Posted by Mike Lewis at LMS Defense Forum …
I was conducting a Concealed Carry Handgun class on 1 May 2010. There was a student training with a Ruger LCR that she stated had less than 100 rounds previously fired through it. She was using CCI Blazer 158 grain TMJ +P ammunition, and had fired approximately 25 rounds so far in the course without any cause for concern.
The student was in the middle of firing a two round engagement drill under my supervision; she fired one round then informed me that she thought her trigger was “stuck”. I took the firearm from her, assuming that she had possibly taken the cylinder out of battery, and attempted to put the cylinder back into battery. Upon looking, I noticed that part of the frame subassembly (the barrel sheath portion) was blown off, and the barrel split. I checked to see if the cylinder was stable, and the cylinder turned slightly in my hand before apparently being bound by the split barrel. I was able to clear the weapon, at which point we removed it from the firing line and inspected shooters for injuries. As there were no injuries resulting from this failure, we examined the firearm and replaced it on the firing line with one of my revolvers a S&W J Frame that performed flawlessly), so she could continue training.
In my opinion, this was most likely not a shooter or ammunition-induced failure. I checked the owner’s manual to ensure that this firearm was rated for +P ammunition, which it is. The cylinder and topstrap show no visible damage; neither does the right side of the firearm.
It appears that the chamber was not properly aligned with the bore when the round fired, and that the bullet struck the forcing cone out of alignment. The bullet most likely took the path of least resistance, leading to the catastrophic failure of the barrel and frame subassembly.
I have spoken with the VP of Ruger, as well as sending a letter to him concerning this failure; he seemed to be very interested and understanding of our concerns.
[ Many thanks to Mik for emailing me the link. ]