I was finishing up my testing of the FNH FNS-9 at the range yesterday, and decided to put another 100 rounds through my Smith & Wesson Shield before packing up and heading home. I like to shoot in round number increments on test guns so that I can more easily keep track of my round counts. Yeah, I know, I need to sign up for Range Log…anyways, 100 more rounds would have taken my round count to a nice even 1,000. I didn’t make it.
My first magazine, which was loaded with Fiocchi 115 grain XTP hollowpoints (just so that I’m clear, this is NOT my carry load – my carry loads are here and here), is where the failure occurred. The first round went bang, the second round did not. Since I was at the range and I wanted to catalog the failure to report it, I sat the gun down and took a photo with my cell phone. Looking at the photo (above), you can see that the slide failed to return to battery. At this point I’m thinking, well that sucks, my first failure with the gun.
I then dropped the magazine, and attempted to rack the slide. I wanted to inspect the round and see if something was wrong with that round. Racking the slide did not work. The slide was completely locked up.
My next move was to smack the back of the slide to get it fully into battery. I tried to rack the slide again, same thing. It could (and can) get to the point you see in the picture above, and then stops. No amount of force seems to be able to move it either. I then counted the rounds left in the magazine and confirmed my suspicion that the round in the chamber is live.
With the gun locked up like this, I had two choices – I could pull the trigger and see what happens, or I could take it to a gunsmith and have them remove the round. Normally I’d go the “pull the trigger” route (this is not advice), but my fear was that if there is something jacked up, this could cause further damage to the gun, and potentially hide the actual cause of the problem. So I decided to go with the gunsmith option.
I will of course be contacting Smith & Wesson first to see what they want me to do. In the meantime, I posted a photo of the problem to Facebook last night, and had a good discussion as to what the problem could be. There are two main theories:
- Strange ammo problem
- Parts breakage/misalignment of some kind
At this point I lean toward number 2, but I admit I’m stumped until we get it apart. I will post again once I have a resolution, in the meantime, watch Facebook for updates.
Oh, and when I got in my truck to drive home from the range, A Gun That I Used to Know was playing on the radio. At least those were the lyrics I heard.
Update 6/25/2012 - it appears to be an ammo related issue. Once I determine exactly what the issue was, I will post a follow up and link to it from this post.
Update 7/2/2012 – I’m sending the gun back to Smith & Wesson.
Update 8/3/2012 – My Shield is back from Smith & Wesson.