Have you ever had to play detective on the range, when something strange happened, and you had to figure out what and how? It happened to me recently at a local pistol match.
I was called to the line to shoot my first stage of the match. After going through my usual pre-stage routine, I pulled out my gun, inserted a mag, and racked the slide. The round would not go into the chamber. It stopped half way up the feed ramp. I pulled out the mag, pulled back on the slide, and the round fell out. I reinserted the mag, and racked the slide again, same result. I tried my three other mags, same thing. I could not figure out, or imagine why the rounds would not feed into the barrel. I cleared the gun, showed empty and holstered.
Fortunately I always come to a match with a backup gun. So I went to my car, retrieved my backup and continued to shoot the match. I did not shoot the match as well as I expected. I blame it on not having the bright green fiber optic front sight of my primary gun. Yes, it was the guns fault. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
After the match I tried to figure out what was the problem. My two guns are similar. Both are Springfield Armory XDM’s, one has a 4.5 inch barrel, and the other is a 5.25. Just to try something, I switch the slides. I then test tired both guns with the same result. I took both slides off the frames, and was comparing them. A friend looked at them, then asked if he could take the barrel off of the slide that was giving me trouble. He then showed me, a bullet was stuck in the barrel. So that explained why a round would not load. And, yes I was a little embarrassed for not checking the barrel. But in my defense, I had a back-up gun, so I simply went to it instead of trying fix that gun right then.
Okay, so I discovered why the gun wouldn’t load, but the real mystery was how did that bullet get there?
Later that day I’m thinking, and trying to figure out how it might have happened. I realized, the week before, after shooting a local match (at a different range) I function fired my XDm 5.25 with some rounds I had reloaded. Five of those rounds fit all the way into a case gauge, six of the rounds did not, but were sticking out about an 8th to a 16th of an inch. I wanted to see if those rounds that stuck out of the case gauge would fire properly.
The five rounds that fit clearly into the cage, fit into the barrel and fired without a problem. I then switched mags and started loading the other six rounds. From what I can remember, they would not load into the barrel. And, I do not recall hearing a squib.
Perhaps somewhere in this process I ejected a case leaving a bullet in the barrel, thus the remaining rounds would not load. I must have assumed it was because there was something wrong with the reloaded rounds.
So the conclusion to the mystery is…unsolved. I really have no idea just what happened.
Have anything this strange happened to you?
NOTE: I did not take photos at the range, so I re-enacted the situations that happened on the range, in a safe and controlled environment.