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View Full Version : Has this ever happened to anyone else? (Incinerated a clay pigeon)


Crawfish141
11-30-2011, 8:30 PM
My friend and I were out shooting last weekend. We were both casually plinking away at various steel targets and clay pigeons, when my friend shot a clay pigeon that was rested on an old rusted car rim. Upon impact there was a large thick plume of light gray smoke. The location where the clay was seemed to burn for a good second or so, before it burnt out. It was a bright day out, so there may have been light emitted; However, it was difficult to tell. We both looked at each other perplexed, so we immediately went and investigated the target. The only camera we had on us was my crappy cell phone camera, so these two photos are the only evidence I have. I've seen clays being dusted, this was not that. What I saw appeared more like a fire, The plume of smoke was roughly 15' in diameter, and quite opaque.


http://i42.tinypic.com/efkjnp.jpg
This first photo is of the largest part of the clay pigeon left intact. Notice the strange pale yellow “soot” coating the left side of the clay.


http://i41.tinypic.com/207xoc5.jpg
This was the car rim that the clay was rested on. It appears to be steel, with a thick coat of rust. You can see where the clay was positioned by the fine light yellow soot left behind. Also there were few remnants left of the clay, only a few small shards.


Possibly Relevant Information:

We were roughly 150yds from the target.
The target was shot with a Brown Bear 7.62x39 123 grain hollow point.
The rifle used was a Ca-compliant Arsenal SGL-21, with a 16” barrel and an Ak-74 style muzzle brake.
The clay pigeons were old, and had been exposed to the elements for at least three months (light rain, mid sixties, no snow, roughly 40ft above sea level) .
There may have been some due or moisture left on the rim.
It was a calm day, little wind at all.
There were no unusual odors present. However, by the time we had walked up on the target, the smoke had dissipated.


That being said, my question is what the hell happened? I'm assuming some sort of mechanically induced chemical reaction. It must also have been quite rare, seeing as we had done this literally thousands of times before without witnessing anything remotely similar.

reidnez
11-30-2011, 8:53 PM
Interesting, I've never seen this. My best guess is there was some sort of flammable reside left on the rim (paint, oil, etc), and a spark from the impact touched it off. Even then, though...most of the flammable petroleum products you'd find on car parts evaporate quickly, and most that don't evaporate quickly won't catch fire from a mere spark. I'm curious.

$P-Ritch$
11-30-2011, 8:55 PM
This is just a straight guess:

I believe brown bear is a steel jacketed bullet with just some copper plating, so it would spark off of contact with steel. That is why they won't allow it at certain ranges. Then the powder released from the breaking clay caught fire. I don't know what clays are made out of, but if it is anything like sugar or coffee creamer, when you expose enough surface area it can be flammable (say fine powder particles floating in the air). Try it some time. Stick a match in a jar of coffee-mate, nothing will happen. Then sprinkle the powder from a spoon over an open flame and it will flare up like crazy. That is what I believed happen here. Just an honest guess, though.

reidnez
11-30-2011, 9:00 PM
This is just a straight guess:

I believe brown bear is a steel jacketed bullet with just some copper plating, so it would spark off of contact with steel. That is why they won't allow it at certain ranges. Then the powder released from the breaking clay caught fire. I don't know what clays are made out of, but if it is anything like sugar or coffee creamer, when you expose enough surface area it can be flammable (say fine powder particles floating in the air). Try it some time. Stick a match in a jar of coffee-mate, nothing will happen. Then sprinkle the powder from a spoon over an open flame and it will flare up like crazy. That is what I believed happen here. Just an honest guess, though.

Yes and no...it's still a lead bullet, with some steel in the middle. The steel may or may not be exposed, depending on the impact.

Clays are made of clay, I don't believe they are readily flammable. Most anything will burn with enough sustained heat, but I've never heard of a clay catching fire from a spark. Things like sugar, flour and creamer will burn as suspended powder because of the sugars.

Crawfish141
11-30-2011, 9:00 PM
Interesting, I've never seen this. My best guess is there was some sort of flammable reside left on the rim (paint, oil, etc), and a spark from the impact touched it off. Even then, though...most of the flammable petroleum products you'd find on car parts evaporate quickly, and most that don't evaporate quickly won't catch fire from a mere spark. I'm curious.

The rim had been out in the elements for at least 20 years, It didn't appear to have any oil on it.

TheExpertish
11-30-2011, 9:24 PM
Yes and no...it's still a lead bullet, with some steel in the middle. The steel may or may not be exposed, depending on the impact.

Clays are made of clay, I don't believe they are readily flammable. Most anything will burn with enough sustained heat, but I've never heard of a clay catching fire from a spark. Things like sugar, flour and creamer will burn as suspended powder because of the sugars.
Correction, clays aren't made of clay. It's a misnomer. They're made from limestone mixed with pitch traditionally. Modern biodegradable clays have organic compounds that could be flammable in powdered form.

louscamaro91
11-30-2011, 9:27 PM
I've had this happen as well.
I taped them to a paper target and after shooting, I noticed burn marks on my target?? Weird.

Reductio
11-30-2011, 9:29 PM
Yes and no...it's still a lead bullet, with some steel in the middle. The steel may or may not be exposed, depending on the impact.

Clays are made of clay, I don't believe they are readily flammable. Most anything will burn with enough sustained heat, but I've never heard of a clay catching fire from a spark. Things like sugar, flour and creamer will burn as suspended powder because of the sugars.

Erm no, the lead's in the middle, the steel on the outside. They spark all the time on metal.

I know there's some pitch (resin) in many clays. That + the limestone dust may have combusted? (Or biodegradables, as previously noted). Odd whatever it was.

coyotebait
12-01-2011, 6:01 AM
Correction, clays aren't made of clay. It's a misnomer. They're made from limestone mixed with pitch traditionally. Modern biodegradable clays have organic compounds that could be flammable in powdered form.

I think you nailed this. Organic matter is typically high in Nitrogen which can be flammable. A good spark from the steel jacketed bullet could have heated the N up enough to smolder a bit.

Crawfish141
12-01-2011, 7:53 PM
After a bit thinking, I'm going with this is what happened. The clay was positioned in such a way that the bullet would have struck the clay first (thus making dust). The dust would have then been ignited by the spark from the bullet contacting the rim.

Also, they were biodegradable clays.