Ballistics Expert Analyzes Catastrophic Malfunction Caused by Reloaded Ammunition

Joseph O'Neill

Written by
— Updated on June 21, 2016

Ballistics Expert WitnessThis case involves a malfunction of a handgun that resulted in serious injuries to the operator. The plaintiff rented a 9 millimeter pistol at a shooting range that he visited regularly. He went onto a stall in the shooting range and loaded several rounds of ammunition that had been reloaded by a prominent ammunition supplier into a factory issue magazine. He fired several rounds of the ammunition without incident, until he felt an impact and sharp pain in his left eye. The gun slide had split in half, and a piece of the broken slide deflected and hit him in the left eye. The Plaintiff claimed that the gun sounded much louder than it should have been at the time of the malfunction. As a result of the impact, the patient suffered serious injuries, and was forced to undergo surgery to repair his eye. Nevertheless, the Plaintiff has continued to suffer from a loss of vision in his left eye. The Plaintiff alleged that the reloaded ammunition was defective, causing the gun to malfunction catastrophically.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you have familiarity with reloaded ammunition?
  • 2. Could a defect in the ammunition have caused a malfunction of this nature?

Expert Witness Response E-006690

I am an attorney and a third generation gun smith who has been analyzing firearm ballistics for over 15 years now. I have seen a number of issues with this series of weapons, with some of the weapons in this range having been recalled a few years back. I have worked on numerous cases where parts of a gun have exploded or split, and am working a on similar case with a shotgun that split and cased damage to an individual’s face. I have previously worked for a commercial re-manufacturer of reloads, like the ones described, and can give an opinion about the conditions these reloads have been made under. There is a possibility of ammunition being loaded with too much propellant, which can cause a dangerous amount of pressure to build in the chamber and/or barrel of the gun, resulting in a catastrophic malfunction similar to the one described in this case.

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