exit the barrel and is stuck between the cylinder and the barrel?

Is the empty case damaged and jamming the cylinder?

Does the cylinder latch seem to be working?

Unless you understand the nature of the problem you risk damage to the gun by using force.

If possible disassembly would be a better option.

Question: My .25 AG Galesi is jamming when cocked back. It seems as if the bullet is only going half way into the slot where it sits before being fired. This causes the slide to get stuck halfway open.
Bullet does not slide all the way into the "chamber? ... It sticks out to much causing the slide to stay stuck/open when cocked back. I don't have any empty shell casing to test it out. What can be wrong?

Answer: Wrong ammo, defective ammo or dirt / debris in the chamber.

Check to be sure it is chambered for .25 auto (center fire), not .22 rimfire.  Also look at the head stamp of the ammo.

If that checks out, and the ammo is not damaged, be sure the chamber is clean and not obstructed. I once found a case neck stuck in the chamber of a rifle I bought.

Question: The firing pin strikes the primer in the center and the same ammo works fine in my other gun, but the ammo will not fire in my Rossi single shot 7.62x39. I have tried different ammo also so I feel positive it is the gun. What should I do or look for to correct this problem?

Answer: I agree it is the gun.  For some reason the firing pin is not striking the primer hard enough.

This could be simply a weak spring, or maybe something is preventing the firing pin from traveling far enough.

This could be a worn, broken or damaged firing pin.  It could also be too much head space.  (The bolt face is too far from the back of the cartridge when the action is locked up and ready to fire.)

Check to make sure the firing pin is free to travel and that it extends far enough from the bolt face.

Check for debris in the action that might limit the travel of the firing pin or hammer.

Make an educated guess about how hard the firing pin hits the primer.

Obtain a head space gauge or bring it to a gunsmith for a head space check.

Question: I have a 38 sp & the firing hammer is not visible. How do I open it to reload it?

Answer: There is a catch somewhere that allows the cylinder to swing out to the side. Often it is a button on the left side of the frame, but some work by pulling forward on the ejector rod.

This info will be in the manual.

Question: I have a 12ga Beretta shot gun Silver Mallard.  Sometimes during a shoot, the firing pin hits the cartridge inside the shotgun, but not dead center that causes it not to fire.  Therefore the shell does not eject, and the gun jams, and you can't fire again unless you eject the cartridge manually.  The question is; is this a gun problem or a shell problem.  We are using the low brass, Remington game load with 1 oz powder.  Thanks.

Answer: On the one hand Beretta makes a nice shotgun, on the other hand Remington makes reliable ammo.

Since this seems to be a recurring problem, and since the firing pin does not strike the primer in the center I have to believe it is a problem with the gun.

If the gun is new, or even slightly used, Beretta should fix it.

Question: Just bought an ar pistol shoots 223 556. Anderson lower psa upper. Loaded magazine and them cocked back. Charging handle and bolt carrier get jammed. Can not fire or remove unless I hit the but on the ground while pulling handle. Was able to fire one round then same thing occurred. Figured it was ammo or magazine. Used same ammo and magazine in full size ar and no problem. This rifle is brand new. From what I have been reading is it could be a head room issue is this true? The people I bought it from are trying to give me the run around. Need some good stepping grounds here. Thank you.

Answer: Too little head space is one reason that the bolt might jam when it closes.

How does it work with no ammo? If the answer is that it seems to function properly without ammo then it is safe to say the problem is at least related to the ammo.

The head space is easy to check if you or someone you know has the gauge.

If you reload you could try setting the shoulder of an empty case back a few thousandths of an inch to see if that shorter case seems to cause the same problem.

But the bottom line is that a brand new gun should function properly, and the dealer or manufacturer should make it right.

Question: My 22 revolver won't spin, it only spins if I take the firing pin out but how can I get it to spin with the pin in?

Answer: Revolvers typically won't spin with the hammer down or with the hammer cocked.

A single action revolver should spin with the hammer in the half cocked position.

A double action revolver cylinder will only spin with the cylinder hinged open.

Both types of revolver should advance the cylinder one position when manually cocked, or in the case of a double action revolver, when the trigger is pulled through its long double action cycle.

If the firing pin is preventing the correct operation of the pistol then the firing pin or a related part, like the transfer bar, is damaged, stuck, not properly installed or not properly lubricated.

Question: Firearm without firing pin is consider firearm replica?

Answer: I wouldn't count on it.  Every state has their own laws.  My guess is that it would have to be permanently non-firing to be considered a replica.

And the BATF seems to have the attitude that if it was born a real gun it will always be a real gun unless you demonstrate to them otherwise.

Question: When I go to shoot my 22 I can hear the firing pin drop and hit my shell but it's not firing. When I look at my shell it's dented. It only shoots every now and then. What could be the problem?

Answer: If it is a nice deep dent then I would suspect bad ammo. 

If the dent left by the firing pin is on the small / shallow side, then perhaps the firing pin is sticking or damaged. It could also be a weak spring.

I have seen several guns that work great with one brand of ammo but not very well with a different brand.

Start with a good cleaning and lube. If that doesn't fix it try a different brand of ammo.

Question: I have a shotgun 20 gauge it will pump but the shell will not go to chamber or it gets hard to pump when I pump it won't pull nothing back what can it be ? Thanks.

Answer: Does it pump ok without any ammo?  If so then the problem is related to the ammo.

Make sure you are using the correct ammo for the gun, that the ammo is in good condition and that the chamber is clean and has nothing stuck in it.

If it is hard to pump without ammo, then a good cleaning and lubrication might fix it.

Since the ammo is sticking, that might be why it won't extract. Otherwise make sure the extractor is not missing / damaged / gummed up.

Question: Can the grip stabilization pin on cocoon the frame of a Ruger New Bearcat be drifted or pulled out without damaging it?

Answer: Ruger calls this the Grip Panel Dowel. It is located at the bottom front of the grip frame. They sell it as a replacement part, so I assume it can be removed. Support the frame on a non-marring surface with a hole for the pin to drop into.  Use a drift a little smaller than the pin and be careful not to hit the frame. You shouldn't have to pound very hard.

This is a link to the Bearcat manual which includes an exploded view.

Question: I have bought a used Rossi 357 mag and it has a six inch barrel and half way down the gun it  bubbles  out a little on the out side of the gun and when you look down the barrel of the gun you can see it as well

Answer: Somebody fired this gun with an obstructed barrel. The resulting extreme pressure stretches the barrel in the location of the obstruction. They are lucky not to have had a catastrophic failure leading to injury or death. You will need to have the barrel replaced by the factory or by a gunsmith.

Question: Dropped my rg revolver landing on front sight rotating the barrel. It has since been rotated back. Is it safe?

Answer: I would have a gunsmith look at it. I don't think the barrel should move that easily.

Question: I have a Taurus 380. The take down pin keeps backing out after 3 magazines. What can I do?

Answer: Some Taurus pistols have the rotating take down lever and some have the push out pin. Some have a button that must be pushed while others do not.  They all have some method of retaining the take down pin. At its most basic level this may be just a springy wire bearing on the pin, most likely in a  shallow depression on the pin.

Try to discern what is intended to hold the pin in place in your pistol. Then examine the part or parts to see if they are worn, broken or missing. If you are good at this kind of thing you might be able to tweak a part or a spring to improve its function.  If you are not mechanically inclined you might want to bring it to someone. Try your local Taurus dealer first, or another gun store. Also, Taurus might fix it for free if you mail it to them.

Question: I try to shoot a .9mm but I bought new bullets.  The pin hit the bullet but it did not shoot.. what's wrong??

Answer: Probably bad ammo. If there is a good size impression on the primer from the firing pin then the ammo is defective.  If the impression is small then the main spring (that drives the hammer or striker)  might be weak.

Question: Good Day Sir, is it dangerous to use a 45acp bullet fmj with a projectile that is being pushed deeper into its shells? I have observed most of my bullets are being pushed deeper on its shells due to subsequent testing of loading and unloading.....thank you very much....

Answer: Yes. Cartridge loads are manufactured to specifications that are known to be safe due to testing. One of the areas of concern is the pressure developed when the cartridge is fired. Bullet depth affects the pressure, but not in a way that is entirely predictable. Generally, deeper bullet seating produces higher pressure.

The problem you describe is common for those who chamber and clear the same round multiple times. For example law enforcement officers may chamber a round at the start of a shift and then clear the weapon and put the round back in the magazine at the end of the shift.  The same applies to citizens who carry.

The problem is known to cause dangerous over pressure conditions sometimes.

I can't say with certainty whether your cartridges will be over pressure, but it would be wise not to fire them and risk injury or damage to your firearm.

Question: Does the slide stop work on a colt .32 pistol without the mag in it?

Answer: Most slide stops have an external lever that can be actuated to lock the slide open. It is usually on the left side. Some do not have this feature and can only be caused to lock open by inserting an empty magazine and then pulling the slide to the rear.

I have seen pistols that had no slide lock at all and one whose slide could not be released unless a magazine was inserted.

I am not sure which category your pistol falls into but here is a link to many manuals.

Question: Will a gun still fire if the release button for the clip falls out when the clip comes out?

Answer: Probably, but it is a bad idea to use firearms that are known to be defective. You should get it repaired.

Question: Does my .44 desert eagle suppose to stay cocked?

Answer: The Magnum Research Desert Eagle has an external hammer with a semi-cocked position and a full-cock position. It should stay in either of those positions. If it will not, something is wrong.

If you mean should it be left cocked, that depends.  It can be carried cocked with the safety on, but for storage I would unload and un-cock it.

Question: Should a Ruger GP100 be able to have its hammer cocked back while the cylinder is out?

I've noticed that while I can't pull the trigger and dry fire with the cylinder out, I can oftentimes pull the hammer back and then dry fire single action while the cylinder is out. Oddly, though, this doesn't happen all the time, for example, when the firearm is pointed down towards the floor it won't happen (usually). But when it's pointing level or toward the sky this will happen. I'm wondering if this is something specific to Rugers or something off with my particular firearm since I've noticed this won't happen with my Smith and Wesson.

Is this normal or something I should be concerned about? Thanks for your help.

Answer: Some revolvers will cock with the cylinder open and some won't.

It is interesting that yours is dependent on the orientation.  This indicates to me that there is a part which is affected by gravity.  It could be a part that is under spring tension when the cylinder is closed but is free floating with it open.  I am not familiar with all the parts in this gun.

I would not be concerned unless you can close the cylinder with the hammer cocked.  This would mean that if you closed a loaded cylinder with the hammer cocked the gun would instantly be in a state where it is unexpectedly very easy to fire, which seems unsafe to me.

Question: I have an xd 40 that is getting jammed when the the three round is fired. Firearm does not stovepipe and the round ejects without any issues. Upon ejecting the round, when the slide tries to go back into battery, and chamber the next round it just stops, maybe  1/4 inch before chambering next round. Any help will be appreciated.

Answer: Very strange.  Just the number three round?  All the others feed ok?

The XDs have some known feeding issues.  One relates to ammo that is short.  Try some different ammo, including some ball.

Can you chamber the round with a tap on the slide?  Try to find out where it is sticking.  The rim end of the case has to slide up the bolt face as the round chambers.  is there a bur on the bolt face or is the round sticking on the extractor?

Is the sharp front of the case getting hung up on something? Try a plastic dummy round in the sticky position to see if that will chamber.

Try some other magazines to see if it relates to one particular magazine.

Question: I had a bullet in the chamber of my Glock 19, I took the bullet out of the chamber does the bullet still work?

Answer: Yes. The only thing to be aware of is that if you chamber the same bullet multiple times there is a chance that the bullet will be pushed deeper in the case.  This can lead to an over pressure situation.

Just compare any suspect round to a new one of the same brand and type. It should not look shorter.

Question: I have a .38 revolver but it won't shoot when i squeeze the trigger it only shoot when i pull back the hammer and press the trigger. What's the problem and how can i fix it?

Answer: Could it be a single action revolver? They work the way you described yours.

Typically single action revolvers load through a loading gate while on double action revolvers the cylinder swings out to the side.

Here is a link to many Firearm Manuals.

If your revolver is a double action and you can find the parts diagram and you are very good at taking things apart and putting them back together correctly, you might be able to fix it.  Otherwise this is a job for a gunsmith.

Question: What to do if the bullet won't retract from a 22 long rifle?

Answer: Remove or unload the magazine.  Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.  Work the action a few times to see if the round extracts.

If it still won't come out and it is an empty case and not a live round then try prying it out with the point of a knife or pushing it out with a cleaning rod.

If this is a live round then extreme caution must be used.  Fire the round downrange if possible.  .22 long rifle rounds are rimfire, meaning that the priming compound is in the rim.  It is possible to fire these by prying or squeezing the rim.  Do not get any part of your body in front of the muzzle.  Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

In addition the case may burst at the breech end causing brass shards and hot, high pressure gas to fly in your face.  Safety glasses and a face shield are a must.

Gently try to back out the round by slipping a knife blade behind the rim.  Also try two small blades, one on each side, rocking back and forth.  Keep in mind that too much force may set off the round.

In either case if the round comes out easily then you have a problem with your extractor.  Check for a missing, broken or bent extractor.

If the round was hard to get out there is a problem with the ammo or the gun which might be just dirt.

Question: The hammer is stuck in the pulled back position on a Beretta 70s. Also making the trigger ocher in pull back position. Gun is unloaded and safety on. How do I get the hammer back into  fwd position?

Answer: The hammer should come forward if you release the safety and pull the trigger. You can control the hammer with your other hand if you want, but it is not necessary. Even though the gun is unloaded keep it pointed in a safe direction while you do this. Note that some handguns have a magazine disconnect. That means the hammer will not drop with the magazine out of the pistol.

Also I believe this pistol has a half-cock position. The hammer must be in the full-cock position before the trigger will release it.

If the trigger will not release the hammer with the safety off and the magazine in, then there is a problem occurring. Break down the pistol and look for bent / broken / worn parts. You might need to remove the grips to get a look at some of these parts.

This is a link to the manual.

Question: I have 22 revolver And my gun won't shoot. What's wrong?

Answer: Not a lot of info there, but here are some ideas.

If the cartridges have deep marks from the firing pin but still did not fire, then it is probably bad ammo.

If there are no firing pin marks and you are sure you are using the correct ammo  then there is a problem with the gun. Check for broken / worn / missing firing pin and main spring.

For light firing pin marks it could be either of the above or a combination of both. Try a different brand of ammo. I have seen several guns that work fine with one brand and not with another.

Question: Is there a fire blast when you fire a handgun?

Answer: Yes. It may be hard to see in the daylight but will be very obvious under low light conditions.

The barrel of most handguns is short enough that the burning powder is still hot enough to emit light as it exits the muzzle. Revolvers will also show fire where the cylinder mates with the barrel.

Rifles also exhibit this flash to a greater or lesser extent depending on a lot of factors. Military rifles often have a flash-hider or flash suppressor. They work by redirecting the exiting hot gas over the metal vanes of the flash suppressor in an attempt to cool it below the temperature where it lights up.

The flash can still be seen at night, but it is reduced enough to have less of an impact on the shooters night vision.

Question: How do you know if your 380 gun is jammed or damaged?

Answer: You have to be familiar enough with guns in general and your gun in particular to spot trouble.

Read the manual. This is a link to quite a few manuals.

Read about guns on this site and other sites.

Talk to the people at the gun store.

Take a safety class.

Go to the range with some knowledgeable friends.

Question: I just bout a 30/6 and I can inject a shell and the firing pin will click but will not strike the Carthage as I can tell it it the bullets ?What is wrong ?

Answer: If there is no mark on the primer from the firing pin the first step is to double check that you are using the correct ammunition.  This information might be stamped on the barrel.

The next thing to check is if the firing pin is broken or missing or stuck. You might need to disassemble the bolt to check this.  You can find a lot of manuals here.  Firearm Manuals

Another possibility is that the bolt is not locking up properly. If this is a bolt action then it should be obvious. If it is a semi-auto check to be sure the bolt rotates all the way into "battery" (the locking lugs should be fully engaged). Let the bolt on a semi-auto "fly" home. Don't ease it down. It needs the forward momentum to lock up.

If it is not locking up try a little lube.

Question: Beretta Inox PX4, 9mm, model range bullet gets stuck into muzzle...was quite a tough deal to extract it...what caused this..I am planning in selling it..feed ramp is covered with frame thermoplastic material...can i polish it, the feed ramp...tks

Answer: Do you mean the bullet actually failed to exit the barrel? This can only be a problem with the ammo.  Either the ammo is defective in some way, or it is the wrong ammo. Be sure the barrel is not damaged before you attempt to fire it again.

If you mean the whole cartridge gets stuck in the chamber, that is probably the ammo as well, but it could also be a very dirty gun.

I have not heard of any problems with this design.

The frame on this gun is polymer.  I would not attempt to polish the feed ramp.  It should work perfectly right out of the box.

Question: Why does my .22 Savage firing pin hit the side of the primer?

Answer: The .22 cartridge family (.22 Long Rifle, .22 Long, .22 Short, .22 CB Cap, .22 BB Cap) are rimfire cartridges.  This means that the priming compound is in the rim of the case rather than in a separate primer in the center of the case (center fire).

Rimfire cartridges are cheaper to manufacture, but, because the rim must be weak enough for the firing pin to crush it, rimfire cases can not be loaded to high pressure.

In a center fire case the primer is a separate component that is pressed into a pocket in the center of the case.  Center fire cases can be made much stronger to handle the high pressure needed to produce high velocity cartridges.

Center fire cases can often be re-loaded.

Question: I have a .22 Sentinel 9 shot that belonged to my grandpa. I oiled it up good and got the trigger and cylinder to move. I can not push the cylinder out to load bullets. Can you help me with this?

Answer: The Sentinel is made by High Standard.  It has an aluminum frame and a steel barrel and cylinder. It is a nice gun.

The cylinder hinges out to the left. The cylinder is released by pulling forward on the ejector rod. If the ejector rod won't move you may need to work some penetrating oil in over the course of a few days.

If that fails, the gun can be disassembled by drifting out the pin located behind the lower part of the cylinder. This pin also holds the hammer. You can see it just above the medallion in some of the pictures in the second link below. If you are not good at this kind of work, you might want to bring it to a gunsmith.

Use a brass drift a little smaller than the pin. Support the frame on a block of soft wood with a hole for the pin to drop into. You should not have to pound real hard to get the pin out. Be careful not to damage the pin, the frame or any other parts. Watch out for flying springs. Don't lose any little parts. Study the exploded view in the first link below so you know what to expect.

When you get it all working inspect the cylinder and barrel for rust or pitting that might have weakened these parts or restrict the path of the bullet. If in doubt don't fire it until an expert has a look!

Good luck!

Link to the exploded view and manual

Link to an article with pictures

Question: I have a .44 special. When I was shooting it my firing pin broke off and stood stuck in the hole. I was wondering if I try to fire it will the gun shoot or blow up?

Answer: It is a really bad idea to fire a gun you know to be damaged.

If the firing pin (or something like it) does not contact the primer the gun won't fire.

Guns don't blow up very often, but when they do it is usually a result of an obstructed barrel, over-pressure handloads or a serious malfunction.

Question: Do you have to cock a .22?

Answer: Every gun has to be cocked before it will fire. Some guns have a trigger that can cock and fire the gun in one smooth trigger pull. This is called double action.

Question: What do u do when u can't get the bullet in the chamber?

Answer: You figure out why.

Is the chamber dirty? Is there already something in the chamber? Is it the correct ammunition? Is the ammunition damaged or not made to the correct dimensions. Have you read the manual?

Question: Is a gun considered a firearm if it doesn't have a firing pin?

Answer: According to federal law the part of the gun with the serial number is the gun whether the other parts are there or not. There are some exceptions for permanently disabled guns, antiques, and props.

State law varies but often has some of the same exceptions.

Your best bet is to check with your state firearm association.

Traveler's Guide To The Firearm Laws Of The Fifty States

Question: Every time i cock back my colt .45 1911 handgun the bullet gets stuck in the chamber ...what do i do?

Answer: Make sure the chamber is clean.

Check the ammo to be sure it is not dirty or damaged.

If the ammo is hand-loaded or of questionable quality, check its dimensions. This data is available in a reloading manual.

If it functioned correctly in the past, look for a damaged or broken extractor.

Lyman Reloading Manual

Question: What type of gun is it where the barrel is fixed but is single shot and the hammer is pulled back to load the bullet?

Answer: Probably a rolling block but it could be a falling block.

Question: I inherited a single action army made for the Mitchell arms corp by Uberti. The base pin was missing. Tried to contact Uberti to no avail. I bought a base pin that was made for the Uberti single action cattleman, hoping it might fit. It slides in fine but there is some side to side play. My question is what is the fit on the base pin to the cylinder bore. The cylinder pin bore measured .256 and the base pin measured .249. I know there has to be at least a one to two thousands difference, just don't know about .007.

Answer: Seven thousandths (.007") is a lot.  I am guessing the pin rattles around in the bore. I would say .0005 - .001 is more like what it should be.

The base pin bushing might be replaceable.  If so you might be able to get a matched set.

Could also have a machine shop make one the right diameter.

I could help you out with that if you decide to go that route.  Use the "contact me" page.

Question: M1 Garand will not eject spent cases while barrel blocking device attached shooting blanks.

Answer: The M1 Garand is gas operated. High pressure gas is bled from a port in the barrel as the bullet goes by.  This gas cycles the action by driving a gas piston which on the M1 is part of the bolt.

Blanks do not have bullets and so a blank firing adapter (barrel blocking device) must be attached to generate enough gas pressure to cycle the action.

If the rifle works with live ammo, but not with blanks, then either the blank firing adapter is not working properly or it is not installed properly. Some are adjustable. You may be able to adjust yours for a higher gas pressure. Be sure to give your firearm a good cleaning after shooting blanks as they tend to cause fouling.

Question: How to remove .45 ACP bullet stuck in chamber?

Answer: Just the bullet or a live cartridge?

A stuck live cartridge is dangerous due to the possibility of an unintended discharge. In addition to the possibility of shooting something or someone, there is the possibility of a ruptured case spewing shards of brass and hot, high-pressure gasses. If cycling the action a few times, with the gun pointed in a safe direction, doesn't get the cartridge out then you might need professional help.

If it is just the bullet you may be able to lock the action open and tap it out with a cleaning rod.  If not remove the barrel, place it on a block of wood and tap a little harder with a wooden dowel or a brass rod.

Question: Why won't the hammer on my .22 Ithaca long rifle touch the firing pin?

Answer: There are only a couple of possibilities.

Check to be sure there is no debris (empty casing, sand, general crud etc.) limiting the travel of the hammer.

If the rifle has a hammer block, (Your Ithaca probably does not.) check to be sure it is not stuck. A hammer block is intended to keep the hammer off the firing pin unless the trigger is pulled, to prevent accidental discharge.

Check to be sure the firing pin, or the firing pin spring is not broken.

Question: Fired cases from my Red Nine Mauser Pistol come out tapered about 1/8 inch from the front. The chamber appears to be tapered. Is it normal that a straight case should be tapered or swaged in the chamber when fired?

Answer: No.  But the question is: Is the front of the chamber too small, in which case I would think the round would fail to chamber at all, or is the remainder of the chamber too large such that the case expands when fired, except in the correctly sized front portion?

You should measure the chamber and compare it to the SAAMI specs for a 9mm.  One way to do this is to make a cast of the chamber with a chamber casting compound like Cerrosafe from Amazon.  After the casting cools for one hour you can measure it with a micrometer to see what the dimensions of the chamber are.

If the chamber turns out to be out of spec you may need to have the gun re-chambered or get a new barrel.

Cerrosafe chamber casting alloy

Question: What happens if the barrel of a pistol is not original, means its local made? What at  max can go wrong?

Answer: If the replacement barrel is made to the same specifications as the original barrel it will work as well as the original.

The big concerns are to be sure that the steel is of sufficient strength and that the chamber, bore and rifling are the correct size.

Soft steel can stretch and split under the extreme pressure of the fired round, while overly hard steel can be brittle and shatter.

If the bore or rifling is too small the pressure will be higher than expected.  If the bore or rifling is too large, accuracy and velocity will suffer.

If the chamber is too small the firearm may not function; if it is too big the cartridge cases may not seal the breach or rupture, exposing the shooter to hot, high pressure gas.

Bottom line: To make a pistol barrel you have to know the specs, and have the ability to execute them properly.

Question: The hammer on my 32 h&r smith and western will not stay cocked.

Answer: The sear and / or tumbler is damaged. They will have to be repaired or replaced.

Question: Was it common practice to reload shell cases for the Colt SAA 1873 with a ball projectile like the ones used in cap and ball percussion revolvers or did they use the flat based projectile as in the cartridge available at that time ? The period we are talking about is 1873 until 1890 not modern day reloading.

Answer: Good question.  On the one hand sometimes pistols came with a bullet mold, so you could load your own.  On the other hand there must have been quite a supply of cheap lead balls, so it wouldn't surprise me if some folks took advantage of that. I know that balls will shoot from cartridges without a problem, but they tend to be light compared to bullets.

I will have to do some research.

Question: I have a .38 Smith and Wesson ctg special. My cylinder release button sticks, chamber will not release. What do I do to get it to work like I first got it?

Answer: I would try working some CLP (cleaner, lube, protector) into the mechanism. Don't forget that part of that mechanism is the spring loaded pin in the end of the cylinder. If that doesn't work you or a gunsmith might have to take it apart for cleaning and inspection.


Question: What do you call the bag that mounts to side of firearms to catch the Rejecting shell?

Answer: A brass catcher.

AR15 Brass Catcher
Other Brass Catchers

Question: What happens if a gun doesn't have an firing pin?

Answer: It won't fire.  It is the impact of the firing pin on the primer that ignites the pressure-sensitive compound contained in the primer, which in turn ignites the main powder charge in the case.

The time from when the trigger releases the sear until the main powder charge ignites is called lock time.

Question: The slide will not move on my 380 even with the magazine out does that mean there is a bullet in the chamber?

Answer: No.  The slide should move with or without a bullet in the chamber.  Various controls on the gun, such as the safety, may lock the slide in place. Read the manual. Learn how your particular gun works.  Keep it pointed in a safe direction and out of unauthorized and untrained hands until you or someone else can verify if it is loaded or not.  If the gun does not work the way the manual says it should, take it to a gunsmith.

Question: The cylinder on my .22 Ruger  is loose. Is this a problem? If so what can it be and how can i fix it?

Answer: The cylinder needs to be fairly tight in order to be sure the bullet is aligned with the barrel. Also to maintain proper head space.

The cylinder latch projects from the bottom of the frame.  When the gun is cocked this latch keeps the cylinder from turning so that it aligns with the barrel.  If the frame, the cylinder, the latch or the base pin (the base pin goes through the center of the cylinder) is worn there may be misalignment.  Misalignment of the cylinder and barrel can result in anything from minor accuracy problems to dangerous over pressure conditions, depending on how bad the misalignment is.

If the cylinder can move axially (back and forth) on the base pin, then the head space may be affected. Also this may create a gap where the cylinder should be nearly touching the end of the barrel. This problem can also cause situations ranging from minor to dangerous.

Aside from replacing the cylinder or base pin, repairs should be carried out at the factory or by a competent gun smith.

Question: If the loading gate on a colt single action six shooter is loose then will it affect the performance of the gun when fired.

Answer: Maybe.  The loading gate keeps the cases, whether loaded or empty, from backing out of the cylinder in that location.  If they do back out they may jam the action when the gun is cocked.

But as long as the cylinder locks up properly when the gun is cocked there should be no problem with the fired round.

In general it is best to keep your firearms in good working order.

Question: In your opinion, what states are most friendly to concealed carry self defense?

Answer: That is a tough question.  Many states with a reputation for being gun friendly are less so than you might think, and some with anti-gun reputations are better than most people believe.

    The problems stem from the way states approach guns.  Some make it easy to buy a gun, but harder to carry it.  Some put you through a tough process to get a license to carry, but then you are good to go.  Some states preempt local law (localities can't have tougher laws than the state law) and some are a patchwork of local law that is tough to negotiate. Some seem carry friendly on the surface but have a long list of places that are off-limits.

     Check out for a good insight into all the different aspects that must be considered.

 That said, here are some states that come to mind:

     Alaska has permitless concealed carry, but they issue permits for the purpose of reciprocity with other states.  A large part of the population is pro-gun.  But they are a "must inform" state. (You have to disclose to the police that you are carrying a gun if you have any contact with them.)

     Arizona has permitless concealed carry.  They issue permits for reciprocity and to expand the list of places that you can carry.

     Utah issues a permit that is recognized in many other states.  Utah allows permit holders to carry in schools.

     Indiana flies under the radar.  Last year when the NRA annual meeting was held in Indianapolis there were virtually no restrictions on where you could carry, no metal detectors or security at the Lucas Oil Stadium and a minimal police presence.  Apparently they trust people with guns.

     Florida has a widely accepted permit.  It is a generally gun friendly state but there are pockets of anti-gun sentiment.

     Texas has the gun friendly reputation but there are some cities that run a lot less gun friendly and I keep hearing stories of police over-reach in some areas, so I'm not so sure about Texas.

     New Hampshire is a gun friendly hold out in the northeast, but you can run afoul of the liberals in the cities and near the MA border.

     Vermont has no gun laws at all.  But since they don't issue permits you may have a hard time in other states.  Also the population is very liberal so you might not get a lot of support if you carry there. (Like all the other states, they do have self defense laws.  The best self defense plan is to avoid trouble when possible, and never shoot anybody you don't absolutely have to shoot to save yourself or your family.)

     Maine is on the verge of going permitless.  Pretty gun friendly, especially in the remote areas.

     In general the southern and western states are better than the northeast and left coast, but there are exceptions.  The nanny states and locales are anti-gun while the states that expect you to take care of yourself are pro-gun.

Question: What causes a primer in a 45 she'll to mushroom after firing then Jamming the cylinder in a western 6 shooter.

Answer: Over-pressure loads or too much head space.

If you load these yourself double check the load data and try some loads at the minimum pressure.

If this is brand-name commercial ammo check the head space and be sure the gun is intended to use modern ammo.

A gun smith can check the head space and gauges are also available from gun supply stores like Midway.

Question: I have a CM 15 assault rifle, after firing a few rounds today, something is definitely stuck in the barrel, I assume the bullet, the cartridge ejected normally. Is there a safe way to get that out, or is it unsafe even to try.

Answer: If the firearm is unloaded (magazine out, no round in the chamber - check twice!) there is no danger to yourself or others.

Separate  the upper from the lower and remove the bolt assembly.  Hold it up to the light and look down the barrel. If you can't see out the other end there is something obstructing the barrel (probably a bullet like you said).

Use a cleaning rod to try to determine where the obstruction is. Be careful not to damage the barrel. Try not to let the rod touch the inside of the barrel.  Go from both ends to try to determine if there is possibly more than one obstruction. (For example if the place where the rod hits something from one end and the place where it hits from the other end is more than one bullet length apart.)

If there is only one, and it is close to the breech end of the barrel (the chamber end) you might be able to tap it out gently with a cleaning rod. Again, be careful not to damage the inside of the barrel.

If the obstruction won't move or there is more than one, you might need to have a gunsmith look at it.

If you do get it out, give the barrel a good cleaning and hold it up to the light again.  The bore should be shiny and uniform looking over its entire length.

If there appears to be damage don't shoot it until a gunsmith has a look.

Question: Do all bullets mushroom when they penetrate a target?

Answer: No. There are thousands of bullet designs and thousands of target types and thousands of different conditions (range, velocity, elevation, weather etc.) so it is impossible to make a blanket statement like that.

Bullet designers try to control as many of these variables as possible in order to create a bullet that performs in a certain way under specific conditions.  The objective of the design may or may not include mushrooming.

Question: Hi , my question.... can a single shot , Model Favorite .32 long be re-rifled to shoot a .38 handgun load ? or could you put in a .22 magnum sleeve? thank you,.... Norm.

Answer: Hi Norm. Both of those can be done.  The Smith and Wesson .32 Long (AKA .32 Colt New Police) has a bullet which is  .315 in diameter. The .38 Special bullet is .359 in diameter, so re-boring, re-rifling and re-chambering should be no problem.

A quick search of the internet will turn up some places that re-bore and re-rifle.  Many of them will also do barrel lining.

That said, a Stevens Favorite is an antique.  You might want to consider how altering the barrel will affect its value.

Question: Does the barrel move when you cock a 22 pistol revolver?

Answer: Not usually.  Most revolver barrels are fixed to the frame.  Some older models had barrels that tilted up or down to load, but even those locked in place when the gun was ready to fire.  There were some early revolvers where the cylinder was also the barrel, so they would rotate.  On modern revolvers the cylinder rotates when you cock them, but the barrel remains in place.

Question: I was wondering if there was a way to make my slide stop on my llama minimax subcompact 45 catch the slide better. right now its catching on the edge on the corner witch makes me nervous and is starting to round off the corner. Anything will help. Thanks.

Answer: Consider contacting Llama to see if they will repair your gun for free or at low cost.

But, if you are good with tools and at understanding how things are supposed  to work, you may be able to improve the function of the slide stop.

Obviously do this work on an unloaded gun.

Examine the slide and the slide stop.  Determine the way the designer intended these two parts to engage.  Next try to see why they fail to engage in the proper way. Don't rush this. Play with it for a while. Try different things like moving the slide slowly vs. quickly, lifting the slide stop with your finger vs. letting the empty magazine lift it, pulling the slide all the way to the rear vs. a little short of that.  If you push in or out on the slide stop while lifting it does that change anything?

The Idea is to find out if it fails under all conditions or only sometimes. Also to be sure you understand how the parts work together under varying conditions.

Now try to determine why the parts don't engage properly. A magnifier might be helpful. Is one part worn or broken? Does the empty magazine not lift the slide stop far enough? Is there a burr on one part that prevents the parts from engaging? Was the machining not done correctly in the first place?

Worn parts should be replaced since trying to restore proper function will deviate from the original design.

Gun parts are hard, but not so hard that they can't be filed, sanded, ground or cut with a blade of one kind or another. (Yes, an exacto knife or a sharp wood chisel will cut steel if you take tiny cuts.)

Of course there is a lot of potential to damage expensive parts, so be sure you know exactly what you need to fix, and how you intend to fix it. Try cutting a piece of scrap metal to get the feel for how the tool cuts. Go slow. Use the tool least likely to cause accidental damage first, then move on to more aggressive tools only if you need to. Acquire a better tool for the job if necessary. Be careful not to damage nearby parts. Check for improved function often.

I know this is a little vague, but without the gun in my hand it is hard to be more specific. I had a similar problem on a different gun that turned out to be a small step in the slide where the slide stop travels. The slide stop would catch on the step and not rise all the way up. I smoothed out the step with a fine file and now it works great.

Question: What would make the hammer on a .22 small bore keep going forward (without pulling the trigger).

Answer: A worn, broken or jammed sear.  If a thorough cleaning doesn't fix it, you, or a gunsmith, will need to repair or replace the worn or broken parts. 

Obviously this is a dangerous problem because an unintended discharge can occur. You should repair or disable this firearm.

Question: My .22 rifle will fire, but will not throw the casing out.

Answer: One part to suspect is the extractor, which pulls the case from the chamber and is generally a spring steel or spring-loaded hook-like part attached to the bolt. Check to be sure this part is not missing, broken, or out of adjustment.

Or it might be the ejector, which throws the case clear of the firearm and is often a spring loaded plunger in the bolt face.  It could also be a fixed part that kicks the case out of the ejection port as the bolt moves to the rear.

Either part could also cause trouble if they are not cleaned and lubed properly.

Question: What is the thing called that you put on a lever action's hammer because you can not fit your finger on the hammer because of the scope?

Answer: Midway USA and Brownells call it a Hammer Extension.

Question: Slide jammed on Ruger LCP reassembling now won't slide off frame.

Answer: The Ruger LCP is a fairly simple design.  Be sure the take-down pin and magazine are out of the pistol and the slide lock has not been accidentally engaged. Also make sure the trigger is all the way forward otherwise the disconnector, located in the rear right slide channel, won't be able to move down out of the path of the slide.

After that I'm out of ideas.  You might need a gunsmith to look at it.

Question: I just received my M1A rifle today. When I pull the ejection handle back, and when the barrel is up and downward what is that sliding back and forth in the rifle?

Answer: it is the gas piston.  When the rifle is fired, high pressure gas is bled from the barrel to drive the gas piston which in turn cycles the action.  With the bolt locked open the gas piston is free to slide back and forth.

On the M1 Garand the gas piston is part of the operating rod, rather than a separate part as on the M1A, and therefore can not be heard moving about.

Question: I have a 22 Ruger 6-shot revolver Model 05414. I fired the gun for the first time and after firing the spent casings have to be pried from the gun with the tip of a knife.  I fired 2 different make bullets and the same thing happened each time. Should it be sent back to Ruger for repair?

Answer: Unfired ammo should drop in and fall out.  When fired, the cases will expand a little and may not fall out. But if they won't push out easily with the extractor, (the spring-loaded rod sticking out the front of the cylinder) something might be wrong.

Be sure the cylinder is clean.  Also check the empty cases for damage which may indicate a problem.

Question: I have a 1993 Taurus model 85 double action in .38 special caliber.  The gun has never failed with a wide variety of ammunition loads.

Should you be able to work the action with the cylinder open.  My only other DA revolver is a S&W 351pd "Airtight" in 22 mag caliber.  With the cylinder open, neither the trigger or the hammer can be moved.

Is there something broken on my Taurus?

Answer: Your Taurus is probably not broken.  Some DA revolvers "lock up" with the cylinder open and some do not. But if you cock it with the cylinder open you should probably not be able to then close it, as this would make it ready to fire in the touchy single action mode.

I looked at the manual but it does not seem to address this directly.

Question: How do you take a bullet out of the chamber of a Colt 22 long rifle?

Answer: The extractor should pull the cartridge or empty case out of the chamber when you work the action (bolt, lever, pump etc.) If it does not, the extractor could be broken or missing, or the cartridge or case could be stuck for some reason. 

If you have a live round that won't extract, extreme caution should be exercised. Rimfire ammo can fire if you stress the rim by prying or gripping. The danger of a live round discharging unexpectedly should be obvious but firing a round with the action unlocked can also be very dangerous due to hot, high pressure gases and flying shards of brass and gun parts.

Single action revolvers have an extractor rod under the barrel.

Double action revolvers have an extractor built into the cylinder. 

Question: If someone is pointing a gun at you, and you put your hand at the bullet shot will the shot backfire onto the shooter?

Answer: Hell no! You will end up with a hole in your hand and a hole in whatever is beyond your hand.

A  gun barrel that is sufficiently obstructed, for example with a bullet that got stuck in the barrel for whatever reason, may fail catastrophically when the next shot is fired, thus killing or injuring the shooter.

Never fire a gun with any kind of obstruction in the barrel, and never put any part of your body in front of the barrel unless the gun has been unloaded, cleared and disassembled for cleaning.

Question: Will holding a rifle (AR 15) sideways with its ejection window facing towards the ground cause bullets to fall to the ground or cause a jam due to misalignment of bullet with the barrel  while feeding?

Answer: I have never tried it, but I would expect any well designed rifle to function in any orientation.

The magazine typically guides the cartridge until it is well on its way into the chamber and the ejection system throws the brass clear of the rifle.

Next time I am at the range I will give it a try!

Question: One of the single action .38 revolvers that I use for Cowboy Action is having an issue with high primers.  My other, identical, revolver and my wife's two revolvers do not have any problems, using the same ammo.  I have been using the same loads for ten years with no problems.

Answer: Do you mean the primers are backing out of the primer pockets when fired, causing a jam?

Primers can move due to high pressure, but since you have been using this load with success and since it works in other revolvers, I would say this is probably not the case.

Excessive headspace can also allow primers to back out. Guns can and do wear.  Also guns and brass, like all manufactured goods, are made to a tolerance, a range of acceptable values rather than an exact size. If the revolver has a headspace on the high side and this lot of brass is on the low side perhaps this is the source of the trouble.

Headspace No-Go gages are available from Midway USA. A gunsmith will also be able to check headspace for you.

The key to solving this is to find out what is different between the one revolver and the others. I would start with headspace.

Question: I own a Taurus 357 Magnum and a 44 Colt Anaconda.

When I was cleaning them, I noticed that when the cylinder on the Taurus is open, I am not able to cock the hammer; however, when the cylinder on the Colt is open, I am able to cock the hammer.

Why the difference? Is something wrong with one or the other, or just a result of different manufacturers?

Answer: The Colt manual states that if you cock the hammer while the cylinder is open, you won't be able to close it until you lower the hammer. This seems to indicate that it is normal to be able to cock the hammer on a Colt with the cylinder open.

I know that this is not the case for a Smith and Wesson model 27. Like your Taurus the hammer can not be cocked with the cylinder open.

Looks like it is just a result of different manufacturers.

Question: Hi, what keeps a fired case from falling down when its extracted ? The fired case just drops down into the opened port on top of the elevator. Thanks, AVI

Answer: This answer applies to Marlin lever action rifles. The extractor should hold the case to the bolt face during extraction until the ejector kicks it out the ejection port. I would suspect that the ejector is missing, damaged or installed incorrectly. Another possibility is that the extractor is damaged or is not under proper tension. The ejector is held in by the bolt and is easy to lose if you remove the bolt. Consult the manual to see how to remove and replace the ejector.

Question: What is the meaning of  rimless ball ammunition?

Answer: Ball ammunition is a term used for military ammunition. This probably dates from the time when bullets were in fact lead balls.  Ball ammo has a full metal jacket (FMJ), typically of copper alloy, encasing the lead core.  The bullets may be spitzer (pointy) or round nose, but it is still called ball ammo.

Rimless refers to a cartridge case without a rim of larger diameter than the body of the case. Rimless ammo still has an extraction groove, which gives the appearance of a rim, but the diameter of the case is the same on either side of the extraction groove.

.38 Special, .22 Long Rifle and .30-30 are examples of rimmed ammo.

.45 ACP, .30-06 and 9mm Luger are examples of rimless ammo.

Semi-auto pistols and rifles often use rimless ammo because it stacks better in magazines and feeds better through the action. Revolvers often use rimmed ammo.

Question: I inherited about 12 handguns from my father and I know when he got them they were not registered (1950s). I just want to sell them all. Do I have to register them first or can I just sell them- thru an FFL of course.

Answer: I don't know where you live, but here is some info that might help.

The US federal government does not require handguns to be registered. Neither do most states.  Some states do require registration.  In most states you can possess handguns without a license, but in some you must be licensed. Check out handgun law US and this Wikipedia article for some insight into your state laws.  If you have taken possession of these handguns you may already be in violation of state law, depending on where you live. Since your goal is to sell these guns, find a reputable FFL in your area and ask for advice before transporting any guns.

Although our right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the constitution, sadly some states and locales violate this supreme law of the land and will try to make an example of otherwise law abiding Americans who are trying to do the right thing.

Question: Good Day, my question is, does the firing pin cause damage when i dry fire my C7 shadow even w/ out a dummy bullet ?

Answer: Most handguns designed for service (military/law enforcement/personal protection) can be dry fired.  The CZ 75 manual includes dry firing as part of the unloading procedure.  I would say dry firing is not harmful to this pistol.

For other firearms I would say that if the manual does not prohibit dry firing then it is ok. But if you happen to have a dummy round (snap cap) you may as well use it.

Question: Does the Ruger lcp 380 have some play in the barrel when you pull back the slide?

Answer: Yes.  Many semi-auto handguns operate on a principle similar to a model 1911 Colt.

When the slide is closed the barrel is locked to the slide and the muzzle end is positioned by a close fitting part of the slide (LCP) or a bushing (Colt 1911).  When the slide moves to the rear the barrel tilts down at the breech due to a toggle link (Colt 1911) or a ramp (LCP) or some other mechanism. This unlocks the barrel from the slide while the slide travels all the way to the rear.  In this position there is play in the barrel. As the slide comes forward it strips the next round from the magazine into the tilted barrel. Then the cam mechanism raises and locks the breech again. The disconnector disconnects the trigger until the barrel is locked up to prevent firing in the unlocked state.

Question: Do all types of handguns have rifling? Which do not and why?

Answer: No. Most handguns were smoothbore (no rifling) in the days of muzzle loaders. This made them easier to make, easier to load and rifling was not necessary since they were used at very close range.

Today a firearm will be smoothbore only if it is intended to fire shot shells. Be aware that smoothbore handguns, even antique replicas, are regulated (in the USA) under the National Firearms Act (NFA) and can only be possessed after complying with those regulations, including registration and a tax. Actual antiques are typically exempt.

Question: On my H&R 12ga Model 088 when the striker plate comes up it gets stuck on the notch in the firing pin and will not cock.

Answer: I believe the firing pin on this shotgun has a ramp on the bottom to allow the transfer bar to slide past it as you cock the hammer.

With the gun unloaded:

Make sure the firing pin can move freely.

Check the surfaces of the firing pin and the transfer bar for damage.

Try a little lube on the mechanism.

See if the gun will cock if you depress the firing pin with a small tool thus moving it out of the way of the transfer bar.

Otherwise you might need to take it to a gunsmith.

Question: What causes a .38 special double action revolver cylinder to open accidentally after one shot is fired?

Answer: I would suspect worn parts in the latch mechanism. If the spring that holds the latch closed is weak, or if the latch and its mating parts are worn, then the recoil from firing a round may unlatch the cylinder.

Also check the cylinder and its hinge. Excess play in these parts might have the same effect.

Be sure you are not using ammunition that is over pressure; for example +P in a revolver not designed for it.

Question: I have a Walther pk380 and the spiral pin is sticking out of the grip. I have shot it many times before it really even struck me this was a problem(stupid i know). I was wondering if it is still safe to shoot because i am going shooting with some buddies soon before i would have time to repair it?

Answer: I am not sure which pin that is, or what it does.  It is always best to have your gun in perfect working order to prevent failure and possible injury. You might be able to just tap it back in, but you should try to determine why it came out in the first place. Here is a link to the manual.

Walther PK380 manual

Question: I have a question on single action/all western style revolvers in general. Aside from break action revolvers, I've seen videos/movies where they will point the gun skyward, open the loading gate, and just turn the cylinder for the casings to fall out. Is this a case of Hollywood movie magic or are there revolvers out there that can do just that?

Answer: A little of both.  Unfired rounds are typically loose in the cylinder and will fall out due to gravity as they pass the open loading gate.  When the round is fired the extreme pressure tends to stretch the cases to the point where they stick enough that it is necessary to push them out with the extractor.  But Hollywood uses blanks which don't develop nearly the pressure of a round with a bullet, so the cases may well fall out.

Question: If the diameters of two bullets are slightly different can they still be fired from the same firearm?

Answer: It depends on what you mean by slightly different. For example SAAMI specs for a 9mm Luger allow the bullet to be from .3525" to .3555" in diameter. For a .30-30 the bullet can be from .3060" to .3090" in diameter. For a 7.62 x 39 the bullet can be from .3090" to .3110" in diameter. So shooting a .30-30 bullet from your 7.62 x 39 rifle would probably be safe but not the other way around. Exceeding the maximum diameter can cause a dangerous increase in chamber pressure. The best practice is to use bullets specifically designed for the chambering of you firearm.

Question: What are the three compositions of bullets and what are the purpose of each?

Answer: I'm not sure if I understand the question.  In my experience there are way more than three compositions of bullets.

Traditionally bullets have been made mostly of lead.  This is because lead is dense, soft, inexpensive and has a low melting temperature.

Dense (high mass per volume ratio) objects tend to resist the drag of the air better than less dense ones. Think of trying to throw a baseball vs a wiffle ball or a golf ball vs a ping pong ball. Also dense objects deliver more energy to the target. Think of being HIT by a baseball or golf ball vs a wiffle ball or a ping pong ball.

Soft alloys are easier to form and readily engage the rifling.  Lead can be alloyed with other metals such as tin to increase its hardness if desired.

A low melting temperature makes lead easy to cast, even for the hobbyist.

But above a certain velocity lead has a tendency to foul barrels. For this reason lead bullets are nearly always lubricated and sometimes have a gas check.  A gas check is a shallow copper cup placed over the flat end of the bullet to reduce fouling.

In order to increase velocity beyond what can be achieved with lubricated, gas checked lead bullets it is necessary to jacket the bullet with a harder metal, at least the part of the bullet that contacts the barrel.

Jacket material is typically a copper alloy called gilding metal. Other copper alloys are also in use as well as steel alloys. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of jacket designs depending on the intended use of the bullet.

In addition there are lead-free bullets. Copper solids, tin alloys, copper jacketed tungsten alloys and many more.

There are frangible bullets designed to break up on impact, bullets with penetrators to defeat armor and go through structure, big game bullets, small game bullets, match bullets, tracers, incendiaries, self defense bullets, non-lethal bullets and just about anything else you can think of.

Question: Do all types of guns have rifling?

Answer: No. Rifling is intended to spin the projectile (bullet), much like a football (an American football).  The spin stabilizes the projectile, makes it more accurate and increases its range.  Nearly all modern firearms intended to fire a single projectile are rifled.  This includes handguns.

Shotguns, primarily intended to fire a group of projectiles all at once, are not rifled.  Non-rifled barrels are called smooth bore.

In the past, muzzle loading muskets and pistols were often smooth bore, not because the value of rifling was not known, but because it took longer to load a rifled barrel due to the difficulty of raming the ball past the rifling. In addition the powder of the day caused a lot of fouling which made rifles more difficult to clean. Since it was a smooth bore, your musket could double as a shotgun. In those days rifles were used primarily for hunting in open areas.

With the advent of breech loaders and smokeless powder rifling became nearly universal, except for shotguns.

Question: I have a spent cartridge that I have been unable to ID:  approx. 3/4 inch length, with TWO hammer strikes, 180 degrees apart, rimfire, with a raised "bubble" in the center.  I would estimate it to be a .44 - .45 cal.  I found it when I was 12 years old (35 years ago) lying on top of the hardpan in Arizona.  Any idea what it is?  It had oxidized almost black from the sun/elements.  My grandfather told me at the time that certain antique guns used the double hammer strike to ensure ignition of the rimfire cartridge, but that's all I know... any ideas?

Answer: Your grandfather is right.  Both the Henry and the Winchester rimfire rifles had dual firing pins to increase reliability.

The cartridge case you describe could be a .44 Henry. The .44 Henry was designed in conjunction with the 1860 Henry Repeating Rifle by Benjamin Tyler Henry (AKA Tyler Henry). Henry later went to work for Oliver Winchester, thus the Winchester Model 1866 is chambered for the .44 Henry.

Other firearms chambered for the .44 Henry include Colt Model 1860 Army Long Cylinder Conversions and colt Model 1871 “Open Top” revolvers. Colt also produced the 1873 Colt Single Action Army in that chambering until 1880 for the sake of customers who owned rifles in .44 Henry.

The .44 Henry was very popular in its day.  Originally the case was made of copper and later changed to brass. It was produced into the 1930s.

Question: Why will a rifle or shotgun not fire pointed straight down. Both these guns were aimed in a hole to kill varmints. A Marlin semi automatic 22 lr and a Remington over and under 12 gauge.

Answer: They should fire pointed in any direction. Unload or remove the magazine and check the chamber to be sure the firearms are unloaded. Check the primers for evidence that they have in fact been struck by the firing pin.  Also be sure the barrel is not obstructed.

The only other factor I can think of is that when pointed straight down the powder will be at the opposite end of the cartridge from the primer. I have seen powder fail to ignite under this condition, but the primer did unseat the bullet from the case. Try a different brand of ammo.

Question: My llama .45 cal will fire once but after that the hammer won't come back down. What's wrong with it?

Answer: Be sure the slide is going all the way into battery (fully forward) after the action cycles. If it doesn't the disconnector wont let it fire.

Or it might be a problem with the disconnector itself.  A semi-auto includes this part to disconnect the trigger from the sear while the action is cycling.  This allows the sear to catch the hammer even if the trigger is still back. When the trigger is released it reconnects to the sear for the next shot. You should be able to feel and hear this happen. Clear the gun of all ammo. Check twice! Hold the trigger back while cycling the action. Slowly release the trigger and listen or feel for the click when the trigger resets. If the disconnector sticks the trigger will not reset.

Be sure the trigger moves freely and the trigger spring (the spring that moves the trigger forward) is good. The same goes for the hammer and the main spring.

Also be sure the action cycles well enough to fully cock the hammer.  In other words check to see if the hammer is getting stuck at half cock after the first round is fired.

Question: Does a Ruger LCP have a passive internal firing pin block?

Answer: No.  However it has an inertial firing pin.  This means that the firing pin will not contact the primer even with the hammer resting on it.

The hammer must hit the firing pin with enough force that the firing pin continues to travel forward after the hammer has stopped.  A spring on the firing pin holds it in the retracted position in all other cases.

The hammer on this pistol can not be left cocked.  The trigger brings the hammer to the fully cocked state and releases it to fire the gun.

Will it fire if dropped? Probably not, but it is possible if it is dropped from high enough and lands just right.

Question: I have a 35 Marlin lever action and the lever does not stay in the up position. It wants to drop down and you can't fire it in the down position. Is there an adjustment for this?

Answer: This rifle is typically fired with your fingers through the lever loop gripping the wrist.  This will hold the lever in the closed position.  There is a mechanism that prevents the rifle from firing if the lever is not fully closed.  However if there is excessive sloppiness in the lever there may be a worn or broken part.  Have a gunsmith take a look at it.

Question: I have a revolver fully cocked, how do I unload the cartridges without discharging the weapon?

Answer:  Once a revolver is cocked, there is usually no way to remove the ammunition without lowering the hammer. Obviously if the hammer falls too quickly the gun will fire. The hammer must be controlled, and let down gently while the trigger is pulled. You MUST have a safe direction in which to point the gun in order to be sure no one is hurt and no damage is done if the firearm discharges! If you are at a range just keep the gun pointed down range while you do this. Other possibilities are large buckets of sand or very thick piles of wood or books. Avoid this situation!

Question: Why is my firing pin sticking out on my 450 bushmaster?

Answer: I assume you mean out of the face of the bolt. This rifle, like other Bushmaster rifles, probably has a floating firing pin.  This means that there is no spring that holds the firing pin back. With the bolt open the firing pin will slide freely back and forth in the bolt. When the bolt is closed the pin will not be able to come forward if there is a round chambered. This is the source of the infamous "slam fire" where the rifle discharges when the bolt closes. The firing pin is designed to be light enough so this does not happen, but if your ammo has sensitive primers it is still a concern. The same thing can cause a discharge if the rifle is dropped.

A firing pin stuck in the projecting position is unsafe and must be corrected.

Question: What is the psi of the hammer or firing pin when it hits the rim of a rim-fire cartridge?

Answer: I have no idea, but it doesn't work that way. It takes a certain amount of energy delivered over a short enough amount of time and a small enough area to crush the rim.

The energy stored in a spring is easy to calculate. Just measure how many pounds (or newtons) of force it takes to compress the spring from its free state to the cocked state and how many inches (or centimeters) the spring moved. The energy will be the product of these two numbers. The units will be inch pounds (or newton centimeters.)

But notice that hammers or strikers never sit close to the primer when cocked. This is to allow the stored energy (potential energy) of the spring to be converted into motion (kinetic energy). This kinetic energy is what ignites the primer.

Question: Shooting a .22 cal bullet out of semi-automatic rifle at 200 yards with 9 power scope I could see my bullet's path after 100 yards. Is that normal?

Answer: Yes!  The bullet leaves a wake in the air just like a boat leaves a wake in the water. This wake is often visible with a scope.

In high-power rifle competition the spotter sits behind the shooter with a spotting scope. He can see the bullet path and can often tell if it was a good shot or not.

If you are worried that the velocity of your bullets might be low try a different brand of ammo with the same velocity.  They should impact at about the same point on your target.

Question: If a round is in the chamber of my S&W MP 45c while the slide is locked open and the slide is accidentally allowed to snap shut, will the force of the slide closing again cause the gun to discharge?

Answer: Closing the slide, even accidentally, should not cause the gun to fire.  In operation the slide cycles quite vigorously. If this caused a discharge what you would have is a full-auto pistol!

Like many modern handguns the S&W MP 45c has an internal firing pin block to prevent the firing pin from contacting the primer unless the trigger is pulled.

Of course you should ALWAYS keep your gun pointed in a safe direction.

Question: Does the firing pin in all single action guns rest on top of primer when the hammer is down.

Answer: No.  That was the case for early single action revolvers and reproductions.  For that reason they were often carried with the hammer down on an empty chamber.  Most (but not all) modern handguns have mechanisms to prevent the firing pin from contacting the primer unless the trigger is pulled.  Read the manual!

Question: How do you close the slide on a semi-auto pistol?

Answer: Most semi-auto pistols have a slide lock.  The slide lock is a small lever that holds the slide (or bolt in some pistols) to the rear by engaging a notch cut in the slide (or bolt) for that very purpose.

The slide can be closed by depressing the slide lock.

Caution: If the magazine contains live rounds of ammunition this will load the top round and make the pistol ready to fire!

Often (but not always) the slide lock is engaged by the magazine follower when the magazine is empty.

If your pistol has this feature it will be more difficult to depress the slide lock unless you remove the empty magazine first.

With the magazine removed or if the magazine contains ammo, the slide can also be closed by pulling it fully to the rear and letting it fly home. See Caution above!

Always let the slide or bolt fly (don't try to control its movement) to prevent misfeeds, failure of the action to lock in battery and pinched skin or fingers.

The slide lock is most often on the left side although ambidexterous or reversable slide locks are becoming more common.

Question: Does a rifled barrel create a different muzzle velocity than a smoothbore, and how much is the velocity changed and is it slower or faster to have the barrel rifled?

Answer: Rifling is just one of many factors that affect the muzzle velocity of a fired round. In addition some of the factors interact in ways that are difficult, if not impossible, to predict.

We might reason that since rifling will add friction to the bullet as it goes down the barrel, the velocity will be lower. But this ignores the effect of the friction on the burning characteristics of the powder. The amount of friction will change the chamber pressure and that in turn will change the rate at which the powder burns. I would even venture to guess that the results would be different for different powders. In other words powder A might result in a higher muzzle velocity in a smooth bore, but powder B might result in a higher muzzle velocity in a rifled bore.

In very general terms bigger bores/shorter barrels/smooth bores call for faster powders and smaller bores/longer barrels/rifled bores call for slower powders.

The reality is that load data (powder/bullet/barrel combinations) is developed empirically, that is by experimentation, rather than with any kind of formula.

Powder and bullet companies publish this data.

I know that is a little vague but I don't think there is a definitive answer that will cover all situations. It would require comparing two specific barrels with all the other factors held constant.

Question: Do all semi-autos lock back?

Answer: No. In a semi-automatic firearm some of the energy from the fired round is used to work the action to eject the spent case and chamber a new round. Many semi-autos have a mechanism that catches the bolt or the slide when the magazine is empty and locks the action open (Colt Government ACP, M1 Garand). Others provide a user operated catch so that the user may lock the action open (Ruger LCP, M1 Carbine). A few have no such feature at all. In this last case an aftermarket chamber flag would be used to hold the action open and give a visual indication that the gun is unloaded.

Question: What is progressive rifling?

Answer: Rifling is a feature of gun barrels intended to spin the projectile (bullet) to increase it's stability leading to an increase in range and accuracy.

Progressive rifling (also known as gain-twist rifling) is a system where the rate of twist increases from the breech to the muzzle.  This was done to keep soft lead projectiles from stripping out of the rifling. Due to modern materials and manufacturing techniques, progressive rifling is of questionable value and therefore rare.

Question: Can modern factory loaded .45-70 ammunition be fired out of a Pedersoli .45-70 Sharps?

Answer: According to the Pedersoli Manual their cartridge guns chambered for .45-70 Gvt can be used with commercially manufactured ammunition that does not exceed 29007 CUP/PSI.  SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturer's Institute) standards for the .45-70 Government cartridge limit the pressure to 28000 PSI.

As long as the ammo you buy is made to SAAMI specs you should be OK.

Question: What C.U.P. is safe for a .45-70?

Answer: C.U.P. stands for Copper Units of Pressure.  These are intended to be equivalent to PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) but may not be exactly the same.  The system is used to measure chamber pressure in firearms. Due to the difficulty of measuring chamber pressure directly in PSI, the CUP system was developed. A copper pellet is placed in a specially designed test barrel and associated apparatus such that the chamber pressure will tend to crush the pellet when the cartridge is fired.  The chamber pressure can be inferred from the amount of crush the pellet exhibits.

The .45-70 is an old cartridge.  But it is still in use.  Antique firearms do not have the strength to fire modern .45-70 ammunition.  Therefore there are three levels of chamber pressure in use, depending on which firearm you intend to use. The following is from the Lyman 48th Edition Reloading Handbook.

For 1873 Springfield "trapdoor" rifles - 18,000 CUP max

For 1886 Winchester and 1895 Marlin rifles - 28,000 CUP max

For Ruger no. 1 or an equally strong modern action - 40,000 CUP max

Read the manual!  Follow the manufacturers recommendation!

Question: Must rifling have a twist to be recognized as rifling by the BATFE? Smooth bore handguns are strictly regulated as "Any Other Weapon" just like machineguns but have only a $5 transfer tax.
If, for example, the Ithaca Auto & Burglar was issued with straight rifled barrels and "handgun" length barrels would it then be exempt from AOW regulation, assuming it qualified as a "sporting" gun?
Of course truly straight rifling is an impossibility as no grooves can be made absolutely straight.
How deep does rifling have to be to be considered as rifling by ATF?

Answer: The following has been cut and pasted right from the ATF site.  (BATFE is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, often abbreviated ATF.)

Also included in the “any other weapon” definition are pistols and revolvers having smooth bore barrels designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell.

The “any other weapon” definition excludes weapons designed to be fired from the shoulder that are not capable of firing fixed ammunition or a pistol or revolver having a rifled bore. However, certain
alterations to a pistol or revolver, such as the addition of a second vertical handgrip, create a weapon that no longer meets the definition of pistol or revolver.

I could not find a definition of rifling on the ATF site.  Since the Ithaca Auto & Burglar was designed to fire a fixed shotgun shell, it is an "Any Other Weapon". I doubt that rifling the barrel would change that.

I will contact the ATF and try to get the answers.

Update: I talked to ATF in Boston.  The general feeling is that a firearm that was made as an "Any Other Weapon" (AOW) will remain so, regardless of how it is modified, until someone who legally possesses  that particular firearm applies to the ATF to change its classification, makes the required permanent modifications, and fills out the paperwork required to remove it from the list of registered National Firearms Act (NFA) weapons.

In the text above, copied from the ATF site (red), you see their example of how adding a forward vertical grip would change a regular handgun into an AOW.  To do this legally you would have to apply to ATF, register the weapon and pay the tax.  Once the weapon is registered as an AOW, removing the forward vertical grip will not change it back.

As to the actual ATF definition of rifling, the guys in Boston could not answer that.  They suggested I call the tech department in D.C.  I did call them, but I got their answering machine.  I left a message but so far I have not heard back.

My own feeling is that if the "rifling" is not intended to spin the projectile then it isn't rifling.

Question: Does a single action revolver have a safety?

Answer: Most do not, but I have seen one that does.  In this case I mean a safety that the user engages and disengages.  Most modern handguns have passive safety devices designed to prevent the gun from firing unless the trigger is pulled.

Question: On double action only semi automatic pistol if you pull the slide back does the hammer go back?

Answer: Double Action Only (DAO) refers to a type of action that cannot be left fully cocked.  Some have internal hammers while others are striker fired.  (A striker is like a hammer, but moves axially rather than  pivoting around a pin.)  Many DAO semi-autos pre-load the firing mechanism to some extent when the slide is operated, but all require the remaining energy to come from the shooters trigger finger.

If your handgun has an external hammer you can cock, it is not DAO.

Question: I carry a (Beretta) Px4 Storm .40 full size, it is DA on the first pull and from there SA. I was wondering, how safe is it to keep one in the chamber and the safety off? I carry internally, will this create any added issues? will it fire in DA if i don't carry one in the chamber.

Answer: The Beretta Px4 Storm has a firing pin block.  It will not fire unless the trigger is pulled. The issue of safety then comes down to how likely it is that the trigger gets pulled when it shouldn't be pulled. This in turn is somewhat dependent on how often the gun is handled and under what conditions.

I have read countless stories of triggers getting hooked on clothing, other people pulling triggers, and gun owners absent-mindedly pulling triggers. If the gun is in a good holster that covers the trigger and it stays there, then carrying with a round chambered is relatively safe. If the gun is handled a lot you must be very aware and disciplined or you will eventually have an accident.

On the other hand carrying with an empty chamber reduces the chance of an accident to near zero. No semi-auto that I am aware of will fire without a round in the chamber. For this to happen the trigger mechanism would have to be capable of chambering a round. While technically possible, this would be difficult and it would negate one of the features of semi-autos, namely the ability to carry in the ultra-safe empty chamber mode.

See more on this at Firearms Articles, THE MYTHS OF THE ISRAELI METHOD OF CARRY

Also see States of Readiness

In any event use the de-cocker to lower the hammer. The de-cocker rotates the firing pin out of the way as the hamer falls. Even so, keep it pointed in a safe direction at all times!

Carrying in or under clothing should not be a problem. This gun is designed for carry. It will pick up lint and possibly sweat and rain so clean it regularly.

Question: Can you put a hammer down on a 38 special without firing it?

Answer: Yes.  If you restrain the hammer and let it down easy the gun will not fire. However there is significant potential for an unintended discharge.  If you accidentally let the hammer fall too quickly the gun will fire. Carry out this operation in a safe place with the gun pointing in a safe direction.

In some older guns the firing pin rests on the primer when the hammer is down. In this case dropping the gun or banging the hammer can cause it to fire.  These guns should be carried with the hammer down on an empty chamber.  Most modern firearms have mechanisms that prevent the gun from firing if the trigger is not pulled. Read the manual.

Question: How do you put a double stack gun clip back together for a (Llama) mini max x 45?

Answer: Magazines consist of a body, a follower, a spring, and a floor plate.  The floor plate may be more than one piece.

To assemble the magazine pictured (Ruger LCP) put the spring in the follower, put them both in the body and hold the plate attached to the spring up inside the body while you slide the floor plate over the bottom of the magazine.  The little pin on the part of the floor plate that is attached to the spring will pop into the hole in the part of the floor plate that slides over the bottom of the magazine.  This keeps the floor plate from sliding off.

Be sure to get the follower oriented correctly. Also see if there is a place for the spring to attach or if it is just captured by the parts. In the Ruger magazine above, one end of the spring is attached and the other end is just captured by the follower.

Beretta magazines work this way as well. I have never taken apart a Llama magazine but the key is to discover how the floor plate is retained.

Colt magazines have a welded floor plate. The follower can be removed by sliding it out the front of the body after capturing the spring in the lower part of the magazine. Capture the spring by depressing the follower and then putting a small rod of some sort through the holes in the sides of the body. This will hold the spring down and allow the follower to be pulled out the front of the body.

Question: Why will my Ruger Single Six fire at half cock?

Answer: The half cock notch is probably broken. The pictures below show a flintlock tumbler and sear, but the principle is the same. When in half cock the sear should be trapped in the deep notch, but if the "tail" on the lower side of the notch breaks then the sear can slip from the notch under trigger pressure.

On a Ruger Single Six the tumbler is part of the hammer.  Since this is an unsafe condition Ruger may fix this for free. Otherwise a gunsmith should look at it and correct this and any other related problems.

Question: Does a revolver have a breech block?

Answer: Yes, but it might not be called that.

To review: The breech is the end of the barrel where the bullet starts, as opposed to the muzzle which is the the end where the bullet exits the barrel when the gun is fired.

In a muzzle loader, that is, a firearm where the powder and bullet are loaded from the muzzle end and rammed down with the ramrod, the breech block is permanently attached to the breech end of the barrel.

A breech loader, a firearm that uses cartridges which load from the breech end of the barrel, must have a breech that can be opened and closed.  Although it is the cartridge case that expands under pressure from the burning powder that seals the breech, the case does not have the strength to withstand the pressure unless it is backed up by a breech block.  The breech block can take the form of a bolt, a falling block, or as part of the slide of a semi-auto pistol.  There are other forms as well.

On a revolver it is the frame (the part that all the other parts are attached to) that performs this function. The cartridges are loaded in a cylinder which rotates inside the frame to bring each round into firing position. When fired, the cartridge case is restrained by the frame which sits just a few thousandths of an inch behind the cylinder.

Question: How do you unload a cocked revolver.

Answer: Very carefully! Once a revolver is cocked, there is usually no way to remove the ammunition without lowering the hammer. Obviously if the hammer falls too quickly the gun will fire. The hammer must be controlled, and let down gently while the trigger is pulled. You MUST have a safe direction in which to point the gun in order to be sure no one is hurt and no damage is done if the firearm discharges! If you are at a range just keep the gun pointed down range while you do this. Other possibilities are large buckets of sand or very thick piles of wood or books. Avoid this situation!

If there happens to be a trigger lock on the revolver you have an even bigger problem since now you must remove the trigger lock without firing the gun! This is why I prefer safes, lock boxes and cable locks over trigger locks.

Question: Are single action revolvers safe?

Answer: You are the primary safety device when handling any firearm! Always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction.  Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. Always keep your gun unloaded until ready for use.

Single action revolvers go back to 1835. At that time they were cap and ball revolvers, meaning that the cylinder was not bored through but was more like six little muzzle loaders that shared one barrel. Powder was put in the chamber, then a ball was rammed down. This was done for each of the six chambers in the cylinder. Next a percussion cap was put on each nipple on the back of the cylinder.

When the hammer was cocked the cylinder would rotate until the next chamber aligned with the barrel. When the trigger was pulled and the hammer fell on the cap it would ignite the powder and fire the gun.

But when the hammer was down it rested on the cap. If the gun was dropped or if the hammer was jarred there was a good possibility that it would fire. The same was true when cartridges became the norm. In the case of cartridges the firing pin rested on the primer. For this reason single action revolvers were often carried with the hammer down on an empty chamber.

Most modern single action revolvers have mechanisms to prevent an unintended discharge. In this case they are as safe as any firearm.

Antique firearms may not be safe to fire. They may also require special ammunition. If in doubt consult a qualified gunsmith.

Be familiar with your firearm. Read the manual.

Question: Will a semi auto fire without loading a round?

Answer: A semi-automatic firearm is a type of repeater that uses some of the energy of the previously fired round to extract and eject the empty case, strip a new round from the magazine, chamber that round and leave the action in a state where pulling the trigger will fire the round. The first round must be loaded into the chamber manually, either by working the action manually to strip a round from the magazine or by inserting a round directly into the chamber (which may not be recommended and might cause a double feed - read the manual).

There are full-auto firearms that fire from the open bolt.  In this case pulling the trigger will allow the bolt to close, and if there is ammunition in the magazine a round will be chambered and fired. It is possible that there are semi-auto firearms that behave this way as well.

In any event always keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction! Don't rely on the way a gun should work to keep you safe.

Question: Should I let my hammer down during long storage of my deer rifle?

Answer: Yes. A cocked hammer is under spring tension. There is evidence to suggest that springs wear out faster when they are under more tension. However it may or may not be a practical consideration. There are plenty of antique guns out there whose springs are just fine after hundreds of years. But why not store it with the hammer down?  Unloaded of course!

Question: What is the best practice ammunition?

Answer: The ammunition that allows you to get the most practice!  Shooting well takes skill.  Acquiring a skill takes practice.

If you can afford it, practice with the same ammunition you will carry or compete with. New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has the players practice in all kinds of weather because they will have to play in all kinds of weather. Make your practice sessions as realistic as possible.

That said, it is often better to get more practice with cheaper ammunition under better conditions than to get realistic practice in small doses.

Consider a firearm chambered for .22 rimfire in order to get more practice on the basics.  If you have more time than money, reload for some big savings. Don't forget dry fire. Dry fire (without live ammo) is a good way to work on your trigger control.  Use a snap-cap if you are worried about damaging your firearm.

Question: What causes trigger creep?

Answer: Trigger creep is detectable movement of the trigger without firing the gun.  This condition increases the patience and skill needed to make an accurate shot.  A properly designed trigger should break suddenly with increasing pressure, but with no detectable movement. A poorly designed or constructed trigger will exhibit creep. A good gunsmith may be able to improve your trigger. Excellent replacement triggers are often available for popular guns.

Also see: Firearm Triggers

Question: Why are heeled bullets obsolete?

Answer: They are still in use!  .22 Rimfire cartridges still use heeled bullets.

A quick review: A cartridge consists of a cartridge case, primer, powder, and a bullet. The bullet is the part of the cartridge that comes out of the barrel and goes down range.

A heeled bullet is one where the diameter of the part of the bullet that sticks out of the case is bigger than the diameter of the part of the bullet that is in the case. At one time most bullets were of this design. Manufacturers moved away from this because of cost, complexity, and performance.

Heeled bullets are harder to make, especially when they are jacketed. Jacketed bullets can be driven to higher velocities and tailored for better terminal performance. Non-heeled bullets are more streamlined  than heeled bullets.  Rimless pistol cartridges (most semi-auto pistols) head-space from the case mouth, which is obscured with a heeled bullet. Non-heeled bullets are more versatile, meaning the same bullet design can often be loaded in more than one cartridge.

The original .38 caliber cartridge used a heeled bullet.  When manufacturers made the switch to non-heeled bullets they kept the name but changed the bullet.  Today most (but not all) of the cartridges we know as .38s are in fact .35 caliber. This is why you can shoot .38 Special cartridges from a firearm chambered for .357 Magnum; they both use .35 caliber bullets. (But not the other way. A .357 Magnum is too long and generates too much chamber pressure for use in a .38 special.)

Question: How can you tell if your revolver is a double action?

Answer: Does your revolver have an external hammer? If not it is almost surely a double action. Here is the definitive test. Be sure the revolver is unloaded.  Most double action revolvers have a cylinder that hinges out of the frame to one side. Most single action revolvers have a loading gate to expose the chambers in the cylinder where the cartridges go. However your revolver works, all the holes must be empty! Check it twice! Point the gun in a safe direction. The hammer should be down (forward) if there is one. Pull the trigger through its full range of motion. If the revolver is a double action, the cylinder will rotate, the hammer (if present) will move to the rear and at the end of the travel of the trigger there will be an audible click. If the revolver is a single action, nothing at all will happen. The trigger on a single action revolver only performs a single action, and that is to release the hammer, which was cocked by the user.

See also: Firearm Actions, Double Action Revolvers, Single Action Revolvers

Question: How to unlock Colt 1911 Commemorative?

Answer: I'm not sure I understand the Question. In what way is the gun locked?

Question: What is polygonal rifling vs. grooves.

Answer: In traditional rifling the hole down the barrel of the gun, called the bore, is smaller than the intended bullet. Then helical grooves are cut (or pressed) into the bore to the diameter of the bullet or .001" smaller. The parts of the bore left between the grooves are called the lands.  Since the bullet is too big to fit past the lands, it must deform as it goes down the barrel.  This causes it to grip the lands and acquire a spin.

With polygonal rifling the bore is not round from the start. It is in the shape of a polygon (hexagon, octagon etc.) The dimensions of the polygon are chosen such that, like traditional rifling, the bullet must deform to go down the barrel. The polygonal shape traces out a helix from one end of the barrel to the other, thus spinning the bullet.

See also: Rifling

Question: Does the extractor of a semi auto pistol move?

Answer: Yes, but not very much. Typically extractors are spring loaded, either by being made out of spring steel or with the addition of an actual spring of one type or another. This is done to allow the extractor to adjust to the cartridge case and to snap over the bottom of the case if the round is already chambered.

In magazine fed firearms the new round usually slides up the face of the breech block as it is stripped from the magazine.  In this mode the rim of the cartridge slides under the extractor. But for rounds that are single loaded or mechanisms that don't allow for the slide under approach, the extractor must move enough to get around the cartridge case without damaging the case or the extractor.

Question: Why does the image in my telescopic rifle sight shift when I move my head slightly?

Answer: Parallax. Parallax is the apparent misalignment of objects not in the same plane, when viewed from different angles. Like the needle on your gas gauge. From the driver's seat you see you have an 1/8 of a tank, but from the passenger's seat it looks like you're down to the fumes.

In other words, since the gas gauge needle is not touching the dial that shows how much gas you have, you can look under the needle from another angle.

The image in a scope is formed on what is called a focal plane.  To eliminate parallax the cross hairs must be in the same plane. But the position of the focal plane changes with the distance to the target.

Most manufacturers pick one distance and build the scope to have no parallax at that distance.  There will be some parallax at other distances but this is not a problem for most shooters.

Some scopes have a way to adjust parallax.  Sometimes a knob and sometimes by turning the objective lens. This adjustment allows optics in the scope to move until the cross hairs and focal plane are in the same place. In this way parallax can be eliminated at any distance.

This adjustment appears to bring the target in and out of focus. In a properly set up scope, parallax will be eliminated when the target is in sharp focus.

See also: Telescopic Sights

Question: What is the width or the measurement of grooves in caliber 45 and rifling twist of bullet in 45?

Answer: Not all .45s are the same.  Often the caliber given as part of the cartridge name is approximate or even wrong. For example .38 specials (and most other .38s) are actually .35 caliber.  In addition pistol barrels might have different dimensions than rifle barrels.

But the data is published by SAAMI so here are some examples: (in inches)

.45-70 and .450 Marlin rifle barrels have a bore of .450, a groove diameter of .456 and rifling consisting of 6 grooves at .141 wide. The twist is one turn in 20 inches (1:20).

.458 Lott, .458 Winchester Magnum and .460 Weatherby Magnum rifle barrels have a bore of .450, a groove diameter of .458 and rifling consisting of 6 grooves at .150 wide for the Lott and Winchester but .175 for the Weatherby. The twist is one turn in 10 inches for the Lott and Winchester and 1:16 for the Weatherby.

By contrast the .450 Bushmaster rifle barrels have a bore of .442, a groove diameter of .450 and rifling consisting of 6 grooves at .148 wide. The twist is 1:24.

A .45 ACP pistol barrel has a bore of .442, a groove diameter of .450, 6 grooves at .147 wide and a 1:16 twist.

The twist needed depends on bullet diameter and length.  The Greenhill formula gives a good estimate.

The Greenhill Formula for lead and lead core bullets: Twist = 150 x Bullet Diameter squared / Bullet Length. (Use 180 rather than 150 for velocities over 2800 feet per second.)

See also: Rifling

Question: When did rifling appear in America?

Answer: Rifling has be known and used since the mid 1500s.  Undoubtedly some of the earliest settlers brought rifles to America, although smooth bores were more prevalent.

Military arms of that time were smooth bores because they were faster to load and easier to clean.  In addition a smooth bore can double as a "fowling piece", that is a shotgun for hunting birds.

But the advantages of rifling were not lost on the colonists and those who could afford good rifles used them to hunt large and small game.  It wasn't long before American gun smiths started crafting what today are known as "American Long Rifles", first in Pennsylvania and later in Kentucky and Ohio.

See also: Rifling

Question: How deep is rifling?

Answer: It varies from one chambering to the next.  Generally rifling is .002 to .006 inches deep with .004 being fairly typical. SAAMI publishes data for most chamberings.

See also: Rifling

Question: Can I put a three dot sight on my pistol which has a fixed rear sight?

Answer: Probably.  Sights are often attached to firearms by pressing them into a dovetail.  If you are handy, you can tap the old sight out of its dovetail and tap the new sight in.  Be sure to support the barrel or slide with a wooden block and use a brass drift so as not to damage your expensive firearm. Of course the new sight must have the same size dovetail as the one you are replacing. Sometimes the sight is an integral part of the barrel or slide.  In this case a competent gunsmith would have to modify your gun.

See also: Firearm Sights

Question: How high is chamber pressure?

Answer: It Varies quite a bit.

A .32 Auto pistol cartridge loaded with cast lead bullets will have a chamber pressure of about 7000 PSI.

A .300 Remington Ultra Mag rifle cartridge can have a chamber pressure near 65,000 PSI.

SAAMI specifies 35,000 PSI for 9mm and .357 Magnum, 17,000 PSI for .38 Special, and 21,000 PSI for .45 Auto.

A .308 Winchester rifle cartridge can be anywhere from 27,000 to 62,000 PSI depending on the bullet, powder and desired velocity.

Question: How much spin do bullets need?

Answer: It depends on the bullet.  Round balls benefit from rifling, but they don't need much spin. One turn in seventy inches might do it (1:70).  One turn in forty eight is common (1:48).

Smaller diameters and longer bullets need more spin.  1:7 is common in firearms chambered for .223.

1:10 is common for .30-'06. A Ruger LCP in .380 Auto has a twist of 1:16.

Too little spin will not stabilize the bullet, but too much spin can cause barrel wear and magnify problems caused by bullet imperfections.

The Greenhill Formula for lead and lead core bullets says: Twist = 150 x Bullet Diameter squared / Bullet Length. (Use 180 rather than 150 for velocities over 2800 feet per second.)

A .30 caliber 168 grain HPBT bullet is 1.236" long and .308" in diameter. Applying the formula: .308 squared is .094864 x 150 is 14.2296 / 1.236 is 11.51(rounded) so you would want a twist of 1:11.5

A Springfield Armory M1A National Match Rifle (which fires that bullet) has a twist of 1:11.

Question: Does a revolver have a chamber?

Answer: The chamber is the section of the barrel where the cartridge is held during the process of firing the gun. This certainly applies to the cylinder of a revolver, so in reality a six shot revolver has six chambers.  However, few people actually use the term "chamber" when talking about revolvers and refer to the chambers collectively as the cylinder.

See also: Firearm Actions, Double Action Revolvers, Single Action Revolvers

Question: What does "head space from the case mouth" mean?

Answer: When a gun is fired there is a considerable force generated that pushes the bullet down the barrel.  This same force tends to try to push the cartridge case out the opposite end of the barrel.  Something needs to be in the way to prevent this.  In a bolt action rifle it is the bolt face.  Other types of firearms have a different name for this part, but whatever the name, it does the same job.

Firearm ammunition and chambers are made so that something locates the cartridge in the chamber. Rimmed cartridges are located by the rim. Bottle necked cartridges are located by the shoulder (the tapered section between the larger case diameter and the smaller bullet seating diameter). Belted cartridges are located by the belt. Rimless cartridges (most semi-auto handguns) are located by the case mouth.

Head space is the distance between this location reference (rim, shoulder, case mouth) and the bolt face (or whatever does this job).

Too little head space and the action may bind up; too much head space and the cartridge case may stretch, or worse, rupture. The firearm and the ammo must meet the proper specifications to prevent these problems.

How To Diagnose Failure To Fire:

For a gun to fire there must be a live cartridge in the firing position.

Any cartridge with an unused primer should be considered live.

The firing position is the chamber at the breech end of the barrel, or in the case of a revolver, the cylinder position that aligns with the barrel when the revolver is cocked.

The job of the fire control system, meaning the trigger, the firing pin and all the parts that connect them, is to drive the firing pin into the primer when the trigger is pulled, and only when the trigger is pulled.

This divides failure to fire into two broad categories:

1) The cartridge fails to fire and there is NO DENT on the primer. This indicates a problem in the fire control system of the gun.

2) The cartridge fails to fire and there IS a dent in the primer. This indicates that the fire control system works, at least to some extent.

If your cartridge has a nice deep dent like in the picture below then that cartridge is defective.

The fire control system has done its job. There is nothing wrong with your gun. Try a different batch of ammo.

.22 rimfire and .45 auto.22 Rimfire And .45 Auto With Good Firing Pin Impressions

If the dent is small then the fire control system may be marginal, but first make absolutely sure you are using the correct ammo for the gun!

A marginal fire control system might be a weak mainspring, but it could also be dirty, gummed up components. Start with a good cleaning and lube of all the fire control parts.

While it is apart inspect every part for signs of wear or damage.

To evaluate a mainspring:

If the gun has a hammer does the hammer seem too easy to cock? Compare it to other guns that work.

For bolt action and striker fired guns does the spring look right or is it bent, broken or otherwise tired looking? Does it make a nice loud click when dry fired?

Is the firing pin broken or damaged? Is it the right one for the gun? Has it been assembled correctly?

If possible confirm that the firing pin will in fact project a sufficient distance from the bolt face.

bolt face showing hole for firing pinBolt Face Showing Hole For Firing Pin
back of firing pinFiring Pin From The Hammer Side
projecting firing pinFiring Pin Projecting From The Bolt Face

In the first picture you can see the hole in the bolt face. The firing pin is just out of sight in the hole.

The second picture is showing the opposite end of the firing pin which will be struck by the hammer.

In the third picture I am pushing on the hammer end of the firing pin causing it to project from the bolt face.

Often the firing pin retracts under spring tension, but not all designs have a spring.

A firing pin that won't move must be freed up.

A firing pin that does not have a nice round end might be broken or worn. (Rimfire firing pins are often rectangular and, as the name implies, out on edge of the bolt face rather than in the center.)

If you can't get the firing pin to project from the bolt face you need to figure our why. Don't discount the possibility that there is a firing pin block, intended to prevent an accidental discharge, that must be released. Other things to consider are rust or debris that has accumulated in the hole with the firing pin.

Some guns have the firing pin on the hammer, but the same considerations apply.

S&W Firing PinS&W Firing Pin On Hammer