How to Lit a Fire With a Firearm

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Pablo Edronkin

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The name firearm tells us that such weapons use fire and that they are intended for combat, but alas, starting a campfire is just another thing that they can do.

A lot of people know that gunpowder ignites inside a cartridge hit by the firing pin inside a firearm, then gasses begin to expand ad propel the ammunition thorough a barrel and the air. But few people really understand the characteristics and size of the fireball implicit into this simple process, and what it can do at short range: Sometimes, the gasses are so hot that they can actually cause more severe damage on the tissue of living things than the ammunition itself. This odd property can be used in survival situations to lit fires, because the fireball is indeed, something that can also burn any other kind of things, including wood and tinder. This is not very well known because most shots take place during the day; shooting in the dark is generally more infrequent and only then it is possible to see by contrast with the dark backdrop of the landscape how the gasses behave. I addition to this limitation, the fireball expands and gets extinguished pretty fast for the human eye to see at short distances.

Military weapons usually carry a device in the muzzle that is designed to distort the shape and size of the fireball, so that at more distance no enemy soldier could pinpoint precisely the position and direction of the shots. This is also a survival tool and it is known as a flash suppressor or flash hider, and should not be confused with another implement know as a compensator, intended to give the weapon more stability during rapid fire. Guns designed for the civilian market do not carry such contraptions often.

Whatever the case, you can use a weapon with or without a compensator or flash hider with this technique; you will probably have to check that after shooting the mechanism is left clean because blockages may occur and they could be very dangerous once you start shooting normally again. Having said that, the rest of the technique is similar for all sorts of weapons, both long and short.

The first thing that you should do is to prepare one or a couple of expendient blank cartridges to act as fire starters. For that you should carefully take off the bullet or ammunition, leaving the gunpowder inside. Then place a little bit of tinder inside the cartridge and some cloth, paper, hair, etc. to act as an improvised lid. Prepare a fireplace much like you would do if you had a matchbox or lighter to start it with, aim the gun at about a metre and shoot.

If you have prepared the campfire well and the ammunition works, you will now have a lot of little embers over the combustible material, and you will only have to nurture them and make the flames grow. It is a very simple method that requires only a little practice: needless to say, be careful when handling any sort of firearm.

This video shows how big is the gas jet ejected from a firing gun.

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