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As some of you may already know, I pay my bills by combining my love of art with my love of the outdoor industry – most often firearms – as a graphic artist. I don’t have much to complain about. I can work almost anywhere I can find an internet connection and I get to see and do some pretty exciting things…like the recent Midnight 3-Gun Invitational put on by Crimson Trace. But the graphic art biz isn’t without its speed bumps . . .

Often left to my own devices to find appropriate and usable image assets, it never ceases to amaze me at what I can find on the Internet when forced to troll for royalty-free images of firearms. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to make the majority of you snicker, while giving a few of you a brief recap on the science of projectiles, a.k.a. ballistics. (Yes, I realize those who need this refresher course are most likely not reading this any more).

As most of you know, when the trigger’s pulled on a firearm, the firing pin strikes the primer at the base of the cartridge (please do NOT use the word bullet here) causing the chemical compound within the case to ignite. The pressure created by this rapid combustion inside the cartridge forces the bullet down the bore and out the muzzle of the barrel without the case. I repeat, WITHOUT the case.

So there you have it folks. Please stop littering the Internet with images of these magic cartridges! Only in bad foreign films will you ever see the cartridge leave the barrel in tact, which is indeed movie magic…as are bulletproof tables, which seem to be readily available these days according to Hollywood. But that gripe is for another day.

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  1. Just a side note, now that I am done laughing my proverbial ass off. Did anyone notice in the second graphic, that the bullet is leaving the chamber, but the finger isn’t puled on the trigger. I know there is reflex here, but you would think, if it had been an actual high speed photograph the the finger would have the trigger depressed. You can’t flex your finger out that fast.

    • Yup, noted that the trigger position was not still depressed. There also isn’t any visible recoil.

      • Nor do there appear to be any combustion gases venting near the cylinder. Who’s next?

        • The shockwave left in the bullet’s wake should be visible if the bullet is still that close to the muzzle.

      • Oh yes! Noticed both and the recoil (or lack there of) is a huge pet peeve. Watched a movie the other day where a petite women single-handedly discharged a Remington 870. (huge eye roll).

        • There is a youtube video of a woman shooting a friend’s Desert Eagle in I believe .50 caliber. The recoil kicks the front sight into her forehead.

  2. Guns & Ammo has been caught printing a few fancy graphics like that themselves, including a stainless Taurus .44 Magnum in allegedly full recoil. With the trigger all the way forward. Busted!

  3. one of my favorite TV shows, Chuck, had an animation of this in the opening sequence. (Youtube it.) Killed me every time.

  4. No, no, no you guys are all wrong! You see, you take a 32 ACP cartridge and put it in the barrel of a 9mm loaded with a cartridge containing just a primer, low amount of powder and a wad and the sit back and watch the show! (Tongue planted firmly in cheek)


  5. I saw a low velocity version of that in at my CHP class. Newbie had a pistol chambered in .45 ACP but loaded up from a box of .40 S&W. Somehow the extractor had a good grip on the first round and when fired put a .40 hole in the target. Second cartridge must have missed the extractor and just kept on going through the barrel when the slide came forward only to have the unfired cartridge land on the range floor 10 feet ahead of the line.

  6. The first photo is pretty funny! However, I don’t think the second photo shows a casing exiting the muzzle still attached to a bullet. To me, it appears that the artist just did a poor job of rendering the motion blur and giving the bullet a proper copper-ish hue; it looks as if the hue is too light, making the bullet appear to look like brass, and hence this spilled over into the poorly executed motion blur (notice there is no flange on the rear of what you are calling the case). Just wanted to add that observation as an amateur CG guy (pharmacist by profession).

    • I too saw there was no rim but it was all around fishy so I figured I’d toss it in. I have several others that clearly show the entire casing but they are also littered with company logos. I didn’t want to be too harsh! 😉

  7. Awww, and here I thought y’all were talking about bullets that unleash a 10d6 fireball where ever they hit. Got me all excited…

  8. Actually, I have physically WITNESSED entire cartridges exiting the barrel. Yes,sirree.. Was at an indoor range- it was relatively dark. Shooting my 9mm and .45 cal 1911.. Accidentally put 9mm cartridges in my 1911’s magazine, loaded the magazine, racked one and the force propelled the entire cartridge out of the barrel. Didn’t see it the first few times- weapon just went click. Saw one drop out of the barrel- and I was like “huh ? ” Yep. a 9mm cartridge will fall thru or get kicked thru by the slide – none went off though.. What can I say— it was quite dark.. should have brought a flashlight…

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