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Tex Jones, SASS 2263

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Reading a collection of short story mysteries.  In one, a variation of the locked room mystery, the murderer uses a .32 bullet to kill the victim.  He didn't use a firearm but, rather, used a pre fired bullet reloaded into a case.  He  inserted the competed cartridge into a brass pipe, held the pipe ( only a couple of inches long ) against the  victim's ear, and by means of a heated soldering iron touches off the primer, which propels the bullet into the ear ( head ).  The idea being that since there is no weapon found, although the fired bullet indicates a handgun was used, the presumed killer could not be held.  The fired case, by the way, was placed in the cap of the victim's fountain pen and was taken away when the body was removed to the morgue. 


The brass pipe would act as a chamber, but I'm pretty sure that the cartridge case would blow out backwards when the primer mixture was set off and the powder ignited.  Kind of an interesting idea, though.

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What happens when you fire a cartridge.

1: the primer is pushed halfway out of the primer pocket.

2: the cartridge case expands until it is stopped by the chamber walls. It has now released its grip on the bullet, which is just hanging there in space.

3: because the cartridge case is so much lighter then the bullet, it is forced backwards until it hits the bolt face (or if it's a revolver, the recoil shield), reseating the primer in the process.

4: now when everything else that can possibly move, has moved as far as it can, then and only then do the powder gases start shoving the bullet down the barrel.


Unless your murderer had something blocking the back of his pipe, to stop the cartridge case's rearward motion, when the powder ignited and the burning powder produced gas, the pressure of the gas would shoot the empty cartridge case out the back end of the pipe, and the bullet would stay where it was.



If he were to use a rimmed cartridge, a threaded pipe nipple, and a cap (basically making a galvanized iron inertia bullet puller) and figure out some way to ignite the primer (maybe a small hole drilled in the center of the cap so that you can get your soldering iron tip in it) - that might work.

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Reading about the limits of contenders, the brass contains the pressure provided it has support.  They also found by adding a rough surface to help hold the brass into the chamber, more pressure could be contained reducing breech pressure.  

In this case a rough pipe along with the pressure from the soldering iron might be enough to hold the cartridge in place long enough to fire.  

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Many years ago when I was little more than a tyke, I was with a few other kids, most older than me, sitting on the edge of a lake.  One of the kids had a pocket full of .22's, about 4" of pipe and something like a sterno can.  He would rest the pipe on a rock, insert a .22, light the sterno and place it under the end of the pipe.  After several seconds the cartridge would "bloop" sending the bullet about 20 yards out into the lake and the casing flying out the back end of the pipe.


When that got boring he placed a small rock behind the pipe to hold the casing in place.  That time he got a loud "CRACK", the bullet flew out to parts unknown and the pipe fell off it's little rock platform.  After that he decided maybe this wasn't a good idea and stopped.


That said, I believe it is entirely possible to fire a .32 cartridge out of  a pipe barrel at lethal velocity using a soldering iron to apply heat and some resistance to the rear of the cartridge.  There would still be powder residue inside the pipe barrel and, probably, gunshot residue on the hand(s) of the shooter.


Does that answer your question Alpo?  I mean Tex?  :D



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Don't forget..... you can enlarge the 'flash hole' to help eliminate some of the primer blow back.

And depending upon bullet weight and powder charge, it may be possible to eliminate the primer

blow back.


Some things go against physics as we understand them..... but none the less, anything is possible.




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