My Browning Buckmark goes Kaboom!

| December 31, 2012 | 20 Comments

Chris a veteran shooter just sent me this looking for answers, I am amazed and baffled. What happened here? Possible dirty chamber out of battery firing?

My Browning Buckmark goes Kaboom, I guess it doesn’t only happen to Glocks.

This weekend I was visiting my Brother in law, and while there I went to the range to fire off a few rounds. I was shooting my trusty ’90 Buckmark.

On the last magazine of a 4 box set, it went Bang, Bang, Bang, Kaboom! It was such a shock, I didn’t even bother to check if all my fingers were still attached. I never expected to have a kaboom from a .22LR, much less my Buckmark, which had gone well over 15K rounds without a hitch for the past 20+ years.

The gun is mostly stock except for a Picatinny top rail with Williams FireSights. I had been using a Micro -Reflex sight, but at the time it was off, as I seem to do much better without it anyway.

After recovering from my initial shock, I inspected the gun: the top rail had buckled upwards, and the extractor and it’s spring/plunger were gone. on it’s way back, the slide tried to feed a new round in, but couldn’t, so it was jammed at an angle. When I took the magazine out, a flattened head of a case fell out as well.

I turns out the round that went kaboom had blown it’s head completely off, leaving the case body inside the breech. My first thought was that the previous round had not cleared the barrel, and when the next one was fired it all went to hell, but upon inspection, the barrel was clear. When I went home, I extracted the casing quite easily using a metal pick. Inspection of the barrel using a watchmaker’s 10x loupe doesn’t show any visible barrel damage. I would have thought that any kind of doubled up shot would show some kind of damage/distortion inside the barrel, but I can’t see anything, so at the moment, I’m not sure that my original theory stands.

What could have caused this? Has anyone else come across a similar experience?

I plan on buying the extractor parts and a new rail to repair it. Should I worry about the integrity of the gun?

Here you go, Here are some pictures of the gun, and one of the extracted casing. I can’t find the flattened head anymore, I may have left it behind at the range.

The ammo I was shooting is CCI Blazer. Between me and my son, we’ve put away at least 5-6K of this stuff with only the occasional failure to fire. But never had one fail like this no matter what the brand.

Update! Chris is documenting this experience thoroughly with pictures.?
Update #2 Ammunition Lot Number=2FT508 —– The extractor is missing in one of the pictures.

Update #3 Picture of the same gun taken 3 months.

Update #4 Unfired and Kaboom Case display from the same box

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20 Comments on "My Browning Buckmark goes Kaboom!"

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  1. guy says:

    I would love to see the blown case next to an unfired case. From the pic it doesn’t look out of battery since the case appears to be full length. I would think an out of battery shot would have torn up more of the case.

    That looks like a HOT load. Seriously hot.

  2. Jay Dee says:

    My first guess would be cartridge related. The case fractured in firing; venting high pressure gas & cartridge parts. I’d contact the manufacturer.

  3. Kevin says:

    I have had 2 similar instances of ammo failure about 6 months ago while shooting Winchester “Western” .22lr in my Smith & Wesson 22A. First time it happened there was no apparent damage, all I knew was that it suddenly would not feed the next round. When I got home and disassembled for cleaning I realized that teh reason the next round would not chamber, was because the case body (minus the head) was still in the breach. The second time it happened (last of the same box of bulk ammo about a month later) it broke the firing pin. but no other damage

  4. LDBennett says:

    When the case fails it usually means that it was unsupported when the firing pin ignited it. That means an out of battery firing. The chamber might have been dirty and the slide did not completely closed and the disconnector allowed the hammer to fall.

    The brass case is not strong at all. It is only suppose to be a seal as the pressures push it against the wall of the steel chamber. When it is even slightly out of the chamber the strength of the case wall is totally insufficient.

    This shows how potentially dangerous even small amounts of confined powder can be. The amount of damage is a surprise to me.

    The disconnector should have prevented this so it needs to be inspected. The dent in the extractor slot of the barrel indicates to me that the slide had a fit problem on the frame or that the extractor was loose in the slide. It could have been the extractor that somehow dislodged and hit the rim and set the cartridge off before it was total in the chamber while loading the cartridge into the chamber. That would be like a slam fire.

    Then there is the possibility that the ammo had the wrong powder in it. I would not shoot any more of it and I’d contact CCI and have them look at the remaining ammo. Until they give that ammo the thumbs up, I’d not shoot any more CCI Blazer ammo of that same lot number.

  5. Kristophr says:

    .22lr rounds tend to fail like this, and cause kabooms when they do.

    Iver Johnson sold a rear gas seal .22 revolver specifically designed to stand up to this and contain such kabooms.

    The only sure cure for this is to use expensive match ammo, where individual rounds are all weighed before being boxed.

  6. IdahoFO says:

    Sorry to hear about your Buckmark. Thought you would like to know that the same thing happened to me last year. I was shooting suppressed and with subsonic ammo. My pistol however did not have a nice strong rail for a top strap so the end result was a bit more dramatic and I never found many of the pieces including the top strap or the casing from the last round fired. I initially thought the same as you, squib however I also saw no sign of barrel damage and I can’t imagine that one round could push another out. My buckmark was still fairly new and Browning repaired it under warranty, might want to contact them.

  7. SteveA says:

    I’ve seen everything from a Jennings .25acp to a Freedom Arms BFR in .454 casull experience a kablooey over my yrs in the firearms business. Bad ammo is the cause most of the time. The most common is 1911’s. I’ve seen dozens over the yrs & I would hazard a guess that 99% of them are due to reloaded ammo.

  8. The Duck says:

    I would hazard to guess that the recoil spring failed to fully “Lock” the action, close enough to fire, but not enough to lock, we use Buck Marks a lot, and replace springs about every 5000 rounds

  9. Dudemeister (aka Chris) says:

    Very interesting comments. Thank you all for the input.

    This morning I did contact CCI by phone. Interestingly, they do not list any e-mail addresses or contact phone numbers on their web site, only their mailing address. However, the yellow pages does have their number, so I called them.

    I talked to a gentleman in tech support and he said that they want me to send them the fired casing as well as the remaining rounds. He also said that if they determine (upon inspection) that the damage was caused by a defective round, they will pay for the repairs, so he suggested I send the gun to Browning.

    I told him that since the gun is probably no longer under warranty, and the cost of the replacement parts is relatively low ($50-60), I’ll most likely fix it myself. If the gun had been badly damaged, sure, I’d send it in, but if you consider the inconvenience of going to a UPS/FedEx depot, the high cost of overnight / insured shipping and the inconvenience of having to wait for the repairs, it’s not worth it.

    He sounded relieved and offered to reimburse me for the repairs in the form of ammo. I think I’ll probably take them up on that.

    In the mean time I send him an e-mail with a set of pictures, and I’m waiting for a response and a course of action.


  10. Lyle says:

    I had what would appear to be the exact same thing happen with a Ruger Mk II using Remington ammunition, years ago. I sent the pieces of the case and a description to Remington with the outnumber and all. They wrote back saying that their best hypothesis was a slightly out of battery shot. Dunno. I’ve used the same gun for many years after, with no problems. The extractor was fine, and there was no damage to the gun.

  11. Pman5KMO says:

    It looks more like a overprimed round than anything… the force it would take to cause the extractor to chip off the chunk of metal, and the fragmenting and other breaking…

    I have had an OOB with my suppressed buck mark, and it just made a loud pop, and the case had a vertical (lengthwise) tear in it. I have a TacSol rail on mine, didn’t damage anything other than some ‘burn marks’ that cleaned right up. Also had several case splits resultant of too much back pressure (cleaning the baffles fixed that problem).

    I have had an overprimed .22 and also a .40 (both winchester cheap bulk packs bought at walmart). Destroyed my 10/22 firing pin, and the .40 chewed the breach face of the slide and seared the firing pin in place on my XD (the .40 did not have a flash hole and the primer had small rifle amount of priming compound), it also destroyed the extractor and LCI.

  12. Patrick Watsabaugh says:

    Just an educated guess, but I would guess the pistol possibly fired out of battery. I know its rare but such an event would render a similar result. This would be possible if the pistol were dirty enough to “stick” a round in the chamber to a degree (would have to be within thousandths i would think). An out of battery discharge would blow the case head, the separation point indicating the point the case was unsupported by the chamber at the time of discharge. Gun is probably ok with a replacement rib but would send the gun to Browning for inspection, repair if necessary, and full armorer’s level cleaning. Stay Safe and I wish you good shooting! Beautiful Buckmark by the way, i love them!

  13. BW GUNSMITH says:

    what you encountered is most likely an “out of battery discharge”. meaning the round was not fully chambered and slide not fully closed. your pistol is a blowback action which does not lock up to fire. the only things that counteract the discharge of the round is the recoil spring and the weight of the slide.
    What causes this? the most likely cause is buildup of residue/dirt in the weapon. thats why its important to clean your guns, especially 22’s. take it to a qualified professional and have it inspected prior to shooting it again. then chalk this up to a lesson learned the hard way.

  14. Dave McDaniel says:

    Obviously the case head failed, but due to an overload/weak casehead or out-of-battery firing?

    Since this is a rimfire, I bet it’s the former because if the case was merely stuck to the rear by fouling in the chamber, I don’t think it would have fired IF everything else is normal. The firing pin would not likely have enough impact to detonate the priming mix without the rim being fully supported. The rim is not likely to have enough support in an out-of-battery situation. I have seen this in .22RF semiuato rifles, usually due lack of bolt lubrication.

  15. Jeff says:

    I was wondering whether .22 kBs were possible. Guess I know now. =/ sorry to hear it happened to a buckmark

  16. Scott Schoemann says:

    This IS an out of battery firing of the round. Since you were using inexpensive bulk ammo the first suspect is a dirty slide, gumming up the firing pin leaving enough protrusion to ignite the primer just before the slide completely closed. I’ve seen this happen so many times I have honestly lost count. The worst culprit is generally in the instance of the Marlin Model 60 where the owner never bothers to remove the action from the stock to clean the powder residue from the action. Ive had incidences where these rifles have come into the shop for :emptying the magazine in one trigger pull: and others where the stock literally blew apart from firing out of battery identical to your situation with the buckmark. Pistols rarely get that bad however due to the completely open action that is typical in a modern .22 lr. However it is extremely important to clean and lube any .22 semiauto after every use due to the nature of the propellants used, the bullet lube which builds up on the barrel face and is transfered to the bolt/slide face and as such to the firing pin galley, where it can cause the pin to stick in a protruding position and ignite a feeding round.

  17. Dudemeister (aka Chris) says:

    “Since you were using inexpensive bulk ammo the first suspect is a dirty slide, gumming up the firing pin leaving enough protrusion to ignite the primer just before the slide completely closed.”

    The gun was clean when I took it to the range, and I had only shot 200 rounds. I had previously fired as many as 500 rounds in one session of either this stuff (Blazer) or Winchester bulk, without a single hitch. After I opened it to inspect it, there was nothing gummed up or any accumulations of powder residue in the workings. You can see for yourself in the pics which were taken before cleaning anything.

    Then there’s the reaction of the CCI rep, who after seeing these pictures, promptly asked me to send them all the ammo I had with this batch number. I don’t think they would do that if they didn’t think there was anything wrong with it.

  18. PsycJester says:

    Any updates on this? I had what I think was an out of battery detonation today. Stuff came flying out of both sides of the buckmark slicing my finger. I didn’t have a chance to look for the case as I didn’t want to bleed all over the place. I’m planning on contacting browning to see what they have to say.

  19. Dan says:

    Absolutely out of battery firing. Probably debris caused premature ignition when it impacted the rim when the bolt closed, or debris caused the bolt to not fully close.

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