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Thread: primer&powder danger?

  1. #1

    Question primer&powder danger?

    In light of all the possible restrictions on primers, powder and ammo, does anyone here have any examples of smokeless powders and primers in their original cartons, that have accidentally caused any damage, anywhere or anytime? I can't and I fully agree that it's another attempt to back door us on gun control.
    If you like getting kicked by a mule...then you'll "love" shooting my .458.

  2. #2

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    I've thought long and hard about it, and like you, I can't come up with anything. I will say however, that if my house catches fire I'm going to put some distance between me and my reloading room. I'm not expecting any explosions, but you can bet it's going to be one HOT fire. Even saying that, I'd stand just as far back from a fire in my detached garage. There's a bunch of flammable liquids in there, too. I worry a whole bunch more about explosions from them than I do reloading supplies.

    If they also proposed ban gasoline and other flammables along with powder and primers, I'd believe this isn't a backhanded stab at gun control. Since gasoline isn't on their list, I don't think it's credible.

  3. #3

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    Big Al made reference to a UPS driver killed by a carton of primers, but I don't know any of the details. Maybe he could enlighten us?

    As for me, I'm a lot more afraid of my propane tank for the gas grill, than the stuff in my reloading area. Am I being stupid or just ignorant?

  4. #4
    Member akula682's Avatar
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    I have had countless rounds of ammo sent to me through UPS with no problems what so ever.
    And to add to other peoples comments... I just cleaned out my Ammo shed getting ready to make my move to AK and I am SOOO glad that the shed never caught fire, I have more .223 rounds that I know what to do with, about 20 pounds of powder and 5,000 primers, about 200rds of 12ga #7 shot for Clays, several thousand 22lr rds (which I gave most of to my friend for his kids to play with)

    …it would have been a nasty fire
    Josh
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    Default Primers and Powders / explosions

    Back in I believe the early 70's or late 60's a whole City block in Richmond Indiana was reduced to rubble from an explosion @ a gun shop which sold a large amount of components. That is all I remember.

    Mike Dotson

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    rubble from an explosion @ a gun shop which sold a large amount of components
    Ammo does not explode, nor does powder. It simply burns very fast unless it is confined. At one time, the FEDs required that black-powder be kept in a steel vault. That actually made it more dangerous, since they were intensionally confining it inside a steel container..... dahhhh

    I have been to several house fires here in Alaska where lots of ammo was being stored in the blazing house. While the popping sounds are un-nerving to those who don't understand such things, there is really no serious danger since the brass actually travels faster than the bullet.
    Sinc ei was usually looking for evidence of other activities while the place was burning down, I learned that unchambered discharging ammo would bounce right off my fire bunker gear...

    We were woried more about propane tanks, gas cans, spray cans and meth lab gear..

    If you ever get around a cannery fire, the various chemicals used in the freezers make for some nice poison gas clouds... yuck....
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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    One needs to differentiate between black powder, which is classified as an explosive, and smokeless powder, which is classified as a propellent.

    A corner gas station with a bulk propane tank has the potential to take out a city block and then some.

  8. #8

    Question fire danger

    I'm with you guys...there would be a lot of us (most, probably) not having a harmonious day if our loading areas caught fire. The bullets would go off and if there was any amount of black powder, lookout. But I'd bet one could slam a carton of primers on the floor (till the cartons fell apart) and never have a problem. In order to make a bomb out of smokeless powder, it'd take a little time and sophistication wouldn't it? Would a bullet fired into a keg of powder do it? I guess what I'm getting at is that one couldn't do much on the spur of the moment...or could they?
    If you like getting kicked by a mule...then you'll "love" shooting my .458.

  9. #9
    Mark
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Dotson View Post
    Back in I believe the early 70's or late 60's a whole City block in Richmond Indiana was reduced to rubble from an explosion @ a gun shop which sold a large amount of components. That is all I remember.....(
    I couldn't find anything on that, but:

    ....3709 Sunset: August 15, 1950- Max Blakeley’s gun shop erupted in flames and careening bullets after an employee making a movie prop rifle telescope ignited a box of blank cartridges with acetylene torch sparks. The building was destroyed by a series of explosions, followed by a high intensity fire that melted the burglar bars “like limp bananas.” Several people inside suffered bullet wounds and smoke inhalation, but somehow no one in the rush-hour traffic along Sunset was hurt. Blakeley told firemen that there had been 85,000 rounds of ammunition and a large quantity of black powder on the premises. Shot through the right shoulder, he estimated his stock losses at $100,000. Also damaged in the incident were a florist, beauty shop, liquor store, dry cleaners and a dress shop, encompassing 3701-3719 Sunset. (Three years later, Blakeley struck and killed a pedestrian near the intersection of Sunset and Edgecliffe.)...
    Here's one from a place which probably won't adhere to U.N. safety standards:

    ....Kabul had a scare last evening, as a large explosion rocked Police District 1, the same district where the Presidential palace is located. "One of the haji shops back in the gun bazaar in PD 1 blew up," reports Tim Lynch, the Vice President of Vigilant Strategic Services Afghanistan, a security company. "The explosion killed about 10 locals. A lot of people thought it was the Serena Hotel getting bombed because when you looked at the blast cloud from our direction the [cloud] looked like it was over the Serena."....
    Somewhat related:

    ...Two men and a woman were injured in an explosion just before 11 a.m. Monday at a Smyrna gun manufacturing plant.

    The blast happened at the Glock Inc., building in the 6000 block of Highlands Parkway, off of South Cobb Drive....
    Here's one:

    ....Leo Davis, chief of operations for East Naples Fire Rescue, said that although the cause of the fire is still being investigated, it appeared that an ammunition bunker attached to a wall outside the building's east end caught fire, spreading through the structure's firewall and into the building.

    Workers were cutting a hole in the wall for an air conditioning unit and sparks may have spread to the bunker.

    East Naples Fire Rescue arrived on the scene at 1:30 p.m., according to Speers. Exploding ammunition kept firefighters from going inside the building for about an hour.....
    Another:

    ...."Earlier we were dealing with the live ammunition going off. The fire may have reached the wall connected to the bar," said Cmdr. Greg Hill, of the Inkster Police Department.....

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    Member Big Al's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flyer55 View Post
    Big Al made reference to a UPS driver killed by a carton of primers, but I don't know any of the details. Maybe he could enlighten us?

    As for me, I'm a lot more afraid of my propane tank for the gas grill, than the stuff in my reloading area. Am I being stupid or just ignorant?
    Flyer55: I don't know why my memory for the year it happened has gone out the window. I just remember the event and of course the beginning of the getting racked over the coals with the Has-mat fees that were the result. I'm sure someone can help with the dates.

    Back in the 1990's a UPS truck driver lost his life from the explosion of a case of Federal primers that took his life. Federal took steps fast and re-did their packaging. I will add that it was along time before anyone else followed suit. I do not use any other brands but Federal and Winchester as that is the only two that work in my Dillon presses (RL-1000's) If I hand prime then it does not matter. I threw that in, as I don't know when the others made the switch.

    Back to the story, when we first got hit with the fee, I was in hopes it was to help out the guys family (I like to think good thoughts about our government). Of course that fee goes into the Maw of the G-word.

  11. #11

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    So, essentially, unless there is a large quantity of black powder what you get is a really hot fire, and some rounds cooking off and throwing debris at velocities not great enough to penetrate fire fighting protective gear. It seems that every year somebody blows up a fireworks factory, or a 4th of July display goes off prematurely due to a stray spark. Of course they are dealing with BLACK POWDER. Since Mark does a really good job of finding stuff on the web and had to go all the way back to 1950 just to find 5 examples it appears that this isn't a daily, weekly, monthly or even annual occurrence. (I'm baiting you to find more examples. )

    A few weeks ago we had a propane facility have a major cook-off instead of a cook-out. Fortunately no one was killed, but the fire departments that responded evacuated the area and stayed a mile back until the conflagration burned itself out. The local news choppers got some good video of the propane tank bombs going off, and of course they stayed way back and relied on the wonders of the zoom lens.

    About thirty five years ago when I started reloading, I spilled about a quarter can of IMR 4064 and decided to see how it would burn. I remember putting it on a piece of old sidewalk we'd torn out and then having the darndest time getting it to ignite by throwing matches at it. If I remember right, I finally made a trail of charcoal lighter fluid to it and got it going. The blaze wasn't very impressive, far short of my expectations, and I figured that I would have to really try if I wanted to do more than burn myself with smokeless propellant.

    My dad worked at the Toledo BP refinery and was there when one of the units blew around 1967. He considered that a small blast because when he was in the second grade the school he attended was a couple of miles from a nitroglycerin factory that blew. School was closed until all the windows were replaced and the building inspected for structural damage. Maybe the small amount of nitro in double base propellants is what makes some think of them as explosives.

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    People figure since smokeless rounds go bang, they must be an explosive. If smokeless is contained and allowed to build pressure as it begins to burn, there will certainly be enough pressure to break stuff. But (not recomending you try this) you take a pound of smokeless powder, stick a fuse in it, light and retreat a safe distance away, it won't go boom, but black powder certainly will.

    This OSHA move has nothing to do with safety, it's about the guvment trying to take away our guns one way or another.

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    Default Having been in numerous house fires with lots of ammo had been stored

    I will agree that ammunition even in large quantities does not pose a grave threat to any emergency personnel. Not to say its harmless but there are loads of other things inside a common household that is far more dangerous. One house we went to the guy had stockpiled all kinds of ammo and it sounded like being stuck in a popcorn bag in the microwave. During overhaul there were mounds of bullets scattered about the room but that was it. I wouldn't have wanted to been in the room at the time but was one wall away. I've seen the disposable propane tanks go off like rockets and everyone I know has at least one or two around for a torch, lantern, etc. We had a garage go up once and the three tanks in there took off. One was recovered from a tree in the front yard. It had flattened itself out and went whistling through the air like a frisbee. One ended up upstairs in the rafters of the garage after going through the ceiling and the other we never did find.

    It makes you wonder why after years of no or relatively few problems that smokeless powder is now a grave concern that needs regulation? I'm not a republican anymore but isn't strange that only 6 months after the dem's take over Congress we hear about this. Of course OSHA has been working on this for awhile now so that can't be it. And if its wrapped in homeland security I'm sure Bush will jump aboard.

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    imthenra,

    Thanks very much. Very good post, thanks for stopping.

    And many thanks to the rest here who have stayed with the subject with very good text to added to this discussion.

    I have read all this and am tired of it. I have to wonder about some things, but then I always wonder. I have drawn some conclusions here. I have to wonder why Mark, from whom we never see his bright smiling keyboard until now, and the only answer for his excuberant defense of OSHA is that he must be on the OSHA oversight committee along with Schumer and Hillary. I doubt very much if he has been around smokeless powder or primer much at all.

    The obvious facts are that with this smokeless and primers will soon be the same as ANFO, black powder, blasting caps, and other explosives. That is not in dispute. Ask your self how will that affect me? Mark could not or did not make any attempt to buy even one pound of black powder for his muzzle loader. It just isn't available.

    The Hodgdon's powder company spent lots of time, money and engineering effort to develop a "smokelsess" substitute for black powder because of the handling difficulties and restrictions of black powder (an explosive) and now that it is accepted by the muzzle loading fraternity, this new substitute, gets pushed back into the same explosive category as black powder. They are not the same.

    There has not, in the past 50 years, been an explosion or fire at any plant, warehouse or gunshop because of smokeless powder or primers. Nor has there ever been a spontaneous combustion of any powder or primers in any such situation. There has never been a UPS driver killed by a box of primers. There has never been anyone shot and killed or wounded by an exploding cartridge that was in a fire. The only way that could happen is if a loaded round was in a gun and ignited by the fire, with the muzzle pointed at the victom. There is no know record of such. And, just because somebody said or wrote about it on the internet it doesn't make it true.

    I'm done with bashing my head against the wall on this subject. I am a very well educated, experienced and science minded in this field of explosives and smokeless powder. I ignited and burned (or exploded, per OSHA) 86 pounds of smokeless powder in the past 18 months. This was a slow year for my handloading venture, but I did try some new powders. It would be ridiculous to classify smokeless as an explosive. I can see the ignorance of some on both sides of this. Terminology is important when trying to make a point.

    I did not say nor did any of us say it would be the end of our pursuit. No one said it was a political conspiracy. It does appear to be another of the endless attacks on gun owners but we should be used to that. We do what we can to install reason in the debate because that's they way we do it.

    This has been an energetic debate and I'm glad we all arose to the challenge, pro and con. It's on a half dozen posts under various titles, and it's time to move on if we can. Lots of folks are wanting answers to other questions. I'd almost welcome another debate about which rifle for bears or just talk about bear bullets.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Quote Originally Posted by Maydog View Post
    I'm with you guys...there would be a lot of us (most, probably) not having a harmonious day if our loading areas caught fire. The bullets would go off and if there was any amount of black powder, lookout. But I'd bet one could slam a carton of primers on the floor (till the cartons fell apart) and never have a problem. In order to make a bomb out of smokeless powder, it'd take a little time and sophistication wouldn't it? Would a bullet fired into a keg of powder do it? I guess what I'm getting at is that one couldn't do much on the spur of the moment...or could they?
    All it takes is a pipe nipple and a pair of end caps. I saw this done on the Discovery Channel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark View Post
    I couldn't find anything on that, but:



    Here's one from a place which probably won't adhere to U.N. safety standards:



    Somewhat related:



    Here's one:



    Another:

    Mark,

    I'm sure the newspapers have explosive experts on hand for just such an occasion.

    In 1950 at least half of the ammunition on the shelf was with black powder.

    Military munitions plants don't count either since the large guns are loaded with black or a mixture of black but you don't know this. When was the last time you set off a charge of explosives? When did you last load your own ammo? Did you find that pound of black powder in the state yet?

    We also don't care much about an explosives plant in Afghanistan.

    And the Glock Plant was an explosion of cleaning chemicals. You forgot about the grocery store in Ames Iowa. Or the Wheat dust explosions at grain silos in the midwest. Or the propane powdered pickup truck, at a car wash, in Springfield, Missouri. What is you point in all of this. Do you diliberately try to show all of us your ignorance about this subject or just show us what you can find on the net?

    Since long before OSHA's existance (1971), the powder, balsting and expolsive industry had developed new technique and substance to permit the safe manufacture of these substances. The US military munitions of WWII and KW plants had many incidents but all were with different chemicals than are used now, such as fulminates vs styphnate, and black vs smokeless powders. OHSA had absolutely nothing to do with this industry finding safer materials and and techniques for the manufacture of these components. SAAMI was alive and well back then.
    Last edited by Murphy; 07-13-2007 at 09:41.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Quote Originally Posted by Nitroman View Post
    All it takes is a pipe nipple and a pair of end caps. I saw this done on the Discovery Channel.
    Let me say this gently. WRONG!

    IF you haven't done it don't say it. You don't know what they did or used to make a show for you. Do you get what you know about moose hunting watching Wlat Disney?
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  18. #18
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    Actually,, in todays political climate, it would not be a good idea for any of us to be typing "How to" or "How we did it" comments about confining rapidly burning substances into various enclosures. Particularly those of us who are known in the the public and to the feds...

    Needly to say, this new regulation proposal is simply another way to restrict US, while making it look all nice and cozy to the fear weenies...
    Floatplane,Tailwheel and Firearms Instructor- Dragonfly Aero
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    Just adding a comment here for thought. As other posters have said there is a huge difference in smokeless vs blackpowder.
    Go outside to a safe area and pour a small amount ( say 150 grains) of each on the ground. Light the smokeless first. Then get a long stick and light the blackpowder next. Enlightening!
    Tennessee

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    Float Pilot: Sir while I truly enjoy your posts and find much in them that I agree with you on, I must respectively disagree.

    When shaping an argument, it is best to know what the arguments are and not to fear the opposition and what they may lay on the table.

    I would not suggest for a moment, that is your case, however others need to know that we are in a fight for freedom, in which case I believe we should "show no quarter".

    "To be for warned, is to be for armed"

    With all due respect, Sir.

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