Out of the Depths, a Glock 27

What is the story on this firearm? Hint: it’s not a mash-up between the World of Glock and the Southern California “rat rod” phenomenon. The “rat Glock” is a 27 and was fished up by a fisherman in an unknown location. He sent the photo in to the the maker of his lure, SlabZone in Oakland, which has a “what have you caught on our lures” feature on social media.

slabzone-g27

There are a number of reasons a compact Glock might come to reside in the drink. People actually do lose guns in boating accidents — it isn’t just a running joke. (Your Humble Blogger lost a wallet in a diving/boating mishap, containing a lot of junk paper and cards, a few bucks, a Group coin and his original gold-plated metal SF Association life membership card, but no Glocks yet).

Three questions come up:

  1. Would it still work?
  2. Was it used in a crime? Would it have evidentiary value?, and,
  3. How come I never catch anything like that?

Okay, that’s really four questions… but we’ll answer ’em, or try to.

Our guess is that the answer to 1. is a qualified “yes.” Qualified in that it may need to soak in lubricant for a while for the slide to be moved.

The answer to both parts of 2.? “It’s complicated.” Guns are valuable things, especially to criminals, and despite the risk that a criminal exposes himself to by retaining a crime gun, most of them still do. The exceptions are, or at least include, such professional criminals as organized crime gunmen. Street punks are more likely to sell, trade or even give a hot-as-in-got-a-body-on-it Glock to some other street criminal.

Apart from the boating-mishap scenario, we’ve known more than one guy who’s lost a firearm to an angry wife of girlfriend. “You love that Glock more than me! So I threw it off the Tappan Zee!”

LE could quickly check NCIC to see if it has been reported stolen, and local LE could call ATF to do a trace. Traces aren’t magical, they take a while, and experience says that it’s most likely that the ATF’s trace dead-ends at the gun’s first retail sale.

Then, assuming that the gun can be made to fire, it could be fired for ballistics and the result entered in NIBIN, but it’s likely that there’s corrosion inside the barrel, and to the firing pin, extractor, ejector, and breech face on the slide, so a match would probably be difficult (and could be challenged by a defense expert). The chance of tying this gun to an open case is very small, and if the case is closed, the ballistic evidence may no longer be active in NIBIN.

It would be worth trying the forensics approach just to see if anything usable could be recovered. It would make an interesting paper!

And as far as Question 3 goes, we’re happy enough to catch a fish. We’ve been known to get skunked even on that. 

Hat tip, Chris Eger at Guns.com.

 

 

 

29 thoughts on “Out of the Depths, a Glock 27

    1. Hognose Post author

      It’s probably salvageable to function as it is. Depending on how much barrel wear to bare metal. WWII aircraft have been restored to airworthy from decades of freshwater immersion, and even from very deep (O2-free) saltwater immersion, and they are much flimsier and much less well corrosion-protected than a modern firearm. Of course, with an artifact worth millions, like a WWII plane, an intensive restoration is economically justified.

  1. Badger

    Neat catch, literally. Should send it to Glock – they’d love to play with it & get it up to speed. (Someone’s personally-owned backup to their agency G22 ? – as you say, possibilities abound.) Seeing the pattern of the degradation makes me wonder about its carry before the “oops – ker-plunk.” If I recall correctly the Tenifer™ (or whatever similar cyanide-free process they use now) is in the metal to a depth below the black finish but obviously there’s some chafing in more areas than others.

    I hope that gent has a nice premium-quality spinning reel there, as the budget models do not play well with braided line which (due to lack of give) can be harder-than-normal on such a the gears.

  2. John Distai

    Other questions – Is it “finder’s keepers”? If he provides it to law enforcement for testing and evidentiary value, and it’s not a match, does he get it back? If he sends it to Glock for refurbishment, do they look up the last sale and contact the previous owner, or do they send it back to him?

    1. Hognose Post author

      Yeah, there’s a big difference between conditions, spearfishing on that tropical reef versus diving for just about any professional purpose. Dark, cold, and zero visibility. But it looks like he’s got the evidence.

      Around here one of the things they dive for a lot is bodies. Everyone’s favorites are snowmobilers who enjoyed the rush of zooming over holes in the ice, until they suddenly didn’t. On the plus side, in a lake the body is usually pretty close to the sled. But the real brain-deads do it on rivers…

      The suicides from Big City, Population 24k or so’s, high bridges tend to make an appearance on the beaches of my seaside town after a pelagic interval. “Yes, it is your daughter. Yes, we’re sure. No, you don’t want to see the body.”

      1. John M.

        Shoot, everybody knows you don’t go on a frozen river. At least not in New England.

        -John M.

        1. jim h

          well, now those everyones know too. as it is said, common sense, ain’t.

          re Hog’s post: I don’t think most people truly understand that real floaters do NOT look like they do in whatever CSI / law and order mashup they’ve been watching. it is not a pretty sight at all.

          hard to tell the age in the glock picture, but it doesn’t look to have been submerged for a really long time. what about yours, Air? interesting story on that one?

          1. Air

            Interesting? Not really. Funny maybe… as relayed by my son that was tending his line: GF/BF argument the previous evening… She threw his gun and mag (separately) in the lake to piss him off. Mag didn’t go as far, landed in the marshy bank and found easily. In order to find the location, based on the GF described launch point, they started throwing similarly weighted rocks… throwing them like a guy… My son suggested that they throw like a girl and proceeded to find a suitable stone, but a female medic started yelling at him that he was sexist for making such a statement… He threw the rock, the diver shown in the pix said “what the hell, that location is as a good as any to look again…”

          2. rocketguy

            Heh…PC and feels may dominate culture these days but reason and data always get real results.

      2. Steve M.

        The facility where I work is located on the Connecticut River, which has a yielded several bodies over the years. Bodies usually pop up during the spring and winter, or when the river water temperature is down a bit. The last one that appeared happened about six years ago. Poor guy was working construction of some type up in MA and he turned up a few weeks later in south/central CT. Come to think of it, we’re probably due for another visit by the CT State Police dive team.

      3. rocketguy

        I lived in western NC for a few years and got to know a bunch of local volunteer firefighter/EMS folks. Lots of elevation change and associated fast rivers and waterfalls and disappearing tourists. Some of the body recoveries were rough.

        Note to tourists: If you’re using a swimming hole that the locals won’t touch, there’s probably a good reason.

    2. Cap'n Mike

      Nice
      Not to many things more challenging to find than a gun.
      Maybe shell casings?

      I learned quick, that if its at all possible, get the person that tossed the item to demonstrate how and where they did it.
      One search of a pond for a gun we did, the Detective that interveiwed the girl that dumped it showed us where to search.
      We asked the Detective if he could bring the girl down, since she was out on bail.
      She immediatly told us we were in the wrong spot, that she had thrown it in 300 yards down the shore. Saved us a long fruitless search.

      In another case, the tosser threw the rock we gave him and it landed right on top of the box of ammo he had thrown in the week before.

      If they confess to dumping the item, they are almost always willing to come to the scene and show you.

      From the corrosion, I would guess that Glock was in salt water. Looks like its been rinsed cleaned and dried before that pic was taken. I would expect more growth or slime on it otherwise, unless it was only submerged for a short amount of time.

  3. Raoul Duke

    Someone cared about it enough at one point to change out the nasty stock sights, which are known in the business as “dovetail protectors”, because that’s about what they are good for.

  4. QuietMan

    “…lost a firearm to an angry wife of girlfriend…”

    Needs more rapport building.

    Good story though. It’d be nice for someone to document a rehab attempt on it.

  5. Tim, '80s Mech Guy

    I bought a magnet at Harbor Freight and went dragging for a Kershaw I dropped off a culvert at the local fishing spot. Hour and a half later I had dragged up a bunch of garbage and was more pissed than ever when the knife fell off the magnet at the surface. Stainless don’t stick as well as carbon steel…Given the neighborhood I was disappointed but not surprised that I didn’t find a gun during the hunt. We do catch enough fish there to keep a seven-year-old girl interested though.

    Overnight soak in penetrating oil, or even WD-40 and a bit of scrubbing would have that up and running no problem. The only part I can see actually seizing up would be the firing pin saftey and then I’d be surprised. You can see in the pic some rust on the slide at the point where the frame rails interface and different grades of steel will work on each other. The internals are plated and there’s not a bunch of metal to metal contact in there so they’d be G2G most likely. Penetrant, rubber mallet, wire brush and some springs from my spares box and it would fly again.

  6. Loren

    I and thousands of others have donated wallets, watches, sunglasses and phones to the Swan river gods in Perth while sailing. Probably not a lot of Glocks though.
    I’m sure the some future archaeologist will take a few core samplings of the river bed and work up a whole religion based on the sacrifices found.

    1. jim h

      with the crazy wildlife down under, it’s not implausible to suggest there might be a religion based around it now!

      does make one wonder though: how far off are we on ancient cultures and their religions? what if they were just clumsy and accident prone, or just doing things and saying stuff like “let’s screw with those guys 1000 years in the future by doing this.”

  7. BAP45

    Depending on the area hewas fishing in good chance it belonged to a spearfisher. They’ve been know to take glocks with them for various reasons. Usually as shark repellent.

  8. Quill_&_Blade

    Well…huh. I’ve been wondering whether I should mention a certain incident from last year; but was reluctant, thinking it would be BBB Bubba Beyond Belief. I consider my methods reasonable, I’ll describe them below. My children were playing at a river nearby, my daughter found a revolver at the bottom. There was of course speculation that it was stolen. I called around, and found that here in TN. one runs a check through the TBI, not a federal agency. A local gun store charged $10 for the service, which was done while I waited. They said that if it turned out to be stolen, I could leave, but the gun couldn’t. It came up OK, maybe somebody did drop it on a boating trip.
    Next was how to test it. I took it to a buddy that knows guns inside and out, guy can fast draw and hit a 3 inch circle at 20 feet without aiming. I’ve tried telling him he should get formal gunsmith training. He looked it over, and said it would be OK to shoot. I myself examined the bore, and it was surprisingly clean compared to the corrosion outside. My friend did point out one thing I didn’t realize; he said to do a better job cleaning the inside of the cylinder holes, or else the spent cases would be hard to extract. Good catch.
    Did said clean up, went looking for ammo. Years ago, my brother had a Taurus 38 SP, he often shot what he called “wadcutters”. They were a low power load, with a funny looking flat-ish bullet. Gun store didn’t know what I was referring to. He said he did have a lower powered load; it was for women. Get this, the cartridges were…PINK. I imagined some vamp offing a guy, and as he’s gasping his last breath, she tells him he was done in by a PINK bullet. “ARRRG”, he moans as he passes in added agony.
    The day arrives for the test firing. I secured the pistol to a stout wood stand, make a long pull string with a loop around the trigger. I put blue plastic barrels with trash in them between myself and the gun. The plastic is quite tough, it’s not brittle. So I would have two layers of that, with the trash between. I figured that I was shielding myself from flying gun parts, not a bullet. As if this story isn’t redneck enough already, just as I’m walking towards the safe area, along comes stupid dog, and gets tangled in the test string. Why Then?? Dog stays gone for hours, and at that very second, comes trotting through and gets quite snagged. I make a quick duck, total loss of style points. Somehow, even with the exertion the dog puts on the string, it doesn’t fire. Hmmm, untangle dog. Proceed with test as planned..and it fires nicely. Cautiously looked over blue barrel, went to revolver, loaded another round, and tested it again. Everything was fine, ended up testing it with 6 rounds. We’ve fired about 100 rounds (38 SP) through it, no problems; although a nephew did remind me of something I forgot: he said I should have test fired it with a hot 357 round, that would be like the way new black powder rifles were tested.

      1. Quill_&_Blade

        Thanks. Funny thing is, there are only a couple guns on the more immediate wish list, cowboy revolver in modern caliber being one. So it was loosely assumed by all that I would keep the gun as my own, and maybe give it to 12 YO daughter when she was older. Kid with 357 was a bit iffy. I decided that I could score more dad points and set a fair example by going the ‘finders keepers’ route. I keep it in my possession, but she knows it’s hers. Also a good opportunity that there’s huge responsibility with it, and that accurate shooting is learned, like other attention to detail things.

  9. John M.

    Wadcutter pictured center, courtesy of Wikimedia.

    They have flat fronts to make nice circular holes in paper. Many are loaded light for competition, though wadcutters did enjoy a brief time in the sun as a self-defense bullet prior to quality hollowpoint ammunition.

    -John M.

  10. Matt

    I’m a dive tender and reserve deputy for the local sheriff’s office. Guns are hard to find; we spent three afternoons looking for a blue .38 revolver off of a beach even when the previous owner was brought from jail to show us where he’d tossed it. Never did find it, but they were basically looking by hand.

    The couple of body recoveries I’ve been on in lakes, on the other hand, were within a few feet laterally of where they went down. They tend to be found in sort of a cone shaped area, with the point of the cone at the surface at their last spot seen (if we can get an accurate spot from witnesses), at least in lakes. In the Mississippi, all bets are off, with wing dams, tow boats and stormy currents carrying bodies more than 10 miles in some cases.

    One of the guys we recovered in a small lake still had his sunglasses on. I’ll remember that for a while. No life jacket, though.

  11. OBob

    Here’s my only gun-in-the-water story (my own):
    Early spring day, my plan was to kayak 16 miles down an Alaskan river, then 30 miles down the coast back to town, one very long day. Critters being what they are, I always kept a stainless redhawk secured behind the seat.

    The river was mostly uneventful, a few surprised moose all ran out of the water when they saw me. Near the mouth, however, there were seven musk ox on the bank that lined up shoulder to shoulder and eyed me like an Aussie rugby team. I popped the skirt and put the 44 in my lap and hugged the far bank of the 20 yard wide channel as we eyed each other uneventfully. Having made it past, I haphazardly restowed the gun and skirt. As it was a very warm day my dry suit was securely stored in the bow.

    After about a mile of travel down the coast I saw a carcass of some sort on the beach and foolishly went into the surf to give it a once over with the binos. A wave promptly caught me from behind and when I came back up the revolver was gone from my flooded boat.

    A straggled ashore, drained the boat, built a driftwood fire and hung my clothes all around it and warmed up. As my dry suit had been nicely stowed in the bow it was fine. I was of course an idiot for not wearing it. The carcass on the beach was a dead and rotting seal with bear tracks ALL around it, and my gun was now in the ocean. I warmed up while constantly scanning with the binos, then waded out chest deep and attempted to waddle in a methodical pattern. After several iterations of this I eventually stepped on it!

    It had enough sand in the action that it would cycle once of twice, then bind a bit, and I of course had no idea about the ammo. As I worked to clean it and continued to dry my clothes I did bear scans up and down the beach and inland every minute or so.

    Eventually I spotted one walking on the tundra about a mile out. I started gathering gear as I watched and when he reached directly down wind he turned and started trotting straight in! I jumped into the dry suit, stuffed everything in the kayak, and launched. I went about a mile off shore before turning down coast and didn’t look back.

    When I finally got home I removed the grip, rinsed a bunch, then soaked in a pan of fresh water overnight before drying and oiling. No harm done other than to my sense of well being. Gun still sits in the safe 12 years later.

  12. Dienekes

    Years ago, while visiting a gunsmith friend he handed me a well rusted GI .45 that wouldn’t open. An insurance company had brought the gun to him; the story was that it had been stolen in a burglary and tossed into an empty, rain-sodden brushy area. He was supposed to give them an estimate on “fixing” the pistol. We left the ladies chatting and repaired to his shop to do the Lord’s work. After drowning the thing in WD-40 and some soft-hammering, we got it semi-functional again. Naturally the cost of any work would exceed the actual value, so eventually it became mine for about $35.

    I’m a sucker for lost causes. Had to file and draw-file every bit of the outside, which removed 98% of all the pits, and probably about 3 ounces of metal. Got it to where it was shaping up to be a decent utility gun, when my wife-to-be asked if she could have it. Oh, and could I make it “pretty”…

    By then I had the metal surfaces where I wanted them. An acquaintance of mine was then in the early stages of his engraving career (he later was one of the founders of the gun engravers’ guild, and a top-notch artist). I asked him to do $100 worth of work on the gun, which came out to about 25% coverage. We polished it a bit more and threw it into the bluing tank. Came out very nice. Along the way I put on a set of Colt’s fancy pewter grips (on clearance) and eventually put in a S&W-made GI barrel (also a bargain).

    It looks pretty good for a salvaged 1911; it might even be worth something. Shoots pretty well, too. Fun for all.

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