“I’ve never had a malfunction on paper.”
On this page at the international website all4shooters, we noted the following paragraph from Andrea Giuntini:
American experts invented names and achronyms for all kind of gun-related malfunctions, yet there isn’t one that suits this. That was definitely not an FTF (“Failure to Feed”), as the round were fed and fired properly, nor an FTE (“Failure to Extract) since, as a matter of fact, the case was extracted and ejected; nor it is a stovepipe malfunction − if it was, the case would be stuck vertically in the ejection window.
May you, ALL4SHOOTERS.COM readers and followers, invent a name for this kind of malfunction? Tell us about it, and about any peculiar kind of malfunction you may have experienced in your everyday shooters’ lives!
The article actually looks into a screwy, one-off malf of a Glock 17, in which a fired casing got turned around backwards and jammed the slide from going into battery on the next round:
We couldn’t duplicate the jam with a G17 and dummy rounds in the office, but Andrea traced it to a piece of metal debris under the extractor (his Glock was brand new).
A gun is a machine, and a machine does the same thing every time, given the same input; therefore, a machine never fails for no reason, and the reason is always discoverable, given the right theory, concept, and inspectional technique. Basic troubleshooting, which worked for Andrea Giuntini and should make a good post here some day. But meanwhile, it got us thinking about what are the types of malfunctions?
Most of what an Internet search will find is the same stuff repeated endlessly, which probably comes, ultimately, from Cooper. We leave finding it in Cooper’s voluminous bibliography as an exercise for the reader; his Commentaries are online, for example.
Cooper, in turn, followed Chinn. But an even earlier taxonomy of malfunctions comes from then-Captain Julian Hatcher and his assistants, Lieutenants H.J. Malony and Glenn P. Wilhelm, at the Machine Gun School of Instruction at Harlingen, Texas in March, 1917.
Jams, Malfunctions, Stoppages
Distinguish carefully between these terms, and use them correctly. Any accidental cessation of fire is a stoppage. It may be due to a misfire, or to the fact that the magazine has been emptied, etc. In this case it is not a malfunction.
A malfunction is an improper action of some part of the gun, resulting in a stoppage. For example, a failure to extract the empty cartridge case.
A jam is some malfunction which causes the mechanism to stick or bind so that it is difficult to move. Do not use the word “Jam” too much. Most troubles with the guns are merely temporary stoppages due to some malfunction, and real jams are comparatively rare.1
An alternative version comes from the Royal Armouries of England and Great Britain. In the 1960s, its standard report format (which we saw in the Vz 58 report) contained this boilerplate key2 to malfunctions:
|ABBREVIATION||STOPPAGE OR MALFUNCTION||DESCRIPTION|
|1. b.f.c.||Breech Block fails to close.||The round has been fed into the chamber but breech block not fully home.|
|2. b. f. r.||Breech Block fails to remain to the rear.||When the trigger is released the breech block fails to engage on the sear.|
|3. d.t.||Double Tap.||When the mechanism of the weapon is set to single shot firing two rounds are fired with one pressure of the trigger.|
|4. f. e.||Failure tc Eject.||This occurs when the round is correctly fired and fired case is extracted from chamber but not thrown clear of the weapon.|
|5. f. e. c.||Failure to Extract Fired Case.||This occurs when the round is fired correctly but the fired case is left in the chamber when the breech block moves to the rear.|
|6. f. f.||Failure to Feed||A conplete failure of the breech block to contact the base of the round and remove it from belt or magazine i.e. breech block closes on empty chamber. Position of round in magazine or belt indicated where possible i.e. 19th|
|7. hf.||Hangfire||This occurs when the time interval between the striking of the cap by the firing pin and the firing of the round is apparent to fixer. Definite time lag in milli seconds is however used by Ammunition personnel.|
|8. l. s.||Light Strike||This occurs when the cap of the round receives a slight indentation from the firing pin which is insufficient to ignite the cap composition.|
|9. p. f. f.||Partial Failure to Feed or Malfeed.||This is a partial failure in that the round has beer taken partially from the magazine or belt by breech block but has not chambered.
Position of round in magazine or belt indicated where possible, i.e. 19th round etc.
|10. mf.||Misfire.||This occurs when the cap of the round has been correctlv struck but fails to ignite the charge and fire the round.|
|11. r. g. (3),(4),(5), etc.||Runaway Gun. No. of rounds in brackets.||When the mechanism of the weapon is set either at single shot or auto and continues firing after release of trigger,|
|12. s. c.||Separated Case||This occurs when a portion of the fired case is left in the chamber, the remainder being extracted normally. The succeeding round will fail fully to enter the chamber and breech block will fail to close.|
|13. s. n. r.||Snubbed Nose Round.||This occurs when the nose of the bullet does not enter the chamber correctly but on striking the barrel face is crushed by the foiward movement of breech block. This snubbing may take place at various points on the barrel face or lead in and where possible, is indicated as SN 3 o’clock SN 9 o’clock etc.|
|14. t. f. c.||Trapped Fired Case.||This occurs when the fired case is correctly extracted but on ejection the fired case rebounds into the mechanism and is trapped between some portion of the moving parts (usually the breech block) and the body of the weapon.|
|15||Failures through Breakages||These will obviously cause stoppages and will be described in full.|
The fact is, malfunctions are conceptualized differently by the engineer, by the armorer or gunsmith, and by the firearms operator. From the operator’s-eye view, you don’t need to get wrapped around the axle trying to name them al. What you really need to know is what sorts of malfunctions a particular weapon is prone to, and how to correct them. And there is no better way than experience to master the art of malfunction correction.
- Hatcher, et. al. p. 1.
- UK Ministry of Defence, Inspectorate of Armaments, Woolwich, Small Arms Branch Testing Section, RSAF Enfield Lock, Form 7248/1. Retrieved from: http://weaponsman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/RSAF-SATB-Small-Arms-Trial-Report-Vz58-1966.pdf
Hatcher, Julian S., Wilhelm, Glenn P. and Malony, Harry J. Menasha, WI: George Banta Publishing Co., 1917.
UK Ministry of Defence, Inspectorate of Armaments, Woolwich, Small Arms Branch Testing Section, RSAF Enfield Lock, Form 7248/1.