Late last month I put up some pictures of a KABOOM! in which a shooter’s .45-70 Marlin Guide Gun “spontaneously disassembled.” Back in August I related the story of how I managed to accidentally dump some Unique powder into a nearly full bottle of 2400.
Well, it looks like someone managed to duplicate my mistake (or someone sabotaged his stuff on purpose) and he spontaneously disassembled a S&W 629 Mountain Gun by stuffing 18 grains of Unique into a .44 Magnum case thinking that he was using 2400. The story comes by Sixgunner.com, but it’s not a permnent link, so I’m going to reproduce the whole post here:
I bought an S&W Model 629 Mountain Gun in 44 Magnum several years ago and it instantly became my favorite carry gun and companion. I liked it so much that years later I jumped on the opportunity to buy another one as a backup “just in case”. I soon developed a sentimental attachment to it as well. I have used and continue to use 7.5 grains of Unique as my standard load using commercial cast bullets. I have a couple of ammo cans loaded with bullets using that recipe.
I have a small batch of “hunting loads” using 21.0 grains of Alliant 2400 and hand cast “tempered” bullets of my own making. Alliant 2400 is an excellent powder but it has been years since I actually loaded anything using it. I have two containers of A2400, a 5 pound container I use for storage and a one pound container that I used to work out of, both plainly labeled original “Allliant 2400” containers. At some point over the last few years I or someone else poured Unique into the smaller container labeled A2400.
Last week I got out my old bullet mold, an original Ideal # 429421 and cast a batch of 250 grain 44 caliber bullets. I lubed and sized them to .429 and prepared to make up a batch of my hunting loads using 21.0 grains of A2400. The first thing that I noticed was that I could only get 18 grains of powder into a 44 magnum case. It was a very humid Florida day and I assumed that the humidity had somehow caused the powder to “swell up”. I told my new bride about the odd incident and how I know that I used to load 21.0 grains of powder while in Wyoming and Alabama but could only get about 18 grains in a case now that we live in Florida. All the time never suspecting that I had been using Unique powder instead of A2400. I have been reloading for over 30 years. I should have noticed. The two powders look nothing alike. Only a novice could possibly make such a terrible mistake, but I did.
I went to the range early Saturday morning and fired of a few 22s with my S&W model 617 to limber up and then loaded my 44 magnum and mentally prepared for the jolt. My bride was about 3 feet to my left loading her 22 cal. Ruger and she said she felt the concussion rip through her body as I touched of the first round. Believe me, I had noticed it too and the fact that my sight picture had changed. I no longer had a rear sight on my Mountain Gun. As a matter of fact, I no longer had a top strap either and three of the chambers were gone. The barrel was barely hanging on to what was left of the top of the revolver. Miraculously, neither I nor my wife was hurt in any way. I searched the outdoor range for remnants of my gun that had been transformed into shrapnel but never found a single piece. I have no idea how much pressure is generated by 18 grains of Unique behind a 250 grain bullet but I have included a picture of the results on what was, at one time, a wonderful gun.
I disassembled the batch of defective rounds but on the outside chance that one of the batch got in with my low powered ammo or that I have somehow done something like that before I am in the process of disassembling every 44 magnum round that I have. The Lord really looked out for us this time.
The only other fact that might come into play in this incident is that I went through a divorce starting about 3 years ago and my first wife had control of my reloading equipment for about a year. I do not know who packed it all up but it was in storage for about 2 years. This was the first time I’ve used A2400 since before the divorce.
I hope that you can post this on your website so that others may learn from my mistake.
Here’s the picture:
OUCH! That was one very lucky couple.