.338 Lapua Magnum KABOOM

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You might well think that the catastrophic destruction of firearms caused by shooters leaving their cleaning rods inside their guns was a rare occurrence, but you would be wrong. It happens far to often. These photos show what happens when a cleaning rod is left in a .338 Lapua Magnum rifle. A member of the SnipersHide forum reported that this KABOOM happened two benches down from him at the range. The shooter only sustained minor injuries. Two holes were punched in roof and pieces of the rifle were scattered around the range.

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I am not sure exactly which demographic of the shooting community is responsible for this phenomenon, but it tends to be higher end bolt actions that are effected which makes me think it is veteran shooters and/or long range/competition shooters who are trying to extract the most accuracy from their guns by cleaning it between each string of shots. The extra weight of a cleaning rod, even a cheap light weight cleaning rod, significantly increases the pressure inside the barrel (it is essentially adding to the bullet weight at best, or jamming the bullet in the barrel at worst).

Thanks to Bill for the tip.

Related

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.


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  • clinton notestine

    good way to blow a few grand

    • ThomasD

      Or the top of your head off.

  • Al

    Well, the bipod is still good…

    • John Doe

      And not a scratch on those ski feet. Bet the rifle was brand new.

  • Lance

    Darn it Steve quit blowing up good weapons for fun!!!! LOL!!!!
    Id say the man was lucky. He could have had the bold driven threw his head. Must always pay attention when at the range 100% all the time.

    • Nokloss

      Thank god the bolt is constructed the way it is so the pressure splits the barrel in half other than driving the bolt trough your face.

    • David

      Dammit Carl.

    • Karl Murphy

      Hee Hee, spelling would not hurt either…. “He could have had the bold driven threw his head.” or He could have had the bolt driven through his head.

  • Rusty Owen

    I don’t think Savage’s warranty covers that.

  • Robert Rivera

    I almost shed a tear and it’s not even my rifle.

  • http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/ Travis Poulson

    This is the saddest thing I’ve read on the internet all year.

    • Karl Murphy

      “This is the saddest thing I’ve read on the internet all year.”

      No, it is a happy thing, he was unhurt !!! a rifle can be replaced, a life or his face is entirely another matter.

      • http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/ Travis Poulson

        My sympathies still lie with the rifle. Leaving the cleaning rod in nearly made him a candidate for a Darwin award.

  • El Duderino

    Used to shoot cleaning rods out of M16s all the time…using blanks…

    • 7.62LPS

      I had a buddy do this while we were shooting one day. He shot the rod into a tree and more than half of the rod was sunk into the tree. We tried to remove it but it wouldn’t budge. It’s still there to this day.

      • iksnilol

        Could you use that for archery season (assuming you attach a broadhead to the rod)?

        And has anybody tried this with .338 lapua or 50 BMG?

    • Dave The Great

      I had a buddy who was a Civil War re-enactor. He had many horror stories about people leaving their cleaning rods in their muskets when they were lined up and firing at each other.

      • Leon Singleton

        Scratch the re-

      • CorruptionInColumbia

        That is why when my Dad was a Revolutionary War re-enactor, they had a firm rule regarding no ramrods on the battlefield. They used hand-rolled paper containers for powder charges for the pan and barrel. More than one person inspected each musket before an event. This was in the 1960′s.

    • armydadtexas

      No comment!

  • PK

    Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person who bothers to check the bore of every firearm I bring, every single time I go shooting.

  • Geoff a well known Skeptic

    I don’t see how it could happen if you properly cleaned it from the breech. Unless some of the rod came unscrewed…but I thought the expensive rifle boys always used one piece rods with big comfortable handles. Of course the shooter could have been rushed and was just checking the bore for obstructions.
    Geoff
    Who is curious about the drill and repetition. I wonder if this was something new and unpracticed.

    • M.M.D.C.

      From the thread at SH:

      “The shooter is a regular there and is a pretty smart guy. He had been having a problem with sticky cases though he said he was certain the loads were mild. That’s why he was content to knock the sticky ones out with the rod.
      He simply forgot to remove the rod after knocking out the last stuck case.

      You can see what happened next.”

      • dan citizen

        when shooting light loads not visually checking for a stuck projectile is the action of someone who should not own guns.

        • M.M.D.C.

          Perhaps. We have all done stupid things, but I certainly wouldn’t be sitting next to him at the range.

          • dan citizen

            I will freely admit to doing some pretty stupid things. Luckily he survived. I really doubt he’ll forget another cleaning rod.

          • Dusty J Shadle

            when cases begin to stick on extraction you ned to back off, if you keep going, you shouldn’t be hand loading

        • Karl Murphy

          Do You know how many shooting accidents occur ? when you shoot a long time, muscle memory kicks in, problem is, muscle memory is not smart, its automatic ! so you can be a genius and still mess up by not using cognitive reasoning rather than muscle memory.

          • dan citizen

            muscle memory does not cause a man to continue to shoot when clear indications of trouble occur (sticky cases)

            When you are using a rod frequently, such as between shot wiping during competition, you must develop practices that assure safety. To do otherwise is reckless and irresponsible.

            To leave continue shooting sticky cases in other than a test rig or ballistic tunnel, especially at a public range, is endangering the others present, the range insurance, and himself. It is inexcusable.

            To then fire a weapon with a cleaning rod in the bore shows a ridiculous level of incompetence.

            This person should not operate firearms.

      • robertsgunshop

        Would someone please explain to me, how do you run a rod down a bore to knock out a “stuck” case and forget to pull the rod out of the bore?

        • Anonymous

          Because the shooter wasn’t paying attention, was focused on placing the brass back into the ammo box, and likely was chatting with someone next to him. Open bolt, insert rod, tap rod to free the casing, place casing into box, hop right back into the seat, insert next round and close bolt, pull trig-KABOOM.

          I know the shooter, and this incident doesn’t surprise me.

          • M.M.D.C.

            What is surprising is that, according to the other eyewitness account, the guy continued to shoot another gun after the kaboom.

            If I destroyed my rifle in such a manner, I’d pack up and hit the trail. In fact, I wouldn’t show my face around there for quite a while.

          • SilentShooter

            I take it the Range they were at did not have range officers. As I can not see a Range Safety Officer letting him just keep on shooting for the day. I would have sent him home packing

        • Karl Murphy

          robertsgunshop M.M.D.C. • 7 days ago
          Would someone please explain to me, how do you run a rod down a bore to knock out a “stuck” case and forget to pull the rod out of the bore?

          Simple answer ? he did not pay attention, it was not intentional.
          Get distracted and blow up a gun, plain and simple.

      • JO48

        I have seen a few obstructions over the years and I am a little surprised about the split at the breech and non venting out the mag well. Or is that only designed into military weapons?

      • Hunter57dor

        problem one right there, having repeated problems with sticky cases and not stopping. i take it these were reloads? doesn’t matter, even if its factory, if an ammo is causing weird issues, you pack up for the day, figure it out back at your bench at home. its far too dangerous to be this careless.

      • Karl Murphy

        M.M.D.C. Geoff a well known Skeptic • 7 days ago

        From the thread at SH:

        “The shooter is a regular there and is a pretty smart guy. He had been having a problem with sticky cases though he said he was certain the loads were mild. That’s why he was content to knock the sticky ones out with the rod.
        He simply forgot to remove the rod after knocking out the last stuck case.

        You can see what happened next.”

        Yes, it was an accident, I have seen Doctors, Lawyers and other highly skilled professionals do this before. That is why gun safety is so important, once you get comfy, BANG ! recipe for disaster, make a check list, just do not get complacent about gun safety.

  • guest

    Is this the new method of shooting sir Charles Darwin recommends?

  • kipy

    That would be damn good advertising for the scope company if it still functions after that kind of abuse

    • Dilby

      It looks pretty droopy. Some scope manufacturers would still repair it for you.

  • gunslinger

    i was waiting to hear about a bubba load…

    i guess you could put a cleaning rod in a 338LM case??? is this the next evolution of the RIP and the kevlar string bullets?

  • LRB

    FOR THE LOVE OF HUMANITY, WHY?! WHY?!? !

  • avconsumer2

    I can’t even… how…
    K. Nobody tell me what kind of optic that was. I don’t want to know.

    • ColaBox

      If he can afford a .338, then probably a Leupold.

  • hami

    Is that the Remington 700 .338? Maybe Dateline can do another investigation.

    • KlondikeBar

      It’s a Savage.

  • Rorionp

    Learning experience, He’s lucky bet he won’t forget that rod ever again.

  • dp

    Beauty, that’s exactly how I like to see barrel split – along the grain. Of course, the radial stress is twice as big as the transverse. Makes sense.
    Good to post this stuff – it’s educational.

  • Hunter57dor

    How stupid do you have to be to just leave an obstruction in the bore like that, THAT YOU ARE DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR PUTTING THERE?

    • Karl Murphy

      “How stupid do you have to be to just leave an obstruction in the bore like that, THAT YOU ARE DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR PUTTING THERE?”

      It only takes a moment of carelessness to kill a friend, a family member, etc… unless you are a raving sociopath or psychopath, I really doubt anyone does stuff like this on purpose.

  • Leonard

    dumbass

  • AGreenSmudge

    CLEARLY he tapped the bottom of the mag too hard upon insertion.

  • dan citizen

    evolution is always on, 24/7

  • John Dalton

    Either this guy is insanely lucky or the rifle was insanely well designed that he was not severely injured.

  • Jeremy Star

    Wow, just…wow. I’m not really sure how you would miss a cleaning rod still being in the barrel. I’ve always wanted a .338 rifle, but I can’t afford the ammo bill. Seeing it destroyed like that is sad.

    • TimNC

      Looks like that guy has plenty ammo to sell now…

  • Mark Hillard

    I use a bore snake most of the time. I do bring a cleaning rod for stuck cases.

  • jimmarch

    The bolt stayed in the action, saving the man’s life. AWESOME rifle designer and metallurgy…what was the gun?

  • ThomasD

    I’ve seen more than one ramrod sent downrange during black powder shoots. With mild loads it doesn’t even bulge the barrel.

    Smokeless is a whole ‘nother situation.

  • dig_into_the_lies

    That’ll buff right out.

    • Benji smith

      Little High Speed Tape should do it

  • Shane

    This person needs to turn in all of his guns, sharp objects, drivers license, and man card immediately. This is beyond moronic.

    • Michel_T

      If this had happened in Quebec (Canada), the provicial government would probably be asking for a nation wide ban on cleaning rods…

      either that, or you’d have to pay their shooting federation to take a cleaning rod safety course…

    • Karl Murphy

      Not really, you only need to be absent minded, tired, distracted, not thinking clearly, or thinking about the late mortgage, a foreclosure, a pending divorce or lawsuit etc,
      Before being judgmental, have a heart, sometimes people even get killed, so that is why We have gun safety rules, to minimize the inherent dangers of shooting.

  • cbunix23

    That’ll buff right out.

  • Joe

    Affected*

  • Mary Brown

    anyone need a scope cheap? Comes with rings and even part of the barrel…

  • 1911a145acp

    I’ll givya 100 bucks for that scope….

    • Guerrero_viejo

      It’s on!! 75?

  • mateo

    On the bright side of things, a lesson was learned and just imagine the stacks of cash saved by not buying .338!

  • 1911a145acp

    We are all human-Mistakes happen- glad no one was hurt.I have seen the same happen at the range w/ bore-sight arbors and bore snakes, squib loads w/ bullets lodged in the bore. Usually there are indicators that something is amiss. Very expensive lesson- oft times those are the most memorable. We should all learn from this one. PAY ATTENTION! Don’t allow others to distract you from the task at hand.It just takes an extra few seconds to breathe focus and recheck everything.Thank you SAVAGE ARMS for all the blow out safety features in your action!

  • Jeff Melmed

    I would guess it is not an experienced shooter that would leave a cleaning rod in the barrel, especially a bolt action. Any experienced shooter would clean the barrel from the breech.which requires removal of the bolt. The bolt could not be replaced with a cleaning rod in place, and without the bolt the rifle cannot be fired.

  • Michael Lawrence

    expensive lesson learned

    • Karl Murphy

      Michael Lawrence • 3 days ago
      expensive lesson learned

      What lesson would you rather learn ? a $20,000 rifle blown up, or lose both your eyes ? you can’t replace your eyes, you can always get another rifle.

      • Michael Lawrence

        The lesson learned is not to leave your cleaning rod in the barrel of your rifle. That is the lesson I was referring to.

  • Joe Hackett

    That looks expensive!!! Ouch!!

    • Karl Murphy

      Joe Hackett • 3 days ago
      That looks expensive!!! Ouch!!

      No, it was a VERY cheap lesson, he did not get killed crippled or maimed.

  • Jeff Aziz

    The photos are mine.

    The guy whose rifle exploded was not cleaning between shots, he had experienced several stuck cases and used the rod to knock the cases out of the breech. He stepped away from his rifle when the range was called COLD and had left the rod in the barrel only because we all have to leave our weapons alone after unloading, pulling mags and inserting range flags.

    How / why he forgot to pull the rod is still a mystery and 20 minutes or so later, when the range went hot again, he sat down, loaded a round and pulled the trigger.

    • crmitchell

      The surrounding area looks pretty messy – brass of various ages and calibers, paper and other trash. Does this say anything about habits ?

    • Karl Murphy

      Jeff Aziz • 3 days ago

      The photos are mine.

      The guy whose rifle exploded was not cleaning between shots, he had experienced several stuck cases and used the rod to knock the cases out of the breech. He stepped away from his rifle when the range was called COLD and had left the rod in the barrel only because we all have to leave our weapons alone after unloading, pulling mags and inserting range flags.

      How / why he forgot to pull the rod is still a mystery and 20 minutes or so later, when the range went hot again, he sat down, loaded a round and pulled the trigger.

      Again, really simple, he lost track of what he was doing, how hard is it to understand that ? It was not intentional, neither is medical malpractice, sometimes, people die, its call an accident.

  • GoAwayLib

    Since you don’t need your ammo, can I have em?

  • docv_73

    Whigh high end boltvactions is so common, is also so obvious. The demographic that does this is the wannabes! No real training or experience, but the most expensive”most accurate” rifle money can buy, makes them a better shooter – or at least the coolest guy on the range. WRONG! and WRONG!

    Non self respecting, well trained or experienced shooter would have a cleaning rod in the rifle with bolt in it. The bolt has to be out to clean it from the receiver – to protect the crown and avoid getting debris in the action.

  • Rob Kempton

    this happen to muzzle loaders a lot , no me though .just don’t get it .

  • WTF M8

    Who cleans a precision rifle from the muzzle anyway? It’s stupid simple to remove the Savage Bolt for cleaning from the breach.

    How does this even happen?

    • gunslinger

      i don’t think he was cleaning. From the forum thread, the shooter was having sticking brass and using the rod to remove them. he just forgot to remove the rod after removing the previous fired brass.

    • Karl Murphy

      1WTF M8 • 2 days ago

      Who cleans a precision rifle from the muzzle anyway? It’s stupid simple to remove the Savage Bolt for cleaning from the breach.

      How does this even happen?

      I saw more bore scopes during sighting in get left in and blow up rifles, I have seen some cleaning rods, but way fewer.

  • Scot168

    Bet a change of underwear was needed by the shooter after that.

  • John Swinkels

    Was he American.Say no more.

    • Karl Murphy

      John Swinkels • 2 days ago
      Was he American.Say no more.
      There are plenty of stupid people in Australia too, more so with all that useless gun control, oh wait ! you all voted for gun control Mate !!! harty har har !

      • John Swinkels

        YES KARL, thats true we Australians like to take it it up the arse from our government.the people had no say.the prime minister was a gun hater.our green movement wish to remove all firearms.

  • Master Cylinder

    Every single one of us, no matter how hot you think you might be, is capable of doing this. Humans, sooner or later, make mistakes….all of us….its part of being a human being and why we practice and have checklists.

  • Stephen Yaw II

    how the hell does that happen? you clean breach to muzzle. I use a bore guide. bolt comes out bore guide goes in then cleaning rod. only way to get the bolt back in is to remove the rod then the guide.

  • armydadtexas

    Well that is one SELF CORRECTING MISTAKE that won’t be repeated. Looks like those were great guns. Sad!

  • DeeBar

    I’ve seen this happen with a Kreigoff single shot trap gun, $18,000.00 gone , kaput !

  • BMWoodman

    Ouch! I felt that one all the way through the interweb.
    BMWoodman

  • Karl Murphy

    Not an uncommon event at the range 3 days before hunting seasons.

  • Jason308

    If the cleaning was done from the breech, this is almost impossible to have happen.

    • gunslinger

      kind of hard to remove a stuck case from the breech

  • david

    I have a different .338 LM. I used to think the Savage barrel shank was thin for this round. Now I realize from the pictures that had the barrel not split, the pressure could have sheared the bolt lugs off and blown the bolt back into the shooters face. The pictures show the force escaped in the zone of the cartridge. Savage may or may not have considered this scenario in the design, and who’s to say all such bursts would unfold this way, but I’m pretty certain that those of us seeking the thickest barrel walls for rigidity purposes can appreciate that we have raised the stakes in never making the mental error of allowing an obstruction.

  • Mike Peach

    “makes me think it is veteran shooters and/or long range/competition shooters who are trying to extract the most accuracy from their guns by cleaning it between each string of shots”. It is probably a new gun owner without training. No competitor will clean a gun from the muzzle.

  • YouGetWhatYouPay4

    The first error was purchasing a 338 Lapua by Savage.

  • 1911a145acp

    We have already done this article right?

  • harvery koons

    thank god no was kill , guys