Safety: A Negligent Shooter Gets Lucky

A Negligent Shooter Gets Lucky
by Germán A. Salazar

Here we have a story so filled with negligent acts that I can only marvel that the shooter survived the experience.  The photo and narrative were provided by the gunsmith who took in the repair job, my comments are in red.  It's worth reading, we can't get enough safety warnings in our hobby.  - GAS -

This is a sectioned barrel showing an 80gr Sierra that was fired in a .223 bolt action with a cleaning rod in the bore; the rod is also still in the bore.

1.  The shooter had a stuck case in his .223 chamber.  The stuck case was actually a loaded round that didn't fire. It wouldn't extract because it was a .222 case that got mixed in with his .223 brass. Not a case of using the wrong ammo, I saw the loaded round with an 80 gr bullet in it and a light primer strike.   Negligent act #1: Wrong brass mixed in with the brass being reloaded.

The shooter removed the stuck case with a 3 piece aluminum rod.  Negligent act #2: Hammering out a loaded round with a cleaning rod.  People have been killed doing this as the round can fire and drive the cleaning rod right into you.  I remember one such incident about 5 years ago, the shooter was pounding out a stuck round, the cleaning rod went right through him, he didn't survive.

 He didn't notice only 2 segments came out when he removed it.  Negligent act #3: if you put anything at all down the barrel of a rifle you'd better make darn sure you got it all out before doing anything else!

He then chambered another round and fired it.  Negligent act #4: if you've had a barrel obstruction of any kind, and if you've put something in the barrel, look through the barrel before proceeding!  Within the past two years I know of an incident in which a benchrest shooter was killed in exactly this manner.  The pressure built up and the rifle bolt came out of the receiver and into his chest.

The shooter is 'OK', but did not escape unscathed. He said there was a huge explosion and after regaining his senses found he was bleeding heavily from his forehead. The blood was thick enough that it ran in his eyes and he couldn't see. In his words "I thought I was going to die".

He was shooting on private property, and was alone when this happened  Negligent act #5: Don't shoot alone!  Accidents happen, this is just one more example.  If we could predict accidents, we wouldn't have them.  Always shoot with at least one other person.

He managed to get the bleeding stopped, or at least under control, packed his car and drove himself home without seeking immediate medical attention.  Negligent at #6: This one could have cost him his life after being lucky enough to survive the incident.  There's no way to know what's happened just after an incident like this.  He should have been at a hospital getting checked for shrapnel in the head.

He has what looks like a pretty deep cut about an inch long on the side of his head, right in line with his right eye starting where the eye socket turns out to the side of the skull. And no telling what he's got in the way of brass particles embedded in his forehead. It's been a week and half and he seems to be healed up pretty well. I don't know what the long term effects of brass and copper in the bloodstream are.

The rod and slug could not be driven out, and as the barrel had a fairly high round count it was decided there was no point in seeing if it was salvageable. The aluminum rod is expanded to a tight fit in the bore for the first couple inches. The base of the bullet is a little over 2 inches from the mouth of the chamber.

Negligence and an absolute indifference to the well established rules of safe reloading and gun handling from start to finish capped off with a foolish avoidance of medical treatment.  This shooter is lucky to be alive but he's used up all the luck he had.  Don't assume you'll be as lucky.

All contents Copyright 2012 The Rifleman's Journal