1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Getting Sued re: reloads?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by holdencm9, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. holdencm9

    holdencm9 Well-Known Member

    Hi all, just wondering a couple things. I am not looking for opinions really, what you do or believe, et cetera. I am just really interested in cutting through all that and getting some links or stories about actual civil suits as a result of the following:

    1. Using reloads in self-defense ammo. I often hear people say not to do this because an overzealous prosecutor can make you out to be some bloodthirsty killer who made custom "dum-dum" bullets that are "extra deadly," even if it was a justifiable use of force, using reloads makes you seem somehow, sketchy. Again, not looking for opinions, but is this a real concern? I.e. has anyone ever been sued after the fact, for using reloads in a self-defense shooting?

    2. Sharing/selling reloads. I know some people absolutely say no to everyone. Some people give away a box or two to relatives or close friends. And some are probably very relaxed about it. Have there been some big civil suits as a result of someone's gun blowing up or getting injured? I have looked a little, and all I can find is anecdotes of "this guy could have sued, but he just made the other guy pay for the repairs to the gun" etc. I am just wondering if there has been more than that, hence everyone's concern.

    I am not really considering either of these things, as I am a new reloader. But I would like more information. Thanks in advance!
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    1. The only bona fide court case I am aware of was often cited by Massad Ayoob in his writings for Guns magazine. I forget all the details, but it had something to do with a guys wife ending up shot to death in bed.
    He claimed suicide, they said murder with reloads.

    The point was made that ballistics testing concerning the guns distance from the wifes wounds could not be run on his reloads, because there was no way of knowing if they were all the same reloads or not.
    Massad's argument was if it had been factory loaded ammo, samples could have been obtained and properly tested.

    I don't recall how it ended.

    2. I don't know of any cases like that either.
    But common sense in todays legal climate tells me if even a good friend blows himself up with one of my reloads, I might get sued in civil court for the damages.
    And thats more hassel I don't need.

    Then, if you reload and sell the ammo with the intent to make money?
    You need a manufactures license from the ATF.
    And pay local & state sales tax, and federal income tax.
    Thats more hassel I don't need too.

  3. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    Selling reloads in such a manner that it is can be considered business enterprise, and, or, for profit, does require licensing, as RC stated.

    As to using reloads for self defense carry, I would suggest you incite the advice of an expert as follows:
    This man is an expert and can provide you with a realistic and legal perspective.

  4. jr_roosa

    jr_roosa Well-Known Member

    I won't speculate on the self defense issue.

    As for other people shooting my reloads, I have a large personal liability coverage and I still keep commercial ammo around for when I shoot with friends. Sometimes it can't be avoided, and I worry the whole time somebody uses my reloads.

    I worry about bad luck. Someday the gun might just blow up. Even though I trust my reloads, why take the risk? They could still sue me but I think I'd not have a leg to stand on if my reloads were involved.

    Also it's a great way to turn that pesky WWB into empty brass.

  5. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    . Sharing/selling reloads. I know some people absolutely say no to everyone. Some people give away a box or two to relatives or close friends. And some are probably very relaxed about it. Have there been some big civil suits as a result of someone's gun blowing up or getting injured? I have looked a little, and all I can find is anecdotes of "this guy could have sued, but he just made the other guy pay for the repairs to the gun" etc. I am just wondering if there has been more than that, hence everyone's concern.

    A friend posted this on jouster:


    I believe that most people decide not to sue if their gun is blown up by reloads. Unlike deep pocket corporations, the amount you can recover from an individual is limited, and they probably decide that the cost of the lawsuit would be more than the cash they would get back.

    Still, if someone you know blows their gun up with your reloads, you are likely to lose a friend.
  6. targetshooter22

    targetshooter22 Well-Known Member

    I have never, ever heard or seen a real case in any court where someone was sued for using reloads in self defense. I have never heard of or seen a case in court where there was a liability because someone gave someone their reloaded ammunition.

    I routinely share my reloaded ammunition with friends and family. Never had any complaints (legal or otherwise).

    Personally, I have bought reloaded ammo at gun shows and used that to out source my R&D department. At least one of those saved me a lot of time and trouble because it worked well. In all cases I asked the seller for the recipe, which he gladly provided. Personally, I would only shoot reloaded ammunition from someone I actually talked to about said ammunition. This serves two functions: first, I know what I am getting; second, I can "sanity check" the provider. Therefore I would avoid estate sale disposal, other than for bullet/case recovery.

    Gratuitous fear mongering on the internet I have seen, with great abundance and frequency. The story in the link above is a great example. The "inspection" of powder, which can seldom be determined without chemical analysis was visual, based on a tested burn, and then the odor of the smoke. I just can't see that being worth much, other than to stir up a lot of fear.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2013
  7. hueyville

    hueyville Well-Known Member

    Half the folk I take shooting could not enjoy it if I did not provide them with ammo. If they had to pay $20 box per 50 rounds half a box later they would be ready to quit. Handing someone a couple pistols w 100 rounds of ammo let's them really enjoy the experience. Since all my range ammo is mild loaded cast bullets off of Dillion progressives with powder check and I have not had a failure in over 30 years of high volume loading I don't worry about sharing range ammo.

    As to selling handloads, never have and never will. If someone wants me to tailor a specific load for some unique purpose that over the counter is not the best choice I have them buy their own bullets and bring their own once fired brass. I have them help with some basic chore so in the end, its their load not mine. Never an issue yet.

    On defensive ammo I can't make anything that much better than I can buy without pushing the acceptable load data. Hard to beat a PMC Starfire, Remington Golden Sabre or a Black Talons by any significant margin. So in the event that I have to use lethal force or God forbid some sort of accident, my carry guns all have the best factory ammo for the job.
  8. holdencm9

    holdencm9 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the responses, guys.

    RC, I read that Massad had originally been partly responsible for the sentiment of "no reloads for self-defense" but did not know the story behind it. The wife getting shot in bed seems like such a bizarre case to begin with, it shouldn't really concern someone carrying reloads for SD/concealed carry, IMO. It seems like something that has just been accepted by some for no reason. I would still be interested to learn if there are any legal cases of reloads used in justifiable use of lethal force getting someone in trouble, but it is sounding unlikely.

    Regarding the sharing of reloads, I understand if it is "for profit" or "business enterprise" you need a license. That isn't really what I am worried about (that is a whole other debate of what constitutes business enterprise and livelihood).

    I am more interested in case history or legal precedent regarding a KB with someone's reloads getting that other person in big legal trouble. (Beyond "pay to fix my gun" which I think would just be the right thing to do anyway). It must have happened by now, sharing reloads can't be that rare. If it hasn't I wonder if there isn't just an assumption of "at your own risk" or maybe these people that share reloads are just perfect, or else get their friends to sign waivers beforehand. :scrutiny:

    I also know the typical response is to invite them over to your place and let them use your press, but if they get a KB with their reloads, under your supervision, it seems legally you'd still be somewhat liable. Or at least I would still feel guilty, regardless of legal liability.
  9. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

    Huey, you GIVING someone reloads to shoot is different than you SELLING them the reloads. the Feds get involved when selling is involved.

    As to someone suing, your homeowner's will not cover something like this, and it will amaze you how fast a friend will become an enemy when an attorney plants visions of sugarplums in their heads
  10. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    HERE (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=634817) is the full and complete story on Mas Ayoob's famous case (well, the case everyone remembers as associated with his no reloads doctrine). The issue was not, at all (never!), a matter of an overzealous prosecutor calling someone out for using reloads as being extra lethal Rambo stuff.

    The issue Mr. Ayoob feels (or felt) COULD come to be important is that, he maintained, if you used reloads in a self-defense case the forensics lab could not use your home-loaded ammo to SUPPORT YOUR CLAIM via comparative gunshot residue evidence.

    The reasons supporting that opinion were very contentious and the cases where a claim of self defense will hinge on GSR alone are rare, to the point of being perhaps only theoretical in nature.

    But read the thread if you want to know what all the old fuss was about ... and why every one of these "they'll paint you as a gun-nut lunatic" claims have no basis -- certainly none forwarded by Mr. Ayoob in relation to that case.

    However, while there is this ONE case where a suspected killer's reloaded ammo was relevant to the trial (though not in the way 99% of gun folks think) -- there don't seem to be ANY cases which are showcases of the other claim against reloads.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2013
  11. JLDickmon

    JLDickmon Well-Known Member

    I have been on the wrong end of the "handloads in a defense situation" in a court of law.
    I provided the source for the load (Lyman manual), samples of the powder, bullets & primer, and asked the judge how the prosecutor intended to prove the handload was "more deadly or destructive" than certain types of commercially available ammunition, like Black Talon, SXT, Gold Dot, Golden Sabre, CorBon, etc.
    The handloads issue was summarily excluded.
    My advice would be, keep it to a published load from a commercially viable source using common components adhering to SAAMI parameters.

    Now as far as selling your own reloads?
    If you are able to secure the same liability insurance as commercial manufacturers, have at it, and have a nice day.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2013
  12. hueyville

    hueyville Well-Known Member

    Oneounceload, I carry a personal 2 million dollar "umbrella" liability policy. It is supposed to cover me for any and all litigation that my business, vehicle or homeowners does not cover. Whether I am the pilot of a meteor falling from the sky or my dog learns to fly and chew the tires off a jetliner while it is landing. Does not cost much and also works in conjunction with my other policies to provide additional coverage to them.

    As to the selling of handloads, trying to turn a hobby into a business is a great way to take the fun out of it. Tried it and learned work is to make money for hobbies that lose money.
  13. joeschmoe

    joeschmoe Well-Known Member

    Selling reloads is just as dumb as buying reloads (from non FFL). You both deserve what you get.

    I won't do either.

    I have no issues with factory (FFL ) reloads. They have insurance and testing methods.
  14. erikk8829

    erikk8829 Well-Known Member

    I carried my reloads my whole career (state police) because the issue weapon was a S&W model 10 38 spl & issued 158 gr RNL didn't cut it for me, but would NEVER share a reload with anyone. You never know the condition of the other persons firearm
  15. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

    Huey,two million will be nothing if someone gets killed or permanently disabled and needs constant care or the rest of their life. Besides, as I said, if you sell it, the Feds will want a word with you

    Best way is to have your friends over and have a reloading party where they reload the ammo, even on your equipment
  16. hueyville

    hueyville Well-Known Member

    Mentioned that earlier. The party thing works well. Just give the attendees simple tasks like sifting brass, cleaning primer pockets, size/lube bullets and making coffee. Even if both Dillion machines are mounted up at the time, I am the only one who runs them.

    And the 2 million umbrella insurance policy just means the insurance company is in deep enough to send an extra lawyer to protect their interests. Better than having the lawyer bills roll in by the hour.
  17. HankB

    HankB Well-Known Member

    This argument is a two-edged sword, since logically the flip side is that a forensics lab could not use your home-loaded ammo to REFUTE YOUR CLAIM either.

    "You claim the intruder was within 3 or 4 feet, but the gunshot residue shows he was clearly beyond 4 feet - WHY DID YOU LIE?"

    And if the prosecutor wants to make ammo type an issue, there are plenty of ways he can play to the jury.

    * Use the same ammo local police use? You're a cop wannabe.
    * Use JHP? That's a DUM DUM, banned even for the military for fighting wars!

    etc. etc.

    IANAL, but unless you've dipped the bullets in poison or something I don't see the ammo type being an issue in an otherwise justified shooting in most places. (NYC or Chicago? Simple self-defense is a problem.)

    As for shooting handloads otherwise . . . I don't shoot anyone else's handloads in my guns (no "gun show reloads" for me!) and I don't provide my own handloads to anyone unless they're shooting them exclusively in one of my guns with me present.
  18. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Other than myself the only others who shoot my reloads are my sons, no one else.

    Even when I teach a new reloader how to load they do the actual loading and they pull the handle, not me. This way they did the reloading and I'm not liable.

    To answer the original question, no, I don't know of an actual case where someone was sewed over reloads but that doesn't mean it hasn't happened. I'm sure the media doesn't find a law suit over reloads interesting at all.
  19. medalguy

    medalguy Well-Known Member

    I can only comment on what I have personally experienced regarding reloads. First, I don't let others shoot my reloads, and usually I don't shoot reloads from anyone else.

    My experience is with a good friend who passed away a couple of years ago. I was asked to help sell off his gun stuff, which included a lot of reloading equipment and ammo. There were several .50 cal cans of .45 ACP SWC reloads in this stuff, and I really hated to throw them out, and was hesitant to sell them to anyone else, even for components. So, I took a couple of boxes of reloads and went to the range.

    Box one-- two duds in the first 21 rounds. Primers dented fine, later discovered the powder was yellow looking, so I assume the primer worked OK but the powder was contaminated. The rest of the box fired OK.

    Box two-- another two duds in the 50 rounds. One had absolutely no powder in it, and the last one was similar to the first two-- dented primer but yellowed powder.

    Needless to say, I scrapped all the remaining ammo. No way I was going to sell any ammo with 4 duds in 100 rounds.

    For this reason, and my own safety and satisfaction, I don't shoot any other person's reloads, and I don't allow anyone else to shoot my reloads. Never know when I could have made a mistake. You may think your technique is perfect, but al it takes is one double charged case or mischarged case to cause a very serious problem, and as someone already said, your very best friend can have a sudden change of heart when an ambulance-chasing lawyer whispers dollars in their ear. Just not worth it to me.
  20. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Well-Known Member

    That's all I need to know to answer your question as it pertains to only YOU.

    Don't do it.

    After you become a seasoned reloader, you will have obtained enough information to answer these questions for yourself.

Share This Page