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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Liquid Bullets

Dear Liana,
I'm not sure if you'll know this, or if it counts as a science question, but can you fill a bullet with liquid? I want to fire a flammable liquid at an old manuscript.
Is there a way to do that?

Burning Books in Maine

Dear Burning,
I'm not an expert on weapons, but I happen to be married to someone who plays with guns quite a bit so I roped him into answering the technical aspect of this.

"The army has a paint ball type round which it's using in its basic rifle for training. It's a slightly different size and requires a different barrel. The lead of the bullet is replaced by a plastic that is filled with paint. There is less powder in the bullets, but they still hurt. As long as the liquid is not too corrosive to eat away the plastic, it is possible to fill it with a liquid other then paint.

Another alternative would be to replace the plastic with glass, but the user would have to be careful not to break it before he fires the weapon. It would also be possible for the round to break as the weapon is fired, so glass might not be a good answer.

As far a making it explode, if your character alternates a special round with a regular round, the sparks of metal hitting metal as he fires multiple shot should be enough to cover it. You just have to make sure the rounds are the same size.

Since the army does it will 9mm rounds, I'm sure it is possible to do it with other sizes, especially if you character isn't worried about killing people."

Does that help?

It sounds like you'll need to have the gun modified somehow and possibly have special bullets made.

I use a similar principle for fantasy stories filling bullets with geranium oil to ward off the fey, or holy water for vampires. But, in fantasy, you don't have to explain quite as much.

Hope that helps!

P.S. I Googled "liquid bullets" and it looks like someone is developing a liquid bullet-proof vest. That could prove interesting for authors writing a thriller who need something light for the characters to wear. I presume there's some give so it might be possible for the vest to go undetected to some degree.

There's also several articles about using guns underwater. It can be done, with the right guns. I may post on that in the future.

1 comment:

  1. Ceramics and new super aluminums could also be used; they would survive surface impact, then fragment just as normal metals do.

    The reason these aren't used for the army's training is, of course, because they would not break before penetrating skin and cloth.