The Curious Caracal KABOOM

The Caracal pistol pictured above KABOOMed a few months ago in Pakistan. Not normally seen in the catastrophic failure of pistols  is a slide splitting in two. It is not uncommon for a cheap zinc-alloy, aka “pot metal”, slides on budget pistols to crack and eventually break over time, but not steel slides. kkhan8 wrote on PakGuns.com

On November 16th 2012 my brother wanted to accompany me to my farm (about an hour and half from city) and test the weapon out for himself since I had been raving about it. 

 

I handed my brother the weapon, he fired the first round without any hiccups, I was looking downrange when my brother fired the second round. To my horror right after he fired the round he fell to the ground in a heap. I ran over to him and turned him over. His face was completely covered in blood. I could make out a hole on top of his eye and blood pouring out of it. For a moment I was paralyzed with fear, thinking the worst, that the projectile had entered his skull. I could only think of his 2 children at the moment in shock. Thankfully in about 10 seconds he started to respond screaming he could not see, I picked him up and took him to the car and started driving back towards the city. In about 5 mins he got his vision back but was still bleeding. The closest hospital was 1 hour away and this drive was one of the most testing times of my life. I had called back to the farm and one of my workers told me the slide had broken in 2 but I was still not sure if anything was lodged inside my brothers skull. 

After the tortures drive I got to the hospital and got an X-ray done. I was too scared to look at it myself, legs shaking in terror. I just handed it to the doctor to let him give me the news. To my relief it was a flesh wound and nothing was lodged inside his skull.

My brother received 8 stitches and had a severe concussion not to mention a permanent scar on his face. Luckily he fully recovered, if the slide had hit him an inch below he would have lost an eye.
After the incident I emailed Caracal, explaining to them of this incident but got no reply. I wanted to confirm with them if this was a quality control issue or a design fault inherent in all their weapons.
I have attached pictures of the handgun after I came back the next day and recovered the weapon from where it had fallen. The slide was completely sheared in 2. I had inspected the weapon a day before and it did not even show a slight sign of any wear and tear.

gun3

 

The owner of the gun has claimed they were shooting factory loaded Chinese Norinco-branded “Red Box” 9mm rounds. The most common cause of pistol kabooms is reloaded ammunition. Some PakGuns.com members have suggested they might have been shooting counterfeit ammunition that was handloaded. This still does not explain why the slide cracked. Caracal have yet to comment on the damage.

Many thanks to faisal for the tip. 



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Joe

    Made in UAE, what did you expect?

    • Manny Fal

      Yeah seems the steel was effed up.

    • Frank

      Considering the person who designed this pistol, thats right the German behind the Glock and Steyr pistols, I would think the pistol would be up to high standards. Not exactley his first RODEO. I’ve seen whats out there and it’s time for some fresh air. I’m thinking of getting one because of the erogonomics. Afterall this is not state of the art or brand new theory on the making of a striker fired firearm. If this were some Arab King trying to dabble in this market for a hobby I might have second thoughts. UAE beats Mexico or Malaysia or even China.

  • I’m writing from Italy, I’ve been one of the first to own a Caracal, imported in Italy from Tanfoglio, earlier than in the U.S. I’ve sold it, don’t buy one, it’a a dangerous pistol. This pistol can shoot with the slide open… Also, I had problems with the striker safety! I sent emails to Caracal, but they never answered. Buy a Glock, buy a XD/XDM, buy a S&W m&P. Buy a Beretta but don’t buy a Caracal!!!

    • TangledThorns
    • Mr. Mike – SSO

      I agree that it is not safe , if the pistol goes off or the trigger safety has an issue but this has nothing to do with the event happened here. all of the manufactures you have mentioned had issues in the past….these are mass-produced items a mistake, which of course shouldn’t happen can always occur, see cars….but this cracked slide looks to me like overpressure ammo has been fired in bigger quantities and finally the gun has lost the battle agains pressure.

    • Thanks it’s good to hear from a first hand user

    • Gidge

      If you weredealing with Tanfoglio why on earth did you buy a Caracal? I love my Tanfoglio and couldn’t be happier with it

      • He he, I’ve made more than one mistake in my life!!!

    • Caz Hunter

      How is it possible for the pistol to fire with the slide open? If the slide is open, the primer for the round in the magazine is not even lined up with the firing pin. Can you explain this a bit better?

  • Mr. Mike – SSO

    the new models are made in Suhl Germany.

    MADE IN UAE, well most of the engineers are german and austrians down at the plant in Abu Dhabi and the XD which is a good pistol is made in Croatia….the place where it is made is not relevant, the quality control when materials enters the plant and at the end before the product is shipped is important, as well as during the process of manufacturing.

    apart from this did you use SAAMI approved ammo, i have seen ammo in parts of the world going up to 3500 bar of pressure in 9×19, Standard is 2500…..

    Lots of factors could have caused the damage of the gun.

    Most important is that your brother will recover and gets well asap.

    • Marc

      “the new models are made in Suhl Germany.”

      Not the new models, but those intended for the European market. Production in UAE hasn’t stopped.

    • Yes the ammo was SAAMI approved

  • Dr. Oz

    Well, if he loaded the magazine like that….
    In all seriousness, wearing eye protection would have saved him a trip to the hospital (and the nasty scar).

    • JonMac

      Not necessarily. A recent AFTE journal article shows a rifle bolt pushing eye protection deep into a gel block. Half a pistol slide wouldn’t have the same velocity/mass, but it wouldn’t necessarily keep you out of the hospital.

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      Apparently it hit him in the forehead. Eye protection will not protect you against that … this is coming from someone who had to go to the ER after being hit in about the same place when at the range.

  • Fyrewerx

    Most likely the lack of response is because they’re waiting for a law suit…. not wanting to admit anything up front.

  • TangledThorns

    The Caracal had a recall last year for a separate issue though I bet this incident was the result of bad ammo. http://www.caracal-usa.com/press/caracal-pistol-recall/

    • Marc

      Overpressure ammunition first blows apart the case head, then (with even higher pressure) the chamber. Slide seperation is pretty much exclusively due to slide cracks developing over time either due to poor design (stress risers), poor machining (stress risers) or bad metallurgy.

      • Anonymous

        True. Then again there have been several threads on one of the 1911 forums in recent months about 1911s from reputable brands (Springfield Armory and Kimber) that suffered complete slide failures while shooting factory ammo.

        I’m almost beginning to wonder if there isn’t a different form of failure mode, rarer in nature, that is somehow at work in these cases where we see a destroyed slide without any damage to the barrel.

  • Zapp Brannigan

    Always wear eye protection when shooting. Ten bucks for eye protection is cheap compared to a lifetime of having only one working eye.

    The slide broke probably due to inferior steel and/or improper heat treatment.

  • ccw1911

    When a report of something like this has sentences in it like “After the tortures drive I got to the
    hospital and got an X-ray done. I was too scared to look at it myself,
    legs shaking in terror. ” My
    BS detector goes off and I can’t help but think there might be more to the story than being told, that’s usually the case when someone feels the need to embelish like that.

    It doesn’t look like a traditional Kaboom to me. I see no damage to the barrel. It looks to be a slide failure, possibly a fault in the metal that finally gave up, or the firearm was fired with ammo that was way over the pressures it was designed to handle and it finally gave up. It may not matter, I don’t see any of these pistols for sale except a rare used one.

    • Faisal

      LOL the colorful language is is unfortunate by product of being ruled by a British albeit more 65 years ago.But what i find more insulting/amusing is the responses by Caracal Pakistan which are downright unprofessional.

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      As Faisal said below, English in that part of the world can sound a little different.

    • mannys9130

      I tend to find that translation into English by people who know it as a second language, often come out using embellished words that us native speakers would only use in the most formal of prose. It’s normal. Have you ever read some of the junk the boys in Nigeria can put on paper when they’re trying to get you to accept a 16 million dollar lottary win? Same thing. 🙂

  • El_Guapo_01

    I wonder if this pistol might have been a product of the Pakistan handmade firearms industry? They are known to make reproductions that externally look very similar to the originals. Either that, or there was some really bad ammunition involved.

    • Faisal

      To the best of my knowledge(I live really near the “Pakistani Firearm cloning” enterprises),Caracal has not been copied yet.

  • Raouul O’Shaugnessy

    I dont wanna sound like a snob, but it seems the moral of the story here is dont shoot No-Name Ammo through a No-Name Gun. Stick with the major manufacturers.

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      Neither are no name. Norinco is an unknown brand in the USA because of import laws banning Chinese guns and ammo. They must be one of the worlds largest gun and ammo makers since they supply the PLA, Chinese police and other Chinese security agencies.

      • BryanS

        Ive got boxes of Norinco AK ammo just sitting around from back when it was legal to buy.

    • duke

      I remember when Glock was a “no-name” and had that crappy plastic gun that nobody wanted.

  • jim

    with the trigger recall, i would think that this is an out of battery KB..

  • Joe Peters

    A final judgement is impossible without examine the fired case. I was involved in the testing of UAE made ammo and there were issues of either double charges or no powder due to poor quality management. The design of the gun has some similarities with early slide ruptures on Walther P1 ( P38) Pistols in the German Armed Forces. There is not much material on the slides left after machining… I wonder if the Gun has ever been endurance tested…

    • Imran

      Don’t know if it counts as a proper endurance test but there is a video in which the Caracal shot 1100+ rounds continuously. This was done by a Pakistani guy and has the video uploaded on Youtube.

      • Joe Peters

        A proper endurance test starts at a range of 10,000 rounds+ The firearms i used to produce were tested at the German Armed Forces E-91 Meppen with 40,000 Rounds…

        • Joe Peters

          Caracal Mod. -C- recall any more questions?

    • duke

      The caracal went through allegedly the most stringent nato testing in germany available. THe Caracal passed and received a NATO code.

  • hannes

    possibly a round spiked with an explosive. it was common to decimate the insurgents in irak and astan

  • Jacob Kenworthy

    In a word, scary.

  • Gidge

    The barrel is undamaged which leads me to believe this was not an ammo related failure.

    I’m going with either poor quality metal, flawed design or manufacturing defect

  • Interesting, and very scary. Unfortunately not uncommon. Tanfoglio had a ton of slide breakages, mainly in .40S&W. But my 9mm Tanfoglio Witness, using factory standard (NOT +P) loads only, cracked almost completely in half. It would have been close to the same thing that happened to the Caracal and its owner, but thank goodness I called it a day early, only finding the through-and-through cracks while cleaning. Here is a picture of the slide before it had propagated down to the very bottom of the slide (which had occurred by the next morning).
    Side and top views shown.

  • Gidge

    The moral of the story is the cheap shit is cheap for a reason. Invest in quality firearms from reputable manufacturers.

    • Jed Henson

      MSRP on the Caracal F is $720. More than a Glock. So from a literal standpoint, can’t really call it cheap.

  • james

    Don’t buy no junk,there wont be no junk

  • Kabooms are nasty. This is my M&P45 after my father double tapped with a squib that stuck first round in chamber (He used his reloads in my brand new pistol :/) http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7172/6443539877_10c4559d72.jpg

  • Knowitall

    if it was counterfeit ammo and they accidentally double charged the powder with some fast burning powder like bullseye then that easily explains the kaboom. not rocket science.

    And did you really expect a reply saying that the companies product is at fault making them liable to a law suit?

  • Kevin

    Remember to use eye and ear protection folks, and also to make a trauma kit to go in the trunk and in the range bag. A little gauze, tape and betadine will do if you are on a budget. Quik clot, pressure bandages and tourniquets are not very expensive. But regret is.

  • Meerza

    Sig, Sig, Sig & Sig,
    For Safety, Security, Accuracy, Durability & Reliability, yes at a little one time cost.
    Salute

    • duke

      fuck sig.

  • strongarm

    Caracal has a relatively light separate breechbolt mounted within the slide through two weak
    roll pins. There are various backstop surfaces at sides and top of its recess. If, by cause of,
    a manufacturing chip or non-counterfitting contact surfaces at those various backstops, the
    breechbolt is mounted with a gap between the slide, the weak roll pins remain the sole stopper
    for recoil force and after a limited number of shots, they may be bent or broken as giving all
    motional energy of chamber blast to the slide creating a similar efect of excess head space
    resulting a brekage.
    Bent or broken roll pins with impact dents at the backstops would be the traces for such a
    happening.

  • Dillon Turner

    From what I’ve read, the recalls from Caracal were purely voluntary and seem to be primarily based upon a concern for user safety. There are many firearms manufacturers who have executed recalls over the years, this type of experience should be expected with any mass produced product and more so in early generations of mass produced products. From cars to guns to baby strollers…

    I feel compelled to also mention that unlike any other firearms company I know if, Caracal has offered full replacements and/or refunds to affected product owners. Add to that a loyalty package offering to those who choose to keep shooting Caracals, which included an extra hi-capacity magazine, swag and more importantly a 15% rebate on any new Caracal purchase.

    I have two Caracal pistols, but I have Glocks and Sigs, too. The Caracal is a top-notch pistol and it is only going to be improved as a result of this alleged incident and from customer feedback.

    While I am not happy about the wait duration for a replacement, it will be nice to get a new gun in exchange for an old one that has shot wonderfully and provided plenty of joy on the range. I’m glad Caracal cares enough to voluntarily recall pistols based on reports which may even still be pending an official investigation.

  • Caz Hunter

    Pretty typical for folks to jump on the bandwagon and claim that these pistols are “dangerous”. Like many folks have pointed out in this thread and others about the Caracal recall, it’s quite typical for any product – including firearms – to experience failures, especially at the beginning of production. Glock, HK, Baretta and even the pistols that I have trusted in my professional life for many years – Sig Sauer – have and continue to occasionally experience failures (http://www.thegunzone.com/sigp229-fracture.html). This is an unfortunate but natural part of the process of mass production in any product and I think it’s unfair for folks to assume that this indicates failure on the part of the whole brand. I’ve put a fair amount of rounds through both the Caracal F and C and absolutely love the innovative quick acquisition sighting system. Can’t wait for availability to pick up so I can get my own!

  • Caz Hunter

    Note: I imagine that any pistol might have some kind of failure if you load the magazine in backwards. =p

  • Kevin

    I own one. Have NO problems! Don’t believe the B.S. A torture test gone wrong! What do you expect?

  • cat

    where did all the dirt from the gun come from?

  • Passing Through

    Hi, I’ve been looking at the Caracal recently and found some information that might be worth noting here. There’s a recall across all C model pistols by Caracal with a refund voucher in exchange:

    http://www.caracal.ae/new/Caracal%20C%20-%20Update%20Recall%20Notice%20-Sep%2013.pdf

    They have redesigned the firearm with the most obvious part being the slide where they’ve added some material. To my knowledge, the new version has not gone to market at the time of this posting..