If they were indeed only blanks, the only things that come to mind is something being in the barrel (or in the blank) that should not have been there, or the shooters shooting too close to something which had gravel on it, and this might have blasted a small rock in the air.
Depends on how the blanks were made. Some types are known to be still dangerous for some range in front of the muzzle because parts of the closure material (if used, like paper or wax) can make it’s way out of the barrel or parts of the case came off (when crimped blanks are used this is known effect).
I think this incident can be investigated by looking at the remaining cartridges which were used that day (from that lot).
My guess would be home made blanks. I don’t know how obtainable commercial blanks are in .45LC which is what I would imagine they were using.
My suggestion would be a degree of packing* would be needed on top of the powder to take up excess space in the big case and a heavy roll crimp to close it off.
- maybe a fibre .410 wad, or even two
Vince - There are all kinds of firms that provide blanks for entertainment companies, such as movie firms and re-enactment groups. Doc Av could address that point. I forget the name of the company, but one firm in the US makes a black plastic blank that I think will fit a variety of .45 caliber revolvers. It is a short case and overall length, and they are made also in at least .38 caliber. I think the headstamp on them is MRA. Forgive me for guessing - they are out of my field, and while I have had dozens of them go through my hands, I don’t have any right now that I could find to verify it. Not knowing the name of the company off hand, I can’t even easily look it up in my catalog files.
At any rate, in the USA, if one needs them, obtaining blank ammunition in “cowboy” calibers is not a problem.
John Moss–You are correct about the headstamp being MRA. I have never been able to track down the exact name of the company. Maybe DocAV can help us out on that. Here is a link to a page that shows these blanks in 3 colors for Full Charge, Half-Charge and Primer only.
In 1993 Brandon Lee (son of Bruce Lee) was killed on a movie set due to some sort of mishap with a weapon and a blank round. I don’t remember details, but I think it involved somehow having a bullet stuck in the bore followed by the firing of a blank round. It doesn’t seem like the same situation here, given that there were three persons wounded. Does anyone know more regarding the Brandon Lee death?
Ron - with your kind confirmation of the MRA headstamp, I decided to get off my fat behind and go downstairs and find the manufacturer. It is Manufacturing Research, Inc., of Rockledge, Florida. They make all kinds of blanks and also some funtioning dummy rounds of solid aluminum. They also load some specialty ammunition - tracers and frangible in .223 and tracer in .308, along with some “confetti rounds” in 10 and 12 gauge. They make .45 Colt "Balloon-breaking blanks, and “5 in 1” Balloon-breaking blanks that work in 44 special, 44 Mag, .45 Colt, .44-40 and 410 Shotgun. They are loaded in metal cases. All this information is from November 2009.
I guess i should add that they also make blank-firing barrels for Glock and SIG-Sauer pistols are not bored thru the muzzle. They have a port at the end, facing down. Live rounds will not fit the chambers, for safety reasons.
0Regarding the Brandon Lee tragedy, it was probably a result of negligence on the part of the prop masters. Everything I have read about this that seemed to be researched says that in one scene, the revolver pointed at Lee was shown as “loaded,” from the front, accomplished by the presence of dummy cartridges in each chamber of the cylinder. The gun was fired at Lee after filming was stopped, and the dummies were exchanged for blanks. The problem was that in extracting the dummies, evidently one of the bullets was not properly crimped in, and it stuck in what was probably a dirty mouth of the chamber, and pulled out of the cartridge. Negligence comes in that no one noticed one of the dummy-round cases had no bullet then, and no one checked the chambers for obstructions. By luck of the draw, the chamber with the stuck bullet, now backed by a loaded blank, was the first chamber up for firing. The bullet was propelled out of the cylinder into the bore of the revolver just as with a loaded, ball cartridge.
A terrible accident that did not need happen.
Again, this information is based on everything I read about this at the time, and I read everything I could find on it, as this type of circumstance is with my interest-range concerning wound ballistics. If it is wrong, and someone has evidence of that (published, not anecdotal), please let us know. I don’t mind be called on an error at all, and the question asked by Dennis deserves an accurate answer.
A little more information on Manufacturing Research. Firstly, I don’t know what the “A” in the headstamp stands for. Perhaps simply “Ammunition.” Secondly, I have factory price lists back to September 1990, so they probably are still in business, since I have various lists and on-line catalogs dating from then until 2009, a 19-year span. All that time in the same town in Florida.
Edited to remove typo errors only
John, You are right, as usual! Manufacturing Research is still in business at the and their address is Manufacturing Research Associates, Unit 10, 1840 Baldwin Street, Rockledge, FL 32955-3250. (321) 636-3376 and their website is at http://mfgresearch.net/.
They don’t list any 9mm blanks on the site, but I have a blank headstamped “MFG RES 9 BLANK” from about 2000 so they have sold them in the past. Have never seen an MFA headstamp on 9x19mm.
Well I have to chime in on this one.
I have did a lot of re-enacting (Spanish-Am Rough Riders and US Civil War) over the years, not any more.
And I have made up thousands of blanks using my own “design” if you will. With the 30/40 Krag the real problem was to get them to feed in that very short feed ramp from the magazine. My fix was to use “0” size empty gel-caps used for medicine ect., one can buy them empty at the health food store, they vaporize before they leave the barrel.
Star crimp blanks were no problem to make but one of the pedels could always come off during the firing and cause a injury down range.
Back to the post, the first thing that came to mind when I read the story was what always was a problem with the re-enacting people. These guys always wanted to put old FA headstamped Krag rounds in the cartridge belts because it looked more real. They would put blanks on on one side of the cartridge belt and what they said were dead Krag rounds on the other, I was always making them take the “real and or dead” rounds out of the belt in order to be extra safe. We did not have a major problem but it always bothered me until I just walked away from the whole thing.
I knew the blanks were safe I had tested them in all kinds of conditions and most hundred year old Krag rounds would not go bang anymore I have shot a few of those but they still don’t belong mixed up with blanks. And for that matter neither do mock dummy rounds its not SAFE.
Just a thought or two on the subject.
Lew - the “MRA” headstamp is only on plastic blanks in revolver calibers.
Regarding current production, their on-line catalog DOES show 9mm blanks in metal cases in the Pistol and Revolver section, down at the bottom, in three types:
9 mm PA (Which is a European cartridge type for less-than-lethal pistols, and is NOT the 9 x 19 mm Para cartridge, as you know but some others may not).
9 mm Standard (Pistol, Uzi, H&K and other Subguns). (This is the 9 x 19 mm Para)
9 mm SEO Internal Laxer.
I don’t have any idea what the “9 mm SEO Internal Laser” is, and probably never will, since they sell for a whopping $300.00 per 50 rounds! There is no explanation for this round anywhere else in the catalog that I can find. I also don’t know what “SEO” stands for.
There are two different Manufacturing Reserve headstamps on 9mm blanks:
MFG RES 9 BLANK
MFG. RES. 9 - 223
The second is a combination blank for 9mm Para or .223. Both blanks look similar and look like i mm Para full-length blanks. I have no idea how the second ne functions in a .223.
Lew–Thanks for the full name and address of MRA. I had thought it might be Manufacturing Research, but could not figure out what “A” stood for.
Just to help add a bit more information to the MRA Blanks story. The cartridges have the raised MRA + a small number 1-16. These numbers are the mold number, NOT the Lot Number.
for johnmoss ,i think the blank in “9mm/223” can be fonction with a convertion kit using the same round for security ,in “223” a real round do not fit in the barrel of convertion due to “restrict chamber” to use gas combustion for cycling the weapon
for the armorer in movie it more easy to use the same round blank in two “firearm style” (majority pistol and smg in 9mm and assault rifles in 223)
i hope that i clear because i m not strong in english
Ammogun–Don’t worry about your English. You made yourself very clear. I don’t know where you are from, but I am sure your English is much better than most of us on the Forum would be in your language.
Just as aside on the general topic of blanks, SNC/Simunition makes/made(?) a 9mm blank round that functions in a wide range of 9X19 semiautomatic pistols. However it requires a special barrel for each pistol type that will allow blowback operation rather than the normal short recoil. It uses much the same “telescoping” of the cartridge principle as the more common Simunition marking rounds for FonF training. However, it is not very loud, more of a pop than a bang. I don’t believe they were available in anything but 9mm.
‘internal Laxer’ = internal laser (typo?)
If memory serves these are blanks designed to function in modded sidearms used in police training simulators similar to FATS, PRISM, etc. The BeamHit LATS 9mm M9 conversion barrel would be an example of where this type of blank would be used.
I used a SIG converted for this at an LE convention years ago, and they also had sixguns loaded with “laser blanks” that registered on the FATS screen(s) where the scenario was projected.
With regards to the Simunition/FX blanks; they offer a blue-pusher blank which is quieter than a ‘black cat’ firework, for use in scenarios where little or no PPE is needed (still not contact safe), and a louder white-pusher version. Neither properly cycles the G17T, Sim/FX conversion kit, or any other 9mmP sidearm in my experience.
Forgive typos…do this off I Phone. I am sure this ran in many papers, but our local noted that one reinactor had used LIVE ammo for the show in question…a Darwin candidate ?
There was a story in yesterday’s local newspaper about the ammunition being live instead of blank - must have been a news service article, so it probably went out to papers all over the country.