# What Happens When Firing a Round Without Powder?

1. ### Bart BWell-Known Member

Messages:
2,483
Joined:
Dec 25, 2005
Imagine a 30 caliber rimless bottleneck case with a live primer, no powder and the bullet's seated to have about 25 thousandths jump to the lands. The bullet needs 25 pounds of force to get it out of the case mouth.

Does the bullet:

A. break free from the case mouth and lodge tight in the lands?

B. just barely break free from the case mouth but only move a few thousandths forward and not touch the lands?

C. stay in place in the case mouth?

2. ### GrumulkinWell-Known Member

Messages:
195
Joined:
Dec 22, 2010
The bullet will lodge tightly in the lands.

Hmmmmm. How do I know that?

3. ### RDM416Well-Known Member

Messages:
700
Joined:
Jan 31, 2005
Ok, I will bite.... Fortunately I have never done this so I have no real world experience. Just thinking about the question, I would say first off that the capacity of the case would matter as a very large magnum case would build up less PSI than a small case. You took care of the bullet size (kind of) by stating it would take 25 lbs of force to get it out of the case mouth.

My guess: (A)

When the primer is fired, the gas has to go somewhere and the pressure should be plenty to move the bullet. However, as soon as the bullet moves enough to break the case mouth seal the gas will escape around the bullet and pressure will drop quickly. The only question is if it will move forward with enough force to jam the bullet into the lands?
I would answer (B) as I think the pressure will drop quickly, but I have seen guys who missed a powder charge when loading shotgun shells. Just a 209 primer will blow 1 oz of shot 10 to 20 feet out of the barrel of a shotgun so I rather suspect a rifle primer will have enough force to jam a bullet into the lands.

Bart, You have a lot of shooting experience so I assume you know the answer......... interesting question, just don't leave us hanging too long

4. ### lazylabsWell-Known Member

Messages:
870
Joined:
Oct 26, 2006
I know a 25/06 will put a 115gr bullet about 8 inches down the barrel. They are a PITA to get out. If your lucky enough to do this get a couple bushings to guide a drill bit and you can drill the center out of the bullet and then they push out fairly easy. Just for the record it wasn't me!

5. ### bman73Well-Known Member

Messages:
195
Joined:
Feb 22, 2011
A few years ago I pulled into the parking lot at my range just in time to see people running and the dust settling from some older gentelman who had done just that, primer and no powder in his 6.5 Swede. He had actually done this so many times that he had made up a brass rod that fit his barrel to knock the jammed bullet back out of the barrel. On this particular day someone had started talking to him ( probabbly to ask why the hell he was smacking a rod down his barrel with a deadblow?) and he forgot to take the rod back out. I think you can see where this is going right? To make a long story short there was virtually nothing left of the gun, the stock was shattered the barrell was split and the action broke into about 6 pieces. The bolt was actually buried into the logs used to make the supports for the roof. The most amazing thing was that this guy had not been hurt at all except for 1 tiny little cut on his cheek just under the frame of his glasses about the size of a zit. Now I know a lot of you are calling BS on this one and to be honest with you if I hadn't actually been there and waws reading this I more than likely would as well. I told the guy after checking him out (at the time I was a level 3 first aid) that he should go and buy a lottery ticket cause he was by far the luckiest guy I had ever seen. So in this case with this gun yes a primer and no powder load will jam a bullet in the lands

6. ### SBruceWell-Known Member

Messages:
1,786
Joined:
Oct 31, 2009
I've always made it a habit to look down in each and every case before seating a bullet to make sure it has the right amount of powder in it. So, I can't say from experience but I would bet money that the primer alone will lodge the bullet in the barrel.

7. ### BuffalobobWell-Known Member

Messages:
5,095
Joined:
Jun 12, 2001
About five years ago I made up a dummy 308 round with a primer but no powder in it to use for setting the bullet seating die. I marked it up with a sharpie so I would never fire it by mistake. About three years later I used it to set the die and somehow transferred it to the case of loaded bullets. All that happened was it went "pop" and everything extracted just fine with the bullet still seated in the case.

8. ### SBruceWell-Known Member

Messages:
1,786
Joined:
Oct 31, 2009

Guess I would've lost my bet on that one

9. ### GrumulkinWell-Known Member

Messages:
195
Joined:
Dec 22, 2010
I did it with a 375 H&H Magnum. The bullet lodged in the lands. I loaded up a primed case with 2 or 3 grains less powder than what I'd been using, chambered said case while holding the barrel upright and then shot the bullet out of the barrel even hitting the target I was aiming at.

Since then I have been MUCH more careful in making sure each case has an appropriate powder charge.

By the way, my method of removing the bullet is NOT to be taken as a recommendation that you do the same and is presented only as historical information. What you decide to do is ENTIRELY your responsibility.

10. ### BuffalobobWell-Known Member

Messages:
5,095
Joined:
Jun 12, 2001
It was just my experience. I suspect because the round was three years old or so and because the inside of the neck had been cleaned that adhesion set up between the brass and the copper. Also the bullet was seated to be right at the lands so it didn't get a running go.

11. ### JUDDWell-Known Member

Messages:
936
Joined:
Jun 25, 2007
I had it happen with an AR15 with military tracer rounds....Small pop and no recoil to work the bolt (or not enough) I ejected the case with no bullet and luckily figured out what happened before I loaded another round. The bullet was about 5-6" down the barrel.

12. ### SpeedoWell-Known Member

Messages:
224
Joined:
Oct 3, 2010
I read an account of the death of Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, as to how a round with no powder eventually led to his death. The regular prop man who normally took care of the guns was absent and someone who was filling in for him made up some rounds so that a camera shot would show the rounds in the cylinder for a camera shot. His idea of making the rounds safe was to remove the powder. While the gun was thus loaded someone fired it and the bullet was lodged in the barrel. Later when they needed to shoot the gun with blanks it was fired at Brandon Lee with the appropriate blank loaded, however with the bullet previously lodged in the barrel the charge in the blank was sufficient to drive the bullet out of the muzzle with sufficient force to kill Mr. Lee.

Whether that account is true or not I can't say, it does sound plausible though.

Gus

13. ### CoyboyWell-Known Member

Messages:
2,132
Joined:
Jan 30, 2005
Happened last week at a f-class match, guy shooting a 284 no powder, bullet held in the neck and ejected fine.

14. ### Bart BWell-Known Member

Messages:
2,483
Joined:
Dec 25, 2005
Well, it's good to hear some folks have actually seen the results of firing an un-powdered centerfire round. Here's what happened to me.....

Shooting a match with a 7.62 Garand using ammo that was made from an M118 match round with the bullet and powder removed then replaced with 44 grains of IMR4320 and a Sierra 190 HPMK. Had to chamber 42 rounds to get two sighters and twenty record shots down range. None of the bullets stuck in the throat, even though the bullet extraction force was less than the normal 40 or so pounds it took.

When I got home, I weighed the 30 some unfired rounds I had left over from that lot setting aside those weighing 44 grains less than the others. All of these had no powder in them in my opinion. Pulled the bullet from half a dozen or so of the "clickers" and the whole inside of the case plus the bullet heel was coated with dark gray primer residue. There was no rifling marks on the bullets indicating they didn't touch the rifling at all.

I've chatted with folks who've used M60 machine guns as well as M14's and those who've had misfires and pulled bullets from them have also found no powder was in the case, just primer residue. Only one person said the case had powder so the primer must have been a dud. Good thing for combat folks that lets one jack the bolt to clear the round and keep firing at the bad guys.

In another forum this subject came up. I've been chastised and called all sorts of bad things to even suggest that centerfire ammo without powder doesn't jamb the bullet up the bore and needs a stout push on a cleaning rod down the muzzle to clear it. 'Course nobody else at that place ever said they've fired an un-powdered round and says 'cause it happens with rimfire ammo it'll be the same with centerfire ammo. Even though it doesn't take much force to push a .22 rimfire lead bullet through a barrel compared to a centerfire jacketed bullet. Nor does the fact that centerfire bullets require much more force to push 'em out of the case compared to rimfire ones seem to matter.

So yes, centerfire cases tend to hold onto their jacketed bullets when no powder's in them. Arsenal 7.62 NATO and .30-06 combat and ammo's got their bullets well "glued" in place with asphultum sealant and crimped case mouths that takes 60 or more pounds of force (well over 800 psi) to push 'em out. Match ammo's bullets aren't crimped in, but it still takes 30 to 40 pounds of force (about 480 psi) to pull the bullet out. I've had two .22 rimfire bullets make it down the barrel stopping a few inches short of the muzzle; Eley confirmed that's about normal for one of their bullets to do.