Is it possible to have a bad range day? Not unless you shoot yourself or someone else, but it’s possible to come close. I came close to having a bad range day Thanksgiving weekend. Instead of shopping, I went shooting, much more fun.
I went to the range for two reasons: One, I switched sights on my Glocks so I need to test them to see if they were close enough for use. Two, I need some extra practice with my Ruger LCR I carry everyday. With a pocket-sized, weigh-nothing revolver you can never have enough practice.
Got a range bag, threw my crap in there, waited for my wife to come back from work, and then headed out.
I started by shooting my Glocks. It’s not my fault, I’m okay, but somehow I shot myself. The local range has steel swingers and poppers set up at 10 yards and 25 yards to shoot. I picked up the Glock, loaded it, pointed it at a swinger and fired. Felt the recoil, heard a steel clang, and felt something punch me in the upper chest.
At first I ignored it and got my sights back on target because over the years I’ve trained myself to ignore distractions on the range like hot brass, people pushing or yelling, and the like. But then I noticed I was hit hard enough to knock the wind out of me. So I thought maybe I’m really hurt and there is no reason to keep shooting steel, it’s not shooting back. So I put the gun on the bench in front of me and started feeling for blood.
No blood, no foul, but it hurt like crazy. I told one of the range safety guys and he said it happens from time to time. But this is the first time I’ve ever had anything come back hard enough to hurt anyone, especially just a little 9mm! If it was a shotgun slug or high-power rifle I could understand, but it was only a 9mm FMJ.
I continued shooting, ignoring the pain because I was determined to have a good day on the range. My Glock 19 Gen 3 ran like a top, just like you would expect. I shot for accuracy, hitting a 4-inch paddle at 25 yards (my Speed Sights shoot a little high with 115gr Monarch ammo, not sure why). Since I switched the sights from my Gen 3 to my Gen 4, I got that one out to try.
It shot fine for about 3 rounds and then had a light hammer strike malfunction. I cleared it, fired the rest of the magazine and put the bad round back in and it fired no problem.
Next magazine, I had the same problem and then, had it again. So I switched ammo thinking the cheap steel Monarch ammo could be the problem (even-though my Gen 3 just went through it without issue). I only had about 20 rounds of Federal FMJ and had 2 light strikes out of 15 rounds. I put the last five Federal rounds in my Gen 3 and they fired without any problems. The only other ammo I had was Tula, so I tried that. I’ve had problems before with batches of hard primers or primers not all the way seated with Tula ammo, so it didn’t surprise me when it malfunctioned, also.
So, after three different types of ammo in three different magazines, I started looking at the gun being the problem. The first round would always fire, so I fired one round and then inspected the gun without moving it. I even inspected it after it fired and I had captured the trigger to shoot from reset. Yes, the gun was always pointed down range, with a firm grip on it, and I didn’t cover anything I didn’t want to shoot.
I discovered that the gun wasn’t going all the way into battery. It would go far enough for the hammer to drop and actually fire a round (sometimes), but still just back a hair. So I was testing that theory by firing a round and pushing the gun into battery after each round. It worked better, but there was still an issue.
I took the gun apart and discovered that I hadn’t cleaned it in a while. It was pretty nasty inside, but it’s a Glock and should have been running. I thought maybe the striker spring had something wrong with it or the striker channel was dirty. I had to borrow cleaning gear from the range. Lesson; cleaning gear, don’t leave home without it. The channel was cleaner than the rest of the gun, so that wasn’t the problem.
I gave up after firing almost 150 rounds and having a bunch of malfunctions. One you see below is a failure to feed and something I would expect from a dirty gun. But I only had one and it could also be a number of other issues, including a bad recoil spring.
I couldn’t figure out the problem on the range, so I gave up and started firing my LCR. That one ran fine and I got to put 80 rounds down range (because that’s all I had with me). I didn’t shoot the best and was having problems hitting the 6-inch paddle at 25 yards with it, which isn’t normal for me. I was using Blazer 158 gr FMJ ammo and I haven’t really used that for accuracy and I’d like to say the ammo was the problem, but after being shot and being frustrated about my Glock not working, it was probably me not shooting well.
I got home and stripped the Glock to its bones, cleaned everything and put it back together. I replaced the recoil spring with a factory one I had lying around that is almost brand new. I put an after market recoil spring in the Glock Gen 4 the day I bought it, so it’s close enough to new. I also bought some Winchester White Box 130 gr FMJ for my LCR that I know shoots well out of that gun. Now I have an excuse to go back to the range this week to test them both out. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Have you ever had a bad range day? Let me know in the comments below.