All knowing Technoid,

I have a 686 O/U and also an AL 390 that I shoot on a regular basis, Skeet, 5 Stand, and Sporting Clays. The 390 was purchased when they were first introduced and the 686 I have owned for about two years. Both of the guns have served me well.

How ever about a year ago the 686 failed to fire due to a light strike on the primer. A second attempt on the same shell was successful. Last weekend my 390 had the same thing happen. When you look at the primer you can see that the firing pin made contact but only lightly.

Is this normal or should this never happen?

Thanks for your advice and all knowing comment.


Dear Wayne,

Light strikes and failures to fire happen to everyone now and then. Like having a car that doesn’t start, there can be many causes.

First of all, it could be the primer. Every now and then a primer isn’t quite right and takes a couple of whacks. Remember, that heavy dent you see on a fired primer is misleading. The firing pin usually makes a fairly modest strike on the primer, but when the primer ignites, pressure forces it back against the protruding pin. That’s how the big dent really occurs. Some primers are also “harder” than others and take a bigger hit.

Also some lots of primers are set deeper than usual in the primer cup. This will definitely produce light strikes from time to time. You can spot this easily by holding a metal straight edge across the bottom of the shell. If it is sunk in further than usual, that is the culprit. If many primers are like that, you can cut back the shoulder on the firing pin so that it sticks out a .001″ or .002″ more. Don’t over do this or you will pierce primers. Beretta pins are very strong and resistant to eroding, so this is seldom the problem.

Another cause for light strikes might be a build up of dirt and grit inside the action of the O/U and the bolt of the gas gun. Some of the areas around the firing pin are hard to clean and we often miss them.

Finally, we come to worn parts. On the gas gun, if the spring that retracts the firing pin breaks and winds in on itself, the rear of the pin sometimes will not be pushed out the back of the bolt where the hammer can strike it. This is a major cause of light strikes on Remington 1100s and is hard for the novice to detect. On the O/Us, light hammer springs are a possibility. I replace all the springs in my O/Us (except ejector hammer springs) on a regular basis.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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