.22 Cartridge Goes Off in Man's Hand

The bullet reportedly struck him in the face...but how was the cartridge discharged?
The bullet reportedly struck him in the face...but how was the cartridge discharged?web photo

We might have to file this under “so what’s the rest of the story?”

According to komonews.com, a man in Eugene, Oregon is recovering after a bizarre accident involving a .22 rimfire cartridge that left him with a bullet to the face.

Eugene police say in the story that, around 11:30 a.m. last Sunday, the unidentified man was standing on Highway 99N holding a .22 caliber cartridge in his hand (no explanation was given for why he was standing at the side of a road while holding ammo) when it discharged, sending the bullet into the man's left cheek.

Police say they are not sure how the .22-caliber bullet (which was not identified in the story as a rimfire, but we are assuming it wasn’t a .223 or another centerfire cartridge) was discharged.

"This is what happens when people handle ammunition and they shouldn't be. This is part of the reason they tell parents to keep ammunition out of the hands of kids, 'cause things can happen," said Sgt. Dale Dawson in the story.

The man was transported to a local hospital where he was treated and released.

The primer on a centerfire cartridge is rather difficult to hit with enough force to set it off when it’s not locked in the ideal position inside a chamber, but rimfire rounds are a little different. If the base is squeezed, say with a pair of pliers, or is dented or tapped hard enough, the primer could ignite. The chances of it happening while you are merely holding a cartridge in your hand…well…

Without the pressure and gasses released when a cartridge is fired being contained within the chamber and barrel of a firearm, a bullet, even from a large cartridge, is usually not propelled very far or with much force, as we learned in this post about how ammunition behaves in a house fire.