April 27th, 2019

Reloading Rooms and Fire Hazards — True Story

Electrical Fire Tumbler ExtinguisherA fire in the home is always to be feared. And a fire in your reloading room can be disastrous. Near your reloading bench you probably have flammable solvents, and maybe gunpowder. What would happen if an electrical fire started in your reloading room? Would you be alerted? Do you have a proper fire extinguisher at hand?

Here’s a true story from Forum Member Joe O. (aka “Joecob”) that provides a valuable safety lesson. After Joe started up his old tumbler, an internal connector worked loose, causing an arc which started a fire in his basement reloading area. Luckily Joe had a functioning smoke detector, and a fire extinguisher.

Very few of us would worry about fire when we plug in a tumbler or other AC-powered reloading tool. But there is always the possibility of a malfunction and a fire. Quick thinking (and a handy extinguisher) prevented serious damage to Joe’s reloading room and house — but things could have been worse (much worse), had Joe not responded quickly.

Fire in the Reloading RoomReport by Joecob
The day before ‘Sandy’ hit I was cleaning brass the way I always have. I set the vibratory tumbler on the back of my reloading bench in the basement. I loaded the media hopper with 40 fired empty brass cases (and walnut media), plugged the cord in, turned the tumbler on and went back upstairs to watch TV. I could hear the tumbler running in the background.

About half an hour later I heard the basement smoke alarm go off. I ran downstairs. Flames were licking from the melting plastic of the tumbler.

ABC fire extinguisherI grabbed the nearby ABC cannister extinguisher and squirted out the fire and soaked the charred bench areas with water. Good thing I had the extinguisher! And I was glad I religiously store powder and primers properly — away from the bench (and everything else).

What caused the fire? It looks like an internal AC connector finally vibrated loose enough to arc and ignite the plastic. WHEH! I had been using that thing for 25 years the same way without mishap. Guess I should have known to periodically check the guts of a thing that plugs in and vibrates for a living?

Today I went out and bought a new even bigger ‘Pro’ ABC extinguisher, plus a dual-detector smoke alarm, and an ultrasonic cleaner. That experience was scarier than the storm. I hope this true account might help someone else to avoid a bad experience.

In his account, Joe refers to an “ABC” cannister fire extinguisher. The “ABC” refers to the fire classification rating: Class A (trash, wood, and paper), Class B (liquids and gases), and Class C (energized electrical equipment) fires. There are many brands of ABC-rated extinguishers.

The rechargeable Kidde 210 unit (sku 21005779) contains four pounds of a multipurpose monoammonium phosphate dry chemical extinguishing agent. It has a discharge time of 13 to 15 seconds, a discharge range of 10 to 15 feet, and an operating pressure of 100 PSI. The seamless aluminum cylinder measures 4.5 inches in diameter and 15.7 inches tall. The Kidde 210 has a 6-year limited warranty. This is Amazon’s #1 Best Seller among Fire Extinguishers.

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December 8th, 2017

Affordable Hard Cases for Valuable Rifles and Optics

gun fire plano hard case rifle scopeThis photo was taken from my driveway at 12:23 am on December 5th. The fire was one mile away. In the darkness I packed essentials and valuables, and prepared to leave my house to its fate.

This past week this Editor was near a major fire zone in California, a few hundred yards from the mandatory evacuation line. In preparation for the evacuation order, I packed my station wagon with important items, including some valuable rifles and scopes. When I finished loading, there was over $7000 worth of optics in the car — more than the blue-book value of the vehicle itself. That made me think carefully about gun cases and how one would want to transport high value, optics-equipped rifles both on the road and by air. Here are two gun cases that offer excellent protection at a very good price. Both these Plano cases are strong enough to survive rough airport baggage handlers, while cushioning your firearms in customizable, thick foam interiors. No they are NOT fire-proof, but they’ll help cradle your precious rifles and scopes while you get to a safe zone.

Plano 52″ Double Rifle Case with Wheels, $112.74

Plano double scoped rifle case with wheels

This Plano Double Scoped Rifle Case is an Amazon Best Seller for good reason. It offers the functionality and durability of an SKB-type hard case for HALF the money. This is under $115.00, while the equivalent SKB is around $240.00, so you can buy two Planos for the price of one SKB. The 51.5″ interior will fit most scoped competition rifles up to about 29″ barrels (measure your own rifle to make sure). If you separate the barreled action from the stock you can transport even ultra-long ELR rifles. The handles are convenient and beefy and the wheels make this case easy to move through airports and parking lots. This is a very tough, roomy case for the money (plus there’s Free Shipping for Amazon Prime members).

Exterior Dimensions: 54.625″ x 15.5″ x 6″
Interior Dimensions: 51.5″ x 12.63″ x 5.25″
Pluckable Interior Dimensions: 46″ x 10″
Features: Wheels, Secure Draw-Down Latches, O-Ring Seal, Pressure Relief Valve, Customizable Foam

Plano 43″ All-Weather Tactical Gun Case (43″ Interior), $45.80

Plano rifle all weather tactical case bargain

This is one of the best available medium-sized, hard gun cases under $100.00. But with Amazon’s sale price now just $45.80 (with free Prime shipping), you can get TWO cases for under $100.00. MidwayUSA is also selling this case for $45.80, but shipping is extra. While designed for AR15s and tactical-style rifles, you can also fit longer-barreled rifles inside if you separate the barreled action from the stock (which, by the way, may be a good practice for airline travel.) This case is very tough and strong — offering protection like an SKB case for less than half the cost. The foam in the 43″-long interior is “pluckable” so it can be configured to fit your rifle. This case is a favorite with Amazon buyers, earning a full FIVE STARS with over 1600 buyer reviews. Here is a recent verified review: “Awesome case for the money $$. As good as other manufacturers wanting 4X the money. Highly recommend.” Strong enough for air travel, this case is pretty heavy for regular trips to the range. Consider the lighter-weight, top-opening Plano Air-Glide Case for basic transport of your rifle from home to the range.

Exterior Dimensions: 46″ x 16″ x 5.5″
Interior Dimensions: 43″ x 13″ x 5″
Features: Secure Draw-Down Latches, O-Ring Seal, Pressure Relief Valve, Customizable Foam

Other Emergency Evacuation Tips
When you must leave your home in an emergency, you need to be able to collect key records and valuables quickly. I wasted time locating important documents in three different rooms. So, I recommend you have a small, totable fire-resistant safe for your most vital items. This could normally be kept inside a larger Gun Safe, but always ready to “grab and go”. Here are some of the items you’ll want to keep in the smaller safe/security box:

Passports and IDs
Birth Certificates
Medical Plan ID Cards
House Insurance Documents
Vehicle Titles/Registrations
Important Prescriptions
Recent Tax Returns
Cash and Travelers’ Checks
Valuable Jewelry/Watches
Family Photos
Flash Drive with Photos

I strongly recommend that you walk through your house and take photos of all the valuable furniture, electronics, and heirlooms. This will be proof for your insurance. Even better, make a video with your smartphone as you walk through the house. Narrate descriptions of your valuable possessions/furniture in each room. For example I have one antique desk that is worth more than my car. You need evidence of ownership and quality. If possible, copy these photos/video to a flash-drive, which is kept in your “getaway” file safe.

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November 29th, 2016

Close Call: Tumbler Catches on Fire in Reloading Room

Electrical Fire Tumbler ExtinguisherA fire in the home is always to be feared. And a fire in your reloading room can be disastrous. Near your reloading bench you probably have flammable solvents, and maybe gunpowder. What would happen if an electrical fire started in your reloading room? Would you be alerted? Do you have a proper fire extinguisher at hand?

Here’s a true story from Forum Member Joe O. (aka “Joecob”) that provides a valuable safety lesson. After Joe started up his old tumbler, an internal connector worked loose, causing an arc which started a fire in his basement reloading area. Luckily Joe had a functioning smoke detector, and a fire extinguisher.

Very few of us would worry about fire when we plug in a tumbler or other AC-powered reloading tool. But there is always the possibility of a malfunction and a fire. Quick thinking (and a handy extinguisher) prevented serious damage to Joe’s reloading room and house — but things could have been worse (much worse), had Joe not responded quickly.

Fire in the Reloading RoomReport by Joecob
The day before ‘Sandy’ hit I was cleaning brass the way I always have. I set the vibratory tumbler on the back of my reloading bench in the basement. I loaded the media hopper with 40 fired empty brass cases (and walnut media), plugged the cord in, turned the tumbler on and went back upstairs to watch TV. I could hear the tumbler running in the background.

About half an hour later I heard the basement smoke alarm go off. I ran downstairs. Flames were licking from the melting plastic of the tumbler.

ABC fire extinguisherI grabbed the nearby ABC cannister extinguisher and squirted out the fire and soaked the charred bench areas with water. Good thing I had the extinguisher! And I was glad I religiously store powder and primers properly — away from the bench (and everything else).

What caused the fire? It looks like an internal AC connector finally vibrated loose enough to arc and ignite the plastic. WHEH! I had been using that thing for 25 years the same way without mishap. Guess I should have known to periodically check the guts of a thing that plugs in and vibrates for a living?

Today I went out and bought a new even bigger ‘Pro’ ABC extinguisher, plus a dual-detector smoke alarm, and an ultrasonic cleaner. That experience was scarier than the storm. I hope this true account might help someone else to avoid a bad experience.

In his account, Joe refers to an “ABC” cannister fire extinguisher. The “ABC” refers to the fire classification rating: Class A (trash, wood, and paper), Class B (liquids and gases), and Class C (energized electrical equipment) fires. There are many brands of ABC-rated extinguishers.

The rechargeable Kidde 210 unit contains four pounds of a multipurpose monoammonium phosphate dry chemical extinguishing agent. It has a discharge time of 13 to 15 seconds, a discharge range of 10 to 15 feet, and an operating pressure of 100 PSI. The seamless aluminum cylinder measures 4.5 inches in diameter and 15.7 inches tall. The Kidde 210 has a six-year limited warranty.

Check Your Fire Extinguishers Regularly
Forum member Steve Urban says: Make sure to inspect your extinguisher every year. Turn it upside down and then right-side up. You should be able to feel the powder move freely in the extinguisher. If not, it is time to get a new one.

Permalink News, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
January 2nd, 2016

When Ammo Burns — The Results Are Surprising

This important video shows what really happens when loaded ammunition burns. You will probably be surprised. Contrary to Hollywood notions, the ammo doesn’t ignite in a massive explosion. Far from it… basically the rounds “cook off” one by one, and the bullets release at relatively low velocity. We’ve featured this SAAMI research project before, but it is worth reprising for those who have not yet seen the burn tests.

A couple years back, SAAMI released an important video concerning ammo and fire. With professional fire-fighters standing by, over 400,000 rounds of ammo were incinerated in a series of eye-opening tests. If you haven’t had the chance to view this video yet, you should take the time to watch it now

The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) has produced an amazing 25-minute video that shows what actually happens to sporting ammunition involved in a fire. This video shows the results of serious tests conducted with the assistance of professional fire crews. We strongly recommend you watch this video, all the way through. It dispels many myths, while demonstrating what really happens when ammunition is burned, dropped, or crushed.

Watch SAAMI Ammunition Testing Video

Video Timeline

  • 2:10 Impact Test (ignited outside firearm)
  • 3:40 65-foot Drop Test
  • 5:08 Bullet Impact (.308 Win firing)
  • 7:55 Blasting Cap Attacks
  • 9:55 Bulldozer and Forklift Tests
  • 12:20 Boxed Ammo Bonfire
  • 15:37 Bonfire without Packaging
  • 17:21 Retail Store Simulation Burn
  • 20:55 Truck Trailer Burn

Over 400,000 rounds of ammunition were used in the tests. Some of the footage is quite remarkable. Testers built a bonfire with 28,000 rounds of boxed ammo soaked in diesel fuel. Then the testers loaded five pallets of ammo (250,000 rounds) in the back of a semi-truck, and torched it all using wood and paper fire-starting materials doused with diesel fuel.

The video shows that, when ammo boxes are set on fire, and ammunition does discharge, the bullet normally exits at low speed and low pressure. SAAMI states: “Smokeless powders must be confined to propel a projectile at high velocity. When not in a firearm, projectile velocities are extremely low.” At distances of 10 meters, bullets launched from “cooked-off” ammo would not penetrate the normal “turn-out gear” worn by fire-fighters.

We are not suggesting you disregard the risks of ammo “cooking off” in a fire, but you will learn the realities of the situation by watching the video. There are some amazing demonstrations — including a simulated retail store fire with 115,000 rounds of ammo in boxes. As cartridges cook off, it sounds like a battery of machine-guns, but projectiles did not penetrate the “store” walls, or even two layers of sheet-rock. The fire crew puts out the “store fire” easily in under 20 seconds, just using water.

Additional Testing: Drop Test, Projectile Test, Crush Test, Blasting Cap Test

Drop Test
The video also offers interesting ammo-handling tests. Boxes of ammo were dropped from a height of 65 feet. Only a tiny fraction of the cartridges discharged, and there was no chain-fire. SAAMI concludes: “When dropped from extreme heights (65 feet), sporting ammunition is unlikely to ignite. If a cartridge ignites, it does not propagate.”

Rifle Fire Test
SAAMI’s testers even tried to blow up boxes of ammunition with rifle fire. Boxes of loaded ammo were shot with .308 Win rounds from 65 yards. The video includes fascinating slow-motion footage showing rounds penetrating boxes of rifle cartridges, pistol ammo, and shotgun shells. Individual cartridges that were penetrated were destroyed, but adjacent cartridges suffered little damage, other than some powder leakage. SAAMI observed: “Most of the ammunition did not ignite. When a cartridge did ignite, there was no chain reaction.”

Bulldozer Crush Test
The test team also did an amazing “crush-test” using a Bulldozer. First boxes of loaded ammo, then loose piles of ammo, were crushed under the treads of a Bulldozer. A handful of rounds fired off, but again there was no chain-fire, and no large explosion. SAAMI observed: “Even in the most extreme conditions of compression and friction, sporting ammunition is unlikely to ignite. [If it does ignite when crushed] it does not propagate.”

Blasting Cap Test
Perhaps most amazingly, the testers were not able to get ammunition to chain-fire (detonate all at once), even when using blasting caps affixed directly to live primers. In the SAAMI test, a blasting cap was placed on the primer of a round housed in a large box of ammo. One cartridge ignited but the rest of the boxed ammo was relatively undamaged and there was no propagation.

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September 4th, 2014

Rutland Plywood Plant in Vermont Burns to the Ground

Terrible news. The Rutland Plywood plant in Rutland, Vermont burned down last week. Rutland was a major supplier of laminated wood stock blanks. Now the plant is nothing but ashes. Sadly, in the aftermath of this terrible fire, we can expect shortages of laminated blanks for some types of stocks.

A massive, five-alarm fire engulfed the Rutland plant on the morning of 21 August, eventually burning the facility to the ground. 100 fire-fighters from six departments fought the fire, but the conflagration was too large, too fierce and the factory was reduced to cinders. Watch this amateur video to see the Rutland blaze in all its hellish power:

Rutland Plywood Plant Inferno

After combing through the aftermath of the blaze, investigators ruled out arson. According to David Sutton, a fire investigator: “It was in an area of some machinery that has been known to start fires in the past and the evidence we found in that room where that occurred, it appears that may have happened again.” Thankfully no one was killed or injured, but the plant was a total loss. The Rutland Plywood Plant employed 170 person in Vermont. Now those plant workers must find new jobs.

Richard Franklin Low-Rider Stock made with Rutland Desert Camo Laminated Plywood
Desert Camo Laminate

News tip from Shiraz Balolia, Bullets.com. We welcome reader submissions.
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October 1st, 2013

Survival Tube Offers Fire-Starter, Knife-Sharpener, and Paracord

survival tool tube fire-starter striker fireHunting season is here. That means many of you will be heading off into the woods. Along with your rifle and ammo, it’s wise to carry some basic survival gear on your hunt. The NRA has just introduced a cleverly-designed multi-function Survival Tube that fits in a pocket.

This new product combines a fire-starter with a knife sharpener. The NRA Survival Tube’s magnesium fire starter and steel striker can produce sparks in the wettest and windiest conditions. The easy-to-use, diamond-encrusted knife sharpener keeps hunting blades sharp. No one wants a dull knife on a hunting or camping trip. The Survival Tube is wrapped with six feet of 550 paracord, and the lanyard gives you another 31 inches of paracord. The NRA Survival Tube stows easily, or it can be hooked to a backpack loop. Price for this useful product is $19.95 at the NRA Store. That’s not bad, but remember that a $0.99 disposable lighter will start fires just fine in most conditions.

survival tool tube fire-starter striker fire

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November 30th, 2012

How Ammunition Reacts in a Fire — SAAMI Video Report

The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) has produced an amazing 25-minute video that shows what actually happens to sporting ammunition involved in a fire. This video shows the results of serious tests conducted with the assistance of professional fire crews. We strongly recommend you watch this video, all the way through. It dispels many myths, while demonstrating what really happens when ammunition is burned, dropped, or crushed.

Watch SAAMI Ammunition Testing Video

Over 400,000 rounds of ammunition were used in the tests. Some of the footage is quite remarkable. Testers built a bonfire with 28,000 rounds of boxed ammo soaked in diesel fuel. Then the testers loaded five pallets of ammo (250,000 rounds) in the back of a semi-truck, and torched it all using wood and paper fire-starting materials doused with diesel fuel.

The video shows that, when ammo boxes are set on fire, and ammunition does discharge, the bullet normally exits at low speed and low pressure. SAAMI states: “Smokeless powders must be confined to propel a projectile at high velocity. When not in a firearm, projectile velocities are extremely low.” At distances of 10 meters, bullets launched from “cooked-off” ammo would not penetrate the normal “turn-out gear” worn by fire-fighters.

We are not suggesting you disregard the risks of ammo “cooking off” in a fire, but you will learn the realities of the situation by watching the video. There are some amazing demonstrations — including a simulated retail store fire with 115,000 rounds of ammo in boxes. As cartridges cook off, it sounds like a battery of machine-guns, but projectiles did not penetrate the “store” walls, or even two layers of sheet-rock. The fire crew puts out the “store fire” easily in under 20 seconds, just using water.

Additional Testing: Drop Test, Projectile Test, Crush Test, Blasting Cap Test

Drop Test
The video also offers interesting ammo-handling tests. Boxes of ammo were dropped from a height of 65 feet. Only a tiny fraction of the cartridges discharged, and there was no chain-fire. SAAMI concludes: “When dropped from extreme heights (65 feet), sporting ammunition is unlikely to ignite. If a cartridge ignites, it does not propagate.”

Rifle Fire Test
SAAMI’s testers even tried to blow up boxes of ammunition with rifle fire. Boxes of loaded ammo were shot with .308 Win rounds from 65 yards. The video includes fascinating slow-motion footage showing rounds penetrating boxes of rifle cartridges, pistol ammo, and shotgun shells. Individual cartridges that were penetrated were destroyed, but adjacent cartridges suffered little damage, other than some powder leakage. SAAMI observed: “Most of the ammunition did not ignite. When a cartridge did ignite, there was no chain reaction.”

Bulldozer Crush Test
The test team also did an amazing “crush-test” using a Bulldozer. First boxes of loaded ammo, then loose piles of ammo, were crushed under the treads of a Bulldozer. A handful of rounds fired off, but again there was no chain-fire, and no large explosion. SAAMI observed: “Even in the most extreme conditions of compression and friction, sporting ammunition is unlikely to ignite. [If it does ignite when crushed] it does not propagate.”

Blasting Cap Test
Perhaps most amazingly, the testers were not able to get ammunition to chain-fire (detonate all at once), even when using blasting caps affixed directly to live primers. In the SAAMI test, a blasting cap was placed on the primer of a round housed in a large box of ammo. One cartridge ignited but the rest of the boxed ammo was relatively undamaged and there was no propagation.

Video Timeline

  • 2:10 Impact Test (ignited outside firearm)
  • 3:40 65-foot Drop Test
  • 5:08 Bullet Impact (.308 Win firing)
  • 7:55 Blasting Cap Attacks
  • 9:55 Bulldozer and Forklift Tests
  • 12:20 Boxed Ammo Bonfire
  • 15:37 Bonfire without Packaging
  • 17:21 Retail Store Simulation Burn
  • 20:55 Truck Trailer Burn
Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo 3 Comments »
December 17th, 2010

2010 Manly Gift Guide

Looking for last-minute gifts for your shooting buddies and male family members? Don’t want to give some wimpy, frou-frou gift? Well, the Art of Manliness website has selected some interesting “manly” gifts for this holiday season. Here are items we liked from the 2010 Manliness Gift Guide:

British Army Knife

British Army Knife

Buy Here: British Issue Army Clasp Knife

Leather Bound Journal

Leather Journal

Buy Here: Col. Littleton Journal

Dynamite Fire Starters

Dynamite Fire Starters

Buy Here: Dynamite Wood Crate with 20 Fire Logs
Warning for IDIOTS: No these are NOT real sticks of dynamite. The crate is filled with 20 non-explosive fire-starting mini-logs. DO NOT SUBSTITUTE REAL DYNAMITE or other explosive!

Mastery of the Manly Lifestyle
By the way, you may want to spend some time browsing around in the Art of Manliness website. There, you’ll find dozens of interesting articles such as:

15 Ways to Winterize Your Home

How to Make a Secret Book Safe

Bachelor Meals: Five One-Skillet Recipes

How to Shave Like Your Grandpa

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June 3rd, 2010

Fire and Explosion at Nosler Plant in Bend, Oregon

Nosler Fire and ExplosionAt around 2:15 on the afternoon of June 2nd, there was a fire and explosion at the Nosler production plant in Bend, Oregon. Apparently the accident started in the ballistics tunnel testing area. Employees reported a flash, then smoke followed by a “massive explosion” which was felt many blocks away. One employee who saw a bright flash alertly activated a fire alarm which helped speed the evacuation process.

Nosler Plant Fire and Explosion VIDEO Report

Thankfully, all the roughly 100 Nosler employees were able to evacuate safely, and there were apparently no serious injuries. The fire and explosion did do significant damage to the 80,000 square foot Nosler building. When fire crews arrived, they found major damage to the southeast corner of the Nosler plant, with thick smoke still pouring out.

Damage could run into the millions of dollars. A number of city blocks were evacuated and cordoned off. Right now the cause of the fire and explosion remains unknown, but the Bend Fire Department, state police agencies, and the federal BATF are commencing investigations.

CLICK HERE for Nosler Fire Damage Photos | CLICK HERE for KTVZ.com (Bend, Oregon) News Report

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