Here's a Doozy for Y'All—


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LJ-MosinFreak-Buck
April 13, 2012, 02:39 AM
Standing outside tonight on my back porch smoking a cigarette, I witnessed a nice crack of lightning light up the sky.

Now, I carry a firearm on my property (concealed, don't believe it is illegal to do so on my own property, just getting a feel for it until I get my permit). What ran through my mind is lightning strikes.

I seen on the weather channel—oh a few years back, I'd have to say— thought I don't recall what the exact figures were, it said the temperature of a lighting strike was somewhere in the vacinity of 35,000°F, but we'll just go within the neighborhood of 3,000-5,000°F. Like I said, I don't recall the details, and my googlefu doesn't want to work for me tonight.

Now, my question is, should the lightning strike you, or in the immediate area of yourself, would your firearm discharge? I understand that not even rubber-soled boots will really help you when hit by lightning, so would the electric shock cause your firearm to discharge?

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steveno
April 13, 2012, 02:58 AM
I think the lightning strike causing you gun to fire is the least of your worries. I would also say it wouldn't cause it to fire

mnrivrat
April 13, 2012, 03:23 AM
Sounds like a job for Myth Busters.

My first thought was the same as steveno . You would likely be a crispy critter before the lightning would set off the firearm.

You could try the Ben Franklin thingy with the gun instead of the key during the next storm, but I would not necessarily look for a positive outcome.

LJ-MosinFreak-Buck
April 13, 2012, 03:43 AM
Well, people have survived actually being hit with lightning, it's the Amperes that kill you, not the voltage. Though, someone ailed with a weakened heart could die from the strike. And temperatures are like a flash, according to the show.

steveno
April 13, 2012, 03:54 AM
feel free to go out and prove it one way or the other and post a video

45bthompson
April 13, 2012, 04:05 AM
You could stick a barrel in a light socket for an easier test than waiting on the lightning. I am not curious enough to try it though. You know what they say about the cat.

Deus Machina
April 13, 2012, 04:33 AM
I'm going to say it's likely to cause it to fire.
The electricity itself very well may set off the primer, but the casing may ground it around. Then again, people with piercings that get struck by lightning seem to have them scorched in place often enough, and the heat would certainly set it off...

I'm going to throw my hat into "not the part to worry about."

oldbear
April 13, 2012, 04:43 AM
I think the lightning strike causing you gun to fire is the least of your worries.:what:

No one will survive a direct lighting strike. Those who have survived a "lighting strike" were in close to the area where the lighting hit, not directly hit by the lightning bolt.

LJ-MosinFreak-Buck
April 13, 2012, 04:52 AM
Well, I can admit when I'm wrong.

Ragnar Danneskjold
April 13, 2012, 04:53 AM
Well, people have survived actually being hit with lightning, it's the Amperes that kill you, not the voltage. Though, someone ailed with a weakened heart could die from the strike. And temperatures are like a flash, according to the show.

I don't believe the OP is talking about the lightning, amps or volts, harming you. I think he's talking about the actual temperature increase from the lightning cooking off the round in your chamber. Is that correct OP?


I would think that since your gun is not part of the path of least resitance, the lightning would not set the gun off. People who get hit by lightning have burn holes in their hats and shoes, and burns along their bodies, but the rest of their clothes don't seem to catch on fire just by being close to the bolt. The massive temperature increase seems to really only happen along the path of the bolt. As long as the gun is not part of that path, it seems you would be fine.


\Not a scientist, so I very well could be completely wrong.

Plan2Live
April 13, 2012, 05:52 AM
The cigarette poses a more realistic danger.

LJ-MosinFreak-Buck
April 13, 2012, 06:04 AM
Ragnar, you're half right, I was thinking that the electricity could set the firearm off.
Temperatures would soar, but only for many fractions of a second.

As a welder, I know that it is not the voltage, but the amperes, that kill you. All it takes is six milli-amps across the heart to kill (I might be of a figure, don't directly quote me exactly on that). That's why tasers, stun-guns, whatever the nomenclature, don't kill the target. Some can have up to 1,000,000 volts, but nowhere near the amps.

Look at it this way, voltage is like velocity, more voltage more speed. More amperes, more strength.

Similar to water:

Higher voltage = Fast-moving, free-flowing water.
Higher amperes = Higher water pressure.

Apple a Day
April 13, 2012, 06:11 AM
Nevermind.
I was going to say "unlikely" since the gun would act as a Faraday Cage like your car in a thunderstorm so the ammo would be safe inside the gun like you're safe inside your car.
but
Electricity might likely still pass through the gun itself since it's metal on the way through, making a shortcut to the ground. The metal of the gun would heat up and that might be enough to set off the rounds.
I dunno.
That's assuming that you've got a pistol riding in a holster somewhere on your body. If you're holding a long gun then all bets are off. Don't walk around with a lightning rod slung over your shoulder.

hso
April 13, 2012, 06:40 AM
Unless the firearm was struck there's no guarantee that the firearm and ammunition would be affected at all.

Lightning strikes victims don't look like cartoon characters do after being hit by lightning. Only limited parts of the body and gear become part of the path to ground.

bannockburn
April 13, 2012, 06:48 AM
Try a google search of images with the description "golf bags/clubs hit by lightning". Very interesting (and very scary), stuff.

pockets
April 13, 2012, 07:08 AM
Certainly not in every case. A friend of mine was struck by freak lightning while leaning on his bike in the park one afternoon.
He died instantly, but his gun didn't go off or anything.


.

tarosean
April 13, 2012, 07:16 AM
I think you have a better chance of actually using your ccw to defend yourself.

We know bullets can spontaneously combust with extreme heat. However, they don't have the same effect of being in the chamber... So even iffffffff all the stars aligned you only have to worry about a hole in you butt or leg, (depending on carry position) which as other mentioned, is probably he least of your worries...

JustinJ
April 13, 2012, 09:11 AM
If enough current were induced through the gun it could certainly go off. Lightning, however, does weird things and can travel in odd paths. If you really want to know maybe these guys will verify if you ask:

http://www.lightning.ece.ufl.edu/

Owen Sparks
April 13, 2012, 10:39 AM
I would be nervous about lightening in an open field if I were carrying a long gun. They can act as lightening rods, so can golf clubs. Thunder is my cue to go back to the truck.

Kingcreek
April 13, 2012, 10:53 AM
It's rare enough that I wouldn't worry about it either way.
I met a fella that was struck while standing up bass fishing with a graphite rod. He survived but it blew one of his heels off and a couple fingers. It also welded his keys and coins together in his pocket.

FlaBoy
April 13, 2012, 12:07 PM
Similar to water:

Higher voltage = Fast-moving, free-flowing water.
Higher amperes = Higher water pressure.

Very close, but no cigar. Yes, it is VERY useful to compare water flow with electrical circuitry (one of the first analogies I used when I taught intro to Elec. Engineering). But you got the terms a little sideways.

Think of Voltage as Pressure, and Current as Flow Rate.

That is, you can have huge pressures with no flow (pressurized hose with the nozzle closed) just like you can have huge voltage with no current (across the terminals of a battery that is not connected to a circuit of any type).

Similarly, you can have huge flow with very low pressure (huge slow moving river) just like you can have high current and very low voltage.

Sorry, not that any of this really matters, but the professor and the engineer in me cringes a little when i see science done wrong :)

knoxy
April 13, 2012, 12:29 PM
Do like Ben Franklin & tie a bullet on a kite string soaked in saline. Fly the kite in a field during a storm & see what happens. ;)

mljdeckard
April 13, 2012, 12:58 PM
I agree with HSO. Lightning strikes are unpredictable in how they spread and what they will and won't affect. I think that in the vast majority of cases, the strike is too fast to heat up the gun enough to cook off a primer.

LJ-MosinFreak-Buck
April 13, 2012, 05:31 PM
Very close, but no cigar. Yes, it is VERY useful to compare water flow with electrical circuitry (one of the first analogies I used when I taught intro to Elec. Engineering). But you got the terms a little sideways.

Think of Voltage as Pressure, and Current as Flow Rate.

That is, you can have huge pressures with no flow (pressurized hose with the nozzle closed) just like you can have huge voltage with no current (across the terminals of a battery that is not connected to a circuit of any type).

Similarly, you can have huge flow with very low pressure (huge slow moving river) just like you can have high current and very low voltage.

Sorry, not that any of this really matters, but the professor and the engineer in me cringes a little when i see science done wrong

Just quoting my welding instructor from a few year ago. :)

Well, I'm not actually worried about the lightning strike, but it's rare that someone gets hit with them, and even more rare that the victim was armed. I was just thinking what the possibilities were in that event.

CONNEX 3300
April 13, 2012, 07:41 PM
Thats something I have wondered about in the past. Of course I realize that the lethality of the lightning strike would be of more concern than the gun going off. But I always thought that this scenario would be more likely if a person were carrying a blackpowder cap and ball revolver. It is much easier to ignite blackpowder. But I suppose maybe the electric build up prior to the actual strike might set of the gun? Lots of variables, and I'd rather not be the guinea pig who finds out for sure.

MrBorland
April 13, 2012, 08:04 PM
FWIW - I was in the Springfield Armory Museum a little while ago, and on display was a Civil War era musket that had been hit by lightning. The barrel was twisted like it reached 3,000F, but upon inspection, it was found the musket hadn't discharged, and the cartridge was found intact. Here's a link:

http://www.nps.gov/spar/historyculture/mishaps.htm

Apuuli
April 13, 2012, 10:32 PM
According to Wikipedia, it's 30,000 C or 54,000 F.

Iramo94
April 13, 2012, 10:56 PM
I'm not a scientist, but I'll do my best to figure this out.

Temperature is basically an aggregate measurement of kinetic energy, because we can't get the energy of each individual particle, we get an average.

Since the current in lightning is actually not very large, and even smaller after it goes through the resistor that is your body, there probably aren't that many electrons actually passing through you. Now, each of those is carrying a HUGE ammount of energy, but the current is what we want to look at.

So we have some of the lightest particles in the world, electrons, passing through the gun. And there aren't many of them. That means that the total kinetic energy passing through the gun is probably not very high. Ergo, not much heat. Besides, the gun itself is a conductor, a much better conductor than either you or the air around you. Low resistance means no molecular collisions, which means minimal energy transfer, which minimizes the heat that appears.

I think what is written down as the heat of lightning is actually the heat that appears in the air as the electricity passes through it. That would happen because the resistance of air is extremely high, so high in fact that most books just assume it to be infinite for the purposes of electrical wiring.

Conclusion: You are probably safe from lightning in the gun because the gun won't heat up much. Now what it does to your body is a different story. It's survivable, but you'll definitely lose some movement.

x_wrench
April 14, 2012, 08:59 AM
if you received a direct hit by a lightning bolt, your gun going off would be the least of your worries. however, to be honest, if i thought i was in a situation, where i seriously had a good chance of being hit, i would dump that two pounds of mini-lighning rod to better my survival chances.

FROGO207
April 14, 2012, 02:24 PM
Well think about it-----If you ended up with the heat INSIDE the firearm like how it is theorized here how do people survive when the airplane skin is hit by lightning??? The firearm would not discharge as the electricity would shunt around the skin of the bullet or the actual firearm itself on the way to ground. This is how you are not hurt when the airplane you are in is hit. Also you die when hit because the voltage disrupts your heart beat rhythm. At the same time electricity flows through the body, heats it up and turns the conductive water/salt mixture to steam. The same process as it does to the water in sap filled bark on a tree. Well I would think that a firearm would be of no concern if you are hit anyway.

General Geoff
April 14, 2012, 03:55 PM
The electricity itself would not likely ignite the primer or powder, as the chamber surrounding the cartridge would typically be a better conductor than the casing material. The heat that's built up into the gun by a direct lightning strike, on the other hand, could very well cook off the round in the chamber. As I've read of metallic objects on persons being flash-welded together via lightning, it strikes me as very plausible for a lightning strike to heat a gun up well past flashpoint for the chambered cartridge.

MachIVshooter
April 15, 2012, 06:50 PM
I think that in the vast majority of cases, the strike is too fast to heat up the gun enough to cook off a primer.

See:

As I've read of metallic objects on persons being flash-welded together via lightning, it strikes me as very plausible for a lightning strike to heat a gun up well past flashpoint for the chambered cartridge.

A lightning strike could certainly generate enough heat for a cook-off......and probably weld parts of the gun together.

Apuuli
April 15, 2012, 07:17 PM
So there IS a connection! ;)

barnbwt
April 15, 2012, 10:45 PM
I'll bet the round will only go off if you have your finger on the trigger, so carry safely during storms :)

Personally, I'd be more worried about the state of my drawers, in such a situation... I would bet that if a box of shells I was holding got hit it would be pretty exciting, too, though.

TCB

MutinousDoug
April 15, 2012, 11:21 PM
I recall, years ago that a BP hunter here was found dead in an aspen grove of a lightening strike. There was some controversy because he had bruising and burns around his waist that, at the time was thought to be evidence of foul play. I don't recall whether his gun had been actually damaged in some way, or just discharged.
Anyway, the forensic report concluded that the strike had set off some pre-made cartridges on his belt. His death, however resulted from the lightening.
The lesson being: Aspen grove is not a guaranteed safe lightening shelter.
At least in Colorado.
YMMV

pikid89
April 16, 2012, 03:12 AM
The mythbusters did in fact test a myth involving ammunition and electricity

The myth was could you use a .22 LR cartridge as a fuse in a vehicle

they pushed past the normal parameters of a vehicles electrical system, but they proved that electricity will in fact set bullets off

http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/mythbusters-gun-cartridge-fuse-minimyth.html

MachIVshooter
April 16, 2012, 03:50 AM
The myth was could you use a .22 LR cartridge as a fuse in a vehicle

they pushed past the normal parameters of a vehicles electrical system, but they proved that electricity will in fact set bullets off

Yeah, push enough amps through them, and they'll warm up to the point of ignition. Brass is a pretty good conductor, so no real risk in the 12v, <30 amp interior fusebox of an older automobile that actually uses glass fuses; It'll burn up the wires or component first. But try it in place of a large fusible link, you may have quite the "fuse pop".

scythefwd
April 16, 2012, 07:21 AM
if the ammo was part of the path of least resistance.. I could see it happening. We do have electronic ignition on BP guns now.

pikid89
April 16, 2012, 10:35 AM
don't forget the Remington 700 Etronix that used a 9 volt battery to send an electric current through a special primer...a little different but still similar

blackguns
April 16, 2012, 01:35 PM
Unless the firearm (any type) were directly part of the ground path or somehow heated to the point of ignition by something nearby (clothes, flesh, etc.) burning I doubt anything would happen. The pistol on your hip, not touching a grounded surface, would exists in a zone of equipotential. Similar to how birds can sit on bare high voltage wires or how the crazy SOB inspecting the interstate transmission lines, wearing a faraday suit, can literally walk on the lines as long as he doesn't find a ground path.

A g-lock (cause they can handle anything!) wouldn't even know it had been strapped to a sorry soul that had just been hit by God's taser.

If that same pistol where somehow a part of the ground path and it was a nice conductive path, I would expect that all the ammo would ignite simultaneously, the frame and slide would both melt and a large portion of it would be converted to vapor. If you were wearing it at the time, well, you wouldn't miss it.

Electricity is perfect in its reliability and predictability. We call it unpredictable because we don't often know all the variables in every situation where we see electricity in action. But in all of history, electricity has not once chosen to ignore a path to ground.

herkyguy
April 17, 2012, 07:54 AM
Wouldn't the holster, in theory at least, keep the gun out of the path of electricity? I've been struck by lightning in an airplane and didn't feel a thing when it struck the nose and went out a wing (taking a generator with it along the way). if you were struck on the top of your head and then it exited out of your foot, it seems the lightning would not have a path to the gun since the holster is presumably leather or kydex or something?

by the way, i am by no means an expert. I failed physics II the first time and squeaked by the second time with a C- because the instructor liked me.

MachIVshooter
April 17, 2012, 10:21 PM
Wouldn't the holster, in theory at least, keep the gun out of the path of electricity? I've been struck by lightning in an airplane and didn't feel a thing when it struck the nose and went out a wing (taking a generator with it along the way). if you were struck on the top of your head and then it exited out of your foot, it seems the lightning would not have a path to the gun since the holster is presumably leather or kydex or something?

by the way, i am by no means an expert. I failed physics II the first time and squeaked by the second time with a C- because the instructor liked me.

The amount of voltage your dealing with where lightning is concerned changes the game a bit. Grab a high voltage power line, the current will take the most direct route to ground. But lightning may go into your head and exit your hip, then arc the rest of the way to the ground. It may also turn metal parts of your attire into branding irons instantaneously.

http://www.google.com/search?q=lightning+strike+victims&hl=en&rls=com.microsoft:en-us&rlz=1I7GWYE_enUS348&prmd=imvns&source=lnms&tbm=isch&ei=FSWOT7PZJpC2tweXh-S2Cw&sa=X&oi=mode_link&ct=mode&cd=2&ved=0CA4Q_AUoAQ&biw=1429&bih=555

langenc
April 17, 2012, 11:34 PM
I believe that someone who is direcrly hit by lightening has their corneas detach. Seems like I read that sometime ago.

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