Catastrophic Chamber Failure in Rifle


James M. Gannalo / Forensic Firearms Examiner ::::

An experienced hunter was severely injured when the chamber of his rifle failed and blew apart inches from his face. The catastrophic failure of the rifle caused permanent eye and facial damage and resulted in loss of his employment as a driver. The cause for the failure was unknown and incorrectly attributed to a design flaw by the rifle’s manufacturer.

A comprehensive analysis of the remnants of the rifle and cartridge components resulted in the following conclusions:

– The ammunition used in the rifle was incorrectly re-loaded by another hunter.

– The cartridge used in this incident directly effected the events leading up to this injury.

– The improper re-loading process created an extremely dangerous condition whereas the live cartridge could not be discharged (at first) nor extracted and ejected from the chamber of the rifle.

– The catastrophic failure of the chamber occurred when the live cartridge was discharged in an attempt to “safe” the firearm. Enormous pressures were created when the bullet seated in the cartridge failed to separate during discharge. This tremendous pressure resulted in the failure of the chamber and caused the rifle to blow apart, causing the injuries to the Plaintiff.

– The analysis concluded that the rifle manufacturer was not at fault in this matter.

Testimony was presented at trial which determined that unsafe firearm handling decisions were made by the Plaintiff and that the use of poorly re-loaded ammunition was the cause of the failure. The case concluded with the Plaintiff receiving a monetary settlement from a third party and not the rifle manufacturer.

For additional information, contact James Gannalo at

Categories: Case Studies


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