What Causes A Shotgun To Explode

Humankind created guns to eliminate large swathes of the population quickly. With the advent of the technological and spiritual revolution, guns have changed from a machine made to kill, to a weapon used for defence. While people used guns for offensive purposes earlier, they nowadays keep explosive devices to protect their lives.

This approach has its risk factors. With great power comes great responsibility, and in cases of firearms, such responsibility comes in the form of proper upkeep and usage of such objects. But only knowing these things can’t help you in the appropriate maintenance of your beloved shotgun. 

Such guns are explosive devices. When these guns encounter any technical difficulties, things get tricky. We can’t predict anything in any such events, but what we can do is have foresight. And foresight comes from intensive research. But intensive research into the most common problem for shotgun owners- What might cause a shotgun to explode?- is a time-consuming process.

So, for the people who own a shotgun but are apprehensive about shooting it, or even those looking for a good one but can’t seem to decide on the safety levels, we have created this guide to investigate the most popular reasons for shotgun explosion.

Following Are The Points To Keep In Mind

Human Or Related Errors

1. Bore Obstruction On Barrel

One of the most common problems for scattershot owners is that bore obstructions are among the leading causes of loss of life due to shotgun failure. Theoretically speaking, with the proper upkeep and ammunition like the correct home defense shotgun ammo, a shotgun shouldn’t explode (again, hypothetically). Still, external factors such as using different caliber ammunition or having your barrel obstructed by foreign material can lead to explosions.

So always keep your barrel clean, free from alien material, and use the prescribed ammunition.

2. Catastrophic Failure

Catastrophic failure is the term used for such explosions. There are a couple of main reasons for this tag. As mentioned above, some of the causes could be an overloaded shell, which provides the right trigger for detonation.

Usually, gunpowders are double charged and extremely volatile for shotguns. They react extremely fast during overloading. As we know from popular movies, the heat ignites the powder quickly and leads to massive explosions.

3. Shells On The Safe Level Of Loading

What might cause a shotgun to explode when you have followed all the rules in the book? The answer lies in the shells. While loading the gun shells, ensure that the shells are on an entirely safe level. Always purchase ammunition from certified shops instead of shady areas to prevent any mishaps.

4. Obstruction Of Barrel

Barrel obstruction is another common reason behind catastrophic failure. Natural substances such as dirt and mud do not count as obstruction. They may cause cracks and regular degradation, but never explosions. The primary obstacle you must avoid is using different caliber ammunition. For example, loading a 12 gauge shotgun with a 20 gauge shell is a sure-shot way of inviting disaster.

​In case your gun does not fire even after the above-mentioned failures, you are very fortunate. It is essential to prevent using your firearm in case you observe something unexpected or unusual. You must check the shotgun thoroughly for any issue. Never fire your gun if it acts abnormally.

5. Overload

It is one of the most common causes of guns blowing up. As we know, the powders used for shotguns are double charged and volatile. In the case of an overload, it is very likely that it will explode inside your shotgun.

Moreover, the high temperature inside the barrel also might ignite the powder and lead to explosions. The overloading of a shell causes firearms to explode. This case has already been documented several times, where people used the wrong amount of powder and have paid a huge price for that mistake. In such a case, firearms explode like a grenade causing damage to the hand.

Mechanical Errors

1. Usage Of Harmful Materials

When used in firearms like shotguns, materials such as brass and wood have disastrous results. Always buy shotguns from certified retailers, as an unsafe gun would be extremely dangerous to your near and dear ones

2. Too Much Mercury In Primers

Too much mercury eats into and destroys the casing, causing leakage and eventually, explosions. Always look for non-corrosive coated shotguns for longer life and usage.

Nothing in this universe is perfect. The same is the case with shotguns. Even after going through all the safety procedures, there is no guarantee of safety. While we cannot wholly eradicate such problems, we can take some preventive measures to ensure our safety and that of the people close to us. We cannot always predict what might cause a shotgun to explode, but we can try and minimize the damage caused by it. Given below is a non- exhaustive list of preventive measures related to handling shotguns and similar firearms

Preventive Measures

Although firearms such as handguns and scattershot are safe to use, we cannot overlook the danger they pose. Any explosion or misfire can have infinite permutations and combinations, most of them drastic and harmful. Therefore, before using any such dangerous equipment, you should be aware of everything, from handling to the storage, to safely operate your precious firearm:

  1. Never, for any reason, think that you have an unloaded firearm. Any such object capable of taking anyone’s life so quickly must be treated with respect and fear. Even if you know that it is unloaded, don’t callously wave or use it as it can be disastrous. No ammunition doesn’t mean that you are safe from any mishaps, so be careful and alert, and store it away from people who are inexperienced.
  2. Never point the muzzle in any area. Always make sure that the site you have pointed it towards is safe and clear. Of all the precautions, this one is considered the most important. Pointing it in a safe direction would take away all fear of any damage (physical or biological) in case of an accidental discharge. Your target should be a free and open space, not a human, animal, or other organism or object.
  1. Whenever you wield a gun, always try to keep your fingers away from the trigger unless absolutely necessary. This will help you to stop any accidental discharge or release. While handguns have another “fake” trigger built for you to rest your fingers on (to keep it away from the real trigger), for shotguns, you need to consciously keep your fingers away from the trigger area at all times.​
  2. Additionally, remember that owning a gun doesn’t guarantee your safety. Accidents occur, and nothing is perfect. Humans can fall prey to danger. The main reason for this danger is a mechanical error. The manufacturing of the gun may cause this, or its safety switch may fail. There are multiple ways for something to go wrong. And according to Murphy’s Law, “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong,” so be prepared for any such less than friendly eventuality. Additionally, it would be best if you prepared adequate backup precautions to be ready for any such event.​
  3. And finally, be careful while aiming at your target. Focus on your targets while wielding a shotgun, and do not waver or become careless. Keep a note of all the spaces around it. Be aware of your surroundings, all the while focusing on your target. In case you miss your shot, be extra careful. Death and injury due to the rebound of bullets are not unknown. It is more often fatal than not. This situation is hazardous when the area you are practicing in is crowded.

As the primary owner of a scattershot, you are expected to know about its workings, inside and out. Never trust your firearms with children or people who are inexperienced. Always remember, it is not a toy and is capable of causing serious damage. Just owning a gun is not enough. Although tiny, these objects are to be used, stored, and disposed of in the correct. If you fail to consider any of these points, you might expose your money and property to high risk. Always handle shotguns safely, you never know what might cause a shotgun to explode.

While owning a gun is not a crime, you need to know its usage to use it for defense and similar purposes. Any other usage of such firearms is strictly prohibited by the law. Finally, to minimize accidents, you must research each aspect of your potential firearm before buying and storing it. Do go through guides and try and get some practical knowledge before venturing into such territory. 

Owning a gun is not an easy task. Always be alert to potential threats, both inner and outer, to safely store and discharge it. Use it in gun ranges and always buy firearms from authorized retailers to ensure safety and maximum benefit. Do not underestimate the importance of research (both theoretical and practical). Try and avoid being subjective. Be safe and alert.

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