An Accidental Discharge and the Aftermath

My brother was a little shaken up when I spoke with him the other day. He told me his story and I asked if he would write it up so I could guest post it on my blog. Well, here’s what he has to say…

Let me introduce myself. Call me Microcosm Overlord. I am the non blogging brother of the Evyl Robot. Very similar in many ways we share a fondness for self sufficiency self protection and firearms. This is my story about my accidental discharge, what a 12 gauge with 00 buckshot can do, why everybody came out unscathed, why the home has relatively little damage and why a 12 gauge with 00 buckshot is the preferred gun for home defense.

I have a Remington 870 Wingmaster as my home defense gun and as my social breakdown, attack of the zombies worst case scenario gun. I have Cut the barrel down to 20 inches, put the 3 round magazine extension on it, had it refinished in flat black Dura-Coat, made myself a nifty little sling out of some webbing I had lying around, put a Hi-viz fiber optic front sight on it and generally love on it like any good gunny should.


I had been manipulating it earlier in the day and had put it away next to the bed where it generally stays. Later I was demonstrating a feature/function of operation to my wife and that’s when instead of “chuck chuck” *click* happened, it went “chuck-chuck” BOOM. I had neglected to clear the magazine.


Let me digress. I have what used to be a completely fresh target hung on a door at the end of my hallway that leads to the garage. This target is for dry fire practice. It is in it’s specific location for two reasons. First the hall is a good 15 yards at it’s longest and secondly, I know that there is nothing of any real consequence behind that door.

My wife shrieked and realized what happened before I did. I didn’t even feel the recoil having no expectation of it. The gun had been pointed to the target on the door that is instinctual to me now. If I draw a bead in the house, the front sight lands on the target. After we had inspected the damage and found that nothing major was broken and that both of us were OK, save our eardrums and nerves, I had a good embrace with my wife and asked her forgiveness. For at least five minutes afterward all I could say is “I just did that…”

This is a slightly embarrassing confession for me. This was a beginner mistake and I know better. But I hope that it can also be a learning experience for those who may read it.


So today I took measurements and photos and here’s all the data: the shot traveled 21 feet from the end of the barrel,


through a 1 3/8” uninsulated wooden door (note that the wadding made it through the first layer of the door),


through 9 ½ feet of empty space in my garage where two of the nine pellets came to rest in a stereo head unit and one came to rest inside a rearview mirror that I was saving for spare parts.


You can see a fourth one made a dent in the sheetrock but was stopped. The remaining five pellets passed through a piece of ¼” cedar particle board,


through the 7 & ¾” of drywall, insulation and siding, where one lodged.


The remaining four pellets traveled another 20 feet


before finding their rest on the exterior wall of one of the outbuildings.


Total distance: 51’ 3.5”. Total thickness of penetration of the last four pellets: about 2” of wood all in total.


As to safety and The Four Rules, I can only fault my brother on number one: He did not treat the gun as if it was loaded, and it was indeed loaded. He obviously kept it pointed in a safe direction. He pulled the trigger when he intended to drop the hammer. He knew his target and what was beyond it. Like many other things in life, it’s all too easy to get sloppy and have a negligent discharge. But, this will only make him that much more diligent to make certain to be aware and increasingly more safe with his gun handling. It was because of his already thoughtful and conscious gun handling that this was a minor incident and not a tragic accident. If everyone was so conscious about safety, the incidents of accidental shootings would diminish to virtually nothing. He also took full responsibility for his actions and owned the situation. He even tracked down the wadding and all nine pellets. When I talked to him about it, he said that he was so rattled that all the guns were in the safe that night. He was pretty shaken up to say the least. Thank God everyone was safe! Although, he may have had to peel his cats off the ceiling…

The penetrating power of 00 buckshot out of a 12-gauge shotgun is staggering. Note how little spread the shot pattern had in the 21 feet between the muzzle and the garage door. I get tired of hearing people say, “You don’t even have to aim a shotgun.” Well, yes you do actually. But in house distances, I suspect that any form of lead coming out of a 12-gauge will be lethal with a well-placed shot. I know that I’m tempting the debate of birdshot versus buckshot versus slugs with that comment, but I just don’t see how any loading could be less than effective in the ranges available inside a typical home.

My brother is fortunate that he had this learning experience with no more excitement to show for it than rattled nerves, and a couple damaged possessions. By the time he took the pictures, he had filled the holes in the siding with spand-o-foam. The loss of an old stereo receiver, spare car mirror, and a little wood and sheetrock are far preferable to someone getting hurt. I encouraged him to share this story so that other people could learn from it. Always be very careful whenever you handle a firearm. Remember and practice The Four Rules. Also make it your business to know what your gun is capable of. Guns can be a lot of fun, and I’d encourage anyone who is able to go out and enjoy recreational shooting, but only ever with the highest degree of safety.

***To see the repost complete with pictures, click here.***

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20 thoughts on “An Accidental Discharge and the Aftermath

  1. I admit, I keep bird shot in Bruce for that very reason, in a house the penetration of 00 is a lot more than I want to worry about. Bird shot will mostly hit the drywall and burn it’s energy out there.

    I do though keep six rounds of 00 on the sidesaddle just in case.

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  3. #1 Buckshot. Less penetration through walls, 3X as many pellets, and better than birdshot for stopping goblins.

  4. thank God nobody was hurt!! I’ve never seen the penetrating force of buckshot in a house, and honestly it did way more than I would’ve believed. I have a SD shotty too, and have it loaded with T-shot and 0-buck, but I’ve always wondered how much 00 or 000 would increase the chance of collateral damage. Thanks for sharing this bad evening..people need to see this kind of stuff to remind them that guns are very dangerous tools even when you know what you’re doing.
    Stay safe!!

  5. I keep #00 in mine because its the best load IMHO, and I don’t plan on shooting my house.

    That being said mistakes do happen. Sounds like your Brother had a passable regiment of the 4 rules…tho he passed with a D. But the important part is nobody was hurt, and nobody WAS hurt because he had planned for the worse.

    I’m glad he was brave enough to share with us. This is a learning experience for ALL of us…tho him the most.

  6. Okay, I read it, looked at the pictures and have a confession, my very first thought was, “Hit kind of low right, didn’t he?”

    Glad no one was hurt and the damage was minimal.

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  10. I’m embarrassed, but I thought the same thing as ASM826 did, i.e. the shot was a little low and right. Seriously, the damage and travel is stunning. I do like my neighbors, however, I want the serious power of OO Buckshot. So I will try to use my hold out position which will have any misses or over penetrating pellets going out the back of my house and into the woods.

  11. Happy no one was hurt. I agree with a lot of what has been said but strongly disagree with this:

    “This was a beginner mistake and I know better.”

    In all my experience, I beleive this type of discharge to mostly be the mistake of shooters who in fact do know better and who have been shooting for a long time.

    All the best,

  12. Wow, Michael. Great story. Glad you didn’t try to tell me in person on Saturday. Not seeing the photos wouldn’t have had the same effect, although it was interesting to actually put my fingers in the holes.

    If your brother, without REALLY aiming, managed to eliminate the target’s chances of future procreation, imagine what the target would have looked like if he HAD consciously aimed!

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  14. Thanks for sharing, it takes a big man to admit to making a serious mistake with what could have been tragic and fatal results. It is a reminder that we should always be vigilant (or “Vee must be Wigilent” as my Grandmother used to say).

    I noted in the story, “My wife shrieked and realized what happened before I did.” They are quick, aren’t they?

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