Life and Death > Weaponry

Blanks or a real bullet


In "Assassin in the Attic" I have a spent shell found in the attic with a tripod.  An actor was shot a block or two away during a film shoot.

But was it a publicity stunt or a murder attempt.  A real bullet or a blank?

Is there any way to tell just from the shell?


Bob Mueller:
Usually, yes.

Typically, a blank round is crimped at the end. See the middle round in this image: Here's another example, this time for .45 ACP, a common handgun round:

Those crimps will blow open to let the gasses escape from the case, but you'll still see the "wrinkles" at the end of the case.


Actor Jon-Erik Hexum was killed when he placed a revolver loaded with blanks against his temple and pulled the trigger. Most blanks include some sort of wadding or packing inside the case, and that wadding struck his skull hard enough to shatter a piece of his skull; the piece caused massive bleeding, and he never recovered.

If this was in fact a publicity stunt, there's no reason why the "shooter" couldn't take the empty blank cartridge with him and leave a spent live cartridge.

This is an old thread now, but I thought I'd reply anyway. Someone might find it useful.

About thirty years ago, I was in the Australian Army Reserve, this was back when they still used the 7.62mm SLR. The blank rounds for them looked almost like they were made out of black plastic. They ejected out of the weapon looking similar to the way they'd gone in, except with the crimped part blown open.

They tended to leave a lot more residue in the barrel and reloading mechanism than a real round, so if you have the weapon that's something to consider.

Also, as Bob said, it's possible to kill with a blank round. During my recruit training they demonstrated the force of one by putting an empty Coke can over the muzzle and pulling the trigger. It obliterated the can.



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