Guns that Go Boom… Badly

Wide Open Spaces has collected an impressive amount of photos of various catastrophic detonations in firearms.  While most of them would likely have left the shooter stunned, there are a few that I would hazard caused some damage to both the gun and the shooter.

Interestingly, it shows that no one type or model of gun is immune to badly loaded ammunition. Wide Open Spaces has photos of Ruger Revolvers, Glocks, Remington bolt-actions, and 1911s.

Hit the link for the full photo gallery. It is not for the faint of gun heart.


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.


  • 6.5x55Swedish

    This is why I buy Norma ammo only now.

    • Sulaco

      I assume you shoot a 6.5×55 Swedish I just got one built in 1903 and its a buiet.

      • FarmerB

        1903? Me too – simply beautiful piece of steel in the bolt.

  • MrEllis

    Engage pucker factor.

  • Will

    Prime argument for requiring beguinning reloaders to be tested, professionally trained and retested.

    • Bear The Grizzly

      Uhm, no? Unless someone is selling their ammunition there is absolutely no reason to require testing. If some idiot fills the case full of powder and blows off his hand then boohoo for him. I don’t need to wear a helmet because some oxygen thief bumped his head too hard. I apologize for being brash, but it is a serious pet peeve of mine.

    • LG

      No. The quality of a reloader’s product is merely a reflection of the individual. I may be slow, tedious, and quite tiresome to others in my loading techniques and quality control, but I can prove that round to round my reloads are BETTER than factory. A “troglodyte” with reloading equipment is no different than one with a weapon. The troglodyte will ultimately destruct his firearms by neglect, abuse, ignorance, or plain stupidity with or without his reloads. By the same token only a fool uses another’s reloads without knowing every detail about the reloader’s QC and the weapons for which the reloads were tailored.

      • Will

        What I meant to imply was hat the testing would help weed out the Troglodytes.
        But I guess you can never get them all.
        I’m with you on the slow, tedious aspect of reloading SAFELY! A reloader can never, ever be too safe.

        • LG

          Darwin’s Law. Troglodytes will wean themselves out along with some number of their fingers and eyeballs.

          • Zebra Dun

            And anyone who some how obtains their ammo?

          • Goody

            Only a troglodyte buys ammo off a troglodyte.

            Also, this just in, New Jersey, California, NY, etc become ‘may issue’ (never issue) states for reloader’s licenses. 😉

          • Zebra Dun

            Sure thang Bubba, yet people do do this and get hurt so you say it’s their look out?
            Caveat Emptor and all that?
            What about found old ammo that is bad loaded?
            I bet any lawyers here would agree.
            I agree the law would be misused for nefarious reasons.

          • Goody

            The law IS nefarious, but only a moron shoots ammo that nobody is accountable for.

          • Zebra Dun

            There are morons out there and even morons need to be protected from nefarious and idiot ammo reloaders.
            Es Macht Nichts aus.

          • Zebra Dun

            While we pay disability payments through taxes for them?
            Not cost efficient.

    • No its for making sure you tell anyone interested in reloading to read the damn manuals and follow instructions. You are dealing with loading an explosive device. Doing it wrong can get you and others killed.

      • marathag

        rapid deflagration can have an explosive effect, but not explosive.

        Pressure curves on smokeless can get nasty, but not detonation.

    • John Daniels

      “Prime argument for requiring beguinning reloaders to be tested, professionally trained and retested.”

      Stop finding reasons to get the government involved in things.

      • Will

        How did I get the government involved???
        I know three people who could teach reloading if they chose to do so. Only government involvement is two are retired police officers.
        I’m like you, keep the government out of daily lives and let people enjoy their freedoms.

        • John Daniels

          How would you “require” it without getting the government involved? Making something mandatory usually involves force.

          • Will

            This is what I get for trying to add a bit of humor to this.
            I guess I’ll start adding those stupid little smiley faces, like my grand daughter does, so people will know when I’m kidding.
            There you go.

          • Bear The Grizzly

            For what it’s worth, those faces did make me laugh.

          • sonny

            All he did is waste our time………….. I fail to see the humor!

    • USMC03Vet


      Because even more government bureaucracy fixes problems….

      • Michel_T

        Mandatory testing… nope.

        but a bigger emphasis on “education” would be nice.

    • Sickshooter0

      Nothing written above states that these were reloads. If you think manufacturers are infallible, just check out TFB’s video on PCP.

    • nope, it’s not. whats next, blunt kitchen knives unless your a highly trained cook?

  • Budogunner

    I just couldn’t bring myself to follow the link after seeing that beautiful M1A in pieces. It broke my heart.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Buy gun insurance.

    • sonny

      I think idiot insurance would be more appropriate!

  • DrewN

    How the hell do you overcharge a .308 enough to do that? Handgun powder I guess?

    • Yep some moron didn’t understand that handgun and rifle bullets have different powders for a reason.

  • franco Eldorado

    I’ve reloaded for 30 years. No blown guns yet but I have had some that were lower or higher than expected. I typically become obsessive compulsive when it come to checking powder levels. This is why I use a single stage press.

    • Budogunner

      Even with my progressive press I dump and measure powder every 10th round, just to be sure. I agree, you can’t be too safe.

      • AJ187

        That’s good. It really doesn’t take that much to enjoy the hobby. You don’t need to be a total ocd about qc. Just use some common sense.

        • Sickshooter0

          But OCD about QC helps. But OCD about QC helps. But OCD about QC helps.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    His Anaconda dont want none.

  • Jerry

    If anyone had bothered to take the time to explore the link instead of “troll posting” they would read that it was faulty FACTORY AMMUNITION in that .308.

    • nadnerbus

      I think I remember reading about that one some years back (ten years or so I think?). The forum goers where it was posted were speculating about a sabotage round. Apparently in Vietnam, military spook types slipped in altered ammo to enemy forces that had explosives of some sort instead of gun powder, part of a psy ops type thing. They were speculating that maybe something of a similar nature made it into German stockpiles and it got sold off as surplus.

      Pretty thin theory, since good old fashioned human error and bad luck can explain it more simply. That or the shooter was too embarrassed to admit it was in fact a hand load. But still, factory ammo is usually pretty consistent. If one is bad, there are going to be lots of bad ones. Yet this one was a one of a kind.

  • marathag


  • Grindstone50k

    Is that M1A a kaboom or an IED?

  • Geo

    Many pistol ammo is also used in rifles; you can even buy ammo rated for “Rifle only”. Reloading manuals also may show rifle and pistol loads. Reloading for rifle then shooting in a pistol can be very dangerous.

  • uisconfruzed

    I HATE seeing that Anaconda. I’ve become VERY fond of my tackdriver & now use it for deer hunting instead of a rifle.

  • jcitizen

    Ouch! Fortunately when my Ma Deuce gets a round of badly loaded ammo(thanks Obama), it is just a matter of getting out the broken shell extractor and driving on. Of course even US issue ammo can and does blow up – but I’ve shot over 5000 rounds of it, with no such trouble. I do tell folks to watch out for yellow tip South American aircraft ammo. That stuff is just too hot, even if you do have an AN/M3 .50 cal. Better have a stellite liner though.

  • Arch

    I’ve been a single stage hand loader since 1964. I started with 9 mm for my Browning Hi Power and 30-30 for my Marlin. I took a year off and spent the days reading American literature, shooting and hunting, tasting French wine, listening to Beethoven, Mozart and Bach and reloading – in that order.

    Back then, there were surplus stores in Oklahoma City that sold German 9 mm loaded for sub machine guns. It had a muzzle velocity of about 1800 fps. Like the idiot that I was, I bought some and test fired it. It was spectacular. A friend who was always bragging about his .44 and .357 magnums took the bet and tried unsuccessfully to put a round through an old telephone pole in the Canadian River bed. The 9 mm would throw splinters out 100 ft. Twenty buck was a lot of cash to win; a Hi Power sold for $80, new in the box.

    A few months later Larry & I were back in the river bottom shooting. After 3 rounds, instead of bang, the Hi Power went pop. Counting to 30, I noticed smoke coming out of the gas port. When I racked the slide, it ejected a spent piece of brass and chambered another cartridge. Fortunately, I decided to drop the mag, and field strip the gun. The first bullet was lodged about 2″ down the barrel. This incident changed my schedule – reload early then taste the Bordeaux.

    I’m still a hand loader – 30-06 spfd, 270 WIN, 243 WIN, 10 mm, 40 S&W, .45 ACP, 9 mm, and 380 ACP. In fact, I found the new presses less than adequate. Recently, I found an old RCBS Jr, circa 1970, on eBay for $75. It was made in the USA, not China. RCBS was bought by Federal and their customer service is outstanding.

    The gun that scares me is the Glock 40 S&W. The combination of 35,000 psi and an unsupported brass case is in my opinion, dangerous. If you look at range brass, you’ll see lots of spent 40 cases with “!” firing pin marks and a Glock bulge pictured on the left below.