.50 BMG Puller - SLICS


I was planning to bring my .50 BMG puller to SLICS. I made one where the handle can be un-bolted and broken down into two pieces to fit in my suitcase.

However, I decided against this for the following reasons. Firstly, it has been used, so likely contains traces of explosives where loose powder had been inside it. I thought that this could be picked up by the explosive sniffng machines. Secondly, on seeing it on the X-Ray machine it would obviously look unusual and could lead to me being taken aside for questioning. I would sooner not risk this so decided that I would leave it at home.

I remember Lew saying that this year there would be a TSA representative attending SLICS. I’ll take some photos of it to show to the TSA member to see what they think about taking it through airport security. Hopefully I can bring it in future.


Well… I would make sure it was cleaned out… but I have not been “pulled aside” because of gunpowder residue. I have had my bags swabbed an it did not set off the the detector. I asked the security personnel and they said that it would only detect “high explosives” ingredients…

I would also not pack it in my carry on but in my checked baggage… but ultimately its up to you…

I am going to send you a PM…


One of my concerns, and I expressed this to GW earlier on Monday in a email, was that the puller might be mistaken for a pipe bomb on X-Ray, and could lead to the luggage being blown-up in the interest of safety. I think that GW’s change of mind for the puller this year and talking to the TSA people at SLICS about it for next year may be a good idea.


The “xray” of today is a lot different. You can tell the difference with hollow items as well as telling what type of material its made from.

Not saying that your concern isn’t genuine… as I have seen first hand some of the “employees” they use…

Asking the TSA agent is a bit of a gamble as well… depending on who you ask and how knowledgable they are…and if they had their coffee in the morning…


A valid concern. In the fall of 2004 I was headed to Idaho on a hunting trip and I used my shooting bag (sporting clays) as a carry on bag. I got through Albany, NY OK, but in Chicago, the sniffer alerted. They swabbed the bag and it came up positive for nitrates. Fortunately, one of the TSA inspectors was a skeet shooter and finding several loose pieces of birdshot rolling around in the bottom of the bag they believed me. A 45 min delay and pat down search. I went to Wal-Mart in Boise and bought a cheap bag for carry on for the return trip to avoid another hassel and the outfitter shipped the other one home UPS for me.


I flew to Phoenix,AZ from Stewart International,NY a week ago. I had several spent pistol calibre shells in my carry-on (leftover from giving them away to kids at a gun show), I just forgot about them. My baggage was screened and returned to me without any questions. My other personal bag was swabbed, but no questions again. I don’t know when the cartridges were fired and how long gun powder residue stays around. That’s my only experience with TSA.
P.S. I tossed those rounds on a horseback riding trail. If you find them in Vegas, they are mine.


I spoke to the TSA rep at SLICS. He said that the X-Ray outline alone wouldn’t be enough to cause problems as they see lots of unusual shapes. He said they couldn’t possibly pull every bag for inspection based on an unusual shape alone.

He also confirmed my theory that swabbing with acetone generally removes explosie residue. I was concerned as I have used the puller to dismantle a .55 Boys for another collector at our Bisley show. The cordite propellant used for these rounds contains nitroglycerin, which would show up as a “high explosive” trace.

Hopefully next year the puller will be coming with me.