Friday, August 11, 2017

Gun Recalls Keep Rolling Out ...

First up, the continuing saga of the Sig P320:
  • "Is The P320 Unsafe? | A New Failure And We Cover What Has Happened So Far"--Patrick R. at The Firearms Blog. Patrick R. offers a roundup of articles on the P320's flaws but, perhaps, more importantly, runs his own test that showed that the firearm would fire by smacking the back of it with a plastic mallet. (Watch his video, embedded at the link). While Patrick R. doesn't accuse Sig of malfeasance, or even misfeasance, he does end his video by stating that he will no longer be using his Sig P320 as a carry weapon.
  • Nathaniel F. adds his viewpoint in his piece entitled "The SIG P320 Has Problems, and We Have Questions." He notes, for starters:
       I think SIG owes the gun world some answers. We’ve seen behavior from them over the past nine days that is not only unbecoming of a major manufacturer (such as lying to a major police department), but bizarre and inexplicable (such as saying drop safeties “legitimize mishandling”). And so, we have questions.
           SIG chose to design the P320 as a striker-fired handgun with a relatively high mass metal trigger with no trigger safety – despite the fact that this safety feature has been included on almost every striker-fired handgun since the 1970s. Why? Trigger safeties are ugly, but functional and if designed properly do not interfere with the trigger’s feel. Did SIG leave this off the firearm for aesthetic, or maybe cost reasons? Did they believe the gun would sell better with a trigger that looked more “SIG” than “Glock”? Why was such an obvious safety feature omitted from a firearm that clearly needed it?
             When the decision was made to omit this feature – and this decision was consciously made at some point, as SIG initially advertised a trigger safety as an option for the P320 – was any testing involved? Did SIG make this decision sight unseen without even determining its impact to the pistol’s safety characteristics, or – worse – did they make the decision in spite of evidence that it would reduce the gun’s safety?
        He has further questions of when did this problem show up in the Army test, resulting in the trigger redesign; when did they learn of Vincent Sheperis’ injury (the officer that filed suit against Sig after being injured after his pistol dropped); why did they lead the Dallas Police Department to believe there was no issue/problem, especially when they had already scheduled a press conference to announce the fix? 
        • Another Firearms Blog writer, Frank K., retorts: "The Sig P320 Drop Test Controversy & 'Failures' is NOT a Big Deal." His reasoning is that it passed all applicable industry and Department of Defense tests (which is questionable--else, why did they redesign the trigger), and, by implication, that it would have been unreasonable to test for what would happen if there was a blow to the rear of the slide (whereas I think that a perfectly reasonable test). He also adds: "To showcase this, they are again going above and beyond any reasonable standard by offering a full replacement and upgrade program for products that, again, passed, all objective safety standards."
              Perhaps Frank K. is correct, but it brings up another point: the Remington R51 and the reaction to its problems. Presumably, Remington had tested the crap out of that weapon; it was thoroughly vetted by various gun writers before its big reveal at Shot Show. Afterward, when it went into mass production, there was a problem caused by a stacking of tolerances causing feeding problems and issues with it firing out of battery. These problems garnered a lot of attention from prominent You-Tubers and gun bloggers. So Remington recalled the firearms and, after a couple years, introduced a redesigned firearm, that was subjected to testing by reviewers that far exceeded what I've seen them do to other handguns, in an attempt to find any flaw. And even though the Generation 2 R51 appears to have addressed all the problems, the reputation of the firearm was destroyed, and the reputation of Remington sullied (although that was not helped by the decline in quality at Marlin after they purchased that company and the suit over the Model 700 trigger).

                But it brings up a couple of points. First, Sig and every other manufacturer probably paid close attention to what happened with the R51 and Remington and vowed that it would never happen to their company. Thus, on one hand, we have Ruger quickly issuing a recall for a minor safety defect in its new Model IV .22 pistols--something that probably would never have been an issue--just to head off negative publicity. And, on the other hand, we have Sig, by all current appearances, working very hard to manage the publicity of a drop fire issue with their P320 so it would never gain the same level of as happened with the R51. So depending on the corporate culture and whether it can bear the cost of a recall, we have companies either willing to get out and ahead of the problem, or trying to minimize it.

               The second problem is bias. That is, reviewers being willing to cut a particular model or manufacturer some slack because they personally like the firearm or company, or to judge a product or a company more harshly because they don't like the firearm. 

               In related news, Ruger is reporting that a certain number of its Precision Rifles with aluminum bolt shrouds may have safety or performance issues, and is offering a free fix. See also news of this at The Truth About Guns where the author prefaces his article with this statement: "Once again proving that guns are complex mechanical devices and any firearms manufacturer can experience a design or production problem ...." 

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