Xray of cartridges

I recently hosted training for regional bomb squads on the Xray of military ordnance. The capabilities of some of the new, lightweight portable systems is fantastic, and the image resolution and quality is great. The primary push of the training was for larger calibers, but under the intent of “exposing the officers to the world of small arms” I snuck a few items in as examples. Doing items as small as these can be tricky, but the results are impressive.

MBA%20pin%20flare Mondragon Salvo%20multi-ball SPIW%20cartridge


Thanks for posting, what I find interesting is that the primers and anvils don’t really show, certainly on the top three! I am assuming this is a “power” related thing which governs penetration of the X-rays?

As a X-ray technician in a hospital I am impressed by the image quality. Could you inform me a little about the parameters you used? I guess you used a high kV (150kV?) and also a rather high tube current. It is really special to be able to differentiate between the lead core and the jacket in the multi ball cartridge.

I tried to x-ray cartridges myself (years ago on film) and this was the result.
I should try it again on a digital system, using the right parameters…

cheers, Joost

No, the systems have sufficient power, but you are looking for details 2-3mm across or less, on systems designed for pipe bombs and brief cases. Your capture screen isn’t looking at a resolution fine enough in most cases. The capability is there, but it’s
sort of like buying a closeup lens for a camera.

these are all small, highly portable systems, all components easily carried by one person and using minimal power. I have no idea of the parameters, in part because at least four different systems were in use (10 bomb squad teams plus FBI), and because frankly, you don’t have to know how the engine works to drive the car. These systems operate using “pulses” as the unit of power, set up at about one meter, start with 10 pulses, and see what you get. On some of the newer systems you can leave the aperture open (their term), see what you get on your screen, and simply add pulses to improve the image without reshooting.

I should add, (back at my desk and much easier to answer) that angle makes a lot of difference as well, and that power is added to the Xray to present the image that you want. If you want to shoot through more material adding power to the item is simple. But if you add too much power you will “burn out” your fine details on the lighter items. During this training the same machines used for these images were imaging 40mm grenades, hand grenades, 75mm artillery projectiles, 60mm mortars, 4.2-inch mortars etc. Attempts were made on as large as 17cm projectiles.

Here is one of the more typical images. I was trying to press home the difficulty of using Xray on ordnance to tell is a hazard is present or not. I placed four different types of hand grenades out, each with two versions - an empty grenade and a grenade with a live fuze (detonator) and simulant fill materials. For the same reasons as identified above, once you get through the metal bodies of the grenades the lighter components - such as the detonator - and the fill material start to be lost. Even with a comparison item as these two in the image have, it is an extremely difficult task. without a comparison item, and worse, if you do not know the specific internal construction of the item you are shooting, it may not be possible.
At this training we had three commercial vendors present to show off the newest equipment available. Some of these were able to see significantly greater detail than what we have here. Most are not yet deployed to the field though (cost and too new).


thanks for the info. Multiple pulses to improve the image quality make sense. I will try this out soon.

Greeting, Joost

A few more that arrived today.


Jeff, thank you for sharing!
Could you ID the last image for us?

For those less into ordnance (top to bottom, left to right):
Image #1
37x94R, HE, French
37x57R, base fuzed HE, Austria
Image #2
RG-86, grenade, Czechoslovakia
Image #3
12GA AAI Ferret?

EDIT: fixed nationality of the RG-86

1 Like

for eod
i think the rg86 grenade is czech

Oh, well…
I know of course but my fingers and brain got hang on the Austrian 37mm for some reason.
Fixed it to not misslead people!
Thank you for being attentive!

Correct, the last image is a box of 12 ga training Ferret rounds.

In case you get more such x-ray images keep them coming, much appreciated!

I’m very fortunate in that I work closely with all of the bomb squads in MI and have one of the busiest teams about 300m from my office. As long as neither side is too busy I can make arrangements and get something Xrayed almost any week. I have a pretty good file of items done in the past, and a pile of items waiting to be completed.


Thanks for the new one.
Could you provide ID of the items also?
Seems these are all 40x46SR.
My guess is:
· M433 HEDP
· M781 TP
· M406 HE
· M407 TP with spotting charge

Well done.

Here are a couple more, an easy one and one exotic.
IMG_3974 Silent%20Button%20Bomb

Is that a camauflaged booby trap?

Transmitter, Peat Moss, T-1151 (V) US - Operation Igloo White