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Posted: 4/3/2004 6:20:03 PM EST
[Last Edit: 4/3/2004 6:37:30 PM EST by Lexington]
I had my new SA58 Predator at the range on only its second trip when it blew up. The first trip was spent lapping in the barrel per instructions (more or less). I shot only Federal Gold Medal Match ammo, approx 60 rounds. No problem.

On the second trip, I was with a friend who wouldn't appreciate the difference between good and average ammo, so I decided to scrape the bottom of my ammo barrel for some spray-and-pray type shooting. The culprit was Spanish Santa Barbara Palencia 1981 surplus ammo. I got off two rounds. Bang. BOOM!

The case ruptured (apparently at the 6 o'clock postion) and the magazine inflated like a balloon. It exploded and the ammo was blasted onto the ground in front of me. My jacket was ripped or burned, my arm was bruised, and the receiver was warped. Thankfully I was squat/kneeling and the flying ammo missed my jewels. And if I was on a bench, as I usually am, I can only imagine 18 unspent rounds bouncing off of the cement table top.

Day at the range: cheap.
Dollars per round (62 rounds): $25.
Lesson in cheap shitty ammo: priceless.

I sent the rifle, magazine, and ruptured case to DSA for examination and repair. God, how I wanted to blame the gun, but my choice of ammo was the problem. I'm still kickinig myself.





Link Posted: 4/3/2004 6:24:59 PM EST
This is why Im not the worlds biggest fan of surplus.

That sucks man.
Link Posted: 4/3/2004 6:33:43 PM EST
Heck

Are you ok?
Link Posted: 4/3/2004 6:35:06 PM EST
Ouch Lexington, santa barbara is usually quality stuff.
Link Posted: 4/3/2004 6:42:00 PM EST
Yeah, I'm OK. I first took the rifle directly to Bob Ford at Rocky Mountain Arms and he said, "You got lucky today." All things considered, he is right.

As for Santa Barbara being good stuff, supposedly the 1981 batch is known by some as faulty. I found out the hard way.

It worked great in my SAR8, but maybe the delayed blow-back roller system handles higher chamber pressures better. Yes/No?
Link Posted: 4/4/2004 1:26:30 AM EST
Link Posted: 4/4/2004 3:29:44 AM EST

Originally Posted By raf:
That's quite a case failure.

I've had a couple of lengthwise splits in known-to-be-bad lots of Izzy 7.62, and nothing happened but a little puff of gas in my face while using a '98 Mauser.

That's an awful lot of case missing, right where you'd expect it to be missing if the rifle fired while not quite in battery. I'm no expert, but is there any chance of that being the reason for the KB, and maybe not the ammo?



Raf, good point

If the weapon fired out of battery the brass would look like what he is displaying, therefore the charge would take the direction of least resistance.

**(No expert on physics)** Just a thought
Link Posted: 4/4/2004 3:43:48 AM EST
I'm really glad you walked away without body damage.
Link Posted: 4/4/2004 5:58:27 AM EST
I too am not sure you need to blame the ammo. Something doesn't seem right.
Link Posted: 4/4/2004 8:09:46 AM EST
[Last Edit: 4/4/2004 8:13:34 AM EST by Lexington]
Good point about firing out of battery. The bolt was locked out of battery immediately after the KB. I could not open it, either, as the case was jammed in there.

I mentioned the out-of-battery scenario to the DSA tech* and he said, no, the bolt was just starting to open when it seized. It is a brand new rifle and I couldn't fathom placing blame on it, so I took his explanation.

* on the phone before I shipped the rifle back. I can only guess what he thinks now that the rifle is in the factory.
Link Posted: 4/4/2004 3:07:09 PM EST
DSA would never admit if it was the rifle's fault. They would just replace your rifle to keep you happy. Glock does it all the time.
Link Posted: 4/5/2004 5:25:38 AM EST
well, the good news is dsa will probably relapce the rifle for little or no cost to you. i know they have an excellent reputation for customer service with this type of thing.
Link Posted: 4/5/2004 7:03:58 AM EST
Wow! Scary Lexington.
I bought a case of the SB 1981 stuff less than a month ago; been using it every weekend since. Probably shot about 200 rounds of it so far. Seems like every 10 or so rounds there is a flyer, so I've been eyeing my fired casings but see no signs of trouble. No stretching, cracking or otherwise... So far.
Link Posted: 4/5/2004 7:10:42 AM EST
I just got a call from DSA. The rifle is repaired and they are charging me $375. Up until recently I was a dealer, so they are charging me dealer cost on the receiver and are waiving the $140 re-barrel and headspace fee. I guess that's fair, since I have no way to dispute the ammo as the source of the failure.

I mentioned the out-of-battery scenario again, and the tech said, "The rifle cannot fire out of battery." He said the cause of this failure is the ruptured case. The brass was too soft.

So, end of story.

Link Posted: 4/5/2004 3:31:27 PM EST
This brings up an interesting point. I actually think it is possible for the FAL to be fired out of battery. If that is the case, DSA may have more to answer for. I've pulled the trigger during dry fire with the bolt out of battery and the hammer will fall and push the bolt forward. I guess its possible the angle that it hits the firing pin may push it up until momentum has reduced to the point that the pin doesn't hit the primer with much force, but I sure as hell woulnd't risk that.

There is an easy way to check this. Pull a few bullets and dump the power. Chamber the empty shell by hand and let it stop before the bolt is all the way forward. Pull the trigger and see if the primer fires.
Link Posted: 4/5/2004 3:48:52 PM EST
Thanks, for the heads up on this ammo.
Link Posted: 4/5/2004 5:07:46 PM EST
it l;ooks like it fired out of battery to me...
Link Posted: 4/5/2004 5:25:57 PM EST
I had 9mm brass that looked the same way out of my open bolt UZI smg. It was usually with Egyptian SMG ammo. The UZI would just cough and you could rack it and keep shooting.

Insert the ruptured case into the chamber and see if it seats all the way. Then look to see if the rupture matches the unsupported area of the chamber. Maybe it's just a bad case failure.
Link Posted: 4/5/2004 11:59:40 PM EST
[Last Edit: 4/6/2004 1:39:07 AM EST by Noname]
IMHO looks like partial casehead separation (while in battery).


Insert a round in chamber and note at what point the cartridge is unsupported. Also note how much cartridge is unsupported by extractor cutout.

FAL's with gross headspace tend to blow the shoulder foward on firing---Note how the shoulder looks normal.

Marks or scaring on locking shoulder face and bolt locking lug would add more to the story (moot point now).

Original chamber HS and cartridge HS would add to story (also a moot point).

YMMV...

Link Posted: 4/6/2004 3:41:40 AM EST
In an ar15 when the bullet is in battery with the lugs locked there is no unsupported portion of the case. Wouldn't this be the case for all guns. It seems to me that having a case failure under such circumstances would not in any way damage the gun. The case is nothing more than sort of a gas gasket in this case and adds no structural integrity. I think the gun fired while the bullet was above the magazine. The perfect indent in the primer belies that somewhat though. It is almost like the firing pin was stuck in the bolt in the firing position and then when the bolt picked up the bullet above the magazine it then fired.
ChuckD
Link Posted: 4/6/2004 4:36:33 AM EST
Link Posted: 4/6/2004 5:22:58 AM EST
Did you measure the length of that case? Looks like that case may have been sticking out of the chamber too far, or the bolt dident close all the way when it fired.

The case could also just be too thin on that side, it looks like the case gets thicker on the left side of the picture.

The bottom of the case blew out and the pressure blew the rounds out the bottom of your magazine.

Shit happens, glad you still have your jewels.

Link Posted: 4/6/2004 6:43:50 AM EST
If you take an ar15 and remove the cam pin and fire the weapon this is exactly what will happen. The bolt will not lock. The gun will fire. The gases will blow the bolt back immediately along with the case. The case will fail and the excess pressure will blow out the magazine. There will be a perfect indent in the primer. If this gun has a cam pin and I am sure that it does then either the cam pin failed or was left out during cleaning.
ChuckD
Link Posted: 4/6/2004 6:51:46 AM EST
Looks like the first round you fired did the damage and took out your headspace, the case failure of the second round, with the extractor groove flattened tends to indicate excessive headspace, the gases just blew straight into the mag well.
Just my 02
Link Posted: 4/6/2004 7:46:14 AM EST
[Last Edit: 4/6/2004 8:40:22 AM EST by Lexington]
Marks or scaring on locking shoulder face and bolt locking lug would add more to the story (moot point now).

The bolt face was imprinted (heat etched) with the headstamp "SB 81". I tried to remove it with some solvent and it did not come off. DSA replaced the bolt assembly along with the receiver.

The case is nothing more than sort of a gas gasket in this case and adds no structural integrity.

Agreed.

It is almost like the firing pin was stuck in the bolt in the firing position and then when the bolt picked up the bullet above the magazine it then fired.

I definitely paused after the first shot to inspect the target. The second round was chambered and waiting, but I did not notice if the bolt was completely closed and locked.

If this gun has a cam pin and I am sure that it does then either the cam pin failed or was left out during cleaning.

The barrel was cleaned religiously during the break-in process, but the rifle was not disassembled any further than pulling out the bolt assembly as a complete unit.

Shit happens, glad you still have your jewels.

I'm glad too, but my jewels have recently been appraised at less than I paid for them.


Link Posted: 4/6/2004 8:03:32 PM EST
The FAL design does allow the hammer to fall even if the bolt is considerably out of battery (try it sometime). This worried me when I first received my SA58 carbine, but DSA tech support assured me that, even if this happened, the hammer cannot impact the firing pin unless the bolt is fully in battery. Any FAL experts out there want to comment ?
Link Posted: 4/6/2004 9:22:59 PM EST

Originally Posted By StealthyBlagga:
The FAL design does allow the hammer to fall even if the bolt is considerably out of battery (try it sometime). This worried me when I first received my SA58 carbine, but DSA tech support assured me that, even if this happened, the hammer cannot impact the firing pin unless the bolt is fully in battery. Any FAL experts out there want to comment ?



That really does look like an out-of-battery firing.

As far as if the FAL can fire out of battery, I have no idea, but the hammer will fall on an AR15 with the bolt not fully seated - however the firing pin does not protrude from the bolt face.
Link Posted: 4/7/2004 9:45:22 AM EST
Yes, an FAL can fire out of battery. At a guess I would say that your headspace was wrong to begin with. DSA made it right but then they may well have been at fault. SB ammo is not your problem it is good stuff.
Glad you were not hurt.
Link Posted: 4/7/2004 3:57:00 PM EST
Fals can fire otu of battery. Safety sear is there to prevent it but unfortunately it also allows one to have the full auto feature.
Link Posted: 4/7/2004 5:39:26 PM EST
[Last Edit: 4/7/2004 6:10:53 PM EST by bigduke60]
edit to say

after looking at the photos over and over.

if the blow out was just a tad bit lower on the case i would say out of lock up.

but with that high on the case i would say weak brass.

bad day?
Link Posted: 4/9/2004 9:46:03 AM EST
Correct me if I'm wrong, but as I understand it, the Bolt Carrier (BC) actually forces the locking surface of the bolt down onto the locking shoulder (LS). It also should hold the bolt in the forward position if the BC itsel fi s all the way forward, right? The BC keeps the hammer from the firing pin as long as the bolt is comlpetely cammed off of the LS, but as the BC goes farther forward and cams the bolt onto the LS farther, the firing pin gets exposed more.

Would this then mean that if the BC were mostly forward, but not all the way, that the firing pin could be exposed enough for the hammer to strike with sufficient force to ignite the primer? And would this also not indicate that if the BC were NOT all the way forward, it would not have the locking surface on the bolt held firmly down onto the LS? The bolt would also not be held completely forward.

And if a round were going off, pushing rearward on its own, failure of the bolt to completely mate with the LS could potentially cause early opening, I would think.

The rupture in the case looks too clean to have just blown out in the chamber. Plus, if you look at where the case ruptured, it looks like it cut clean in the body and ripped in the extractor groove. The body of the case should be COMPLETELY supported by the chamber if the round is all the way in there.

There was overbuilding of gas in the case as you can see where gas leaked around the primer before blowing the case out.

It is my humble opinion that the case can't have ruptured where it did if it were completely in the chamber, unless there is something wrong with your chamber, which I doubt.

I'd call it an out of battery firing, myself, but I'm just a redneck, not a gunsmith.
Link Posted: 4/11/2004 2:10:52 PM EST
Where did you buy the ammo?

Was the ammo loose packed or in factory packaging? [ie: some sort of cardboard?]



I ask because that round looks to me like its been tumbled. Most mil-spec ammo has annealed case necks, that round has a very consistent coloration throughout the caseing - which is frequently a sign that the round has been tumbled to remove oxidation.


Tumbling can cause the powder granules to break down and result in significantly differnent combustion rates.
Link Posted: 4/11/2004 6:13:23 PM EST
I took the ammo from my (now defunct) gun shop. I forget who the supplier was. The ammo was packaged in a wooden crate, nailed shut. Inside the crate was a sealed ammo tin. I still have some loose rounds that I may photograph and post in this space when I get a moment.
Link Posted: 4/13/2004 6:29:51 PM EST

Originally Posted By StealthyBlagga:
The FAL design does allow the hammer to fall even if the bolt is considerably out of battery (try it sometime). This worried me when I first received my SA58 carbine, but DSA tech support assured me that, even if this happened, the hammer cannot impact the firing pin unless the bolt is fully in battery. Any FAL experts out there want to comment ?



Bullshit. It all depends on how far back the bolt is. This gun was out of headspace, I have seen this happen before with guns built by idiots in their garage. DSA is top flight and everyone knows I am a huge DSA supporter but the headspace was off. DSA will never admit it but I'd bet lottery numbers on headspace.
Link Posted: 4/13/2004 6:55:11 PM EST
If the headspace was wrong on a brand new factory tested rifle, how much attention to detail do you think my replacement is getting?
Link Posted: 4/23/2004 1:56:28 AM EST
Like anything else, shit happens. I know with something like headspace, it's tough to swallow. I'm sure your rifle will be fine. I had a LS blow out on me once, no shit. DSA didn't even blink and repaired my rifle immediately. Get it back yet?
Link Posted: 4/25/2004 7:35:02 PM EST
The semi FAL does not have a safety sear (auto sear), so yes, the rifle can fire without the bolt fully locked.

On lock up, the bolt is cam’d down over the locking shoulder by the forward pressure of the carrier. With a safety sear in the rifle, the hammer is not released from the sear until the bolt is full locked.

My guess is that the bolt didn't fully lock, and the bolt was barely cam’d down on the locking shoulder, and the reason that the case blew out. If the bolt had locked fully closed, the case would have been fully supported by the chamber, and would have never blow out the way it did.

The area that you should have checked on the rifle was the locking shoulder. My guess is that the bolt did not fully lock up (bolt did not fully cam down over the locking shoulder/pin), and the tell tale sign would have been a dent in the face of the locking shoulder where the bolt was barely held, and the same blow out case that you have.


I can go into more detail, but my guess is that the locking shoulder had a top sharp guide edge (not broken in/ correctly relieved) coupled with a tight head spaced chamber, and was one of the problems that lead to the KB.
Link Posted: 5/8/2004 6:56:36 PM EST

Originally Posted By patriot73:
Get it back yet?



Yes, I got it back a few weeks ago. Weather has ruined my few selected dates to give it a test. I hope to be out to the range within the next 10 days. I'm only going to load a single cartridge at a time so I can avoid the "ammo splatter" of the last KB. I think I'll be a little edgey on the first trigger pull.

Has anyone ever tried to fire a rifle via a long string from behind a tree?
Link Posted: 5/9/2004 5:15:51 PM EST
"Has anyone ever tried to fire a rifle via a long string from behind a tree?"


No, but I HAVE tied a rifle off to a car/truck tire that's not on a rim, and used a string to pull the trigger(from a safe distance)


- georgestrings
Link Posted: 5/9/2004 5:51:57 PM EST

Originally Posted By Gewehr3:
DSA would never admit if it was the rifle's fault. They would just replace your rifle to keep you happy. Glock does it all the time.



I was just going to post the same exact thing.
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