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Author Topic: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded  (Read 842 times)

MechAg94

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Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« on: April 30, 2021, 10:44:22 AM »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1449kJKxlMQ

Kentucky Ballistics was injured when his 50 cal Serbu rifle came apart with an overpressure round. 

I saw some mention of this on Instagram this morning from others.  I don't follow Kentucky Balistics.  All of it was caught on video.  He mostly okay (recovering?) since he is narrating and explaining what happens.  The rifle goes to pieces about 4.5 minutes in.

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AJ Dual

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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2021, 10:49:01 AM »

I was watching the video on that yesterday.

Punctured a lung, shredded his jugular, and messed up his left arm/index finger something fierce.

Moral of the story, don't shoot weird old .50BMG rounds.

Although the RN 50 seems like it has some design deficiencies if it fails in a KB.

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Jim147

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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2021, 11:01:09 AM »

As I said in another site discussing this, if I was going to shoot .50 anymore I would pull bullets and load with a known powder to proper pressure.
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Brad Johnson

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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2021, 11:49:16 AM »

As I said in another site discussing this, if I was going to shoot .50 anymore I would pull bullets and load with a known powder to proper pressure.

This. At the very least, mount it up and use some form of remote triggering. I certainly wouldn't be placing my fleshy bits anywhere near the firearm.

Based on what I saw and what was described, he was very, very lucky.

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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2021, 11:59:13 AM »

Apparently some super-hot SLAP round.   He didn't specify the source of said round (other than saying they go for about $100 a pop) but man.   The fact he survived is rather spectacular, and is completely due to his knowledge of self first-aid...  Had he not reached into the hole in his neck and clamped off his jugular with his thumb, he would have been dead - no doubt about it.
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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2021, 12:05:42 PM »

I remember reading some reviews (quite a few years back) on the Serbu that questioned its strength. For the rifle to fail THAT catastrophically in that manner, even with a round that was way over pressure, makes me never want to have a Serbu.

AND - perhaps most importantly - don't use oddball ammo you bought "somewhere." (A good policy for any gun, not just .50s.)
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WLJ

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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2021, 12:12:03 PM »

Quote
The RN-50 represents the first time a production firearm has ever been inspired by social media. Designed in conjunction with YouTube celebrity Royal Nonesuch. The RN-50 is a unique approach to the .50BMG rifle. Rugged, lightweight, accurate, easy takedown and low price make this rifle a winner! The simple screw-on breech cap is not only strong, it applies absolutely symmetrical support to the cartridge case, allowing for incredible accuracy. Using top quality materials as well as parts from our proven BFG-50 rifle, the RN-50 gives you high quality at an incredible price, along with lineage to a safe, proven firearm that's been in production for 17+ years. Whether you're looking for the least expensive way to get into shooting .50BMG or you want to outshoot your friends' expensive match rifle, the RN-50 is for you!
https://serbu.com/rn-50/

Gives me a warm fuzzy feeling  :facepalm:
« Last Edit: April 30, 2021, 11:35:54 PM by WLJ »
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fifth_column

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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2021, 12:14:13 PM »

I think people are more likely to make stupid decisions when they're being recorded and know there will be an audience, or if they're in front of an audience.
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lee n. field

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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2021, 12:17:47 PM »

https://serbu.com/rn-50/

Give me a warm fuzzy feeling  :facepalm:

Literally half the price of their base bolt action single shot .50.  MMMmmm.
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MechAg94

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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2021, 12:22:04 PM »

I was just thinking there may be easy way to make that screw on bolt stronger, but maybe not without increasing the cost. 

He noted that the rounds immediately prior to the last one were obviously hotter than the first.  I wonder if the first round was that hot if he would have thought more about that. 
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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2021, 09:17:25 PM »

Ian (Forgotten Weapons) put out a video today on the subject of ka-booms

Earth-Shattering ka-Boom! How (and Why) Guns Explode
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71OGayW7CnI
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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2021, 09:22:38 PM »

I was just thinking there may be easy way to make that screw on bolt stronger, but maybe not without increasing the cost. 

He noted that the rounds immediately prior to the last one were obviously hotter than the first.  I wonder if the first round was that hot if he would have thought more about that.

My first thought was to wonder why they were using standard threads. Standard for heavy loads are ACME threads.
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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2021, 11:03:12 PM »

Ian (Forgotten Weapons) put out a video today on the subject of ka-booms

Earth-Shattering ka-Boom! How (and Why) Guns Explode
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71OGayW7CnI

Gun Jesus is informative as usual.  He made a good point about the Serbu barrel being stronger than that end cap, and if the opposite had been true, Scott would probably not have been injured (or at least not seriously so).

Off topic a bit: Ian also mentioned the perils of .300BLK in a 5.56 rifle, like this:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbfIkaNlECo

Not nearly as dramatic as Scott's kaboom, but interesting (to me at least) how the AR failed exactly as designed.



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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2021, 11:11:41 PM »

Yeah, I will fault the design more than the guy who studied the design at contact distance. Really nowhere for a failure to go other than face.
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MechAg94

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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2021, 11:33:42 PM »

I was checking to see if that video was posted. 

I wonder if there is some sort of retro-fit they could add that would strengthen that system or add some sort of shroud that could contain a failure.  The Serbu is a very inexpensive 50 caliber rifle.  I am not sure what can be changed without adding a lot of cost. 
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dogmush

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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2021, 10:43:22 AM »

I am intrigued by this design, and would like a closer look at it.  My .50 upper isn't known as the best ever, but it's designed with a vent that vents away from the shooter.  Wierd that Serbu doesn't have something like that.


ETA:

This pic shows threads that look like standard 60 degree threads.

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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2021, 01:22:11 PM »

the video popped up as recommended, but I didn't view it.
unless I get lucky and become wealthy, I'm not buying .50 BMG cal anything .
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 In a few years I hope to own a 7mm rem mag, probably as close to 50bmg i will ever get to
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lee n. field

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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2021, 08:06:48 PM »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AY6iEVhJE8

Mark Serbu comments on it.

Quote
Just a brief explanation of the RN-50 blow-up accident that occurred to Scott from Kentucky Ballistics.  I will be coming out with a detailed analysis video shortly after I get my hands on Scott's rifle and some of the ammunition he used.
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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #18 on: May 02, 2021, 11:21:33 PM »

Back in 2014, a guy firing a Vulcan bolt action .50BMG was injured when the bolt blew out and was imbedded in his neck. https://www.military.com/video/guns/rifles/50-cal-blows-up-in-shooters-face/3223685684001

Another one kaboomed and injured a shooter when chambering a round: https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2013/06/10/vulcan-v50-50-bmg-kaboom/

The moral of these stories is that if you want to buy a .50BMG rifle, trying to go cheap is a poor choice.

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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #19 on: May 03, 2021, 12:20:33 PM »

I was just thinking there may be easy way to make that screw on bolt stronger, but maybe not without increasing the cost. 

He noted that the rounds immediately prior to the last one were obviously hotter than the first.  I wonder if the first round was that hot if he would have thought more about that.
I'm thinking drill a vent into the chamber like you have on the SMLE and others of the period, who were also dealing with widely varying ammo/brass quality and power levels. Ian's video on forgotten weapons touches on some of the methods used to prevent this happening.

Back in 2014, a guy firing a Vulcan bolt action .50BMG was injured when the bolt blew out and was imbedded in his neck. https://www.military.com/video/guns/rifles/50-cal-blows-up-in-shooters-face/3223685684001

Another one kaboomed and injured a shooter when chambering a round: https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2013/06/10/vulcan-v50-50-bmg-kaboom/

The moral of these stories is that if you want to buy a .50BMG rifle, trying to go cheap is a poor choice.
I remember the Vulcan KBs, and I got that exact takeaway. A lot of ammo of questionable origins and storage, already expensive at the best of times. Don't take chances. I'm sure Scott's hospital bills were much higher than the cost of a Barrett, and that's even with a full recovery and no loss of eyesight etc.

K Frame

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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #20 on: May 03, 2021, 01:00:10 PM »

"I'm thinking drill a vent into the chamber like you have on the SMLE and others of the period"

I'm not sure that would work in a gun like the Sebu.

In guns like the SMLE, the Arisaka or the Springfield there's a lot of action behind the chamber/bolt head, making vents feasible for venting gas that gets back into the action. Those vents are there primarily in the event of either a pierced primer or a case head failure in an unsupported portion of the chamber.

In the Serbu, that screw up cap is the extent of the bold head... there's literally no enclosed action behind it of the kind there is on an SMLE, et al. It also means that, unlike most bolt action rifles, the cartridge head is fully support in the Serbu.

While I'm not 100% sure, it also appears that the mode of failure in this case was overpressure causing the cap/barrel threads to fail due to increased thrust against the threads. When the threads failed and the cap came loose there was no amount of venting in the world that would have stopped what happened.

As someone else pointed out, that's not the proper thread type for high strength.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2021, 01:20:52 PM by K Frame »
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MechAg94

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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #21 on: May 03, 2021, 02:24:41 PM »

The other option besides a more expensive rifle is to pull bullets and reload every round with a known powder load. 
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HankB

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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #22 on: May 03, 2021, 02:28:13 PM »

Venting gas from a blown primer or case isn't the same as restricting shrapnel from a catastrophic failure. Most bolt actions have an action stronger than the barrel - in fact, when P.O. Ackley was testing various military actions for strength via handloads that were deliberately made to produce substantial overpressure, he had to rebarrel some rifles with special heat treated barrels to keep the barrel from blowing off before the action let loose. IIRC, the only bolt action that failed in a catastrophic manner despite the most extreme overloads PO used was an Eddystone Enfield due to defective heat treatment.

Other actions that (from various sources) were problematic from the standpoint of shooter safety were low number 1903 Springfield actions (again, with bad heat treat) and late war Arisaka actions (some with no heat treat. Early Arisakas were among the very strongest military actions.)

I wonder about the ammo used in this Serbu blow up - since it may have been experimental, perhaps it incorporated a duplex/forward ignition system; Elmer Keith wrote about some .50 BMG ammo using this method that gained a couple of hundred FPS velocity, but it proved dangerous in oversized chambers. Or maybe the ammo had been cleaned up by tumbling - if the powder charge was rolling around loose in the case extreme tumbling may have ground down the powder to a finer consistency. And of course, undercharges in bottleneck cases can also be dangerous. But this is just pure speculation.
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Brad Johnson

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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #23 on: May 03, 2021, 03:44:37 PM »

I wonder about the ammo used in this Serbu blow up - since it may have been experimental, perhaps it incorporated a duplex/forward ignition system; Elmer Keith wrote about some .50 BMG ammo using this method that gained a couple of hundred FPS velocity, but it proved dangerous in oversized chambers. Or maybe the ammo had been cleaned up by tumbling - if the powder charge was rolling around loose in the case extreme tumbling may have ground down the powder to a finer consistency. And of course, undercharges in bottleneck cases can also be dangerous. But this is just pure speculation.

Also possible that the sabot got pushed far enough back in the case during chambering, change in case volume causing significant overpressure. I've seen warnings about SLAP rounds being incompatible with some rifles for this reason.

Brad
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Re: Kentucky Ballistics - My 50 Cal Exploded
« Reply #24 on: May 03, 2021, 05:02:17 PM »

"I'm thinking drill a vent into the chamber like you have on the SMLE and others of the period"

I'm not sure that would work in a gun like the Sebu.

In guns like the SMLE, the Arisaka or the Springfield there's a lot of action behind the chamber/bolt head, making vents feasible for venting gas that gets back into the action. Those vents are there primarily in the event of either a pierced primer or a case head failure in an unsupported portion of the chamber.

In the Serbu, that screw up cap is the extent of the bold head... there's literally no enclosed action behind it of the kind there is on an SMLE, et al. It also means that, unlike most bolt action rifles, the cartridge head is fully support in the Serbu.

While I'm not 100% sure, it also appears that the mode of failure in this case was overpressure causing the cap/barrel threads to fail due to increased thrust against the threads. When the threads failed and the cap came loose there was no amount of venting in the world that would have stopped what happened.

As someone else pointed out, that's not the proper thread type for high strength.
Makes sense... it's all about the timing, and if threads are overwhelmed before the brass can give way it'll do nothing.
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