Do Guns Accidentally Go Off?

Do Guns Accidentally Go Off?

In the news, you often hear stories about someone shooting themselves in the leg (or somewhere else) and claiming that the gun “somehow” went off. When I hear these types of stories I always say “yeah right” because modern-day guns don’t fire unless you pull the trigger… Right?

Well… this past weekend I was teaching a Firearms Instructor Bootcamp and a gun did in fact go off without anyone touching the trigger. It was the first time I’d ever seen anything like it in all of my years of teaching firearms courses.

What happened was that I was teaching the Defensive Rifle portion of the course. Most people were using AR-15s and one fellow was using an AK. We’d just finished doing a series of drills and the fellow with the AK was putting his safety on and his finger was not near the trigger.

All of a sudden I heard a gunshot. Everyone was surprised since nobody was supposed to be shooting. When I got closer to the fellow with the AK you could see that his safety was cracked in half, which had somehow caused the gun to fire.

As I said, I’d never seen anything like this before.

But, this incident was a great reminder of why you always, always, always follow the four rules of firearms safety and why every good firearms instructor constantly emphasizes safety throughout their entire training.

Also, just imagine what would have happened if this gentleman was loading his rifle in his house and the safety busted and sent a bullet flying into a child’s room or into the family room where someone was watching TV.

This is why I use a bulletproof panel to unload and load my firearms in my house.

So, even though firearms almost never go off by themselves, they are mechanical devices that can break. Please be careful the next time you’re loading or unloading or finishing a shooting drill with your rifle or handgun. (And, don’t buy a cheap AK.)

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Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and author of The Covert Guide to Concealed Carry. He is also the creator of the Ultimate Concealed Carry Experience, which allows you to take your concealed carry training without leaving home. For full details about this training, please visit Concealed Carry Academy. You can also follow him on Google+ and Twitter.
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james lagnese

I had a sear go bad on a 45 and when I racked it with a full clip it fired. Scared the crap out of me and ruined my mom’s crock pot that was stored under the work bench.

nigger rice

see your first mistake is FULL CLIP , its called magazine faggit. no wonder the gun went off.

Scott Brandt

And YOUR first mistake was spelling “faggot” wrong. Faggot. GTFO troll.

james lagnese

Have you been an asshole your whole life, or did you have to work real hard at it? My guess is the former. You are too stupid to work hard at anything.


The 1911 pistol does not use “clips” to feed ammo, it uses a detachable box magazine. IIRC the Mauser Broom-handle was the only modern pistol design to use stripper clips to load ammunition into it’s fixed magazine.

Also probably not the best place to store a crock pot.


I’d like to see the technical report on exactly how this happened.


*Guns don’t just go off.

*(unless they’re very broken)

nigger rice



Just goes to show you should always point the gun in a safe direction before doing anything with it.


Before, during, and after.

The ONLY ‘unloaded’ gun is a dissembled gun with the firing pin and the chamber on opposite sides of your body. The instant that is not the case, the gun should be considered loaded, even if there is no ammunition within a mile of the gun.

Ted A sames II

2 Points to Consider: Some of the best engineers in the world have designed weapons mechanisms. They are designed to be rugged and safe. Many people (Backyard Engineers) try to make the triggers ‘better’. I have seen Glocks modified to mere ozs! Many people think an ultra light trigger makes for a more accurate weapon. Smooth is better than light. The final point: Purchase weapons made in a NATO nation (Italian, German, American, Swiss, Austrian) or one where you are willing to drink their tap water. Select weapons used and adopted by our US police agencies. 3rd World-made weapons have questionable metal standards. Ted A Sames II, SISSTRAINING.COM


Austria and Switzerland aren’t members of NATO.


I won’t drink tap water in Az. , but I will buy Ruger Firearms.


In a class I was attending this week, we had a round go off without a trigger pull. The student had fired 2 or 3 mags and after a few shots from the next mag, a round went off that sounded wierd. It was sort of like a squib load but louder. The slide was very hot. It didn’t even smell right.

As it turned out, it was a brand new gun and had not been cleaned. The range owner broke it down and found that there was no lube at all and the action of the slide was very stiff. After lubing it up, the gun felt right and shot fine. The rest of the class was uneventful.

This probably qualifies as “very broken” as mentioned by sianmink.


In my view, this would fall into the negligent category. That negligence may be due to a new shooter not knowing the weapon needed lube, but it is not the fault of the weapon.


I’ll buy that. Usually we think of negligence as not keeping your finger off the trigger. So in this case there was some negligence, just not at the moment it went off. We were all just pretty happy it was pointed in a safe direction as it should always be.

Ron Cash

What do you use for a “bulletproof” panel?


I was taught to use a 5 gal. full of sand.

Ron Cash

Oh, good idea, like we did in the Army, except in the Army it was a drum of sand. But now I use a large rack of books, big thick ones for any kind of activity, de-cocking, racking a slide, etc.


After reading the article, and comments to date, it is still clear that guns only fire when the trigger is pulled, or there is a broken part, which itself is rare. In addition, I suggest the malfunctions are even rarer if the weapon is properly maintained. One reason is that you are more likely to notice an issue BEFORE it results in a unintended discharge.

Note: I personally refuse to refer to any discharge of a weapon as accidental.


Read up on Brazilian police recall 98,000 Taurus 24/7 DS pistols that discharge without putting a finger on the trigger. You can shake them and they go off.


You can shake them and they go off.

Which part of BROKEN PART escaped you?


It must have been the words “broken part”.


I never use the safety on my “cheap” Chinese AK —- if I’m going to fire it I put a round in the chamber, and if I’m done firing I remove the magazine and empty the chamber.There’s almost never a reason to use a safety switch on a gun. If you carry concealed, there are plenty of very safe pistols that have no external safeties. Because I’m a little paranoid I never chamber a round in the house. Take the weapon outside and point it at the ground. I’ve never had a bad experience, but I know it’s possible (watch Youtube!)

By the way, the AK is a superior weapon, you can trust your life to it.


I’ve learned that the proper way to assure gun safety on a firing line is to follow a few simple proceedures IN ORDER every time you have completed a course of fire, and before anyone goes downrange in front of the weapons. These steps are, IN THIS ORDER

Mag out
Bolt back
safety on.

Mag out renders the chambering of another ruond impossible

bolt back (and locked in that position) assures the chamber is empty AND that the firing pin is not able to contact the primer

THEN the mechanical safety can be manipulated. IF there is a round in the chamber and the safety is engaged, as proven by this example, somethign COULD happen. If ther IS no round in battery it cannot be discharged.

Follow those three steps with

Chamber Flag
Gun grounded
Keep away.

NOW anyone can safely walk downrange in front of all the weapons which have been “safed”.

Even at home with my own, I WILL follow these safety rules before I walk downrange to futz with targets, etc.

Scott Brandt

Someone has been to an RWVA Appleseed? ;D


AK pattern rifles can’t have the safety engaged with the bolt back without modifications to the safety lever.

On top of a mechanical malfunction, the guy obviously didn’t properly clear his rifle.

Robert L. Rice

My Daughter Patty,was killed by a Ruger Revolver,22 caliber,,on 6 Sept 2014,Patty and her boyfriend,were taking furniture out of his Aunts apartment,after his Aunt had passed away,There was a RUGER BEARCAT REVOLVER,22 caliber,,in back of a fax machine on a 3 ft tall stand,That neither one,was aware was there,,when Patty moved the stand the RUGER BEARCAT REVOLVER fell 3 feet and fired,the bullet hit Patty in the stomach,in an upward angle,severing her AORTA,Patty passed away in less than 4 minutes,THIS accident occurred in Fort Lauderdale,Florida, on 6 Sept 2014,The investigation was handled by the Broward County Sheriffs Dept, The ,This gun had been recalled by RUGER,for modification,this revolver was never modified, PLEASE ALL gun owners,( IM ONE) check your gun manufacturetrs web site,to see if your gun was subject to a modification,if so,please take appropriate action, Patty was 44 years old.


Mr. Rice, I’m very sorry that you lost your Daughter in such a tragic and senseless way. Early Ruger revolvers were recalled for the addition of the “transfer bar”, which prevented the hammer from striking the primer unless the trigger was pulled fully rearward. This would not have happened if the firearm had been returned to Ruger for the modification.


Where can i check to see if my Ruger 357 handgun is on the list ?

Stan Bryars

If it was made after 1973 and if it isn’t a single action revolver it has the transfer bar


ok thanks mine is new


The SA revolvers have them too. They can be loaded with a full 5-10 rounds in the cylinder and be safe.

Stan Bryars

Yes but the question was how to tell if the gun was on the list
If a Ruger revolver was made after 1973 or is a double action it will not be on the list because they will have transfer bar safeties from the factory.


Just contact Ruger. I’m sure they will let you know.

Steve Merrette

My condolences sir.

nigger rice

cut the bullshit story gtfo out of here.

Stan Bryars

Probably not bullshit. Ruger had several lawsuits against them that force the design change


Sorry for your loss IF true but Ruger is one of the safest guns on the market because of a lawsuit that stems from an accidental discharge of a 38 revolver that slid off a man’s seat in his truck and hit the floor and discharged into his leg. Ruger since has made their guns very very safe.


Sorry for your loss, Robert.


Please accept my condolences for your families loss.


After a thorough search of the Florida obits, and not finding a single Patty listed in the month of September, it looks like you’re not telling the truth for some reason. Not saying you are, but there is no media proof that this occurred – which usually with accidental shootings, the media is all over it.
This recall was issued in 1980, for pre-73 models.


but we all know that not every gun related story makes the news at all, especially the ones where an armed citizen stops a crime or defends themselves.

the media misses so many things


That is true, but usually obits are covered, even if just a brief notice. I couldn’t find anyone matching that name on that date dying. Not saying it didn’t happen, just couldn’t find it, and that is hard to do in this day and age.

Allen Benge

Our sincere condolences for your loss.

Robert L. Rice

The Broward County Sheriffs Dept,crime Lab,upon testing,was able to get this revolver to fire numerous times by dropping it 3 feet,,,this Revolver was not modified,or sent to ruger for modification,..Though RUGER had sent notice that this gun WAS subject to modification….I am a retired US Army,Ammunition Inspector,55X4 HJ5,And I was a malfunction investigator,I had tested MANY weapons,and NEVER had one fire, without the trigger being pulled.


Was the gun cocked and left that way?

Stan Bryars

The old Rugers did not have to be cocked. It was a design flaw from the beginning and a dangerous gun


Doesn’t matter, the proper carry condition for a single action revolver is hammer down on an EMPTY chamber. That’s the way they did it in the old west. When you cock the hammer, the cylinder rotates placing a live round in front of the firing pin. That’s also how SASS shooters load up per the competition rules. It may be called a six-gun but you only load five.


Many firearms are modified by people unqualified to do that type of gunsmithing. The Bible says, ” don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought to” and this is very true. Polishing those internal parts may seem like a way to make that pull smoother, but assumption of a skill you do not have can be dangerous.


Brazilian police recalled 98,000 Taurus 40 cal 24/7 DS pistols for accidental discharge just by shaking the gun while one is in the pipe.

James S.

It didn’t go off by itself. What you experienced was a mechanical part failure that resulted in discharge. Going off by itself implies that no one was anywhere near the weapon, not physically touching it when the discharge occurred. This is a gross mislabeling of the headline. Of course as a former Clowns In America officer I would not expect much from you.


You, sir james, have no idea what you’re talking about. The early Ruger SA revolvers had a hammer that, at rest, rested against the firing pin. Drop it so that it hits the spur of the hammer and it damn sure will go off! Thus the recalls.


In the case of the Single Action Revolver being carried or stored hammer down on a loaded chamber, it was neither a mechanical failure of a part nor defective design. A single action revolver is properly carried or stored hammer down on an EMPTY chamber. That’s how they did it in the old west, cock the hammer, pull the trigger = BANG! Even though it was called a six-gun, you only loaded five of the chambers. The only time you would have all six chambers loaded is if you were in a protracted fire fight where you were not going to be re-holstering your side arm for a while and were firing as fast as you could reload. When you were done, you would return your sidearm to the condition of hammer down on an EMPTY chamber.

That’s how they did it in the old west, and that’s how SASS shooters load up per competition rules.


Yes, firearms have gone off by themselves…example…..I owned a used Remington 12ga pump gun that almost blew the feet off of the guy standing in front of me when I loaded 3 rounds of #2 shot in the gun and operated the slide to put one in the chamber. It fired and almost scared me to death, not to mention the guy walking in front of me. So, why did it go off when I racked the slide? There is a little spring inside the receiver that snapped off and allowed the gun to fire each time I racked a round in the shotgun, without ever toughing the trigger even once. So yes a gun can fire without pulling the trigger. I immediately traded it in on a different newer shotgun.


mechanical malfunctions occur in all machines…

Leslie Hoerwinkle

The power of Putin.


Actually there is a 5th rule of gun safety…Rule # 5 Anytime there is any doubt or question always refer to rule # 1 .


If it was a cheap AK that ‘went off’, WHY IS THE ACCOMPANYING PHOTO OF A PISTOL?

Robert L. Rice

Whats with this NIGGER RICE,Why would I,or anyone else post a story,about my daughters death,and have you call it bull shit,every word of this letter IS TRUE.

Robert L. Rice

I have no idea,,why there was no obituary notice, in the Fort Lauderdale sun sentinel newspaper,and I have not received a written report from The Broward Countys Sheriffs Dept.

Shawn O'Loughlin

The article was pretty weak but the comments posted below are pretty funny. Never seen a gun “go off by itself” but have seen some pretty stupid sh*t done to cause negligent discharges.


This woman’s death was a real tragedy, but I still don’t believe in gun “accidents.” Yes, safety mechanisms fail, but what was a loaded gun doing behind a fax machine?


And why was a single action revolver being stored hammer down on a loaded chamber? The proper way to load a single action revolver is hammer down on an empty chamber. It may be called a six-gun, but you only load five of the chambers.


Sounds like the safety wasn’t engaged at all his pant leg or something pulled the trigger, not realizing it.


Guns can and do accidently fire-I know this for a fact. A few days ago, I was in our basement and after taking a shower, I put on a pair of gym shorts. I put my Kahr CT380 in my left pocket of the shorts; there was nothing else in the pocket. I planned on cleaning it after I checked my email on the computer which was also in the basement. At the desk seated in a chair, I logged on the computer. I was looking through my email when all of a sudden I heard a loud POP-the Kahr discharged on it’s own in my pocked! I suffered a very nasty wound on my leg – thank God it wasn’t worse. From this day forward, I will never ever own a striker fired gun without a safety. I know, you will argue it should have been in a holster. Well if this accident happened while it was in a holster, it would have been far worse. Keep in mind, I did not touch the firearm after it placed in my pocket and there was nothing else in the loose fitting pants pocket.