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Old 11-02-2014, 06:04 PM
jbrower jbrower is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: SE PA
Posts: 423
Default Had a Kaboom today. Any ideas?

Today has been a rough one. I'm still shaken up but feel better after writing about it.

A few weeks ago I acquired an 1895 Winchester Lee Navy rifle at an auction. Rifle was chambered in 6mm Navy which hasn't been made commercially since the 30's. I shoot all of my guns and this one was not going to be an exception.

In the November, 2014 edition of The American Rifleman (Page 44) I found an article on reloading for these rifles, so I acquired some 100gn 243 Nosler partition bullets and loaded up 30 rounds. Starting powder charge was 30.0 gn of IMR 4895 (the author in the AR article used up to 33grains of 4895), the Nosler partition bullet, Winchester LR primer and brass that had been reformed from 30-40 Krag. I do have a few original 6mm Navy rounds and I measured the reformed Krag brass against them and everything checked out.

The first round I fired went off fine. The recoil was mild and the bullet went downrange. Ejected brass looked fine with no signs of excess pressure. On pulling the trigger on the second round, the rifle went Kaboom. Here is a link to an album with pics:


As you can see from the pics, the case gave way at the extractor cut. Expanding gas blew the top off of the receiver and traveled down the cut-out in the receiver wall for the extractor and peeled the left side of the receiver up. I caught shrapnel in the face and left arm. Thankfully I was wearing safety glasses. A CAT-Scan at the hospital didn't show anything in my skull that doesn't otherwise belong there, so I'm walking away with superficial wounds. I have my two eyes and all of my fingers. It could have been a lot worse.

I'm wondering if anyone has any idea as to what went wrong here. That rifle cost me a pretty-penny and nearly my life so it would be nice to know what exactly went wrong.
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Old 11-02-2014, 06:29 PM
garandsrgr8 garandsrgr8 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 350

Check over some other material from elsewhere, found a report from another guy who experienced a very similar incident in trying to reload/shoot his 6mm Navy rifle. The problem apparently is that there were 2 different cartridges, both called 6mm Navy. Here is his report on his incident.

"There were two different cartridges for the Lee/Navy. One is a rimmed .236 USN and the other is the rimless 6m/m USN cartridge. I had presuemd that any rifle taken into naval service would have been in the 6m/m USN caliber. Taking your suggestion, I slugged the barrel today and got .236 not .243! Looking at the cartridge cases and the way the extractor groove is blown out, it sure seems like the chamber wants a rimmed cartridge. Now I've got chills running up my spine thinking I may have run a jacked .243 bullet through a .236 tube. This sure would explain some high pressures. "

Might be a good idea to check your bore.
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Old 11-02-2014, 06:34 PM
weimar_police weimar_police is offline
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Near Spokane, WA
Posts: 2,636


Glad that you're okay
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Old 11-02-2014, 06:36 PM
park ranger park ranger is offline
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: far western Maryland
Posts: 591

Wow!!! I am sorry for the loss of your rifle and I am glad you are ok. I thought the Lee navy case could be made from the 220 swift, didn't know the krag could be used too. Your powder choice seems about right. (I am not experienced with this case). I doubt that's where the problem is.

Brass is always the weak link. Why it blew out at the extractor, it's unsupported. Did you have headspace checked prior to firing?

Again very sorry for you.
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Old 11-02-2014, 07:05 PM
ken792 ken792 is online now
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Northern VA
Posts: 968

Wait, there are some Lee Navy Rifles with .243" bores? I thought they were all .236."
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Old 11-02-2014, 07:28 PM
budmant budmant is online now
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: NJ
Posts: 1,681

No answer to the kaboom, but glad you are okay!
45 positive feedbacks before the change
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Old 11-02-2014, 07:35 PM
dzawicki dzawicki is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 39

There was a Lee Navy that blew up in NJ, killing the shooter (he was a Sarco employee)

Davw Zawicki
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Old 11-02-2014, 07:46 PM
mike9905 mike9905 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 474

If the bore is .236 could the jacket have been stripped off obstructing the bore?
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Old 11-02-2014, 07:49 PM
juggernaut juggernaut is offline
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 84

glad you are ok. If I recall correctly, the parent cartridge of the .220 swift , which I shoot, was the 6mm lee navy. It has a semi rim. Not very pronounced, but there none the less. I don't know if the swift brass could be reworked back to 6mm configuration again, but it might be a possibility.
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Old 11-02-2014, 07:50 PM
J.R.2009 J.R.2009 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Mt. Pleasant, SC
Posts: 8,238

Man, I'm glad you are okay. Do check the bore diameter. What bugs me is the fact you got the 1st round off OK with the same, I assume, bullet and charge and the very next blows up. I'm at a loss on this one until you check the bore.
Again glad you are OK.

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