Anatomy of a Blow Up

Preventing problems posed from prodigious pressures.

by RK Campbell

Gunsmiths are often asked quite a few questions concerning gun safety. One concerns the safety margin built into a modern rifle. I have a good idea, but I am not going to contribute to the delinquency of a handloader. I have inspected quite a number of damaged or blown firearms. Without exception, they were ammunition related. Just the same, some blowups are related to what I call an “accommodating chamber”, one relieved too much and which allows too-rapid and too-extensive cartridge case expansion. These chambers may not necessarily lead to a firearm blow up, such as when a cartridge case ruptures and allows gas into the magazine but without damaging the firearm.

It’s worth asking the shooter for their opinion of what caused the incident as a part of your diagnosis. A blow up can be very subjective and this is especially true if the situation may lead to a court case. To illustrate, let’s look at several of the incidents I have encountered. Although I am confident I understand what caused these blow ups, I can not be completely certain what actually happened as I wasn’t there and only evaluated the result.

In one case a customer brought in a…

Read more in the May 2021 issue.

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