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October 20th, 2020

Out-of-Battery Blast Breaks Rifle and Bones in Shooter’s Hand

out of battery kaboom bohica 50 bmg ar15

As posted in the Calguns.net a few years back, there was a nasty out-of-battery firing incident involving a BOHICA Arms .510 DTC AR15 upper. The cause of the out-of-battery firing is not certain but it appears that the ammo was not sized properly and the firing pin may have been stuck in the extended position. As a result, the round went off before the bolt was closed with the lugs seated. In the process, the bolt handle broke off, as the bolt retracted violently, actually ending up outside the bolt raceway.

out of battery kaboom bohica 50 bmg ar15

The shooter was badly injured, with broken bones and ligament damage to his left hand and tissue damage to his right hand. The shooter was holding the rifle with his left hand near the front of the chamber where a gas vent was located. Gas and shrapnel existed the vent hole causing the severe injuries to the left hand.

From range reports, it appears that the shooter had been struggling to chamber previous rounds, and was having trouble closing the bolt. After talking with one of the rangemasters, a poster on AR15.com reported: “The guy was using new reloads that weren’t exactly fitting well into his chamber. [The shooter] was slamming the bolt handle with his palm trying to get the cases to lock in. The guy was also slamming the bolt forward full force from the rearmost position back and forth trying to ram the cases into chamber in an attempt to squeeze the rounds in so the bolt could close. Finally, on one of the attempts … the possibly stuck firing pin rams into the primer and explodes the round when he slams the bolt forward (zero lug engagement hence the KB) and shooter puts himself into a world of hurt.”

Lessons Learned — Don’t Try to Force Oversize Ammo into a Chamber
By all reports, the shooter’s ammo wasn’t fitting his chamber properly. In an effort to force the ammo into the chamber, he worked the bolt with excessive force. That MAY have caused the firing pin to extend or the hammer to fall without the trigger being pulled. One theory is that the trigger system may have been modified, allowing the hammer to fall from the force of slamming the bolt forward. Others have speculated that the firing pin may have failed to retract because the bolt handle was over-torqued — a safety issue listed in the BOHICA manual.

out of battery kaboom bohica 50 bmg ar15

Whatever caused the out-of-battery firing, it appears that improperly-sized ammo (or a poorly-cut chamber) was the root cause of the problems. If you go to a range and find your bolt does not close easily over the ammo — STOP SHOOTING — don’t try to force the issue. Disaster may result. To paraphrase Johnnie Cochran: “If the ammo doesn’t fit, it’s time to quit”.

Photos by Wildcard, originally posted on Calguns.net.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tactical, Tech Tip No Comments »
June 17th, 2018

Black Rifle Blow-Ups — The Kaboom Collection

AR15 AR-15 Kaboom explosion pistol powder accident catastrophic destroyed
AR15 Kaboom big photo
This shocking photo of destroyed AR-15 bits and pieces was posted on Facebook by William Walter, a firearms instructor. William said this was “The worst AR-15 blow-up I have ever seen. The case head literally atomized …you can see the brass residue on the parts. The bolt was split in two also.”

There’s nothing inherently wrong with AR-platform rifles (well, except that they run dirty). Over the past six decades Eugene Stoner’s semi-automatic design has proven its merits in military and civilian applications. You may not know, but the original AR from 1955 was a .30-caliber. The Armalite AR-10 shot the 7.62×51 cartridge. Later, at the request of the U.S. Military, Armalite created a smaller version that became the M16/AR15. The rest was history. Now there are millions of AR “black rifles” in the hands of soldiers and sportsmen.

With so many ARs in circulation, it’s no surprise that some get used by folks who don’t know how to hand-load or otherwise fail to follow safe gun practices. The AR is actually a pretty sturdy rifle, but when it’s fed bad ammo, or abused, bad things can happen. Very bad things… commonly known as Kabooms.

Black Rifle Duplex Kaboom

The American Shooting Journal (ASJ) has compiled a set of particularly extreme AR Kabooms. Compiling the “evidence” from various web sites, ASJ has published nine (9) of the most Unbelievable AR-15 Fails. Here are two of the worst “AR-15 Fails”. CLICK HERE to see them all.

Nothing but busted parts after this catastrophic Kaboom…
AR AR16 m16 AR-10 AR-16 kaboom failure catastrophic reloads American Shooting Journal

Notice the bolt is still stuck in the barrel extension … with the rest of the gun in pieces.
AR AR16 m16 AR-10 AR-16 kaboom failure catastrophic reloads American Shooting Journal

Another view of this sad blow-up…
AR AR16 m16 AR-10 AR-16 kaboom failure catastrophic reloads American Shooting Journal

These catastrophic AR failures are eye-openers, that’s for sure. ASJ cautions: “Any weapon can fail if given the wrong ammunition, faulty reloads or a plugged barrel. Always be aware of what can happen at anytime if you fail to follow common sense and gun safety rules.”

ASJ Sources: Photobucket, Armory Blog, Pinterest, Northeastern Arms, Eric Nestor

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tactical 6 Comments »
January 9th, 2015

What Happens When You Load Pistol Powder in a Rifle Cartridge

This is a grim tale. A man almost lost the use of his right hand, and did suffer terrible injuries to his fingers. All because he picked the wrong bottle of powder off the shelf.

Varget Kaboom TiteGroup Hand injury reloading fingers accident

Similar Labels, Disasterous Consequences
The shooter, Denny K., was assembling some rounds for his brand new 7mm-08 Savage hunting rifle. He thought he was loading with Hodgdon Varget. Instead he had filled his powder measure with Hodgdon TiteGroup, a fast-burning pistol powder. The labels are similar, so the mistake is understandable. But the results were devastating. Here’s what 41 grains of TiteGroup can do in a 7mm-08:

Varget Kaboom TiteGroup Hand injury reloading fingers accident

Posting on the Firing Line, in a thread entitled “Lucky to Be Alive”, Denny writes:

“This is the hardest post to post. I know if I had read it a week ago my comment would have been: ‘You have no business reloading’. I had everything perfect, except pouring the wrong powder in the powder measure. I type this slowly with my left hand, embarrassed but … possibly saving someone else a tragedy or, like me, a long drive to the Emergency Room and surgery to save my finger.”

CLICK HERE for bigger, more graphic photo of injury.
Varget Kaboom TiteGroup Hand injury reloading fingers accident

The Still-Sealed Bottle of Varget
Denny did not initially comprehend exactly why the kaboom happened. He thought maybe his new Savage rifle was at fault. Then, on his return home, he discovered something…

Denny wrote: “The seven-hour period it took to go to ER, transport to Trauma Center and surgery made me think it was a Savage rifle issue. Brand new rifle, new brass, triple-checked loading data. The next day I was humbled when I realized the Varget powder was still sealed.

I knew what powder to use. I thought [Varget] was what I used. Not until the following day did I realize the Varget was still sealed.”

At that point, Denny realized what caused the accident — “operator error”. He knew he had to warn others about using the wrong powder: “I knew I needed to share my mistake, even though it is embarrassing, just to remind people. I’ve been reloading for 30 years…”

Editor’s Comment: Denny was not a novice reloader. His experience demonstrates that this kind of mistake can be made by any hand-loader, even one with decades of experience. Be safe guys, take your time when you load your ammo. Remove powders from measures after your loading sessions (pistol powders can look very similar to rifle powders). And by all means CHECK the LABEL on the jug. As the TiteGroup label says: “A little goes a long way.”

It’s not a bad idea to separate your pistol powders from your rifle powders, or perhaps even load for pistol in a separate part of your workshop.

Permalink News, Reloading 69 Comments »