View Full Version : reality of full metal jacket in a tube mag

May 31, 2012, 12:54 PM
is it a real issue to use a fmj in a lever action tube fed gun.

marlin 336 style or henry tube style

i use the semi jktd but my buddy got into a great big discussion about not using a fmj in a tube mag..point to primer being his biggest point...

is it a real issue? or a myth?

i can see his point but really??? i would probably use the fmj if i had it..i just dont have it...but if i got a pile of it for free...wouldnt ya shoot it??


Ralph Allen
May 31, 2012, 01:15 PM
Your 3rd sentence voiceing your buddys concerns is the full and complete answer as to why you do not use pointed bullets of any kind in a tube magazine.

May 31, 2012, 01:32 PM
FMJ round nose or flat is not a problem. You don't want a hard pointed bullet resting against the primer of another round in your gun. Hornady makes some with soft plastic tips that are safe.

May 31, 2012, 01:36 PM
Pointed bullets + tube mag = bad mojo

The recoil of the gun shooting can easily provide enough forceful contact between the point of one bullet and the primer of the next, which can cause the bullet to fire in the tube... I have never witnessed it happening, and I hope I never do.

If you want to use pointed bullets, get some Lever Revolution from Hornady. I am not aware of any other pointed bullet that is safe for a tube mag rifle.

May 31, 2012, 02:29 PM
The fact of the matter is, I'm not sure you could find a cartridge with a pointed or spitzer bullet in a chambering found in a tube-fed lever action. There were a few bolt actions made for the .30-30 that used box magazines and there was also the Savage Model 99, which had a rotary magazine, but I've never seen a .30-30 cartridge with a pointed bullet.

It is an odd fact, however, that the first smokeless high velocity military cartridge used both pointed bullets (not technically spitzers, though) and a tube magazine. That was the 8mm Lebel. It overcame the problem of point-to-primer by a combination of the case being very tapered (and flanged) together with a groove in the base where the point of the following cartridge was supposed to rest. The cartridge also had an unusual bullet that was stepped, like heel-based bullets such as the .41 Colt had. That was probably to help prevent bullet setback or maybe it was what they thought of first. The cartridge was still going strong in 1940.

The biggest disadvantage of tube magazines for military purposes was that you had to load them one by one. By 1900 anything but clip or charger loading was hopelessly old-fashioned. They finally got around to adopting a rifle that used clips--of three rounds! Later they used five round Manlicher type clips.

May 31, 2012, 05:53 PM
Lots of folks reload, and that is the way I read the OP. I know some guys hot load 30-30 with sharp pointed bullets, but only load 1 round in the chamber and 1 in the magazine. Perfectly safe that loaded that way, but there is always the danger someone else could load more in the magazine causing a problem

June 1, 2012, 06:06 AM
10-4..i was wondering if it was honest to goodness or hooey...i see the isues but i wondered if it really was a poos of it going off in the tube..could the folowing one hit it hard enough.

nuff said..

Bailey Boat
June 1, 2012, 07:01 AM
I seem to recall a Remington, tube fed, pump action rifle that had a "spiral" to the magazine that effectively kept the bullet tips off the primer of the case on top of it. I don't recall the caliber.....but it must be an issue or this rifle would have never existed.....

June 1, 2012, 07:41 AM
While I certainly don't recommend the practice, there have been times when I've loaded pointy bullets in the .30-30, but I've used those as single shots, nothing in the magazine tube. I don't think it's a good idea to tempt fate, because Murphy seems to appear at totally inconvenient times.

However, there have been guys who tested the idea, with some interesting results. Once such thread, with pics, can be found over at the Leverguns forums. LINKY! (http://www.levergunscommunity.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=32111&start=20) Interesting stuff there, although again, I don't recommend the practice.

June 1, 2012, 01:15 PM
Some years ago I was hunting with a couple buddies, one of whom had a Marlin 336 in .35 Remington. Can't recall why, but he was showing us what he was carrying in it. The jacketed factory loads had tips small enough to detonate a primer, which I warned him about. He dropped them from carry after that trip. Dunno what brand or where he got them. At least back then, 30 or so years ago, such things WERE out there.

During my wife's CAS days we arrived at a match in Wyoming the day after a shooter had exploded the tube magazine on his levergun, which sent him to the hospital to have his arm treated.
Unknown reloads involved, lead bullets, mild recoil & velocity levels, experienced shooter.

Magazine detonation is no myth, and you do have to watch your bullet tips.
If the tip is small enough to allow it to push against a primer & not be prevented from contacting it by the case material around the primer pocket, the potential IS there.


June 1, 2012, 01:58 PM
ill be doing some rethinking then fer sure..like i said i dont have any pointed bullets but hadnt reall given it a seriuos consideration til now...

June 1, 2012, 02:22 PM
YES it's a real danger!!!!!

I am a gunsmith. I have seen the results 2 times. Both were 30-30s.
One in Nevada and one in Idaho.

I was able to repair both guns, but the shooters were both injured to a degree when the rifles ruptured.

No, they didn't loose fingers, but there had bandages, and were not happy campers for a few weeks each time.


June 1, 2012, 07:03 PM
Your buddy seems confused on terminology. There is nothing inherently dangerous nor bad about using FMJ ammo in a tubular magazine firearm. There is a sound reason to not use pointed-tip rounds in one - whether FMJ or not.

FMJ flat nose rounds would be as safe as any lead or semi-jacketed flat point round.

June 1, 2012, 11:39 PM
Has anyone ever witnessed, heard first hand information on, or read an article about an actual tube magazine vilation by using certain ammunition ?

June 2, 2012, 06:06 AM
Read post #12 above.

June 2, 2012, 12:12 PM
24 hours removed from being there when it happened, but we did talk to people who were.
It was mentioned several times during the three or four days we were at the match.
Certainly was no rumor or Internet tale. :)

Clifford L. Hughes
June 2, 2012, 12:47 PM

For my 94 Winchester Classic I single loaded 173 grain match bullets with great results. However, when I tried to load just one in the tube it wouldn't go in. Winchester used a rounded magazine plunger and the pointed bullet was pushed off center. I don't know if all 94's are this way or not.

Semper Fi.

Gunnery Sergeant
Clifford L. Hughes
USMC Retired

44 AMP
June 3, 2012, 10:00 PM
The rifles with the spiral in the magazine tubes are the Remington 14 and 141 pumps. One of my Dad's hunting buddies had one, in .30 Remington. They can be found in .25, .30. 32 Rem, and maybe .35 Rem.

They did use pointed bullets, but there were "grooves" (looking at the outside) pressed into the magazine tube, so that the rounds didn't line up bullet to primer in the tube. And just for the reason stated, safety.

Most don't realize it, but the rounds in a tube magazine actually bounce back and forth during firing. Recoil, and inertia move the rounds forward (actually the rifle recoils, the rounds try to stay in place) and then the spring slams the column of ammo back against the cartridge stops. That's why a good crimp is needed.

Pointed bullets (even lead) can fire the round ahead of them. The heavier the recoil of the rifle, the greater the odds.

heard of a fellow, back in the 50s or 60s who had a chain detonation of the mag in his .348 Win. He lost a couple fingers. We all hear all kinds of stories, but rounds going off in the tube due to pointed bullets is a real risk. It has happened, and likely will again, if someone uses the wrong kind of bullet.

There are NO factory rounds in common levergun calibers that have pointed bullets. The new Hornadys have a pointed soft plastic tip, but the bullet itself (the hard part) isn't pointed.

You can load pointed military FMJ bullets in .30-30 cases. Single load them directly into the chamber, and they will work fine (or at least safely). Don't ever put them in the tube, or you are asking for trouble. Even one in the mag might be some trouble, if the overall length is too long, it won't feed, and you will have a jam you will need to disassemble the rifle to clear.

June 4, 2012, 05:45 AM
points well taken...ill def be watching the config of the bullet when i get ammo...
havent tried the hornady since the winchester 175 has been such a good shooter but i probly will.
i only shoot factory loads since im an amatuer really...mostly walmart or gunshow ammo. factory stuff tho.
preciate the input tho guys..we all discussed it and figured the same..rumor r not it could happen...
reason enought to be wary of it i spose


June 4, 2012, 07:51 AM


Certainly not saying it is a good idea to put them in a tubular mag, but I see no disclaimers or warnings on these...

Lawsuit waiting to happen?

Mike Irwin
June 4, 2012, 09:22 AM
"It is an odd fact, however, that the first smokeless high velocity military cartridge used both pointed bullets (not technically spitzers, though) and a tube magazine."

The original bullet for the 8mm Lebel, the Balle M, was a 232-gr. flat nose, flat base designed specifically for use in the Lebel's tubular magazine.

This is a Balle M-loaded round:


In 1898 the famous, solid-bronze Balle D was adopted. It was a boat-tail spitzer.

I don't think this is an actual Balle D, but the profile matches the ones I have in my personal collection.


That is when the case head was changed to include both an annular ring (to catch the point of the bullet behind) and an "armored" primer cup, essentially a primer with two cups.

"The cartridge also had an unusual bullet that was stepped, like heel-based bullets such as the .41 Colt had."

Not exactly sure what you mean by this, but if I fully understand that statement, that's not the case. Both the Balle D and the Balle M were conventionally shaped, as was the later Balle N.

Both Balle M and Balle N were jacketed core type bullets, which would have made it VERY difficult to include any kind of step.

Oddly enough, during World War I, French troops actually did what they could to get hold of a Lebel instead of using the Betherier rifles, which they considered to be of inferior accuracy. Plus, they also liked the extra magazine capacity of the Lebel.

By that time most of the Lebels had been issued to conscripts and Colonial troops, so French front-line troops made a major push to get those rifles.

June 4, 2012, 11:06 AM
looking at the winchester 175 gr i bought at walmart..i see the lead tip is smaller than the primer..easily could go totally against it. end to end...soooooo...just thinkin out loud here but it is a flat tip but is it the lead or the metal that sets it off...or the pointed tip?? since it is flat tipped but not metal...lead....:confused:

June 4, 2012, 11:35 AM
The instance I mentioned, as stated, of the mag tube detonation at a CAS match in Wyoming was using LEAD bullets, since jacketed are not allowed.

Even with round-nosed lead, IF the nose is rounded enough & small enough & pointed enough to allow sufficient contact with enough of the primer, it CAN set it off under recoil.

Lead is metal, by the way. :)

Mike Irwin
June 4, 2012, 11:40 AM
Be interesting to know what kind of primers were being used, too.

Winchester, in the early days, loaded round nose FMJ bullets in the .30-30.

Their rounds used, as I described above, a dual primer cup, only the outer one had a hole in the center to allow the firing pin to hit the live primer and miss the protective cup.

I think I have one of those in my collection somewhere. I'll have to see if I can dig it out and take some pictures.

June 4, 2012, 12:59 PM
Re: Post #8 My Remington mod. 141 35 rem caliber has a spiral mag.

June 5, 2012, 07:29 AM
I must dig out my sample of an 8mm Lebel cartridge, which has the bullet but no primer. Unfortunately I do not have the ability to photograph anything.

June 6, 2012, 06:16 AM
Well, I have my 8mm Lebel cartridge but I'm afraid I can't add much to the conversation here. There is no primer but clearly it was Berdan primed. Wikipedia said they had primer covers, something I hadn't heard of before. It also said there were three versions. Mine is not the original and probably not the last version either, which had a heavier bullet.

The bullet is the interesting part here. One usually doesn't get to examine the bullet in loaded ammunition but this one slips right out. The bullet is definately of a slightly stepped design, the second half of the bullet being of a slightly smaller diameter than the forward part but it is also boat-tailed. Not only is it slightly stepped, but there is a distince crimping groove. You may have noticed loaded cartridges that had bullets with crimps loose enough so the bullet could be turned or rotated but not removed without a lot of force. The bullet has markings on the base but too small to read with my eyes. It is three letters (ARS, maybe) over a date (4.27, maybe). The base of the cartridge is too corroded to make out any markings but the groove in the base isn't all that deep. Interesting cartridge. It came out of a little box of junk that also contained a Maynard cartridge. Even more interesting.

Mike Irwin
June 6, 2012, 06:30 AM
If you could figure out how to get a picture of it, I would love to see it. Do you have a friend with a cell phone camera?