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"Sympathetic discharge" of a .22 revolver?

Spider7115Spider7115 Member, Moderator Posts: 29,713 ******
edited September 2008 in Ask the Experts
I was watching an old episode of "CSI" last night and they had a guy who was shot with two bullets but the shooter only fired once. The revolver was a cheap .22 rimfire.

So, here's the scenario: When the shooter fired the revolver, the recoil caused the cylinder to bump the frame and discharged the next round. Half of the bullet was sheared off when it hit the frame but the other half hit the victim in the chest. The CSI's referred to it as a "synthetic sympathetic discharge".

I've seen crossfires happen on a blackpowder revolver but never on a cartridge revolver. Being a rimfire, I guess it's theoretically possible that the rim could hit the frame but a .22 has very little recoil for the frame to fire another round. Still, has anyone ever heard of this actually happening or is this just "Hollywood hype"?

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    Hawk CarseHawk Carse Member Posts: 4,376 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Sympathetic discharge.

    A co-worker here had a cheap RG that would occasionaly fire two chambers.
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    Spider7115Spider7115 Member, Moderator Posts: 29,713 ******
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by Hawk Carse
    Sympathetic discharge.

    A co-worker here had a cheap RG that would occasionaly fire two chambers.


    OK, I caught the wrong terminology. Thanks for clarifying that. So, I guess it really can happen. They did stress that it only occurs on cheaply-made revolvers and the RG would certainly qualify. Thanks!
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    FatstratFatstrat Member Posts: 9,147
    edited November -1
    I still don't see how that could happen w/a cartridge revolver. It would seem that something must come into contact w/the primer of the cartridge in the odd cylinder w/enough force to set it off.
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    mrbrucemrbruce Member Posts: 3,374
    edited November -1
    A 22 rimfire can ignite if it's tossed on a hard surface with enough force.....
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    beantownshootahbeantownshootah Member Posts: 12,776 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    In general, while sympathetic discharge can occur under some circumstances, its basically unheard of in modern guns, and I've never ever seen nor heard of a case myself of it happening with a .22.

    I wouldn't say its impossible, but it seems pretty unlikely given that .22 recoil is pretty light and .22 primers aren't all that sensitive.

    As to the second thing, in general CSI is full of BS.

    Its TV entertainment, not reality.

    In fact, the whole premise of the program (that there are teams of non-police non-pathologist investigators who work together to independently solve crimes) is essentially a fiction. It doesn't generally happen that way in the "real world".
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    bobskibobski Member Posts: 17,866 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    too much stuff in front of the misaligned cyl to make a bullet fly straight, let alone hit someone the bore is pointed at.
    Retired Naval Aviation
    Former Member U.S. Navy Shooting Team
    Former NSSA All American
    Navy Distinguished Pistol Shot
    MO, CT, VA.
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    tmacatmaca Member Posts: 11 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by Fatstrat
    I still don't see how that could happen w/a cartridge revolver. It would seem that something must come into contact w/the primer of the cartridge in the odd cylinder w/enough force to set it off.

    A rimfire, like a .22, doesn't have a primer placed in the center of the cartridge base. It's called a rimfire because the primer is ignited by striking the rim, not the center, of the cartridge. If something forced the cartridge backwards in a poorly made, loose, revolver, the rim of the cartridge could easily strike an edge of the frame, igniting the cartridge.
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    tmacatmaca Member Posts: 11 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by Fatstrat
    I still don't see how that could happen w/a cartridge revolver. It would seem that something must come into contact w/the primer of the cartridge in the odd cylinder w/enough force to set it off.

    A rimfire, like a .22, doesn't have a primer placed in the center of the cartridge base. It's called a rimfire because the primer is ignited by striking the rim, not the center, of the cartridge. If something forced the cartridge backwards in a poorly made, loose, revolver, the rim of the cartridge could easily strike an edge of the frame, igniting the cartridge.
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    vicg1vicg1 Member Posts: 1,033 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Every NAA revolver manual warns against use of PMC ammo because of this possibility...
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    tmacatmaca Member Posts: 11 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    By the way, as regards CSI. Among other inaccuracies, the various CSI shows have CSI people doing things that most CSI personnel would never be allowed to do in real life. As I was only ever a patrol officer I'm not an expert and certainly can't give numbers or percentages, but in most departments, CSI folks simply gather and analyze physical evidence and pass their findings on to the detectives, who do the investigating, interviewing, arresting, etc. In fact, while there are exceptions (I think Miami may be one, for example), CSI personnel in many, perhaps even most, departments are not even sworn Law Enforcement Officers. And while there are, again, exceptions, CSI personnel in many departments do not even carry firearms.
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