Browning Hi-Power Bullet Puller

Browining fail

I am not sure what to call this type of malfunction. Yesterday, I went to the range with a co-worker. He brought along his Browning Hi-Power. On the last round, of a shooting string, this happened. He said he felt a pop and then mushy trigger. He looked at the chamber and saw the malfunction, which you can see in the picture above.

That is the bullet sitting pretty in the ejection port. Immediately below it is the empty aluminum casing. The ammo is made by Federal. I cannot wrap my brain around how this could happen. Is this a squib? But the bullet was not lodged into the barrel. There was enough back pressure to move the slide back and extract the casing and somehow the bullet hitched a ride and came back out with the empty casing.

Very strange indeed.

Here is a photo of the bullet and casing.

Browning Fail 2



Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at nicholas.c@staff.thefirearmblog.com


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  • Azril @ Alex Vostox

    Not enough powder I guess??

  • Henrik Bergdahl

    I blame black magic.

  • Goody

    You’ll never stop me from using brass!

  • Griz

    Did you use calipers to check to make sure the bullet itself was not too large to chamber? Also good thing that happened in a BHP, if it happened in one of those cheese wiz pistols it probably would have taken off his whole hand 😉

    • ostiariusalpha

      Because no one has ever had a squib with a polymer frame pistol?

      • Griz

        Lighten up Frances it was a joke, don’t you see the smiling winky thing? Damn, I carry an m&p on a daily basis.

        • ostiariusalpha

          Alright, fair enough. Just don’t quit your day job for comedy.

  • M.M.D.C.

    Two, simultaneous malfunctions: a failure to feed and an out of battery firing. What are the chances?

    Also, maybe a squib, an out of battery squib, but a squib. It’s possible to have three malfunctions at once, as unlikely as it seems, considering the hundreds of millions of rounds fired each year.

  • Major Tom

    At least it wasn’t a hang fire.

  • Noelle Wright Traywick

    Dasani sparkling hello sparkle Fuchs

    • MR

      I know, right? Oh well.

      • Hello Sparkle

        TFB, Dasani Sparkling not guns

  • ostiariusalpha

    Sounds like not only a squib, but a weak primer ignition. He’s lucky it didn’t lodge in the barrel, especially in the middle of his firing string. You always hope you don’t do the dumb thing in that situation, take notice of the warning sign, and just patiently & carefully examine the weapon. A mushy trigger can mean a lot of things, but the first thing you look for is the squib.

  • kyphe

    I am surprised Alex C has not jumped on your article for calling it Highpower not HI-power lol. In my defense it was the auto correct on my phone but i don’t think Alex believed me hehe

    • Grindstone50k

      Apparently it was High Power until a marketing change in the ’50s.

    • *gunology nazi mode*

      NEINIENIENIENIENIEN IST DER GEEPEE FUNFUNDDREISSIG IDIOTEN GRAMMATIK UNTERMENSCHEN

  • kyphe

    I believe the primer popped the round just far enough off the case that when extracting it was still attached enough to come out, but then flipped on top as the cartridge reached far enough out to want to be ejected yet the tip of the bullet was still in the chamber so it split in half.

    • hunter

      it requires more energy than that to extract. The browning high powers barrel is locked up until the slide comes rearward enough. a light squib/primer load wouldn’t do that.

      bizarre, for sure.

  • Bill

    Just a squib. I don’t see any rifling on the bullet, if it’s there it isn’t visible in the photos, so the primer didn’t even push it past the leade – take that, spellcheck. I wouldn’t read too much into it. I’m assuming that it was aluminum-cased Blazer ammunition, of which I have seen literally hundreds of thousands of rounds go downrange as training ammo. It isn’t any more reliable or less than any other in that class of bulk training ammo.

    The mushy trigger would just be indicative of the disconnector at work. Fire on.

  • Darkpr0

    If I had to guess, I’d say a squib load that lodged the bullet just slightly forward into the rifling. That case looks extremely clean on the inside, I can’t imagine it saw much powder. I’d guess that the sequence of events was:

    1)Primer fires but contains no powder? Propels bullet just slightly forward into the rifling, but no further.
    2) Rifling chews slightly into the copper jacket. Enough to stop it, but not far enough to come out of the case
    3) Residual pressure forces the slide back enough to eject, vents pressure out the ejection port
    4) Case pulling one direction, rifling pulling the other dislodges bullet from rifling and case, leaving it in the ejection port area

    This problem would definitely be exacerbated by a bullet of unusually large diameter. Pretty weird, but it’s the best guess I’ve got.

    • hunter

      pressure can’t force the slide back. the browning high power is a locking design, the only thing that can unlock it is having enough energy going forward (newtons law from the bullet and the extra ejecta of powder and hot gas) a light load like this couldn’t unlock the slide. if it had sufficient power to unlock the slide, it would have been forced much farther down the barrel.

      • Darkpr0

        Pressure is the only thing that forces the slide back on a short recoil-operated firearm. If that bullet goes forward and gets stuck, you have pressure. As we can see the pressure has vented in the picture. If the bullet couldn’t move and the pressure is gone, the case and the slide went back (first law of thermodynamics: Work = Pressure Change times the Volume Change). Clearly there wasn’t enough pressure to get the bullet out the barrel, or the case out the ejection port, surprise surprise. But there’s definitely enough power in a primer alone to pop a slide partially back, and it’s all done through the power of pressure.

  • Joshua

    Hi-power, not High Power.
    Hi-power, Grande Puissance, BHP, BAP, P-35, L9-A1, GP-35
    but not High Power.

    say Istanbul not Constantinople

    • Lance

      But that’s nobody business but the Turks……..

    • John

      It’s a Hi-Point! I love they’re guns there so cheap!

      • Grindstone50k

        But just owning one makes you a drug dealer!!

      • Joe Hathaway

        “I love they are guns at that location cheap”??

    • ostiariusalpha

      Sorry man, but they changed the name from High Power to Hi-Power in the 50’s. It was just a marketing thing.

    • Nonameever

      I prefer Constantinople over Obama’s tearful glee over the proper Islamic makeovers of Christian Cathedrals anytime

      • Grindstone50k

        Full-retard has been achieved.

  • Lance

    Using Blazer aluminum cases that’s your cause right there. Use Brass.

    • 277Volt

      How did the case being aluminum contribute to this malfunction and how would a brass case have prevented it?

      • ostiariusalpha

        Because those shifty aluminum casings will magically eat the powder right up if you’re not careful! Nom nom! Can’t trust ’em.

      • Nonameever

        Weight of round for antique semi auto firearms tends to be critical, the steel case is the lightest for proper feeding, aluminum is just crap

        • 277Volt

          Asking because I’m curious – how exactly does round weight affect feeding?

        • Pete in Alaska

          @Nonameever
          Are you suggesting that the a browning Hi-Power is an “antique” firearm? Where did that misprecived determination come from? The design may go back to the very earl successful automatic pistol designs but like its first cousin the Colt 1911 the Browning HP is still a production firearm. It can’t hardly be considered an “Antique” by any standard. I’d go with it being a Classic bruin no way an Antique.

          I’ve on occasion had operation issues with Aluminum and Steel cases. It also seems that specific platforms have easer or more difficult degrees problems where these case types are concerned. Feed ramp design, magazine lips, extractor design and receiver throat by themselves or in combination can contribute to AL or ST case issues too. In my personal expierance it seems that aluminum is weaker and may malibile than brass causing more easily out of spec cases. Aluminum also seems to have a greater tendency to drag, metal to metal, durning the ejection process possibly causing a timing issue and feed failures. Steel cases are at the other end of the spectrum. At the very least they are far less forgiving, brittle and seem to be pron to cracks and crimping. All good reasons to use brass cartridges whenever possible.
          This failure does look to be more of a “squib no powder” failure. It’s hard to tell from the pictures but it font look as if the bullet even engaged the rifling of the barrel. I’ve only seen that from personally reloaded rounds but I suppose that it might happen in a factory setting.
          An odd failure to be sure. I would have expected to see the bullet slightly wedged in the throat of the starter rifling and have to be driven out.
          Thanks for sharing!

      • Vitsaus

        Probably similar to the reasons why Glock and other major manufacturers discourage people from using aluminum cased ammunition.

    • Nicholas Chen

      It was Federal ammo. Not Blazer.

  • Sulaco

    Had a similar problem with a PPKs and CorBon ammo several years ago. Was unloading the piece, dropped the mag, pulled the slide back and out fell the powder load and casing. Bullet was still in the chamber but just enough to hold it there, had to poke it out with a stick. In this case the trigger was not pulled so the primer was not fired. Bad crimp I guess…

    • Nicholas Chen

      See, that makes sense. What doesnt make sense, is that the bullet was not lodged in the chamber or deeper in the barrel. But it was able to come back out with the casing.

      • raz-0

        It makes sense. What sulaco is describing is either out of spec ammo or an out of spec chamber. The slide going home makes the bullet hit the rifling, which grips it some, and then racking the slide acts like a bullet puller. Hence the powder charge coming out.

        What the OP’s situation was was a squib due to a piece of commercial ammo not having any powder in it. Which due to the steel case (he said federl, so I am assuming it is the federal steel match stuff) being less springy than brass, it made a poor seal, so the primer just expanded the case a bit and din’t have enough oomph to lodge it in the barrel without a good seal.

  • Nonameever

    Surprised the aluminum rounds chambered at all, they usually stovepipe

  • ghost

    It stuck in the casing. Old joke I will not try to type accurately here. It is possible it realized it was just practice and tried to run back down the tube.

  • Anonymoose

    One time I was using that Tulammo brass-cased in the round carton, and one bullet was launched just enough to exit the muzzle and fall to the range floor (almost-squib). It didn’t even cycle the slide enough to eject, and left the inside of my Star Model B totally gunked up with nasty green powder. We also had 5 hard primers in that box.

  • Hank Seiter

    I’ve handloaded 9mm and 27 other pistol and rifle calibers (yes, I have that many reloading die sets) over the last 32 years and I have never created nor seen a condition like this. I have absolutely no clue how this could have possibly happened even if the bullet was seated too far out (then it wouldn’t have fit into the magazine) and when slammed into chamber the bullet engaged the rifling and when the firing pin dropped it ignited the primer (possibly a magnum small rifle primer got mixed in with the pistol primers at the factory) in the primer pocket that had either too small of a vent hole or no vent hole at all. The force of the primer caused the slide to retract enough to pull the case from the bullet that was sorta stuck in the rifling but with enough force to dislodge the bullet to follow the case out of the chamber.

    Of course the odds of such things happening would be mind-boggling and for all practical purposes impossible … yet clearly it happened. I wonder what the boys at Federal think happened.

    BTW, my two cents regarding the claim that extremely light powder loads can “blow up” a firearm. I’ve been loading a lot of cowboy loads (.38-40, .44-40, .45 Long Colt, .45-70) lately using smokeless powder. I’ve tried to find the bulkiest powders available that will mostly fill up the cartridge space originally intended for black powder. I have to be triplely sure that I don’t accidentally double-charge a load of powder so I do several visuals of the powder level on each tray of 50 cartridges that I’m loading before I stuff a bullet into the case mouth. I believe those pooper target loads that allegedly blow up a revolver (which is usually the victim in these cases) are the result of a double-charge or possibly a triple-charge of powder in the case. It’s basic physics, there’s only so much energy in a charge of powder and the less powder of a given type is present, the less energy will result when the cartridge is fired.

  • Zebra Dun

    I had this happen on a .22 lr, the round failed to fire at all and when I hand ejected it the case and bullet popped out separate. No powder at all! Apparently no rim fire primer either.

  • J S

    Sprinkle it with Holy Water and say 3 Hail Mary’s. It could have been worse.

  • Arch

    In 1964, when I started hand loading for my Browning HiPower, I used to shoot in the morning, read and listen to Mozart, Bach and Beethoven in the afternoon. After dinner, I sampled French wine and reloaded for the next morning.

    One morning, I had the same experience. I froze and, keeping the muzzle pointed downrange, noticed a wisp of smoke at the gas port. I racked the slide and out popped a spent case, but I didn’t pull the trigger. After dropping the mag, I field stripped it and there the bullet was, lodged where the primer had pushed it, 2″ down the barrel.

    Obviously, I changed my routine. No wine before reloading. Fanatical about clean brass. Weighing every round.

  • Phil Elliott

    Recently got a bunch of ammo that was bad, due to somebody spraying their guns with WD-40. All kinds of calibers, pulled the bullets (with a conventional puller),, there were a number of Alum. cases in the batch some with badly corroded cases ie: eaten up around the bullet. Plus there were two cases from “deleted” with no primer and no flash hole.

  • MidGasFan

    I’ve seen this happen in big bore revolvers and in 1911s quite a bit. Get a bad crimp and the reciprocating slide works the bullet out of the case while in the mag and when it gets up high enough, they separate so there is no pressure to push the bullet down the tube, the powder burns and just doesn’t do anything.