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Old January 9, 2012, 09:26 AM   #1
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Rounds Discharging Outside of a Gun

I've always wondered what the consequences of a round discharging in somewhere like your pocket would be. I know its very unlikely, but with a pocket full of rim fire rounds, the possibility is there. IT seems to me that without a barrel to build back pressure behind the bullet, you'd just get a nasty burn. Has anyone had any experience with bullets discharging? Maybe while reloading or something similar?
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Old January 9, 2012, 10:00 AM   #2
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Brass must be Supported by the Chamber

On a center fire cartridge, the brass is blow apart. Bad reloads tossed into a burn barrel will Kaboom, but the bullet never went thru the steel barrel. 38 special ammo. Read this>
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Old January 9, 2012, 10:02 AM   #3
Mike Irwin
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"like your pocket"

You'd probably sustain a burn of some type. Smokeless powder burns hot even when pretty much unconfined.

If a centerfire round and the primer popped, it might fly out of the case with enough force to embed itself in your leg.
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Old January 9, 2012, 10:14 AM   #4
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Tests have shown that ammunition exposed to a fire may eventually be heated
to the point that the primer and/or powder will ignite. This will usually result in the cartridge
case rupturing, and force the primer from the primer pocket. The powder burns, and does
not explode. Since the ammunition is not constrained within the barrel of a gun, the force
is dispersed in all directions, and the bullet will do little more than drop out of the case.
The primer, any pieces of the ruptured cartridge case, and the bullet will not penetrate anything
much stronger than a corrugated cardboard box a few inches away. Military surplus "ammo cans"
are excellent and safe methods for storing ammunition. Newspaper accounts of house or business fires
where "bullets exploded by the heat went shooting over firefighters' heads" are completely
false and based on invalid assumptions and ignorance. However, news people often
leap to hysterical conclusions which attract a lot of attention and are seldom corrected
(References- Major General Julian S. Hatcher, U.S. Army Ordnance Corps, Hatcher's Notebook, Harrisburg, PA, 1962, pages 531-540.
Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturer's Institute video- "Sporting Ammunition and the Firefighter.")

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Old January 9, 2012, 10:44 AM   #5
David Bachelder
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Try this:
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Trinity, Texas
I load, 9mm Luger, 38 and 40 S&W, 38 Special, 357Magnum, 45ACP, 45 Colt, 223, 300 AAC, 243 and 30-06
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Old January 9, 2012, 01:47 PM   #6
Romeo 33 Delta
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GOOD! Thanks
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Old January 9, 2012, 01:50 PM   #7
Clifford L. Hughes
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About forty yers ago I read this in a news paper: 30-30 ammo placed two close to heating vents exploded and shot holes in the basement of a celebrity's heating ducts. I had just read an experiment conducted by the NRA proving that this could not happen. So I set up my own experiiment: I poured half a pound of H 4831 into a two pound coffee can and on top I placed one 12 ga. shotgun shell, one 22-250, one 243, one 30/06, one 308 Norma mag, one
357, one 44 mag and one 45 ACP. On top of this I poured the remaining half can of 4831 and I lit it off. All of the ammo cooked off but nothing so much as dented the coffee can. You might contact the NRA to see if the pamphlet is still available. Our fire departments need to be educated.

Gunnery Sergeant
Clifford L. Hughes
USMC Retired

Last edited by Clifford L. Hughes; January 9, 2012 at 01:52 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old January 10, 2012, 12:27 PM   #8
F. Guffey
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Again, it is about keeping up with more than one thought at a time. Reloaders insist on neck tension, why? I do not know, I do know they can not measure neck tension, me? I use bullet hold, I can measure bullet hold, as some of you should know I am the fan of bullet hold. An almost perfect reloader carried his ammo to the range in zip lock bags, for all I know he could have purchased commercially reloaded ammo in zip lock bags, anyhow! he dropped one at the range and by the slimmest chance the rim of one case hit the primer of another case and he came close to bleeding to death. The weight of the bullet, case and powder enabled the primer to launch itself off of the combined weight of the bullet, powder and case to about 600+ ft. per second.

Steel case ripped apart? Nothing can be gained by looking at the case pictured, I do not believe it is a good example, but for the sake of guessing I would say it is the ‘cheap stuff’, I do not know if the case was a failure to fire and was ejected. Once I got my hands on some ammo that was highly recommended loaded for someone that died from other causes, and I said I would not shoot this stuff and that hurt some feelings, anyhow, I shook the cases and did not feel powder movement on most of the cases, so I pulled the cases down into components, some of the cases had powder caked and packed next to the primer, others had powder caked against the bullet base, what a nightmare, chamber a round, pull the trigger, the primer fires but the caked powder burns slow, then the case is ejected! Who knows what would have happen, then there is the powder caked at the shoulder and neck, the case is chambered, the trigger is pulled the primer ignites the powder !!!! with no place to go, the caked powder becomes an obstruction and the rifle only has one locking lug because Springfield could not figure a way to put two ‘forward locking lugs’ on the 30/40 Krag, so, they determine it did not need two.

Long story, I come from a family of 10 children, 4 of them almost orphaned the other 6, because of ammo going off outside a chamber, again, long story. anyhow, in our far ranging excursions we lost a lot of curiosity in ammo we found 'just laying around'.

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Old January 10, 2012, 12:44 PM   #9
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whoever says that it wont do much other than burn you is horribly mistaken. i have a 3'' scar on my right hand that was inflicted by a 303 brit case rupturing as it was being extracted from the chamber of a No4 Mk1. it was a hangfire that i let sit for 5 FREAKIN MINUTS! case exploded and shrapnel cut a 1'' deep 3'' long gouge out of the web of my hand. I WILL NEVER BUY PAKISTANI AMMO EVER AGAIN! made me fear mil surp ammo for a while also. on another note. when i was a dumb kid i used to put 22 shells in straws lead up and throw them into the air. when they came down ....POP! so i thought i could do it to one of dads 300 win mag shells.....taped a ball bearing to the bottom....threw it up.... BOOM! the cases do rupture just like the picture at the top. one day my dad caught me doing it.....i got beat hard, and never did it again. the chances of this happening on accident is minimal though. i had to jury rig my straw and ball bering to get a centerfire to go off.
Molon Labe

Last edited by Mausermolt; January 10, 2012 at 12:55 PM.
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Old January 10, 2012, 07:33 PM   #10
Plain Old Bill
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Freaky accident

Back a while, I was shooting a 9mm Mauser "Broomhandle" when a factory case decided to misfeed and wedge itself in a position between the bolt and the breechface. It went off- the bullet, which must have bounced off the breechface, left a nice bruise on my chest. The 9 MM case entered the skin on the top of my forehead and traveled along my skull to the back of my head. My shooting glasses were peppered with brass bits. Six hours, an incredible amount of probing and poking and some seventy stitches later, I left the hospital.
I consider myself a very lucky man.
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Old January 10, 2012, 08:04 PM   #11
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David, thanks for SAAMI link, I'm guessing Gen. Hatcher would have loved that video.
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Old January 10, 2012, 10:12 PM   #12
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Without the camber to contain it, and the barrel to direct the energy, what you have is nothing more than a little bomb. Things happen way to fast for the bullet or the case to move and go flying, The case will just rupture, and do what a bomb does, send shrapnel flying. At that point, propelled by the force of the explosion, the case and/or the bullet will start moving.....

As for a pocket full of rimfire ammo, dont worry, it takes a sharp blow to ignite a primer, but just smacking it between a rock and your leg wont do it (normaly), you have to crush the rim, in a centerfire the firing pin crushes the outside of the primer againsts an anvil built into the primer (or case), In a rimfire the firing pin crushes the rim of the cartrige against the breechface of the gun.

Last edited by dacaur; January 10, 2012 at 10:17 PM.
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Old January 11, 2012, 12:15 PM   #13
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A VFD buddy of a buddy of mine had a .22 long rifle round and a 9-volt battery in his right front pocket.
Somehow, the .22 crossed both the positive and negative poles of the battery IN HIS POCKET (what are the odds?) and remained there long enough to heat up and cook off.... in church

Burned his leg a little but other than that he suffered no serious injury.
If something seems too good to be true it's best to shoot at it just to be sure
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accidental discharge , misfire , safety

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