My Shotgun Blew Up

Every once in a while, you'll hear this. Often, from anonymous sources that “heard it.” The notion that a shotgun blows up, or a firearm blows up, is an odd one. While the idea of “blowing up” sounds spectacular, fundamentally a shotgun barrel, a muzzleloading rifle barrel, or a rifle barrel is just a tube. Use a tube within prescribed parameters, you have no problems with your tube. Overpressurize a tube or a piece of pipe, you can expect problems.

Rather than “blowing up,” an over-pressurized tube fractures or tears. It is no different than any other tube or hose that is designed to contain pressure. Consider plumbing. The Uniform Plumbing Code specifies that water for domestic use should be supplied at a pressure of 50-70 pounds per square inch (PSI.) Pressure reducers, also called pressure regulators, and pressure boosters are set to provide water pressure within that acceptable range. The plumbing and fixtures within the home are designed to withstand pressures up to 80 PSI without damage. Attempt to put 500 PSI through your plumbing, you can expect problems. Put 500 PSI into an automotive tire, you can also expect problems. It is hardly a fabulous pyrotechnic explosion. More accurately, it is a blow-out rather than a blow-up. Pressure distribution in a firearm isn't what most folks ruminate it to be. Hartmut Broemel, regarded as the world's foremost ballistician and the developer of "QuickDESIGN" ballistics analysis software describes it well.

However, let's not discount American ingenuity when it comes to destruction. One shotgun manufacturer gets a few guns back every year because they “blew up,” the hopeful enthusiast wanting a warranty replacement. Here's just one example.

This is an example of a true "SHOT GUN." Though returned to the manufacturer because "my shotgun blew up," in actuality it is is no firearm failure at all. In this case, it is the shotgun that has been shot. The shotgun was shot, at obvious close range, by a hunting buddy. The rib was shot off, a hole was shot in the barrel, and you can see where a few stray pellets whacked the area close to the muzzle, knocking off some camo finish.

Most people wouldn't think that anyone could be so clueless as to send this to a manufacturer for warranty repair, but it happens every year. Our nimrod wingshooting enthusiast may not know what happened. His quick draw buddy is swinging over the same bird as he, and all he thinks he knows is he was going to shoot, he heard a bang, and his shotgun blew up. It blew up real high and real good, part of the Dick Cheney / Perazzi 2012 campaign: "Let's Give Them Another Shot!"

Let's never underestimate the resourcefulness of the American Wingshooter. A few of us find fascinating new ways to do things year after year. This one is an old, well-proven technique by now. I'm surprised that anyone would have the self-declared level of brain inactivity to try to swing a "warranty repair" on things like this. But, a few do manage, year after year.



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Copyright 2012 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

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