Follow TV Tropes

Following

Real Life / Reliably Unreliable Guns

Go To

  • The infamous North Hollywood Shootout had one example: Two bank robbers did a job armed to the teeth with modified AKM rifles and full kevlar suits to protect them. One of them was cornered into a one on one with an officer when his assault rifle jammed due to a stovepiped cartridge. Ordinarily, this would have taken only a moment to fix, but the robber had earlier been shot in the wrist, rendering him incapable of clearing the jam note . After his attempt to clear the jam failed, he threw the assault rifle to the side and pulled out a 9mm pistol he had as a sidearm to continue shooting; when he took another round to his good hand, he picked the pistol back up, placed it to his chin, and shot himself.
  • Regarding firing while dropped, this is (in some cases) Truth in Television; many manufacturers will not certify guns as being "drop safe", and in safety guides hunters are advised not to climb while holding loaded guns or lean guns against trees in order to avert this trope. It should be noted that such events are exceedingly rare even in "unsafe" guns, from simple statistics.
      Advertisement:
    • The South African Vektor CP1 pistol was recalled in 2000. The recall states that the loaded gun can discharge if bumped or dropped. While those sold in South Africa had the defect corrected and were shipped back to their owners, Vektor's lack of any overseas infrastructure made this impossible for the roughly 2000 that had been sold in the US (intended to be the pistol's primary market), and thus they simply paid back $500 to everyone who returned the pistol (compared to the purchase price at the time of $400). As a result, the CP1 is now very rare in America.
    • As of late 2008, the Ruger LCP and SR9 were recalled for parts replacement, due to potential discharge if dropped.
    • Wartime examples of the Luger are notoriously not drop-safe, even with the safety catch engaged. Part of this is an issue of people swapping parts in Luger pistols without finely tuning them (the Luger design outright required certain parts to be hand-fitted) and the rest is a matter of bad carrying habits.
    • Advertisement:
    • Here is a news story about a Kahr P40 going off after being dropped on a hard tiled floor.
  • The Franchi SPAS-12 originally featured a lever-type safety which, as it aged, would eventually cause the weapon to fire if it was toggled while the weapon was loaded, as well as fail to prevent the gun from firing with it on. A recall order was issued to replace these with a different, more reliable safety, though most of the SPAS-12's in existence still have the original safety — and even the most recently-produced examples were produced way back in 2000. Also, as a rather minor note given the above, the SPAS-12 also requires the safety off to load shells into it.
  • The Remington Model 700 rifle has a reputation for having a highly questionable safety mechanism, which is infamous for either causing the gun to randomly fire, or for not doing anything to keep the gun from firing while it's engaged. The trigger mechanism used on the rifle from its original design to about 2007 also had gained a bit of a reputation for causing the weapon to discharge on its own, though Remington has dismissed these claims, instead blaming negligent users for not properly maintaining their weapons and pointing them directly at other people for extreme lengths of time, even pointing out that some of the claimants admitted to police that they "may have accidentally" pulled the trigger themselves. Noteworthy in regards to this is that military rifles based on the Model 700's action continue to use the original trigger mechanism, and it is also still available for custom orders, which, if there were dangerous reliability issues inherent in its design, would only be the case if Remington wanted to go out of business.
  • Advertisement:
  • The Chauchat light machine gun, at least the M1918 variant issued to the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. While the original Chauchat did indeed have some problems, most of which had to do with its open-sided magazine (inviting all sorts of outside debris onto the cartridges and into the chamber) and the fact that Gladiator, a bicycle company with no prior firearms experience, was the one handling most of the production. It did not jam after "less than 5 shots" as some pop-historians would have you believe - most instances of them doing so in the modern day are from the simple fact that the weapons are a century old at this point and simply haven't been maintained properly (to say nothing about the weapon taking deliberate abuse from its detractors, as several people literally wanted to smash it into a tree to "prove" how bad it was, while they would never do the same to the machine guns they considered the best).

    Most of the M1918 version's bad reputation is the issue of having been rechambered from the original 8mm Lebel to the American .30-06 Springfield. The M1918 was, in short, a godawful conversion that didn't take into account the significant differences in cartridge size (8x51 to 7.62x63) and shape (straight-cased Springfield versus tapered Lebel), in addition to several other mistakes (in particular screwing up the conversion from metric to English units - and never noticing this until well after the war - meaning the M1918's magazine and chamber weren't even the correct size). As a result, the majority of M1918s didn't pass factory inspection, and the few that did make it to the frontline experienced severe jamming issues and were usually discarded by US troops before they could fire off a full magazine (most automatic riflemen squadrons giving up on that and switching back to the bolt-action Springfield M1903).
  • A less famous, but no less awful example of light machine gun design was the Italian Breda 30 which saw service in World War II. Its numerous design faults teamed up to make it an extremely unreliable weapon, especially in the desert conditions of North Africa. The gun used short-recoil operation with a ludicrously short unlocking period (which most people mistake for a pure blowback mechanism), necessitating that the rounds be oiled to prevent them from being ripped apart during extraction. This didn't always work, leaving the front part of spent casings hopelessly jammed in the chamber, plus the oil attracted dirt into the working areas of the weapon, causing another type of jam. Furthermore, the gun used the same bad idea as the Chauchat with an open-sided magazine that invited even more dirt onto the oiled rounds and into the operating mechanism. On top of that, the closed-bolt design reduced air circulation and also put rounds in the chamber at risk of cooking off if fired continuously without being allowed to rest at all, which could injure or kill the gunner. Oh, and the over-engineered-and-overly-massive magazine was not meant to be detached and replaced under normal conditions, instead making use of 20 round stripper clips to reload it, which had the effect of drastically slowing the rate of fire if the gunner operated by himself. So even in perfect conditions where every round fired and extracted correctly, one would still wind up spending most of his time reloading it (unless he had an assistant gunner to help load the thing). The only good thing about the Breda 30 was the very high quality of the machining operations done to make the parts fit together, so that it didn't rip itself apart. Whenever the Breda 30 managed to function well, the opponents found out the hard way that charging an "automatic rifle team" ended with ballistic decapitation.
    • The worst thing about the Breda 30 is that it was probably not the worst automatic weapon of the Italian Army. That would be the Fiat-Revelli Modello 1914 heavy machine gun: designed before World War I, it was a "wedge-locked" short-recoil-operated design with a water-cooled barrel and unusual indexing-magazine system. The operation of the action was simple, but the Revelli action had harsh extraction problems and it also gave the gunner a risk of losing his fingers if he failed to keep them out of the bolt-track. Contrary to popular belief, there was no integral cartridge oiler until the middle of WWI (necessitating that the assistant gunner apply oil to the typewriter-style indexing magazines), but the oiler didn't make things much better. The 1935 revision of the design, while more modern with a change to a heavy 8x59 mm cartridge, an air-cooled barrel, and a proper feed-belt crafted for it, was considered even worse than the 1914 design (notably because the violent extraction of the heavier cartridge required the use of more oil) and was usually thrown out in favor of its very reliable competitor, the Breda M37.
  • The Enfield L85 (better known as the SA80) was basically Britain's way of telling the United States that when it came to the design of infantry weapons, "anything you can screw up, we can screw up bigger"; the design itself was fairly sound, albeit rather maintenance-intensive and complicated to disassemble, but had to be built to extremely fine tolerances. Unfortunately, the initial in-service version was the last project undertaken by the Royal Small Arms Factory, whose workers had recently learned they were all going to be laid off. The reader can doubtless imagine the effect this had on their workmanship, especially as each stage of development got progressively worse as time went on. A report listed 50 issues inherent to the system, including spontaneous malfunctions, firing pin breakage, safety breakages, and magazines spontaneously dropping. This is what happens when a country forces through a new assault rifle just for the hell of it. Heckler & Koch managed to (mostly) salvage the design in the upgrade to the A2 standard, though the light support weapon variation is still not seeing much use at all except as a rarely-used DMR (non-changeable barrel and bullpup action make it very difficult to fire for long periods or even use magazines suited for that; its initial role is instead being fulfilled by the L110A1, a British version of the excellent FN Minimi).
    • Some British units posted to actual or threatened war zones point-blank refused to take the SA-80, and held on to their old SLR's.
    • On a visit to Britain, Mikhail Kalashnikov was shown the SA-80 by its designers, who proudly asked him what he thought of it. The old man shook his head sadly, and explained to his British counterparts that he had designed a weapon for the Russian Army on the principles of simplicity of construction, use and maintenance. He had deliberately engineered a weapon with the fewest possible moving parts so that even the dumbest soldier could strip, reassemble and maintain it in any conditions. The stupider the soldier, the simpler the weapon: design to the lowest common denominator. He then took another disbelieving look at the SA-80 and remarked:
    Going by this, all British soldiers must evidently be geniuses.
  • Real Life military use of an unstable gun as an effective weapon: In World War II, the standard British SMG, the MkII Sten, was prone to accidental discharges when dropped; it could in fact empty its entire magazine that way, an attribute occasionally used to turn it into a field-expedient grenade substitute. Later models improved, at least to the point where you no longer took your life in your hands by merely being in the same room as one with a round chambered, but would still misfeed at the slightest provocation.
    • This is partly justified in the fact that the Sten was designed to be produced cheaply and quickly. Because Britain needed to replace all of the weapons they left behind during the evacuation of mainland Europe, quality took a backseat to quantity. Once the threat of a German invasion of Britain began to decrease, the Sten's quality slowly rose to higher levels.
    • Most sources mention the biggest issue with the Sten wasn't the mechanism, but rather the magazines (which were very similar to the magazines used by the MP40 - they were actually direct copies of those of the earlier MP38, including all of its flaws). Indeed, the MP40's magazines were prone to spring failure when fully-loaded with 32 rounds (though most soldiers got around that by only loading 28 or 30 instead), and were also extremely susceptible to dirt and malforming from abuse, thanks to their design of holding ammo in staggered columns that converged into one column when feeding into the chamber.
    • It's not only that but the first Sten was made with no safety measures, especially with the bolt in forward position (if it was in back position, the cocking handle could at least be put on a notch in the gun's body).
      • A closer example is, in fact, that so many game/film characters hold the MP40 and Sten by the magazine. In reality, that is a very good way to make them jam (which is why the Haganah and IDF, which relied on Sten guns during and in the run-up to the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, drilled it into their soldiers never to do this). The proper "foregrip" of an MP40 (which is otherwise a highly reliable SMG) is to hold the magazine well firmly with the index finger and thumb. Or between the mag well and the trigger guard. The Sten? Well, there's not really anywhere comfortable to grip (with either hand) on the MK II and Mk III versions. Unless you have the Canadian Mk II, whose wire stock/grip at least doesn't look like something a sadist would design. Wrapping leather around the barrel shroud and the grip might be a good idea, though. Holding onto the magazine was however quite common among both British and German troops during WW2 regardless of it being a bad idea, as can be seen in a variety of period photographs.
    • The Lanchester SMG was a British copy of the German MP28 SMG (an evolution of the World War I MP18), that was introduced during the aforementioned desperate rearmament period following Dunkirk. While it was a robust and well made weapon, it did have an unfortunate tendency to fire off bursts whenever the butt was given a hard knock while it was cocked and loaded. This was due to the way the blowback action was designed (open bolt with large mainspring holding the bolt under tension), not due to manufacturing errors.
    • The PIAT, a handheld spigot mortar designed in WWII to eliminate the telltale and lethal backblast from other anti-armor launchers suffered from this. Whilst the mechanism was incredibly simple and almost never jammed, it was a bastard to cock, requiring over a hundred pounds of force to do so. To help with this, in combat, only the first round needed to be cocked — subsequent firings would use the propellant to blow the firing pin backwards, cocking the weapon. In theory. However, unless the weapon was held very tightly, the pin wouldn't be pulled back, and the firer (who in this situation would have been knocked off his feet by the immense recoil) would have to re-cock it himself, which was not fun or safe even without enemies shooting at him. It should come as no surprise that it received some unprintable nicknames for its difficulty of use.
    • The Australian-designed Owen, which was supposed to replace the Sten and the US Thompson in Commonwealth forces, had a similar problem made worse: even with the safety engaged, it was still known for accidental discharge. The Aussies didn't care, though. They considered its near-immunity to jamming far more important, especially given their tendency to be fighting in muddy jungles or sandy deaserts where any reliability problems get exaggerated.
    • There is an urban legend among the German Bundeswehr that this issue is present with the IMI Uzi. The legend goes that, in Close Quarters Combat training, soldiers are advised on how to use the gun as a makeshift "roomsweeper": load a magazine into the gun, cock it, release the safety and throw the gun into a room/down some stairs/down an elevator shaft. This practice is neither found in any official training manuals nor has the gun ever been used that way. The Uzi actually has global renown for being a highly reliable, accurate, and controllable submachine gun.
  • The German MP 38 submachine gun (often incorrectly called the "Schmeisser" — it was actually an Erma product) originally was prone to accidental discharges if it was dropped or bumped on its rear end, such as when the soldier carrying it hit the butt on the ground when jumping down from the back of a truck. The bolt would "bounce" back against the recoil spring (compressing the spring), and then forward under spring pressure, chambering and firing the top round in the magazine. A "quick fix" was a leather strap that looped over the bolt handle to secure the bolt in the forward (uncocked) position. The later MP 40 version (the one that accounted for most wartime production) had a safety notch to turn the bolt handle up into to lock it in place, to prevent this from happening.
  • The Nambu Type 94 Japanese issue pistol was notorious for its exposed sear bar that could drop the hammer if the sear were deliberately mashed or carelessly slammed when the safety was off (this is a problem for any Luger pistol that's found missing its trigger sear cover plate). While Japanese NCOs had their pistols issued to them by the military, Japanese officers purchased their own guns, and quite a few did not buy native.note 
    • It was only a substitute standard pistol taken into military service due to shortages of the standard Type Taisho 14 8mm automatic pistol, which replaced the older "Papa Nambu" in the 1920s. The Type 94 was allegedly designed as an export item for commercial sale overseas; one can only assume that Nambu's superiors anticipated selling the pistols to fairly gullible customers like the South American countries (Chile had bought several Nambu heavy machine guns privately). The standard Type Taisho 14 pistol was perfectly safe (though rather underpowered compared to most other combat handguns of the war, much like the rest of Japan's arsenal at that time) — as long as you remembered not to leave the locking piece out of the mechanism after field-stripping and reassembling it (not that anyone careful enough to field-strip the pistol without losing any parts in the process could ever think that the locking block was NOT important). It would fire without the locking block, exactly once; the result would be the bolt immovably jammed in the full-recoil position (not very useful in a firefight). For cultural reasons, Japanese officers tended to charge with a sword in hand anyway.
    • The Type 14 Nambu, the official Japanese service pistol throughout the 1930s and WW2, was itself an adequate enough weapon, though wholly unremarkable. The 8x22mm Nambu round it fired was barely adequate by modern military standards (its power was comparable to the .380 ACP); otherwise it would have been a decent weapon. Oh, and the firing pin was also somewhat fragile... and instead of implementing Colonel Nambu's rather simple fix to this one, they just issued spare firing pins, with the expectation that when one broke the officer would disassemble his gun and replace the pin after the fight was over. Even worse was that the primary striker spring tended to weaken over time, which nobody could quickly replace (in contrast, the aforementioned belittled Type 94 had an unusually reliable firing hammer spring - a bit too reliable for those foolish enough to abuse their weapons on purpose). No surprise that many chose to draw their sword when their Nambu jammed.
    • Other weapons like the Type 26 revolver were just horrible in almost every way. Essentially a clone of a Smith & Wesson top-break revolver with all the good parts removed, it fired a 9mm round that had very little punch at all and was a proprietary round (it was similar to the weakest loads you can find of .38 S&W and almost exactly the same size, yet just different enough to not be interchangeable), making it difficult to supply in the field after the invasion of China. Other distinct "merits" were its horrendous double-action trigger pull (made worse by the fact that it was only double-action, so it could not be cocked manually) and an unfortunate tendency to have its barrel and chamber misaligned, causing a catastrophic misfire when doing so.
    • The Japanese had also experimented with making a copy of the American M1 Garand rechambered for Japan's own 7.7mm Arisaka cartridge, the Type 4. It would have been rechambered for Japan's own 7.7mm Arisaka cartridge. It ultimately ended production at about 250 units, none of them seeing service, and many more of them not even being assembled, due to frequent jamming - particularly, it had to be redesigned to feed from two five-round stripper clips, since while 7.7mm worked well enough with the Garand action, the en bloc clip flatly refused to correctly carry the round. Given the abysmal condition of Japanese industry in 1945, and the fact that the war ended before they had any real chance to work out the bugs in the design, this isn't surprising.
    • World War 2 era Japanese weapons tended to be horrible, with a few exceptions, most notably the Arisaka rifle. Most of their machine guns in particular were overweight, underpowered, and unreliable if the crews were not well-trained on their usage and maintenance. R. Lee Ermey test-fired a Type 92 in both Lock N'Load and Mail Call where he addresses the gun's unnecessarily heavy weight, low rate of fire, and horrible tendency to jam if any mistakes were made by the gun crew. In fact, in Lock N'Load, an improperly-loaded ammo strip caused a fragmented case to cut his knuckle, also jamming the gun in the process.
    R. Lee Ermey: Damn thing hurt me!
    • The Type 11 light machine gun had similar issues stemming from its feeding system. The weapon used a unique hopper design to feed ammo from six of the same five-round clips used by the famed Arisaka rifle. This allowed users to top off their ammo without having to remove the hopper, but it also gave it a tendency to jam with the slightest amount of dirt, an undesirable characteristic in the mud and grime of the Pacific Theater. Additionally, the side-mounted hopper required the butt-stock to be offset to the right.
    • A similar case was the original model of the Type 100 SMG, a "copy" of the Bergmann MP 18 which, in addition to balance issues caused by the side-mounted magazine, would frequently jam due to a feature where the firing pin would not operate unless a round was fully chambered (this was preferable to the possibility of an out-of-battery discharge, since it would not put the user's friends in danger). A lightened, folding-stock version for paratroopers was even worse, as the lighter weight made the weapon too fragile for general use. The updated Type 100/44 removed this feature, among other improvements, but the weapon was still also underpowered compared to the submachine guns in use by the other armies in the war, and production for all variants only amounted to 27,000 weapons at best.
  • A mildly famous incident with a marked Truth in Television of a horrific jam that literally disabled the gun occurred at IPSC Nationals several years ago. At one stage, a fired case ejected from the pistol, bounced off the edge of a quarter-inch sheet of plywood the shooter was standing next to, and as the next round fired and ejected, the first case fell into the open ejection port – backwards – and was pushed forward into the chamber, while the next round attempted to feed. The weapon was completely locked up and required significant work to be cleared, with no small amount of trepidation as there was still a live round crammed halfway into the action even with the magazine removed.
  • As it happens, this Trope is Older Than Steam: Every firearm made up until the advent of percussion ignition would often misfire in normal conditions, or fail to work at all in bad weather. And it goes the other way too: they could also accidentally fire on their own, or would only fire several seconds after pulling the trigger.
  • The Ross Rifle, a target and sporting rifle designed by Sir Charles Ross and adopted as a substitute for the Lee-Enfield by the Canadian military before WW1. The Ross was a pound lighter than the Enfield, and more accurate because it was designed to very tight tolerances. It, however, had several noticeable issues.
    • Part of the problem was the use of a straight-pull bolt mechanism: this allowed the Ross a shorter cycle time than even the mighty Enfield, but also required a complex system of cams and grooves which became ridiculously stiff with even the slightest mud contamination, and couldn't handle ammunition made to loose tolerances. Stories exist of soldiers resorting to stomping on the bolt handles of their rifles and still failing to budge them an inch.
    • It also suffered from inadequate engineering and poor manufacturing quality.
      • Bolts made from a batch of poor-quality steel would deform in normal use, a problem exacerbated by the fact that the left rear locking surface doubled as the bolt stop, getting whacked into the receiver every time the action cycled.
      • The chambers were being "pinched" out of specification by the clamp used to screw them into the receiver.
      • Worst of all, the bolt could be re-installed after field-stripping with the bolt head rotated halfway-round (180 degrees) in its sleeve from its correct position. Done this way, the bolt would not engage the camming surfaces in the bolt sleeve. It looked correct, and it would close, but it would not lock — but the rifle would still fire with an unlocked bolt, ejecting it backwards with great force. While testing has shown that the bolt wouldn't actually be ejected from the rifle, given where a shooter's eye will normally be that wouldn't have saved them from getting a large piece of metal in a very bad place at a very high speed. This was a fault in the design that was never entirely corrected (one version was altered by pinning the bolt in place, but that meant that the very dirt-sensitive rifle's bolt could not be disassembled for cleaning), and one of the major reasons the Ross had a very short tenure as the standard service rifle of the Canadian Army.
    • These issues were fixable, and would have been corrected after a proper "shake down" period where flaws are discovered and corrected in armories by trained gunsmiths — but politics prevented this. Canadian Minister of Militia and Defence Sam Hughes, a personal friend of Sir Charles Ross, overstated the rifle's capabilities, covered up its defects, and obstructed efforts to correct its problems until, finally, he was forced out of office by the public scandal and the rifle was taken out of combat service.
      • This was especially strange, because it wasn't like they hadn't done this before: The version used in WWI was the 1910 Mk III, which was a massive redesign of the original 1903 Mk I, that was created after the Royal Northwest Mounted Police (who would become the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) tested it and found 113 defects considered severe enough to warrant rejection on their own. The changes between the models were so extensive that there wasn't a single interchangeable part between the Mk III and the 1905 Mk II.
    • Needless to say, after their first engagement in 1915, Canadian soldiers usually ditched their Ross rifles for Enfields as soon as they could. Eventually, many of them ended up being used for basic marksmanship training (both in Canada and in the US), where their shortcomings weren't an issue (training obviously being a much more controlled environment than combat) and their use for that purpose freed up more battle-worthy rifles for the front lines.
    • All that said, because the Ross was designed as a target rifle rather than a military one, it was a fair bit more accurate at range than the Lee-Enfield, and so it remained a fairly popular rifle for Canadian snipers, who tended to do a better job than the average soldier at keeping their rifles clean and were a lot less likely to assemble the bolt wrong, thus negating some of the design's primary flaws... but it'd still jam at the drop of the hat even for them if the ammo was less than pristine; while the rifle continued some service well into World War II, it was almost entirely limited to branches that weren't on foreign soil and therefore likely to actually fire the weapon.
      • The original adoption of the Ross was actually somewhat justifiable: During the Second Boer War, Canada wanted to use the Lee-Enfield. Understandably, the Canadians didn't want to have to wait for their weapons to cross the Atlantic Ocean, or risk being cut off from supply if Britain was somehow blockaded, so they wanted to produce the SMLE domestically. However, the British refused to license it for production in Canada. Sir Charles Ross, the creator of the Ross Rifle, offered to personally finance the construction of a factory in Canada to produce his rifle for the Canadian military, which the Canadian government agreed to. By the time the war broke out, the British had changed their tune and were trying to get the various armies of the Empire to standardise and all use the Lee-Enfield, but Canada already had a lot of Ross rifles, and even once they wanted to replace them, the British didn't have enough to replace them all. Sam Hughes was still a liar, though, which slowed down the process of replacing them.
  • The German StG-44 is widely considered the purveyor of the assault rifle concept which dominates military infantry standard-issue today. However, due to the war going on at the time, the materials used to make the later batches were often of poor quality and production was necessarily rushed; tests done by the British around the end of the war revealed that the bolt could be immobilized by simply pinching the sides of the receiver, and that the entire gun could be rendered totally inoperable by simply propping the gun up and then pushing it over. It was deemed too heavy a rifle with too fragile a bolt and receiver to change the war by Allied Intelligence, but it was well liked within the German military, even with the shortcomings. German soldiers who had used the MP-44 versions (characterized by much BETTER overall construction) considered the later batches to be little more than cheap knock-offs.
    • Similarly, the FG 42's action was so delicate that full-auto fire could potentially break the gun apart; this was a problem for a few other weapons around that time and later, too, like a fully-automatic version of the Soviet SVT-40 rifle and the M60, mentioned below, which was based on the FG 42's action.
  • The IMI/Magnum Research Inc. Desert Eagle also has a higher than usual tendency to not cycle properly, one of many reasons why it's loathed by some gun enthusiasts. Manuals for later models include a line about how failure to cycle can be caused by the operator not holding the gun firmly enough, resulting in the whole weapon moving backwards instead of the slide. So as far as they are concerned, the problem is Shur-Fine wrists.
    • That problem is known as "limp-wristing", as noted in the opening. Any autoloading pistol, if you don't resist the recoil enough and simply let it move backwards and upwards with your hand, will jam. The reason the Desert Eagle is getting this bad reputation is because it fires big-ass rounds, and big-ass rounds means huge recoilnote , which results in the gun being harder to handle properly than your usual 9mm, causing a jam. Many Desert Eagle owners who can get a good grip and resist the recoil usually say that it's a reliable enough weapon.
      • Its magazine design can also cause issues, as it's a "free-floating" magazine; pressing upward on the magazine, either by using a(n incorrect) teacup grip or by resting the grip on a surface while shooting, can cause it to jam. This is enough of a potential problem to warrant a mention by the manufacturer. While this isn't a real problem for target shooters in a controlled environment (where it was intended to be used anyway), it's more than enough to prevent it from ever holding any sort of "duty" role.
    • It can also happen if you get wimpy rounds that don't move the Desert Eagle's heavy slide back enough. Unlike with .44 and .357 Magnum revolvers, the Desert Eagle when chambered for one of those rounds can't be used effectively with .44 or .38 Special, unless the springs are swapped out to account for the lower-pressure rounds. Otherwise you'll have to rack the slide manually for every shot, which obviously defeats the purpose of a semi-automatic.
    • Early in the Desert Eagle's life, it wasn't widely understood as being closer to an M16 in action than a normal automatic pistol or revolver. The direct gas system taps gas from behind the bullet using a port drilled into the barrel. Most revolver rounds are all lead, without a copper jacket. The soft lead would get shorn off and clog the gas port, causing a failure to cycle and being a complete pain in the ass to clean out. When using jacketed rounds, as recommended by the manufacturer, the gun works just fine.
  • The M50 and M55 Reising were submachine guns issued to the Marines during World War II as a substitute for Thompsons, which were in short supply (especially for the Marine Corps, which always had to wait until Army and Navy orders were filled before getting anything) and too bulky and heavy for constant jungle patrols. The Reising was accurate and reliable in trials — unfortunately, the trials were designed for a civilian law enforcement weapon, not a military one. While a cop would have no trouble with his gun (since he'd only be using it in his own city, and would be keeping it in storage most of the time), the complex internals of the gun would easily foul and jam in the sand, mud, and salt water of the Pacific campaign. The design of the magazine (along with poor subcontractor manufacturing quality) meant that it could also easily be slightly damaged and make the magazine useless. The folding stock of the M55 lacked any sort of locking mechanism to hold it in place, thus it would often fold in by itself when fired. It would even jam just from too-humid air, which rusted the firing pin. As if this wasn't enough, the weapon was cocked by pulling back a tab attached to the bolt... at the bottom of the handguard. In other words, a rapidly reciprocating piece of metal right by your delicate fingers. The cocking piece was inside the handguard (which had a groove cut into it for that purpose), meaning that your fingers were probably safe... unless you accidentally slipped them into the groove instead of around the side.note  But this provided the most common of the Reising's many opportunities to jam; if the groove filled with mud, the cocking lever would be blocked from moving. To make things worse, the Reising had parts that didn't properly interchange from one gun to the next, and replacement parts needed to be hand-fitted. The only reason the Marines used them at all was they were available immediately, rather than "maybe in a few months" like the Thompson. Not surprisingly, Marines would take almost anything else and dump their guns as soon as possible. Lt. Col. Merritt Edson commanded his battalion to dump all of their Reisings in a river so they could draw better guns. One NCO reportedly "decommissioned" his gun by smashing the stock over the head of a rather unruly prisoner in the brig. After the Marines' dismal experience with it in the Pacific, the remaining Reisings were either foisted off on Canada and Russia, or assigned to duty they were more suitable for: issue to stateside police, factory guards and Coast Guard patrols.
    • It should be noted that the ones Canada bought where only given to battalions that were still stationed in Canada and the guards of POW camps in Canada, in order to free up better guns for the units that would actually serve overseas and see combat. Which shows how little faith they had in the gun aside from intimidating unarmed prisoners.
  • The FAMAS F1 was designed a few years after France withdrew from NATOnote , in turn allowing France to design a new infantry weapon without being forced to comply to NATO standards. The result was one of the most mind-bogglingly weird and boneheaded assault rifles designs of the twentieth century, not helped by a laundry list of poor decisions. The downsides stem from the fact the FAMAS F1 has a higher barrel twist rate than either version of the AR-15/M16 family rifle (i.e. it's optimized for neither the original American M193 cartridge nor the NATO-standard SS109), optimized for the locally-produced steel-cased 5.56mm "F1" cartridges; as time passed and production of the rifle and ammunition ceased, the French military was left sitting on their reserves. As operations in Afghanistan and Chad showed, when a standard FAMAS F1 was fed with modern NATO-standard 5.56 NATO ammunition, the effective range would drop to an abysmal average of 50 meters (about 165 ft; a modern 9x19mm pistol can equal this, for context), effectively making the rifle useless. Because France was not anymore able to produce this proprietary ammunition locally, they had to contract a manufacturer in the Emirates, however ammo purchased from them turned out to be of low quality and poor manufacture; coupled with an awkward, proprietary 25-round magazine instead of STANAG-compliant magazines (some genius thought it would be a great idea to go with cheap magazines designed to be thrown away after being emptied once... and then later some other genius decided it would be a great idea to save money by reusing the non-reusable magazines), this effectively killed the F1 as an effective, modern-day infantry rifle. Nearly all of those problems were fixed with the more modern variants, such as the FAMAS G2, which has a STANAG magwell and a barrel with the same twist rate as an M16/AR, allowing it to shoot 5.56 NATO proper. However, the G2 was never purchased in high numbers by the French military (only the Navy has officially adopted it), citing an ever-shrinking budget, and an administration unwilling to replace the some 300,000 F1s equipping the armories. The French military finally announced in September 2016 that they would be replacing the FAMAS with the HK416 beginning in 2017.
  • As the quote goes, "You ain't a SEAL until you've eaten Italian steel." The early production run of the Beretta 92F pistols for the US Government had an issue where the slide would fly off the frame during shooting, causing injury to at least one SEAL. While several different reasons were claimed (high round counts, overpressure ammunition), it was eventually discovered that a component that was supposed to be replaced after 25,000 rounds was failing around the five thousand mark. Free replacement parts were sent out and Beretta, in the upgrade to the 92FS, redesigned the frame with a pin to prevent the slide from flying rearward in the event that the locking block fails. The 92FS has gone on to be a fairly satisfactory military and police sidearm, but the Navy SEALS still switched to the SIG P226, and the other branches and units that didn't resist switching to it in the first place kept trying to replace it with a 1911-based sidearm every couple of years before finally at least getting rid of it in 2017; in official American military surveys about troop experience and opinion regarding weapons, the M9 rated the lowest, with a significant majority of users distrusting it.
    • Another issue with the 92FS is that most US military-issue magazines for it were given a "sand-resistant" coating for combat in the Middle East - a coating which, for some reason, actually attracted more sand onto and into the magazines. Genuine Beretta-manufactured magazines do not have the coating or the issues it causes.
  • The French MAS 44, 49 and 49/56 rifles are been known to slamfire due to their free-floating firing pins getting stuck in the forward position, though only with commercial ammunition. The free-floating firing pin was never a problem with French military ammo, which has unusually hard primers even by military standards, and in military service they were famous for extreme reliability. But the 7.5x54mm ammo now produced for civilian sale has standard primers, and even a light strike can cause them to fire. Some owners solve this problem by grinding about half a millimeter off the tip of the firing pin, while others prefer to load their own ammo using the military-style hard primers that the gun was designed for.
    • The Russian SKS rifle (see the MythBusters episode above) also had a free-floating firing pin, which led to similar issues; earlier models had springs keeping the firing pin from getting stuck forward (a feature that was eliminated as a cost-cutting measure), and there are after-market kits to modify models that aren't already set up that way. This is at least a somewhat-common issue for almost every weapon to use a free-floating firing pin; even the SVD sniper rifle has been known for slam-firing when loaded with ammo using softer-than-standard primers, according to Wikipedia.
  • The Carl Gustav M/45 had an unusual safety and was prone to going off when dropped.
  • Pistol-grip forends on pump-action shotguns commonly show up as a cool looking accessory in film, television, and videogames, making a shotgun nearly resemble the old dual pistol-grip M1928 Tommy gun of 1920s gangland infamy. In real life, these grips jut out at a cumbersome angle from a critical operating part which can make cycling the weapon difficult, provide poor ergonomics for supporting the hefty forward weight of a shotgun (which carries its ammunition in a magazine tube right over the slide), and, worst of all, create a risk of twisting or bending the gun's action bars, preventing the bolt from seating in battery or damaging the weapon.
  • The Bushmaster ACR was recalled in October 2010. Bushmaster learned of a design flaw in the rifle that could cause it to fire multiple rounds with only one trigger pull.
  • The M60 machine gun, despite being heavily inspired by the brilliant MG 42, has more than a few unbelievably baffling design flaws for a standard issue weapon:
    • The bipods were all integrally attached to the quick-change barrels, meaning that gunners can't keep them on target during barrel changes. There was also no way for gunners to change the hot gun barrel without physically grabbing it with their hands, which necessitated the issuing of asbestos gloves to gun crews. If that weren't bad enough, the barrels all have non adjustable front sights, meaning that it is impossible to consistently hold zero between different barrels.
    • The barrel latch was very easily to accidentally hit, therefore making it very easily to drop the barrel while firing.
    • It was also both very easy and very possible to unknowingly reassemble the gun improperly during either maintenance, or barrel changes, by putting in the gas piston backwards. This has the effect of turning it into a single shot, straight pull, bolt action weapon.
    • Cocking the gun without any ammo in the action will damage the feed system, as will closing the top cover if the bolt is in the wrong position.
    • The sear and operating rod are easily worn down, meaning that the gun can suddenly "runaway" and continue firing even when the trigger has been released. Even worse, the safety and the trigger group are both housed within the pistol grip, which is only held on by a single pin and retaining clip. These can both be easily damaged or fall out during normal use, resulting in the whole trigger assembly falling off of the gun. Like the above, if such occurs while it's firing, it will continue to fire until it either jams or runs itself out of ammo.
    • The barrel and gas system cannot be separated, and the gas system itself cannot be adjusted, meaning that it cannot be changed for differences in ammunition or fouling.
    • Most of these issues got worse with wear, so the gun tended to perform passably if recently refit, but degrade horribly over time; this was especially an issue for the M60E3, which attempted to reduce the weight of the weapon, but succeeded at the cost of making it even less reliable. So much so that even the receivers got labelled as replaceable partsnote  - only the trunnion was considered to be long lasting. Modern variants like the M60E4/E6 and Mk. 43 have finally fixed the M60's issues for beating themselves to death, but save for the SEALs and the Coast Guard, almost every branch of the US military has abandoned it, either switching to the M240 and deciding reliability at the cost of even worse mobility than the already-cumbersome M60 is a fair trade, or looking towards the newer Mk. 48, a 7.62mm conversion of the M249 that still manages to be lighter and more reliable than modern M60 variants.
    • To make matters even worse, US Army Ordnance rushed the design into service without actually making sure the package was idiot-proof (namely, putting the gun into simulated nasty field conditions and having soldiers try to fire and fix the thing in such conditions). That some veteran machine gunners willingly tossed the M60 away in exchange for some captured Soviet PK's during their service in Vietnam says a lot.
  • The MG 42 and its post-war progeny, as mentioned above, was primarily an excellent design, but there was one poor variant - the US military briefly experimented with MG 42s converted to .30-06 Springfield late in the war, the T24 machine gun. In the same manner as one of the many issues with Chauchats converted to the cartridge above, the design team failed to account for .30-06 (7.62x63mmR) being six millimeters longer than the weapon's original 8mm Mauser cartridge (7.92x57mm) when converting them, thus failing to increase the length of the receiver for the new cartridge - when the two prototypes were test-fired, neither of them were able to fire more than a single bullet before they jammed, because they were physically incapable of ejecting the cartridges.
  • The Colt Double Eagle handgun was essentially a multi-caliber modernization of the classic M1911, but overall failed to find a market, and part of the reason very well could have been a lack of proper quality control. Gun writer Dean Speir, while discussing the rumor that writers like him received "cherry-picked" examples of guns to ensure glowing reviews, chronicled a pair of shoddily-made 10mm Auto Double Eagles he'd tested around December 1990 and January 1991 - in the first, a round exploded upon firing, showering his face in burned propellant and brass shards, due to a chamber which he described as looking "like it had been assaulted by a Dremel-wielding dope fiend three days into withdrawal"; and then he couldn't even load the second one, since it was marked on the box as 10mm Auto, had 10mm Auto stamped on the receiver, and came with a 10mm Auto magazine... but was fitted with a .45 ACP barrel, so the entire cartridge slid down the barrel and out the muzzle, cartoon-style.note 
  • Even the memetically tough AK series of rifles can suffer from this, generally due to wildly differing build quality. You see, whilst the ones coming out of foundries in the former USSR or the more advanced Eastern Bloc nations will generally be of a high-standard, because Mikhail Kalashnikov never patented it (he couldn't) hundreds have been produced in underground factories or backstreet metal shops. The soundness of the design can only do so much for abysmal build quality.
    • Also, despite the memes, AKs - even those built to high (or any sort of, as the case may be) standards - are actually rather prone to jamming while covered in mud. The AK's scheme for preventing jams when dirty is to have high tolerances - that is, spaces between parts inside the gun - so the grime has a place for moving parts to just push it out of the way and let the user worry about actually cleaning it out at a more convenient time. While this works phenomenally well against grease and burnt gunpowder, it can only be pushed so far with external dirt before it causes a jam. Some of the AK's children, such as the Israeli Galil, are sealed like more modern military rifles to prevent this.
  • Thanks to Britain's strict firearms laws, the most readily available black-market handguns are literal Shur-Fine Guns, either ancient First or Second World War souvenirs stolen from some veteran's attic, or crude Metro 2033 or Chechnyan-style derringers kludged together from starting pistols or BB guns. Actually firing one takes more balls than brains, as most such conversions will fire exactly once.
  • The bolt of a Mosin-Nagant can be disassembled for cleaning. However, since the rifles were built with looser tolerances than most, the firing pin may protrude a different length than before after reassembly. There's a screw in the back to adjust this and a hand cut notch where the screw should align to. However, if you adjust the protrusion too shallow, the round won't fire. If you adjust the protrusion too deep, the pin will pierce the primer and you may get a face full of combustion. That said, most Mosin-Nagant owners never disassemble their rifle's bolt and few actually know why that notch on the back exists.
    • The Mosin-Nagant's safety consists of pulling back on the bolt when it's closed and rotating it counter-clockwise. This is reportedly tough enough to do that few people will bother doing so, assuming they even know about it since said safety's so unintuitive that most of the rifle's users to this day aren't even aware of it.
  • The German Gewehr 41 semi-automatic rifle used what was known as a gas-trap system. One of the requirements in its design was that no gas tube was allowed to be drilled into the barrel for fear of premature wear and tear (and it was a legitimate concern back then). There was a gas trap at the muzzle end which would force some of the gas against an exterior piston, which would cycle the action like normal. The problem was that carbon buildup was greater at the muzzle, and the piston would be covered with it to the point that the gas could not overcome the friction of the carbon buildup, keeping the piston in place. The improved Gewehr 43 switched to a more conventional short-stroke gas piston system based on that of the Soviets' SVT-40, but still suffered issues - wartime shortages as the end of the war approached forced the use of cheap parts that broke easily (even in the modern day, several gunsmiths specialize in G43 parts for the purposes of keeping surplus examples firing), and constant cleaning was required thanks to an exposed extractor spring. Also, it had a rather nasty reputation of exploding if it was over-gassed.
  • Kyber Pass Copies are of varying quality depending on their maker and on what materials happened to be available.note  Copies of black powder rifles like the Martini-Henry (copied in the region for almost as long as it existed) are generally deemed safer because the ammo produces less pressure to begin with, but even the best ones are fragile enough that, when fed with commercially-available ammunition, there's a good chance they'll explode (collectors who fire them use handloaded ammo much weaker than commercial one, and even then there's a chance they'll blow up).
  • While the Soviet Union's RPG-7 Anti-Vehicle weapon is very reliable as it is mechanically an over-sized single-shot revolver, it has No OSHA Compliance courtesy of its extremely simple rocket. The rocket has a basic impact trigger and no safety, meaning that once the little plastic safety cap on the end of the rocket is removed, it will detonate if it touches anything hard enough. Insurgents in The War on Terror often remove the cap so the weapon is ready to fire at any moment, leading to many stories of insurgents tripping while carrying the weapon and blowing themselves up.
  • The Czech-made Skorpion is a rather distinctive little machine pistol and is by all accounts perfectly serviceable. Enter Armitage International, a South Carolina gun manufacturing company that decided that the original's 20 rounds of .32 ACP just wasn't enough—no, they needed to copy the design wholesale and scale it up to take 9mm instead (never mind that the original Skorpion's manufacturer, Česká zbrojovka, already did that). The end result is the Armitage International Scarab Skorpion, a titan of a machine pistol that takes modified MAC-10 magazines, meaning that it edges into being a small SMG. Where the Skorpion's toolings and functions work just fine, the Scarab is a mess. It loads poorly, feeds even worse, and manages to have almost every kind of problem one can imagine thanks to its rather primitive construction. To say that the damned thing can't even go through one magazine without having multiple issues is not an understatement. Just watch as Ian McCollum, a Rare Guns commentator, struggles to maintain his goodwill as the gun continues to give him grief.
  • Subverted by World War II torpedoes, owing to how they work. Whilst torpedo launchers (torpedo tubes) usually were very reliable, the ammunition themselves weren't. Almost all WWII torpedoes were problematic.
    • German G7e torpedoes had notorious problems with magnetic detonators. The torpedoes tended to either ignore the magnetic field of the target completely, or be too sensitive and explode prematurely. The problem was so dire the German U-boat captains preferred to use their deck guns when feasible or lay mines. Famed U-Boat Captain Günther Prien compared them to trying to shoot with a wooden rifle. A study ordered by Admiral Karl Donitz concluded that poor-quality torpedoes had cost U-boats one battleship, seven cruisers, seven destroyers, and five transports.
    • The G7a torpedo, which had a contact detonator, was slightly more reliable, but also had a tendency to malfunction when least wanted. Of the seven torpedoes fired against HMS Royal Oak, only four detonated. Moreover, it ran on the surface, and left a telltale bubble wake, leaving the U-boat prone to retaliation by the enemy.
    • The American Bliss-Leavitt Mk. XIII Aerial Torpedo, used on airplanes, was the epitome of reliably-unreliable ordnance. It has been estimated that only 1 in 12 actually worked as designed with every failure imaginable being reported, from sinking straight to the bottom upon launch to running itself in circles. It was so unreliable that pilots eventually simply refused to carry it into battle and insisted on bombs instead. The problems of the Mk. XIII wouldn't be fully resolved until 1944. As an anecdote, three Japanese sailors from the aircraft carrier Kaga were rescued at Midway riding a dud Mk. XIII - its warhead had broken on contact and sunk. The rest of the torpedo had surfaced, effectively becoming a life preserver.
    • The US' submarine-launched Mark 14 torpedo had problems similar to the German torpedoes: both the magnetic and contact detonator versions had high failure rates. The worst problem was that the torpedo tended to run too deep - it simply passed under the enemy ship. This occurred because the test torpedoes were launched from normal atmospheric conditions. But since atmospheric pressure inside a submarine varied greatly, especially after prolonged submerged activity, the pressure inside the submarine would tamper with the sensitive instrumentation, effectively recalibrating the depth sensor. The detonator mechanism was a legacy from older models, and it worked for low-speed torpedoes, but for the high-speed Mark 14 torpedo, the same impact deceleration that caused the firing ring to move was also large enough to cause the firing pin stem to bind and fail to detonate the booster. Then there's also the problem of circular runs, where the torpedo being launched and programmed to turn wouldn't stop turning, and ended up hitting the launching submarines. The surface version, the Mark 15, was fitted with collars to prevent this, but the submarine version never got this. Worse, the problem with the magnetic detonator was exacerbated by the fact that the Rear Admiral who helped develop the thing kept obstructing with the orders to deactivate its usage.
    • Double Subverted by the Japanese "Long Lance" ship-launched Type 93 Sanso Gyorai. It was basically a device Made of Explodium. It had a larger warhead than any other torpedo, longer range (almost 40 km), and it was fast (50 kn). All this was gained by using pure oxygen as propellant instead of compressed air. Whilst it was a formidable weapon, it was as dangerous to the user as to the enemy. Many Japanese warships were lost due to a hit on the torpedo tubes, detonating the ship's torpedo battery. During the Battle off Samar (in the eastern Philippines) a five-inch (127 mm) shell from escort carrier USS White Plains struck the heavy cruiser Chokai. While in most circumstances a shell of this size would not seriously damage a heavy cruiser, this shell detonated the cruiser's torpedoes, disabling her rudder and engines; she was scuttled the next day. Unfortunately, the Type 93 wasn't immune from duds either; a failure rate of 20% was estimated.
    • On the other hand, British and Italian torpedoes and their detonators usually worked, and Japanese submarine and aircraft-launched torpedoes, which used compressed air instead of pure oxygen, were fairly reliable.
  • The Remington R51 fiasco, a redesigned and modernized version of the Remington Model 51 pistol which was developed almost a century earlier. Anticipation for the gun was sky-high: it looked beautiful and was a revival of a design by legendary gunsmith John Pedersen. Early advance reviews of the R51 from gun magazines and industry experts were glowing and full of praise. However, when the gun became commercially available in February/March 2014, actual buyers and new media reviewersnote  savaged the R51. The problems included things such as a gritty and sticky slide, badly designed magazines that frequently caused rounds to not chamber right (which could lead to case ruptures, an extremely dangerous malfunction), poor trigger reset, a steel slide riding on an aluminum frame that would wear down the receiver rapidly, and a hideously complicated takedown and reassembly procedure. The last one is very significant considering that Remington had marketed the gun as something that could be easily used and handled by the elderly, handicapped, women, and in general, people with weak hands. While firing the gun is one thing, cleaning it is an exercise in frustration and it is very easy to reassemble the slide incorrectly, causing the slide to lock back after every shot, which could mean death in a real-life combat situationnote . Remington eventually recalled the gun in July 2014 and spent over two years trying to fix the problems, but the Gen 2 release in August 2016 still saw plenty of issues with it. All told, the fiasco has heavily damaged the reputation of Remington as well as the entire gun review industry.
  • The M16 assault rifle, early in its life, had this reputation as well no thanks to political meddling from the US Army Ordnance Board. The direct impingement gas system introduced carbon fouling and propellant gases into the rifle's interior by directly blowing some of the gas from firing against the bolt, which would be bad enough on its own, but was exacerbated by the fact that it was discovered almost at the last minute that the stick powder the rifle was tested with and designed for could not be mass-produced to the testing specifications, and the replacement was a form of ball powder that achieved the same ballistics as in testing but burned far dirtier. It didn't help that the original models of the rifle lacked a forward assist (rendering it totally inoperable when it jammed and requiring full disassembly to clear it) and were issued without cleaning kits and/or cleaning instructions (due to false advertisement that the rifle was "self-cleaning"note  when no weapon is or ever has been, even today; part of this was intentional sabotage from the Army Ordnance Board, who wanted to go back to the 7.62mm M14 battle rifle simply because they wanted to look better than all the competition from the private sector) and lacked chroming of the bore and chamber to save on costs (early testing models had these and were shown to still reliably function several years later). While quickly fixed (with the standardization of the Model 603 as the M16A1 by 1967, around two or three years after the first mass adoption) the rifle has yet to shake off the reputation, and even modern versions that eliminate several of the earlier design issues are still saddled with the reputation for jamming at the drop of a hat. Many army veterans bitterly note that Army Ordnance never consulted them about how the M16 and/or its successors should have been designed and never tested the weapons in field conditions simulating those of the active front-line. It is worth noting that by the end of the war, the Vietcong had learned to dread the sound of what they called "The Black Rifle" and knew that when they were heard, major trouble was nearby. This could probably, however, be attributed to the elite forces who tended to wield said rifle rather than the rifle itself.
  • American-made versions of the British Hispano .404 were unreliable, due to the use of a longer chamber (a flaw that was never corrected)note , which was the reason most American warplanes were equipped with the .50 caliber Browning instead. One of its descendants, the Colt Mk 12 autocannon, had a tendency to jam during hard maneuvers. Seeing as how dogfighting involves hard maneuvers, this was obviously bad for the plane and pilot.
  • Guns on aircraft came back into use after, based on experience with the F-8 Crusader (which used the Mk 12 above and was nicknamed "The Last of the Gunfighters" for being the last US plane to have guns as its primary weapon), the Air Force tried to make later aircraft like the F-4 Phantom II use only missiles. The missile of choice, the heat-seeking AIM-9 Sidewinder, ended up being an incredibly finicky and temperamental weapon, which would often fail to launch entirely, would launch but fail to actually track the target in question, or would switch from tracking the heat of the target's jet exhaust to either tracking the heat from the jungle canopy below and hit the ground or the heat of the sun and make an ill-fated attempt to leave the Earth entirely, leaving plane and pilot totally at the mercy of Vietnamese MiGs, which still had cannons. Other missiles available at the time were even worse: the AIM-4 Falcon had a field of view wide enough that it often couldn't actually maneuver to hit the locked target, no proximity fuse (requiring direct hits to detonate, rather than the Sidewinder being able to blow up when it was close enough that it would still damage the target), and a smaller nitrogen bottle to cool the seeker (giving it a much shorter useful time window). The AIM-7 Sparrow fixed issues with heat-seekers by being radar-guided, but lead to its own slew of problems: the pilot had to look down into the cockpit (thus away from his surroundings) to aim the missile properly, he had to keep his plane pointed towards the target for the radar to continue tracking the target, and its significantly longer range was wasted at extremes because it was impossible, in the days before IFF systems, to determine if a target beyond visual range was actually the enemy. The Sparrow lives on, but only in naval use as the surface-to-air RIM-7 Sea Sparrow; for airborne usage it was replaced by the AIM-120 AMRAAM (which utilizes its own internal radar to guide it, rather than relying on the aircraft's radar), while the Falcon was abandoned entirely in favor of the Sidewinder, which saw multiple revisions and upgrades to make it more than serviceable, and is now essentially the standard short-range heat-seeking air-to-air missile (with not only most Western air forces using it, but even various Eastern ones using a Soviet copy, the K-13 or AA-2 Atoll, as well).
  • Any guns made by the infamous "Ring of Fire" manufacturers. Named such because it consisted of around a dozen companies based in a rough "ring" radius around Los Angeles County, these guns are the absolute bottom of the barrel when it comes to factory-made guns. Names such as Raven, Lorcin, Bryco, and Jennings have been immortalized in the firearms community for just how bad they were. Most of these companies have gone out of business by now, but three of them still live on: Phoenix Arms, Cobra Firearms, and Jimenez Arms. All three of them produce cheap pocket pistols that typically sell for around $100-150.
  • The Heckler & Koch G36 assault rifle, which is the standard rifle of the German Bundeswehr and is used by military and police forces in more than 40 other countries, is to be phased out of Bundeswehr service by 2019, and will probably be phased out elsewhere, due to accuracy dropping significantly under sustained firing. The culprit in this case is under-engineering to save weight, which left a too thin free-floating barrel that droops when hot, supported by polymers without any sort of insulation that soften when hot, which together can cause rounds to drop off target as much as 50 centimeters at a distance of 200 meters or 6 meters at 500 meters. This is a significant black eye for H&K, which had been long considered a highly reputable manufacturer that supplies arms in particular to top-tier special operations forces around the world. As of 2016, H&K is litigating the matter in court to lay the blame with the German government. Ironically, the likeliest candidate to replace the G36 in many roles is the HK416, Heckler & Koch's piston-driven version of the M16, a weapon design that is now nearly 60 years old.
  • The SIG Sauer P320. Originally released in 2014, the pistol largely flew under the radar of most gun buyers, until it was a finalist in the U.S. military's Modular Handgun System trials to find a replacement for the aging Beretta M9. On January 19, 2017, the P320 was announced as the winner of the MHS competition, and the U.S. Army would move to adopt it as its new duty handgun later that year. Interest in the P320 spiked after this, and its newfound fame led to pistoleros all across America buying it up. Then, six months later in July 2017, rumors started circulating that a certain police department was planning to suspend use of the pistol due to it not being drop-safe (i.e. the gun isn't safe to drop because it may fire). A week later on August 2, 2017, these rumors were confirmed when the Dallas Police Department did precisely that. Less than 48 hours later, SIG issued a statement claiming the pistols were safe, concluding with the sentence, "There have been zero (0) reported drop-related P320 incidents in the U.S. commercial market, with hundreds of thousands of guns delivered to date." The follow-up to that statement can be described as a very good example on why Tempting Fate is never a good idea:
    • A few days later on August 7, 2017, a lawsuit suddenly surfaced that had been filed on August 4 by a Stamford, Connecticut Special Response Team officer who claimed he had been seriously injured when his P320 had shot him in the leg after it dropped while the gun was still in its holster. The same day this was revealed, the firearms retailer Omaha Outdoors released a video proving the gun was not drop-safe and announced they were suspending all sales of the P320. The cause was tentatively determined to be because the P320's trigger is heavier than what a trigger on a polymer-framed gun would normally be, and because of this, when dropped at an angle that allows the slide to hit the ground, the trigger will move just far enough back to discharge a shot. The one P320 variant that did not fire at all when dropped was the P320 X-Five, a version of the firearm that has a lighter trigger. note  In response, SIG issued a press release claiming they would offer a to-be-determined "voluntary upgrade" of all P320 pistols, which later turned out to be a free modification to the trigger to make it lighter. It didn't stop a whole slew of videos uploaded to Youtube of other P320 owners testing to see if their guns were drop-safe... and more often than not, they weren't. One video shows the P320 firing even when dropped right-side up.
    • Another major aspect of the whole scandal is that the officer filing the lawsuit claimed his incident occurred on January 5, 2017, two weeks before the gun was selected as the winner of the MHS trials... meaning that, at most generous, the pistol had passed the U.S. military's tests without this flaw being discovered. A number of explanations have arisen, such as that the P320 being tested is a special model that comes with a manual safety, or that the government's drop-safe testing only requires a gun to drop on its muzzle and the sides (not the rear). But the most contentious explanation is that the P320 may have cheated its way through the trials. As a matter of fact, the other finalist in the MHS competition, Glock, had already attempted to file a complaint (which was later denied) against the U.S. Army for how the trials were conducted, insinuating that the trials as designed had implicitly and unfairly favored SIG all along. With these drop-safe revelations now occurring, Glock may have a point. Ironically, some of SIG's marketing for the P320 has focused on its supposed safety advantage based on the fact that the pistol can be disassembled without dry-firing, which in particular distinguishes it from the ubiquitous Glock.
    • Yet another explanation may be that the MHS trials were rushed and improperly conducted (more details here). Some have noted that the announcement of the P320 being the winner was done on a significant date, January 19, which was 24 hours before Donald Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States. Theories have been put forth that Army bureaucrats feared that Trump would order a review and even a redo of the already over-budget and behind-schedule MHS process (and considering how hard he had been on other infamously expensive weapons systems, he very well may have), and rushed the approval process simply to avoid his scrutiny.
    • On top of all this, SIG was already being sued by Steyr for alleged patent infringement over the P320. It's probably safe to say that the P320, which initially was set for a bright future, may end up with a reputation as controversial as the M9, the very gun it was meant to replace.
    • A follow-up report done by CNN in June 2018 shed more light on the issue, identified more accidental discharges than previously known, and revealed that the military had discovered the problem in its drop testing. The military's pistols were fixed using the same modification that SIG later offered to the public... which explains why SIG had a fix for the problem ready to go suspiciously fast.
  • SIG is starting to develop a worrisome reputation for this, or at least its Exeter, New Hampshire plant is. Its 2018 follow-up to the P320, the eagerly-anticipated P365 that is SIG's entry to the very popular 9mm micro-compact market (where it competes with guns like the Smith & Wesson Shield and Glock 43), has been reported to have various issues including returning to battery, barrels warping, and broken firing pins after less than a month on the market. SIG is fixing guns under warranty as customers report problems, and supposedly has been retooling production to correct these issues, but it hasn't stopped them from being accused of letting their customers do "beta testing" on unfinished products. Some of these issues may be due to the P320 and P365 representing a significant shift in design philosophy for SIG, from its traditional steel-framed, hammer-fired guns to polymer-framed, striker-fired guns (that are $300-$500 cheaper). But given the company's heavy presence in the law enforcement and (now) military markets, quality control issues are an ominous development.
  • The USFA ZiP Gun is a unique polymer .22 LR pistol with a lot of issues caused by its uniqueness. It is made largely out of polymer parts (even the bolt is plastic) and is compact to the extreme. There are no grips, no slides, and no external bolt parts. To cock the weapon, two external charging rods placed on top of the muzzle, one of which charges the weapon when pressed (this should raise some alarms for any people with basic firearm safety knowledge). The result of this compact design is that the gun has malfunctions constantly, even under ideal conditions. It has consistent issues with ejection, in some cases resulting in the casing being stuck sideways. It has issues with using 25-round .22 LR magazines because they feed too slowly thus causing feed failures. It has problems with some powerful cartridges, in the worst case causing every fourth shot to jam and cracking the gun after 26 shots. The trigger force needed is too heavy, the ergonomics are ridiculous, and its small size meant that, unless you fire it left-handed, escaping hot gases rush right into the shooter's hand and can cause injuries. Finally, how do you clear jams with this gun? You reach over the muzzle (remember that safety thing mentioned earlier?) and press the other charging rod which resets the striker. To top it all off, sometimes it doesn't work and only works when it is pushed to the point where the next round in the magazine is stripped, causing a double feed. It is so unreliable that almost all users reported that it can barely get through one 10-round magazine without jamming, with cases where all 10 rounds are fired without jamming being an anomaly instead of the norm. In one particularly egregious example of this, Ian McCollum took one down the range to get some shots off and showed that even at its most consistent, it still jammed on him after the first shot. You can see him tear into its shoddy design here.
  • The WWII era Soviet Kirov-class cruiser's 180mm guns had a reputation for exceptionally poor accuracy, to the point it was said you were safest if you were in one of the ships a Kirov was attempting to shoot. While the B-1-P Pattern 1932 cannons were perfectly fine in and of themselves, the turrets they were mounted in were far too small to fit three guns in them. The result was that the guns were so close together that their muzzle blast blew each others' shells off course. It didn't help that the turret design also gave Kirovs an abysmally slow reload speed for a cruiser. Also, they were built in two different variations, one each with deep and shallow rifling, which required entirely different ammo - and even worse, the shallow-rifled versions had much worse life expectancies, requiring total replacement after at most seventy shells, versus the average of 320 the deep-rifled variants could handle.
  • The ČZ vz. 38 hits a solid two-fer of mediocrity by having a poor overall operating history and the firearms equivalent of a face for radio. Its flaws were primarily related to its choice of round — .380 ACP, itself a breathtakingly mediocre cartridge — and simply being poorly designed around such a stubby cartridge. Its trigger pull is abominably heavy, made worse by the fact that it is double action only, with no external hammer for single-action operation. The end result is a gun that is difficult to fire in the first place, needlessly heavy and bulky, tends to fire in only the approximate direction of the intended target when you finally pull the trigger, and has no manual safety and thus no guarantee that a sharp blow of some kind wouldn't drop the internal hammer. 10,000 were made for a military contract that never materialized, and it is a safe bet that the police and security departments who bought the gun were only too happy to be rid of it once something better inevitably showed up.
  • The worst shotgun in the entire world is probably the Cobray Terminator, a terrifying-looking single-shot slam-fire abomination that aesthetically mimics a submachine gun. Ian McCollum tried it out at the range and concluded that the design was the absolute worst for any modern firearm.
    • The barrel is the only important working component, as it slides backwards to smash a chambered shotgun shell into the breech's stationary firing pin. As the shell fires, the barrel's locking tab springs to lock the barrel to the receiver (if you can even call it that) so that the barrel won't bounce. Opening the action requires depression of the locking tab and shoving the barrel handle forward. Good luck getting the thing to fire half the time!
    • Overall, one wonders if Cobray had been seeking to test whether or not the BATF was unfairly targeting guns made by Cobray, and evidently many anti-gun people began screaming about a "scary looking shotgun that could turn into a machine gun." They didn't even bother checking to see if it could shoot at all.
Top

Example of:

/
/

Feedback