This paper presents the results of a study into a novel application of the "stacked-shell" laminate modelling approach to dynamically loaded bolted composite joints using the explicit finite element code PAM-CRASH. The stacked-shell approach provides medium-high fidelity resolution of the key joint failure modes, but is computationally much more efficient than full 3D modelling. For this work, a countersunk bolt in a composite laminate under in-plane bearing loading was considered. The models were able to predict the onset of damage, failure modes and the ultimate load of the joint. It was determined that improved debris models are required in order to accurately capture the progressive bearing damage after the onset of joint failure. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.