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Newsgroups: sci.military.moderated
From: (Roger Fleming)
Subject: Re: What's the name for explosive bullets?
Date: Sat, 22 Jun 1996 23:06:37 GMT

From (Roger Fleming) (Ken Marsh) wrote:

> Dum-Dums were developed by the Dum Dum Arsenal in India to improve the
> stopping power of the then-new .303 British ammo. Of course, they were
> outlawed more than 20 years later by the Geneva Accords, for military
> use anyway.

Just a technical quibble:
Expanding and explosive projectiles for small calibres were prohibited by
the Hague Convention of 1896. The various Geneva Accords (first one in the
1920s) deal with the rights of prisoners of war and non-combatants. It is
interesting to note that the expanding/explosive bullet rule is almost the
only part of the Hague Convention that hasn't been widely violated. Many
nations - notably the US - are not signatories, although some lawyers
consider the Convention to bind _all_ nations, including non-signatories.

> I guess so-called "micro-shells" are possible, but they would if
> they were mostly composed of explosives, they would be ballistically
> inferior to typical bullets. A very small amount of explosive would
> put them into the fragmenting category.
> Being ballistically inferior would limit them to short-range use,
> where a SMG would do the job better, with less risk to the user.

Curiously, one of the few examples of an explosive small arm projectile
actually seeing service, was intended for marksmen. It was invented in the
late nineteenth century (can't recall when exactly) for shooting at
artillery limbers and hopefully igniting their magazines.

"A very small amount of explosive" could still significantly increase a
projectile's damage potential. As a quick example, a 10% TNT projectile
has a better density than bismuth, but at 350 m/s its available energy is
roughly double that of an inert lead projectile. This could represent
performance from a pistol, or at extreme ranges. Using tungsten to make up
the density would allow more explosive content and even more dramatic

The real problem (apart from legality) is fuzing - the fuze, apart from
being tiny and able to resist powerful shocks, must cause the explosive to
function at exactly the correct depth in the target. It must also be
nearly 100% reliable, to avoid unexploded projectiles lying around, and
safe in fires. It has been suggested that the Raufoss system might be able
to achieve this, but it is doubtful if it is worth it (lead cored
projectiles work fine, and cost only a few cents each), quite apart from

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