Common Firearm Malfunctions

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Common Firearm Malfunctions

Part of firearm ownership means being familiar with common malfunctions. Knowing how to address a firearm malfunction will keep you safe during your visit to Family Armory and Indoor Range. There are three common firearm malfunctions: squib loads, hangfires, and misfires.

Squib Load

If you have practiced shooting for long enough, chances are that you will encounter a firearm malfunction if you haven’t already. Knowing the proper ways of dealing with the various firearm malfunctions will not only help to protect your financial investment in your firearm, it will also help to prevent damage to your fingers, hands, face, and other nearby shooters.

The first kind of firearm malfunction is called the “squib load.” A squib load occurs when the bullet does not have enough force behind it to exit the barrel and thus becomes stuck inside the barrel. The bullets that produce this kind of malfunction can happen with any brand and with any round of ammunition, however, squib loads appear to be more common with cheaper ammunition. The danger with this kind of malfunction is when the operator is unaware of the lodged bullet, believing the malfunction to be a misfire, and attempts to fire a second bullet while the first one is still stuck in the barrel. Often times, this results in the bullet’s energy being released along the path of least resistance, which would be located around the ejection port which is near the face, fingers, hands, and other shooters.

Safety First Sign

Before checking the barrel for bore obstructions, point and hold the gun down range for at least 30 seconds due the fact that squib loads share similar characteristics with hangfires. After at least 30 seconds, field strip the firearm while keeping the firearm inside the shooting stall, always keeping the firearm pointed in a safe direction. Once the barrel has been removed, you might need to take the firearm to a gun smith to have the bullet removed or YOU can use a push rod wrapped in electrical tape to ping out the bullet tip.


Whereas the powder inside a bullet discharges, albeit with insufficient force to move the bullet out of the barrel during a squib load, a hangfire is simply a delay between pulling the trigger and the gun going bang. In other words, the firearm fully  discharges during a hangfire, and it will partially or weakly discharge during a squib load.

Safety First Sign

The worst possible thing to do during a hangfire is to look down the barrel. Always keep all firearms pointed in a safe direction at all times. During a hangfire, keep the firearm pointed downrange for at least 30 seconds. You probably will not know if the malfunction is a squib load, a hangfire, or a misfire and should not investigate for at least 30 seconds.


During a firearm misfire, the gun’s firing pin strikes the primer after a trigger pull but the bullet does not discharge. The problem here is either with the firearm not striking the bullet properly or the problem is with the ammunition’s primer not responding to the strike. In either case, the bullet does not discharge.

Safety First Sign

During a misfire, keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction for at least 30 seconds. Often times, it will be impossible to tell the difference between a hangfire, a misfire, and a squib load. To cover all basis, the firearm must remaing pointing downrange for at least 30 seconds. After ejecting the bullet, the specific type of malfunction can be determined.

By | 2016-10-12T11:31:45+00:00 March 22nd, 2016|Blog, Safety Tips|Comments Off on Common Firearm Malfunctions

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Family Armory and Indoor Range serves the Permian Basin community with comfortable indoor shooting. We are located between Midland and Odessa Texas.