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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've found a lot of stuff while camping; tent pegs, flashlights, and once I found a full bottle of flavored vodka hidden in a bush, but this past weekend I found something unusual out on the Colorado plains - a mud-encrusted, but fully loaded, Kel-Tec PF-9 semi-automatic pistol. I'd originally thought that it was a toy, but it was obviously very real and just as dangerous as a malfunctioning 9mm can be.

It had been sitting outside for a long time and I considered taking it back to my camp, cleaning it up, and trying to unload it but, the more I thought about it, the more dangerous it seemed to either handle or disassemble this weapon - I could easily imagine the thing blowing up in my hand or in my pack, and I remembered a very stern warning about never handling unexploded ordnance. I also realized that this is exactly the way your average David Lynch or Coen Brothers movie starts, so after a few minutes I carefully put it back on the ground where I'd found it...

I figure that I'll call the local ranger and give him the approximate location where I'd found it - they can find it and safely destroy it if they want to do that, but I'm open for suggestions if anyone has any other ideas.
 

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I've found a lot of stuff while camping; tent pegs, flashlights, and once I found a full bottle of flavored vodka hidden in a bush, but this past weekend I found something unusual out on the Colorado plains - a mud-encrusted, but fully loaded, Kel-Tec PF-9 semi-automatic pistol. I'd originally thought that it was a toy, but it was obviously very real and just as dangerous as a malfunctioning 9mm can be.

It had been sitting outside for a long time and I considered taking it back to my camp, cleaning it up, and trying to unload it but, the more I thought about it, the more dangerous it seemed to either handle or disassemble this weapon - I could easily imagine the thing blowing up in my hand or in my pack, and I remembered a very stern warning about never handling unexploded ordnance. I also realized that this is exactly the way your average David Lynch or Coen Brothers movie starts, so after a few minutes I carefully put it back on the ground where I'd found it...

I figure that I'll call the local ranger and give him the approximate location where I'd found it - they can find it and safely destroy it if they want to do that, but I'm open for suggestions if anyone has any other ideas.
I understand your concerns, if you can’t get ahold of the ranger, call law enforcement and be sure someone in law takes it before a child or inexperienced person does.

Since you know the pistol make, if you aren’t sure how to drop the mag and rack the slide back to unload it, look it up. Bullets are relatively safe when they don’t have a firing pin behind them. If you feel unsafe with them regardless bring a hard plastic container to place them in.

it would be good to field strip the weapon as well. Look up your local states laws but in most states as long as it is in your car or home, you don’t need a permit. Bring it to law enforcement but leave it in your car, explain the situation and have an officer come out. Or call the non-emergency line and ask what is best to do. Just be sure you or law enforcement secured the weapon before someone else does.

Always note! Trigger and muzzle discipline!

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Wow - thanks for the great feedback and the information! I'd noted the make & model of this pistol for this very reason, and I'll take a look at the video you'd sent. Unloading it and field stripping it was my thought also, but the mud/rust kept the action from working and, being unfamiliar with this pistol, I didn't want to play around too much - trigger and muzzle discipline was all I was going on at the time. (good reminder!)

Thanks again and we're on the same page with this, thinking that it should be removed before an accidental discharge (or worse).
 

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Were there any bones around it anywhere? Was it fully loaded or missing a cartridge or two? I'd call the cops or rangers and take them to where you found it.

I was following a Harley once and the guy dropped his on the road. He turned around and picked it up. If you're going to carry one, retention holsters are worth the investment.
 

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I'm with Thumper23 & Toney, notify law enforcement an make note of where you found it, an photograph the location.
But you said that it was fully loaded, so you picked it up and discovered that somehow. (I certainly would have, and probably field stripped it)
Couple of things I noticed about what you wrote.
1. Kel-Tec PF-9, Make & Model. Excellent info, compact 9MM concealed carry unit.
2. "mud-encrusted", again excellent description. Probably dropped in bad weather.
3. You were "camping" so I assume you were hiking around.

Thanks for the great description, it gives a lot to go on.
AND ONLY--- IF YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH FIREARMS----
"IF" it was to ever happen again, always practice safe firearm handling. "Never cover anything with the muzzle that you are not willing to destroy", in other words, watch where that barrel is pointed and drop the magazine out of it if you can, then see if you could clear the chamber. The mud thing is the biggest concern, if the barrel is obstructed, that's when catastrophic damage occurs.
8 Catastrophic Failures: When Good Guns Go Bad
Growing up around guns all of my life and having a few around here, I would have cleared it, and taken it to law enforcement so someone else didn't find it like a child, or teenager. If it's cleared (even if it's not) wrap it up in a cloth and point the barrel away from you during transport. Leave it on the bike or in the car, and approach a Ranger or Officer and explain the find, and your desire to turn it in... and you have it in your vehicle! NOT ON YOUR PERSON now a days. they will instruct you on what to do, most likely they will go retrieve it. (I'm retired fire service, and have seen it happen both ways at the station next door)

Most likely scenarios are;
Lost while hiking or walking in the rain. Discarded by family member to get rid of it. Discarded for reasons most likely illegal. Or it was a crime scene. We all read/watch too much drama and think it's the worst case first. Reality is some poor guy dropped it while making his way back to the car in the rain and it slipped out of his pack or poor fitting holster. And he's trying to come up with a story to tell his wife how he lost his $600 pistol. If he filed a lost gun report, it will make it's way back to him. If not, you might get a Kel-Tec to clean up.

(and for the record--- I'll never own a Kel-Tec product:censored:)

Happy riding!
 

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...............(and for the record--- I'll never own a Kel-Tec product:censored:)..........
They do seem to like to "stove pipe" even if you don't store them in a mud hole. I wouldn't want to depend on one even if it were new. If after some investigation, the cops gave it to me, I'd refuse it. Best to melt it for scrap.
 

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I'm with Thumper23 & Toney, notify law enforcement an make note of where you found it, an photograph the location.
But you said that it was fully loaded, so you picked it up and discovered that somehow. (I certainly would have, and probably field stripped it)
Couple of things I noticed about what you wrote.
1. Kel-Tec PF-9, Make & Model. Excellent info, compact 9MM concealed carry unit.
2. "mud-encrusted", again excellent description. Probably dropped in bad weather.
3. You were "camping" so I assume you were hiking around.

Thanks for the great description, it gives a lot to go on.
AND ONLY--- IF YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH FIREARMS----
"IF" it was to ever happen again, always practice safe firearm handling. "Never cover anything with the muzzle that you are not willing to destroy", in other words, watch where that barrel is pointed and drop the magazine out of it if you can, then see if you could clear the chamber. The mud thing is the biggest concern, if the barrel is obstructed, that's when catastrophic damage occurs.
8 Catastrophic Failures: When Good Guns Go Bad
Growing up around guns all of my life and having a few around here, I would have cleared it, and taken it to law enforcement so someone else didn't find it like a child, or teenager. If it's cleared (even if it's not) wrap it up in a cloth and point the barrel away from you during transport. Leave it on the bike or in the car, and approach a Ranger or Officer and explain the find, and your desire to turn it in... and you have it in your vehicle! NOT ON YOUR PERSON now a days. they will instruct you on what to do, most likely they will go retrieve it. (I'm retired fire service, and have seen it happen both ways at the station next door)

Most likely scenarios are;
Lost while hiking or walking in the rain. Discarded by family member to get rid of it. Discarded for reasons most likely illegal. Or it was a crime scene. We all read/watch too much drama and think it's the worst case first. Reality is some poor guy dropped it while making his way back to the car in the rain and it slipped out of his pack or poor fitting holster. And he's trying to come up with a story to tell his wife how he lost his $600 pistol. If he filed a lost gun report, it will make it's way back to him. If not, you might get a Kel-Tec to clean up.

(and for the record--- I'll never own a Kel-Tec product:censored:)

Happy riding!
They do seem to like to "stove pipe" even if you don't store them in a mud hole. I wouldn't want to depend on one even if it were new. If after some investigation, the cops gave it to me, I'd refuse it. Best to melt it for scrap.
I've owned several Kel-Tec pistols and have carried a concealed P3AT for decades. They are very reliable pistols - I bought mine after recommendations from police officer friends that carry them as a backups. Reliable? Oh Yeah.
 

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I've owned several Kel-Tec pistols and have carried a concealed P3AT for decades. They are very reliable pistols - I bought mine after recommendations from police officer friends that carry them as a backups. Reliable? Oh Yeah.
I know a few that have had them, most are like you and carry them, use them, and have no problems. I just know of three nightmares, and one was that KSG shotgun that he was trying to use at a BBQ where we were skeet shooting. Admitted, wrong weapon for the sport, but he was showing it off & things were not going good.
And that's the whole thing right there in your statement, "They are very reliable pistols". If you like them, trust them, train with it, and they fit, it's the right one for you whatever brand it is. I carry the original Ruger LC9 with lots of rounds down pipe, and never had issues besides Tula ammo. Friend cringes everytime he sees it because of his experiences with one.

I dream of being out somewhere like Colorado and stumbling upon that Model 94 leaning on the tree like that one guy found, or a Colt Single Action Army wrapped in a blanket next to old saddle remnants.... but haven't found one yet.
I have found three pistols in the remnants of structure fires. Great pieces for a shadowbox, and had to tell every owner when I handed it over "NEVER fire this thing".
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the replies - It's nice to hear from so many responsible gun owners; I'm familiar with firearms and have a few myself, and I think we all share the same concern that someone might accidentally get hurt.

Crime-wise, it doesn't seem very likely. Based on the location (State wildlife area, far from any road, footpaths, or trails, and no bones or other evidence) I really think it's most likely that it slipped from a hunter's holster and wasn't missed until they returned to their vehicle, which couldn't have been closer than a few miles away, and then they couldn't find it.

This had been stuck in some very sticky mud for a good while, so it didn't function correctly - for example, it was so full of crud that the magazine wouldn't eject, so I couldn't unload it. However, now that I have a little more familiarity with the disassembly of this particular weapon, I am going back to that area again this weekend and I will find it; it'll be a little like finding a dangerous needle in a very big haystack, but I'll bring my marker flags and do a methodical grid-search for it - slow and methodical, it'll be like de-mining. It may take all day, but eventually it'll get its way to the local law enforcement.

I totally agree, Campfire - I also wish I'd found a more historic piece - an old single-action .44 or a Sharps rifle - but at least it's more interesting than the trash I usually find while camping. I've got more spare tent pegs than I can count...
 

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Let me jump in here. First the disclaimers, I’m not a lawyer, etc. however I am pretty familiar with gun laws, and I know that between the federal and state laws, there’s so much complexity that probably every one of us who owns a gun has violated them, unknowingly, at some time and that most of those violations are felonies.

Next, property is never “lost”. It belongs to some legal owner. Even cash dropped on the sidewalk belongs to the last legal owner, not to the guy who picks it up. Under certain circumstances, it can be “abandoned,” but that usually requires a willful act by the owner, such as putting trash out on the street for collection, or if you put a sign on it that says “free”, or if the state comes into possession and cannot find the legal owner.

So, that gun has a legal owner. It belongs to someone unless they intentionally threw it away (maybe it jammed up on the owner and he was so frustrated that he threw it as far as he could?—but doubtful). If you were to find it and keep it, you could be charged as having possession of a stolen firearm, depending on the state laws and how hard the DA wanted to “make an example out of you.” However, picking it up and safeguarding it to deliver to the local police or rangers should be okay, as long as you are otherwise qualified to possess a firearm. E.g., if you were an excon and were barred from using or possessing a firearm, even picking it up to check if it’s loaded probably would put you in violation of a half dozen laws. Etc., etc., etc.

Anyway, I ain’t giving you legal advice! That said, if this happened to me, I would take possession, immediately inform the relevant LEA (law enforcement agency) that I found it, and ask them how I should deliver it to them. Just as a matter of public safety, I would not leave it laying out there where either a child or potential “bad guy” could find it.

You’re on the right track.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks - even if it's not legal advice, it's good sound advice and I totally concur. I think the plan is to try to find this piece, render it as safe as possible, and get it to the local law. It looked like it had been out there for a long time, but if there's an owner who's looking for it, they can get it back; if not, the local law will be well equipped to safely deal with it.
 

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Here in Champaign, IL, where I have a good relationship with several LEO's. I'm an RSO at the Police Training Institute Range. I have asked them to run the serial #'s on several weapons to check if they were reported stolen or lost. If the response was neither, I kept it. YMMV
 

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Be careful. Illinois is one of the most restrictive states in terms of gun laws.
 

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Yes, but...I feel as if I've done due diligence. Illinois only has registration for gun owners. FOID, not a registration for weapons owned. As I stated, YMMV.
 

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I'd get the cops involved BEFORE you go back to retrieve it. I wouldn't want to get stopped with it on me. It could have been used in a crime. I picture red and blue lights and all I have to say is "But Officer, I found it in the woods" while sitting in the back of some cop car. The cops may want to take a dog up there and look around some or pass it off to wildlife. My buddy is a wildlife officer with a K9. The dog will find it again. They're trained to find that stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks - that's probably the most prudent path, and that is going to be my plan of action; I'll call the local sheriff, tell them what I found and where I found it, and get their advice - if they want me to just leave it alone while they deal with it, I'm happy to oblige!
 

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I've found a lot of stuff while camping; tent pegs, flashlights, and once I found a full bottle of flavored vodka hidden in a bush, but this past weekend I found something unusual out on the Colorado plains - a mud-encrusted, but fully loaded, Kel-Tec PF-9 semi-automatic pistol. I'd originally thought that it was a toy, but it was obviously very real and just as dangerous as a malfunctioning 9mm can be.

It had been sitting outside for a long time and I considered taking it back to my camp, cleaning it up, and trying to unload it but, the more I thought about it, the more dangerous it seemed to either handle or disassemble this weapon - I could easily imagine the thing blowing up in my hand or in my pack, and I remembered a very stern warning about never handling unexploded ordnance. I also realized that this is exactly the way your average David Lynch or Coen Brothers movie starts, so after a few minutes I carefully put it back on the ground where I'd found it...

I figure that I'll call the local ranger and give him the approximate location where I'd found it - they can find it and safely destroy it if they want to do that, but I'm open for suggestions if anyone has any other ideas.
the first thing i would have done is looked for the pointed toes of cowboy boots belong to a dead man lying beneath a tree
(watch out for pit bull terriers that swim like michael phelps though ...)
 

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Back in 2016, was on my first real adventure ride (eastern half of TAT) and found a leather pack lying on the road, sized between a pocketbook and small purse. We were heading back to hotel rooms for evening after dinner; I picked up pack and gave it to hotel clerk with explanation and instructions to call police for pickup, thinking there may be ID inside. Against my wishes a fellow rider and the hotel clerk opened the flap to see if a driver's license could be seen. As soon as they cleared the flap a black compact semi-auto was visible. They shut the flap and police were called. About an hour later a patrol officer came and got info from me, fellow rider, and clerk.
Humorous to me was my fellow rider's reaction to seeing a pistol, convinced it had to be involved in crime/drugs. I figured it was someone's carelessly misplaced concealed carry piece. Never heard anything back from cops.
 

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I neglected to mention, the fellow rider was a recent newcomer to U.S., from U.K. Had never owned or even saw a firearm in real life, hence his reaction based on " media education". To his credit, it came up that the movie "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels" was a picture we both had enjoyed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
"...the fellow rider was a recent newcomer to U.S., from U.K. "
- Yeah, I have been thinking about that - in the western US, firearms are pretty ubiquitous, but not so much in other parts of the world. I remember one of the funniest things in the movie Shawn of the Dead was watching the British folk not really knowing how to work a Winchester repeating rifle. All the same, I wonder if they ever have a problem finding loaded handguns laying around in Canada?

- Updates- I just heard from the county under-sheriff, who told me that I should turn the pistol in to the sheriff's office, if I can find it. I also got a call from the state game warden; being really familiar with the area, he said that he is going to go look for it.
 
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