Federal inert ordnance fuss and confiscation


Earlier this month a retired EOD soldier and instructor was visited by the FBI and questioned about inert ordnance items which were in some way linked to him through markings and a technical handbook which had his name and social security number on it. I have known this person for over 35 years. He advised me of this visit.

These agents were investigating the theft of government ordnance property which investigation was descibed as growing out of a raid on someone in Virginia , someone with EOD labeled inert ordnance.

The agents informed that they had been at the cartridge show in St. Louis before visiting this fellow. This fellow is not a “cartridge” collector but was a collector of inert ordnance in the far past. I have never met an EOD man or BOMB SQUAD man who did not have a collection.

He said that the FBI was concerned that all items which have an EOD INERT label especially with a number on it are STOLEN GOVERNMENT PROPERTY.

Prior to 1998 surplus inert ordnance was often disposed of in various ways including trashing , gifting to unit members and local bomb squads , consigning to property disposal , and other means.

After 1998 this was stopped and all ordnance items for a short period were “demilled” . Some might remember the mountains of ammo cans which were crushed to "demill " them at the time.

This nonsense did not last long as it destoyed a cash stream which was wanted.

During the Clinton administration all of the local base EOD museums were closed and there was a glut of these inert items at gun and militaria shows.

Consequent of all this there are tens of thousands if not millions of inert ordnance items in collections worldwide many of which carry the various EOD INERT labels some numbered and some not.

The FBI implication from the above visit implied that they were considering ALL such marked items as stolen government property subject to seizure. There was even the mention of the sticky remainder of a label being removed as evidence as well.

There was mention of items stolen from Picatinny Arsenal and Aberdeen Proving Grounds museums. This does not suprise me as museum closures of this nature very often result in the loss of items especially when there is not a precise record and the collections are huge.

Further; a fellow collector in Maryland who had sold his shell collection years ago but still has an inert dummy marked 115mm chemical rocket which had not sold had the same listed on Auctionarms site for over 5 years.

In late April he was emailed by the FBI in Baltimore and asked if that rocket was INERT. Of course it was. The FBI called some days later and informed him that they were not satisfied and that they were bringing the ARMY to inspect it.

This was done and the rocket confiscated by the FBI and ARMY EOD unit from Aberdeen PG.

The rocket was a totally inert and marked dummy. It was offered to me at the same show in Greenbelt Md. ( good old days!) where this fellow bought it. It was nothing but a lump of metal. Had it been an inerted tactical unit I might have bought it but ordnance shaped lumps of metal never interested me.

The reason given was that it was a named item in the Chemical Weapons Treaty of 2000 which requires the signers to confiscate and destroy all CHEMICAL and BIOLOGICAL weapons and tactical components thereof.

Only riot control chemical ordnance is exempted.


Isn’t it everywhere the same that one who is claiming some item to be his property has to proove it?
“EOD INERT” and “remnants of labels” sounds a bit very vague to me as a non lawyer.
In the end somebody might have applied such stickers himself and remnants might be from price tags or descriptions of an item or a collection label from a private collection or what so ever.


Yes, logical.
They confiscate and YOU have to prove them wrong. VERY EXPENSIVE ! They also have the threat of prosecution for possession of stolen property to add to the mix. Less trouble to give it up and that is what happens.

I had a bag of 100 or so of those official labels given to me by an EOD man from Aberdeen. I used them all . Good for eye appeal on the table.


This is a very difficult one. Innocent until proven guilty is actually an expensive luxury. Plus, the argument that it used to belong to the Government so how and when exactly did it stop belonging to the Government ?

Lets look at the bigger picture, unless this is some sort of work creation exercise they must be investigating some bigger scam. The big danger is that precidents get set along the way which then become established.


What spark plugged this effort is the 2000 weapons convention. After seeing GB binary gas rockets for sale on the internet the FBI began watching the various sites ( Auctionarms and Gunbroker) and wondering how this kind of material gets out of government hands.

2 of the 115mm rockets were on sites at the same time. ALL were required to be destroyed by the 2000 treaty.

It is obvious that this kind of material is not available at the stores and the question then is obvious. Where does it come from? The items come from many sources. Sources which are able to carry off inert ordnance may also be able to carry off LIVE ordnance. That is what drives this action.

Like all government action it is inefficient and proned to costly mistakes , unintended consequences and colateral damage .

99.9 % of collectors are not a danger but that .1% which may have access to live , lethal munitions such as NERVE GAS ROCKETS are a reasonable and important issue.

Some years back ( 30 or more ) a couple of Marine EOD men were bringing explosives home from work and selling them to farmers to blow stumps. This is not good and law enforcement has a duty to stop this kind of action.

The collectors who get caught up in the effort are part of the price which we pay to stop this.

Some years ago an EOD officer of higest rank told me that " EOD men are all born thieves " .

I am sure that statement is not 100% true BUT anyone bringing LIVE ordnance home from work should be identified and stopped.

I have not collected explosive ordnance since 1992 and am out of touch with the current modern ordnance collecting world.

My interest is in Viet Nam era and earlier ammunition . There is more than enough of this for several lifetimes of study.

After more than 50 years of study I see something nearly every week which I did not know.

Of course , at my age , I am relearning what I already forgot.

HOMELAND SECURITY takes this much more seriously than has been in the past. WHY ?

WE ARE AT WAR with a ruthless diabolical enemy which will not hesitate to kill themselves , their own families and friends in order to kill us. It is far easier for them to get stolen government munitions in country than to try to bring them in.



I ran across this article while searching for something on Google; boston.cbslocal.com/2012/01/07/t … n-airport/

Essentially, TSA detained a man in January because he had a fired, empty shotgun shell in his carry on. Even after State Troopers confirmed the hull was empty and inert, TSA confiscated the hull.

For fear of censorship, I will leave it at that.


[quote]I ran across this article while searching for something on Google; boston.cbslocal.com/2012/01/07/t … n-airport/

Essentially, TSA detained a man in January because he had a fired, empty shotgun shell in his carry on. Even after State Troopers confirmed the hull was empty and inert, TSA confiscated the hull.

For fear of censorship, I will leave it at that.



I ran into this a couple of years ago with a dummy 5.56 round engraved “inert dummy” with a blind primer pocket and a hole in the case.

The fact is that anything that looks like a cartridge or a component of a cartridge is prohibited in carry on baggage. I was given a couple of very logical reasons.

First is the possibility people are carrying aboard components to be assembled on the aircraft-not likely but possible

Second and more important is that TSA causes enough of a burden on air travelers. If they had to sort out inert items from live items it would slow things down even further and generate another training requirement for the TSA personnel.

They don’t confiscate these items. In fact, I don’t believe they can confiscate items. It is like a knife or anything else. You just can’t pass through security with it. You can go do something else with it and come back through security, or throw it in the bin with other forbidden items. A bottle of beer would suffer the same fate.

In my case they gave it to the local police who are somewhere around all local security. I was allowed to take it out to my car, or I could put it in a checked bag or I could throw it in the TSA basket of forbidden items, but it was not confiscated.




…They don’t confiscate these items. In fact, I don’t believe they can confiscate items…


For the record, I took the term “confiscated” from the article… which you can see in the last paragraph if you open the link.


I marvel at the fact that you fellows are able to bring ammo around the world for shows !

I would not get near an airport with ANY live ammo.


Interesting topic, but it has wandered off topic so has been edited and locked.