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  #1  
Old 10-27-2007, 7:07 PM
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Default Can bullets explode?

I don't know if this in the right forum, but out of curiosity, can bullets explode say, sitting in a hot car or if they're subject to shock or vibration?


Let me know your thoughts.
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  #2  
Old 10-27-2007, 7:14 PM
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i was wondering the same thing.
Had 2 loaded magazines in the trunk this summer, cycled crappy wolf ammo for two or three times. Now the heat is almost over, and no accident yet.
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Old 10-27-2007, 7:16 PM
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The dreaded cook off! Yes, it could certainly happen if the cartidge was hot enough. If you fired enough rounds threw a machine gun and heated up the barrel and left a round it the chamber it could go off. You'd have to get it extremely hot though.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooking_off
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Old 10-27-2007, 7:48 PM
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Getting spontanious ammo detonation is almost impossible, theoretically it could happen but it wouldn't hurt anything if it did go off.

I've found ammo thats been baking in the desert sun for years that hasn't gone boom.
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  #5  
Old 10-27-2007, 7:58 PM
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Bullets don't explode.
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  #6  
Old 10-27-2007, 8:02 PM
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Ok... not bullets but... live ammo..
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Old 10-27-2007, 8:09 PM
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Mythbusters did this awhile back. They did manage to get rounds to "cook off" when placed into an oven (don't remember the temp but it was 500+F). They also threw a bunch of rounds into a fire (sounded like firecrackers).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MythBus...6)#Hot_Bullets

So yeah, when sufficiently heated the gunpowder will ignite, but it needs to get pretty freaking hot.
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Old 10-27-2007, 8:25 PM
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not by just leaving them in a car.
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Old 10-27-2007, 8:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by artthestampede View Post
Ok... not bullets but... live ammo..
OF COURSE IT DOES!! Haven't you seen the movies! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!

Nah, it's a myth. They crackle and pop, like people are telling you, but it takes extreme heat.

Extreme heat -- they'll ignite, BUT it's not like they're exploding.

I liked the stuff where they shot at full mags and the rounds just sizzled and burned from being penetrated.
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Old 10-27-2007, 10:16 PM
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NO...and if it was hot enough they would pop but the bulet wouldn't do much more than pop off with little or no velocity and would end up within a couple of feet of the spent cartridge.

I think they did a mythbusters on this.

Last edited by glockman19; 10-28-2007 at 8:23 AM..
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  #11  
Old 10-27-2007, 10:40 PM
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http://mythbustersresults.com/episode82
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  #12  
Old 10-27-2007, 11:17 PM
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I've tossed bullets into more than one campfire to clear out the circle so I could have my choice of seats. They'll pop once they heat, and at worst send a shard or two of brass your way (close/turn away your eyes), but they're no real threat.

Heat/cold/vibration will however mess with your powder. Close friends who are very serious IPSC shooters recently related to me an experience when they traveled to the Northwest to shoot in a regional competition and their Socal reloads just kinda "went pop" and didn't make major powerfactor in the 35 degree weather. They put their mags on top of the heater in the truck and voila, shot just fine. They say it was a sight to see, them running back and forth to the truck to reload between stages.

The same goes w/ heat. Rounds won't "cook off" in a trunk, but prolonged exposure will ruin your powder, it just sort of 'decomposes.' It'll still shoot in most cases but won't perform the way good ammo does. Vibration can have the same effect over long term (one of the reasons CCWs suggest you rotate your ammo periodically).
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Old 10-28-2007, 1:34 AM
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Originally Posted by slick_711 View Post
I've tossed bullets into more than one campfire to clear out the circle so I could have my choice of seats. They'll pop once they heat, and at worst send a shard or two of brass your way (close/turn away your eyes), but they're no real threat.

Heat/cold/vibration will however mess with your powder. Close friends who are very serious IPSC shooters recently related to me an experience when they traveled to the Northwest to shoot in a regional competition and their Socal reloads just kinda "went pop" and didn't make major powerfactor in the 35 degree weather. They put their mags on top of the heater in the truck and voila, shot just fine. They say it was a sight to see, them running back and forth to the truck to reload between stages.

The same goes w/ heat. Rounds won't "cook off" in a trunk, but prolonged exposure will ruin your powder, it just sort of 'decomposes.' It'll still shoot in most cases but won't perform the way good ammo does. Vibration can have the same effect over long term (one of the reasons CCWs suggest you rotate your ammo periodically).

Temperature definatly affects the performance of powders, some more then others. 35 degrees is damn cold and will retard the burn rate.

But vibrations do not. If this was true for ammo then from when they make it to when you buy it, most of the ammo you buy would be bad.

The only way vibrations could affect it was if it somehow got all of the graphite coating off the powder that helps regulates the burn rate or somehow breaks down the powder into smaller pieces thus increasing the surface area. (neither of which will happen even if you stick the ammo in a tumbler, which most companies do).

You rotate CCW ammo because of bullet set back, moisture, exposure to the elements and the fact that fresh ammo should be more reliable than older ammo that has pocket lint and god knows what else stuck to/in it.


Just to add, tossing ammo into a campfire to get a seat is damn irresponsible, just because you know to turn your head to shield your eyes from flying brass shards does not mean everyone else is going to.
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  #14  
Old 10-28-2007, 6:28 AM
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Be assured, the case will come apart during the explosion, much like a firecracker......with frag. The bullet will not attain much, if any, real velocity, and is itself not very dangerous. Even blank ammo will tear itself apart when heated to ignition.

More than a few vehicles over here have caught fire, with the ammo load surviving the flames, so simply sitting in th sun will not raise the temps enough for ignition. If it won't blow sitting in 135F here in Iraq (temps inside trucks can reach 180+), It sure ain'ta gonna blow in your driveway

We used to tape a ball-bearing to the primer of.50cal blanks, then a length of string to the crimped "nose" to act as a tail. Thrown high into the air to fall onto the road or tank pads......oh yes, we scampered far away quickly....the result was as thunderous as the best M80, with a LOT of brass frag pinging off things in the immediate area. If we could find the cartridge base, it usually was just the rim and a small amount of case in a "flower" pattern. -------hey, it was fun
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  #15  
Old 10-28-2007, 8:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Army View Post
Be assured, the case will come apart during the explosion, much like a firecracker......with frag. The bullet will not attain much, if any, real velocity, and is itself not very dangerous. Even blank ammo will tear itself apart when heated to ignition.

More than a few vehicles over here have caught fire, with the ammo load surviving the flames, so simply sitting in th sun will not raise the temps enough for ignition. If it won't blow sitting in 135F here in Iraq (temps inside trucks can reach 180+), It sure ain'ta gonna blow in your driveway

We used to tape a ball-bearing to the primer of.50cal blanks, then a length of string to the crimped "nose" to act as a tail. Thrown high into the air to fall onto the road or tank pads......oh yes, we scampered far away quickly....the result was as thunderous as the best M80, with a LOT of brass frag pinging off things in the immediate area. If we could find the cartridge base, it usually was just the rim and a small amount of case in a "flower" pattern. -------hey, it was fun
sounds like a blast!
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  #16  
Old 10-28-2007, 8:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh View Post

But vibrations do not. If this was true for ammo then from when they make it to when you buy it, most of the ammo you buy would be bad.

The only way vibrations could affect it was if it somehow got all of the graphite coating off the powder that helps regulates the burn rate or somehow breaks down the powder into smaller pieces thus increasing the surface area. (neither of which will happen even if you stick the ammo in a tumbler, which most companies do).
I could be wrong but I seem to remember seeing a report of someone tossing loaded ammo into a tumbler and it came out as powder. When the grains hit each other they don't break down, when they hit brass/copper they do. With that said I doubt you would be able to duplicate that amount of abuse in the real world.
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Old 10-28-2007, 8:34 AM
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Yes, there are BULLETS that explode. Each one can be a seperate FELONY in Ca. You do not want to have any API, APIT, SLAP, RAFUS, incidary, tracers, etc. in Ca!

Now to answer the question that you wanted to ask, although possible, not likely. I've been meaning to post an experience that I had last week but, I've been to lasy. Well, I'll do it now.

Last week I walked into my local gunshop and second job and one of the owners was trying to "unload" a Mossberg 500. The pistol gripped shotgun had been through a fire while sitting in the closet of a motorhome and there wasn't much of the plastic grip or forend (or, should I call it a "foward" for comic effect?) remaining. There was however a round in the chamber and a full magazine. After disassembling the gun enough to get all the half melted rounds out of the gun, The rounds were inspected. They all still had unburned powder and live primers! I won't have believed it if I hadn't seen it for myself. Although, your mileage may vary, I hope this story helps to put your mind at ease. Yes, a round can go off due to exessive heat but, at least in this case, the heat generated from a fully envolved motorhome was not enough to do it!
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Old 10-28-2007, 8:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Army View Post
Be assured, the case will come apart during the explosion, much like a firecracker......with frag. The bullet will not attain much, if any, real velocity, and is itself not very dangerous. Even blank ammo will tear itself apart when heated to ignition.

More than a few vehicles over here have caught fire, with the ammo load surviving the flames, so simply sitting in th sun will not raise the temps enough for ignition. If it won't blow sitting in 135F here in Iraq (temps inside trucks can reach 180+), It sure ain'ta gonna blow in your driveway

We used to tape a ball-bearing to the primer of.50cal blanks, then a length of string to the crimped "nose" to act as a tail. Thrown high into the air to fall onto the road or tank pads......oh yes, we scampered far away quickly....the result was as thunderous as the best M80, with a LOT of brass frag pinging off things in the immediate area. If we could find the cartridge base, it usually was just the rim and a small amount of case in a "flower" pattern. -------hey, it was fun
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Old 10-28-2007, 9:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh View Post
Just to add, tossing ammo into a campfire to get a seat is damn irresponsible, just because you know to turn your head to shield your eyes from flying brass shards does not mean everyone else is going to.
No, other people don't turn their heads, they get up and run.
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Old 10-28-2007, 9:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazyhorse View Post
I could be wrong but I seem to remember seeing a report of someone tossing loaded ammo into a tumbler and it came out as powder. When the grains hit each other they don't break down, when they hit brass/copper they do. With that said I doubt you would be able to duplicate that amount of abuse in the real world.
Most, if not all of the major ammunition makers tumble their loaded ammunition to polish them before packaging.
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Old 10-28-2007, 4:55 PM
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Most, if not all of the major ammunition makers tumble their loaded ammunition to polish them before packaging.
+1

The rounds also get a nice "tumbling" on the truck from the factory to your door - and that's with nice, easy domestic shipping. Think about how much abuse the rounds take being shipped to oh, say, Iraq? This "powder breakdown due to vibration" thing is a total bs. As others have said, some powders can be more temperature sensitive than others and other things like moisture can affect bullet reliability but not vibration.
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Old 10-29-2007, 1:39 PM
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Desert Camping experiment. This was 3-4 years ago..





For the most part, they were really very mild when they finally cooked off. Very little to no chance of serious injury. Bullets usually plopped off, not going more than a few inches away. Brass casing was the weak point and that was where the gases escaped.
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Old 10-29-2007, 2:05 PM
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side note: is AP ammo legal here, i never really checked?
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Old 10-29-2007, 2:14 PM
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side note: is AP ammo legal here, i never really checked?
AP rifle only ammo is legal! AP pistol ammo is a FELONY!
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Old 10-29-2007, 4:13 PM
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If the flash point for gunpowder is reached inside the casing, why couldn't it ignite?
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Old 10-29-2007, 4:48 PM
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Originally Posted by hitnrun View Post
If the flash point for gunpowder is reached inside the casing, why couldn't it ignite?
the bullet is a component of a cartridge ,the question is flawed

i wonder what a tracer would look like if it cooked off in a fire
would it look like a little flare? or would it act like a little rocket
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Old 10-29-2007, 5:05 PM
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If the flash point for gunpowder is reached inside the casing, why couldn't it ignite?
It will. Smokeless powder is a propellent not an explosive. So, when it reaches its very high flashpoint it will burn. It will create gasses that expand. These gases will take the path of least resistance. In the case of a round chambered in a barrel, there is only one direction for the gases to vent to and that is out the end of the barrel. In the case of a loose round, the gases will push the bullet out of the cartridge and at the same time expand the catridge in every direction equally. So, depending on the burn rate of the powder and how tightly the bullet is crimped, there could be a relatively small explosion and potentially the bullet could fly out of the cartridge with enough force to travel a few yards.

Black powder is an explosive and cartidges containing real black powder will explode! I'm surprised it took me this long to think of BPCs.
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Old 10-29-2007, 5:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Fjold View Post
Most, if not all of the major ammunition makers tumble their loaded ammunition to polish them before packaging.
I'm certainly no major ammo manufacturer, but I've tumbled hundreds of my own reloads/handloads, and they all fire just fine. I don't own a chrono, but just by feel, I'm getting around the same pressure as rounds that aren't tumbled.
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Old 10-30-2007, 5:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CSACANNONEER View Post
It will. Smokeless powder is a propellent not an explosive. So, when it reaches its very high flashpoint it will burn. It will create gasses that expand. These gases will take the path of least resistance. In the case of a round chambered in a barrel, there is only one direction for the gases to vent to and that is out the end of the barrel. In the case of a loose round, the gases will push the bullet out of the cartridge and at the same time expand the catridge in every direction equally. So, depending on the burn rate of the powder and how tightly the bullet is crimped, there could be a relatively small explosion and potentially the bullet could fly out of the cartridge with enough force to travel a few yards.

Black powder is an explosive and cartidges containing real black powder will explode! I'm surprised it took me this long to think of BPCs.


I was thinking of the round going "off," not literally "exploding" like grenade! I agree with your statement. Nice explanation BTW.
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