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Old August 12, 2008, 06:09 PM   #1
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Odd question....bang stick barrel??

This is kind of a strange question but here goes.

I have two bang sticks that are used when we harvest gators. They both have the same problem I'm going to describe and they have both been used about the same number of times.

They are basicall a barrel/chamber that slides inside a tube with a fixed firing pin in the bottom of the tube. They are made of stainless steel, are set up to fire .357 mag and were originally designed to be used on spear shafts used to harvest fish by skindivers.

The problem, which has evolved over time, is that it has become a BIG pain to remove the spent shell form the barrel/chamber. It's got to the point that I carry a steel pin with a handle on it to tap them out with.

My best guess to what has happened is that the stainless steel has over time stretched out, except in the area at the head of the case, and now the chamber is basically bulged. If this is what is happening then when the round goes off the case is swelling to fill that bulge. The result is that when I try and push it out it sticks in the area around the head where it is not bulged.

Does this sound reasonable? I don't have the instraments to measure this correctly so........?

And for what it is worth a friend has a different style of bang stick and he has had the same thing occure of late.

So if this is the case what can I do?

Can I file/sand/ream out the head area of the barrel/chamber so that it is once again the same diamiter as the rest of the chamber?

There is a lot of steel in it and I can not see it letting go.............but then maybe...............?
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Old August 12, 2008, 06:19 PM   #2
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It's unlikely that you have a bulged chamber, but it is possible. It is more likely you have something else grabbing the case. Pitting from corrosion, a burr, built up fouling? What does the case look like once you get it out? Any signs? You might want to blacken one with a marker or layout fluid, fire it, drive it out and take a good look. I would NEVER ream out the chamber to oversize in order to match up to a bulge. This could turn out real bad. The case could let go.
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Old August 12, 2008, 06:50 PM   #3
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As it's usually in the dark when I set it off and as I always toss the empties I don't know the answers to your well reasoned questions.

I toss the empties because of how the fixed firing pin impacts the primer. It looks like it does a number on the primer pocket and even though I am using reloads I do not think the ones that have been through the bang stick are good candidates for another reloading.

I'll go down to the river tomorrow and set off a couple of test rounds with the black on them as you suggest and then have a look.
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Old August 12, 2008, 07:07 PM   #4
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I my experience (40+ yrs.) most bangsticks are made by people with little knowledge of metalurgy or firearms. Because most are used with spearguns or pole spears, failures only affect ones reputation because the shrapnal doesn't travel very far underwater.

I could easily see 'bulging' as a problem especially if using a soft stainless steel like 302 or 304 and a thin wall for the chamber/barrel.

I have some friends with a large machine shop in Okeechobee that still hunt gators. You can PM me for more info.
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Old August 13, 2008, 01:52 AM   #5
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I sure am not an expert on those, preferring to keep well away from gators (currently about 1500 miles, which is OK by me). My guess would be that those "bang sticks" are cheaply made, not really made to last and the barrels probably are not good steel, if steel at all. .357 pressures run around 35,000 pounds per square inch, and I suspect the chambers are bulging.

Short of having one made at high cost by a gunsmith out of good barrel steel, I don't have an answer. Except of course to treat the "stick" as an expendable item and toss it when it goes bad.

Jim K
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Old August 13, 2008, 04:18 AM   #6
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I'll run the test this afternoon.

In the mean time, after thinking over the posted ideas, it does seem to me likely that what you say if true. Wrong metal.

And I should add this. I spoke to the commercial diver for whom the heads were oroginally made. He owns a couple of commercial fishing boats that harvest fish ( Mostly large fish such as grouper, amberjack, snappers and the like. ) by diving and he has these things made up a bunch at a time.

Has to have a lot of them becasue the divers lose them quite often. The last cost was $43 dollars each. Not very much. He said that he has the same problem as they age. Gets hard to exstract the shells.

He did say though that he had never had one rupture. And as was stated they are always set off under water and at some distence from the user so the chances of shrapnel doing damage to someone is rather on the low side.

I'll post results of the test...........
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