Scope Saves Owner from Improper Powder Load

Vortex Optics has posted up a picture on their Facebook page of a catastrophic detonation in a rifle where their optic saved the owner. The scope in question deflected shrapnel from the hot load when the barrel ruptured. TheLoadoutRoom picked the picture up with the story of the explosion below:

This was my Savage 111LRH 338 Lapua I had accidentally loaded it with Hodgdon H-110 handgun powder instead of H-1000 rifle powder so when I touched it off the whole gun blew up like a bomb with bits a pieces flying. Your scope forced all the shrapnel down and away from everyone, I had the top straps miss my left arm by a 1/2 inch. If your scope wasn’t on the rifle or if your scope was built so well that shrapnel would have been sent outward and may have hit and injured people standing by. I myself by the grace of God only got 3 little nicks where I could have been severely injured or killed. Yes God does look after stupid people!


An idiot indeed, but I am sure he will not load the wrong powder again.

Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • Joe

    Good to hear that the shooter is safe! That could have easily ended badly for him. This is another example as to why I will never hand load ammo, just one slip up and kaboom.

    • dan

      One slip up at a factory and you could also kaboom, I have never had to issue recalls for my hand loads, how many factory Ammo makers can claim that. Of course I don’t think they are loading a massive quantity of pistol powder into a rifle case either but….. Accidents happen everywhere and to assume it only happens to people that hand load is just silly. It’s like saying I don’t make my own cheese burgers because if I under cook them I may get sick so I only go to McD’s

      • Joe

        Not as silly as you think, remember it’s his rifle that exploded. Now I’m not saying there are not factory recalls on ammo, it happens all of the time, but keep in mind those incidents happen far less frequently. I’ll continue the food analogy, when I go to the butcher and ask for a premium cut of meat I want a cut filet, not the entire cow. I want an end product that I expect, not a surprise.

      • The gunsmith who built my favorite rifle had a blown receiver in his display cabinet. It was a customers from pistol powder being loaded into a rifle cartridge and it wasn’t the loaders fault. Disgruntled employee at the factory switched labels on a batch.

        Luckily the shooter was only peppered and was otherwise unscathed.

        It can happen to anyone anywhere anytime. Is shooting, is dangerous, but manageable.

    • Limonata

      See this story about factory loaded Rio shotgun shells and look at the picture of what is left of the shotgun. This was a factory load

  • Will

    Whooo! Nearly a hundred grains of pistol powder will do that.

  • Daniel

    Hot load…….giggle.

    • ChuckyTee

      That hot load almost blew up all over his face.

      • dan citizen

        It would have stung if he got it in his eyes

      • Guest

        Oh my.

    • 1911a145acp

      Oh Stopit!

  • Will


    • sianmink

      Congrats you know your name. gold star!

      • Will

        That counts as a success on a Monday morning. Whoops.

        • sianmink


        • dan citizen


  • Dave

    Did the scope survive? Thats what we all want to know.

    • Anonymoose

      Looks dented and possibly bent from the picture.

    • sonny

      I would guess that everything inside the tube is pretty much trashed……. seals, internal optics, etc.

  • 762×39

    To err is human; and yet this guy still looks like a complete moron. Natural selection!

  • Mike N.

    That is why I never have more than one container of powder on or near my loading bench, and I always double check the powder I’m going to use before dumping it in the powder measure. My powder is kept in a cabinet in the hall outside my reloading room, and I always put the powder back when I’m done. That way, before relading, I have to always affirmatively select a particular can of powder.

  • dan citizen

    We are always lucky when we can survive our own stupidity. I have done less intelligent things myself.

  • Elvis

    I’m not seeing how the scope saved him, unless he had his face over the top of the scope. I think he’s brown-nosing for swag.

    • Julio

      Could be… but Vortex do have a first-rate warranty, so perhaps he’s still just buzzing! It’d take me a while to calm down after that… years, probably.

  • GuruOfGuns

    It’s refreshing and rare for someone to take responsibility when something like this happens, too many times people come up with crazy theories. I do think giving credit to the scope for saving people from injury is a stretch.

    This was not caused by detonation, detonation of smokeless powder is a theory that has never been proved and in fact been disproved by the NRA years ago in regard to light 38 loads. This was an overload of the wrong powder which produced more pressure than the rifle was designed to contain.

  • guest

    I check and double check. Always. The check under reloading; weights, lengths, etc.
    And that does not just apply to powder but to the whole reloading process.

    Hope this serves as a very important lesson in safety and due diligence. Hindsight being what it is… check, check, check and double check.

  • Geoffry K

    That will definitely void the warranty. Glad he is OK.

  • 1911a145acp

    Savage action saves another life!

  • firebert

    PERP mount is still good

  • Federalist

    I’ve never heard of a hot load in a modern rifle causing a fatality. Are there any statistics on casualties due to catastrophic rifle failures?