Memorial Day 2009

I finally got a few minutes to get out and shoot my new CZ American in 22 Hornet. Of course you can't go shoot just one gun so I ended up taking 1 rifle and 3 pistols. I stopped by the shop on my way out of town and grabbed a box of 40S&W I had stashed on the shelf in the back of the shop.

At the range, I got all set up to shoot the new Hornet. Fired 3 shots, cleaned and repeated until I had burned up 15 or 18 rounds. The last 6 shots ran about 1.25 inches across the group. I was impressed with the gun. The trigger is great, it has the set trigger on it. I put all that stuff away and dug out the pistols.

I had a Walther P22 5" that I'd never shot so I burned up 40 or 50 rounds with that. Those are such fun to shoot you can burn up a lot of ammo in a hurry. Then I got out the CZ 40P that I have only fired maybe 30 rounds through. Burned up probably another 30 rounds with it and was getting pretty comfortable with it.

Since I had my Beretta 9000S on my hip anyway, I figured I'd run a mag through it as well. So from the same box of ammo I had been shooting the CZ with, I loaded up a mag stepped up in front of the target and pulled the trigger. What happened next made it a very Memorable Memorial Day.

When this gun blew I received 3 or 4 punctures on my nose, 1 puncture on my cheek, 2 punctures in my forehead and one puncture in my trigger finger. Thank God I was wearing glasses. My hands had a perfect black outline of every point of the grips that had a "factory opening" ie. mag release, mag shoe etc.

When it happened I felt crud hit me in the face instantly, felt the sting in my hand and I glanced at the pistol. I could see there was destruction but could also see blood running down my nose. I kind of tossed the pistol toward the ground a few feet away from me deliberately pointing the barrel away so that when it landed it would not be pointing at me. My concern was my hand. I really thought that if I needed to hold a finger in place until I could get to the truck, I did not want the gun in my hand.

As it turned out, the finger was intact but the blood running down my face and nose had me a little anxioius so I headed for the truck in search of something besides my sleeve to soak up blood. Had a couple of buddies there and once they figured out I was gonna live, one of them went to look for the gun. I was standing in tall grass when I was shooting and he only knew "about" where I was standing. We never found the back half of the cartridge or any plastic from the gun.

The case head had separated ejecting the head and leaving the case in the chamber. This was reloaded ammunition that I bought at an estate sale. Now before you go shaking your head, this was not just any old sale. The reloading room was what most of us dream that ours should look like. Stacks of ammo, brass, bullets etc. organized around quality equipment and tools. I got the strong impression that it was many years of deliberate work and assumed the guy knew what he was doing. And that was my mistake.

The 40S&W ammo that I bought was grabbed up along with about $1000 worth of other "stuff" and hauled back to my shop. I didn't even look at the ammo until later and discovered it was reloads stuck in factory boxes. Since I can't and won't sell reloads, I set it on the shelf in the back of the shop for "later use".

Well, here it is later and you see how well that worked out for me.

I talked to Beretta and explained what happened. When they found out it was reloaded ammo, the conversation was basically over. They offered to take a look at it to try and figure out what went wrong but past that, there would be no warranty. I figure it will serve me better as a conversation piece so I won't be sending it in.

I pulled 3 bullets from the remaining un-fired rounds and scaled the charges. 5.0, 6.2 and 6.5. All of which means little because I don't know what powder it was. I talked to Hodgdon to see if maybe they could tell which powder it was by looking at the powder and they informed me they could not.

So I am left to conclude that the case was cracked prior to pulling the trigger or the case was over charged or both.

I haven't gotten my brain completely around it yet but at this point in time I am thinking that even though the CZ is a stronger alloy frame, the single cartridge that caused this problem would still have seperated in the CZ. It might not have blown the gun to hell, but it would have seperated none the less.

Of course In retrospect, I should have just pulled all this ammo apart and reused the bullets and cases(if condition warranted). I have since pulled the remaining bullets, tossed the powder on the rose bushes and tossed the cases in the trash.



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Last Modified: January 31, 2010