Loose Round Explodes In The Pocket

    Practical Applications posted a rare occurrence and managed to capture it on video. A shooter was shooting an indoor match when a loose round exploded in his pocket.


    Watch his left pant leg immediately after his 2nd reload!

    During last night’s Monday Night Challenge at Caswells Shooting Range we had what seemed like a spontaneous discharge of a loose cartridge in a shooter’s cargo pocket. As the RSO and Match Director, I heard the noise but when I looked down I saw the base pad sliding off a magazine he had dropped, and thought it had something to do with that. After his last 2 shots we cleared him out and I went to inspect the magazine when all his other rounds came pouring out of the new hole in his pocket. That’s when we saw the exploded casing and perfect bullet on the floor and then took 10 minutes to investigate what happened to ensure it didn’t happen again. No primer was found for us to inspect. All the rounds that fell out of pocket were scalding hot to the touch. The ammo was factory grade ammunition, and the manufacturer is being contacted by the shooter.

    We came up with 3 possible scenarios.

    1. Freak ricochet from a 2″ angle cross beam on the very back of the backstop flew back and set off the round. Even though we were past the standard 10 yards away from hitting any steel.

    2. Something possibly set off the cartridge in his pocket.

    3. Spontaneous detonation.

    What do you think happened?

    In closing, we’re making the appropriate changes to ensure if it was a ricochet that it doesn’t happen again. And it is never a great idea to keep loose ammunition bouncing around in your pocket.

    Share this post and let us know what you think set off the cartridge.



    Here is a photo of the cargo pocket.

    Here is the exploded casing.


    I have heard of similarly unbelievable occurrences. A friend was competing in an USPSA match and when he finished he performed the “unload and show clear” action. The unfired round ejected and he watched it fall to the ground. It fell and as soon as it hit the ground it exploded. This was not a delayed detonation. He never pulled the trigger and the firing pin never touched the primer. They think the round fell just right and landed on a rock which set the primer off.

    I heard of another instance where an empty casing ejected and landed on an open box of ammo. The rounds were in the box primer up and the empty casing landed and set off one of the primers.

    These stories sound like fantasy and yet the people who relayed these first hand stories are people who do not resort to exaggeration or fabrication.

    Have you experienced any rounds that seemingly detonate for no reason?

    Nicholas C

    Steadicam Gun Operator
    Night Vision & Thermal Aficionado
    Flashlight/Laser Enthusiast
    USPSA competitor

    Any questions please email him at [email protected]