A buddy of mine recently returned from a hunting
trip with a friend where the friend accidentally loaded
an incorrect cartridge into his .280 Remington. A
“hot” .280 cartridge runs around 50,000 psi inside the
chamber when the gun is fired. However, in this case,
because it was the wrong cartridge, the bullet could
not make it down the barrel and the pressure climbed
many times higher than that. In the end, the rifle exploded, leaving him with a face full of exploded steel.
Before you ever pull the trigger, make sure you know
your ammo and make sure it matches the gun.
8. Wear safety glasses.
My friend’s story continues. … When the rifle
exploded, his face was covered with shards of steel
that had been his rifle. The explosion took place only
inches from his
face, yet his eyes
He was hurt,
but it could
have been much
glasses may have
9. Protect the muzzle.
The other way firearms can explode is when a hunter
fails to protect the muzzle. When working through
brush or mud, barrels have been known to get the
ends plugged. When this happens and the trigger is
pulled, the sudden pressure increase to 50,000 psi can
be pushed much higher, exceeding the limits of the
My personal approach is to always be very, very mindful of the end of the barrel. First, it helps me keep it
pointed in a safe direction. Second, it helps me keep
track of whether I might have debris in the barrel.
However, a few folks have been known to pull a small
balloon over the end of the barrel, or a small square of
electrician’s tape. Whatever you choose, if you are going to cover the barrel to keep out debris, you need to
make sure that the column of air in front of the bullet
will be able to displace the cover without significantly
increasing the pressure inside.
10. No alcohol with firearms.
It shouldn’t require being stated, because putting
the two together really is that stupid. There just is no
room for any substance that might degrade a shooter’s
thinking or reactions in any way while they’re using
firearms. Enough said.
11. Keep your eye on what’s important.
Every year, South Dakota Conservation magazine
posts a list of the hunting accidents that occurred the
prior year. Every year, a disproportionate number of
accidents happen to out-of-state hunters. Every year,
out-of-state friends shoot each other because they get
tunnel vision on that pheasant that just got up and
flew between them ... they don’t see their buddy on
the other side. Every year, vehicles and houses lose
windows and weekend hunters spend their weekend
in the ER having pellets removed from their bodies
because people let the urgency of the hunt or the
price of their license cloud their vision of what’s beyond their target. Most often, the injuries are minor,
but some are tragic, and all are avoidable.
I always tell my son, “When we’re playing with guns,
we’re playing for keeps. There is no room for error.”
It’s the same risk we accept on a daily basis when we
start our cars. People in cars are dangerous and kill
people every day, and yet we drive. But when we do,
we follow the rules and expect those rules to protect
us from others on the road—and to protect others
from us. Hunting and shooting sports are exactly the
same. If we follow the safety rules, we need never
suffer the consequences of a mistake.
To read Part 1 of “Gun Safety Essentials” in the Spring
2016 issue, visit the Back Issues tab of MollyGreenOn-line.com.
Talmage Ekanger is a husband, father of
three, writer, and attorney-turned-informa-
tion-technology-supervisor. A native South
Dakotan, he's grateful for the chance to
raise his family in the land of the free and
the home of the brave.
Talmage Ekanger, JD