Class A malfunctions are those that result in death or major injury, and those that have adverse political
implications. Class B malfunctions are those that result in damage to major equipment that cannot be repaired at
unit level, and those that result in an ammunition suspension that significantly impacts readiness or training.
Class C malfunctions are those not included in Class A or Class B. The following terms describe three common
types of malfunctions:
A misfire is the complete or partial failure of the primer or propelling charge of a round to function.
A hangfire is an undesired delay in the functioning of a firing system. A hangfire for a rocket occurs if
the rocket propellant is ignited by the firing impulse but the rocket fails to leave the launcher within the
A dud is an explosive munition that fails to arm as intended, or fails to explode after being armed and
fired. Avoid the common tendency to refer to all malfunctions as duds.
Suspended munitions are ammunition items withdrawn from issue or use, with or without qualifications, due to a
suspected or confirmed unsafe or other defective condition. Suspensions result directly from malfunction reports,
field reports, and surveillance function testing, and may be either temporary or permanent. A temporary
suspension is an interim order prohibiting the issue or use of an item due to an unsafe or defective condition that
is unconfirmed. A permanent suspension is a permanent order prohibiting the issue or use of an item when an
investigation confirms an unsafe or defective condition.
Malfunctions may be caused by defective ammunition, defective weapons, or malpractice.
Some ammunition defects that can cause malfunctions are a wet propelling charge, a damaged rotating band, a
fixed round with a loose projectile, and improper storage of white phosphorous (WP) ammunition.
A serious defect is one which, as a result of improper design, manufacture, handling, or storage, could cause a
malfunction when ammunition is handled or fired.
Defective weapons can cause ammunition not to function as intended. A weapon is any device used to launch a
projectile, a rocket, or a guided missile. Examples are rifles, cannons, rocket launchers, and mortars. Some
defects are as follows:
A damaged or missing firing pin.
A faulty safety and arming mechanism.
Excessive rust or corrosion.
An improper recoil.
Damaged or missing parts.
Human error, also called malpractice, is any accident or incident caused by the misuse of the weapon or
ammunition on the part of the user. This is probably the most common cause of apparent ammunition
malfunctions. Some common errors are as follows:
Failing to properly maintain the ammunition or the weapon.
Failing to follow correct procedures.
Using incorrect settings or adjustments.
Using suspended, restricted, or defective items.