.50 Cal Stupidity

Apparently, and the story appears to be true, a solider tried to fix his machine gun by banging in a pin using a loose .50 BMG round …

Read about it here [ WARNING. VERY GRAPHIC PHOTO ]

UPDATE: Could be a fake. See this comment posted by Molon.

[ Many thanks to jdun1911 for emailing me the link. ]

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Canthros

    Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow…

    This is just going to further encourage me to keep some action proving dummies or snap caps around for all those AR parts that suggest fiddling with this or that using a bullet tip. I’m sure this guy wasn’t using the tip of the bullet to pound on that pin, but still…

  • CinSC

    The title says it all…I just can’t look.

  • At first, I was wondering how the heck the primer went off. I was thinking to myself that he was using the bullet end to hammer with… then I realized what actually happened.

    Complacency at its finest.

  • DavidR

    Who-ever’s hand that is, my sympathies.

    And I would put money on that story having nothing to do with how the hand got to be that way.

  • SpudGun

    Huh, that’s nothing, I once cut my finger on an AK, it really smarted and I needed a band aid for my boo-boo. Luckily the band aid had a smiley face on it and I felt much better.

    Seriously, I could never be an army medic, even that photo makes me want to blow chunks through my nostrils. As much as the guy was being a dumbass, you have to feel sorry for him.

    I wonder what ‘war story’ he’ll tell people when he gets back to civilian life?

  • Yuck, man they dont make soldiers like they used to….

  • Jusuchin

    No offense, but here is something I would’ve told him as he laid there crying and screaming.


  • Greetings from Texas,
    All kinds of snide comments I could make but this guy has been punished enough. Hurts just to look at.

    Would make a dandy poster for “Use the right tool for the Job”

    I would ask how he even thought of doing that but I don’t want to know.

  • Jim

    I’m not getting it, why not use the bullet end? While not a genius idea, it seems infinitely less likely to cause an explosion.

  • Vitor

    And to think that during WW2 the polish army had a bear that would carry artillery shells properly.

    Yes, you read it right, a bear soldier!

    Scroll down to the #1 part:


  • Molon Labe

    Issue the First: Where the hell was his first line supervisor? I (obviously) trusted my gunner with the lives of the occupants of my vehicle but I was still personally present for the mounting and dismounting of his weapon 240 or Ma Deuce.

    Issue the Second: How has this kid managed to live long enough to become a Soldier? Yeah, OPTEMPO can make for some unbelievable fatigue but this is Stupidity with a capital ‘S’.

    Final Issue: This is the net result of a society that doesn’t incorporate firearms into the upbringing of our children. Guess what? My 13 year old sure as hell wouldn’t have done that. Know why? Because he’s been properly instructed in firearm safety. I’d like to think that military training can close the gap… clearly I shouldn’t think anymore.

  • Christ.

  • Bob

    second the dumbass remark,

  • That is the *opposite* of good!

  • AzHamMedic

    Can you say “F**KTARD!”?

  • Oswald Bastable

    Did Gomer use a Mk221 round or suchlike?

  • Carl

    Look at the bright side: At least the war is over for this soldier. šŸ™‚
    Losing a hand clearly sucks, but it’s a lot better than being dead.

  • KDC

    The picture for the hand just didn’t look like an explosive wound. I am currently a military armorer and this is something I would have heard about. A search through DoD safety sites with my government login and a call to my post safety have not turned up anything about this “weapons safety message 10-02” being legit. The post safety is looking into it, but they would have known about something like this dated for 10 May.

  • Big Daddy

    Wow, I bet he was a newbie 18 year old kid right out of basic or something. Typical of the Army having some NCO tell a newbie to do something and walking away laughing at the fact he did not give the kid the hammer he was supposed to or some other tool, that’s my guess from experience. Our 50 cals mounted differently on the M-113.

    They do that to FNGs all the time, they tried that with me, go to the motor pool and get some squelch oil for the radio. I just looked at him and said you got the wrong guy don’t even think of trying that stuff with me EVER. They never did again…….

  • Vaarok

    A friend of mine saw somebody do the same thing in Vietnam, except the guy was trying to open a can of beer the pull-tab had torn off of. He hit the .50 on the base with a rock, trying to use it like a chisel.

  • jdun1911

    Molon Labe,

    “Issue the Second: How has this kid managed to live long enough to become a Soldier? Yeah, OPTEMPO can make for some unbelievable fatigue but this is Stupidity with a capital ā€˜Sā€™. ”

    He is like any other soldier of his age. Like all kids they do take on more risks than people in their 30’s and up. Being in the military make them more aggressive in risk taking. It happens.


    Not many kids died in Afghanistan. Almost 10 years in Afghanistan and less then 1k of death. It is currently the longest US war with the least amount of causalities.

    In the US over 8000 deaths are due to drowning annually. Something to think about.

  • Marcus

    I call shenanigans. Red flag #1: guy got it from an email at work. KDC is right, the wound doesn’t fit the description either. We’ve seen rounds cook off before. If you had your hand around a .50 BMG as you hit the primer, it would be bad, but I just don’t think it would look like that. Not an expert here, but come on, let’s be skeptical about this.

  • Mountainbear

    Yikes. I agree, he must have been some green guy out of basic. They do things like that, even here. Real or not… hmmm… If you have your fist around it when it goes off, well, try it with a regular firecracker and you’ll see how bad it can be.

    jdun1911, I wonder how many people die every year in traffic accidents in the US. It’s about 50,000 every year in Europe. And that’s not counting the tens of thousands who end up badly injured.

  • Molon Labe

    On closer inspection, I’m going to cry shenanigans.

    I searched the Army’s safety site and there is nothing about this alleged incident… and there would be by now.

    There is not a “weapon safety message” that I can find. Neither can the US Army’s safety website:
    It would either be a ground safety message or a safety of use message.

    Also, it just doesn’t look like a real safety message. To begin with, a .50 caliber? How about a 50 caliber or .50? I find it hard to believe that an official USFOR-A SOUM would refer to Ma Deuce as a “.50 cal”.

    There are phone numbers but no email POC for the safety office.

    Listing “permanent disability” down the sides implies that a Line of Duty investigation has taken place and the results have been endorsed by the investigating officer, an Army surgeon and at least one field grade officer. Having done LODs, I can personally say that even the most pedestrian and clear cut LOD takes a lot more than three weeks to be completed.

    Numerous little things like alternating fonts, font sizes and weird bolds.

    The opening statement refers to accidents, plural. So, how come I can’t find any other safety messages concerning the mounting and dismounting of an M2?

    Here are several phrases that don’t sound very Army to me:
    “inattention to detail”
    “during pre-combat checks” Mounting a weapon is not something you do during a PCC.
    “hammer at the locking pin”
    “pinkie finger” Little finger maybe? Or, in American English, “pinky”.
    “failure to follow existing SOPs, TTPs…” Uhm, what about the technical manual (TM)?

    No mention of the type of round.

    There don’t appear to be any burns on the wound itself. Not even on the finger that would have been on the neck of the round.

    MOD 93 Machine Gun Mount? Whaaaaa? Oh wait, you meant the MK93 Machine Gun Mount. In fact, if you google “MOD 93” Machine Gun Mount, the only results you get reference this alleged incident.

    I also emailed a buddy downrange about it. He said that there had been some posters in front of the chow hall but they were only there for a day or two. So, someone got over zealous and someone else noticed that it was BS and had them take it down.

    I think, in the end, this will be proven as a hoax.

    • Molon, thanks for the analysis

  • DaveR

    Why are there no burns? And why wouldn’t such an devastating explosion have injured the guy’s wrist/forearm??–Looks more like a hand that got caught in a piece of machinery.

    So, I just want to reiterate Marcus’ shenanigans and skepticism sentiment.

    For me, this is just an internet urban legend until more corroborating evidence comes to light.

  • Brer

    Mountainbear: 37,313 in 2008 according to the NHTSA. For reference that’s a record LOW (lowest since 1961).

    The wierd thing about this safety message is that I’ve found it…but only on forums and sites like scribd where users upload their own content. Not on any .mil website that -I- know to check.

  • jdun1911


    About the same in the USA. Over 4000 people get killed in traffic accidents every months.

    Here is the leading causes of deaths in the USA.

  • Dan


    Sorry, you’re wrong. This was sent out to everyone in CJTF-82 on Bagram. I and a few thousand other people got it, and it was attached to an official saftey message. This is very real, and anyone on bagram with a NIPR account has a copy of it.

  • Al T.

    Agree with Molon. Hoax. The utter lack of carbon in the wounds is a big clue.

    Dan, hoaxs can be spread via NIPR as well. The key is what the Safety guys at Rucker publish. This does not meet any known criteria of their Safety Bulletins…


  • mike

    During my three years at an Anti-Armor Company in the 82d, we always called it the MOD 93-incorrectly, but everyone had been doing it that way for years.

  • Hrmm. Doesn’t look explosive to me. The flesh has slipped from the bones here, likely under pressure… get hsi hand under a tank track, perhaps?

    Also note that beyond ‘surface blood’ it’s not bleeding. Also notice what I *think* looks like a small respirator can on the tech.

    “I wonder what kind of discharge he will get?”

    Heh… purulent I figure, for a good long while. That’s a complex and no doubt HEAVILY contaminated wound…

  • Molon Labe

    First, Joe calling it the MOD 93 instead of the Mk.93 is completely understandable. If you’ve never heard Soldiers refer to a piece of equipment with the wrong nomenclature…. well, you’ve never been in the Army. So, that’s a good point.

    On the other hand, just because a bunch of people get an email on NIPR, doesn’t make it real. Now, if it had come from Rucker and was sent to the whole Army, now we’re talking.

    For whatever it’s worth, I called our post safety office about this last week and no one there is aware of any SOUM for the Mk.93. They also have never heard of a “weapon safety message”. I forwarded it to them in an email and they’re going to get in touch with the USFOR-A safety rep to confirm or deny.

  • Fifty Cal

    I did almost the exact same thing in Iraq in 2005… So I can relate. What seems like flagrant stupidity on this side of the world didn’t seem that irrational under different circumstances..

    I know it sounds completely ridiculous.. but after working with every weapon and ammunition from the 9 mm pistol all the way up to the 120 mm tank round -so frequently and for so long- I got comfortable. I got numb to the idea that the “tools” of the trade were so deadly. High mission tempos required us to cut corners and get stuff done NOW. Combine that with constant IED’s, RPGs, and small arms fire… and a loose .50 Cal round seemed like the least of my worries..

    I was sleep deprived both long term and short term and didn’t think the risk of using what was on hand rather than going and fishing for a hammer outweighed the reward of any perceived “safety”.

    Yes, I know it’s stupid and makes zero sense in our world. And I don’t blame anyone for giving me a hard time about it- either soldier or civilian. But combat is one risk after another, and at the time, it didn’t seem as crazy as it does now from the comfort of my home.

    • Fifty, I am pleased you survived (unhurt?).