Found a cartridge on the beach. Unsafe or not?


July 18, 2003, 12:39 PM
I was walking along the beach on Topsail Island, NC, a few weeks ago, up on the north end, right across the water from Camp Lejeune. I saw something that looked like cartridge brass lying on the beach, and picked it up. I'm guessing that it's an unfired blank round from a chain-fed MG. It's about the size of a 30-06 round, but there's no bullet; the end of the case is crimped. There's an ammo-chain link still stuck on the thing, and the primer has not been struck.

I brought it home with me in case it was unstable, rather than let some little kid find it.

I'm guessing that it got dropped overboard during some MC exercise. I've no idea how long it was in the water before it washed ashore.

It's a cool little conversation piece, but I don't want to keep it if the saltwater might have made the powder unstable or something. Is this thing more hazardous to have lying around than, say, any other live round?


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July 18, 2003, 12:47 PM
I'm certainly no expert, but I would venture to say that particular blank is no more dangerous than whatever other live rounds you may have around the house.

4v50 Gary
July 18, 2003, 12:54 PM
Nah. Put some penetrating oil in a bottlecap and set the cartridge upright so that the primer is deactivated.

Mal H
July 18, 2003, 01:06 PM
Right. Keep it, it isn't dangerous. It probably contains a very fast burn rate powder. Unlike some other forms and uses of nitro, smokeless powders are quite stable and don't deteriorate into an explosive sensitive to dropping, etc.

July 18, 2003, 01:19 PM
Great! Thanks for the replies! I was hoping I wouldn't have to get rid of it.

From what I hear, the things wash up on that particular beach fairly frequently. If I find any more, does anyone want one as a souvenir? :D


July 18, 2003, 01:40 PM
Just be carefull. Im EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), so Iv got quite a bit f first hand experience in handling dud ordnance. The round you have sounds perfectly safe, and while I cant tell you that you should keep it, I seriously doubt that it poses any threat to you.

July 18, 2003, 01:48 PM
I don't think it poses any possible danger, but on the other hand it would likely not be safe to shoot after going through the salt water and the sand. Esp. if it's turning green or has a rough surface, you might want to deactivate it so nobody ever tries to fire it.

July 18, 2003, 01:56 PM
It's certainly not in usable shape. It's got crud all over it, and the chain link is sort of mashed up. I'll take 450vGary's advice and set it in some penetrating oil, just to be sure, but I seriously doubt that anyone who would be inclined to try even chambering the thing in an appropriate gun would actually succeed.

Fortunately I have no 30-06s in the house; the closest this I have is a 7mm Rem. Mag, and this certainly wouldn't even come close to chambering in that.

You sound like me, when I'm talking about work stuff: "I can neither confirm nor deny the presense or absence of truth or falsehood in that statement or any other, at this time." ;) Thanks for the not-actually-official-but-still-useful answer...

July 18, 2003, 02:11 PM
My guess is that it's a blank 7.62x51 cartridge....

July 18, 2003, 02:14 PM
Nah. Put some penetrating oil in a bottlecap and set the cartridge upright so that the primer is deactivated.

A recent article in the Rifleman discussed this. Apparently, the primer will only be _temporarilly_ deactivated, and will _eventually_ dry out and become useable again.

July 18, 2003, 02:17 PM
I brought it home with me in case it was unstable

Only in a place like this do you get a quote like that. :D

July 18, 2003, 02:31 PM
what you pick-up on the beach. Apparently what you found was not a big concern but we shouldn't encourage others who might not be as knowledgable to be gathering up souvenirs of the like. Unexpended marine markers might wash up and can be a real hazard. Best to leave stuff alone and notify an "authority".

So, does it have any kind of headstamp ???

July 18, 2003, 02:33 PM
I don't recall whether it has a headstamp (more precisely, whether you can tell underneath all of the crud). I'll check when I get home.

What's a "marine marker"?


July 18, 2003, 03:04 PM
I'll probably sound like a complete gun noobie here but here goes:
I have this vague memory of a friend of mine, an X-military helicopter pilot telling me that the primer on the mini-gun rounds was electronically activated much like the Remington E-Tronix (sp?).
Does anyone have experience with electronic primers and do you know if a spent primer would look like a conventional, unused primer?

July 18, 2003, 05:18 PM

The spent electrically fired primers I've seen will be slightly buldged, (looks like a small 'zit'), with an indentation caused from the firing pin. The pin doesn't actually 'strike' the primer when the round is fired but it contacts the primer and the primer buldges out when it lights and the pin leaves it's mark. An unfired electrical primer looks like a conventional primer except you might see a tiny ring of an coloured insulating compound around the edge of the primer itself. (The primer must be electrically insulated from the case).


Marine markers come in a variety of shapes and styles. In general, they are a pyrotechnic signal device that produce intense light and/or smoke on ignition. They can be cartridge activated and may contain harmful substances such as 'WP' white phosphorus. That's all I know, perhaps one of you sailor types out there can give us a little more specifics ... :)

July 18, 2003, 07:28 PM
Back in the day, a naval marine marker was a cyndrilical object filled with white phosphorus and weight balanced that when the pull tab set the ignition, the weighted end kept the burning end always sticking out of the water.

The device, which has a delay fuse, much like a hand grenade, constantly flickers and produces a plume of smoke until the WP is burned away. I wouldn't ever mess with one found on the beach because any unburned WP exposed to the air could spontaneously reignite and there is no real way to put it out without special containment near water and maybe not even then.:what:

July 18, 2003, 07:54 PM
I have a belt of .308 blanks. Unfortunately, I don't have anything to shoot them in. Anyone have a M60 I can borrow?

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