POTENTIAL EXPLOSION HAZARD IN AUTOMATIC AMMUNITION RELOADING
To Firearms and Explosives Licensees, Law Enforcement
Agencies, and Others Concerned:
PURPOSE: This circular has been published to inform
you of a potential explosion hazard relating to a malfunc-
tioning of automatic ammunition reloading equipment.
In 1982, ATF assisted in the investigation of an
explosion at a commercial reloading plant which resulted in
the death of 2 individuals and injuries to 10 others.
Investigation of this industrial accident revealed that the
explosion was initiated by the ignition of a primer during
its seating in a cartridge primer pocket. This ignition
source from a nonaligned primer started a chain reaction
resulting in an explosion of the machine's smokeless powder
The manufacturing process of many automatic reloading
machines includes both a bulk powder feeder and a primer
seating operation in close proximity to one another.
Interviews with reloaders reveal that small explosions of
nonaligned primers are fairly common in occurrence. The
incident of the exploding bulk powder canister is an
uncommon situation but it is not without precedent; other
similar explosive incidents have been noted in the past
The Explosives Control Act of 1970 in part provides
that ... "The Secretary (Department of Treasury) is
authorized to inspect the sites of explosions or fires, in
which there is reason to believe that explosive materials
were involved, in order that if any such incident has been
brought about by accidental means, precautions may be taken
to prevent similar accidents from occurring."
It has now become apparent that the close proximity
of the primer seating operation to the bulk powder canister
could be responsible for some of these incidents. In the
interest of public safety, ATF therefore suggests that you
review housekeeping and safety procedures relative to your
automatic reloading production process and utilize every
precaution to prevent other similar incidents from occurring.
INQUIRIES: Inquiries concerning this circular should
refer to its number and be addressed to the Assistant Director
(Criminal Enforcement), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire-
arms, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, 20226
(ATTN: Chief, Explosives Division).