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View Full Version : How does Ammo respond underwater?


BlackReef
09-29-2008, 9:50 PM
Always see videos of guys 'torture-testing' rifles and shooting them seconds after being submerged in water. Also how do Spec. Operators (SEALs) keep the ammo dry after being underwater for hours? Is there a 'special' method of keep the water from getting the powder wet? Or is the shell airtight?

Please advise...

truthseeker
09-29-2008, 9:55 PM
If I tell you I will have to kill you!

NeoWeird
09-29-2008, 10:16 PM
Reason why guns are rarely shot underwater is because it's VERY dangerous. Water in front of the bullet and behind the action of semi-autos resist the movement of the gun and bullet. So it's like shooting a 2,000 grain bullet instead of a 55 grain bullet; the result is that the bullet travels down the barrel relatively slowly, the gas however expands at the same rate as usual. The result is DANGEROUSLY high pressures that will usually rupture the barrel, action, or both. There are methods that allow firing underwater, but generally speaking it should be avoid at all costs unless your life is on the line. Shorter barrels, such as pistols, might be able to shoot properly underwater because of their shooter barrels, but it's still not a good idea.

ETA: I've heard that an older SEAL trick was a condom and rubber band on the muzzle. While it would NOT allow for repeated shooting underwater, it did keep them relatively safe for quick shots when coming out of the water on unsuspecting enemies. There are still issues with the AR as water behind the buffer can still be dangerous, but the biggest danger is water in the barrel. There is a vent/drain hole on the back of your buffer tube for a reason - nothing is supposed to be in there and that includes water and pressurized gas/air.

As for cartridges, most military cartridges are loaded with some sort of sealant on the primers and case mouth to prevent moisture, even from the air, from entering and ruining the powder. You can see this easily on Wolf ammo as it has a red or green laquer around the case mouth and primer pocket. Reloads or those that do not use a sealant can have moisture enter, but they are relatively water tight so that dropping them in water and picking them up won't really cause a problem; however walking through a swamp for a couple days, patroling in the rain all night, or storing in a basement for a year might give you issues.

BlackReef
09-29-2008, 10:26 PM
Oh I need to clarify - I'm talking about transporting ammo underwater, not firing underwater...

Thanks for the insight. I still wonder how the SEALs do it though on long 5-6 miles dives. Does the sealant protect that well?

thanks

Two Shots
09-29-2008, 10:35 PM
Oh I need to clarify - I'm talking about transporting ammo underwater, not firing underwater...

Thanks for the insight. I still wonder how the SEALs do it though on long 5-6 miles dives. Does the sealant protect that well?

thanks

Watertight contaniers plus the added protection from the lacquer.

NeoWeird
09-29-2008, 10:37 PM
When ammo has military grade selant it is essentially water proof. I believe it has a depth limit, but it's much deeper than they swim under regular conditions.

I know there aare baggies that were issued during Vietnam, not sure if they still are issued, to keep magazines out of the water. Again, the real concern is the gun itself. Ammo will be fine under the water, it's just making sure the firearm is ready to go once out of the water, and again the barrel is the hard part there.

Now if you are thinking of storing ammo underwater, I'm no sure how well the sealant would hold up, but I would assume as long as it's not water based sealant it would be fine. Other factors may come into play though for long term storgage, such as metal degredation or corrosion of metals susseptable to such checmical changes.

Beelzy
09-29-2008, 10:37 PM
The brass and copper that make up the round are fairly corrosion resistant
to begin with. I am sure ammo would need a pretty good soaking to become
useless.

truthseeker
09-29-2008, 11:28 PM
The deepest they are supposed to swim with a Draeger re-breather is 35 ft (at least that is what I remember from BUDS). Now if they are in a SDV they can use twin 80's, but I don't know how much they use those during OP's since they are heavy and are not bubbless. At 35 feet the pressure is not that much so I would think that the "primer sealer" would be sufficient enough to keep the ammo dry.

BlackReef
09-29-2008, 11:34 PM
Cool. What was your BUD/s class #?

sorensen440
09-29-2008, 11:37 PM
coat the primers and top edge of the case with bullet sealant and there supposed to be fine submerged up to 24 hours

truthseeker
09-29-2008, 11:51 PM
BUDS Class 190 back in 1993.

BlackReef
09-30-2008, 12:23 AM
BUDS Class 190 back in 1993.

Right on. You mind me asking if you Graduated and made the Teams?

saki302
09-30-2008, 4:23 AM
One of those Guns and ammo TV shows did this with a submerged bolt gun and pack of ammo for wither 24 hours (commercial ammo!) or 3 days- one of the two. Both worked absolutely fine when fired later.

I will confirm 9mm reloads will fire underwater just fine out of a Glock :D

Even standard (non sealed) loads are far more watertight than most people would imagine.

-Dave

Californio
09-30-2008, 7:58 AM
One of those Guns and ammo TV shows did this with a submerged bolt gun and pack of ammo for wither 24 hours (commercial ammo!) or 3 days- one of the two. Both worked absolutely fine when fired later.

I will confirm 9mm reloads will fire underwater just fine out of a Glock :D

Even standard (non sealed) loads are far more watertight than most people would imagine.

-Dave

Its a depth thing, every 33 feet is an atmosphere. I would like to see the same test at 33 feet for 24 hours or 2X the surface pressure or 66 feet 3X the surface pressure. Without sealant I bet water wets the power.

shark92651
09-30-2008, 8:12 AM
They did an episode on MythBusters where they fired various firearms under water. As I recall none were lethal beyond about 6 feet from the muzzle.

stphnman20
09-30-2008, 8:15 AM
I saw some where on youtube where someone is firing a Glock in their swimming pool.. He was shooting at a target.. I'll look for it and post it up..

AYEAREFIFTEEN
09-30-2008, 8:20 AM
They did an episode on MythBusters where they fired various firearms under water. As I recall none were lethal beyond about 6 feet from the muzzle.

I believe they fired the weapons on dry land and tested the projectile goinginto the water. They did not fire the weapons under water. They found that the rifle rounds would break up soon after impact with the water, but the pistol rounds could be deadly many feet under the water.

stphnman20
09-30-2008, 8:25 AM
I believe they fired the weapons on dry land and tested the projectile goinginto the water. They did not fire the weapons under water. They found that the rifle rounds would break up soon after impact with the water, but the pistol rounds could be deadly many feet under the water.
That is another show.. The one shark is talking about is when the crew submerge the whole rifle in a box full of water and shooting at a jelly type thing. They were at some firing range.

shark92651
09-30-2008, 8:28 AM
That is another show.. The one shark is talking about is when the crew submerge the whole rifle in a box full of water and shooting at a jelly type thing. They were at some firing range.

Yeah, they actually had a long trough full of water and used a ballistics gel torso to measure penetration. It was pretty unimpressive with most rounds appearing to not even disturb the water. They couldn't even find the bullet in many cases. They seemed to think it was going to be much more spectacular than it really was.

motorhead
09-30-2008, 8:31 AM
most military ammo is sealed at both ends. (that red or green nailpolish lookig stuff around primer and bullet). commercial ammo is usually not.

truthseeker
09-30-2008, 8:52 AM
Right on. You mind me asking if you Graduated and made the Teams?

I did NOT graduate. I was stung by a stingray (right in front of my Achilles tendon) on the Thursday before hellweek during "surf passage". The hole was literally the size of a pencil and I had to stick gauze strips into the "hole" and then cover it with more gauze and the put mole skin on top of it.

On Tuesday night of hellweek at the first hygiene inspection the doctor examined me and said I had cellulitis (he could tell by the red streaks I had running up my leg to my thigh) and told me if it reaches my heart I could possibly die. I was sooo pissed off. I told him not to pull me from my class until Wednesday night (usually if you make it to Wednesday night they will roll you forward and not backward) but he said "No go".

Anyway I had originally classed up with class 189 but the day of the class up test the OIC made me stand watch for a guy that had been there too long. So I had to join class 190. Then the hellweek thing happened. So then they made me go with class 191. Well after the class up test they pulled me into the first phase office and said I had been there too long, they had too big of a class and said they were recommending me to be dropped from training. Really sucked having my ONLY goal in life at the time taken from me.

I still keep in touch with some of the guys that were in my class. Also while waiting for orders to go to the fleet, I had the fortunate privilege to share the same head (one head is shared between two rooms) with Instructor Stetham. His bother was Robert Stethem who was a Navy diver that was tortured and murdered by terrorists during the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 on June 14, 1985.

Anyway I had talked to him a bunch of times about my predicament and he told me some things that really hit home about BEING or NOT BEING a SEAL. While I will not say what he had told me, I will say that looking back on it that I wanted to be a SEAL because I wanted to be the best. But now that I look back on it I know that it happened for a reason. I married the girl I was dating all through BUDS and we are still married (14 years) and have 2 healthy sons (ages 2 and 4). I have a great job and education (BS in Computer Engineering). I also learned a lot about myself in the "life lesson" that BUDS taught me (honor thy country, honor thyself, integrity, never quit, always enjoy life to the fullest, etc...).

Being that hindsight is 20/20 I am older now and realize that I had already possessed those attributes before I ever even attended BUDS. Also, there were "sh*tbags" that made it through training that IMO did NOT have those attributes. After talking to friends from the TEAMS and finding out how these "sh*tbags" ended up makes the "being dropped from training" a little easier to swallow, however now that I am typing this those crappy feelings are coming back. (Damn this is getting long) So I am going to end it.

Also, if anyone here knows how to get in touch with Jason Hoy, PM me his number.

If you asked me today if I would do it all again if I knew the outcome would be the same, would I do it? The answer would be "Hell YES"!!!!:D

saki302
09-30-2008, 10:50 AM
Yeah, they actually had a long trough full of water and used a ballistics gel torso to measure penetration. It was pretty unimpressive with most rounds appearing to not even disturb the water. They couldn't even find the bullet in many cases. They seemed to think it was going to be much more spectacular than it really was.

Yep- they were hoping the guns would explode, while none did. Similar to the plugged shotgun barrel tests. Turns out, firearms are much better built than anyone expected :D

I tested my Glock in my pool- I could even submerge some unsealed rounds sometime for fun, but my depth limit is 9 feet :D Bullets travelled maybe 10-12ft and dropped straight down. It was a little hard to see as the water gets all stirred up on the surface (and don't put your head down there to watch!! I read about ruptured eardrums)

I think the G&A crew tossed their rifle and ammo into a pond overnight attached to string- depth couldn't have been much more than 4-5ft.

-Dave

Army
09-30-2008, 11:11 AM
All NATO ammo is sealed with asphalt in the case neck. The primer is much less likely to leak, especially after crimping.

Guns can be safely fired underwater (and a few have been designed just for that), as long as all air has been removed. Once there is no air, all pressure is equal and the bullet will exit normally, the pressures remain normal, and no undue damage will occur to the weapon.

Granted, due to gas ports plugging, and high resistence to the slide on pistols, function may or may not happen.....but the gun will fire.

In 1986, John Donovan of Soldier Of Fortune magazine was asked just this question. So, in front of all us unbelievers around the pool at the old Sahara Resort during the SOF Convention, he dove in, racked a round, shook out all the air......

....and cracked the concrete on the other side of the pool.

It was so cool, he did it again.

IllTemperedCur
09-30-2008, 11:38 AM
The AR15.com Ammo Oracle has some answers for you....

What is "sealed ammo"? (http://ammo.ar15.com/ammo/project/store_seal.html)


What ammo is properly sealed? (http://ammo.ar15.com/ammo/project/store_seal2.html)

BlackReef
09-30-2008, 4:26 PM
wow, thats an incredible insight. Alot of people hang on to the baggage of not graduating BUD/s their whole lives. People need to realize that just by attempting BUD/s training puts you in a class of your own. You have to be a badass mofo to even have the courage to go to Indoc before first phase! It's the toughest Military training in the world, and to be dropped out for anything besides quitting is still very honorable. Thanks for your service and I'm glad it worked out for you in the end.

I did NOT graduate. I was stung by a stingray (right in front of my Achilles tendon) on the Thursday before hellweek during "surf passage". The hole was literally the size of a pencil and I had to stick gauze strips into the "hole" and then cover it with more gauze and the put mole skin on top of it.

On Tuesday night of hellweek at the first hygiene inspection the doctor examined me and said I had cellulitis (he could tell by the red streaks I had running up my leg to my thigh) and told me if it reaches my heart I could possibly die. I was sooo pissed off. I told him not to pull me from my class until Wednesday night (usually if you make it to Wednesday night they will roll you forward and not backward) but he said "No go".

Anyway I had originally classed up with class 189 but the day of the class up test the OIC made me stand watch for a guy that had been there too long. So I had to join class 190. Then the hellweek thing happened. So then they made me go with class 191. Well after the class up test they pulled me into the first phase office and said I had been there too long, they had too big of a class and said they were recommending me to be dropped from training. Really sucked having my ONLY goal in life at the time taken from me.

I still keep in touch with some of the guys that were in my class. Also while waiting for orders to go to the fleet, I had the fortunate privilege to share the same head (one head is shared between two rooms) with Instructor Stetham. His bother was Robert Stethem who was a Navy diver that was tortured and murdered by terrorists during the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 on June 14, 1985.

Anyway I had talked to him a bunch of times about my predicament and he told me some things that really hit home about BEING or NOT BEING a SEAL. While I will not say what he had told me, I will say that looking back on it that I wanted to be a SEAL because I wanted to be the best. But now that I look back on it I know that it happened for a reason. I married the girl I was dating all through BUDS and we are still married (14 years) and have 2 healthy sons (ages 2 and 4). I have a great job and education (BS in Computer Engineering). I also learned a lot about myself in the "life lesson" that BUDS taught me (honor thy country, honor thyself, integrity, never quit, always enjoy life to the fullest, etc...).

Being that hindsight is 20/20 I am older now and realize that I had already possessed those attributes before I ever even attended BUDS. Also, there were "sh*tbags" that made it through training that IMO did NOT have those attributes. After talking to friends from the TEAMS and finding out how these "sh*tbags" ended up makes the "being dropped from training" a little easier to swallow, however now that I am typing this those crappy feelings are coming back. (Damn this is getting long) So I am going to end it.

Also, if anyone here knows how to get in touch with Jason Hoy, PM me his number.

If you asked me today if I would do it all again if I knew the outcome would be the same, would I do it? The answer would be "Hell YES"!!!!:D

workinwifdakids
09-30-2008, 5:08 PM
Well, the question of NAVSPECWAR 'torture tests' on ammunition aren't a state secret. Why not just call and ask them? While you're on the phone, don't ask for "the operators."
:whistling:

Anyway, why not just do an experiment yourself?

For example,

"Will Winchester 9mm 147GR SXTs remain powder dry after 24 hours submerged in 30 feet of fresh water? Salt water?"

If you were able to develop some relationships between fresh water, salt water, water temperature, depth, and time, it would be very interesting data!

Speaking of which, is there even a specific way to test the moisture content of powder? Hmmm... I may just do this myself!