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Old September 17, 2012, 05:06 PM   #1
WV_gunner
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Propane tank penetration

Moved to a new home recently, it has a bottle gas stove in one room. We don't intend to ever use it, also has an electric furnace in the house. Until the tank is removed from the yard, a big concern of mine is over penetration and hitting that tank. There's also close next door neighbors on one side, about 15 feet away. I know small shot shouldn't penetrate much, but I don't want something weak either. I know .410 #6 won't penetrate an empty helium tank, but will put some serious dings in it, that at about 15-20 yards. I know a propane tank is much sturdier than that, but I do not want to press my luck So my idea is 3 inch .410 #4, 12 gauge 2 3/4 #7, or .22LR hollow points. I really could use some help.
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Old September 17, 2012, 05:23 PM   #2
sigcurious
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This may have an obvious answer from your perspective, but without any details provided, from ours, the question is, why shoot towards the tank in the first place?
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Old September 17, 2012, 05:27 PM   #3
jhenry
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Out here in the sticks every house has a propane tank. Every single one. It is not something I worry about.

I remember myth busters trying to set one off by shooting it. The myth was busted.
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Old September 17, 2012, 05:32 PM   #4
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I think he means with regard to a home defense scenario, and missing the target.
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Old September 17, 2012, 05:39 PM   #5
sigcurious
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Ah, that makes sense.

No matter the case though, unless whoever is hauling off the tank is discounting or paying for the remaining propane, why not just empty the tank?

IIRC propane doesn't contaminate anything and isn't considered a pollutant or harmful to the environment.
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Old September 17, 2012, 05:43 PM   #6
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I'm thinking of a home defense situation.
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Old September 17, 2012, 06:03 PM   #7
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Very little concern over the tank BUT many tanks are plumbed with copper tubing to the appliance. The copper is much more likely to be punctured/damaged by a stray bullet. Unless there's an ignition source/open flame, the leaking propan is not that much of a hazard at least for a short time until it can be shut off. Now, if you were so unlucky as to knock the valve off the tank, that might prove more difficult. Still, I'd worry a lot less about such an ocurrance than I would about hitting the neighbor's house.
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Old September 17, 2012, 08:05 PM   #8
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"Emptying the tank" is not as easy as you think ! Many a welder has gotton a surprise when he welded a "empty tank" Whether it be propane , gasoline etc the gas is usually mixed with some air and becomes very explosive !

Proper welding proceedures include filling the tank with water or inert gas before attempting to weld .
My local waste transfer station will not take any tanks originally containing propane etc !!!
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Old September 17, 2012, 08:48 PM   #9
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robhof

Mete's right about empty not being safe, I watched a mechanic in the Phillippines welding a car gas tank with a hose with water running into it and he created an instant barrel out of the tank, three guys pounded on it for a few hours and got it flat enough to put back in the car. The welder wouldn't get near it after it popped.
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Old September 17, 2012, 11:21 PM   #10
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Use something like glaser safety slugs or corbon. The wont penatrate a propane tank.
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Old September 18, 2012, 12:32 AM   #11
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this is a non-issue(in my opinion). that being said, don't let someone triple-dog dear you to stand your ground to that tank with a high powered rifle or shotgun. Since I am guessing you aren't going to do this, your propane tank issue is a non-issue
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Old September 18, 2012, 06:37 AM   #12
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A friend of mine, lives in a small town in Yorkshire, UK. Gas for cooking, propane, not called that in UK.

The tank sits outside, accessible from Street, for filling. It is odorless, tank is a few feet higher than kitchen floor. A leak occurred, and as this gas is heavier than air, it started to fill the kitchen.

Jack (my buddy) was walking out of the back door, into the garden, the gas filling up the kitchen, reached the pilot light on the stove. BOOM IT BLEW HIM INTO THE GARDEN, JUST SHOOK UP, NOT INJURED.

What a mess, lifted the roof, blew every cupboard off the wall, major reconstruction called for, he grabbed his Lady, two kids, camper, went on holiday, as far as Morocco, left builder and Insurance man in charge.

One month later, sorted. Went home. To a new, non leaking gas tank!
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Old September 18, 2012, 07:31 AM   #13
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More fun to purposely shoot at - if at 300 to 700 yards out - but we normally shoot 1 lb or sometimes 20 lb tanks.

Sure would like to try a 250 lb tank sometime, although cleanup afterwards would be a pain.

Tracers or incendary work fine, or any high-powered rifle, with use of a lit candle about 50 feet behind it.
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Old September 18, 2012, 07:48 AM   #14
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MythBusters shot a full 60-100# bottle with tracer ammo on film. Very impressive fireball. If it was anywhere near a structure there would be some serious damage.
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Old September 18, 2012, 08:36 AM   #15
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Are you worried about damaging it? Or thinking it will explode if hit?

Quote:
Many a welder has gotton a surprise when he welded a "empty tank" Whether it be propane , gasoline etc the gas is usually mixed with some air and becomes very explosive !
Usually leaves a residue as well. I had to punch holes in a few old tanks to get a scrapyard to take them - they had been empty for a very long time, but still had a very strong odor
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Old September 18, 2012, 08:50 AM   #16
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As I understand it, propane itself is odorless. Gas companies add a marker gas to it, which serves two purposes. It acts as a warning in case of a leak, but it also gets stronger in smell when the gas gets low, and the ratio of marker gas to propane increases.

I have read that propane has approximately the same pound for pound explosive potential as C4, but don't know how accurate that comparison is.

With regard to safety of "empty" storage containers, I have had two friends over the years who had lost their fathers before they had reached their teens due to welding accidents. In each case, the father was going to make a clamshell barbecue by cutting a 55 gallon gas drum in half with a torch. Both men thought they had properly emptied the drums. Each was killed by the resulting explosion, one due to shrapnel through the skull.
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Old September 18, 2012, 09:35 AM   #17
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Some of my friends who live on farms, preppers like myself, have a few thousand sandbags for sandbagging the house and the propane tank.
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Old September 18, 2012, 10:54 AM   #18
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We are talking here about steel tanks being damaged by lead shot ?
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Old September 18, 2012, 10:55 AM   #19
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If you are REALLY worried about over penetration you could always go and buy a few sheets of 1" plywood. Depending on a lot of things I think a few sheets of that should offer some one directional protection against over penetrating buckshot. They are not too expensive and depending on the size of the tank for a couple hundred bucks you get some piece of mind.

http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/bot3.htm

On the other hand like others have pointed out; I might be more worried about the gas lines in your home than the tank itself and there is not a lot you can do about that.




OK HVAC Guy butting in here and taking this off topic....

Save yourself the money in the long run if you can; get rid of the electric strip heat and have an in ground propane tank installed. Kills(or doesn't kill depending on how you look at it) two birds with one stone.
You will get payback faster than you think. If you do not want to rely on the fluctuating prices of propane take a look at a Geothermal heat pump. Your local utilities might even have serious rebates or tax incentive programs available for either retrofit.
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Old September 18, 2012, 11:46 AM   #20
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If it does get penetrated, it will freeze what is in the plume. I've never seen one ignite. I don't know if it can even be done with tracers. You probably need incendiary rounds. I remember fires purportedly lit by machinegun fire in RVN, but no telling what actually happened.
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Old September 18, 2012, 12:00 PM   #21
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Far be it from me to tell others what to worry about, but this would be WAAAAaaaayyyy down my list.

First, you need an intruder, second, an intruder that needs to be shot, third, an intruder that needs to be shot and who is standing in line with the tank, fourth, an intruder who needs to be shot who is standing in line with the tank and you shoot and miss, fifth, a bullet that will penetrate your interior and exterior walls, sixth a bullet that will penetrate those walls and still retain enough energy to pierce a propane tank.

It's not a simple matter of odds, to decide what we might or might not worry about, but the odds should play a factor. Those odds are loooooooowwwww.
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Old September 18, 2012, 12:33 PM   #22
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Will the bullet or projectile you'll be using penetrate 3/16" or so of steel? If not, don't worry. If it will, then maybe change bullets or protect the tank a bit better.

All I got.

Good luck.
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Old September 18, 2012, 12:34 PM   #23
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Quote:
First, you need an intruder, second, an intruder that needs to be shot, third, an intruder that needs to be shot and who is standing in line with the tank, fourth, an intruder who needs to be shot who is standing in line with the tank and you shoot and miss, fifth, a bullet that will penetrate your interior and exterior walls, sixth a bullet that will penetrate those walls and still retain enough energy to pierce a propane tank.
"Excuse me, sir, but you are threatening me in my home. Would you kindly step about 3 feet to your right so I may defend myself?"

You might punch a hole in it, but I doubt you would need to worry about an explosion with conventional ammo
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Old September 18, 2012, 12:43 PM   #24
Brian Pfleuger
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As a matter of adding a few points of data, my dad had, for many years, what had previously been a 125 gallon propane tank which the top had been cut off and was used as a burn barrel.

We shot it a good many times from his back porch, a distance of about 100 yards. After many years of withstanding all sorts of heat and weather, we never shot it with any bullet from any gun that would penetrate the tank. 22, 30-06, 12ga and 20ga slugs, 45-70, .204Ruger and probably quite a few that I forget. None ever penetrated. It was a matter of how big was the dent.
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Old September 18, 2012, 01:01 PM   #25
RedBowTies88
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The grill size tanks are easily penetrated with .223rem. I've noticed that using standard lead core US made FMJ that one hit they just leak out propane (in a neat white low laying mist) but do not ignite. HOWEVER... Using foreign made bi-metal jacketed rounds will spark and ignite the gas instantly.

I cannot say about how much stonger the 100gal plus tanks are then the standard BBQ tanks. But the difference is most likely substantial.
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