Sunday, May 29, 2011

Questioning the Glock and Galco Holster Accidental Safety Warning Incident (Updated)

Like many of you last week I got an email from a buddy about the potential accidental discharge of a Glock 19 in a Galco holster going off by itself.

To see the "official" report you can go here to its tactical's web page showing the incident.

Now before we start let me say this. I'm not an arm chair investigator. I do this for a living and have for over fifteen years. I work very sophisticated and often complicated cases and have done so for major corporations and private citizens alike. I go where the work takes me and where my findings take me, even if that means an unhappy client. So that being said I have no beef with ITS Tactical and while I have a good many Galco holsters this isn't a "Save Galco" campaign either. So this in no way should be construed as an "Us vs Them" situation.

So let's get started.

So the first problem.

The photos are in some cases protected from being copied (post edit: this was pointed out by one reader not to be an absolute case and he was able to copy some photos) And under normal circumstances this wouldn't raise a flag just a company protecting their product. However what does raise a red flag is since when does a company copyright another person's and in this case conveniently an anonymous individuals work ? Claiming it as someone else's but carries their corporate logo? The way a copyright works is that you can only protect your own original work. So the question is who do these photo's belong to really?

Editor-in-chief’s note: We’d like to thank the anonymous individual who came forward with 
this important information and allowed us to get it out to everyone here at ITS Tactical.

The Second problem "Anonymous' letter"

It begins with "What the hell was that?!?” she said. It took me a half a second to realize that my gun had just gone off…on my hip…in its holster. My wife and I had just finished breakfast at our favorite cafĂ© and got into the car.Me being the passenger, I rotated my torso to the left to fasten my seatbelt like I always do. When I straightened again, my Glock 19 discharged, blowing a 9mm hole through my pants, underwear, the leather seat and bottom of the car’s door frame."

Let's stop here for just a moment. Anyone who has had the unfortunate occurrence of having to discharge a handgun inside of a car or room can tell you this, no one needs to ask "what it was" because for starters your ears are ringing and buzzing. Something that goes oddly unmentioned as does that ice-pick in the ear feeling that comes from being the shooter or the closest person the gun during its moment of discharge. Nor does he mention the searing pain from coming into contact with a bullet. Our hero is able to brush all of this aside and report the damage to his car.

An inconsistent statement and an obviously unsafe one:

After ensuring I wasn’t hemorrhaging profusely and didn’t have to make a dash for the hospital, I stayed seated in the car as my wife came around to my door and opened it. I undid my belt and slid the Galco JAK202 Slide Belt Holster, with the gun still in it, off my belt. Why it went off was immediately apparent.

hmmmm he stays seated, examines a wound that is under the muzzle of a still loaded pistol that went-off by-it-self . If the gun went of because he jostled himself around in the car, he felt it was a good idea to look at the wound before making his pistol safe by unloading it?

Then there is the simple aspect of actually seeing his injury to determine how bad he was injured with his gun in the way of the wound. The area of injury would have been pretty substantially covered from his view by the pistol for him to accurately asses this. Not to mention that he was trying to look under his muzzle at the wound with the door still shut.

"I stayed seated in the car as my wife came around to my door and opened it"

Well he was nervous you say. Agreed. Who wouldn't be. But after he is able to assess the "damage" he then endangers himself by again not making his weapon safe by removing it from the very holster that endangered his life to begin with. Instead he again jostles around a loaded gun to take it off of his belt. If a pistol shot you with out your manipulation then it stands to reason that making sure the gun didn't get a second chance to kill you would be paramount.

Who taught this guy gun safety?

The Plastic car seat shrapnel problem:

So let's say for argument sake (as one reader pointed out) that he obviously did not take the pictures of the incident immediately after it happened. That he most likely went home cleaned up and calmed down and maybe even waited till the next day before going back and recreating the scene of the incident.

if you look here

you see the inside of the door jamb where there exists pieces of plastic from the seat frame immediately under the the seat's exit hole and around the entry hole into the floor board. These pieces have not moved and are in a circular fashion of the round passing through?

Pieces that would appear to weigh the same as or less as grains of rice and sand.Very light in weight. Yet they remain undisturbed by the wife opening his door as he says she does.

If we go with the idea that they went home and composed themselves this means the door has to then be shut again with a certain level of air force opposite of the door being opened. And then home where the door is opened for him to exit, most likely shut again, and then opened once more for the photo session. That is if we are doing a bare bones concept of him traveling post shooting and pre-photo session.

This also does not take into account the simple vibration of a car in idle let alone actual driving on a street, any slight jolts from pulling out of a parking lot or into a driveway.

The next is the "blowing a 9mm hole through my pants, underwear...."

as shown here .There are a couple problems here. For starters there is cloth missing from the "blast hole" and the fabric appearing to be deliberately cut in some aspects also lacks any corresponding powder burn. Nor is there any powder burn or embedded powder in the cloth or in "Anonymous'" skin. There is also a significant lack of blood on the skin and blood stain on the cloth around the wound.

Before you tear into me telling me how wrong I am keep reading. Because I conducted my own live fire test and did not get anywhere near the same results. But let's stay on course.

Anonymous continues with "The bullet nicked my hip, but the wound is nothing a bandage couldn’t cover."

Outside of Louis L'Amour novels bullets don't "nick" the don't have sharp edges in travel. Knives do. Bullets bore holes and, had the round made contact with his skin he either would have had a bullet hole or one hell of an Indian burn running the partial course of his leg. How "fortunate" he was to be barely injured where "Anonymous" could treat the wound at home as opposed to say a hospital where all gunshot wounds require a police report and investigation.

He continues with "I stayed seated in the car as my wife came around to my door and opened it. I undid my belt and slid the Galco JAK202 Slide Belt Holster, with the gun still in it, off my belt. Why it went off was immediately apparent"

For all of his "details" he seems to not mention if the slide was open or closed. Or if the spent brass stove piped or cause the pistol to malfunction ...  or if it cycled just fine.

I also find it interesting that while he was supposedly humble enough to admit that he knew of the issue but, did nothing to resolve it.


You put a loaded pistol next to your body where obviously to you could fire?

"The trusty, comfortable, leather holster I had been using for a year and two weeks had done what a baseball glove does after lots of use; It got soft. This particular holster carries the pistol outside the waistband, but inside the belt. The belt slides through slots in the outer side of the holster. The problem stemmed from the leather on the inner side of the holster getting soft. A crease formed, which eventually was large enough to extend beyond the trigger. Manipulate the gun in just the wrong manner and this crease is no different than a finger on the trigger. Boom."

The holster became soft enough where the trigger is but did not become soft and deform in a much thinner area of where the belt slides through causing those edges to curl? Where there is the most torque placed on it?

holster link photo 2

holster photo link 3.

For all of the effort gone into the photos how come "Anonymous" isn't wearing his gun? In Hollywood they call that a continuity error. Maybe that muzzle didn't line up with where the bullet went.....

There is also a small debate that the it would go without saying that "Anonymous" took the photographs of the incident well after he got home, cleaned his wound and settled down from the experience. 

So let's look at the test I conducted.

First and foremost understand I did not attempt to recreate the holster scenario. My original suspicions stemmed from the muzzle blast and that is the primary focus.

To replicate the scenario I used a very thin grey t-shirt to act as the underwear over a piece of recently cut walnut to act as hip/leg. Understand the stump was not supposed to replicate tissue or a human leg. This was not a "ballistic" test". Rather I was interested in the cloth being torn by the muzzle blast. The stump as a good size for the top portion of a leg to hold the shirt and pants up, allow me to secure the guns to a holster and belt. It merely had...wait for it...a supporting role.

Next I took an old (10+ years old) pair of knock off desert camo pants that have seen extensive washings over the years so they are not new or in like new condition.

Then I attached a 9mm Beretta 92D loaded with factory Winchester 115 grn hardball into a belt slide holster with the muzzle sufficiently exposed. Yes I realize that the gun used in the alleged incident was a Glock 19. But ultimately for the muzzle blast test the manufacturer is irrelevant with the caliber being more of a primary focus. And barrel length between a Glock 19 and a Beretta 92D is less than a half an inch.

As to ammo "Anonymous" doesn't address what he was carrying but again we are examining muzzle blast and I think you will agree even if he was carrying +P rounds he'd have been hard pressed to have such a dramatic difference.

 The following photos are of the pistol being fired in the holster, and very minimal grey powder burn, no ripping or tearing of the pants and a very small and almost unnoticeable 9mm bullet hole in the pant leg. The slide does lock back but there were also no additional rounds in the magazine.

What looks like grey dirt on the pants is in fact the muzzle blast
No ripping, tearing, or "nicking"

The 9mm hole in the pants


To be thorough I was able to secure a Glock 23 (in .40 Smith & Wesson) to further examine the alleged incident. The point to remember still is that my intent was not to focus on the holster but rather the muzzle blast. In Anonymous' claim his Glock 19 fired "...blowing a 9mm hole through my pants, underwear...."see here.

In the photos below you see where I took a leather belt and placed it between the pant and the green nylon gun belt and allowed for the black belt to be doubled as to represent the two layers of an inside the belt, belt slide holster.

After I examined yesterday's test there was an argument to possibly be made that the holster the Beretta was fired from had the gun setting "farther" from the body than the in-the-belt holster. Though I thought the distance was negligible, you just never know maybe it would make all the difference in the world. Thus leaving the next post with me apologizing profusely.

As the accompanying photos show there is little difference. There is an the photos show, a small hole in the pant from the muzzle blast, but when the pant is pulled away and the t-shirt underneath that represented the underwear is examined there is no damage. 

I also question myself as to weather there could be any difference surrounding the incident because he had possibly "carry" or HP ammo where I had used standard ball.

Ammunition in this test was factory 180 grn Winchester hollow point. If a 9mm "carry" round from a Glock 19 was able to blow a hole in Anonymous' pants and underwear then the .40 S&W should only do it better.

So here we go again.

Immediately after firing the gun jumped partially from it's "holster". It ejected the spent brass and cycled without hindrance. Unlike the Beretta test I did have more rounds in the magazine to see if the gun would cycle properly. I could have squeezed the trigger and fired another round.

So there you are. Two tests, two pistols, two slight variations on hip carry, from two stair stepped calibers. Damage from the muzzle blast shows a small range of no discernible pant damage to a very minor pucker mark.

Still doubt? Ask this.

If "Anonymous" suffered a significant muzzle blast that tore open his pants, his under wear, and his skin from exposure to the muzzle blast from the side, why then is there only a 9mm size entry hole into the car seat?

Why isn't the car seat damaged in at least in the same capacity as the pant?  Since the seat would have taken 100% of the muzzle blast from almost contact range the damage would have exceeded anything delivered from a side blast.

seat photo here

So what if the this test had created a similar result from "Anonymous'" experience would I have published those results?

Absolutely. It was never the idea to prove anyone right or wrong. I had suspicions and wanted to see if the results were anywhere similar. I'm not anti-Glock in any capacity. Nor am I anti ITS Tactical.

Is it still possible that I am just wrong on this. Yes. I've worked in the investigation field long enough to know that there is always those one-in-a-million occurrences and you never ever force conclusions to fit your (my) theory .I think there are some issued of doubt raised in my mind's eye to "Anonymous" story and in two test's the damage wasn't replicated.

But I did find a comment not related to the incident when researching around in the revamping of this post.

In carteach0's blog he reviewed the JAK slide holster.  In the comment section of his he responds to one reader with:

"Well, if Galco says it's not suited for the G-30SF, then so be it. They are the experts and I wouldn't doubt their word. I, on the other hand, carry my G-30 SF in this holster without any issues. I do take care not to snag my trigger when holstering the Glock, and I can see where that might be a problem. People take that risk upon themselves using a holster not specifically designed for the pistol."

Again my issue has never been trying to recreate the holster manipulating the trigger but, rather the extensive damage done from the muzzle blast.My intent was not to sell this test as conclusive proof, as someone accused me of. Hell if I'm wrong I'm wrong.

I do think ITS Tactical should have done some very basic independent testing to see if such an incident could pass a litmus test before they participated in a potential liability campaign.

I can also tell you that everyone who carried a Glock is going to be a hell of a lot more diligent in how they holster and I think it was a good gut check for us all to give our equipment once over.

Lastly IF this is true. If he really did damn near shoot himself in the ass then frankly he got exactly what he deserved.

"I can’t say I didn’t know the crease had been formed in the holster".


Our conversation had started with me asking “ So who shot you in the throat? ”, a basic conclusion on my part, b ecause on one sid...