The Corner

Politics & Policy

Kevin Drum Is Wrong about ‘Exploding’ Bullets

In Toby Litt’s Adventures in Capitalism, a wonderful collection of short stories, there is a character called Brian, who believes all advertising.

Should have called him “Kevin.”

Kevin Drum believes he has me dead to rights on the question of “exploding bullets,” which are, I repeat, a myth. You cannot go out and buy bullets that explode on impact.

(Such bullets would not be very useful, though they did used to be a thing in the 19th century. Ammunition makers have attempted to revisit the concept from time to time, to little effect.)

Drum cites a product that goes by the silly brand name R.I.P. for “radically invasive projectile.” These bullets are designed to expand and fragment on impact. What Drum does not seem to understand is that most ordinary bullets are designed to do that. The bullets police officers carry do that. The bullets you hunt deer with do that. (Weirdly enough, this is not necessarily true for soldiers.) They expand in the same way that an empty beer can expands if you step on it. Beer cans do not explode when you step on them. We do not talk about “exploding beer cans.”

Drum is falling for marketing hype.

These bullets do not explode, and they do not contain explosives, the regulation of which is a complicated federal question of its own.

Ironically, Drum here is once again illustrating my point: People who do not know the first thing about firearms write about them with great confidence and generally get things wrong.

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