Gun Explodes in Girl’s Hands

In this old video (dating back to at least 2009) an adult man and a teenage girl are shown shooting M1 Garand rifles. The gun stock is to large for the girl and she is standing in that terrible bent back stance and is rocked back on her heels after every shot. After a few shots she pulls the trigger and it does not fire. She appears to then manipulate the bolt and inspect the action. When she fires her next shot the gun explodes sending pieces of the stock flying in every direction.

Gun nuts have debated what went wrong for years. The quality of the video makes it hard to determine exactly what happened. There are two schools of thought. The first is that she fired a squib load that jammed a round in the barrel. When she fired the next shot the pressure caused the gun to explode. The other school of thought says that a round was fired outside the chamber. Either it did not chamber correctly or there was some type of slam fire (the round was detonated before fully chambering). I think the latter explanation is more likely. What do you think?

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.


  • Mark Hillard

    It looks like a squib to me.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      How many squibs have you seen that appear to eject the brass in a piston gun?

      • Ken

        It does appear to be a squib, because something happened to make her stop shooting to cycle the op rod, followed by the explosion on the very next shot. When she pulled the op rod back, an empty case came out.

        • JumpIf NotZero

          The video is too grainy too see what happened. It could have been a squib that did fire with no smoke out the barrel or ejection port (unlike any squid I’ve personally seen) or it could have been a dead trigger.

          I’m personally going with overcharge and that the gun was broken on the last shot she took. She just didn’t realize it until the next round where it presented itself spectacularly.

          But I could be wrong.

          • Jamie Clemons

            Maybe it only had a primer load so not much smoke.

      • ThomasD

        I’ve experienced exactly one episode like that. Shooting a friends Garand with his own reloads. Thankfully the owner heard the different report and stopped me before I fired a subsequent round.

        Good thing too, the bullet was lodged about three inches in from the muzzle. Firing another round would have been catastrophic.

        We both swore off using progressive reloaders on bottle neck cartridges after that incident.

        • JumpIf NotZero

          Yea, if something doesn’t sound right – STOP.

          All my progressive heads have powder checks – no question about it – ever.

  • matthew

    looking at the footage in slow motion, you see the side of the stock right next to the chamber blow out more so than other parts of the stock, so at least my untrained, and novice eye it seams that the cartridge slam fire

    • JumpIf NotZero

      I might be missing it, but how would a slam fire make the gun explode? It did that from being solely out of battery? In order for the primer to hit the bolt has to close. My guess is actually on overcharged reloads.

      Watch the recoil she’s taking on those last rounds. It looks too hot for that gun. Yes, she is small, but that gun is heavy, and recoiling hard.

  • Ken

    There is a safety notch in the back of the receiver which prevents the firing pin from going forward unless the bolt is closed. Also, there is a notch in the bolt that a camming lug on the hammer engages. If the bolt is not closed fully, the camming lug will either force it to close, or prevent the hammer from touching the firing pin.

    However, rewelded M1’s are often not made to spec, so these safety features sometimes doesn’t work. On a properly functioning USGI M1, you won’t get out of battery firing.

    It’s not an out of battery slam fire, because that would have happened as soon as the op rod went forward, not when she pulled the trigger.

  • dan citizen

    Global warming.

    If this isn’t proof of global warming, I don’t know what is.

    • Roger V. Tranfaglia

      Ahh… Dan, don’t you have a cow to milk??

  • Mike Jackson

    “Gun nuts have debated what went wrong for years” … really? This is undeniably a barrel obstruction.

    First, she had a click-no-bang failure prior to the explosion (you can clearly see her flinch/anticipate the shot that never went boom). While this is a tell-tale sign of a squib, it isn’t proof, but it *does* prompt her to manually cycle the action. In doing so she *closes* the bolt before returning the rifle to firing position. This proves it wasn’t a slam fire – the bolt was already closed. (If you think a slam fire can occur with a closed bolt, you don’t know what a slam fire is 😉 ). Next, understand a widely unknown feature of the M1 Garand – an internal firing pin block which makes out of battery detonations (and slam fires) next to impossible. Anyone who’s field-stripped an M1 has noticed the firing pin and bolt have a matching tongue and groove on the rear, but few people notice that it corresponds with a ramp and slot at the rear of the action. [SEE ATTACHED IMAGE] Unless the bolt is FULLY rotated into place, the firing pin tongue is blocked by this ramp. Why is it a ramp instead of a shelf? With sufficient hammer force, the ramp will cam the bolt fully into battery; without, the pin remains blocked. This is why there are so few *confirmed* cases of slam fires and out of battery detonations with the M1 Garand. If more people understood this they wouldn’t be so quick to shout their favorite excuse for what is far more likely a squib.

    So, is an OOB detonation technically possible? Sure, in the same way that “anything’s possible” … like me winning the lottery without buying a ticket. Is it likely what caused her catastrophic malfunction directly after a click-no-bang? No way. Apparently the victim/shooter even said it was an OOB detonation … I don’t mean to appear rude but if her stance is any sort of reflection of her gun competence, I personally don’t trust her judgment. Further, if in fact she *does* know what she’s talking about and knew what it was, she would have had to have seen it out of battery BEFORE pulling the trigger, which would contradict her competence.

    Given the sequence of events and the design of the rifle, this was most definitely a squib.

    • Mike Jackson

      trying picture again
      [edit – first picture went up. Mods, please delete this reply]

    • valorius

      Agreed, barrel obstruction.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      Nothing in your post rules out overcharge or wrong powder. So I’m not seeing “undeniably” anything.

      That round that didn’t fire could have been an empty chamber because of the action already being damaged but unnoticed.

      Every squib I have had or seen puffed smoke out the ejection port like crazy. I see no movement, smoke, or sound. So I personaply wouldn’t toss around “undeniably”

      • Mike Jackson

        My reply was to the “there are two schools of thought” and was intended to discuss squib vs oob/slam. But let’s talk overcharge…

        The spec load for 30-06 is 50 grains of IMR 4895. The case can’t hold a double charge so if his progressive press tried to drop twice the bullet wouldn’t seat. It’s also extremely unlikely that he’d load just one with a the wrong powder while the rest are fine. So if it were an obercharge, it could only be a few grains over. The M1 can handle that without a kaboom – worst cast the bolt pops off the op rod. So, no. Not an obercharge.

        Also, look at the muzzle during the kaboom. Nothing. Just a tiny amount of gas squeaking past the obstruction (now comprised of two bullest). If it were a hot load it would likely have sent had out in all directions, including through the barrel.

        • JumpIf NotZero

          You’re making a lot of assumptions. And you entirely skipped over wrong / pistol powder.

          • Mike Jackson

            Not assumptions, observations. And I did mention wrong powder- read again. You tell me what’s more likely: a reloaded switched their entire powdeer hopper to pistol powder for one round, or they just forget to charge one? Again: big picture is how detectives solve crime, not just fixating on one exciting element.

            I don’t really care what happened. All I know is it’s clear to me without just making a wild guess.

          • JumpIf NotZero

            No you’re right, you’re not assuming anything. You’ve also seem to have an overly optimistic opinion of most people who reload.

          • Guest

            You’re assuming a lot more with your stated theory: “I’m personally going with overcharge and that the gun was broken on the
            last shot she took. She just didn’t realize it until the next round
            where it presented itself spectacularly”

            ClickNoBang + manual cycle + kaboom = squib.

        • raz-0

          I mostly agree with your analysis, but I would add as a distinct possibility of a bum primer, poor crimp/neck tension, and a non squib barrel obstruction. Unless you consider that situation a type of squib, then I agree with your assessment. Even without your technical details regarding the platform, it’s really the only way to get quite that dramatic a disassembly without pistol powder being involved given the actions taken by the operator of the rifle.

  • Cameron Bissell

    what would an overcharge look like in this case? i’ve seen the results of overcharges in revolvers but never in gas trap rifles.

    • Ken

      Probably just like that. The Garand action is real strong and I don’t believe you can shear the lugs or or split the barrel with even a compressed charge of pistol powder. In Hatcher’s Notebook, he talks about high number M1903 receivers (M1 actions were stronger than M1903 actions) and bolts suffering no damage from a 133k PSI load, which was achieved with a 45gr charge of Bullseye and a 170gr flat base slug. Even then, the barrel did not burst.

      However, an overcharge (or any other overpressure) can result in the case failing and the gas escaping into the receiver area and expanding. The result is often that the stock shatters and the magazine blows out. An M1 Garand fully shrouds the case head with the ring around the bolt face and the ring around the chamber end of the barrel. It takes something really serious to blow out a case head in an M1.

      You will probably end up with something like this. Notice how the barrel, receiver, and probably bolt appear intact, but the stock shattered and the floorplate of the trigger housing blew out. Someone got sketchy reloads at a gun show.

      Here is another example. In this case, it was bad military ammo (a few lots of PS headstamped Korean ammo was problematic). The case split and dumped the gas into the action area.

      This is the only case I could find where something managed to split the receiver ring and shear the bolt lugs. It was apparently WWII ammo that had not been stored well and had degraded powder.

  • valorius


  • Dan


  • Roger V. Tranfaglia

    Father(?) Did not teach her very well,look at her stance. Or maybe he wasn’t paying attention. The camera person should have said something….AND how bad were the lady’s injuries??

  • Cal S.

    Oh, boy. How about we all just agree that there was probably something that could have been prevented with better safety and call it good?

    Nvm, let’s keep going back and forth for hundreds of comments while we all debate something that we can’t prove. How about that…

  • Ratcraft

    Why is it so many dads never teach their daughters how to stand when they shoot?

  • iksnilol

    I see no problems with her shooting stance. Though she is using a target/accuracy-oriented stance which is better suited for the heavier target guns instead of lightweight millitary/hunting guns. The M1 sorta fits between those two categories.

  • Matthew Hardwick

    I agree; gun obstruction. The stock not only came off but a portion of it in the hand-guard are actually splintered. No portion of the stock is present in the breech area of a Garand…it is all steel there. So if this had been an out-of-battery incident, the stock most likely would not have been affected and certainly not at the hand-guard area.

  • Jamie Clemons

    Squib barrel obstruction I agree. Not a round outside the chamber.

  • sometrend

    it sure looked like she had a squib,then chambered and fired another round without checking for an obstruction. I didn`t see her eject anything manually…but she went through the motions. my guess is barrel obtruction.