Friday, May 28, 2010

Ruger LCR Kaboom or Timing Issue?

Posted by Mike Lewis at LMS Defense Forum ...
I was conducting a Concealed Carry Handgun class on 1 May 2010. There was a student training with a Ruger LCR that she stated had less than 100 rounds previously fired through it. She was using CCI Blazer 158 grain TMJ +P ammunition, and had fired approximately 25 rounds so far in the course without any cause for concern.

The student was in the middle of firing a two round engagement drill under my supervision; she fired one round then informed me that she thought her trigger was “stuck”. I took the firearm from her, assuming that she had possibly taken the cylinder out of battery, and attempted to put the cylinder back into battery. Upon looking, I noticed that part of the frame subassembly (the barrel sheath portion) was blown off, and the barrel split. I checked to see if the cylinder was stable, and the cylinder turned slightly in my hand before apparently being bound by the split barrel. I was able to clear the weapon, at which point we removed it from the firing line and inspected shooters for injuries. As there were no injuries resulting from this failure, we examined the firearm and replaced it on the firing line with one of my revolvers a S&W J Frame that performed flawlessly), so she could continue training.

In my opinion, this was most likely not a shooter or ammunition-induced failure. I checked the owner’s manual to ensure that this firearm was rated for +P ammunition, which it is. The cylinder and topstrap show no visible damage; neither does the right side of the firearm.

It appears that the chamber was not properly aligned with the bore when the round fired, and that the bullet struck the forcing cone out of alignment. The bullet most likely took the path of least resistance, leading to the catastrophic failure of the barrel and frame subassembly.

I have spoken with the VP of Ruger, as well as sending a letter to him concerning this failure; he seemed to be very interested and understanding of our concerns.
I'd go along with the timing issue but that makes it a non-"kaboom". The bullet merely struck and destroyed a portion of the handgun "structure". You can see in the photo that the barrel didn't "explode" but the left side of the "sleeve" was struck off.  I think it is a critical issue particularly with .357 Magnum LCRs but given the many thousands of guns out there it doesn't seem a likely occurrence. I know some shooters who cycle the gun as fast as they can whenever they shoot and they haven't replicated this event.

The consensus is that what happened was that a squib (or two) was fired followed by a full-power load which bulged the barrel (as happens in such circumstances).  In this instance a bulged barrel "bursts" the outer sleeve.  It was not a timing issue. 

I don't think this particular effect would have happened with a revolver of more traditional construction.  In that instance the barrel bulges but there is nothing of different ductility to fracture off the outside of the barrel assembly. 

No comments: