CAUTION--Dangerious Syrian Ammo


#1

CAUTION!!!
On the program “PBS Newshour” last night (22 July, 2012) they showed an interview with some Syrian Rebels. They were sorting piles of 7.62x39 by looking at the headstamp. They said they were looking for EXPLOSIVE rounds. They then demonstrated what they were looking for by igniting the “gun powder” of two different rounds. One was regular smokeless powder and burned normally. The other one was a mostly white powder and EXPLODED when lit. They claimed it was TNT from Syrian Government FACTORY loaded cartridges. These explosive cartridges were being left behind for the Rebels to selvage and try to use. The person being interviewed claimed 2 of his men had been killed when using the cartridges and their guns blew up. Unfortunately they did not show the headstamp they were searching for.

I can only think that sometime in the future when “Battlefield Cleanup” is done and the ammunition is sold on the surplus market that some of these TNT loaded rounds could be mixed in. Personally, I would not fire any Syrian made ammo that was produced during this conflict.


#2

Sounds like they took a page right of the ol’ play book of Operation Elder Son from the US/Vietnam conflict.


#3

hello
if the “subtance” was white is more like RDX or PETN than TNT
the two first can be ignited by the primer of the round but TNT require a detonator


#4

Ron, the altered rounds will certainly not have the hs of 2012 if I would have made these for the given purpose, means they would do better with cases made several years ago (unless they are afraid not to be able to tell those apart later on and fear own losses). So telling those apart in future may become very difficult unless they will be tested with an air sampler for explosives (to which most uf us will have no access). Indeed any details on those would be interesting to see.

The idea of using “sabotage” cartridges was already used in WWII if not earlier and is still used today by several armies and irregular forces (who ever they may be: terrorists, freedom fighters etc.) and certainly many others will do in a future conflict if the situation will promise any benefit.

Actually I do not recall a proper description or examination/report about such cartridges used in conflicts after 1945. Anybody out there who knows more?


#5

Leon–Yup, that was the first thing I thought of when I saw the interview. I had 3 different AK-47’s while I was in 'Nam. The ONLY ammo I would shoot in them came directly off the enemy that my ammo source saw die, so there was no chance of planted bad rounds (by either side).

Ammogun–I agree the “white powder” was most likely PETN. I only called it “TNT” because that is what the person being interviewed said.

EOD–I wish they had said exactly what they were looking for to ID the bad ammo. It only showed them picking up a handful and looking at the headstamps and sorting them into two piles, presumably “Bad Ammo” and “Safe Ammo”.


#6

Here is the video:
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/middle_east/jan-june12/syria_06-22.html
Minute: 2:40 is where it talks about this.


#7

Aaron–Thanks for posting that link to the story.


#8

Nothing to judge by the video except that he shows a cartridge with a purple (?) PA as being a boobytrapped one. So going by the other Syrian cartridges we know the ID feature is certainly not the PA but something else. The “good” cartridge they had shown seemd not to have a PA.

I never attempted to stand close by when Tetryl or PETN was lit with open fire to observe the reaction but what they had shown there was not only a “white powder” but looked like a mix of several colored materials. Also the reaction to my limited understanding was a bit too volatile for the two possibly mentioned explosives (as said I never checked this).


#9

I don’t think PETN, RDX, or HMX would go high-order by application of a flame or from a primer. Certainly not TNT. Maybe lead styphnate or another primary explosive or a flame-sensitive mixture including chlorate? It did look like a mixture of white stuff and reddish stuff. Why would whoever planted it make it so easily distinguishable from safe ammunition?

I think there was a writeup on Eldest Son in the American Rifleman a few years back. I do remember that there were pains taken to make the sabotaged ammunition indistinguishable from normal ammunition, and also they were careful to insert only a very few sabotaged rounds to increase the difficulty of detection. I don’t remember if it stated what explosive was used. It was mainly a psywar tactic more than to actually kill or injure the enemy.

A pretty good summary of Eldest Son by John Plaster can be found here: liveleak.com/view?i=61f_1303788297 I think this was the article that ran in the American Rifleman.


#10

Dennis, great link, thanks a lot!

Any images available of the blown weapons mentioned there?


#11

[quote=“DennisK”]I don’t think PETN, RDX, or HMX would go high-order by application of a flame or from a primer. Certainly not TNT. Maybe lead styphnate or another primary explosive or a flame-sensitive mixture including chlorate? It did look like a mixture of white stuff and reddish stuff. Why would whoever planted it make it so easily distinguishable from safe ammunition?

I think there was a writeup on Eldest Son in the American Rifleman a few years back. I do remember that there were pains taken to make the sabotaged ammunition indistinguishable from normal ammunition, and also they were careful to insert only a very few sabotaged rounds to increase the difficulty of detection. I don’t remember if it stated what explosive was used. It was mainly a psywar tactic more than to actually kill or injure the enemy.

A pretty good summary of Eldest Son by John Plaster can be found here: liveleak.com/view?i=61f_1303788297 I think this was the article that ran in the American Rifleman.[/quote]

DennisK, Years ago while I was in EOD, there was some question as to whether the M60 igniter would set off det cord. In a controlled experiment (M60 secured to a RR tie and igniter pulled remotely from a distance of 20’, hearing protection used), we were able to detonate a 6" piece of 50gr per foot PETN filled det cord using the M60, which uses a shotgun primer. I think a large rifle primer would do the trick since the load would be confined. Cheers, Y’all, Bruce.


#12

I think if I were going to develop a suitable explosive filler for this application, I might start with a mixture of a primary explosive with a secondary explosive such as PETN. That would almost certainly detonate under the influence of a rifle primer. I wouldn’t have any idea about what explosive Plaster described that looked like smokeless powder (possibly Ball powder) was. Blank fire powder might also work - wasn’t that used as a grenade filler at one time?

I have an interesting PETN story, but it doesn’t actually belong here.


#13

Looks like the “explosive rounds” have a distinctive “black” primer sealer where as the “good” ammo does not.

Is anyone able to pull stills off of video?


#14

Stop the vid at the point you want, press the “print” button on your keybaord, open “Paint” from Windows (or any other grapics programme or image viewer you may use) and then the keys “Ctrl” + “V”, then you will have the image there and you just need to save it. Called “screen shot”.


#15

That’s great. I always wondered how to capture a still. I’ll try it.


#16

Just enlarge the vid to max (or any other thing on screen that a site may not allow you to download as an image).


#17

The key may also be marked prtscn -for print screen. Good luck.
Soren