It was 12 years ago this coming Sunday.
Today I packed up all the little mementos from my flight of fancy to Arabia. You know, all my boarding passes, hotel receipt, the menu from The Grind, my Arabian cell phone, a bag from the al Manera supermarket. You know all the little things that document my trip. I also added to this bag a printed copy of the trilogy in four acts I call, “My Adventures in Arabia”. There are a bunch of other things in this bag but you get the idea.
While taking it up to the attic to pack it away in my footlocker I remembered something that has lived in my footlocker for many many years. This thought coupled with the comments I received on my post “My New Cell Phone” I decided to bring this thing out, photograph it and write this post.
It was January 20th, 1996 and I had been out at the pistol range that afternoon working up a load for my Makarov IJ-70 chambered in 9X18 MAK. I had some Sierra 95grain hollow point bullets, some brand new Starline brass and I was trying to develop a load with either AA#2 or AA#5. If I remember correctly I ended up using AA#2 with a 3 yard cronographed velocity of 1060fps. I was trying to duplicate the Chinese military load and without going downstairs and digging up my old load data book I’m fairly sure those numbers are correct.
I came home from the range that day and just dropped my range bag on the floor in my living room. I went about my business. I spent my time making dinner and watching TV and whatever else I felt compelled to do on that particular Sunday evening. As it started getting late I thought maybe I should clean my pistol before I put it away. This I did. I broke out my whole cleaning kit. The bottle mixed half and half with Hoppes #9 and Kroil as well as the FP-10 oil and all the little gizmos and gadgets used in cleaning a firearm. I sat on the floor in my living room with newspaper spread out in front of me just scrubbing and cleaning away. As my cleaning went on I decided to do a thorough and deep cleaning of this pistol, so I disassembled the entire slide, safety, firing pin, everything. I worked a good three hours on this task. It was shiny and gleaming when I got finished. I had put just the right amount of oil on all the metal surfaces that come in contact with other metal surfaces. The main spring was oiled and wiped down and re-oiled. The slide was oiled wiped clean and re-re-oiled again. Many many cotton patches and Q-tips gave up their lives in this pursuit. I even broke down all my magazines and cleaned and oiled them also.
So I reassembled it and it was functioning as smoothly as it ever did. There wasn’t a speck of dirt or carbon residue on it or in it…anywhere.
With the gun all put back together and functioning perfectly I reload a magazine and insert it into the pistol. I racked the slide thus chambering a round. I removed the magazine and topped it up with one more. You see this way I have nine shots rather than eight.
I turn the pistol over to its left side to engage the safety.
Is ‘Safety On’ up or is ‘Safety On’ down? Hmmmm?
All of a sudden I can’t remember which position is ‘Safe’. Is it up or down? Now wait a second! Some European guns are backwards from American guns. Some decocking levers are backwards to others. Hmmmmmm?
Well it’s a Russian copy of a German gun so it must be backwards. I snapped the safety switch DOWN and while sitting on my couch at 12:20am
Need I go on?
I quite decisively killed my leather bound edition of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. It is a compilation of all five books in one cover. It was given to me as a gift. The 95 grain Sierra hollow point traveling at 722.72 MPH or 1060FPS or 1163.12 KPH entered the book in the spine and exited the top through the pages. It continued into my bookcase where it still lives to this day. The top of my bookcase was slightly split and bulged up. I took a hammer and pounded it back flat.
Once I got over my embarrassment and admitted what I had done to some friends, my bud Mike thought it was so funny he went and bought me another copy of the book. He made me promise I wouldn’t kill this one.
So this dead book was laid to rest in my footlocker and has been there ever since. Now that I photographed it and written this I’ll return it to its grave. I keep it as a reminder to myself not to be a bonehead.
So there you have it. A true story illustrating that there is no such thing as an accidental shooting but instead there are lapses in good judgment. It wasn’t the gun that killed my book but it was me that did it.
It was 12 years ago this coming Sunday.