Glock Leg: A Condition You Don’t Want
Dr. John Woods 05.10.16
It is a reality of life that firearms will go off accidentally. Most, if not all, of the reasons this happens are due to user errors or a fundamental disregard for basic firearm handling safety procedures. Many of these discharges result in nasty wounds and an embarrassed ego.
Years ago I was field testing a new Magnum Research Desert Eagle in .44 Magnum. I was at a rural firing range all by myself, which was good and bad. This particular pistol did not have a hammer lowering device, so to lower the hammer you had to depress the trigger slightly to release the hammer and lower it manually.
In the process of doing this my thumb slipped off the hammer, allowing it to go forward to discharge the weapon. Know this all happens in a nano-second and there is no retrieval to the action. The pistol went off and the bullet missed my foot by less than an inch. I don’t have to tell you what the result would have been had that inch not been there. I suspect my face was white as a sheet. I had to sit down to recover for a minute. It happens.
To prevent such an accident, first I should have been more diligent in getting a more firm grip on the hammer. I should have placed my off hand thumb forward of the hammer to help lower it as a cushion. I should have paid more attention to exactly where the muzzle was pointed, further away from my body. I have never made this mistake again in over 40 years.
From reports I have read recently, the current trend in negligent discharges seems to have gone on the rise with the popular advent of striker fired pistols that have no manual safety per se. To this end as well, most of these discharges happen during the process of holstering or unholstering the weapon. (I understand that the term for the resulting wound is “Glock leg.”)
The former is the most prevalent as the user thrusts his weapon down into a holster with his trigger finger still on the trigger. While this move certainly seems natural enough, it can be a dangerous mistake not to keep the trigger finger off the trigger when there is otherwise no other safety device on the weapon. Sure, the weapon fires when the trigger is pulled–by the finger. Better to pay attention to safe gun handling than go through life with a limp.