Here is how the firing sequence works:
1. The firing pin strikes the primer
2. The powder ignites in the case
3. The burning powder increases the pressure from the hot gasses
4. The heat and pressure propel the bullet out of the barrel
Hangfire and Misfire
Hangfires happen when the firing pin has struck the primer and there is a delay before it fires. This can occur for several reasons such as faulty firing pin or spring, a defective primer or other cartridge related problem.
If this happens, and you have failed to follow safe handling practices, the results may be tragic.
It is recommended that you leave the action closed and muzzle pointed down range for a minimum of 15 seconds. (60 seconds for a muzzleloader)
If the firearm still has not fired, remove shell or cartridge from chamber
A misfire is the failure of the firearm or ammunition to properly function. Always treat a "misfire" as if the firearm is going to discharge at any second. Leave the action closed and retain your shooting position. Above all, maintain muzzle control in a safe direction at all times.
- With rifles and handguns, always double check the cartridges you intend to use to ensure they are the exact match for the data stamp on the barrel of the firearm.
- With shotguns, always double check the gauge, shotshell length, and whether or not it is a magnum load to ensure they match the data stamp on the shotgun barrel.
- When hunting, only carry ammunition for the firearm you are using. Serious accidents may occur because hunters carry improper ammunition.
- A common mistake involves putting a 20 gauge shotgun shell into a 12 gauge shotgun. The smaller gauge shell will slide through the 12 gauge chamber and part of the way down the barrel. The shooter, especially when excited by the presence of game, may insert a 12 gauge shotgun shell behind the 20 gauge.
- Accidents may also occur from 3-inch shotgun shells being fired in 2 3/4-inch chambers.
- In the case of a hangfire, maintain muzzle control at all time.