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How to Know What Might Cause a Shotgun to Explode

What might cause a shotgun to explode

All firearms, especially a shotgun, has explosive performance. The best models can punch holes in concretes and other sturdy surfaces. Despite this level of firepower, shotguns are not meant to explode. In fact, they should be immune to such hazard. But some occurrences disprove this warranty. So, what might cause a shotgun to explode?

On 2015, a farmer in New South Wales named Lloyd Polkinghome got a taste of this bad fortune. The shotgun exploded in his face when he repeatedly shot birds while he is on the field. He was using an ATA 5-shot semi-automatic. Apparently, two other farmers reported similar incidents with the same shotgun. So does it mean that the error is a result of a manufacturer's default?

Apparently, we can assume that explanation. However, blaming the manufacturer is just too shallow. We have to learn the real cause why a shotgun could go boom on its own. After all, your life is at stake here if such disaster happens!

What Might Cause a Shotgun to Explode

If you are using the right ammo for your shotgun, then there is no reason for your shotgun to explode. However, if there is a clear bore obstruction on the barrel, your shotgun has a risk of exploding. The said impedance allows pressure build-ups, especially during repetitive uses. But such cases should be rare since shotgun are low-pressure weapons.

In the realm of firearms, explosions are part of the terminology called "catastrophic failure." There are two major causes of such tragedy. The first would be an overloaded shell. You should know that overloading a shell is a good trigger for detonation. After all, powders for shotguns are highly volatile and double charged. They can quickly react especially in the event of overloading. The heat could easily ignite the powder, which would immediately result in an explosion.

If you are loading your shells, make sure that they are on the safe level. If you are oblivious about such aspect, you should just buy ammo from trusted retail stores. These are essential recommendations for your safety.

Another cause of catastrophic failure is the barrel obstruction. When we say obstruction, we are not referring to natural impedances like mud. They may be able to cause cracks but never an explosion. The only obstruction you should avoid putting the wrong ammunition to your shotgun. For example, loading a 12-gauge gun with a 20-gauge shell is another way to spell disaster.

If you commit such failure and the result is that the gun didn't fire, then you are lucky. Therefore, it is important to stop using your firearm once if you notice something unusual or unexpected. You should check your gun thoroughly to assess the problem. Do not ever fire your shotgun once its acts weird.

How to Use a Shotgun (and Other Guns) Properly

Although guns are safe to use, we can’t deny that they can be dangerous. As we discussed earlier, an exploding shotgun is in the realm of possibilities. Therefore, before you use any firearms, you should practice the essential safety precautions.

Here are some of them:

1. In using any gun, make sure that your muzzle is pointing in a safe area. Among all the safety rules, this one is the greatest. Pointing a firearm in a safe direction would remove your worries if there are accidental discharge happen. An open space with no humans and animals should be your ideal target.

2. Always think that your gun is always loaded. You should treat your firearm with respect. Even if you already unloaded it, always assume that it still has bullets inside. You just don't point a gun to carelessly just because it doesn't have any ammo.

3. When you are using a gun, make sure that your fingers are away from the trigger. In this way, you can prevent any accidental discharges. If you are using a handgun, there is an area on the top of the trigger in where you can rest your fingers. For rifles and shotguns, you just have to remove your fingers from the area of the trigger.

Moreover, it is important to emphasize that the safety of your gun is not enough. Human error can happen. So does is mechanical errors. A safety switch can fail. We have seen it a lot of times. Therefore, you should take extra precaution.

4. Also, you have to pay attention of your target that everything that is within your range. When using a gun, always focus on your target. You should not also forget the areas around it. If you fail to hit your target, there is a good chance that the bullet will change direction or bounce off. This situation is dangerous, especially if there are spectators nearby.


Your shotgun can explode. There are some reported incidents that such mishap had happened. Although it is true that all firearms pass strict quality guidelines, there are still some errors that can take place. The best way to prevent any accidents is to familiarize your weapon. Always study its component you will know how to use it properly. Moreover, it is essential to practice gun-handling etiquettes and safety for your benefit and everybody else.

Did you learn in this article? Read our other articles for more hunting information. Also, don't forget to drop your comments, questions, and suggestions in the box down below!

Jim Johnson

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