“Scott Olson, 53, was using the flashlight mounted on his .40 caliber handgun to unlock a padlock in a dark room when the gun slipped and accidentally fired, Camas police Sgt. David Chaney said. Police and paramedics responded to his residence, 926 N.W. Greeley St., about 11:50 p.m. ‘He tried to catch it as it fell and it went off,’ he said.” And when Sgt. Chaney says, “it went off” what he really means is that Olson, in his doomed attempt to keep his fotay call from hitting pavement, accidentally hit the trigger as gravity did what gravity inevitably does. The moral: don’t. The dings and other beauty marks your prized piece will attain by crashing to the ground are nothing compared to the truncated digit and aerated thigh Olson now has. Modern guns are dropsafe. The chances of of one firing on impact are miniscule. Well, most of the time anyway.  [h/t the vacationing Chris Dumm]

46 Responses to Pro Tip: Let It Fall

  1. Let it drop indeed, the only time I ever went after a falling gun was a cocked and NOT locked CZ75; I made sure to keep my booger hooks away from the damn trigger though. Generally speaking, if its DAO or has a safety engaged, let it drop you will be much better off.

  2. Giving “don’t grab the falling gun” as the lesson learned from this situation is like telling the guy who hit a tree while driving home drunk to wear his seatbelt next time.

    A gun mounted flashlight has two purposes: searching for and identifying targets in the dark. Does this moron use his laser sight as a pointer when he gives presentations at work? Flashlights are cheap. Amazon sells LED flashlights in 10 packs. They also have head mounted, shirt mounted, stand mounted, etc., which are much better at providing light while manipulating something with one or both hands.

    I saw that somebody already got today’s IGOTD. Is there an IGOTW award I can nominate this guy for?

  3. I’m surprised no one has mentioned the real lesson: don’t use the flashlight on a gun to unlock a padlock. Use the light on the gun to flick the light switch, or, don’t use a gun as a flashlight. Real flashlights don’t “go off.”

    • Oh, God, no! Don’t poke the monster! It was finally asleep! We haven’t had a comment on that two and a half year old post in two whole weeks!

        • Blah blah blah I love my Glock and you should to blah blah blah

          I don’t find that kind of discussion entertaining. Have you considered watching porn or something?

    • Can you manage the DA trigger pull under normal circumstances? Why do you imagine you wouldn’t pull it in a desperate, random, uncontrolled snatch as it fell?

      • Obviously that could happen with any gun, whether DA or not. The question is how much more likely it is to happen with a trigger that requires, say, 5.5 lbs of weight (e.g., Glock 19) versus 10 lbs of weight (e.g., Sig P239 DA/SA).

        • Considering the average crush grip strength of a normal person is above 100 lbs, it makes no difference. Don’t go randomly flailing for your gun and the type of trigger won’t matter.

    • Springfield’s grip safety system is just fine. Your chances of inadvertently grabbing both the trigger and the grip when you instinctively drop you pistol are very small. A 1911 with the safety disengaged is safer than a Glock.

  4. Pro-Tip: use the proper tool for the job. I carry a knife everywhere, but I don’t attempt to use it for anything other than cutting things. The minute I think I can use it as a screwdriver or scissors, that’s when I’ll manage to slice my damn finger off.

    Please download a flashlight app for your phone, dude.

  5. Is no one willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt? Maybe he was using the light to see the padlock so he could use the .40 to open it.

    • No no no the article says he was using the flashlight to open the padlock. He taped the key to the front of the light hanging from the pistol so he could see as he put the key in. Makes perfect sense!

  6. As of an hour ago, I am a newly minted NC CCW holder, and as such would like some advice from you older gents as to what you do to your guns to keep them from “just going off?” Is there a special incantation? A religious ceremony, similar to an exorcism? Can a voodoo priestess help? I hear burning sage can keep away spirits, which would be the only explanation I could find for “just going off.”

    • First off, mega kudos Traye, welcome to the club.

      Personally I have all my guns exorcized by a priest using the ritual romana, this seems to drive out the evil sprits that lurk within them and prevent them firing themselves at me and others.

      Other than that pretty much I just don’t touch the trigger unless I mean to make it go bang. Weirdly enough this not pressing the trigger business seems to work even on the guns that haven’t been to the priest yet but I’m not taking any chances. The other day I saw an AR-15 lunge off a shelf and scoot along the floor towards it’s ammunition. I’ve scheduled the priest for this Sunday and have since tied the rifle to a chair. We shall see. . .

      • Well since I don’t know any exorcists, voodoo priestess, or other evil spirit warder offers, maybe I will try that whole not pulling the trigger thing.

        • Well, I suppose you could go the ‘mechanical route’ and just not do that thing that’s supposed to make the gun fire, except when you want it to fire. It’s not as flashy as an exorcism (get an old priest, they make for better theatre) but you probably can’t go wrong with good trigger discipline, finger outside the trigger guard when not intending to fire, a little attention to where fingers and objects are when holstering, using a holster than fully covers the trigger guard, and not playing with your gun (cleaning, dry fire practice, manual of arms drills etc) except in a specific setting made for the purpose.

          I stack the ammo on my desk for the weapon in question, mags, round from the chamber etc and do a count. Then I check and re-check that the gun is truly empty, then I clean or examine or simply reinforce the manual of arms for that particular gun. When the ammo goes back in, it comes off my desk, no mags or ammo allowed on my desk unless its for the purpose of clearing a gun to be handled. There is the visual reminder available the whole time that the weapon has been cleared.

          Sometimes us ‘old guys’ screw up not because we don’t know what we’re doing but because we’re too familiar and too complacent. I avoid that by regimenting how I will go about safety when administratively handling my guns. If it’s not down for administrative handling it’s assumed loaded and treated as such.

          It’s not really rocket science but guns are sometimes like a car we rev in the garage, chocking the wheels is just good sense.

        • I do a similar thing when I’m cleaning. If I’m cleaning a gun that’s normally loaded, I place the ammo on a bookshelf that’s within sight of me, but ~20 feet away from where I’m working. It also happens to be right inside the front door, and it’s the landing place for my housekeys. This serves two purposes: first, it ensures the ammo for my carry gun is nowhere near where I’m working and that replacing it in the gun requires a physical trip across the room, and second, it ensures I don’t accidentally reholster the gun unloaded and leave the house in Condition Expensive Rock.

    • Burning sage can keep away any living thing that has a sense of smell. Once when I was at a “new age” churchoid where they burned some sage, I exclaimed, “EWWWW! And I’m not allowed to smoke my nice aromatic cigarette?”

      • My female counterpart owns a store which sells rocks, beads, incense and so on, and she occasionally burns sage. BTW, white sage smells nice, but isn’t useful as a spice.

        In the suite adjacent to that in which her store used to be was a nail and hair salon, from which would routinely emanate (through the common areas and building ventilation) the most horrific odors imaginable apart from a charnel ground or rendering plant.

        While their assault on the olfactory sensibilities of their neighbors was virtually continuous, nonetheless when she’d burn some sage once or twice a month invariably someone’d come over and say in a nasal whine “Excuse me, but all my customers think someone is smoking marijuana.” Marijuana? Who talks like that?

        Anyway, this finally stopped a year on when on a particularly stultifying day I walked into their salon and loudly announced “Excuse me, but our customers think that you’re running a meth lab.”

        Good night, TTAG.

  7. A tale of two guns:

    It was the worst of times for these two pistols. . .

    I once saw a Glock fall two stories out a window, bounce off the roof of a car and smack the pavement next to it. It was sure uglier than when it started but no discharge despite a round in the chamber and the pistol still worked.

    I once saw a Springfield 1911 fall, cocked and locked from an attic access whole 14 feet about a concrete garage floor, land on it’s back strap, bounce crazily and disappear under a workbench. When finally found (yes, it took a bit) it was scuffed and scared but still, no discharge. It hit so hard that it jarred the manual thumb safety off and still wouldn’t fire. (The jury is out on the safety to this day, it could be that the igit who had it fall out of his holster had failed to set the safety when he reholstered to climb into the access hatch.)

    On the other hand I once had a single barrel 20ga that would fire when the breach was closed.

    The moral of the story is that good pistols in good repair are probably better off bouncing than trying to be caught from a safety standpoint, and that bag guns in disrepair are flat out dangerous all the time.

  8. @ Matt in Fla

    I’m with you. My desk is large, enough so that the gun, towel, cleaning kit etc can be spread and the ammo still requires leaning and reaching to access. It’s not as if it will fall into the gun.

    As for condition expensive rock (and I love that phrase!) I both visually mag check and press check my carry piece before leaving the house (yes every single time). I’ve never really gotten used to loaded chamber indicators and for no good reason don’t trust them or just forget it’s there and thus the good old press check.

    Just the other day I observed that an acquaintance was carrying without a mag in the well and pointed it out. . . much to his chagrin. At least he was standing in the LGS with about 6 armed friendlies around but he had drive there.

    • Yeah, I almost never press check my carry gun, because it’s effectively never, ever unloaded. The only time it is unloaded is when it’s being cleaned, or when I’m between magazines at the range.

      • Maybe it’s paranoia or just habit but when I pick it up to put it on, whichever the ‘pistol of the day’ is, I press check and visually/manually ensure there is a magazine seated in it. If it’s been off my body it gets the check when it goes back on even though the pistols I’m not carrying stay loaded.

        • If you treat Rule #1 seriously you will verify that there is not a magazine in the well and the chamber is empty every time you secure and retrieve a firearm. No exceptions. How do I know my wife didn’t take that gun out of the safe for some reason and forget to unload it when she put it back?

        • To be clear, I was only referring to not checking my carry gun, because it’s basically only ever unloaded while it’s being cleaned. My non-carry guns don’t stay loaded, and they get checked whenever they’re removed from storage at home, whenever they’re removed/replaced in their cases at the range, etc., and then rechecked again before they’re placed back into storage at home.

      • Well for the record, I believe you should either have a safety and use it or make sure to never do anything stupid with a firearm. This guy didn’t manage to do either.

        • The way I look at it ML, a safety is a detriment if you are at a high risk of being subject to lethal assault and do not wish to train with your weapon. If you are like most of us (gun guys) however, you love training, are likely to be cool under fire, and are extremely unlikely to be assaulted – i.e. more likely to be victims of a NG than a felonious assault. Some people around hear get pretty worked up about the dangers that lurk around every corner, but are oblivious to the dangers of having a potentially lethal brain fart.

          Personally I carry because it gives me a sense (reaffirmation) of freedom in a society that stifles individualism, or at best rebrands conformity as individualism, and not so much out of fear of assault. So I like safeties. That and I kind of like to fiddle with my firearms (bad habit, I know).

        • Interesting thoughts, Guv’nor, thanks. My 1911-carrying uncle agrees with you, too, although for now I’m sticking with my safety-less S&W revolvers and Sig semi-autos.

          And that’s a good line about rebranding conformity as individualism.

        • Not condemning anyone else’s decision BTW – to each his own. Your Sigs and S&Ws (fine guns both) do have a long heavy trigger pull and probably wouldn’t have fired in this particular situation anyway. I’m a Beretta 92 guy myself and the only thing that it has over the Sig is that you can chamber a round with the safety on and the hammer will ride the slide down, so there’s no chance of an NG while chambering. I also have a Taurus PT709 and while it has a safety it locks the slide so you have to take it off safe to chamber or unchamber a round. Then to take it down you have to dry fire it ala Glock. Seems pretty retarded to me. Fine gun otherwise, but you can’t tell me there aren’t a few Glock holes in floors around the world though.

        • Guv’nor: It’s been an education. Didn’t know that information about either the Beretta 92 or the Taurus PT709.

        • If you want to never have an accident, just be sure that whatever you do, you’re doing it on purpose.

  9. Any time I drop anything apart from a cleaver or anvil, I usually have no trouble interposing a foot.

    Safe scratch prevention…

  10. Yes, let it fall. This doesn’t only apply to guns, albeit a lathe chuck doesn’t fire projectiles. Some years ago I read an article with the same title in Popular Mechanics about some guy who crushed his foot trying to protect a 10- or 20-pound chunk of solid steel from getting dinged.

    Since the guy lived, he doesn’t technically qualify for the Darwin Award, but I think he might warrant a (dis)honorable mention.

  11. I had a patient in the other day who had put a Tokarev on top of a refrigerator, which then was jostled and fell off. He grabbed it and shot himself through the left hand, shattering a metacarpal. Fortunately he should have a full recovery, but as I was about to cite the “never try to catch a falling gun” I wondered if it applied to non-modern handguns. How drop safe is a Tokarev or other guns of earlier vintages?

    • If its a legal import, it has an after the fact safety that prevents trigger operation, but just like a Henry rifle the striker rests on the primer so the only truly safe setting is an empty chamber, safety or no. Drop it or severely bump the hammer and boom.

      Since he presumably intercepted it, either the safety was off or it was a war trophy without one.

      On the flip side, my Nagant revolver has a piece o’ me’al interposed between the striker and the primer, so is totally drop safe when unc0cked and pretty much as safe when c0cked as well because it’d have to be doing something like 120 MPH and hit just right for the weight of the trigger to defeat like a 10 pound pull.

      Don’t try to catch it if c0cked, though, ’cause panic grip is strong. If the hammer’s down, though, it’s probably fairly “safe” because the DA pull is both horrendous and very long — but don’t try it anyway, as probably ain’t definitely.

      A Mosin? If it’s in good shape a c0cked one is still safe, and if the safety is engaged then you’ll have to throw it in a fire to make it go off.

      A Kalashnikov is pretty robust as well, but by no means perfect.

      Oher guns are other guns, and will differ, but I thought I’d give, youa broad Commie perspective.

      Be safe out there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *