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Thread: Cartridge Detonation Story

  1. #1
    Boolit Master



    Kevin Rohrer's Avatar
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    Cartridge Detonation Story

    Lots of shooters are curious as to what happens when a cartridge detonates outside a handgun; I found out.

    I use a tumbler brass cleaner and dry the brass in the oven at 300F for 2-hours. Occasionally I will find a loaded cartridge lying among the brass before drying, but on rare occasion, afterwards. Yesterday I was drying several hundred rounds of .45ACP brass on a 9"x14" cookie sheet in the oven when I hurt a loud "pop" that sounded like a Lady Finger going off. Never heard that sound before in the house, so I instinctively knew what it was.

    Upon checking the oven I saw 30-40 pieces of brass lying underneath the cookie sheet. The ruptured case was still on the cookie sheet with the 230gr lead RN bullet laying immediately in front of it, so there was no danger of it exiting the oven. The primer had backed out of the casing and I did not find it, so I am guessing it was the powder (Unique) that overheated and burned. The pressure generated by the burning powder caused the case to aggressively fail.

    I'll have to do a better job of inspecting my brass before cleaning, and I will cut the heat to 275F.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Phil Sharpe used to cook off 30/06 cartridges in his experiments. Nothing new!

  3. #3
    Boolit Man
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    I wouldn't think 300F would set off the powder. I'd think it was the primer.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy nhyrum's Avatar
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    I had a similar experience. Somehow, a loaded 454 casull round, probably that I meant to discard because it was crushed, or something similar, made it into my scrap lead bucket. Which was found when I dumped said bucket into a big pot I use to melt down scrap lead to pour into ingots. Luckily I was far enough away, and everything was outside, in the open. It sounded about like what today's "m80's" sound like, which are just slightly larger than normal firecrackers now. All I found was the torn open case, no more than 3 feet from the pot. Seeing what those rounds do, in a gun, to a watermelon, I would not have guessed it was one of those that got in

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  5. #5
    Boolit Master Baltimoreed's Avatar
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    Mythbusters tried that experiment too. Only if its in a handgun chamber or cylinder is an oven cooked off round dangerous of course that doesn’t take account of the extremely dangerous reaction of the Mrs when she ‘cooks off’....’you did WHAT to my oven!’. Keep your head down.

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy nhyrum's Avatar
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    I don't remember who did the video, bit I remember watching a video where they set a whole semi trailer "full" of ammo on fire. With pieces of drywall set up, I believe 15 feet was determined to be the safe distance, and they had someone, in protective gear, stand there.

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  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy 1006's Avatar
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    I had 10mm pop off while clearing a jam in my Delta Elite. The primer hit the ejector while I was racking the slide to clear it. I learned never to look into the ejection port while clearing a jam.

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by nhyrum View Post
    I don't remember who did the video, bit I remember watching a video where they set a whole semi trailer "full" of ammo on fire. With pieces of drywall set up, I believe 15 feet was determined to be the safe distance, and they had someone, in protective gear, stand there.

    Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
    That video was posted here somewhere. It was made by the ammo companies to circulate to fire departments to prove that a fire with ammo in it is not dangerous, especially to someone with protective gear.
    Wayne the Shrink

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Smith View Post
    That video was posted here somewhere. It was made by the ammo companies to circulate to fire departments to prove that a fire with ammo in it is not dangerous, especially to someone with protective gear.
    It's right here: http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...hs-SAAMI-Video

    I've found exploded rounds near old campfires in the past that looked like Kevin's round. I also had a .357 round fall off the top shelf in my shop and land just right on a piece of angle iron and go off at my feet. No damage, but I never found the primer.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
    After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. - William S. Burroughs.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by nhyrum View Post
    I don't remember who did the video, bit I remember watching a video where they set a whole semi trailer "full" of ammo on fire. With pieces of drywall set up, I believe 15 feet was determined to be the safe distance, and they had someone, in protective gear, stand there.

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    I believe it was a video produced by SAAMI-- saw it too. Very impressive!
    Hick: Iron sights!

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Here are two pictures of a 12 gauge shell from my son's shotgun that went off "semi-seated" in the chamber (action did not lockup due to an unforeseen broken part). This shell did not explode and discharged safely down the barrel, but the slamming open of the action was an eye opener! I do not understand the striations on the brass case that would have been in contact with the smooth chamber. Any ideas?
    If it was easy, anybody could do it.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master Jedman's Avatar
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    ODD ? The only thing I can think of is the plastic case looks to have the same ribbed pattern and being the gas pressure pushed the shot load down the barrel and the shell case out of the chamber at the same time the pressure was reduced and didn’t expand the case head against the chamber as it normally would and just left the impression of the ribbed plastic tube on the brass ?

    Jedman

  13. #13
    Boolit Master jmorris's Avatar
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    I did that experiment as a kid when I was stoking a campfire one morning, with a shirt pocket full of .22’s.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    In my 1963 NRA Illustrated Reloading Handbook, there is an article complete with picture s of several cartridges being cooked off and it shows how little the danger is of a serious accident from them. james

  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy
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    I found the video to be extremely informative and mirrors my campfire cookoff (as a kid) with a pocketful of .22's. Have to admit to cringing when they said they destroyed over 400,000 rounds of ammo.

    Question to ponder: Many folks store ammo in 30 & 50 caliber steel ammo cans, so what would the effect be on having cooked off rounds being contained in these cans?
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  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slugster View Post
    Question to ponder: Many folks store ammo in 30 & 50 caliber steel ammo cans, so what would the effect be on having cooked off rounds being contained in these cans?
    The story is that GI ammo boxes are designed to release pressure at a low level so it usually won't become much of a bomb. Given the very real hazards of fire in combat I accept that story as true.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1hole View Post
    The story is that GI ammo boxes are designed to release pressure at a low level so it usually won't become much of a bomb.
    True. It has to do with the spring wire part of the latch failing before the steel can can burst/fragment.
    Like throwing ammo in a camp fire- they don't all go off at once.
    It'd be pretty exciting if you're close, but the ammo can will pop open and stay together.

    Same with the seams on spray cans, they pop open to release their pressure without fragmenting.
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  18. #18
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rohrer View Post
    I was drying several hundred rounds of .45ACP brass on a 9"x14" cookie sheet in the oven when I hurt a loud "pop" [/ATTACH]
    I had a live .45ACP go off in the oven too. No big deal, but it was sort of startling.
    After it happened the second time,,,,,, I was banned from all reloading activities in 'her' kitchen.

    Now all my case drying is confined to the shop or the picnic table on the patio.
    FAIR WARNING:
    As often as not, I offer sarcasm rather than advice.

    It wasn't playing the blame game, finding fault, and complaining about every little thing that made America great.
    It was God, guns, and guts.

  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I watched the Myth Busters cook off some different rounds on a hot plate .

    You need to check your oven temperature and lower it while drying those cases ... a food dehydratoer will dry cases and it doesn't have to be 300 degrees to dry them...
    The Myth Busters did one test with a lead bullet handgun round and the lead bullet was just starting to melt then the powder went off .

    This is not Detonation ... this is cooking off a round with heat .

    Why do you people keep putting live ammo in the oven ...can't tell loaded form live , no wife to supervise you ...use that old dehydrator , you don't make jerky any more and the wife wont care if you blow it up !
    Gary
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  20. #20
    Boolit Master


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    This is another reason why I keep my brass/ammo in cartridge boxes. Instead of the pickle & peanut jars so many are using these days.
    Regardless of size, be it 20, 50, 60 or 100 capacity boxes, I know those cases are empty and a "dud" if I have one doesn't go back in the box.
    Case inspection was beaten into my head as a kid.
    I HATE auto-correct


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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