A few months ago, I decided that I needed to become more familiar with a .45 auto that was in my possession. Being a little nervous about firing it for the first time, and not wanting to look like an idiot if I couldn't figure it out (I had never actually fired a semi-auto handgun), I went out into the desert, found a nice hillside, and put up my target.
Walking back about 25 feet, I turned and pulled the action back on the gun which should've loaded a cartridge into the chamber, and I thought it did. I aimed and pulled the trigger. Nothing. I tried over and over to figure out what was happening, pulling the action back repeatedly and repeatedly trying to fire the gun. Still nothing. In frustration, I walked back to my vehicle and got in, then went and did some other things while I was out there.
The thing with the gun is that I had taken it many times on campouts just in case there was a bear rampaging through the camp. Luckily for me, there was no bear, or I would've had the nicest gun-shaped club in existence with which to fight it off.
In talking to a friend, I decided that I might take the gun to a gunsmith to find out if something was wrong with it, but instead I just put it away to wait for spring or to wait for someone who knew guns to take a look at it for me. Finally, I approached another friend of mine who I found out happened to work at the Lee Kay Center, a local gun range. He offered to take the gun with him to work and to try and fire it.
Here's what he found out. He too was unable to fire the weapon. After talking to several people there who know guns, they deduced that it was because the magazine wasn't long enough and the mechanism wasn't grabbing a cartridge out of it because of that. When I had acquired the gun from a family member, the magazine had been missing. I had taken the gun into a local gun store and asked them to match up a magazine that would work with this gun. I had bought the one they suggested. I didn't know that the particular guy wouldn't know what he was talking about.
But at least it wasn't anything I did, so if I looked stupid out in the desert, it was because someone sold me the wrong part. Now I just need to get the right one.