A reader wonders if they create a potential explosive hazard in a vehicle. Bill Harriman advises.

Q: I’m relatively new to shooting, have my shotgun certificate and I’m really enjoying my new sport . However I’ve been wondering what the law is on transporting shotgun cartridges safely when I am in my car. After all, they are potentially explosive and I know that airlines limit the quantity that can be carried and that cartridges have to be in checked-in luggage. 

It occurred to me that when I buy shotgun cartridges in my local gun centre and drive home with them nobody knows what I am carrying in my vehicle. Obviously that’s a good thing if I were to stop for lunch or to go shopping on the way home as if my car was broken into or stolen nobody would know they were there.

But what if I was involved in a car accident that resulted in me being unconscious or the vehicle being on fire? The emergency services would be unaware that 
the car contained explosive and potentially dangerous material.

Would it be best to display 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?

A: There is no need to display anything in your car to show you are transporting shotgun cartridges or small arms ammunition. In fact, you definitely shouldn’t as it would alert thieves.

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. Transporting shotgun cartridges  is not 
a fire hazard.

You also don’t need a shotgun certificate to transport shotgun cartridges, only to buy them.