Accidents with ammo


I remember an old topic about stupid things we have done with ammo and lived to talk about. I cant seem to find it so I figured I would just share these photos with you. A guy I know has a 44mag in which he loads his own ammo for not a good idea to double the powder


That had to suck.



bet he wont do that again…


Nah! Give me some duct tape, a bottle of Elmer’s Glue and a pair of pliers and I’ll have that revolver back on the firing line before Monday.



Won’t you need the top strap to do repairs? It’s not scheduled to land until Tuesday…



That must have been impressive to witness, preferably from a distance. The wrecked cases of the two adjoining cartridges suggests that their powder added a little to the fireworks display as the cylinder came apart.


I was on range duty when someone pulled a stunt like this. He got a piece of case brass stuck in his forehead. Bled like a pig that one, and that was only a small cut.

Spent hours mopping the blood off the floor afterwards, looked like a freakin’ war zone!

The entertaining part was that we had a couple of newbies at the range for an introduction program. Needless to say that we never saw them again after this :)

I pulled the remaining rounds from the cylinder and pulled a few to examine the powder. One round was ok, the other was filled with what looked like pure dust, severely decomposed powder of some sort.


ya he mentioned after the dust cleared and he came to his senses as well as the tweety birds leaving. He figured out he was hit in the head with part of the cylinder.


Actually, failures like that are more common than you think. I have been present at several although none as spectacular as that. There used to be a couple of blown up pistols like that in the front of the window of the gunshop Fultons in Bisley Camp.

Speaking of Bisley, they had twelve rifle failures last year on the ranges. Each failure requires an investigation and a report to be written so the true reasons for the blow up does eventually come out. It is quite interesting but almost always comes down to reloading errors although a warning was issued late last year about 7.62 converted Lee Enfields using certain types of NATO ammunition.


I read about something like that a while ago where someone fired a .44 Magnum (not sure what make) that had been in the glove box of a truck for a year with the same rounds loaded. Apparently the revolver exploded when it was fired. One of the cartridges was left intact, and apparently it was decided that the vibration of the truck had reduced the powder to dust, creating much higher pressures than normal.


Just by coincidence, on another forum today, two idiots are talking about cutting costs. Eg “Whats the cheapest reloads for my .223”

One of the suggestions was they could use a smaller charge of fast burning pistol powder. They were trying to work out how much (forum rules wouldn’t allow me to elaborate but I would love to share it with some of you). It was however clear they had absolutely no comprehension of the pressure curve implictions of what they were discussing.

To explain a little for those of you who don’t dabble in reloading. With those sort of powders in that sort of situation, 10% more powder does not equate to 10% more pressure. At a certain point on the curve it will just go through the roof and you could be looking at the pressure doubling or more from a tiny increase in charge. The trouble is those clowns have no possible way of knowing where the danger point occours - except of course the obvious way.

Get ready St Peter, two more candidates for the Darwin Awards on the way up to you.


Here’s another, from Christmas Day.
The victim is a member of another forum I visit and he’s commented on the event, which took his left hand. Old (20-25 yr) reloads were used and its pretty certain only one cartridge was involved.

I carry cartridges around with me, in my pocket, all the time and have never gave it a second thought but what “if” the unimagineable happened? My voice is high enough now, don’t need it to go up! Think I’ll start carrying a piece of sponge and a rubber band with me.


The most recent big bang we had at our club was with a member using a 9mm carbine. I’m treading carefully to avoid breakining forum rules but the essence of what happened is this. Having run out of Vhit N340 he substituted Vhit N310 using the same powder measure setting. Some of you, John certainly, will see the appalling implications of this simple mistake.

His argument afterwards was “well its all Vhit, I don’t see how it would make any difference”

The case had to be hammered out of the rifle with a cleaning rod and had flowed all round the bolt head and blown. We had to hammer the bolt with a mallet to get it open. Only the fact that it was a converted Lee Enfield action and bolt saved the gun from destruction. The primer had completely disintigrated and some of it had gone down the firing pin hole jamming it. The extractor had snapped off and was never found. The round below it in the magazine was also damaged but fortunately had not gone off. If it had it would have been much more serious.

Even when we explained the error of his ways I don’t think he understood it. This from a member and reloader of twenty years standing. He’s a well qualified engineer which makes it all the more worrying. He works with safety equipment on the railway and is responsible for signing off work to say its safe (!)

I’ve said it before and I know others have disagreed but these people shouldn’t be let loose.

The member in question earns over $75,000 a year and doesn’t need to reload for economic reasons. He is now on a permanent factory ammo only restriction at our range.

The case now resides in our rifle captain’s collection.


Sorry to hear of anyone who is injured from a mishap such as that poor fellow with the shotgun. Unfortunately the doctors could not save his hand and it had to be amputated.

Over the years I have made acquaintances with two ballisticians who worked for different powder companies. Both had said that sometimes not a week would go by when they would get a call from a reloader who had damaged a firearm with their reload.

They would ask the reloader to send in a couple of cartridges for analysis.
Almost always it was the wrong powder that was used or much too high a charge wt. with the correct powder.

A few examples:
Open powder can purchased at a gun show. Fellow reloaded .30-06 shells with the recommended load and blew the gun with the first shot. Turned out that the powder in the can was different than what the can was labeled with!!

Last month’s Shooting Times magazine had a story about a fellow that blew up a .44 Magnum revolver. Dissected cartridges revealed a charge that was almost 80% over maximum! He had misread the powder scale.

A fellow severely damaged a .22-250 rifle with a powder and charge weight that he had always used. He had been reloading .44 Magnum cartridges before hand using a fast burning ball type powder. He neglected to remove the powder left in the measure and then dumped in a much slower burning ball powder on top of the pistol powder…!!

A close friend of mine blew up a pre '64 Model 70 .30-06 several years ago.
He had been using a powder that filled the case about 45% full under a 200 gr. cast bullet. All went well for about 3 years of shootinge…then an accidental double charge ruined a fine rifle. Fortunately, he was wearing shooting glasses at the time. Other than a peppered face and cuts on his hands and forearms, he was pretty lucky.

Stay safe!



A friend of mine had a failure identical to the one in the photo, except that the handgun involved was a 6" stainless Colt Anaconda in .44M. The string of fire sounded something like “bang, bang, WHABOOOM”. Very slight injuries to his hand, none to me (firing beside him). Colt accepted the gun via shipment, then refused to return it. Never did figure what the deal was; I placed the blame on a double-charge (factory American Eagle .44M 240gr SJHP).

With regards to vehicle vibrations causing ammunition-based catastrophic failures… I’ve seen a lot of weird ammunition failures, but don’t see how it’s possible. I carry 3-5 guns daily, for 8-12 hours…various calibers and types of centerfire pistols rifles and shotguns, many with rounds in the chamber. 150-300rds of extra assorted ammo for the guns, and for the last 8 months I’ve been assigned a vehicle that was wrecked by a co-worker and vibrates rather badly. I routinely shoot ammo that’s been transported for long periods of time in a vehicle, as do most of my co-workers, and our agency hasn’t experienced any failures of the sort (actually we haven’t even had a dud round in the last 2yrs or so). Same goes for all my personal/off-duty rigs.


agreed…alleged issues, mixed in with Hollywood lore and we have a recipe for " did you hear about…?"

A long time friend of mine was employed by a major gun/ammunition manufacturing company “product liability” department. It would entertain any of us for hours the stories of alleged incidents with guns and ammo that where brought before the company…and sadly, in this day and time, it was often better business to settle these “cases” with a payment/settlement than face the man hours and associated costs with defending them (in a court of law). “bouncing guns, over powered ammo, wrong sized ammo chambered in a gun”…I distinctly remember asking him…”if someone poured nitro glycerin in their automobile gas tank…would the fool assume the car manufacturer was liable?” (as absurd as that example is)…and he said “you ought to see the claims we receive!”…(and the stories that accompanied them)



True or not true?
Along the same lines, I have also been warned NOT, NOT, NOT to throw older ammo into the vibrating brass cleaner to clean it because of it also breaking the powder down into finer granules. I am not sure about the truck or car vibrations? But I don’t store my ammo in a vehicle either. But I have shot 38 ammo that rode in the trunk or under seats of police cars for a long time.


These look like accidents but they were cause intentionally, the first to test barrel strength, the second to produce a joke gift.