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March 27, 2008


Anyone know?

Not likely but possible. Even in a jam situation maybe 1 in 1000. Exploding the chamber/barrel would be a pretty rare thing. I’d be a lot less worried about “blametyblametypfft” than just plain old “click” when I needed it most. YMMV.

That does not mean in any way that this entire situation is not screwed three ways from Sunday…

Even in a jam situation maybe 1 in 1000.

Good thing it's not 1 in 1,000,000! [ObPratchett]

I'm sure Mr Diveroli has a yellow ribbon, an American flag and a "I Support The Troops" decal on his vehicle. That makes it all OK, doesn't it?

I once worked for the Federal Government.

As Bill Gates once observed, the Federal government does a pretty good job in most of what it does.

I had the opportunity to work alongside some very classy private contractors, too, in scientific fields.

The Bush Administration and the Republican ideology have ruined two things here: The honor of being a public servant and the privilege of winning a government contract and meeting its obligations.

A bankrupt ideology of governing meets a corrupt Bear Stearns private market.

It was designed to happen this way.


Cripes, we're stuck in a stupid primary when we ought to be setting up firing squads to punish the guilty.

Jeff: That makes it all OK, doesn't it?

Well no. Actually let me back up – WTF? I was attempting to answer a somewhat technical question based on what I know about it. Ballistics and chemistry are not very political to my knowledge…

Sight picture. Release your breath slowly. Sight picture. Trigger break should come as a surprise. If you did it right you just hit a target or a deer (in my case) or a human being. If you had a misfire, you might be able to clear it in a few seconds, or not. If you can’t you may as well have a stick. If the chamber explodes in your face, well… That is probably way too much information for most here. Oh well. When we talk about the effectiveness of ammunition that is what we are discussing. Will the cartridge fire, will it live up to its ballistic profile, and if your aim was true will it hit the target/deer/human you aimed at.

In this case – will it hit/puncture/mutilate/kill the human being that was being aimed at?

Bah. This isn’t directed at you Jeff. You are a good guy. Just call it frustration.

OCSteve: Fwiw, I read Jeff as expressing frustration with some possible arguments, not with you in particular. However, this might just reflect the fact that the idea of people getting annoyed with you (a) ever, and (b) when you've just helpfully answered a question someone had asked, is hard for me to credit, so I assume there has to be another explanation. ;)

I do know a lot more about how to zero automatic rifles than I did earlier this evening, though...

For what it's worth, OCSteve, I knew what you meant and empathized completely....

To add a little explanation to the above, since the ammuntion supplied is Chinese surplus, it is a good bet that the rifle in question is some variant of the classic AK47. All of there are gas operated automatic rifles, with the gas port located a little more that half way down the length of the barrel. In normal operation, when the bullet passes the gas port it is exposed to the high pressure behind the bullet. Some of those high pressure gasses flow through the port and power the process of ejecting the spent cartridge and chambering the next round. It is extremely unlikely that defective ammuntion would provide enough pressure to push the bullet most of the way down the barrel, but not completely out, while providing enough pressure to cycle the bolt.
The other possibility is that the primer would fire, but the powder would not ignite and the bullet would be pushed into the bore. The next cartridge would not be automatically chambered, but if the soldier failed to recognize what had happened, manually chambering and attempting to fire another round there is a good change the catastrophic failure. Several years ago while firing a chinese made AKM I had just such a failure. The primer alone pushed the bullet approximately one inch into the bore. In the calm and relative quiet of the firing range, I heard the pop of the primer and realized what had happened. I put the gun away and after returing home used a wooden dowel to push the bullet out. I have never been in combat, but I can imagine how in the noise and confusion it would be easy to miss the pop and belive that it was a completely dud round, with disasterous results

Preview is your friend... Please forgive the many typos in the above post, I think I'll blame fatigue and go to bed.

OCSteve, it didn't look to me like Jeff was addressing you after the first sentence.

One question, you seem to be describing single-shot firing, not full-auto firing? Not that I know what I'm talking about...

Wonderfully fine reporting.

Excellent thread, covering all the bases in a brief compass with admirable expertise.

For the purpose of this exercise there is really little distinction between single shot and full auto firing, outside of the speed in which the failure occurs. In Baskoborr's scenario above, if he had fired again after the initial misfire the second bullet (assuming the charge went off properly) would have run into the first bullet almost instantly since it's just barely down the barrel. To do so he would have had to cycle the weapon by hand (i.e., reload by pulling and releasing the little handle sticking out the right side of the AK, this clears the spent shell and loads a fresh one) since the first bullet never cleared the gas port to automatically cycle the weapon-note though that he did not do so since he knew something was wrong. In a firefight one might not have this luxury...anyway just about every modern gun takes into account the possibility of such a mishap and has pressure/gas relief ports built into the breech which should prevent the thing from blowing up in one's face. Note that I said should, it's not a 100 percent possibility. However, the gun is now useless since the barrel is plugged with one or more bullets. That's nothing compared to the fact that the soldier using it may now be dead because the bad guys just killed him since his weapon is broken. This is the real scandal here, there is no reason whatsoever to be supplying our allies with crap ammo that isn't even good enough for the milsurp shooter market. This scandal may have nailed some bad actors, but we all know that the rot begins at the top.

Alright sorry Jeff, re-reading I can see I was wrong to assume your entire comment was directed at me.

trilobite: One question, you seem to be describing single-shot firing, not full-auto firing?

Baskaborr pretty much covered it. If the round fired but not with enough force to push the bullet out of the barrel it would also not cycle the bolt and chamber another round. The last thing you would do in that situation is manually chamber another round and try to fire it, but I didn’t account for the fact that they likely are not receiving proper training either…

After rereading Baskoborr's comment I realize that he really did nail it-pretty much everything I said was just piling on and not adding much information. Proper training or not, I think it's pretty likely that when stressed one just might go ahead and try to fire a second round after a jam by clearing the first one by hand-and then things get interesting. Any gun is only as good as it's ammo-so how did this group of fools get allowed to supply the Afghani's with defective ammo?

If the round fired but not with enough force to push the bullet out of the barrel it would also not cycle the bolt and chamber another round. The last thing you would do in that situation is manually chamber another round and try to fire it,

Au contraire, Steve, that's exactly what I personally was trained to do. Weapon fails to fire - chamber empty and rounds in the magazine - check the magazine's correctly seated (if it's come adrift, the working parts won't pick up the next round as they cycle forward) - if the magazine's OK, it's probably a gas stoppage; carbon has built up in the gas parts, so not enough gas is getting through, so the working parts aren't going fully back, and so they aren't picking up a new round - solution, change gas setting, recock and continue firing. If a faulty round had pushed a bullet part way up the barrel, this would presumably lead to Bad Things - but that possibility wasn't even mentioned in training.

ajay: Au contraire, Steve, that's exactly what I personally was trained to do.

Not to pry, and feel free to pass if this is too personal, but can you shed any light on that? Was that military or other? Semi or auto?

Just curious, as it is so different than my training (early 80’s M16A2). You would never manually charge another round in that situation until you visually inspected the chamber and barrel.

“A lot of us are asking the question,” said a senior State Department official. “How did this guy get all this business?”"

Apparently neither reporter Chivers of the nor his editors at the NY Times wanted to work very hard at answering this question -- or maybe they don't want their readers to know the answer.

Which is: Bar-Kochba Botach, Diveroli's Israeli uncle and an arms merchant on a large scale. The "masseur" also has a worldwide scrap metal business.

"We will not be undersold!" [via Laura Rozen]

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