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Mythbusters did a segment where they busted the cartoon-related myth of plugging the barrel with a finger to make a shotgun explode. Click here to watch it in German (because YouTube). SPOILER ALERT! The results were predictable and certainly not to be tried at home with actual digits. In this case, neither vegetable nor turkey (why not wabbit?) nor shotgun emerged from Demolition Ranch’s experiment intact. Still, it had to be done. Note to DR: it’s high time you sold Demolition Ranch dressing. Any suggestions on what recipe he should use?

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  1. a completely irrelevant story inspired by this post:

    long about 25 years back a guy was working at a research facility in central NM. a bud kept nagging him to go to an ABQ bar called The Ranch. he finally went, and made mistake #1: he told his hard hat bros he went to the Ranch, and it turned out to be a gay bar. he caught a boatload of flak, which eventually faded away

    one day he’s eating lunch. someone points out that he had a spot of white stuff near his lip, right there. and he made his second, and massive, mistake:

    “Oh, it’s just ranch dressing”

    he had to quit and move out of town.

  2. Shotgun barrels are typically only .035 to .040″ thick at 9″ behind the muzzle (which is the “benchmark” area for barrel thickness measurements). A good European gun might be as thin as .020 to .025″.

    Typically, shotgun chamber pressures are in the neighborhood of 9K PSI up to about 12K PSI, maximum average pressure. The higher pressure rounds are often those field loads (aka “high brass”) loaded with a heavier load of shot, which is why if you want to baby a shotgun, you shoot AA trap loads.

    Anyway, back to the above video: Shotgun barrels can be blow apart with nothing more sturdy than a wad of wet snow plugging the end of the barrel. Been there, seen that in person. It made a grown man nearly cry. It was (NB the past tense) a nice shotgun. I’ve seen shotgun barrels bulged by a wad left in the barrel as a result of a squib-ish round. When you’re shooting clay sports and you don’t see your wad go downrange after a “bloopy” sort of report, stop, examine the bore and insure there is no wad left in there. This can be a special problem on older shotguns that were “tight” bores – 0.723 to 0.725″ instead of 0.729″ (at least), as modern guns are. This comes about because before WWII, the wad in a shotgun shell was just that – a wad of felted wool. This required a sharp forcing cone forward of the chamber to tighten the wad down to the nominal barrel diameter, and by making the nominal diameter a skosh tight, they decreased gas blow-by from the light loads of the day to extract as much velocity from their loads of that time.

    Today, the tendency is to “back bore” shotguns, which means over-boring the nominal diameter to 0.735″ or thereabouts, because the skirts of the plastic wads are set to expand from the pressure of the gas against the base of the wad – so you can reduce the friction of the wad against the barrel interior, thereby increasing your velocity at the muzzle and reducing barrel heating. The other tendency is to lengthen the forcing cones, which reduces perceived recoil. As a result of the higher velocities, any small obstruction in the barrel will mean that the shot cup will distort outwards immediately, destroying the barrel quickly, and the gas pressure behind the wad will finish the job.

  3. What about where Elmer Fudd points his gun down the wabbit hole and Bugs bends the barrel out through another wabbit hole and Elmer shoots himself in the @$$. Is that plausible? I’ve never seen that tested. And isn’t there another one where Bugs just ties the barrel into a knot. What about that?

  4. I’m always careful to stay at least 2 barrel lengths away from a rabbit when I’m hunting. Little ninja bastiches are tricky. While ones distracting you by jamming a carrot in your barrel the other is easing up behind you to cut your throat with a straight razor.

    Nature is savage.


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