.50 BMG kaboom in Indiana?

Something in this story just doesn’t add up.

An exploding round of ammunition injured a Columbus man severely enough that he was eventually transferred to an Indianapolis hospital, police said.

John Darlage, 31, of 2075 S. Gladstone Ave., underwent hand surgery at Indiana University Methodist Hospital over the weekend, and treatment for facial injuries caused by exploding shrapnel, said Chief Deputy Maj. Todd Noblitt of the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department. The injuries are non-life threatening, he added.

Early Saturday afternoon, Darlage was with a group of friends who were taking turns firing a .50-caliber, single-shot bolt action rifle when a round became lodged in the chamber and jammed the bolt, Nobliltt said.

Another variation of the story states that, “a round became lodged in the chamber and jammed the bolt as Darlage attempted to fire a shot. The round exploded, injuring him.”

The reporting is muddled, and doesn’t give any specifics as to the kind of rifle used, the specific caliber used (we’re guessing .50 BMG for the simple reason that it is the most popular .50 cartridge used in bolt-action guns; it could be a .50 Beowulf, .50 AE, or any one of a number of .50 wildcat cartridges, but I doubt it).

I hesitate to assume that the account is even close to accurate, as it would suggest that the shooter pulled the trigger when he knew something was wrong with the firearm and/or cartridge. If he pulled the trigger on a gun thought to be jammed, this was either negligent (if Darlage pulled the trigger unintentionally while attempting to clear the rifle) or suicidally negligent (if Darlage did so on purpose, thinking it might solve the bolt/extraction problem).

The possibility of a hangfire exists as well, and there is also the possibility of a failure of the firearm.

I’d like to find out more about the incident, so if anyone has more details, please share them in the comments.

In the meantime, let us hope that Mr. Darlage is able to make a full recovery.