Firing Pin Damage from Non-Toxic "Green" Training Ammunition
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  1. #1
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    Firing Pin Damage from Non-Toxic "Green" Training Ammunition

    If you are using non-toxic training ammunition in your handgun, pay attention to this post.

    (Note that I use the term "firing pin" in this post, but Glock literature often (but not always) calls the part the "striker".)

    Last night at a club meeting I heard a presentation by a Glock LE sales rep. Covering a number of topics, one really caught my attention relating to the use of "green" non-toxic training ammunition.

    This ammunition in general uses a different primer composition to reduce the toxicity of smoke produced by firing, and these primers have thinner cups to make them more sensitive. Firing pins can penetrate these primers, and if that happens the very hot flash from the ruptured primer will erode the firing pin tip.

    The immediate symptom you will see is a little extra smoke from the breech face area, although it will be hard to detect. What is not too difficult to detect is the hole in the primer in the shape of the Glock firing pin, which will be black with soot. I think he said there will also be black soot around the firing pin "slot" in the breech face, which is easy to see. So, inspect your fired brass for damage to the primers.

    I have not personally experienced this problem with a handgun, so my description of the symptoms using non-toxic ammunition may be a little off in the description of the color of the soot. I described the symptoms I have seen with primer punctures on the AR15 firing "regular" hand loaded target ammunition, specifically with Winchester small rifle primers. Logically the symptoms should be the same on a pistol, but because of the different composition of these primers I can't be certain.

    More difficult to detect, but the most important symptom, is firing pin damage. The tip of the firing pin will have what appear to be tiny pinholes, which are really surface erosion. It will also be discolored with soot. If you continue to experience primer punctures, the flash from the punctures will erode the firing pin more, making it rougher, sharper, and much more likely to puncture primers.

    When this is caught early, the damage might not be significant. If you continue to puncture primers, the firing pin will become much more likely to puncture any primer as it erodes more, ultimately making the firing pin likely to puncture any primer. The firing pin can stick in one of these primers and cause a jam.

    The only cure is to replace the firing pin, which is about a $40 part (retail). The part cannot be repaired by any technique that removes metal from the tip, because doing to reduces the length of the tip and ultimately will result in a useless firing pin.

    So, if you're using non-toxic training ammunition in your handgun, watch for the symptoms, and be ready to replace the firing pin.

    The product cure for this problem is a redesigned firing pin tip, which is now appearing on the G43, the new single-stack 9mm model. This new firing pin has a tip that looks like an inverted teardrop, with a rounded tip. He did not speculate as to when the improved firing pin will appear on other models.


    Chris
    Last edited by cohland; 02-18-2016 at 01:47 PM.
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    Great info !

    Thnkx for sharing, Chris.

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    Chris is absolutely right. Glock was accused of failures by the state of CA. They reported firing pin breakage. The investigation discovered the non-toxic ammo mandated for LEO by the state was causing the failures. The last I heard on the CA issue was they still required the non-toxic for training but not for duty.

    Makes one wonder just how environmentally friendly the stuff really is if it's eating firing pins?

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    Didn't we learn that lesson back in the day when they banned Leaded gas and Freon?......the toxic stuff is always better

    Good to know though....would imagine some indoor ranges push that stuff too.

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    Late to the game. Thanks for a very interesting post, Chris. Do you think that the primer compound in commercial frangible ammo would be in the same category as these "green" cartridges?
    Question your assumptions

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    Is this because of the primer or the MIM striker? Would an older Glock with a pre-MIM sticker have the same results?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fyrtwuck View Post
    Is this because of the primer or the MIM striker? Would an older Glock with a pre-MIM sticker have the same results?
    It's the primer compound, we were told.

    Chris
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    Quote Originally Posted by NWGlocker View Post
    Late to the game. Thanks for a very interesting post, Chris. Do you think that the primer compound in commercial frangible ammo would be in the same category as these "green" cartridges?
    I have no idea, but it's worth asking the manufacturer.

    Chris
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    Thanks, this is good information to know. I would think if a firing pin/striker were to penetrate any type of primer (toxic, non-toxic, or etc.), you should expect similar damage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Medic View Post
    Thanks, this is good information to know. I would think if a firing pin/striker were to penetrate any type of primer (toxic, non-toxic, or etc.), you should expect similar damage.
    You're correct, good point. I've personally seen this with .223 reloads using Winchester primers in the AR15.

    This may be old news, but at one time the combination of the AR15 hammer force and firing pin striking the softer cup on the Winchester small rifle primers was a recipe for problems. Shooting NRA Service Rifle matches with the AR15, I had pretty regular primer punctures, with soot evident on the primer, a little extra puff of smoke from the ejection port (at least I thought so...), and very sharp etching on the primer tip. More etching made the primer tip so sharp that it would puncture any primer, so I bought firing pins in multiples for a while.

    The cure, in my case, was using CCI primers. As I said, that was some years ago, Winchester may have made a change to the primer cup material.

    Chris
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