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Discussion Starter #1
Gentlemen,
I've got a buddy who's got one of those dream jobs... he's working for the FED and has opportunity to handle a wide variety of weapons on a daily basis, from a couple of M1919s to modern rifles, and mostly everything we issued in between.

He's not an armorer, and asked me about a problem they're having: broken M-14 firing pins. He's got six rifles that are currently deadlined, all of them with the same problem... they've got broken firing pin tips.

The involved rifles are all 100% USGI original M-14s, with zero aftermarket parts. They've been used recently only for blank fire (military funerals), by personnel who've been prior service military, so the idea is that operator inputs aren't contributing to this odd rash of broken pins.

I know that SA developed a chrome tipped firing pin early on, specifically to combat this issue of broken tips, and that a bit later on a full-chrome firing pin was also developed. I'm pending input from him as to which pins he's having this difficulty with, but in the meantime, I'd like to solicit some input from the group's collective wisdom:

How rare is it to have a broken firing pin, let alone six?​

I've fired literally hundreds of thousands of rounds of M-14 and M1A over the years, and have been surrounded by folks doing similarly. In all that time I've NEVER seen one. For that matter, the ONLY failure I've ever had was an extractor that blew out of a TRW M-14's TRW bolt during auto-fire one night.

Having SIX broken firing pin tips sounds almost like a cancer cluster or something. Very odd. Thanks for your help, guys.
 

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I never heard of a broken M14 firing pin in the Marine Corps. The rifles were new then and after the the M16 became standard issue, the 14's went to MCRD and PI, where they saw extreme use conditions, with much dry-firing.
 

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When I was an armorer in the Old Guard, broken firing pins from the firing party platoon were known to happen. I don't know if it has to do with all of the dry firing during practice or what, but having to replace firing pins is why I learned how to take apart the bolt on M14's.
 
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I had one USGI all chromium plated firing pin break at the tip after approximately 8,300 rounds through that particular M1A. Yes, the firing pin was unused when I began to track the number of rounds.
 

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My guess ....

Overly hard primers in the the 'blank' ammo - who is the maker?

From your description, the guns and firing pins operated without problems before, and the trouble has started only recently.

Jay Kosta
Endwell NY USA
 

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Are the gas valves on or off when firing the blanks?

Jim
 

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IMHO, a broken tip isn't common. It might be due to improper loads or headspace.
A semi-common failure is this:

It happens from dry or live firing, snap cap or no, usually after thousands of cycles. Sometimes seen in drill (ROTC or some such) rifles that otherwise show very little wear. The photo is from a Garand, but its essentially the same as an M14. It's probably worth keeping a spare (or two) around.
 

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I agree that it does seem to be linked to the blank ammo. Didn't they make a modification to the extractor so it would work with blank ammo? Could they possibly have the old unmodified extractor leading to this pin tip breakage? My money is on an issue with the blank ammo itself. All 6 firing the same ammo, and all six with the same rare issue.
 

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I agree that it does seem to be linked to the blank ammo. Didn't they make a modification to the extractor so it would work with blank ammo? Could they possibly have the old unmodified extractor leading to this pin tip breakage? My money is on an issue with the blank ammo itself. All 6 firing the same ammo, and all six with the same rare issue.
I'd have to agree with the above. Also you stated that these rifles were made for drill purposes. Is it possible that these bolt were welded over originally, and then redrilled so blank ammo could be fired? Check the dia. of the FP hole, it's possible that they were redrilled out undersize. That could cause damage to the FP tips. dozier
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Update from the POC: They're all unmolested USGI M-14's, never in any civilian custody.

Also, all six of the broken firing pins are of the full-chromium persuasion.

Interestingly, all of the other unbroken rifles are equipped with steel firing pins... only the chrome pins that supposedly fix this broken point problem are breaking.

We're pending photos.
 

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I had a steel firing pin Melonited hoping to achieve the durability of the chromed variety. The firing pin tip broke off in less than 300 rounds. What I came up with is that the same process time was applied to this tiny piece as they did to the larger pieces, thus the smallest part of the firing pin became brittle, too hard.

Just like the OP I've fired lots of rounds through different 14 type rifles and this was the only broken tip I've ever encountered. And it was my fault.
 

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Check the bolts for firing pin protrusion maybe?
 
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Fulton Armory has the USGI FP protrusion gauges for $39.00
I just got one in the mail 2 days ago. It is small, but well made. I could have checked protrusion without it using a digital caliper I imagine, but this makes it quick and easy, plus, It is a USGI gauge!

See what specs or info you can find out about the blank ammo being used. Unless the 6 rifles are all sequential serial numbered and all have the same parts they were born with "from a bad batch maybe", to me, it would have to be the ammo based on the very proven long life span of the USGI chrome pins.
One more thing, Berdan primed brass has been known to break firing pins in the mini-14 and others due to the pin not being designed to endure hitting the anvil for the primer. I have read of this issue anyway. True or not I do not know, but it makes sense to me.

Check the bolts for firing pin protrusion maybe?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Still awaiting feedback from my buddy on source of blank ammo. I'd just about be willing to bet it's gonna turn out to be USGI-production blanks, though.
 

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the only time I have ever broken a firing pin was in an M14, my first day on the firing line in boot camp... Armorer said it was because of all the "dry firing" that we did during the time prior to the range, and that too much dry firing without a "snap cap" caused the firing pins to "crystalize" and become brittle ..
 

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Bought a used M1A from a friend who did allot of dry firing without a snap cap. After firing about 100 rounds of milsurp the tip of the firing pin broke. I suspected it was from all the dry firing.
 

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Sounds to me like it's the ammo. It's the only common denominator.
Warren...
Note in post #10 the OP added:
"All six of the broken firing pins are of the full-chromium persuasion.
Interestingly, all of the other unbroken rifles are equipped with steel firing pins..."

(And...No indication that The Six 'Broken' Rifles were used more often than the others in blank-firing)

Doesn't that suggest that the chrome firing pins didn't hold up to the blank-firing as well as the steel ones?

I'm sure no expert, but...

CAVman in WYoming
 
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