Bourjaily: Flying Ramrods and Broken Noses

We have discussed, recently, flying anvils and exploding turkey fryers. Here's something else not to try at home: launching a ramrod.

My friend Dave works as the range safety officer at the local wildlife area. He should draw hazard pay the weekend before deer season opens. Saturday and Sunday, the range was packed and Dave had his hands full keeping everyone's muzzle pointed downrange. However, he told me, there was only one mishap all weekend. A man loaded his muzzleloader, then, thinking he was sliding the ramrod back into the rings under the barrel, slid it down the barrel instead. He took careful aim, and pulled the trigger and sent the bullet and ramrod downrange.

Out of curiosity, I put the aluminum ramrod of my Knight rifle on my reloading scale. It weighs 670 grains (a little over 1 ½ ounces) Add that to a 300 grain bullet, 150 grains of Pyrodex, and you get a bunch of recoil. You would have to know the velocity of the ramrod/bullet combo to calculate exactly how much recoil it generates, but I would guess it at somewhere around the .460 Weatherby magnum level. At any rate, recoil made the scope slide up in its rings until it hit the iron sights and drove the scope and the rifle back into the man's nose, breaking it. Dave was able to stop the bleeding and get him patched up.

Dave said, "The interesting thing was the ramrod flew 100 yards downrange, went through the target and into the dirt backstop. There was only about six inches of ramrod sticking out of the bank."

That I would have liked to see.