You Are Shooting A Muzzleloader. A Hang Fire Happens. What Should You Do?

Hangfire occurs when the firing pin hits the primer, and a delay transpires before the gun fires.

This can happen for various reasons like faulty primer, defective firing pin, or other issues related to the cartridge.

On the other hand, you can experience a misfire if the cartridge completely fails to fire after pulling the trigger and the firing pin or hammer falls.

Usually, a light firing pin hit is the leading cause of misfires.

Still, they can originate from faulty or deteriorated ammunition.

If a light firing pin hit leads to a misfire, you will see a shallow indentation of a primer cup after eliminating the misfiring cartridge from the chamber.

Although misfires are not as dangerous as hang fires, it would be wise of you to treat them cautiously because it’s initially impossible to differentiate the two.

So, if the cartridge fails to ignite, you need to adhere to the appropriate safety guidelines for managing hang fires.

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So, what does Hang Fire Mean?

Merely put, it means to delay, do nothing, hold back, wait, or hesitate.

Initially, it meant the situation when a gun that used the previous type of ignition, such as flintlock or percussion cap, would fail or even delay to fire after pulling the trigger.

Hang Fire Dangers

The main problem with a hang fire is that you can easily confuse it with a misfire.

Due to this, you can face two types of dangers.

First, if you assume that a hang fire is a misfire, you might instantly open the firearm’s action to eject the faulty cartridge.

You can seriously injure yourself or damage the gun by removing a cartridge that ignites upon release.

Second, if you assume that you have encountered a misfire, you might not utilise the appropriate muzzle control.

For example, the firearm might be pointing in a risky direction when it surprisingly fires.

Therefore, you should never assume a hang fire when the firing pin or hammer falls, and the firearm fails to fire.

Actions that Safe Hunters need to take when Hang Fire Occurs

The short delay that occurs after hang fire is sufficient to caution you against reloading.

Nonetheless, if you face a prolonged delay, you might end up pointing the firearm in an unsafe direction.

Else, you might open the action in a manner that the cartridge is not well-contained.

If the gun fires after moving it from the discharging position, it may damage everything in front of the muzzle.

Some guns may injure you during recoil. Another thing to note is that an accidental firing can happen as you open the action.

This action makes some propellant energy get into the cartridge case and damage the firearm.

Worst of all, it can hurt you or those close to you.

Thus, it would help if you were careful of hang fires by doing the following:

  • Always maintain a safe muzzle control
  • First, wait to find out whether the gun fires. Wait at least 15 seconds if you have a shotgun, handgun, or rifle. In case you have a muzzleloader, you should wait for 60 seconds.
  • Make sure you close the action and point the puzzle at a safe backstop.
  • If the gun fails to fire, remove the shotshell or cartridge from the chamber.

My Recommendation

If you encounter a hang fire, always treat your firearm as if it will fire immediately.

Point it in a safe direction and avoid trying to shoot again.

Follow gun safety measures and eject any extra ammunition.

You can open the action and remove the cartridge should the gun fail to fire after 60 seconds.

What To Do When Your Muzzeloader Result In A Hang Fire

Here is what you need to do if you are shooting a muzzleloader and then a hang fire occurs:

  1. Point the firearm to a safe location for about a minute and eject the ammunition.

  2. Check whether the bolt is appropriately closed before ejecting the round. Keep in mind that a weak bolt can lead to hang fires.

  3. Safely open the chamber and avoid exposing your face and body to the chamber port.

  4. Swiftly lift the bolt with your fingertips while ensuring you are safe against potential blast.

  5. Remove the round and get rid of it safely.