A reader is concerned that his shotgun cartridges might cause a safety hazard

Pigeon cartridges


I am new to shooting, having gained my shotgun certificate in May last year. I am now the proud owner of a Beretta 12-bore and a Browning 20-bore. I am shooting clays at the moment to get used to the guns and improve my accuracy, but may go on to shoot game eventually when my shooting improves.

One thing has been puzzling me. When I go to my local gun centre in Exeter to buy shotgun cartridges and transport them home, it occurred to me that no one knows what I am carrying in my vehicle. It’s a good thing from the point of view of a possible break-in and theft of cartridges and guns 
if I were to stop for lunch or at the supermarket on my way home. But if I were involved in some kind of accident that resulted in me being unconscious or the vehicle being on fire, the emergency services would be unaware that 
it contains explosive and potentially dangerous material.

Symbol on the vehicle?

Should I be displaying some kind of symbol on the vehicle 
to alert the emergency services to what is in it, such as the symbol found on the slabs of boxes 
of cartridges?

If I were to carry gas cylinders for, say, a blowlamp in my van, I would have to display the appropriate symbol on the rear of it. Am I within the law carrying cartridges in the vehicle without any kind of symbol displayed?
S. Witten, Devon


Bill Harriman, BASC director of firearms, responds: There is no need to display anything in your car to show you are carrying small arms ammunition; indeed you should not as this would simply invite theft.

Anonymity is one of the best forms of security. When shotgun cartridges are exposed to heat they do not explode in bulk so I do not agree that they are potentially dangerous. Indeed, I once put a box of cartridges on the bonfire and they just melted before the primers popped and the powder burnt. There was no explosion or danger from flying pellets.

They are not called safety cartridges for nothing. The fuel tank in a burning vehicle is potentially far more dangerous. Gas bottles/cylinders are a much greater hazard and your point about displaying the hazard symbol for them is very well made. Small arms ammunition is not 
a fire hazard.

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