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Old September 14, 2012, 12:15 PM   #1
geetarman
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You cannot be too careful.

Went to the outdoor range today and the Range Safety Officer was telling me of an incident yesterday.

Guy has a Savage Axis .308. He puts one or two downrange and the gun blows up like a grenade.

I saw the pictures of the rifle and the man who is now in the hospital.

I saw a picture of an ammo box of commercial loads that were Chinese origin.

The says he was not shooting Chinese ammo but that he was using the box and had handloaded the ammo.

The bolt stripped right out of the receiver and hit him in or very near his right eye. It appears he has some severe facial injuries as well as damage to his hands from the magazine follower being ejected from the bottom of the rifle. The jury is out on whether he will lose the eye.

Shrapnel punctured the overhead and the explosion twisted the follower into a pretzel. The receiver is completely destroyed as is the stock.

The question we all have, is how could this have occurred?

I find it really difficult to imagine overcharging a .308 case to the point this catastrophic failure could occur.

I could see this if he used a pistol powder in a rifle case OR if he failed to load or undercharged the previous case he fired and had a squib lodge in the barrel.

I don't have access to the photos although they may become public soon.

No matter how long you have been reloading and no matter how confident you are that you have made no mistakes, your rifle CAN kill you with either end.

Law enforcement was all over the range investigating and I am not sure how it will all turn out.

I did ask if anyone had checked the barrel for a squib and apparently that was not done or has not been done yet.

I am here to tell you, I have NEVER seen a rifle so broken up into little useless pieces as that one.

Be careful when you shoot. If you are not SURE of your load. . .DON'T pull the trigger.

This guy has had a near death and life changing experience that has changed the rest of his life.

For your safety and for the safety of those around you, remember that you just CANNOT be too careful.
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Old September 14, 2012, 12:22 PM   #2
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Thanks for the reminder, scary story.
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Old September 14, 2012, 12:44 PM   #3
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I agree that the most likely causes would be squib (insufficient powder charge) stuck in barrel and then try to shoot another round behind it, or pistol powder in the reloading of the case.

Powder inspection is so important, as are many other reloading steps. I was reloading some .223 this week and as I was inspecting the charges I started to seem some variation. What the heck? It was Varget which is a stick powder but I've never had problems like this before with either of my powder measures. It seems the powder grains were bridging in the drop tube and some cases were getting a little less and some a little more. So I changed measures and had other issues but not the variance. Over 25 years of reloading and this is the first time I had this specific problem. Had I not been inspecting every single powder charge I could have missed this. Probably would not have been catastrophic but would be terrible on accuracy.

Be vigilant at the reloading bench. I hope this fellow recovers and is able to save his eye. n A terrible price for what may have been one second of distraction.
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Old September 14, 2012, 02:36 PM   #4
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That is really scary. That is another big reason I have not had the guts to start reloading.

What range was that at? I was planning on going out to Rio Salado next Friday, wondering if there will be any restrictions or anything by then...
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Old September 14, 2012, 02:53 PM   #5
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It was at Rio Salado.

I am not aware of any potential new restrictions.
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Old September 14, 2012, 03:33 PM   #6
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holy dude. seen alot of mistakes happen in livetime.. but this one is wild.

thanks for sharing.
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Old September 14, 2012, 03:45 PM   #7
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Stories like this only go to fortify my feelings that I will not shoot at a public range unless I know who is shooting next to me. I would rather wait for the range to empty out than to shoot next to someone that could either innocently or accidently cause me bodily harm. I have been thru too much and am very safety conscious to fall victim unintentionally. As it is, when I shoot at an outdoor rifle range, I am with three other shooting buddies and we stay in close formation to each other. We try to get at least one empty lane to either side of the group of us.

I'm not saying that something couldn't happen between the four of us but at least I know their habits, what they shoot and how they shoot. It lowers the odds of something bizarre happening.
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Old September 14, 2012, 04:01 PM   #8
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It would be difficult to believe that a handloader could pack enough of any powder recommended by a loading manual in a .308 case to blow the bolt out.

Likely,with some powders you can get enough pressure to blow a case ,blow the magazine out,etc,but not blow the bolt out.

The squib load,maybe,the barrel would show evidence of it.

Most likely:handgun/shotgun powder.We had a long thread about a Ruger bolt .223 blow up.

Obviously,only one powder on the bench,read the label twice,out loud,etc.Good reloader practices.

Pretty obvious,do not buy "housecleaning" powder.No opened cans,etc.

Not so obvious,the supply chain.Just as there are whackos who contaminate food or drugs,some anti-gun clerk can contaminate powder.

Buy new,sealed containers from a store that does not keep the powder out on the shelves.

Another possibility,maybe,if somehow this rifle went off without the locking lugs engaged.

I have not owned a Savage,don't they have a pinned on bolt head?

I could maybe understand a Krag with a brittle bolt losing its one locking lug,but I do not recall seeing pics of a case where a modern bolt gun allowed a bolt to blow out .I'd like more info.

Last edited by HiBC; September 14, 2012 at 04:09 PM.
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Old September 14, 2012, 05:09 PM   #9
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Another member of a club where I used to shoot at, was in the reloading business.
He sold quite a lot of his ammo to other members.
Since I did my own reloading, we often had long winded conversations on the subject.
One day, as we were shooting revolvers, his blew up.
The top strap, and some other formally essential revolver parts, went clear through the overhead ceiling.
Fortunately, everything went straight up or out, and neither he or I got hit with anything.
We Got All Shook Up, though.
He sure got something all wrong.
His reloading and business reputation probably suffered some, too.
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Old September 16, 2012, 03:31 PM   #10
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Anything mechanical, from an ax to a Space Shuttle can fail for some reason. I've seen guys cut their toes off with a lawn mower, shoot themselves, run over their own kid.....it goes on and on. Be careful, double check things and say a prayer, it's just part of life.
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Old September 16, 2012, 03:41 PM   #11
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When I loaded cartridges I would QC the powder loads before the bullet would go on. check the powder level in the case plus weigh so may cases out of a tray. Loading should be done with your full concentration on it.
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Old September 16, 2012, 10:32 PM   #12
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make sure of your powder. One of my cardinal safety rules is to restrict one powder to the top of my bench when I am reloading. All others are in the powder storage box.

The gentleman who got me started in reloading told me of reloading Bulls eye in lieu of 4350. Fortunately, he caught the error before he fired any.

This type error loading a pistol powder in a rifle could cause this type event.
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Old September 16, 2012, 11:16 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eghad View Post
When I loaded cartridges I would QC the powder loads before the bullet would go on. check the powder level in the case plus weigh so may cases out of a tray. Loading should be done with your full concentration on it.
Good advice.

After I started having issues with my measures I then started weighing finished cartridges besides visual look at powder before bullet seating. I found that finished cartridges only carried by at most 3 grains whereas a short fill of powder made it more like 7-10 gr.

My cheap little digital scale was plenty accurate enough and made it fast to check going from press to cartridge box.
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Old September 17, 2012, 02:29 AM   #14
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I'd like to hear whatever verdict they come to on what exactly happened. Prayers sent out to that fellow.
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Old September 17, 2012, 03:04 AM   #15
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After I had two squib cases where the next round would not chamber scared me.
I then decided to check every case twice with a flashlight before seating the bullets, and not only is there powder in each case, but the height of the top grains must look identical.
My only reloads are .303 and .308.

Even glances at a tv can be trouble, or thinking about which targets. Quiet music instead of tv is better.

Weighing the powder with a scale (etc) precedes this step, even though it is a slow process after measuring case length and trimming/deburring when needed.
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Old September 17, 2012, 04:20 AM   #16
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Munufacturer's have been known to put the wrong powder in containers too. If you're using a powder that's new to you it's a good idea to weigh a specific volume of the powder to see if it closely matches its published density. The Lee dippers that are graduated in cc's are good for this.

Old thread on powder recalls.
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Old September 17, 2012, 08:40 AM   #17
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Quote:
Munufacturer's have been known to put the wrong powder in containers too.
Some of you may remember my Ruger Hawkeye that blew up, I cannot commend Ruger on their design enough, it saved me from more serious injuries.

As for the powder in the wrong container I whole heartedly agree, but I don't think it is only at the factory where things can get screwed up. In my case I think it happened at the store I got the powder from. Its a long story but I can elaborate if necessary.
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Old September 17, 2012, 11:36 AM   #18
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Thanks for the post geetarman.

Been reloading a long time and sometimes get on a roll. Mind wonders off with the repetition. Bad move on my part.

Again, Thanks for the reminder.
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Old September 17, 2012, 02:09 PM   #19
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Very interesting...many moons ago (early 60's) I did not have enough money to properly feed my Rem 700BLD .264 win mag. The gun store I purchased the rifle from (one of the very few pure gun stores back then) had a reloading room...if you purchased your supplies from the store, you could use his reloading equipment for free...I did so...much less expensive than purchasing new Rem or Win ammo, and you could cook your own custom load by reloading. Only rifle and pistol, no shotgun equipment.

Well, this guys rules (if you wanted to use his equipment, you had to play by his rules...was...you weigh the empty cartrige, you weigh the primed cartridge, you weigh the charged cartridge, and then you weighed the loaded cartridge....(you recorded all these weights and turned the sheet in before you left)

Lots of extra work, but a improper load never left that reloading room, and a poor boy like me had an opportunity to use the best (at the time) equipment money could buy.
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Old September 17, 2012, 02:15 PM   #20
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Can't find any other mention of this on the internet. Anyone else have luck with the other forums for potential pics?
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Old September 17, 2012, 02:37 PM   #21
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I don't own a Savage,so I can't look at one .I was not there,all I have is this thread...I do not know anything.I'm asking questions to those who know the Savage.

The blow up pics I have seen,things can grenade at the front reciever ring,barrels can blossom open,etc,but I do not recall seeing bolts blowing out the rifle right now.At least not past the typical third safety lug.

I have no reason to believe the Savage is any less strong than any other modern bolt action,and I would assume there was plenty of blow up testing of that action at Savage to assure the sequence of failure would avoid the least desirable out come;a bolt in someone's head.

So,my question,is there any way the pinned on bolt head could enter into this?I am talking about maybe a dissassembly and improper re-assembly?Lost the pin,jury rigged something,or?

Is there any way a bolt could be rotated to battery and fired if the bolt head had come loose,and did not rotate to lock up?

Or,maybe it was high primer or some freak event made what amounts to a slamfire?

I do not doubt improper powder can blow up a rifle,but something about the bolt blowing out does not seem right.
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Old September 17, 2012, 05:22 PM   #22
geetarman
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Quote:
Can't find any other mention of this on the internet.
I have not seen anything either. I will be going back out there Friday and will see what is going on.

The investigation was being conducted by MCSO and I do not know if they will be publishing anything.

There were lots of pictures taken though. I am sure a lot of this was to try to cover themselves from any legal consequences.

I don't fault the range at all. There is no policy that prohibits handloads. This time of year, everyone is testing their new loads. I would really hate to see that go away because of this incident.

It does not take much. We can no longer post targets at 300 yards because a couple of nitwits decided to act dumb and hide behind the berm out of sight of the range officers and then had to stay there when the line was called hot.

Now, no one may go out past 200 yards and must wear an orange vest when they do go out to the 200 yard berm.

The actions of a few. . .
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Old September 17, 2012, 07:04 PM   #23
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I'm an idiot. I've been loading for better than 50 years. Got some new bullets for my -06 and rushed to the reloading room to load them over 54 grains of WW-760. Some how I grabbed WW-540. Stupid is as stupid does.

Savage makes a strong rifle. My only damage was a stove thumb and a few brass flecks in my face and nasty chip out of my glasses. G*d watches over fools..................but not rifles.
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Old September 17, 2012, 07:33 PM   #24
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Thanks,Goldeye,your pic illustrates perfectly what I have been trying to say!
The rifle is blown apart.The forward reciever ring split the top off,the barrel was blown out forward,the stock splattered,but the bolt is still secure,locked in place.

Isn't 540 a pistol powder?you loaded 54 gr and the bolt stayed put.

Something about the original story does not add up for me.IMO,if this is a handloading issue,its likely a high primer,and,a good lesson in the importance of care in priming.
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Old September 17, 2012, 10:29 PM   #25
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Man Goldy, glad you didn't sustain more injuries.

Quote:
I've been loading for better than 50 years.
That's why it's nice to get a reminder such as this thread to not only remind the less seasoned loaders of what can happen but us old loaders that can get complacent about what we're doing.
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