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Thread: One in a billion chance

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    One in a billion chance

    Gang was talking about it at the range.
    Happened this past week
    Should have gotten more details.
    I'll ask more questions next weekend.

    A loaded round rolled off a table, hit the ground, and went off.
    It sounds hard to believe. I would think it would be impossible.
    But three guys swear it happened.
    Guy didn't get hurt. No damage to anything.
    I'm thinking it's a one in a billion chance of happening.

    Anyone ever hear of this happening?????

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

    Winger Ed.'s Avatar
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    The closest thing like that that ever happened to me---- twice,
    was washing some .45ACP brass, then drying them in the oven.

    I was in a hurry, both times, so I cranked the oven up a little high.

    When a live round cooked off- the brass looked like a piece of pop corn.
    Other than the BANG !! in the kitchen, it was other wise uneventful.

    If the round detonated like they say, I'd expect the brass to be torn, and opened up..... like pop corn.
    Or, at least very swollen if the boolit pushed right off. And maybe the primer blown out.
    As a kid, we'd put firecrackers in spent .30-06 brass.
    It usually blew the primer out----- even without the mud plug in the neck that we'd shoot at each other.

    It'd be interesting to look at the ground too.
    In dirt- it shouldn't happen.
    On concrete, the primer would have to hit something just perfectly, falling pretty far and tumbling.
    If it didn't tumble, the weight of the boolit would make it want to land nose first.
    Last edited by Winger Ed.; 05-21-2019 at 03:18 AM.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    I've seen threads on this in the Brian Enos forums. The primer is hit by something sticking up from the surface that the round falls onto and the cartridge detonates. Not being contained, the propellant gasses dissipate without high pressure and the slug doesn't move with much velocity (the case, if intact, moves in the opposite direction and probably faster). Still some risk of shrapnel like injury, but not like a gun discharging after being dropped.

    Pretty rare. I've never seen it happen personally. I imagine a round slipping through fingers or rolling off a flat surface would tend to fall heavy end/nose end down unless it got to spinning somehow.

    We have so many discarded rounds buried in our gravel surfaced bays that it's fairly common to have one cook off under a burn barrel. Less risk of injury, in my opinion, than a detonating dropped round, since it happens under a steel 55 gal drum and is already half buried. Always funny to have a crowd around the barrel warming their hands when one goes off: the the newbies jump, the old timers just stand there talking sports. WHUMMPH - "yeah, how 'bout them Raiders?"...
    Last edited by kevin c; 05-21-2019 at 03:44 AM.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy AllanD's Avatar
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    The only live rounds I've heard of going off when dropped were live 20mm cannon rounds.

    a High-school classmate of my cousin who joined the USAF out of high-school came home
    from desert storm in a flag draped aluminum box, because he dropped a live cannon round
    while servicing an aircraft and the projectile detonated between his feet and he bled out before
    they could stop the bleeding (it **** near amputated his foot)

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Winger Ed. View Post
    The closest thing like that that ever happened to me---- twice,
    was washing some .45ACP brass, then drying them in the oven.

    I was in a hurry, both times, so I cranked the oven up a little high.

    When a live round cooked off- the brass looked like a piece of pop corn.
    Other than the BANG !! in the kitchen, it was other wise uneventful.

    As a kid, we'd put firecrackers in spent .30-06 brass.
    It usually blew the primer out----- even without the mud plug in the neck that we'd shoot at each other.
    Wow, talk about bringing back memories! I remember doing this as a kid myself!

  6. #6
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    Friend of mine when around for years with a primer in his leg. Says he thru a live round in a bonfire was standing just a couple of feet from the fires edge.
    Beer played a heavy part in this story
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  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I don't know about 1 in a billion but I bet the odds are pretty high. The primer just about had to have struck something. And I agree, this should have had a very minimal amount of danger involved. Just excitement! Probably the biggest danger was having ones face getting peppered with brass.

    Now, a situation like AllenD describes, with explosive rounds is another thing. Thats sad to hear. RIP Sir!

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    That 20mm cannon round - sounds like it landed nose first on its contact fuze. Sad to hear of it.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy RGrosz's Avatar
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    I was once at a pistol match. The 4th Army Championship in Camp Robinson AR. We had just shot the slow fire stage and was down scoring the targets when we heard a pistol shot. After everyone got up again we investigated to see what was wrong. One of the competitors evidently had stored a box of 45 ACP wrong, and it slid off the stand and fell 4' to the concrete . It landed flat on the primers and the full box acted like a short barreled gun and when it went off it went through the metal roof. A search of the grounds found the slug about 1/2 way to the targets and the rest of the box and ther rest of the rounds scattered at the base of his firing point. We can only figure that when it hit, there was a small rock under the box that set the primer off.

    Rob

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
    Sig556r's Avatar
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    Lotsa folks tumble their completed rounds which has more probability to go bang than just rolling off a table...either way it's still more than 1:1B...just my 2 cents

  11. #11
    DOR RED BEAR's Avatar
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    Very little chance of anyone getting hurt since bullet is heavier than case its the case that tries to move. Actually saw this on myth busters once they surrounded a fire with plywood and put loaded rounds in fire even the 50 bmg rounds only stuck the cases slightly in plywood.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master



    BrassMagnet's Avatar
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    A friend dropped a loaded round of 264 Win Mag. The bullet penetrated several hardback books in a bookcase. Might have been able to cause a fatal injury. I did not see it happen or the books.
    A military 45 ACP 230 FMJ was dropped at a military match. The case ended up funnel shaped and the bullet did not travel far. I did not see it happen.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    This discussion reminds me of UFOs, lots of second hand stories but no clear pictures even though cameras are now pervasive.

    Not saying that it’s not possible or that it didn’t happen, just that if it did by now I’d expect the internet to be awash in photographic evidence.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sig556r View Post
    Lotsa folks tumble their completed rounds which has more probability to go bang than just rolling off a table...either way it's still more than 1:1B...just my 2 cents
    That was discussed on the Enos forums too. I don't recall any of the reloaders there (and there are a lot) reporting a detonation from tumbling live rounds. Maybe the geometry is wrong (not enough curvature of the extractor rim or pointiness of the bullet nose) for contact with a properly seated primer, or not enough force while being jiggled around in a plastic walled vibratory tumbler full of cushioning media.

    I've heard of people cleaning brass in cement mixers, where the cases can literally fall off the metal paddles up high and get dinged falling on those below. That might be a problem with live rounds, but I don't know anybody processing centerfire reloads that way. I do tumble 22LR in corn cob media in a vibratory tumbler (to take off some of the wax). No kabooms so far.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
    Tom W.'s Avatar
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    I wasn't a kid at the time, unless you want to compare then to now, but my buddy and I put firecrackers into 30-06 cases and squeezed the mouth tight. It didn't stop the flame from igniting the firecracker, but the results were much more than a blown out primer. We'd even get some CVA cannon fuse and fill the brass with black powder and toss it into the pond, or dig holes in the clay bank along the road and stuff the "bombs in the holes . That was really impressive to someone, because after doing so we'd hightail it back to the house. A few minutes later we'd see the sheriff's car come rolling through.....

    Never thought of filming it, as it was pre- cellphone days.

    Hickock45 has a video of a live round cook-off in a thin aluminum covered pot. The brass was a mess afterwards...
    Tom
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    Did I ever mention that I hate to trim brass?

  16. #16
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    LUBEDUDE's Avatar
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    If the bullet in the OP had a high primer, those odds would drop quite a bit.
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  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    Yes it certainly can happen, it happened to me when I was high school (a loooong time ago!). A friend of mine and I had been rabbit hunting and when we got home I broke open the old Stevens single shot 12 ga and failed to catch the shell as it was ejected backwards. We were standing in a gravel road and when that shell hit the gravel it exploded throwing lots of paper and wading (these were paper shells) but I don't think much lead shot. Whatever it was that hit both of us stung a bit and scared the you-know-what out of us but no actual harm done. The shell still had the paper hull attached to the brass base but it was torn into shreds on one side and only the other side held it to the brass. Not sure how far the lead shot went but apparently it had very little force although none could be found, just the brass base and what was left of the paper tube and lots of tufts of the fiber wading, etc laying around.


    BTW, I thought that old firecracker in a shell was my idea!

    What we did was take a cartridge case and remove the primer then using Dad's power drill we drilled out the primer pocket so that the fuse would stick through then the entire mess was attached to a stick to form a "pistol", projectiles would be about anything and everything we could get to fit.

    I just don't think kids really know what real fun is these days!
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  18. #18
    Boolit Master



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    You might want to check the range out!
    Be on the lookout for the Menehune.
    Lots of strange things going on there.
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  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by LUBEDUDE View Post
    If the bullet in the OP had a high primer, those odds would drop quite a bit.
    I'd think that the odds would go up. Just like a chambered round with a high primer, where the firing pin would be hitting a primer that wasn't sensitized by having its anvil seated against the base of the primer pocket, a rock would be hitting a primer that wouldn't go bang until a second strike, and what are the odds on that happening?

    I have to confess to crushing a lot of primers, sideways and otherwise, in my press. Maybe I've been lucky, but none have gone off.
    Last edited by kevin c; 05-21-2019 at 01:01 PM.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevin c View Post
    I'd think that the odds would go up. Just like a chambered round with a high primer, where the firing pin would be hitting a primer that wasn't sensitized by having its anvil seated against the base of the primer pocket, a rock would be hitting a primer that wouldn't go bang until a second strike, and what are the odds on that happening?
    ..................
    Not always the case.

    I can not think of a single failure when pulling high primered 38s (no primer strike) out of my revolver and chambering it in my levergun.
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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check