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Exploding bullets are back! Well, at least in the fevered imaginations of pearl-clutching, hoplophobic columnists who don’t bother with facts before dispensing domestic relations advice.

Here’s part of conversation about the topic that’s been going on at National Review’s The Corner.

You know, Charlie, I have been looking all over for some of those “exploding bullets” I keep reading about, but I am unable to find any for sale. The reason for that is that — cool as “exploding bullets” sounds! — they do not really quite exist.

(This would not come as news to people who understand how bullets work, but never mind that.)

The “exploding bullets” thing is an eternal myth, spread by, among other sources, shoddy public-radio journalism (shout out to KERA in Dallas!). Firearms are, for some strange reason, a subject to which America’s editors are all too content — proud, even — to assign reporters who are utterly ignorant.

– Kevin Williamson in I Was Promised Exploding Bullets!

The more things change, the more they stay the same, amirite?

Just for giggles, click on over to Rolling Stone where their resident ballistic expert, Kevin Drum, as a comeback to Williamson, employed a little deft Google-fu to dig up G2 Research’s RIP ammo (trocars!) as an example of real-life — OMG! — exploding bullets.

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    • Thanx for the video link. Impressive technology. After years and years reading about WW2, have never run across anything about exploding bullets. Wow.

    • The douche who shot Reagan was using .22 LR bullets that had a bit of priming compound in the tip. Fired from a pistol they were highly unreliable and even from a rifle they were no better than a standard hollow point. Not sure if such ammo was outlawed thereafter or if the manufacturer folded because their brainfart product sucked ass.

      • If they had worked as intended, they would have fragmented when they hit the car door, and done less damage to Reagan after ricocheting into him… but they didn’t.

    • These rumors may stem from news stories about prototype guns being tested that will use “smart” ammunition that will have tiny receivers that can be triggered by the firearm when the bullet reaches a certain point in it’s travel. The idea being to launch what would be essentially mini mortars that would pass over a target hiding behind an object and would explode peppering the target with shrapnel and at the least forcing the target from behind the shielding.

      So far I don’t think it became a viable weapon system for a number of reasons.

    • Hoplophobes dont know the difference between bullets and tannerite…. so SHHH. Last thing we need is them learning what tannerite is!

  1. The .45 RIP bullets don’t explode, they open a singularity inside you, sucking your soul to Hell Event Horizon style.

    • I’ve been told that by firing two .45 RIP into each other at CERN, is how they created the first 6.5 Creedmoor.

      • Well, that certainly explains why I saw a video of a 6.5 Creedmore taking the turret off a M1-A1 Abrams tank with one shot…. must have antimatter inside?

    • Event horizon didn’t open up a singularity but rather a wormhole, and it went to a dimension of chaos not hell.

      Come on, we can’t hold lefties accountable for misstating facts on gun control if we can’t hold ourselves accountable for fictional astrophysics!

      • The chaos thing is one part of that movie that never made sense. Technically they never say “wormhole” they say “dimensional gateway”. Sam Neill’s character describes the place the ship has been as both “pure chaos” and “pure evil”. Both of those things cannot be true at the same time since evil is the absolute lack of moral behavior which, pretty much by definition, means an intentional avoidance of moral behavior. Random behavior would not be “evil” since the random nature would produce actions that are both immoral and moral with no pattern. Really, “moral” isn’t even the right word because random behavior would have no concern for right or wrong, which is what separates Good and Evil it would just be a completely random series of actions with no regard for the outcome.

        Also, it really can’t be “pure chaos” since it obviously has a malevolence about it, meaning a desire/wish to do “evil” things which it not only wants but which it acts to make happen. That requires a certain order to accomplish.

        Further, the ship is somehow intelligent and trying specifically to 1) lure people in and 2) return to where ever it went, taking those people with it. That’s not random, it’s planned behavior and therefore also not “pure chaos”. Random chaotic actions just don’t produce results like that.

        So, is it hell or just some fucked up dimension that the ship got stuck in? I dunno really, “Hell” might just be the “best” word for it in English. Near the end of the movie Neill says that “Hell is just a word. The reality is far worse”.

        Also, if we want to get really technical the ship doesn’t produce a wormhole or a “gateway”. Niell explains that in surprising detail at the beginning. It uses magnets to contain the power of an artificial black hole and focus a narrow beam of of gravitons that fold space-time until two distant points in the universe exist in the same place and time. The ship passes through that artificial singularity, shuts down the engine and space flattens back out to it’s original size and shape.

        That’s different than a “wormhole” aka a “Einstein–Rosen bridge” which is theoretically mapable in a coordinate system and therefore larger than a singularity since both ends of the wormhole do not exist in the same time and space.


        And no, I haven’t watched Event Horizion and unhealthy number of times. I swear.

        • the probably reality is that the intense gravitational stresses will tear apart any object entering past the event horizon rendering even the molecules apart.

          Depending on speed of entry the process is probably painless. It’s over in a flash.

          They might have been confused with the entry way to heaven or hell. (they might be right next door to each other due to quantum)

          Once St. Peter saw what was going on he sent them back.

          P.S. There are White Holes proving that the universe is not politically correct.

      • “Come on, we can’t hold lefties accountable for misstating facts on gun control if we can’t hold ourselves accountable for fictional astrophysics!”


  2. And as all the ballistic tests show that the “exploding” RIP bullets are less effective that good old fashioned FMJ.

  3. The link to Kevin Drum’s article sends you to Mother Jones. It explains couple of terms which gun grabbers often confuse, to help them not to look so dumb and ignorant. One thing jumped at me though:
    “Virtually all rifles prior to the 20th century required manual loading: flintlocks (think Revolutionary War), lever action rifles (think old-time Westerns), pump-action rifles (think skeet shooting), bolt-action rifles (think deer hunting), and so forth.”
    Not saying it can’t be done, but at my Sportsman club use of rifle, even pump action one, to shoot skeet is frowned upon.

    • Interestingly, the comments section is equally “knowledgeable”, giving more than a bit of a hint that anyone who actually knows what they’re talking about is promptly blocked. They can’t have facts shattering their “perfect” echoes.

  4. During WW2 on the Eastern Front, some German and Russian snipers used special .30 exploding bullet cartridges that were made for aircraft use to aid in spotting hits on other aircraft. Apparently the effects were pretty awful on gut shots. I doubt they have ever been for retail sale in the US.

  5. The only ones I’ve ever heard of are the Raufoss MK211.
    Good luck finding those. Then you need a .50 BMG rifle to shoot them out of.

    • They show up on Gunbroker occasionally for $60-$85 per round but so far haven’t had the confidence in authenticity to buy any. As far as I know, without a very reliable seller you have x-ray or fire them to determine if they are genuine. If anyone knows another way to check please post it. I check Denver Bullets daily but haven’t seen any in over a year. I doubt I would fire them myself but I have slowly gotten into ammo collecting and those are pretty interesting to me.

  6. While we’re on the subject, I had (yet another) rookie question.

    Back in 1980, when Hinckley shot President Reagan, there was much talk about the bullets he fired being explosive “Devastator” bullets. My question is, were these things really explosive-tipped, or was it just a bunch of marketing hype? I’m guessing the latter, but you know, I’d thought I’d ask.

    • Considering the gun he used was a Rohm 22lr I am betting it is a myth. I’m kind of surprised the gun held together shooting regular 22lrs much less anything special tbh based on the reputation they had.

      • I have the same pistol. It fires just fine as long as you go single action. The double action trigger pull is like 50 pounds. It fires every time. Don’t leave a round under the firing pin either.

    • I remember there also used to be rumors of “poison bullets”, where people would pack cyanide into hollow points. I don’t think that was ever really a thing either.

      • The “Devastator” bullets used to shoot Reagan were normal 22 bullets with a dab of lead azide in the tip. They were used by trappers mainly, as the internal damage would not ruin a pelt. However, they were only able to detonate out of a rifle, as they required far more velocity on impact than they had out of the muzzle on the 1 inch barreled Rohm. The 22 mag version would only rarely detonate when fired out of a 6 inch revolver.
        None of this mattered to the FBI. The jackbooted thugs discovered that the bullets were supposed to “explode”, declared them an immediate danger to the president and the public at large (despite being told by the manufacturer and the ATF that if the round didn’t detonate when fired, or when it ricocheted off the bulletproof glass into Reagan, that it would not go off), and issued a cease-and-desist to the manufacturer. They sued the FBI, cited all the reasons that blaming a manufacturer for criminal actions of people who use there product is ridiculous, and showed how impossible it would have been for a round to go off. They lost the case anyway (surprise, as it was just retaliation and security theater) and it forced them out of business.

      • Poison bullets ARE a thing! I saw Chief Brody use them against that 30′ shark offa Martha’s Vineyard!!
        “You’re gonna need bigger boolits”!

    • The .22LR were actually labeled “Devastators”. The center fire handgun and rifle ammo was labeled “Exploders”.

      As was state earlier, Hinkley used the .22LR in a handgun with a far too short barrel which is why they did not work as expected. Thank God!

      They worked fine out of rifles. You would not believe the damage they did to coyotes. Absolute one shot stops.

      The center fire .357 and 45s out of at least 5″ barrels definitely stopped feral hogs and in one case, a black bear with one round of the 45ACP. The 30.06s have dropped at least one moose and one elk with a single shot that I am aware of.

      They all came in black boxes and were packed in foam rubber. Handgun calibers were limited to .38 plus P, .357 magnum, .41 magnum, 45ACP, and .44 magnum. Rifle calibers included.223, .30 carbine, .308 and 30.06.

      The products currently being made by Firequest are not the same products, nor do they perform the same.

      Because of Hinkley, these rounds are no longer made and the ones that still exist go for a lot of money if the current owners can be persuaded to part with them. Collectors are pay $5.00 or more a round for .22LR Devastators, and $10.00 a round for a full box with original box. The centerfires are going for a whole lot more.

  7. In the warped Leftist mind,if wishes were fishes.

    Reality in the mind of the left brings us global cooling,no wait global warming,no wait climate change,when they can’t prove their warped Feelz,they just put their Fellz out there and think that’s the same as fact.

    • I am a true believer in Climate Change.

      It has been going on for at least the last 10,000 years ever since the last ice age.

      I wonder what people back then did to cause the earth to warm up?……cars, trucks, airplanes, trains? Large ranches raising herds mastodons?

      • I think you mean the last glacial period of the current ice age. The last ice age was the Karoo Ice Age – before the dinosaurs. It lasted 100 million years. The current ice age started 2.6 million years ago and is likely deepening, however there’s a cycle of glacial and interglacial periods. The glaciers advance (last time they stopped at Des Moines, IA), stick around for 100-120k years then retreat for 15-30k years. We’re currently 11,700 years into the current interglacial period. During the last interglacial period (~125k years ago) most of the Greenland Ice Sheet melted, so that would be a good bar to compare the current interglacial to.

        Anyway, the moral of the story is that sometime in the next few thousand years the glaciers will be coming back and when they do they’ll probably kill us all – unless, we can anthropogenically alter the climate and save life on earth. (Also, CO2 is plant food and before we came along it was at it’s lowest level since complex multi-cellular life appeared on earth.)

        • If he oceans start to rise, the Dutch will be more than happy to assist us with the engineering to coffer dam the coastal cities.

          And it could easily end up being a money-maker for the coastal cities. Instead of building the structure at the existing water’s edge, build it offshore a mile or two. Dredge and fill the area, and expand your city by 50 percent or more in new land.

          Personally, I think we should demand a 1 km rifle range open 24/7 on the reclaimed land, with a subway stop to service it. The coffer dam will make an excellent backstop…

        • Everything you wrote is evidence of a climate denier. Man-made climate change is settled science, and cannot be ignored, dismissed, challenged, denied. Once every scientist of importance declares we are causing the death of the planet, that is the end of discussion, end of inquiry, end of experimentation. Climate change is truth, and truth never changes.

          The sad part is that we are not using all the climate change models to predict stock prices. The models are so good, it should be simple to bankrupt every game of chance, everywhere. That would be settled financial activity.

          Or maybe we should use the climate models (or those models adapted for each purpose), and predict when we will receive the first, open, non-ambiguous visit from alien beings from way out there, somewhere.

            • “You have such a delicate touch when wielding sarcasm…harrumph, harrumph!”

              Sometimes it is a bit overdone, isn’t it? When trying to be subtle, or clever, so many folks missed the intent. Doesn’t seem to be bandwidth between outrageous, and sublime. Or maybe I just need to work harder.

        • Geoff, when the oceans rose 11,700 years ago they kept rising until they were 390 feet higher. If all of the Greenland Ice Sheet melts that’s supposed to add 27 more feet, so unless we’re actually getting colder, I’d expect another 20 or so feet more before it starts to refreeze.

          Sam, I prefer to think of myself as more ‘pro-climate change’ than ‘climate denier’.

          • “Sam, I prefer to think of myself as more ‘pro-climate change’ than ‘climate denier’.”

            Sorry you got caught on that one.

        • Gov, that was a great insight, though I disagree that the “glaciers will kill us all” when they return. Humanity did pretty well during the younger dryas and much of the world was still ice free and very habitable.

        • Barn, there were what, 100,000 people on earth then? At best? Many of these glacial/interglacial changes happened pretty abruptly, the climate completely changed in just a couple of decades. Of course it would take some time for the glaciers to actually build up, but considering that the glaciers stopped at Des Moines, you’ve got to assume the land suitable for agriculture would be far to the south. There’s 7.5 billion people on earth now. With advances in agriculture there could easily be several times that many in a few thousand years. Now, wipe out all the agricultural production of Canada and 95% of the USA, along with Ukraine, Argentina, etc. You’ve at least got a massive population crash. Sure the earth could probably still sustain 500,000 humans, but imagine the population rapidly being reduced from 30 billion to 500,000 in a few decades. There’s going to be some serious turmoil. Maybe it won’t wipe us all out, but it will reduce our population back 20,000 years and most of our civilization and technology will go with it.

          Which by the way, makes me wonder if this hasn’t happened before…

        • Possibly. But lost continents that lie 10,000 feet below the water’s surface is a process that takes many millions of years. Flooding can happen overnight though. I know threre’s villages at the bottom of the Black Sea. It’s possible there’s evidence of an advanced culture buried under the muck at the bottom of the sea somewhere. I’d stick to looking within 390 feet of present day sea level though.

    • …”but, I really, really, really believe it…” and that makes it true in their minds.

      Reminded me of a Soviet politician from my yute’…his quotes were / are surprisingly accurate:

      “The press is our chief ideological weapon.”
      – Nikita Khrushchev

      “You Americans are so gullible. No, you won’t accept communism outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of socialism until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism. We won’t have to fight you.”
      – Nikita Khrushchev

    • Trump is actually to blame for ending the ice age and killing off all the wooly mammoths! That bastard!

  8. You can twist things as much as you like but it doesn’t make a word of it true. Bullets for small arms do not explode and that includes the .50 BMG round! Anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant of reality or intentionally trying to deceive those who are ignorant on the subject. Yes, there are plenty of bullets designed to deform in soft tissue in order to transfer kinetic energy but they do not explode! Many of my friends and colleagues often wonder why these type of falsehoods are spread as they are. It is actually pretty simple to understand. In order for tyrants to dissolve liberty, they are forced to lie to and disarm the people they want to subjugate. All of the despots and dictators of the 20th Century were very successful in doing just that. The anti-gun community in he US is also the anti-liberty community and they are determined to destroy our Democratic Republic just as Hitler destroyed the Democratic Republic of Germany. The Left and the anti-liberty community wants the same thing Hitler wanted—absolute political power over subjects not leadership of free and equal citizens! Yes, I am calling everyone who is anti-liberty, anti-freedom, anti-gun, and anti-democracy, to be anti-American card-carrying Nazis!

    • As pointed out elsewhere in the comments there have been such things as exploding bullets. There were many more that were prototyped and some that were apparently used in WWII machineguns. Artillery basically consists of exploding bullets, of course. So can you do similar things in a large bullet? Well… sorta. If you don’t care about costs, reliability, or actual utility. Reagan was shot by devastator bullets that had a small(!!) explosive charge on the end. It failed to detonate, as did most of his shots, except for the one that hit Brady. But they were manufactured and presumably do exist.

  9. Little Kevin has done his research. In a massive investigation, involving countless hours spent reviewing video evidence, on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and innumerable bowls of cheerios, little Kevin has cultivated an informant. The CI, one Wiley Coyote, has provided eyewitness accounts demonstrating the greed and corruption of the ACME bullet company. Little Kevin will produce a series of articles documenting the existence and illegal use of exploding bullets, large bombs and anvils falling from the sky.

  10. Well, you “might” get a little pop if you stuffed a .44 mag JHP with tannerite. 🙂

  11. “You know, Charlie, I have been looking all over for some of those “exploding bullets” I keep reading about, but I am unable to find any for sale.”

    I don’t think those Matt Helm books you’ve been reading are a credible source of Information that would apply to the actual real world.

  12. I use to shoot some HEIT, but they were for the M242 25mm on an M2 BIFV…that’s about as close to “exploding” bullets I’ve ever come…

    • Hmmm… 25mm hand gun
      a 3d printed ghost gun 25mm handgun
      With exploding bullets
      That can shoot 300rps
      With a shoulder thingy that goes up

      This is what your mind on Democratic, spoon fed info, thinks….

      • To expand it out, because the more you know:
        “I use to shoot some High Explosive Incendiary Tracer, but they were for the M242 Bushmaster 25mm autocannon on an M2 Bradley Infantry
        Fighting Vehicle… that’s about as close to “exploding” bullets I’ve ever come…”

      • I should have included the “/sarc” line

        Poor attempt at making fun of their thought process

  13. Kevin Drum clearly doesn’t understand the difference between explosion and fragmentation.

  14. I do recall a brief period of .22LR being offered with exploding bullets. They were unreliable, stupidly expensive and it was debatable that they were superior to hollow point bullets. Making a larger hollow in the bullet to fit a tiny aluminum cup filled with an explosive also has the effect of removing a heck of a lot of bullet weight. So yeah if the thing goes off you get a small pop, but with a whole lot less shrapnel to send flying about.

    CCI Stingers (came out in 1976 I think?) out of my Ruger 10/22 ($59 new back then) were a terror on jack rabbits and other small rodent pests. Never felt the need to buy exploding golly gee whiz bangs when hollow points out of a rifle did just dandy.

    Anyway, here’s a couple of old news reports on the Reagan shooting:
    UPI Archives
    April 3, 1981
    The FBI today examined the .22-caliber bullets that wounded…

    The Exploding Bullets
    By Pete Earley and Charles Babcock
    April 4, 1981

    • Yes the exploding 22LR’s I think they were made by a Texas company. Supposed to be for armadillo, racoon’s, alligators and sometimes Presidents ( Hinckley vs. Reagan)

    • It’s amazing how non-sensationalistic and factual that UPI article on the bullets is.

      The WAPO article is notably less objective.

      Nowadays, they’d just scream “Exploding bullets! Ban all the things!”

  15. National Review’s Kevin Williamson writes “All bullets contain explosives — that’s how bullets work — but bullets that contain an explosive charge in addition to the one that propels an ordinary bullet are not considered ammunition at all for ATF purposes: They are categorized as explosives…”

    I think you meant to say “All cartridges contain a propellant – that’s how ammunition works – but if the bullet includes an explosive charge it’s categorized as explosives, not ammunition.”

    • While most propellant powders deflagate, not explode, I am unaware of a priming compound that isn’t explosive. Bullets are the part of the cartridges that exist the muzzle and go down range to hit the target. It’s fair to say that cartridges contain explosives, but bullets containing explosives are a rare novelty.

  16. I mean, while it is definitely not “explosive” since it does not include any explosive compounds, G2’s RIP ammo is at least marketed and (presumably) designed to “explode,” even if the practical end result is a lot less dramatic than it appears on an x-ray. The petals are supposed to scatter outward, violently. The word is used in a similar sense as an “exploded-view diagram.” Words mean things, and frequently more than one.

    There’s no shortage of anti-gun or gun-ignorant columnists and commenters spreading false garbage for you to roll your eyes at, unproductive as it may be. But I don’t think this is it.

  17. “Devestator” ammunition was offered in many handgun calibers and was an honest exploding bullet. It was a novelty that in essence created a marker round, since they performed much more poorly than normal hollowpoint ammunition across available calibers. I haven’t seen them since the 1990s or very early 2000s, but they did exist…they just weren’t good for much, were fairly obscure, cost a fortune, and have never been documented as use in a crime with a single glaring exception (Regan assassination attempt).

    Exploding 12 gauge ammunition was available from the early 90s perhaps through today, but is also a marking round, not really an explosive weapon.

    Somewhere I have an old copy of a catalouge that offered these types of ammunition along side Palladin Press books and other such oddities if anyone is interested.

    • Are we talking about the John Hinckley attempt on Reagan? Because he was using a .22 revolver. I doubt “devastator” rounds were available in .22 LR.

      ETA: Heh. Whaddya know. It’s a thing:


      I had never heard that was the type of ammo used.

      • Yup. Tiny little charge. Of the 6 shots he fired, only one went off- and still didn’t kill with a headshot (did maim Brady, though).

        A novelty is right… but technically an explosive bullet.

    • Hey, since when has use in crime anything to do with what needs to be banned? See “assault weapons” or if we count one single glaring exception – bump stocks

  18. I remember in the 80’s when unscrupulous friends of mine would make bullets with pistol, rifle or shotgun primers inserted into a drilled out hollow point of the correct size with the primer base on the outside. Apparently the impact was enough to crush the primer as in a reloading press to set the anvil and then they would explode. I saw the results of them being fired into dry clay, mud and dry and wet telephone books and they definitely made a wider and more jagged channel than the unmodified projectiles. Federal HST’s probably do the same nowadays..

  19. I had a guy in a YouTube comment section that was claiming he worked in an ER where a “time bomb bullet” exploded during a GSW exploration and killed the trauma doc… + please +

  20. Firearms are, for some strange reason, a subject to which America’s editors are all too content — proud, even — to assign reporters who are utterly ignorant.

    The misconception here is that there is any normal standard of assigning reporters to topics about which they are knowledgeable.

  21. There actually IS ‘exploding ammunition’ made and sold commercially, in the form of explosive shells for 12-gauge shotguns. The things are ‘EPCDs,’ or Explosive Pest Control Devices, and are used for hazing animals (driving birds off of runways, moving bears away from humans, and so forth). They are not intended to hit a specific target, but instead are fired in the general vicinity of the target to drive it away with the explosion.
    The things are light-weight paper/plastic cylinders loaded with a small amount of explosive ‘flash’ powder, set off at a flight-timed distance after firing with a powder-train fuse set off by the propelling charge in the shell. As they are explosives, they’re regulated by BATF, and a special permit and license is required to possess and use them.
    If misused, they can kill; They have sufficient mass and energy at close range to penetrate skin and tissue, and at least one Polar bear has been negligently killed when one was mistakenly fired at it instead of a ‘beanbag’ round. The thing punched into the bear’s abdomen, embedded in its liver, and exploded.

    • Cracker shells are a shotgun launched firecracker and while they can cause injury (and fires) they are less lethal than about any other projectile that comes down the barrel of a 12 gauge. Intended use is to launch projectiles in the air over wildlife whereupon the projectile explodes and scares the animal off.

      Being light weight cardboard tubes with a little powder in them the projectiles don’t fly particularly straight. This is not a problem given their intended use as an area effect scare device but would limit their utility if someone attempted to use it for lethal take.


      Notes of caution to anyone who decides to procure these for agricultural use or personal amusement: These things can set grass on fire. The barrel can not be longer than 20 inches. Cylinder bore with no choke is the only acceptable bore. Barrel must be cleaned before and after use. The powder is very dirty and corrosive. Double ear protection is recommended. Fire upwards at an angle over 45 degrees.

  22. Saw some explosive 30-06 at the Wanenmacher’s gun show for sale. debated trying some but decided I didn’t want to risk my Garand. the ammo looked pretty old.

  23. Perhaps the MSM can be convinced that it’s a safety feature for silenced guns, as it makes the gunshots audible again.

  24. Science Fiction and Fantasy is very entertaining. But is not reality. The Netflix TV series Luke Cage featured a long gun that was handheld that fired exploding bullets.

    The problem with these seriously uneducated liberals is they are repeating what they did with Die Hard 2. In that film the character John McClane said the terrorists had the “most powerful handgun” in the world. And as a result liberals actually try to ban legislatively a handgun that didn’t exist. They just knew it was real because they saw it in a movie.

    Comic book characters like Luke Cage or Superman are very entertaining. But it is amazing how many people believe they are real. Jack Ryan is a character in a book. It’s a very entertaining series of books. But it’s not real.

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