7.65 Argentine Spotter Round Detonation!

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While digging through the IAA Forum (an excellent resource for the cartridge collector) archives for data on the 7.65 Argentine, I came across these two threads chronicling two separate instances of spotter ammunition detonating while using an impact puller to remove the bullet! Yikes!

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Be very mindful what ammunition you have put in your bullet puller. Image source: iaaforum.org

“Spotting” or “observation” rounds as they are called are distinct from tracers in that they contain an explosive charge as well as a percussion cap and an inertia firing pin inside the bullets themselves. These rounds, similar in construction to those tested in a recent episode of InRange TV against ballistic soap, were used for marking the impact of a machine gun to allow for proper dialing of T&E mechanisms, similar to how artillery pieces were aimed during the same time period.

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An exploded explosive bullet. Not exactly the intended result. Note the internal “firing pin” sticking out of the base of the bullet remnants at lower left. Image source: iaaforum.org

Naturally, it’s not a fantastic idea to go smacking a round like this against a hard object. Unfortunately, sometimes mistakes do get made* and the result speaks for itself. Fortunately, so far as is known, no one was injured in either of these incidents – probably thanks to the long handle on commercial bullet pullers.

*In particular, some 7.65 Argentine spotting ammunition is marked only by a black painted tip – similar to the markings used by most nations to denote harmless (to the collector) armor piercing ammuniton. It’s easy to see how this ammunition might get mixed in with, or mistaken for ammunition with an inert projectile, and lead to an accident if the owner wanted to pull the bullet.

Stay safe, everyone!



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Zachary marrs

    Explosive ammunition explodes

    If you have some milsurp ammo that you are unsure about, for the love of sweet baby Jesus, look it up

    • As mentioned, in both cases they knew about the black-tipped explosive ammunition, but the rounds got mixed in where they shouldn’t have.

    • Blake

      Let’s hope that this article is useful to someone at some point as a PSA so that no one tries this again…

  • The Real Teal’c

    Collet pull FTW,

  • Ian McCollum

    How much more excuse do you need to have a separate ammo can clearly marked “explosive ammo”? I know I do! 🙂