You Be The Judge: A Potentially Booby-trapped Shotgun Reported to Law Enforcement

Pistol cartridge found inside a shotgun receiver

A post by Facebook’s Tap Rack Bang on Thursday shows a pistol cartridge allegedly inserted into the buttstock of a Winchester 1200 or 1300 shotgun. The true intention or mishap isn’t yet known, but the incident was allegedly reported to BATFE and a local police department. The original incident reportedly took place the second week of September.



Per Tap Rack Bang’s post:

A bad prank, a booby trap, or a strange set of circumstances? These photos are of a shotgun purchased online and shipped to a dealer in VA. The BATFE was notified when it was realized the receiver was modified to hold a pistol round aimed at the person firing the weapon. The weapon was loaded with a .380 ACP round. The trigger group obscured the round until the weapon was broken down for inspection. When chambering the shell the weapon would be cycled with the slide action bar coming into contact with the primer on the pistol round pointed at the shooter. It had marks from being struck but the round did not discharge. Had it fired it was aligned with the top of the pistol grip stock and would have possibly struck the shooter in the face. This is obscure but still a little scary.

With over 2,500 shares and 400+ comments in the first 24 hours, there appeared to be a mix of alarm and skepticism on the page. A few seemed certain that images are a hoax, while others questioned the efficacy of a backwards bullet in a wood stock. Tap Rack Bang admins commented several times that the images are straight from a police bulletin.

Two commenters indicated first-hand knowledge of the incident and one stated to TFB that the cartridge was in-fact a .32 ACP.  According to the source, “When [the gun store] received it the gun wouldn’t cycle a round and they gave it to a buddy of mine who is a gunsmith to figure out why and he found [the cartridge] after trying to cycle it half a dozen times. There was a big dent about .5 mm from the primer. [M]y buddy is very lucky.”

TFB has reached out to the page and will update this post with the police bulletin or other new information as it is received.

Image showing the action bar nearly striking the primer





Corey R. Wardrop

Corey R. Wardrop is the Museum Curator for the Institute of Military Technology in Titusville, Florida where he manages one of the finest, if not the finest, firearms collections in the country. Corey is a former OIF infantry Marine and has worked professionally in the firearms industry for over 20 years. In 2014 he obtained an unrelated Bachelor of Science degree from one of the nation’s leading diploma mills. Through his work at IMT he is currently studying CAD design with an emphasis in reverse engineering rare firearms.
Corey asks forgiveness for his novice-level photographs and insists they are improving dramatically thanks to certified rockstar http://nathan-wyatt.com/. Corey can be reached at coreyrwardrop@gmail.com and always appreciates suggestions for future articles.
For the record, Corey felt incredibly strange writing this bio in the third person.


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  • TheStoneOfTheBuilder

    Looks like something out of a Saw movie

  • Martin Grønsdal

    bullet out of the case, with no barrel to help contain the released potential chemical energy stored in the gunpowder… probably just a “pooof”

    • explosions in confined spaces make a helluva mess

      • PersonCommenting

        Is it that enclosed? Lots of open areas in a shotgun receiver?

        • aka_mythos

          It’s enclosed enough to shatter the stock in the area where the shooter holds it.

          • Phillip Cooper

            Concur. It’s basically a very tiny pipe bomb. But in the area it’s at, it wouldn’t need to be much more to serve well as a harassment weapon.

          • Just Say’n

            Need a mythbuster’s-style experiment to see. Wouldn’t be difficult. Get a 2×4, drill a hole in it near the edge large enough for the cartridge. Have Patrick hit the primer with his hammer and a loooooong piece of welding rod or all-thread or something….

        • Carl_N_Brown

          The bullet could be retained in the case by the stock wood and the case retained by inertia of the operating rod, slide handle, etc until pressure reached the bursting limit of the wood. If the boobytrapper added a section of gaspipe as a barrel liner for the bullet, that could have been a zip gun aimed at the shooters face.

    • Rick O’Shay

      So you’re saying you’re willing to be the test case to try it out.

      • Paul Rain

        How much money would you put up against his assumption that it wouldn’t be a big deal?

      • Palmier

        I’d test it for $500

      • noob

        maybe with a “test case” of just a primed brass and long string to fire the shotgun, why not?

    • GMG268

      It’s confined enough top mess the shooters face up, But I don’t think this is any more than a very unfortunate series of bad circumstances. The hole was not drilled in the receiver. It already exists.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/63a3e850046fc033672547b848a2550ad1b639a6588f7cdc515aa73af78d9135.jpg

      • noob

        the shotgun was unmodified? that is a certain king of genius to see the action bar hole and think “what if…?”

        Does that mean the BAR’s action bar hole is similarly vulnerable to this attack? I’m surprised we didn’t see more of this in ww2.

      • Amplified Heat

        Oh good; so now we can look forward to a rash of these things, now that ‘the word is out’

    • Amplified Heat

      Someone get Taofledermaus in here…

  • Major Tom

    It’s a trap!

  • Tim

    Even retards think this is retarded.

  • Jay Ross

    I think this would be something the person could walk away from given the caliber and the setup being far from ideal to get the projectile moving. It may have actually just blown up some.

    But it’s still INCREDIBLY messed up and looks totally intentional with a clear goal of trying to cause serious harm.

    What’s really scary is what could be achieved if they rigged up a rifle length AR buffer tube to take a carbine buffer/spring setup and used the few extra inches to hold a round with an inch or so of barrel that fires when the buffer hits it.

    Goes to show you NEED to take down and inspect every gun you buy before shooting

    • PK

      rifle length AR buffer tube to take a carbine buffer/spring setup and
      used the few extra inches to hold a round with an inch or so of barrel
      that fires when the buffer hits it

      Yes, that would certainly work as a rigged gun.

      • Phillip Cooper

        So let’s not do their thinking for them and give them ideas.

        • Wow!

          No, that is the wrong way to look at booby traps. Ingenuity is limitless. You can’t give people ideas when they have already done it. Talking about booby traps is like talking about electronic cracking, it helps to educate the general public on possible exploits so more people are aware.

    • neoritter

      The scary thing here is, a function check could’ve set off that round.

  • McK

    I can definitely imagine some sick bastard coming up with this idea.

    • Randy Reveal

      So many comments to read. Did anybody think the previous owner was worried about someone stealing his firearms? Great way to teach the little SOB a lesson, although illegal and stupid that the cartridge was left in when sold.

  • Zapped 02

    No info on the seller ???
    Not expecting a name but there is no mention of police or batf going after seller or dealer.
    It’s expected that they are but some information would have been nice.

  • BryanS

    Seems to be in the same zip code as a person who spikes a tree trying to harm a logger.

    I say attempted murder and assault.

    • Dan

      I could see some in the radical far left that would do something like this. TFB definitely needs to follow this story to see where it goes.

      • The Rambling Historian

        I see no reason to assume the person had any particular political leanings given no evidence of anything related to that has been shown.

        • Wow!

          Really? Thinking critically, if (It certainly could be an accident considering people often store mixed loose ammo in the same case as their firearm) it was deliberately booby trapped who do you think would do that?

          There are plenty of left wing terrorists that are smarter than just rioting in the streets. Most of the time they just try to use the legal system for their agenda such as fake sex allegations or what is the equivalent to swatting against FFL dealers, but there are militant groups that actually do train as much as the rest of us in anticipation of making a body count out of us. It is kind of funny reading left wing training materials because they will have sections all about procuring arms and the importance for their members to keep them, then in another section they will go on saying how no one needs the 2A, and then go further and talk about how the 2A threatens their organizations progress. Well, we need to 2A to protect ourselves from those wackos!

          • Macavity

            Another possibility I’ve heard bandied about: that it was a/the previous owner who did it, in case the guns were stolen; after all, it’s highly unlikely that your common-or-garden gun thief is going to do a full teardown of any weapons he’s stolen, as he’s most likely going to try to move them ASAP.

            (Mind you, that would raise the question of why the aforementioned previous owner didn’t remove the round first… though that could be easily explained by said party forgetting.)

          • Justy

            You’re doing the exact opposite of thinking critically. You’ve latched onto a convoluted hypothesis and now you’re busy reaching for explanations for it. Property gets booby trapped by paranoid morons or outright psychopaths quite often, basically all the time compared to property getting booby trapped by left-wing terrorists. The fact itself the latter is your go-to explanation for a booby trapped shotgun speaks volumes.

          • Wow!

            I’m guessing your comment is because you are left leaning, but I’ll humor you. Which is more of a convoluted hypothesis? Did you know that there are laws in the US that forbids the civilian use of traps that can cause bodily injury? Do you know any of your friends who uses boobytraps (if so, you ought to warn them of the risks and law)? Lets say you are a novice gun owner thinking of trapping his firearm, chances are you are going to look online for ideas. The first search results you get from all kinds of forums (firingline, calgunlaw, arfcom, highroad, reddit, and even milita and survivalist oriented communities like southernprepper1) and the first thing you are hit with are other users warning about how dumb it is due to the law and also the possibility of accidental discharge. Believe it or not, most gun owners are law abiding. Insomuch that you still got guys thinking that using handloaded ammunition will put them at a disadvantage in court.

            In contrast left militants are not law abiding and tend to not be rational thinkers (their contradictory ideology alone asserts that). In the few cases where we have seen people set up boobytraps, it is rarely on a whim (due to the inherent dangers), but instead as a result of repeated need (such as theft). Who is the most common user of boobytraps? Drug traffickers. Who supports narcotics and the human trafficking periphery to that black market? Left wing parties. Left leaners are inclusive, and that also includes their tactics and strategies. Ever wonder how thousands of people can rally overnight into a mob with little advertisement consistently on multiple different issues? Or why the left always has eerily identical talking points within hours of an issue hitting national news? If one thing is to be respected of the left, they are cohesive and they are not afraid share information or skills to help each other further their agenda. It is no secret that the left hates gun owners. Many FFL holders can attest to tricks by these people so the law can be brought in and shut them down (“hey, can you fix my “ghost gun” and send it back to me in my gun unfriendly state of CA,NJ,NY etc?” After I just told you it was illegal? How about go pound sand).

            Of course, I’m not saying either which way since there are a couple possible explanations, but it is pretty silly to say that if this was intentional, a possible means of attack by one group on another group they obviously have history and motive against is somehow completely baseless compared to a situation which is extremely rare and tends to be almost an urban legend than anything else.

          • Justy

            What part of “busy reaching for explanations for it” did you not understand? You’re arguing with no evidence whatsoever, not even anecdotal, except your wild conjecture loosely based on what radical left wingers type out on the internet from their mommy’s basements. Yes, booby trapping is illegal. Yes, people are still being arrested for it, because – surprise – illegal does not equal impossible. It’s perfectly conceivable that a moron put the round in one his own guns, hoping a would-be thief will hurt himself, but then forgetting to remove the round before selling the gun (or, what is more likely, dying without ever sharing what he did with his family, which then sold the gun). There are alternate explanations, but this one is the least complicated, and given a lack of evidence supporting any of the alternate theories, you should stick with it. If you don’t, then you’re just looking for explanations that make the case fit in your worldview, which is, like I said, the exact opposite of critical thinking. I can link you news stories to booby trap related arrests all over the country in the past two decades. Can you do the same for booby traps reliably related to “left wing terrorists?” And no, I’m not “left leaning” at all, I’m just capable of looking at a problem rationally instead of turning every inconvenient incident into a false flag or a case of left wing terrorism, which often makes me embarrassed to share a political orientation and firearm enthusiasm with people who aren’t.

    • mindflayer

      Very much like when anti-gunners go to gun stores and put ammo in the guns.

      • steve

        when did that happen?

        • nunya buzness

          happened a few years ago at the Bloomington Illinois gun sho with a flair gun! people were hurt.

          • steve

            that…sounds a little different than the idea that it’s a even remotely common phenomenon for, “anti-gunners to go into gun stores and put ammo in the guns.” just sayin.

          • Zapped 02

            It’s happened more then a few times at gun shows around the country, at least 3 times in pa in the last 25 years and I’m not even trying to keep track.
            I know of one case a few years ago at the Harrisburg pa show a person was arrested for doing that.

          • nunya buzness

            in Illinois you have to show a FOID card to touch a firearm, the flare gun was likely all they could get there hand’s on, and yes, It was deliberate.

  • Jim Slade
  • PersonCommenting

    Im surprised it didnt go off? Before I fill out my 4473 id of checked the action. Also would there of been any real danger other than scaring the crap out of someone? I mean without any back pressure the round wouldnt of gone anywhere.

    • Jeremy Layton

      The bullet may not have traveled through the wood but there would be lots of expanding gas that could cause some damage.

    • Risky

      If the cartridge is allowed to build pressure, it may get to a point that it could cause a pretty good explosion itself whether or not the bullet goes anywhere. Smokeless burns faster and builds more pressure as the pressure increases. Thats why you can set fire to a pile of smokeless powder on your desk and it fizzles slowly for a few seconds, but the minute you stick it in a confined space (cartridge) it turns into a fast, energetic kaboom. Even a small load of powder, if not given an avenue for pressure release (like pushing a bullet down a barrel) can create some dangerous explosions.

      • PersonCommenting

        I would just think there would be a space at the back of the receiver that the gas could escape out of. Maybe a hole where the stock bolt screws in at.

    • DangerousClown

      Have.

      • PersonCommenting

        Go to hell

        • RocketScientist

          Learn how to write.

          • PersonCommenting

            Its not a formal space, Im not going to check every little thing. Let him speak up for him self.

          • Macavity

            Himself*

  • GMG268

    The Winchester 1300 already has that hole there…..I think this might just be a dangerous coincidence,…..if it was open in a case and the original owner just threw all kinds of other rounds and such in the bag to go home after a shoot, loose rounds could get there….I’ve had primers get in bad places with them.

    • int19h

      If the hole is covered by the trigger group when the gun isn’t disassembled, how would it get there?

      • GMG268

        Like I said,…Dangerous Coincidence…I’ve seen an old Winchester Super X Model 1 go full auto from a primer stuck in the lower group,….

      • noob

        carrying a bag of gun parts and ammo all disassembled and mixed up? yeah, I’d have to have fallen asleep drunk while cleaning them and then realized I was late home from a hunting trip. and even then I’d have to be drunker than I’d ever been in my life. like “end of a 10 year marriage” level drunk.

    • noob

      In soviet russia, gun shoots you?

    • Evan

      I can’t imagine any set of circumstances where this just happened by accident that a jury would believe

      • Phillip Cooper

        At first I +1’d you.

        Then I realized that juries are made up of a (not so) random sampling of the general populace..

        .. and the general populace that had nothing better to do than to stand the jury, and couldn’t think of a way to get out.

        .. and the fact that the average person is in many ways, an idiot.

        Yeah… I can totally see a jury believing it.

  • JSIII

    Sounds like someone had to unwillingly give up a firearm, which was later sold on GB and felt very sour about it.

  • Alex A.

    I wonder if the slide action bar was filed to a point when it hit the primer. I think that would be clear case of intent.
    Reminds me of When I was a kid sleeping at a friends house their dad had stacked up their beds together to make bunk beds. Holding the two beds together he drilled two holes on top &bottom bed posts & stuck two LOADED .44mag cartridges in the holes to keep the top bed from sliding off.

    • noob

      now that is careless. was the doorstop wedge a live axe head?

      • Scotty J

        …It was a Claymore.

    • Amplified Heat

      Now that’s just shoddy; should’ve used a rimless straight cartridge like 30 carbine.

      • Alex A.

        lol good one! 🙂

    • 9911kelly

      I don’t think the round would go there if not modified. Even if the hole was already there, the trigger group would need to be removed to put the round there. This means it was modified, and/or disassembled to accept the round, and that didn’t happen accidentally. That, in itself, shows intent.

  • demarcus

    No worries. Would be just a flesh wound.

  • staged ? we get in thousands of transfers , why would the dealer strip it down? I think something is fishy going on here

    • PK

      It wouldn’t cycle properly, so a gunsmith was tasked with figuring out why and broke down the shotgun – it’s right in the article.

    • Old Tofu

      READ THE WORDS

    • Phillip Cooper

      Did you not read? It wouldn’t cycle properly so they gave it to a smith to check out.

      It’s right there in the article, several times.

    • Words hard. Commenting easy.

  • noob

    Usually when people do this they just sabotage the ammunition, like in Project Eldest Son.

    “Captured ammunition was partially disassembled and reassembled with substituted components. Rifle and machine gun cartridges had the smokeless powder replaced with a high explosive of similar appearance which would generate approximately five times the design pressure of firearms. The bolt and pieces of an exploding AK-47 receiver would typically be projected backward into the head of the individual firing the rifle. Substitute fuzes were placed in the mortar shells to detonate the shell when the mortar fired. Explosions of the team-fired machine guns and mortars often killed or injured anyone near the exploding weapon.

    A single sabotaged cartridge or shell would then be placed in a magazine or case of good ammunition to avoid revealing the cause of the explosion. These sabotaged ammunition containers were carried by SOG Green-Beret patrols and left behind when guerrilla ammunition stashes were discovered. A few stashes were created where circumstances might be interpreted as indicating the troops transporting or storing that ammunition had been killed.”

  • nonobaddog

    Now that this is public, it would be a good idea to check every Winchester 1200/1300 shotgun you buy from now on.

  • what the actual hell, dude

  • Tim

    I’m going with booby-trap.

    No way that .380 sized hole ended up there and a .380 round happens to fall in it.

  • James Bridges

    Damn, if they had shaped the end of the rail……

    Any word on whether this was X- rayed, casing could have just been an initiating device.

  • Diver6106

    I would think it might be a booby trap in case the gun is stolen? The owner could remove the round when he took it out to shoot, but insert it when locked up at home. A dangerous option but it would certainly make the thief have a bad day. Then later sold by aires that didn’t know about the trap?

  • HKGuns

    The worst this “may” have caused is a split stock. There is no pressure and the powder wouldn’t have ignited. #muchadoaboutnothing

  • shooter2009

    This was sent out a few days ago on a LAW ENFORCEMENT ONLY distribution which always contains an advisement to not forward or distribute.

    Some idiot cop probably thought it’d be cool to ignore the rules…what a dumbass.

    • Carl_N_Brown

      I have mixed feelings about that. If some psycho was actively boobytrapping guns a quiet alert would be wise to catch him.

      Maybe everyone who could come in contact with guns of unknown history should be alerted to this, to encourage folks to always have a detailed safety check before use.

      • shooter2009

        The body of the message contained additional information not meant for public distribution. There are a variety of reasons information like this cannot be sent out to the general public.

    • Wow!

      I personally think keeping these kinds of things secret is naive to an extent. Lots of criminals are dumb, but quite a few are not, and the smart ones are the long term threats. Having the general public aware is more beneficial in my opinion.

      That said, whoever leaks should be punished because when you catch someone once, they probably have been doing it before and you can’t trust them.

  • Ace

    Why is my first thought that a liberal rigged this up to hurt/kill a gun owner?

    • BraveNewWhirled

      Because that is the nature of the Subversive.

  • Patrick Selfridge

    That’s fcuked up

  • Carl_N_Brown

    Sorry I’m late. Thinking about this. I could imagine someone bitter over having a gun stolen boobytrapping his gun to “get” the next potential thief.

    Big problems with that idea. The owner dies and the gun with boobytrap in place is inherited by someone who does not know about it. Not everyone has the knowledge to look a gift gun in the inwards. Heirs not interested in guns may sell,trade or gift them to family members who do shoot. Even if the gun is stolen, mere theft does not call for death or grievous bodily harm. AND. Jail house interviews and surveys have established that most stolen guns are fenced for the money (like TVs, camcorders, laptops) and maay go to unsuspecting buyers.

    To thwart thieves I have been known to remove firing pins or bolts and store them separate from the gun in another part of the house. I have known of heirs ignorant about guns taking an inheritence to a gun shop or gun show only to discover Uncle had died with his M1891 fully loaded prepped for the fox raiding the henhouse.

  • uisconfruzed

    Holeee crap Batman!
    That’d piss me off!

  • KCsmith

    With the round having nowhere to go and the area behind the casing being open, if this went bang, it souuld merely blow the casing into the receiver area. Likely some damage inside the receiver but doubt the brass casing overcomes the walls of the receiver to cause injuries.

    • Wow!

      I agree, but the issue is less how much of a threat it is, but the intents behind why it was done. A criminal doesn’t have to succeed in violating the law to be punished by the law.

  • Archie Montgomery

    Perhaps the person who did this – hard to believe it happened by accident or misadventure – should be determined, located and asked.

  • carlcasino

    This is 2017 and the paper trail to purchase anything that even resembles a firearm is 100% traceable, or have I been mislead??

  • Secundius

    Just a Guess? But I suspect that someone Lost or Misplaced a “Piston Pin”, and the “Gun Smithy” replaced it with a .380ACP Cartridge without a Propellant Charge (A Make-Shift Modification)…

  • Dave

    I seriously doubt the bullet would have gotten to the recoil pad even if the cartridge had fired but the stock would likely have splintered in the area of the cartridge.

  • NTRO

    Jihadists used to do this overseas knowing we were trained to take weapons that were left behind by the enemy.