What prevents or causes a dropped gun to fire?

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Thread: What prevents or causes a dropped gun to fire?

  1. #1
    Member Array possessed's Avatar
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    What prevents or causes a dropped gun to fire?

    I searched some old threads but never really found exactly what I am looking for.

    What saftey devices prevent modern firearms from firing when dropped?

    Why do some guns fire when dropped? I have read of many negligent discharges due to dropped guns. I have also read of people dropping and the gun did not fire.

    Like an idiot, some years ago, I negligently dropped my fully loaded Taurus P140 on concrete and thankfully it did not fire. It fell out of a cheap holster that I threw out and replaced with a quality one. Scared the crap out of me, but I learned a valuable lesson and I am so much more careful now. Was I simply lucky or is there a safety feature that prevented it from firing?

    I also own a SA 1911 and a Ruger P95. I am curious as to what safeguards are in place on these guns if they were dropped.

    Thanks for any help.
    And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

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    Distinguished Member Array C9H13NO3's Avatar
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    A lot of modern gun have firing pin blocks that move out of the way when the trigger is pulled. That prevents anything else like a worn or broken sear that's jolted loose from letting it fire. A dropped gun that fires had some part of the fire control group move because the inertia of the fall was greater than the spring(s) or other tension holding the part where it was.
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    Quote Originally Posted by C9H13NO3 View Post
    A lot of modern gun have firing pin blocks that move out of the way when the trigger is pulled. That prevents anything else like a worn or broken sear that's jolted loose from letting it fire. A dropped gun that fires had some part of the fire control group move because the inertia of the fall was greater than the spring(s) or other tension holding the part where it was.
    Thank you. So basically, any gun could potentially fire if dropped?

    Are certains types more or less likely to fire if dropped? Striker vs hammer?
    And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

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    Distinguished Member Array C9H13NO3's Avatar
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    No. They have safeties to prevent that, and most undergo drop testing, where they are dropped from different heights at different angles on different parts of the gun. A quality, modern gun will not fire when dropped. I've drop tested my M9 (with no ammo). I had it cocked, safety off, and I went as far as practically throwing it on the ground from all different angles. Couldn't get the hammer to drop.
    -Ryan

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    My RIA 1911 compact fired when it dropped straight on the muzzle on a tiled concrete floor,I changed the firing pin spring to a heavier spring to prevent the inertia of the firing pin from striking the primer if it ever happened again.The way it dropped was a million to one chance that it dropped straight on the muzzle from about 3 ft high
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    Ex Member Array JOHNSMITH's Avatar
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    Due to California's drop safety testing, a lot of manufacturers have safeties that will physically block the sear or pin from moving. As such, most modern handguns are completely drop safe. So even if some part of the trigger somehow moves, you should still be okay because of that safety.

    Shotguns generally are not, although there seems to be a lot of disagreement just over how much of a drop, or what angle, is needed to cause an AD/ND. This is also why many carry and store shotguns as "cruiser ready" - i.e., a loaded magazine with an empty chamber.

    As far as rifles, I really have no idea to be honest. I've been curious about that.

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    Member Array M1911A1's Avatar
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    The primary general answer to your question (What keeps dropped guns from going off?) is "good mechanical design."
    Without meaning to be snarky, the really true answer to your question is "careful gun handling, and not dropping one in the first place."
    You answered your own question when you wrote about dropping your gun out of a badly-made, cheap holster. A good holster, and a little care on your part, would've answered the question for you admirably.
    Steve
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    Distinguished Member Array Colin's Avatar
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    A model 70 1911 will not have a drop safety, I believe all model 80's do.

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    Member Array BlackJack's Avatar
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    What will cause a dropped gun to fire?

    1. A mechanical defect that allows the hammer to drop.
    2. Inertia causing the firing pin to move forward, coming into contact with the primer hard enough to fire.

    What is done to prevent this from happening in modern firearms?
    1. Regular inspections and proper maintenance will help insure that your weapon is functioning properly.
    2. Most, if not all of the current manufacturers have implemented some sort of measure to reduce, if not eliminate, the chances of a discharge due to the weapon being dropped. Some states, California being the most notable, have implemented a “drop test” that the pistol must pass before that particular model can be sold in that state.
    a. Most manufacturers have implemented some sort of a firing pin block safety. This is a safety that actually blocks the firing pin, preventing it from moving forward until the pistol is either held correctly (like the Schwartz style safety used by Kimber) or the trigger is actually pulled (most of the others like the Colt Series 80 or Glock’s Safe Action).
    b. Others have modified existing parts without changing the basic design (Like Springfield using a light weight firing pin with a heavy firing pin spring).
    c. Still others have done nothing, relying on the original design to function as it was meant to.

    In most cases, it requires a very specific set of circumstances to allow the weapon to fire because of being dropped (such as being dropped on the muzzle in almost a perfect 90 degree vertical drop from a high enough point to be able to overcome the strength of the firing pin spring) in order for the firing pin to be moved forward with enough force to cause the pistol to fire. This is, as already mentioned, virtually a one in a million chance. Much more common is that somebody accidently pulls the trigger, or the intentionally pull the trigger thinking that the weapon is empty.

    So, if it is a one in a million chance and “almost” never happens, why do we have the safeties that are specifically designed to prevent this kind of a discharge? Well, there are two reasons.
    1. Lawyers
    2. Politicians

    As for your two pistols…
    Your SA 1911 has a light weight firing pin and a heavy firing pin spring that will prevent it from firing with dropped. This configuration has passed the California Drop test.

    Your P95 has a drop safety that is deactivated when the trigger is pulled. Unfortunately, I do not know enough about the P96 to tell you any more about its operation.

    Bottom line… As long as your two pistols are in good mechanical order, and have not been modified, you “should” have no problems. However, never trust a mechanical safety 100%. ALWAYS follow the basic safety rules and you will know that even if something does go wrong, you will be ok.

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    I should add that probably more than half of the "I dropped it and it just went off." reports were/are in reality negligent discharges due to operator error.

    It is far less embarrassing just to say: "Whoops! I Dropped It....and BANG!" than to accept the responsibility for causing a negligent discharge.

    Also....dropping a firearm and then attempting to catch it before it hits the concrete, floor, ground, (whatever) causes more discharges than just allowing the firearm to hit the hard surface.
    That would be because folks attempt to reflexively snatch the firearm and end up pulling the trigger in the process.

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    Member Array possessed's Avatar
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    Thanks so much for all the replies. I learned quite a few things, which is why I joined this forum.

    Thanks again.
    And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.

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    Senior Member Array Rmac58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QKShooter View Post
    Also....dropping a firearm and then attempting to catch it before it hits the concrete, floor, ground, (whatever) causes more discharges than just allowing the firearm to hit the hard surface.
    That would be because folks attempt to reflexively snatch the firearm and end up pulling the trigger in the process.
    Sadly even pros succumb to this natural reaction. I read a few months ago a National Guardsman (at Ft. Eustis, Va.) was doing his annual training died as a result. This was witnessed by the instructor. He was a marksman with rifles and handguns.

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