Defect causes Savage muzzleloader to explode, lawsuit says

An Indiana man claims a defect in a Savage Arms muzzleloading rifle could cause the barrel to explode, according to a complaint filed in a southern Indiana federal court last month.

Ronald Owens suffered unspecified injuries when the barrel of his Savage 10MLII blew up when he was out shooting in November 2013, according to the lawsuit for $75,000 in damages plus court costs. He says he bought the muzzleloader three years earlier.

The lawsuit alleges the accident was due to a defect in the construction of the barrel, specifically issues with the metallurgical properties of the alloy used to manufacture the barrel. Weak construction of metal could lead to cracked surfaces and exploding gun barrels, the lawsuit says.

Owens contacted Savage about the incident and shipped the rifle to the company, which still has possession of it, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit alleges Savage knew about the defect when the model was available, between years 2006 to 2013, and that an incident that would result in injury could occur, but chose not to issue a recall or warn the public.

Savage is based out of Westfield, Massachusetts, and owns by gun and outdoor conglomerate Vista Outdoor.

Savage stopped production of the model 10MLII because of weak demand for the product and hard to follow regulations on where such a firearm could be used, writes Randy Wakeman in an undated article about the gun on hobbyist website Chuck Hawks.

Wakeman has written extensively about the Savage firearm and has been used as a “muzzleloading expert” in federal court cases, his website says.

In another piece on Chuck Hawks, Wakeman answers frequently asked questions about the Savage Model 10MLII. In one, which asks if the rifle is safe, he answers:

“Not only is it “safe,” it is the safest, strongest muzzleloader ever made. Its very design was inspired by the failure of a conventional muzzleloader that resulted in injury.”

He continues: “Smokeless powder is the safest blackpowder substitute yet devised. It is less flammable, more impact resistant, and safer to handle and store. The Savage 10ML-II has been tested to 129,000 PSI-no other muzzleloader can make that claim. That is well over 250 percent of any recommended load. The Savage 10ML-II is the only muzzleloader made that can pass (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute) centerfire standards.”