Vulcan V50 .50 BMG KABOOM

An owner of a Vulcan V50 .50 BMG rifle was seriously injured after a round detonated while he was loading it into the gun. The Vulcan V50 is a single shot shell holder. Shell holders are loaded by removing the bolt, inserting a cartridge into the bolt, then inserting both the bolt and cartridge into the chamber. This is normally a very simple, safe and cheap to manufacture action.

When the round detonated, the bolt flew back through his hand, taking off three fingers, and into his shoulder. A friend of his posting on Arfcom wrote that he was initally blinded but has recovered his vision in his right eye and his doctor believes that vision in his left eye may well return. His pinky, ring finger and middle finger were never recovered. The rifle was undamaged.


The red arrow indicates the cartridge base from the round that detonated. (Date/Timestamp is wrong).

Vulcan V50SS KABOOM 2

Arrows indicate where the bolt hit the rifle on its way backwards.

The ammunition was branded Freedom Arms, but I have not heard of any company going by that name which makes .50 BMG rounds. This leads me to think it was cheap handloaded ammunition. I suspect the cause was a dirty/jammed firing pin. When he slammed the bolt open, the firing pin was pushed into the primer causing the detonation before he had a chance to lock the bolt.

This kind of problem is why I use a Murrays Enhanced Firing Pin on SKS rifles. The SKS design originally called for a spring in the firing pin to push it back, but most manufacturers dropped this to save money. In almost all SKS rifles a firing pin is my floating inside the bolt. A dirty SKS bolt could cause the firing pin to stick out, although this shouldn’t be a problem if you only shoot steel-cased ammunition with military primers and keep your bolt clean.

Many thanks to jdun for 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.


  • Charlie Taylor

    Well, the good news is that he’s still got a thumb and trigger finger!

  • midnightyell

    Was this a week ago in Houston? If so, I was present at the range when it happened.

  • midnightyell

    Nevermind; the pictures do not match. The Vulcan I saw go Kaboom did not have that stock.

    Similar injury, though. Bolt embedded in the guy’s shoulder. I didn’t see amputated fingers, but I stayed the hell back once the RSOs had taken over.

  • rjackparis

    Damn, that’s terrible. mamed for life because of a shitty thing like a stuck firing pin.

  • TCBA_Joe

    This is the 2nd one of these that’s happened in VERY recent history.

  • Bubba

    That’s what happens when you buy a Vulcan product.

  • LRB

    Best of luck to the individual involved and a speedy recovery.

  • Koty
    Freedom munitions, perhaps, Steve?

  • gunslinger

    doesn’t the ar15 have a floating firing pin? couldn’t it become “lodged forward”???

    • Blastattack

      The AR15 firing pin is floating, but it cannot contact the primer until the rifle is fully into battery. The firing pin rests against a shoulder in the bolt carrier, and the bolt-head must retract into the body (and rotate closed) before the firing pin can contact the primer. However, you could easily lock the firing pin forward to create a sputtergun, but it would be 100% mechanically safe.

  • Lucky

    Apparently Bubba is right because I had a Vulcan 50 bolt come out when I fired it, it slit my cheek open and destroyed my shoulder, I was lifeflighted but survived, my V-50 was different than the one shown on this website, mine had a wooden stock.

  • yacope

    NEW weapon and if fails like this? That man should sue and sue them out of business. A company that makes crap like that should go out of business.

  • patrickw

    I have heard of quite a few kBs with Freedom Munition ammunition. 2 glocks, one AR15, one AR10, and a few bolt guns just at one shop that stopped carrying it after the 3rd one they had.

    Tons of liability, and from what I have heard, since they are using bulk powders, without pressure test equipment they get high pressure spikes above specs which just takes one out of spec chamber or a slight bit of bullet set back to cause such an incident