Airborne Ammo

Little Things—Like Fixed Ammunition—Deserve Much More Respect Than Usually Given.

It has been pretty exciting to have a job I have always liked for the last 46 years. In all cases the military, law enforcement and as a civilian my work has been with or has evolved around and dealt with firearms. I have seen some odd stuff over the years like .44-40s fired in a .45 Colt revolver. It just rattles down the barrel and still hits a target at modest range.

I have shot .50 BMGs, Mark 19 40mm belt-fed grenade launchers, every kind of handgun I can think of down to the FP45 Liberator single-shot handgun dumped from the sky all over Europe during WWII. Lugers and Broomhandle Mausers are great guns and yet old favorites are always Colt Single Action Army revolvers, 1911 Auto pistols and rock-solid Smith & Wesson revolvers. Yet in all these guns and all the rounds fired something still happens every once in awhile that makes me wonder.

Throw BOOM!

OK, think of this as a crime scene. I went shooting the other day with a .45 ACP revolver with factory ammunition loaded in moon clips. After shooting, there are always stray live rounds left in one or two of the moons. No biggy, just strip out the empties and reload new cartridges in the moon and back into the bucket of fully charged loaders the ammo goes. I have a plastic bucket I put all the ammo in and it will hold about 200 rounds in the moons ready to go for a shooting session. When I got home, I stripped the rounds, reloaded them and, stepping out on the back step, I simply lofted lightly one of the loaded moons into the bucket and boom! Out the side of the buckets goes the projectile and crap flew around for a bit. When the dust cleared, I measured and the moon was dropped exactly 44 inches from fingertips to contact and it appears an exact edge of a case rim struck a primer hard enough for the denotation. Silly me, or stupid me—anyway, no more of that.


The results of the mistake of dropping live ammo into a bucket full of live ammo.
Such detonations rarely happen, but when it does it’s a little too exciting!

Your Backside

Many of you know me from training and know I am a safety… advocate… would be a nice word. I am very strict on safety on my ranges and I do not believe sacrificing safety for a trick shooting drill that probably won’t happen in a fight anyways.

So, I strongly advise people to not take their guns out of the holster while behind the firing line and we provide fiddle tables so people can do whatever fussing over the gun they think they need to do, even if they often don’t need to. So anyways you do not want or like to hear gunfire behind an active working firing line. A few years back in a Defensive Handgun class while at Thunder Ranch/Texas, we had our shooting lined formed and running smoothly. A student firing a 1911 .45 ACP pistol was on the line and apparently having trouble with a half-loaded magazine. Considering the magazine was the problem, the student threw the half-loaded magazine a nominal 10 yards behind the line towards his gear bag and on impact there was a detonation. Of course the line right at that moment wasn’t firing, so the seemingly very loud boom came from behind the line. So with a full head of steam I turn around to be greeted visually by only a drift of blue grey smoke and no one to bark at. Review showed the magazine warped when it popped allowing the spring, follower base and remaining cartridges to scatter all over the area.

Go figure. High primer, or a perfect storm impact? I never discovered what the cause was. Except, I sort of wonder if we should ever throw loaded magazines around.

Loose Ammo Goose

When I was a young cop I went to a local gun store to see what I couldn’t live without in the gun department. The owner was helping several other customers. One who was fooling with an automatic pistol that at least was a baby Browning .25 ACP. The deal was being resolved and a partial box of .25 ACP ammo was setting on the edge of the glass counter top.

During the conversation the box got brushed off the counter top and upon impact with the floor we all got a thrill as it popped a round off and blew the box and contents all over the floor. After a long silence and an additional body-hole checks we all decided it was all clear to come out from behind whatever readily available cover we had all sought out. Again it looked like the edge of the case on the primer in the loose cartridges in the box gig.


So, it appears that after all this time I finally have learned to not throw stuff like ammo, boxes of ammo, loose rounds, loaded magazines and or full-moon clips. See even an old dog can learn something new, even if it did take three times for the wake up call.
By Clint Smith

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GUNS May 2013

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