Firearms and ammo: Your primary gun safety concerns

By on March 10, 2017

The Gun Shack in Powells Point is pleased to bring readers a new monthly column covering firearm safety, laws and compliance, sport shooting, hunting, beginners advice and other non-political information.This article is sponsored content by The Gun Shack.

By Jason Belangia

At the Gun Shack’s indoor range, our customers come from every level of firearms experience.


But before we let you fire the first shot at a target, we inspect your gun and your ammo — even if you are a grizzled veteran in the ways of firearms.

The reason for this is simple: safety.

We want to make sure the gun you are going to use appears to be in good working order. Likewise, taking a few moments to inspect ammo can reveal potential problems.

Gun owners vary in their maintenance habits. Some people clean their guns after every trip to the range, others follow a regular schedule and there are always those who simply don’t clean, lubricate or maintain their guns.

The gun itself can deteriorate; firearms can rust, mechanical parts break down, metal and plastic parts can suffer from cracks and more severe problems.


So it makes sense for us to take a look at your firearm before we allow you on the range. We don’t want you or other patrons to get hurt and a little prevention goes a long way in firearms safety.

Poorly maintained guns, or weapons in overall poor condition are subject to catastrophic failure.

Even if you consider yourself an expert, having a second set of eyes inspect your gun is a good idea.


If you have kids, think about how you perceive changes in them compared to those who don’t see them every day. It’s a fair bet you miss some changes, as a parent, even big changes, that someone else, who hasn’t seen your kids for several weeks or months may notice right away.

Sometimes those changes are good and sometimes they aren’t. But if often takes another vantage point to notice those changes. And where firearms are concerned, a second set of eyes uncovering deterioration or something else that is amiss can save a life or prevent serious injury.

If you are not an expert in the care and maintenance of firearms, all the more reason to have a professional inspect your firearm from time to time — even if you aren’t planning to shoot it that day.

At the Gun Shack, we offer cleaning and inspection for handguns at the shop, we also disassemble the weapons, check for wear and proper fitment of all parts.

Another area that often gets overlooked is ammunition.

In fact, ammo may be even more important than the firearm when it comes to potential problems.

For example, I’ve seen all too many times someone firing a weapon loaded with the wrong ammo. This causes what is known as a “hard malfunction,” which locks the weapon up, rendering it unusable until the ammo is cleared from the firing mechanism.

Typically this causes no-long term damage to the weapon. But sometimes using the wrong ammo can cause a “catastrophic malfunction,” a much more severe situation that can severely damage the weapon and sometimes, the shooter.

And, using the wrong ammo (say a different caliber than the weapon was designed to accept) isn’t the only reason one might experience a catastrophic malfunction.

It can also be due to ammo that is in poor condition.

If your ammo is severely tarnished, green, has ever been wet or even rusty, you should never fire it.

The result can be what is called a “squib load” — situation where the round discharges but with lower power, causing the projectile to be lodged in the barrel of the weapon. If this occurs and the round is not cleared, for example, firing in rapid succession or failing to notice the round didn’t discharge — a very serious and dangerous catastrophic malfunction can occur.

There are also certain types of ammo and even specific brands that are prone to failures and as a result we don’t allow them on the range.

I’m not saying you should only purchase top-shelf ammunition, but it’s also wise to avoid bargain-basement brands. Think about your weapon and the investment you have there; why risk the weapon or your health by using cheap ammo or rounds that have deteriorated from water, rust, poor storage conditions.

This is why we inspect all ammo and weapons before we allow their use on the range.

Don’t be afraid to ask me or any of our staff if you have any doubts or simply want us to check for you.

That’s what we’re here for and we want everyone to have a good and safe experience.

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