Wrong Powder Blows Muzzleloader’s Fingers Off

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I take no pleasure in posting the picture above. Its from a hunter in my native Indiana who used the wrong powder and suffered a catastrophic detonation.

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According to the Indiana DNR from their 7th District’s Facebook page:

Corporal Eric Doane worked a firearm accident last night in Martin County that resulted in the shooter losing a couple fingers. This is what can happen when you shoot smokeless powder out of a muzzleloader designed for black powder.

PSA: Make SURE you know which powder you are loading.



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.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

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


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  • sdelcegno

    Ouch..

  • andrey kireev

    Sorry to hear this…. I guess reading the manual is really justified, because of things like this…

  • echelon

    Lucky it was only fingers, yikes!

  • avconsumer2

    Dayum. It only takes one mistake. Due diligence with things that go boom kids. Double and triple checks. Then get somebody else to check your checks.

    • Ethan

      And remove all distractions and sudden interruptions from your load area (when possible). It only takes a second of inattention.

      • M.M.D.C.

        Yep. If you read some of the “Oh, s**t, I shot myself in the hand!” accounts, a recurring theme is distraction, interruption, eruption. The victim sits down to clean his gun, takes the magazine out and the phone rings or something like that. He takes the call, talks, hangs up and then resumes his work thinking he has cleared the gun because he sees the magazine out. The rest is pretty predictable.

        Knowing how distractable I am, I will never reload.

  • Joshua

    This is why my local range has banned handloads. Had a similar accident last year at the range.

    • marathag

      That’s a bit of a extreme reaction.

      • Joshua

        Yeah the change sucked but where I live we omly have one decent range.

    • Ethan

      “Punish all for the idiocy of the few” -Beaureacracy 101

  • marathag

    hmm. a BP volume measure worth of smokeless.

    Guy is lucky to still have a head.

    Modern Inlines are stronger than I thought

  • dan citizen

    A customer came into a shop I worked at a few years back. He wanted the bore slugged on an old CVA rifle. He was none too happy that we would take a couple days to get around to it.

    Having a rough idea of how it was done he decided to DIY it.

    He put about a double load of who-knows-what powder in the rifle, 4 wads (to protect the powder from the heat), and then he poured in the lead… 6 inches worth.

    The wadding did it’s job and he took it to the range to set it off.

    The breech plug came out, as did his right eye, He suffered some brain damage, though I heard it was not too bad. He caught a lot of splintered stock from the chest on up.

    The shop began carrying a lot more literature and starter kits for black powder and we made sure to direct people to the local black powder club to get started safely.

  • Ken

    At an NSSA shoot recently, someone accidentally loaded their paper cartridges with Unique and blew apart an original Springfield rifle musket. There are pictures online.

  • Franciscomv

    I shoot muzzleloaders as well as regular modern firearms. The black powder I use in my cap and ball revolvers looks, feels and smells VERY different to what I use to reload my metallic cartridges.

    I know that in the US you’ve got non corrosive black powder substitutes like Pyrodex. Are those easy to confuse with smokeless powder?

    • uisconfruzed

      Nope

    • CrassyKnoll

      Not to anyone with a pulse.

  • MountainKelly

    Yeah that’s pretty freaking reckless

  • MountainKelly

    that’s like shooting 9mm major out of a… .22? hahaha

  • William M Durham

    Who does not understand the meaning of black powder? Also who sold him the rifle, and more so who sold/recommended that he use smokeless powder. Good questions that should be answered before someone else gets hurt.

    • marathag

      Many.

      Most smokeless is dark grey.

      A new shooter, who doesn’t pay enough attention…

  • Ryan Osborn

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  • Michael

    How could anyone, knowing that this is a high pressure hobby, allow such mindless mistakes to find their way into the chamber? I don’t get it. I hear a number of reloaders regularly saying, that if you reload long enough, you’ll eventually experience a KB and squibs. Ya know, I’ve been reloading for more than 3 decades and have yet to even experience a mis-fire.
    Anyone see the one a few years back, in which a reloader had a major KB with a .50 cal? The reloads he had on the bench were all different oal’s, it was visibly obvious. So because they were too long to close the bolt on, he was using a hammer to force them into the chamber, thus forcing them into the lands by pounding on the bolt.

  • CrassyKnoll

    Or a machinist named ‘lefty.’