I really didn't think the clip leads would make a very big bang, so I tried it.
I connected an old 125 amp meter base to a 100 amp breaker, made up a 14/3 cord with some 5 amp alligator clips, and connected the other end of the cord to a switch. The meter base was tie-wired to a pole about 5' high, to simulate actual conditions. This is important, as explained later.
Once energized, I flipped the switch on, thus causing a direct short. One of the clips blew off, sort of a nice POP, and not as big of spark as you'd expect. The end of the clip was missing, and there was some evidence of arcing on the jaw.
The reason is because the weight of the cord caused the clip to be pulled away from the meter base jaw, thus extinguishing the arc quickly.
The size of the arc, and subsequent explosion is directly related to 3 things. Voltage and current (obviously), impedance across the arc, and duration of the arc. Impedance sort of cancels current, so the main factor here is time. Think milliseconds. When the short is caused after the clip is installed, the heat from the plasma ball (rapidly expanding gasses) plus the weight of the cord blows the clip away from the jaw quickly, thus preventing the arc from growing very much.
Had the clip lead been shorted when it was installed, that'd result in a MUCH larger arc. And very likely a trip to the ER. The reason being that the clip is being moved toward the meter base jaw, and your hand is much heavier than a clip. Thus the arc would have enough time to grow. Quickly. (Remember...milliseconds). This is the reason why a circuit breaker with a higher interrupting rating has a stronger spring. To pull the contacts open quicker. It's also the reason they snap on and snap off.
I'm somewhat hesitant to post this on a DIY forum, I certainly don't want to encourage anyone to try such a thing. If you don't have a LOT of knowledge and experience, blowing stuff up with electricity is extremely dangerous. My intention here is education as to characteristics of electrical arcs. Some are easily controlled and result in little damage. Most are completely out of control, and cause considerable damage and worse, hurt and kill people.