Video: What Happens When a Shotgun Fires Without the Barrel

What I love the most about this video is that you can see the pressure building up behind the load before the casing finally bursts. It’s a great illustration that gasses, not an explosion, propel the projectiles down the barrel. There’s an old myth that a shotgun shell doesn’t have enough power to penetrate a cardboard box if it goes off outside the chamber, and this seems to add some plausibility to the argument. Either way that’s some great slow motion video right there.

[h/t hoboguy7996]


  1. avatar Dave J says:

    Yes it also appears that a large percentage of the powder charge never ignites.

    1. Presumably due to the lack of a supporting chamber. Had the case not burst, I assume much more of the powder would have burned.

      It would be very interesting to see what a metallic cartridge would do, both held in place like this one, and “loose” (like a cartridge that was dropped and had its primer hit hard enough to go off).

      1. avatar matt says:

        Mythbusters had a episode where they put a bunch of rounds in a fire, the bullets went flying, but not with enough energy to penetrate a wood board, even the 50BMG. I dont recall what happened to the brass, it may have fragmented. There is also a post on arfcom of some guy who had a round go off when he dropped it in to a bucket of rounds, the case fragmented and the bullet was lodged in the ceiling. I doubt a metallic round being held against the breach face solely by the extractors, similar to this shotgun, would act any different.

  2. avatar Joseph Bush says:

    My only experience with that was a childhood friend of mine who decided it would be a great idea to throw a rock at a 9mm round until it went off. Once the round went off the projectile barely penetrated under the skin of his inner thigh. He did bleed a little and was scared half to death but no permanent damage occurred.

  3. avatar Ralph says:

    When I was a just a mischievous tyke, my friends and I decided to rap primers with a hammer and nail. We got a nice bang, but not much else. Then we did the same thing, but instead holding the cartridge in a plier or vice, the cartridge was placed in a pipe. The bullet went through a wall. Not just a sheetrock wall, no. It was an old house and the wall was made of plaster, wood lathe, chicken wire and horsehair. Viola, the zip gun was born.

    1. avatar BLAMMO says:

      As kids, we would put a .22 short or LR in the jaws of an ordinary pair of pliers and smack the butt with a hammer. (Never tried it with a center fire cartridge.) We never got hit with a ricochet and the bullet never really penetrated much of anything. I didn’t do it more than 2 or 3 times because, even at age 11, it seemed somewhat unsafe and totally pointless.

  4. avatar GS650G says:

    Most of that was done by the primer. This proves that the primer is a major factor in the pressure numbers you see for reloading. Substitutions of different primers is not recommended and for good reason.

    1. avatar matt says:

      Primers although important, arent really a major factor compared to things charge weight, length of the bullet, cartridge length, case capacity, etc. German Salazar did some testing with a Oehler 43, different large rifle primers varied the pressure by 4600psi in 30-06. This included both standard and magnum primers.

  5. avatar Pete says:

    Big question: Has the ATF arrested the people who shot the video for making a “short-barreled shotgun”? Even if it has no barrel?

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