PSA- catching a squib load

by Miles

I don’t think there is a single shooting event/competition, civilian or military, where it is declared in the safety brief, that everyone present is a range officer and has the right to call out an unsafe act or situation, on behalf of the whole group. Often times we listen to this and nod our heads in understanding, but how many of us have actually called out an unsafe act? Whether you have or not, this is an excellent video of a range officer doing the right thing.

Concealed Nation posted this on their site, and although it is from 2012, the lessons are timeless about dealing with squib loads. A squib load is a nick name for when a round doesn’t have enough powder loaded in it to fully push the bullet the entire length of the barrel and it thus gets lodged in it, creating a situation where the next round will come piling on right on top of it, thus either severely damaging the barrel, or causing a catastrophic explosion within the firearm. The dangerous part is that sometimes the firing of the round will have enough force to work the action of the firearm, but not enough to push the bullet out of the barrel. So it may seem like a round has been fired, but really all there is, is an “audible pop”. I have personally called out a shooter that sounded like his rifle had a round stuck in the barrel, to the point of taking the whole rifle apart and looking down the barrel in order to let him continue shooting. It ended up that there wasn’t a problem to begin with, and I think my hearing protection was just on in a certain way that didn’t allow me to hear the full discharge of the shot. Now the rounds were reloaded and I know many of you will say, “Well, what do you expect!”, but bear in mind that squib loads do happen in factory ammunition as well.


Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I've made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at

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  • Skusmc Skusmc on Oct 13, 2015

    Just to reiterate what the author said, squib loads can happen in factory loads and I've seen it happen. I probably wouldn't have caught it if it didn't also FTE on me.

  • BeenThereDoneThat BeenThereDoneThat on Oct 13, 2015

    Up until about a year ago, I worked at an indoor range (primarily handguns and handgun caliber long guns) here in Texas. About the worst "squib" event that happened on our range involved involved, wait for it, wait for it, a retired Marine NCO that had ALL the answers without knowing all the questions!!! He comes in, pays up an goes out on the range, no problem as he had been there before. He comes off the line a few minutes later complaining his Taurus M85 revolver "wasn't working". I went out on the range to retrieve it and see what was wrong. First clue, cylinder wouldn't pen, second clue, a bullet was sticking out the front of the barrel. As they say, this wasn't my first rodeo, so I had a very fine hard wire that I was able to get between the cylinder and rear of the barrel. Working carefully, I was able to cut thought bullet lodged in the forcing cone area and get the cylinder open, for what that was worth!!! Five empty cases. This DOLT had actually fired all five rounds of the ammo that had been in that pistol for who knows how long along with enough oil to THANKFULLY reducing the cartridges power to the extent the went thpp, instead of KA-BOM!!! I just gave it back to him and said I was NOT going to do ANYTHING else to "fix" his revolver! Last I heard he managed to sweet talk another gunsmith into "fixing" it. (Drill/mill out the projectiles in the barrel and hand work the rest of the crap out.) I didn't want be responsible for putting that gun BACK into his stupid hands!!!