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Catastrophic Firearm Failures

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Matt304, Jan 3, 2008.

  1. Matt304

    Matt304 Member

    Sep 19, 2006
    Utica, IL
    Catastrophic firearm failures are certainly not a common event. I have never witnessed it happen. I hope that I never have to witness the event in my life. But I am curious if anyone has any good stories to tell out there. Have you ever witnessed a firearm fail mainly because of some event of overpressure?

    I guess the idea which has always bothered me since I was young is what may happen when a big bolt gun fails at the action, due to whatever reasons. Are the imagined physics mostly correct, a high-velocity bolt literally sent through the users head? Or is there some sort of engineering measure integrated into the design so that it fails in a way to relieve pressure?

    I would bet that somewhere out there exists a bit of research on this subject. I would find it quite interesting to stumble upon.
  2. brentn

    brentn Member

    May 17, 2007
    it is incredible as to what even a 22LR can do to a firearm made of steel. I would think that a bolt breaking apart and flying into ones head is not an over-exaggeration.
  3. PercyShelley

    PercyShelley Senior Member

    Feb 15, 2007
    I don't know about other bolt firearms' specific measures to mitigate a catastrophic failure, but those two holes on top of the Arisaka receiver are pressure relief vents, intended to minimize damage to the shooter's face in the event of a blowup.
  4. Fast Frank

    Fast Frank Senior Member

    Feb 17, 2007
    Houston, Texas (Woodlands)
    At the range where I shoot, there's a rifle mounted up on the wall with a description of what happened to it.

    I haven't looked at in in a while, so bear with me if I get a detail or two wrong.

    It's a bolt action rifle, and I believe it is in .25-06 caliber. It's a high quality rifle with nice bluing and beautiful wood. I want to say it's an old Weatherby, but I'm not really sure. I remember that it has basket weave checkering on the stock.

    Somebody loaded that poor rifle with the wrong cartridge. I'm pretty sure it was a .308.

    The specifics aren't important. What matters is that the cartridge they loaded fit in the chamber, but the bullet was too big to go down the barrel.

    When they pulled the trigger... BLAMMO!

    The bolt on that rifle is intact, but tweaked badly out of shape. One side of the frame broke, but the bolt did not come out of the rifle.

    The rear part of the case blew out and sent gasses into the magazine.

    It blew a large chunk of the stock away, blew out the magazine, and sent shrapnel everywhere.

    The shooter and some bystanders were injured, but not life threatening.

    That rifle is pretty scary to look at, and I'm glad I wasn't there.

    Doing what they did would be super easy. All you would have to do is grab the wrong bullet and load the rifle.

    Pay attention, folks!
  5. 2Ais4U

    2Ais4U Member

    Dec 29, 2007
    North Carolina
    A friend of mine bought a dragunov chambered in .308 from some store in texas, I dont know what caused it but it was not very pretty.
  6. mattw

    mattw Senior Member

    Feb 19, 2005
    Thankfully I've never experienced a catastrophic failure, but my dad has got some pretty bad stories about when the US military first adopted the M9. He said the early pistols had an issue with the slide stop or something breaking and the slides would come off the pistols during firing. He said it nearly killed a guy next to him on the range, I think my dad said he ended up losing an eye or something.
  7. TAB

    TAB Senior Member

    Dec 18, 2007
    Working for a FFL I saw 2 really bad ones:

    One envoled a double charge in a 12 ga. The other was some one that forgot to remove the bore sight from the rifle before firing( I was the one that acutually sold him the rifle... he had had it for less then week, he bought the same gun and bore sight)
  8. RecoilRob

    RecoilRob Senior Member

    Sep 30, 2003
    If a rifle experiences an overpressure event when the bolt is locked up, it normally will not badly injure the shooter. Most actions have provisions for venting the gas from a ruptured case without catastrophic danger....although the gun will likely be ruined. Always wear your eye protection because even if the action handles the main gas flow, you will still be hit with particles and debris sufficient to injure your eyes if unprotected.

    Out of battery blowups are, indeed, catastrophic. Worst one I saw pics of involved a 50 BMG bolt gun that fired while chambering before the lugs had engaged. The firing pin had broken in the middle at some previous time and was peening the broken ends with repeated firing. Eventually, the business end of the pin got so peened it stuck in the channel hard enough to prematurely set off the round.

    The partially engaged lugs sheared, the bolt came out of the rifle at some velocity...the handle breaking and nearly severing his right thumb. It continued rearward through his bicep and partly through the shoulder and ended up lodged in a building some yards behind.

    The fact that it was a BMG only means the flying bolt was a huge thing comparatively to a normal caliber. The results would be pretty much the same with any rifle caliber experiencing the same failure. Be careful out there....
  9. dispatch55126

    dispatch55126 Senior Member

    Oct 8, 2006
    Its more common with shotguns I think than rifles. Thats partly why the shells are color coded. A 20 Ga will slide down a 12 Ga barrel half way then get caught.
  10. skinewmexico

    skinewmexico Senior Member

    May 22, 2006
    West Texas
    All I've ever seen blow up is a Glock 34 shooting reloads.
  11. Twud

    Twud Member

    Sep 27, 2007
    I saw the barrel on a Krieghoff trap gun get pealed open like a bananna. The owner, a big time corporate type, wouldn't fess up to a double load, but we all expected he did just that.
    The next Sunday he showed up with a new Perazzi, as Krieghoffs were now junk guns.
  12. aka108

    aka108 Senior Member

    Aug 26, 2006
    Tallahassee, FL
    If you are ever in the Star restaurant in Elko NV there is a new rifle with a split barrel hanging over the bar. Prior facility owner got snow in it while hunting. About a foot of space between then sides of the barrel at the muzzle. Said it was a real shorts changer.
  13. Matt304

    Matt304 Member

    Sep 19, 2006
    Utica, IL
    Holy ****. That springs a new sense of awareness for my firing pins; I'll never forget that one. It would be nice if there were different receiver criteria in the big guns like these. For instance some secondary set of lugs that could be unlocked so you still can remove the bolt, but to protect you in the event of an out of battery fire.
  14. 10s&Xs

    10s&Xs New Member

    Aug 29, 2007
    Couple years ago I was about 10 feet away from a catastrophic rifle failure. Guy was shooting a military bolt action, can't remember if it was an 03 or a Krag. I was walking behind the shooting line and had just passed him when it sounded like someone set off a .50 BMG. Heard the huge boom, felt the concussion, looked back and saw wood splinters raining down. He had a few cuts on his face, and a very stunned expression, but he wasn't seriously injured.

    Apparently he was making "reduced" loads using some kind of pistol powder (possibly Unique). He claimed it was the dreaded "detonation," but everyone else was pretty sure it was at least a double charge.
  15. 50 Shooter

    50 Shooter member

    Dec 24, 2002
    SoCal PRK
    The first one I saw was in a mini 14 that my brother was shooting when we were kids, the second mini 14 I saw chunk was about 10 years ago. In both cases neither shooter was injured, my brothers rifle was a complete loss and my friends was repaired.

    Another friend had his AR kaboom, luckily he came out of it okay but the upper was a complete loss. He was shooting factory ammo at the time so I don't know what could've caused it. He sent the upper back to Colt, never got an answer on the cause but they sent him a complete upper.

    Another friend was shooting his M2, he bought some cheap ammo from TNW and had it kaboom. Luckily Ma Deuce is one bad momma and all that happened (other then being showered with brass) was the top cover was warped. We took it off and beat it back into shape enough to get the M2 running again! Here's a pic of the offending garbage from TNW and I warn any new or old .50 shooters to avoid it.

  16. The Annoyed Man

    The Annoyed Man Member

    Aug 13, 2007
    Grapevine, Texas
    My old shooting buddy from years ago, who has since gone to meet his Maker, was a Sheriff's Deputy in L.A. County for a very long time. He told me he was present at the Sheriff's outdoor firing range were a new Ruger revolver (I recall it as having been a GP100 in .357 magnum) was tested to destruction. They put the pistol in a machine rest and fired a squib round via some sort of remote control device to deliberately stop up the barrel. They then fired 4 more regular rounds (also by remote control) down the barrel. The barrel bulged outward, and eventually the frame twisted up enough that that the cylinder would not rotate the last round into position; but the gun never blew up.
  17. mikec

    mikec Member

    Oct 13, 2004
    Several years back there was a guy who worked for a firearms distributor/parts shop who died while he was shooting an old Lee Navy rifle. I don't remember what the cause was but he did suffer a head wound.

    Just remember everything we use can kill you if you screw up enough. Electricity has killed how many? Cars? Scuba tanks... The list goes on and on. Since everyone does die, my goal is go AFTER my body is old and tired and used up not BEFORE!!!
  18. creekerdoug

    creekerdoug Member

    Jan 6, 2003
    West Virginia
    Unfortunately, I was involved with the destruction of a FAL. One of my closest friends had a DSA para lower installed on his FAL by a local FAL "expert". The so called expert installed the lower and the new bolt and all the other bits and pieces but he was, apparently, way off on his head spacing. My friend fired a few rounds and then let me have a go with it.

    I was shooting off a bench. When I pulled the trigger my head was suddenly in a cloud of smoke. I felt something hit my leg and my feet. The recoil was what I expect from a FAL (I own a couple myself) but the sound was very different. It didn't sound like a gun shot. It was more like an explosion.

    A piece of the barrel, by the chamber, just disappeared ruining the barrel. The magazine stayed in the gun but it the botton of the magazine blew out and the unfired rounds fell onto my leg and feet. The bottom of the magazine was bell shaped. The rear of the exploded round was basically gone and about 75% of the empty shell was lodged in the chamber. While I didn't see it a couple of onlookers said that pieces of metal departed the gun and headed off to the right. Fortunately, no spectators were injured. This was not an experience I'd care to repeat. Other than a good scare I suffered no injuries.

    My friend and the "expert" had what I believe to be a very unpleasant face to face meeting a few days after the event.......

    The rifle was sent to DSA (where it should have been sent to begin with) and they couldn't salvage the receiver. The upside is DSA took his para lower and put in a new receiver with a new 16" barrel. My friend now had one very nice FAL.
  19. rino451

    rino451 Member

    Mar 14, 2006
    .50 destruction test...


    Check out tests 3, 4, and 5. Impressive...
    * Test 1, shows the normal recoil of a 50 BMG.
    * Test 2, shows the recoil of a 50 BMG without the muzzle brake.
    * Test 3, is the 50 BMG being fired with the barrel full of mud.
    * Test 4, is the 50 BMG being fired with the barrel full of sand.
    * Test 5, is the 50 BMG being fired with the barrel plugged by tapping the bore and screwing 2, 9/16 set screws into the bore.
  20. Wes Janson

    Wes Janson Senior Member

    May 12, 2006
    Hey 50 shooter, that looks an awful lot like those pictures of Talon posted on M2HB a few days ago...scary!

    I've seen private video footage of an AR-15 blowing up...half a dozen people standing within five feet, and no one was struck by any of the fragments. Best theory was a squib or underloaded round leaving a bullet just before the gas port...

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