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Old WWII Ammo

grizgriz Member Posts: 425 ✭✭
edited January 2012 in Ask the Experts
I have a live 50 caliber round found in a box of my parents stuff when cleaning out their house. My guess is that this 50 caliber ammo was picked up on a WWII bombing range near where they lived judging by the St Lois Arsenal 1942 head stamp. It is in remarkably good shape with just a little corrosion on the brass on one side.

I have seen some photos on the net where some of this old ammo has been cut apart and the powder has turned into a bit of a mucky mess.My question is this - is their any danger from this old deteriorating powder self igniting?

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    AmbroseAmbrose Member Posts: 3,173 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
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    charliemeyer007charliemeyer007 Member Posts: 6,579 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    +1 Ambrose. I would add that some of the speciality ammo might not respond well to mishandling such as spotter rounds, armor piercing incendiary tracer and the 20mm and up stuff can pack TNT.
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    Laredo LeftyLaredo Lefty Member Posts: 13,451 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Neither .50 BMG or 20mm are loaded with TNT. TNT is an explosive, not a propellant powder.
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    11b6r11b6r Member Posts: 16,588 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    The standard .50 BMG cartridge is no more of a hazard than any rifle or pistol cartridge. No, they do not "self ignite". Larger ammuntion, such as SOME 20mm ammo, may have a small high explosive bursting charge in the projectile (usually PETN, not TNT). It is not the propellant, but a separate charge. It is rare to find those out in the civilian world-not unheard of, just uncommon.


    EDIT to save room on postings

    There WAS a .50 cal spotter/Tracer round made to be used with the 106 Recoiless rifle that DID have a bit of phosphorus in the tip of the bullet. These are very uncommon- it is a MUCH shorter cartridge case than the .50 BMG, and the bullet has a distinctive red and yellow marking at the tip, which is hollow. NOT 1942 vintage.

    Photo of a .50 Spotter round and a .50 BMG round- http://media.photobucket.com/image/50 cal spotter round/1911canebrake/ammo/ebf1755bcbe9eae29cfaeac693b3019c.jpg

    There IS a .50 Raufoss round that has a bullet with an explosive center, but think THAT started in 1994, not WW 2. White and green tip. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raufoss_Mk_211
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    wpagewpage Member Posts: 10,204 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Carefully remove the projectile and dump out powder.

    Makes for a nice paperweight.
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    lew07lew07 Member Posts: 1,055 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Whoa Guys!!!! Doesnt some of these have unstable phosphurous or similar in the tip?[?]
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    tsr1965tsr1965 Member Posts: 8,682 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by lew07
    Whoa Guys!!!! Doesnt some of these have unstable phosphurous or similar in the tip?[?]


    Not in the least! You been watching too much TV, and or listening to the wrong forum member's. The 50 BMG is nothing but an upscaled 30-06, and the most damaging tip/projectile they have for it is tha armour piercing incinderary tracer(APIT). Just like 30-06 has had ammunition laying around since 1906, so has the 50 BMG since it's introduction. There might be some mercurious nitrate in the primer, but all that will do is eat your brain, or barrel.


    Best
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    mcasomcaso Member Posts: 1,120 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    wpage said "Carefully remove the projectile and dump out powder." A very good idea. BUT DO NOT attempt to detonate the primer as someone could get hurt. Find someone to remove it!
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    tsr1965tsr1965 Member Posts: 8,682 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by mcaso
    wpage said "Carefully remove the projectile and dump out powder." A very good idea. BUT DO NOT attempt to detonate the primer as someone could get hurt. Find someone to remove it!


    After the projectile, and powder are removed, spraying a good amount WD-40(1/2 ounce) into the case, and leaving it sit upright for 24 hours, should make the primer inert.

    Best
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