SHOOTING OLDER RIFLES AND GLENN'S ACCIDENT

Discussion in 'Military, Military Inspired Weapons, and C&R' started by Doug Bowser, Nov 11, 2016.

  1. Doug Bowser

    Doug Bowser Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2016
    Messages:
    51
    Location:
    Mississippi
    SHOOTING OLDER RIFLES AND GLENN'S ACCIDENT


    I am of the opinion that the older rifles are not to be fired with loads as hot as factory. I had a Good friend Killed when he fired a Winchester 1895 Lee Navy in 6mm Lee caliber. The rifle was in excellent shape and he assumed too many things about his reloads.

    1. He used a .243" jacketed bullet. The bores vary and his measured .236" groove to groove.

    2. .220 Swift was used to form 6mm Lee brass. The 6mm Lee is the parent case for the .220 Swift and it is much smaller in diameter than the .243 Winchester.

    3. He used a .243 Winchester starting load of IMR 3031 in the 6mm Lee. The case capacity for the .220 formed to 6mm Brass was a great deal smaller than the .243, even though they looked similar on the outside. He may as well have used a full working load for the .243 Winchester in a 100 year old marginally strong rifle.

    He ignored danger signs when the bolt would not open when he fired the rifle. He had to open the bolt with great force. Glenn was not ignorant of the danger signs, he had a lapse of usual behavior and he died for it. When I get an older smokeless powder rifle with a really clean bore, I usually slug the barrel, mold & size bullets .001" over bore diameter, check the headspace and make a cast bullet load with no more than 8 gr Unique in a bottle necked HP rifle round. If I get good results I might slowly work up a load with 2400 Powder, for a more powerful load. Starting low and working it up to working pressure. 1600-1800 fps is usually my goal and I always fire all rounds through a chronograph, watching for pressure signs.

    As I said, take it easy with older smokeless rifles such as: 1892-99 Krag, Low number 1903, Lee Navy 1895, 1888 Commission Rifle, Early Long Lee-Metford rifles (some of which were proofed for compressed Black Powder) and 1889 Schmidt-Rubin to mention a few. The Swedish 1889 Rolling Block in 8x58R Danish is a Remington 1868 model fitted with a new breech block. I would fire it but with cast lead and light loads. The rifle looks modern with it's streamlined front sight and new stocks but it is based on a receiver that is 146 years old. Don't ever assume anything.

    I have report from a man on the scene of my friend's accident. I talked to him over the phone and he asked me to pass on his report whenever I get the chance. Glenn Deruiter was the parts manager of SARCO Inc. in New Jersey. I was a telephone and email friend to him for 15 years. If I needed an exotic part, I would call Glenn and he would find it and send it to me with a bill. He sent me photographs of exotic military rifles to add illustrations to my Swedish Book. He was always trying to help other shooters. In every way he was a great guy.

    I am not all knowing nor do I have all the answers in reloading but I wish every day that Glenn would have called me about reloading the Lee Navy. I would have given him the advice I wrote about in the beginning of my post. Here is the story of his accident. It is quite upsetting to me.

    GLEN DERUITER’S ACCIDENT

    I'm cross-posting this to all the email lists that have mentioned this incident (that I'[m subbed to). Some have had accurate pieces of info, some have not. Since I was there, I want to let everyone know what happened, as I saw it. There are some lessons in this and in the hope that Glenn's death not be in vain, I will present them so others will not make the same mistakes that Glenn fatally made.

    I was at the Easton Fish & Game on Saturday, taking a Defensive Shooting class. During a break in our class, someone came down from the 100yd range and said, "Does anyone have a cellphone? Someone call 911. A guy shot himself. I think he's dead." I looked down and saw a cellphone on the table. I dialed 911 and handed the phone to someone standing next to me and took off around the corner to see what happened.

    I was one of the first to arrive at the scene. Glenn was lying on his back, bleeding from a single wound to the center of his forehead. A quick survey of the scene showed his rifle in two pieces, looking like it separated at the receiver ring. I knelt down to Glenn and check for a pulse. I easily found the pulse in the carotid. A couple quick shouts to see if he were conscious were futile and he wasn't breathing so I pulled the jaw down and pushed the tongue down to open the airway. He took in a deep raspy breath. I then moved to the forehead. I gingerly felt the open wound for protruding metal. Finding none, I began to apply pressure to the wound. About this time, Pete showed up and immediately began to assist. For the next 12 minutes, Pete maintained his airway and I kept pressure on his forehead to stop the bleeding. He was unconscious the entire time, most likely from the initial explosion. Pupils were dilated and fixed for the entire period as well. When Pete & I handed him off to EMS, Glenn was still breathing on his own and had a good heartbeat.

    After EMS took Glenn away, I began to examine the scene. Mixed in with the blood was brain fluid. This meant the skull was breached. Since there was no exit wound, this meant that either there was piece of metal inside the brain area or he had been dealt a glancing, ricochet type blow that had cracked the front of the skull. It looked like he lost about 1.5 to 2 pints of mixed fluids.

    I looked at the pieces of the rifle. The barrel metal was completely intact, with the expended cartridge still in the chamber (more on that later), and the wood was badly splintered. It didn't take long to see that the receiver had failed. The upper half of the receiver ring was missing as were tops of the rails for about 1-2". Upon closer examination, the metal showed an obvious crystalline fracture, with the outer edge areas of the ring and maybe 1/2" back showing stretching/tearing, rather than crystalline breakage. The missing metal was nowhere to be found, although some wood splinters were recovered. The bolt would not return to battery. I couldn't tell if the bolt had been completely in battery when the round was fired but I am unfamiliar with the Lee so I don't know if it is possible to fire a round when the bolt is out of battery.

    I then turned my attention to the barrel. The brass was stuck in the chamber. There was a hole in the brass, in the extractor area. The primer was missing, the base of the cartridge was blackened and slightly bowed out into a convex shape. Surrounding the hole in the brass was obvious flow into the unsupported area of the extractor. The semi-rimmed brass was now obviously rimmed. Obvious, major headspace problem. Obvious, major
    overpressure situation.

    Looking through the barrel, I saw that it was plugged. Obtaining a rod, I slid in down the muzzle until it stopped. Marking the length with my thumb, the obstruction was at or near the end of the chamber. A shake of the barrel was silent. Driving the rod into the barrel to drive out the brass took a few sharp strokes, the first couple feeling like something was wedging in the barrel. After popping out the brass, I inspected the barrel. It was free of bulges and the barrel actually looked quite nice - dark but with strong rifling. The chamber was in good shape as well, with no obvious deformities. Examining the brass, I immediately noticed that the bullet had never left the barrel because I had driven it back into the powder area of the brass when driving it out and that it was what I had felt for the first couple blows. I did not notice any rifling marks on the bullet but could not see it that clearly inside the brass.

    I next turned to the shooting table, where Glenn had his box of ammunition. Glenn was apparently testing handloads because he had a few pieces of paper with different loads written on it. I recall them being 30gr or so of IMR powders but don't remember the numbers (I'm not a big reloader) with 100gr and 150gr bullets (Hornady and Speer). I do recall that one of the loads was 11gr Unique. Looking at the ammo in the box, I realized that the fatal shot was his second as there was only one previously expended round. Picking it up, it was obviously deformed as previously described: obvious brass flow into the extractor area, blackened & rimmed base, missing primer, except no hole in the brass. Looking at this first round, I have to wonder how hard it was to extract. It looked
    like a hammer-beater to me. And that's as far as I got before the police started to impound everything.

    It wasn't until later that I found out that when Glenn was taken to the hospital, x-rays revealed that a piece of metal 40mm on its long side had penetrated the brain, ending its straight though travel at the rear of the skull; destroying his sinus cavity in the process.

    Lessons: It doesn't matter how much experience you have, if the brass is obviously deformed, stop shooting. If something looks wrong, it's most likely because it is.
    Resist the temptation to take "just one more shot". Figure out what's wrong FIRST.
    Always have a first-aid kit with you.
    Always have latex gloves with you.

    When you go shooting, make sure that EMS knows how to get to you, wherever you are.

    A cellphone is no longer a luxury. If it works, it can shave valuable minutes off the emergency response time.

    Glenn didn't need to die. From what I've read about him over the past couple days, I wish I would have met him in better circumstances, he sounded like a helluva guy. He was smart enough to notice that there was a problem. He either wasn't paying attention and missed it or he choose to ignore it; and continued shooting. Learn from his mistake.

    No fancy closing words here, just a reminder that this is a dangerous sport and to be careful out there.


    Kurt Feltenberger

    PS: This combination was dynamite.
     
    NoKimberDave and daleo8803 like this.
  2. daleo8803

    daleo8803 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2009
    Messages:
    1,188
    Location:
    rock hill sc
    Very good read.

    Had a guy at the range one day mix up his rounds. He forced the wrong round into the wrong gun and it went boom. Lucky for him it just cut his cheek good.

    Always be safe guys!!!!!
     
    rskahle likes this.
  3. angerhater

    angerhater Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2013
    Messages:
    687
    Location:
    charlotte
    thanks for the warning to be vigilant . so sorry to hear of the consequences this created
     
  4. Meckmeister

    Meckmeister Club Subscribed Club Subscribed

    Joined:
    May 3, 2012
    Messages:
    1,164
    Location:
    Charlotte
    Thanks for sharing your experience. I think this is valuable information for anybody reloading for rifles, modern or early mfg'd. Important to know how to work up charges for individual guns.
     
  5. Climberman

    Climberman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2014
    Messages:
    2,549
    Location:
    Gone
    I am sorry to read about an accident like this but thank you for posting it. Hopefully, we can all walk away with a lesson hard won by another.
     
    ScottR likes this.
  6. nbkky71

    nbkky71 Registered Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2007
    Messages:
    1,754
    Location:
    Davidson, NC
    I remember reading about that accident on other forums when I was interested in the 6mm Lee. That happened quite a while ago, but the lessons learned still echo true. Sorry for the loss of your buddy.

    On an aside, there was an article dating back to 2010 where a Marine discovered a 6mm Lee rifle hidden at the Camp Pendleton museum. The rifle was donated and cataloged as an "M14" and then put into storage. A sharp-eyed clerk discovered the rifle. Lord knows how long them gem sat in storage.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. ERE99

    ERE99 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2009
    Messages:
    2,034
    Location:
    Conover, NC
    Sad story. A reminder to check and double check when reloading for anything.

    On a side note. Who uses unique and 2400 in a rifle? Never heard of that before
     
  8. Doug Bowser

    Doug Bowser Registered Member

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2016
    Messages:
    51
    Location:
    Mississippi
    Unique and 2400 are used for light laded cast bullet loads but they are loaded a lot below the full case capacity. Approximately 20 gr 2400 or 7-9 grains Unique.
     

Share This Page