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16 September, 2011

Airgun Safety. Don’t Let This Happen to You!

By Todd Halpin

"A couple weeks ago I purchased a TF58 side lever-cocking pellet rifle from I was pleased with the gun and ran several hundred rounds down range. I own 3 shot guns and two AR-15 platform rifles. The air gun was purchased to shoot with a friend of mine and I was amazed at the accuracy! I bought some Federal bulk 22lr for my S&W M&P15 22 and the air gun was more accurate at 50 yards with this round. That’s impressive in my book.

But then I had an accident while loading the air rifle. The bolt slammed shut trapping my ring, middle and index fingers in the breech. The cut was from the corner of the nail bed at an angle to the back of the finger.

I have never thought of myself as a sissy but for the first time in my life I nearly passed out after freeing my finger from the breech!

Todd took this photograph in the ER.

There are a great deal of nerve endings in your finger and the pain was astounding. I went to the emergency room and had 8 stitches put in the tip of my ring finger to reattach the tip. Several of my coworkers are hunters like myself and thought it was only a flesh wound to a finger, that is until I took the bandage off! Everyone makes “the face” when they look at it...

After cleaning up the blood on the back porch, I tried to recreate what happened in my mind. I had been pretty good about following your safety protocol up to that moment. I don’t think there was a catastrophic failure of the bear trap lock system. Rather I think I became lax in my safety practices after working to get my groups tight and depressed the release while loading and the unlocked bolt slammed shut on my fingers.

Fate was with me because without three of them in there I’m sure I would have lost the end of one. Unfortunately I did not have my elbow against the side lever like you advise in your videos on YouTube.

8 stitches. Ouch!

I’m not trying to scare anyone and the failure was just a failure. My lax safety was the reason of the injury. Your informational YouTube videos correctly demonstrate the proper safety practices for loading a side lever air rifle.

The injury is now healing and the feeling has returned to the end of my finger. I would estimate that approximately 40 % of the diameter was cut through. The doctor didn’t seem very impressed until he pulled it apart to clean and examine the wound. Then he wanted x-rays to determine if it had broken the bone!

Everyone makes “the face” when they look at it...

I look forward to shooting again with much greater respect for pellet rifles! As you know, I’m changing to a break-barrel air rifle and will be sure ALWAYS to follow the safety instructions you show on YouTube.

I’m sharing this story to help others.

Please learn from my experience and always be careful when loading an air rifle. Check out Stephen Archer’s videos on YouTube where he demonstrates how to load spring air rifles correctly and safely. You can see them here:
Let's Look at the QB57 Air Rifle
Spring Air Accuracy

Note from Stephen Archer:
It takes a real man to admit he made a mistake. And even more so to share it with others. Todd, thanks for your post. Like you, I hope that people will read this and always load their air rifles safely.


bill Friday, 16 September, 2011  

you're a good man for telling about this. i hope that i and all the others who read it will learn from it, and remember to remember

-bp (another archerairguns customer)

derrick38 Sunday, 18 September, 2011  

Todd, appreciate your candid willingness to share this with us. Hope you mend completely and quickly.

jeff,  Sunday, 18 September, 2011  

exactly why i wont even consider that type of air gun ... but im only a human and i can't be counted on to do something perfectly every single time

air rifles uk Sunday, 16 September, 2012  

Looks nasty, glad a full recovery was made. Complacency is a nightmare, roofers fall off roofs and electricians electrocute themselves, very hard to guard against it other than constant safety training.

Nick,  Tuesday, 09 July, 2013  

I have a question.
If I use my arm to block the cocking lever (as shown by Mr. Archer in his Youtube demonstration) will that completely prevent this mishap from happening? What I need confirmation with there any chance that the bolt can slam shut even if the cocking lever is held back?

Getting a QB57 very soon and feeling a little afraid for my fingers now.


Stephen Archer Friday, 19 July, 2013  

Having your arm in the way will not prevent any possible mechanical failure that's going to happen. The intention is to mitigate the effects by blocking any sudden closing of the action and thus protect your fingers.

This type of incident is possible with ANY sidelever cocking air rifle, not just the QB57.

I want as many people as possible to be aware of the issue so they can be safe.

If you have any concerns, please don't buy the QB57.

Also remember that break barrel air rifles also should have their "broken" barrel held at all times to avoid a similar possible slamming accident and damage to fingers.

About This Blog

This blog shares information, ideas and knowledge about air rifles. It compliments the information Stephen publishes on the Archer Airguns website, on YouTube and the Chinese Airgun Forum.

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