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Safety question

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by JSmith, Jun 22, 2012.

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  1. JSmith

    JSmith Member

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    And the question is: has anyone ever known a primer to ignite spontaneously?

    I've read that storing primers with powder is a bad idea, and I don't. But it occurred to me that all the ammo I have on hand incudes a primer stored with powder. Do I need to build an ammo bunker?

    Spontaneous ignition of primers has to be rare or you wouldn't see boxes and boxes of ammunition stacked in stores, would you?
     
  2. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    For example, shipping of ammunition has more relaxed regulations than shipping of primers and/or powder. When assembled as ammunition, the hazard potential lessens dramatically in the eyes of the shipping world.

    I have never heard of a spontaneous detonating of a primer. Does not mean it did not happen, I seem to live under a rock at times. But it usually requires some outside influence for a primer to go off.

    The design of current primer packaging is to reduce the chance of a chain reaction between the primers in the package should one go off. Removing primers from the original packaging and storing them another way is an invitation for disaster.

    You do not want primers stored with other flammables, like powder, since if a primer does go off it will probably ignite the other flammable.
     
  3. moxie

    moxie Member

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    I am aware of one instance. During an Air Force receiving inspection of .38 Spl. ammo at a field unit, one primer in a box of 50 had ignited, but did not ignite the powder in the case. Actually it looked like a partial ignition. This was in about 1971 or 1972 and I never heard of any more instances in over 20 years in the business. Just follow proper storage procedures and you'll be fine. See: http://www.saami.org/specifications.../download/SAAMI_ITEM_200-Smokeless_Powder.pdf
     
  4. Tux

    Tux Member

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    Once again I suspect it is a way for shipping companies (and their lawyers) to make money by creating a solution to a problem that does not exists.

    It is kind of like at the gas pumps where it says to touch metal to discharge static before fueling.....like anyone has ever blown up a gas pump due to static electricity.
     
  5. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Oh, but they have!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tYO4jvnJHw

    Do a Google search for gas pump fire and you will find a whole bunch of them.

    Static electricity igniting gas fumes is several times more likely to happen than a primer just going off by itself though.

    rc
     
  6. JSmith

    JSmith Member

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    So... if I store my primers in the original packaging, placed in a Tupperware box, they're not likely to go bang while they're sitting there on the shelf, correct?

    And I should still keep the powder on a different shelf, preferably across the room, also correct?
     
  7. Hondo 60
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    Hondo 60 Member

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    I've reloaded well in excess of 30,000 rds over the last 3 years.
    No, I've never had or heard of a primer spontaneously combust.

    Ain't saying it can't happen, just that I've never had it happen.
     
  8. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Not unless your house burns down.

    That will set them off, but it's about the only thing that will.

    Primers & smokeless powder are far safer in your house then aerosol cans of hair spray, insect spray, lawn mower gas, BBQ grill tanks, and any number of other supposedly "safe" household products.

    rc
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2012
  9. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    Primers should not be taken for granted. Sensitive primers exist and it does not take much to set them off.

    This article has a reference to a loose round that went off in a purse and a loose round that went off in an court evidence bag.


    Primer goes off in a Purse!

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sidesho...ide-woman-purse-shoots-her-leg-232052308.html

    By Eric Pfeiffer, Yahoo! News | The Sideshow – Tue, Jun 12, 2012

    I am of the opinion that it still takes outside energy to cause a primer to ignite.

    Spontaneous ignition of powders goes on all the time, its that you just don't hear about it.

    When powder gets old, it outgasses and develops hot spots. Once in a while a big bunch of it goes poof!.

    A rule of thumb shelf life for powder is 20 years double based, 45 years single based. Heat will reduce the lifetime of gunpowder.
     
  10. Hondo 60
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    Hondo 60 Member

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    How much you wanna bet those were Federal primers?
     
  11. RandyP

    RandyP Member

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    Don't carry an open tray of primers while you are being struck by lightning, cuz they could go off.


    lol
     
  12. Tux

    Tux Member

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    Ok, as I said....lawyers and their improbable odds.

    We have been dispensing gasoline into our cars for what 80 years? This "static" has never been an issue until the last 5-10 years. I bet most have happened in extremely dry conditions, or something in the environment was just right to make it happen.

    Americans refuel millions of times daily, but just like the anti gunners who proclaim that guns fire themselves, the fuel industry lawyers have field days with nonsense like this. A dozen incidents over the span of a decade, hardly causes this to be main stream. What are the odds? One out of 72 billion?

    If that was the case, then my grandpa should of burned his garage down as he always smoked in the garage with open gas cans.

    In fact in the Army we are now supposed to see a medic if you get a tick, no more just ripping it off and moving on. More lawyers and administrators with regulations to cover infinitesimal odds.

    In fact people should be peeved off that UPS or FedEx charges a $25 HazMat for a purchase, just because a hammer happened to drop on a poorly packaged box a decade ago. The drivers have a better chance of getting hit by another car or inclement weather than the gun powder spontaneously igniting.

    You still have a better chance of getting hit by lightening than any of the above. In another 20 years we will all be wrapped in bubble wrap and told to stay in our rooms as the world unsafe and the insurance companies and lawyers won't let us out.
     
  13. mdi

    mdi Member

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    I have a slightly different view; it ain't so much lawyers as it is insurance companys. Sure millions of folks gas up each day but modern gas pumps are grounded and today's cars have about 900 more electrical/electronic features than cars just 25 years ago. (I had a '51 Chevy and the entire electrical diagram/schematic fit on an 8 1/2x11 sheet of paper, the whole car from tail lights to engine and headlights.). More electricity running around, more potential for problems. BTW, liquid gasoline won't burn, it must be vaporized and the right temp. But, I read an article a few years ago about a feller who was unable to ignite a primer with static electricity.

    Primers will prolly not go off in the back of a semi-trailer, but if the brakes catch fire then the trailer burns and the guy trying to put it out is in danger from popping/burning primers, thus the insurance must charge more/higher premiums. Also when the Government is involved, it's gonna cost more, Drivers need HazMat indorsements on their driver's liscense, equil more cost for the driver, and trucking company, so they raise rates and designate some stuff as "Hazardous".

    Hey jes an old guy's thoughts...
     
  14. THe Dove

    THe Dove BOOMER SOONER!!!

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    No more accurate words have been spoken. Gotta agree with RC on dis one folks.

    The Dove
     
  15. bandook

    bandook Member

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    As others have pointed out, primers don't ignite, they detonate. Detonation requires a detonating wave (something going bang!).
    So no, a primer cannot go off on its own. Nor do they blow up when set on fire (Ok I've never tested this one but high explosives don't blow up with heat. I have seen dynamite set on fire and it burns like a piece of wood. Add a detonator and we have some real fireworks)
     
  16. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Quite true.

    But nothing goes bang to create a detonation wave before the primer is struck by a firing pin or other impact.
    And even then, they do not detonate.

    Primers are only set off by shock, impact, heat, or electricity, and don't detonate.
    In simple terms, they explode, which is not the same thing as a detonation.

    A true detonation wave even from the small charge in a primer, would shatter the primer cup, the brass case, and eventually the rifle receiver.

    It takes a high-explosive to create a detonation wave, and it takes an explosion from a blasting cap or primer explosion to cause the HE to detonate.

    rc
     
  17. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    Correct on both counts.

    Original packaging is (as you would figure) pretty safe, but probably not as safe as in a cartridge (no rattling around at all).

    Lost Sheep
     
  18. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    Magnetism can do it. And hot air, too

    Magnetism:

    I have credible reports and tesimony that you can set off a primer by magnetism. It happened in New York about 12 years ago. Google the phrase "Spontaneous Discharge of a Firearm in an MR Imaging Environment"

    Of course, it did happen under the influence of 1.5 Teslas, which is a LOT.

    I asked an MRI technician of my acquantance, and he told me that they are warned against having ammunition nearby, as it can go off, too.

    Hair Dryer / or maybe heat gun (the stripping paint kind?):

    On another forum, I read a post wherein the author described setting off a primer while drying cartridges he had picked up at the range and washed. I have no reason to believe he would lie about it.

    I expect he was trying to hurry the proces. In any event, put a primed cartridge in a strong pot, put it in your oven and set it on 475 Fahrenheit and report back to us, would you?:eek:

    I know personally of one round that cooked off in the open chamber of an M-60 that had been fired for a long string and then wound up with a live round stuck in the chamber. After less than two minutes (estimated), the round went off, blowing the case out the ejection port and hitting the guy next to me in the leg. He jumped about 3 feet in the air and had a small welt, but it did not break skin or tear his pants. (I have no knowledge of the cleanliness of his pants after the event, though)

    I have second-hand testimony that a fellow with a 9-volt batter in the same pocket as some 22 rimfire cartridges was able to set one of more off. If you don't think 9 volts will generate that much heat, I have personal knowledge that 12 volts running through a metal wristwatch band will generate enough heat to blister human skin in fewer seconds than I could count.

    (edit) Curious, I used Google and found this thread

    http://www.thehighroad.org/archive/index.php/t-278523.html

    in which this post appears from member Odd Job in 2007.

    In his book "Gunshot Wounds" Vincent Di Maio describes various experiments where ammunition was heated in ovens. He says that .22 long rifle cartridges detonate at an average of 275F, .38 Special at 290F and 12 gauge shotgun shells at 387F. The interesting thing about these furnace experiments was that in all instances the cartridge cases ruptured, but the primers did not detonate. In fact the primers were removed from some of the ruptured cases, reloaded into other brass and fired.


    Lost Sheep
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2012
  19. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    I am learning all kinds of stuff

    Thanks for asking the question. I had no idea. Now I have some idea.

    This answer seem authoritative:

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100507185751AAvb2ax

    and primer require a higher temperature than smokeless powder.

    Who knew?

    Lost Sheep
     
  20. chrome_austex

    chrome_austex Member

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    Lost Sheep, facinating!
     
  21. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    At 320° - 360°F?
    I don't think you will be around to care one way or the other.

    rc
     
  22. JSmith

    JSmith Member

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    LostSheep, this has gotten interesting. Apparently ignition may be initiated by a number of things I hadn't suspected!

    I'll hold off on the ammo bunker for now, and just keep everything in a cool dry place... which is where we're supposed to keep everything, right?

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYDpp2m_hpI
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2012
  23. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    Well, the exotic ignition methods are vanishingly rare. It is the (1) likelier ones we should address first, along with (2) mitigating consequences and (3) extending shelf life/mitigating decomposition & spoilage.

    When we built ammo bunkers, they were huge, with earthen berms on three sides (the front had to be open to allow vehicle access) and open to the top. If an accident or enemy act were to cause an explosion, the blast would be up and not set off other bunkers to the sides or rear.

    One could do the same sort of thing in your cool dark place with a couple of sturdy boxes. (Stable temperature and stable, low humidity and in the original light-tight containers is best.)

    I would suggest 1/2" plywood for primers or finished ammunition. Strong at the seams, but not airtight. The box would contain flying primers and other parts, but still allow the (minor) blasts to escape.

    For powder, you don't need as much strength or thickness of the structural plywood, but a fire-resistant lining (e.g. 5/8-inch, "fire-code" drywall sometimes called Type X has twice the fire resistance of normal sheet rock/drywall). This would protect the powder from fire from another source (cooking or electrical for example) and tend to contain the heat from the powder if it were to somehow ignite (except what escapes from the necessary pressure vents). Don't forget the bottom. Do all six sides.

    I think those two storage "bunkers" (lockers) would provide more safety than most loaders have.

    That we don't have a lot of discussion about how to build such safety storage lockers tells me that we don't consider the danger to be extreme. However, that does not mean we cannot or should not take safety to the extreme. I think I have just proposed my next home building project.

    I think I will start with a google search on the phrase "Gunpowder Storage Locker". At first glance I got this advice from one poster to a thread "I store mine where the fire dept told me to store it and that is in the bottom of a chest freezer...last place to get hot in a house fire!" But I don't think I would keep it in a freezer that was actually running.

    Lost Sheep
     
  24. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    Thank you for your service to our country, but if you have not figured out, once you take the oath, you are now Government Property.

    Yes, yes, over protective and silly at times, but your "owners" don't want to lose you over a silly accident. I think Suicides and Car Wrecks are the #1 and #2 killers for GI's. Enjoying all that Suicide Prevention Training?

    But don't blow off tick bits. Maybe only 3% of the people who are bit die, but just last month, a shooting bud, ex Club Treasurer, and a friend, he died from a tick bite.

    By the time he felt sick enough to go to the hospital, and then they had to figure out what the problem was, he died.

    He was in great heath and had been shooting in a club match three weeks before.

    Dead.
     
  25. JSmith

    JSmith Member

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    A friend of mine got Lyme disease from a tick bite. Ticks now are a lot nastier than they were when I was a kid. When I was hiking, I just picked 'em off & moved on, too. No more!
     
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