Shooting a Gun Underwater

This is a guest post by Andrew Bettsshooting a gun underwater

Shooting a Gun Underwater

So you’re serving ice cream poolside at your kid’s birthday party when suddenly Bigfoot crashes through your backyard fence and knocks you to the ground with a crushing hammer fist blow. He grabs you by the ankle and drags you into the pool where he begins to investigate the contents of your skull by bouncing it off the bottom of the pool. Most people would have no recourse but you carried your Glock 22 that day. Will it work? Will the wet ammunition fail to fire? Will the firing pin make a good strike on the primer?

Okay, , but the odds are pretty low. Maybe a little more likely for people who kayak, canoe, and fish, but still an unlikely occurrence. It is nevertheless interesting to know what would happen if you attempted to fire your carry gun either while it was still underwater or immediately after submersion.

In this case, the test pistol is a Glock model 22 equipped with factory spring cups. As you can see in the video, the spring cups retain the spring on the firing pin and provide a fairly tight seal against the inside of the firing pin channel, which can impede the movement of the firing pin if the channel is full of water. Maritime spring cups have grooves cut in them which are designed to facilitate the draining of water but many have suggested that the cuts can also allow a Glock pistol to be fired underwater repeatedly without the light firing pin strikes seen in the video. Others have maintained that there is no reason a Glock shouldn’t function perfectly with factory spring cups. The latter group was clearly incorrect.

In a future test, we will likely determine whether maritime spring cups make any difference, but we can see in this test that typically only one round can be fired after a pistol is submerged before the firing pin channel floods and the firing pin can no longer move freely. Of course, that means that the reverse is true as well. If a Glock pistol were submerged for a long time, it might not be capable of firing for several seconds above water unless the water was cleared by cycling the slide or attempting to fire.

In practice, this does not really change the way we deploy our pistols. As seen in the video, there is a reasonably good chance that the pistol will function reliably but if it does not, we will still apply the same immediate action drill that we would in any other failure to fire. What immediate action you apply depends on your training. There is the school that believes that “tap, rack, assess” is the best action because it will reduce almost any stoppage. There is another philosophy popularized by Magpul that believes that it is best to diagnose the stoppage and apply remedial action. Whichever school of thought you subscribe to, you should train to that standard and be ready to get your pistol back in the fight. You should also stay out of gunfights in pools.


Andrew Betts served with the Arizona National Guard for over 12 years, including a tour to Afghanistan. Visit his YouTube Channel for more great shooting information.

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