Monday, April 06, 2009

Walther G22 KABOOM!

The funny-looking woodland camo Phoenix burned down again, rose again, burned down again, then got sent to Walther.

With the Walther G22 Space Gun's triumphant return, I was eager to pick a good zero, and test the specialty ammo I had. But first, I had to find a fix for the stop-gap replacement pin I had used in the previous post.

I finally found a use for harbor freight's tools, and used a micro philips screwdriver as a replacement hammer spring guide rod pin, and needed only insert it, and bend it a few times before it snapped off helplessly. Eager to relinquish the task for which it was created, but never really good at, for a job that it excelled at; being metal and cylindrical. It fit perfectly, and with a little filing, it was quite flush.

While I had the guts lying in front of me, I carefully examined the hammer and sear to see if I could safely do something, anything, to make the trigger even slightly better. The topology of the mating points were such that unless I really tried to fuck the angles up, I probably wasn't going to destroy my recently fixed gun. Probably. So I removed as little as possible, and kept stopping to check the mating of the two parts. Deepened the angle of the sear slightly because the two parts practically hooked on to each other, and shortened the depth of the hammer catch point, since the sear had quite a long way to travel before letting go. I was so coy with the parts and the filing, I didn't think I had done much, but upon reassembly, the trigger was definitely better. Not by much, but better.

I reassembled and went to the range with a sampling of different ammo, and a twinkle in my eye. I was making things work, and getting things done.

At the range, the Space Gun was reminding me why I liked it so much. After running an initial few magazines to test function, I started playing with the different sight settings. The rear sight has a rotating set of blades numbered 1-6, with different heights. I was finding the best sight for the short distances I expected the space gun might be asked to perform as a trunk .22 rifle. I settled on the highest sight blade, 6, and set about discovering where the point of impact was at different ranges, and estimating the approximate size of one of the many wild cotton tails I saw on a daily basis.

I set the target to 21 feet, shot three rounds, and wrote on my notepad, Sight 6 21' 2" low. The trigger was definitely better. I marked the three hits, rotated the target plate, set it back to 35 feet, and

what the fuck? ouch. my face feels weird. what the fuck? what just? did i just? did the space gun just? fuck it's smoking all over the place! top cover is popped up. ow, damnit. shit! my face is numb!

I staggered back, pumping adrenaline, fear, and sweat. I felt the left side of my face, it was numb and tingling. I rubbed my hand down my cheek and neck, and checked it for blood, there was none. Did I just Kaboom? I looked at the space gun. Smoke escaped lazily from every edge of the housing around the action. Did the space gun just explode? Still a little dazed, I returned to my lane.

I blew the extra smoke away, and cautiously inspected the chamber. The Winchester .22lr was not completely in the chamber, and the part the was outside, was bulged to twice its diameter, and had a hole in the brass on the ejection side. I just had an out of chamber ignition. I looked at the paper plate targets I leaned against the left side of the range station, and saw a hole was punched in them. I looked at the back of the small stack of paper plates, and saw a dent. Whatever went in had not come out. I pulled the plates apart, and found the piece of brass casing that had blown out of the chamber, luckily, in a safe direction. I tried to remove the brass, and found it to be stuck.

What caused it to go off before the round was properly chambered? Why had the disconnect failed, and released the hammer early? Could it have been a slamfire? I was frustrated with the gun I had given a second chance, and until recently, had been enjoying. I was mad that it was a bullpup, and put the explosion right next to my face. I couldn't have put it together wrong, I saw no mechanical way I could have made this happen. Maybe I was wrong. Either way, I was pissed off at the space gun for letting me down. I wouldn't be able to trust it again. I'd have to sell it for parts.


Well, I still needed to test the different ammo in a rifle, so I was going to put the worthless space gun in the trunk, and retrieve the 10/22. As I left the firing line, I explained to the employees what happened, and one wanted to take a look at it. He offered to push a rod through the barrel to push the shell loose, and I accepted. After removing the shell, he examined it, and declared it a crushfire. I had never heard of a "crushfire" before. He explained; the shell did not have a mark from the firing pin, and the bulging was too deep. The bolt stripped the round, began to chamber it, and the brass was weak, and crushed under the force of the bolt, igniting the primer, and setting off the round before it was chambered. It was a fluke. He checked the chamber and surrounding parts for cracks, and said it would probably be OK to shoot again.

The brass was weak! It wasn't the space gun, it was what I had been feeding it! This wasn't the gun's fault, it was the ammo! How could I have been so mad at the gun, it didn't do anything wrong! It didn't fail! It was a fluke!

Relieved and optimistic, I returned to the range, loaded two mags of a different brand of ammo, moved the rifle away from my face, and cautiously fired downrange. The familiar Pat! rang out. I squeezed the trigger again. Pat! Again! Pat! I put my face against the rifle, and aimed at my target. Pat! Pat! Pat! Alright! I finished the two mags, and figured I'd run two more through just to be sure before returning to my task. I loaded the third mag, put the target at 50 feet, set the rear sight to 6, and practiced my offhand 6 o'clock hold.

Squeeeeze... Pat! Squeeeeze... Pat! Squeeeeze... Pat! Squeeeeze... Pat!

Goddamnit. Not again.

I was more prepared for it this time. I was able to discern the shot before the POP, and knew I had just crushfired with different ammo than before. The left side of my face was numb again, and I checked it for blood; there was none. I pulled the bolt back, and it happily ejected the crushfired round, almost identical to the last. It was the gun. There could be no mistaking that now.

Fuck you, space gun.

After my anger subsided, I remembered reading about how some G22s had tight chambers, and how they wouldn't feed ammo that was slightly out of spec. I never had a problem with Federal, but the cheap stuff would frequently jam, and need to have the bolt pushed closed. That, combined with a dirty chamber, probably caused the jamming and the crushfiring. I thought about sending it in when I heard about it, but the federal stuff worked just fine, and it didn't seem legitimate to complain to Walther that out-of-spec ammo sometimes jammed on chambering, and that they needed to fix it free of charge. But now, I wouldn't be able to run through a box of 500 without worrying about crushfires and Kabooms. The space gun would be going back to Walther to get a few extra thousandths of an inch in the chamber.

I know Walther is owned by Smith and Wesson, but I wonder if their repair policy is as good. I guess I'm going to find out soon.

I guess I still like the space gun. It's fun to shoot, and an interesting addition to the fold. I actually want to embrace the weirdness, and give it a razzle dazzle camo job, because I love that stuff. Would be one hell of a head-turner.

On to the next adventure...

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