By Dean Weingarten
Deputy Hobson stated that upon interviewing the young man as to how he got injured from the bullet, the young boy told Dep. Hobson that he had held a cigarette lighter under a .22 caliber bullet to see what would happen. The bullet exploded sending bullet fragments through his left middle finger and lodging in the left eye lid.
There are a couple of lessons here. The first is not to try to set off cartridges outside of a firearm in close proximity to your flesh. A .22 does not have a lot of gunpowder in it, but it is enough to cause minor injuries if it is in contact with flesh when it goes off. If you are more than five feet away from it when it happens, presuming that it is not contained in the chamber of a firearm, your risk is minimal. Surprisingly, the tiny .22 rimfire seems to entail a bit more risk than centerfire cartridges. The case is very thin and light, and is more likely to rupture or develop enough velocity to be dangerous.
While we do not know exactly what happened, a .22 case and bullet, being made of metal, transmit heat very effectively. I suspect that the boy was using something to hold the cartridge to avoid being burned. Even a pair of pliers or a a few wraps of tape might have been enough to provide some support for the case and make the resulting ignition more dangerous. I have heard of people who put the .22 cartridge in a vice and hit the base with a hammer. That is a dangerous procedure.
In another article on fires and ammunition, a source on an Internet forum reported that he had experience of a fragment that barely punctured the skin at a range of less than five feet from a .22 rimfire case that was ignited in a fire. He concluded that any other cases were too sturdy to fragment. Here is a Link to the SAAMI paper, “Facts About Sporting Ammunition Fires”.
40 or more years ago a fellow told me he touched a match to some homemade gunpowder to see if it would go off. He lost his eyebrows and burned his hand a bit, but suffered no permanent injury. Young males are adventurous, curious, and willing to take risks. We can guide them and attempt to channel that energy; but suppressing it can result in more harm than good. An amusing web site could result from the theme: Silly risks I took as a boy/young man.
As the “fragment” in question (almost certainly from the case and not the bullet) lodged in the boy’s eyelid, it seems likely that the eye itself is not at risk.
Eyes are the most vulnerable parts of the body to these sorts of projectiles, which is why safety/shooting glasses of some kind has become a regular part of most shooters’ gear.
c2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch
About Dean Weingarten;
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.