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In recent South Carolina class, there was a fair bit of discussion about squib loads. Today I learned that Brandon Lee was actually killed by a blocked barrel (and a dose of negligence) resulting from an earlier squib load.

In the scene in which Lee was accidentally shot, Lee's character walks into his apartment and discovers his fiancée being beaten and raped by thugs. Actor Michael Massee's character fires a Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum revolver at Lee as he walks into the room. A previous scene using the same gun had called for inert dummy cartridges fitted with bullets (but no powder or percussion primer) to be loaded in the revolver for a close-up scene; for film scenes which utilize a revolver (where the bullets are visible from the front) and do not require the gun to actually be fired, dummy cartridges provide the realistic appearance of actual rounds. Instead of purchasing commercial dummy cartridges, the film's prop crew created their own by pulling the bullets from live rounds, dumping the powder charge then reinserting the bullets. However, they unknowingly or unintentionally left the live percussion primer in place at the rear of the cartridge. At some point during filming the revolver was apparently discharged with one of these improperly-deactivated cartridges in the chamber, setting off the primer with enough force to drive the bullet partway into the barrel, where it became stuck (a condition known as a squib load). The prop crew either failed to notice or failed to recognize the significance of this issue.

In the fatal scene, which called for the revolver to be actually fired at Lee from a distance of 12-15 feet, the dummy cartridges were exchanged with blank rounds, which feature a live powder charge and primer, but no bullet, thus allowing the gun to be fired without the risk of an actual projectile. But since the bullet from the dummy round was already trapped in the barrel, this caused the .44 Magnum bullet to be fired out of the barrel with virtually the same force as if the gun had been loaded with a live round, and it struck Lee in the chest, mortally wounding him.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandon_Lee#Death
 

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Lawyer and Gun Activist
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prop crew

I don't think a "prop crew" should be handling weapons or choosing what loads to use for what kind of scene UNLESS they are trained and/or experienced in firearms generally.

Anybody who is knowledgeable about guns would know that a live primed case, with a real primer, can push a bullet forward enough to lodge in a gun barrel.
It can also push the bullet halfway across the cylinder gap where it binds up the revolver until you get out a rod and mallet...

I'm not saying there should be a LAW about this, but it's common sense. To me, it's negligence. Don't let untrained, unqualified people load guns for actors to use to shoot towards each other.
 

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Real Blanks Dangerous, too

Speaking of actors killed by "prop" guns or blank rounds....

.... consider Jon-Erik Hexum.

A former male model and rising action movie star, killed by a contact-distance blank shot from a .44 magnum. (he was playing a game of Russian Roulette with this blank round, and he put the muzzle to his own temple and pulled the trigger, while joking around on the set but NOT while filming any scene)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon-Erik_Hexum

Shortly after this happened, a local Atlanta TV news crew did a demonstration at the On Target range in Marietta, using a .44 magnum revolver, a blank cartridge, and a watermelon. The watermelon was badly damaged.
 

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I have never believed a word of that story. I think the gun had a live round in it an I think the story is what they came up with to explain why they had live rounds on a set an how he got shot with one. No way the whole crew did not hear a squib load go off in a small room when they expected to hear a click. An no way thole crew shrugged that off.
 

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I've seen it first hand once and heard about a second occurrence - in a Redhawk the primer will only send the bullet (240 grain iirc) far enough to lodge between the cylinder and the barrel making cylinder rotation and a second shot next to impossible.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
I don't think a "prop crew" should be handling weapons or choosing what loads to use for what kind of scene UNLESS they are trained and/or experienced in firearms generally.
As I understand it, the prop crew generally is experienced and trained in the weapons being used and acts as the "RSO".

In the behind the scenes for The Walking Dead that I have watched, the prop crew hands the actor their weapon, the scene is shot, they then retrieve it back to inventory. That happens with edged weapons as well, because they often switch between non-lethal mock ups and actual weapons depending on the specific scene being filmed.

That said my experience is limited to publicity video and reality may vary.

An interesting video
 

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good video

AtlPhilip, good video. Thanks for finding that.

It sounds like a good theory that is consistent with the evidence and how people behave.

If somebody had inspected the bore of the revolver to make sure it was clear after that "pop" was heard when using the "dummy" rounds....

... if somebody had inspected the bore of the revolver before allowing somebody to shoot a blank round at an actor from fairly close range... (just to check and make sure there wasn't any sort of obstruction there... a section of cleaning rod, a bore brush, a bug's nest...)

But I'll admit that I don't always check the bore of a gun before I shoot it. I assume the bore is clear, even if I don't know if it's dry, lightly oiled, very oily, or very dirty.
 

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I own a Redhawk and have had squib loads. The bullet base is usually 1/4 inch into the forcing cone/barrel. I kept the last squib bullet I extracted from the barrel to remind me to constantly check my powder feed when reloading.



As for Brandin Lee and his death, my understanding is there were so many guns on the set that waiting for the arms master was slowing things down so the director just had him work with "live" guns and had unloaded ones treated as normal props.
 
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