Dum Dum Bullets

Lots of talk on the internet and media about the Norwegian killer using “exploding bullets.” I’m going to bet this is not the case, and this is an instance of Norwegian doctors not having a lot of experience treating gunshot wounds. Most rifle rounds are going to fragment and cause horrific wound channels.

The term dum dum bullet is somewhat antiquated, and to use it to describe modern JHP ammunition is not really correct. The name comes from the Dum Dum arsenal, near Calcutta in British India, where they were invented. Their inventor was Neville Bertie-Clay. The bullet he invented is today what we would call a soft tip, or soft point, which is now commonly used in hunting, but rarely used for police or civilian self-defense rounds.

It’s been disheartening but not surprising watching how ignorantly the press is misconstruing what “Dum Dum” bullets actually are. They are, essentially, common hunting rounds. They do not explode inside the body. Rifle rounds, traveling typical speeds of about mach 2.5 to mach 3, generate enough energy to cause horrific wounds in their own right. That’s why they are used in hunting.

13 thoughts on “Dum Dum Bullets”

  1. Has anybody else heard much about the firearms which this Anders Behring Breivik guy used on this island camp? The media has been saying it was some type of full-auto weapon and a rifle, but just like the “special bullets” reportage, I don’t have much faith in the accuracy of reporting on what weapons were used.

    I also read an Associated Press article which made the claim that police officers in Norway normally don’t carry firearms on patrol. I doubt this also.

  2. It’s not the bullets, it’s not the gun, it’s not violent video games, it’s not Ted Kaczynski’s inspiration… It’s the man. Blame the shooter.

  3. The lack of detail & apparent lack of knowledge about the firearms is actually kind of surprising since Norway has universal conscription. Everybody there older than a teenager is likely to be familiar at least with fully-automatic rifles.

  4. Dum-dum is an antiquated reference to any expanding bullet. While I am not quite sure what they mean by “dum-dum” bullets, I am not quite sure they know what I mean by “dum-dum” media.

  5. Sounds like the press uses Lethal Weapon 2 as it’s fact check source for ammunition terminology.

  6. Remember that Norway is big game country and the docs have much experience patching up people wounded with hunting rifles and ammo. The doctors who have operated on the victims say they are essentially finding dust instead of a bullet or bullet fragment. Instead of the fragments typical of lead hunting bullets the dust is so fine they cannot find it on X-rays. The doctors suspect the ammunition used was loaded with the same sort of frangible bullets air marshals use in airplanes. As far as the weapon is concerned, the only eyewitness so far says it was a “green machine gun,” and a “German soldier” says it was a fully automatic weapon.


  7. His manifesto talks of using dum dum bullets and avoiding lead. Maybe that is where they got it from? He also discusses types of weapons.

  8. Exploding bullets?!?! How come I can never find all this cool stuff at my guns stores or gun shows, like the grenades in the pictures of confiscated weapons in Mexico.

    Dann in Ohio

  9. The phrase “dum-dum bullet” is ancient history from the anti-gun & perceived-racism crowd.

    Reference: in 1976 (give or take a year), when Sheriff Lee P. Brown was appointed as Multnomah County Sheriff in Portland, Oregon, he gave a news conference, and some reporter for the Skanner, a ghetto weekly, asked him if he was going to ban the deputy sheriffs from carrying “dum-dum” bullets. We deputies had just started carrying 158-gr Federal JSP in 4/6″ service revolvers, and 125-gr JHP in service 2″ revolvers. This guy told the Sheriff that the ghetto denizens thought of this expanding ammo as targeting blacks.

    Lee Brown, the first black Sheriff in OR, then issued an order that we go back to solid ammo, the 158-gr SWC, and 158 RN in 38s.

    As a union safety wallah, I wrote a minor thesis on ammunition stopping power for the Sheriff, citing all the FBI work on that subject. The Sheriff was eventually convinced to switch back to the more modern ammo.

  10. Highly unlikely that ANY bullet disintegrates sufficiently to not be findable on X-ray.

    Powdered metals are easily detectable, even if as nothing more than a haziness that shouldn’t be there. On X-ray, this would show as a cone extending from the entry point. Modern digital X-ray would easily identify any foreign metallic presence. Even old school films, taken by anyone with any experience, shouldn’t have difficulty doing that.

    Franglible bullets would be easily found. If he used some type of varmint bullet, they certainly would “explode”, thats what Varmint Grenades are supposed to do.

    DumDums don’t explode so much as they expand.

  11. If the bullets appear to be turned into powder it was more then likely a type of bullet like the barnes varmit grenade. They are hollow points with a powder core that explodes on contact with organic targets. Barnes also makes law enforment rounds that are the same just more robust. The guns he used were a ruger mini 14 and a glock.The ruger is NOT an automatic weapon. It is a semiauto that he added a bunch of useless toys to..

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