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"We fire the whole bullet! That's 65% more bullet per bullet!"

In Real Life there are four components to a munition: A casing, an explosive primer, the propellant, and the projectile bullet. Only the last of these is expected to leave the barrel and go hurtling towards a target. The other components are either reduced to ash (as with the propellant) or removed from the chamber to make room for the next munition. Some guns keep the spent casing in a rotating cylinder, but most weapons are automatics which eject the casing from the weapon.

Not all artists understand this.

Some works of fiction, particularly illustrations, will depict a bullet in flight as being the entire munition... casing, primer, bullet and all. This is a blatant mistake to anyone who has ever seen a weapon fire.

Examples of Cartridges in Flight include:


Comic Books

  • Superman: Birthright features a scene where Superman watches bullets fly towards him. The artist was sure to include dimpled primers and manufacturer's stamps on the bottom of the projectiles. Those go on the bottom of the cartridge, not the bullet itself.
  • Batgirl: Deathwish depicts a character shooting a complete cartridge (bullet and casing combined) out the barrel of a rifle. The casing had a neck and rim, which make this even more daft.
  • Inversion: The Lone Ranger in his Dynamite comics incarnation is often seen handling or loading his trademark silver bullets. Unfortunately, he is only handling the bullet. Without a casing, primer, or propellant, how a piece of inert metal leaves the gun is not explained.
  • A cover of Wizard Magazine featured Wolverine covered in bullet wounds... except the bullets were sticking out of him, and were obviously the entire munition, complete with indentation from firing pin.
  • While it's hard to say given there may be weird things about Cybertronian technology going on, Transformers Generation 2 had a cover where Optimus Prime appears to have caught a few rounds with his face and head. As in, the entire bullet, rim and all, sticking out of his face.


  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit? a barrage of cartoon bullets become animated, talking objects. Given, the entire movie lampshades and parodies cartoon tropes. Nonetheless, when the bullets leave the gun they appear as an entire cartridge in flight.
    • Being sentient and self-propelling they can presumably be shot as many times as you like, so it makes as much sense as any cartoon logic.
  • An accidental example can be found in The Dark Knight. Bruce finds a fingerprint on a slug he digs out of a wall, despite the face that the print is mostly on the part that would be covered by the casing. The only possibilities are that the whole bullet was fired, or that the sniper is able to leave a print inside a bullet he is holding.
    • Not as implausible as it sounds. Many people who shoot a lot use cartridges they assembled themselves. In particular, serious snipers do this, since the quality and consistency of skillfully handmade cartridges surpasses that of mass-produced ones. The fingerprint could have been placed on the bullet before it was seated in the cartridge.
      • Fridge Logic on this would point out that if the bullet were fired, the fingerprints would've either been burnt off from the propellent, or rubbed off from traveling down the barrel.
        • Furthering Fridge Logic, this depends what was on the bullet or finger when it made the print.
  • A poster for The Naked Gun.

Live Action TV

  • The opening credit roll for Chuck. Possibly forgivable for the little guy riding the round, but...
  • At least one episode of the 1970s Wonder Woman series had Lynda Carter intercept a howitzer round in mid-flight -- casing and all.
  • A bullet fired by Deadshot in Smallville.
  • Shown in El Chapulin Colorado. One episode revolved around our clumsy hero wearing a wig made of Samson's actual hair. This not only gave him nigh invulnerability, but when one of the bad guys fired a bullet he caught it with his teeth. As in caught the entire bullet, casing, prime and all. The thing looked pristine.

Stand Up Comedy

  • One of Gabe Kaplan's jokes about his high school was his assertion that his school was so tough, they didn't use guns: they inserted the bullets manually. This may explain the Wolverine cover of Wizard, mentioned above.

Video Games

  • Deliberately invoked and lampshaded in the Portal 2 turret trailer, quoted above.
  • Averted in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, where guns will eject casings as they're fired (and in the latter, you may collect them to craft new bullets). However Fallout 2 plays it straight in one peculiar instance. If you take Marcus to the doctor in Vault City, he'll remove a massive amount of munitions that's ended up lodged in Marcus' thick hide over the years, and give it to you. It is all received as intact and usable. Apparently Marcus walked around with several pounds of bullets and a few unexploded grenades stuck in his back.
  • The icons for the "Deep Impact" and "Double Tap" perks in Call of Duty: World at War show the entire cartridge in flight, rather than just the bullet as in their icons in the previous game. This continues for the "Hardened" perk's icon in Call of Duty Black Ops.
  • Bullet Bills fly with their casings intact.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • Pick an old-school cartoon. Shotguns would usually release a cloud of little round pellets, but with very few exceptions, any other guns would fire whole cartridges.

Real Life

  • Apparently, AFP and Yahoo! News also do not understand this.
  • This would make sense actually with the Gyrojet, considering The Other Wiki defines a cartridge as a single metallic case housing a bullet, primer, and propellent (the bullet is the case... in this case)
  • There is a American Civil War-era bullet that resembles a typical (albeit squatty) shell. Since these are musket bullets, the whole bullet would have been fired.
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