July 10, 2007

What is It?

I guess got a very interesting email request from Brian at Snapped Shot, who wanted me to take a look at this AFP picture published on Yahoo News.


The caption states that the woman in the photo claims that the bullet in her hand hit her bed during an overnight raid by U.S. forces in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood.

But there are a few inconsistencies in her story, or at least, odd observable phenomena surrounding what she's holding in her hand.

For starters, lets look at an enlarged, cropped version of the photo, focusing on the bullet.


While we don't have anything in the camera's frame and we don't know an exact size of the woman's hand to help determine size and scale, we can tell right off the bat that whatever this is, it is not any variation of 5.56 NATO ammunition issued to American forces. The shape is wrong, there are no markings consistent with U.S. 5.56 NATO ammunition, the object in the picture is far too large to be a 5.56 bullet, and quite obviously, it has no discernible jacket.

And while it might be closer in size to the 7.62 NATO chambered for some U.S. weapons systems (including M240 machine guns and M14 rifles), we once again run into the problem of the object's shape being far too rounded for most common 7.62 loadings I'm familiar with (including those generally issued to the military), no jacket, and no markings.

The object is also too rounded in shape (and perhaps too short) to be most the most common variations of .50 BMG bullets I'm familiar with, and quite frankly, only one .50 BMG military loading that I know of comes close.

The M903/M962 SLAP is a tungsten-core saboted 7.62 armor penetrator is the only non-jacketed round .50 BMG-round that I can think of that would have the color this bullet does, lack of markings, the ability to withstand impact with little to no deformation, and the lack of easily observable rifling on the bullet (due to the sabot grabbing the rifling, then being discarded in flight). The problem with this theory is that unless it hit some major masonry on the way in (this armor piercing bullet designed to punch through personnel carriers and vehicles), it would not have been stopped by her bed.

Are there any weapons experts out there who can definitively ID this as a U.S. bullet, or are we looking at something else?

Posted by Confederate Yankee at July 10, 2007 03:43 PM

Consider the source of the pic. nuf said.

Posted by: 1sttofight at July 10, 2007 04:28 PM

How could the bullet have hit the woman's bed and still retain its shape?

Posted by: Stefan at July 10, 2007 04:40 PM

If the bed was wood and the bullet had been slowed down sufficiently... I think it would retain it's shape. It also depends on how far away it was fired from.

At least it's a rounded bullet shaped... based on the picture on the referenced SLAP site, it's not nearly "sharp" enough.

Anyone know what a 7.62 AK round looks like?

Posted by: SGT Jeff (USAR) at July 10, 2007 05:03 PM
Anyone know what a 7.62 AK round looks like?

Intimately. Not even close.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at July 10, 2007 05:08 PM

It's weird - the more I look at it, the more I think, "arrowhead."

Posted by: SGT Jeff (USAR) at July 10, 2007 05:17 PM

Never examined spint ammo, but... honestly, it looks like someone said "I need a bullet head!" and this is what they were handed....

Posted by: Foxfier at July 10, 2007 06:26 PM

That looks like horizontal banding there... which, if correct, makes it look to me like what she's holding is the product of a lathe. Needless to say, no one produces bullets on a lathe.

Regardless, that's no U.S. bullet.

Posted by: Russ at July 10, 2007 07:36 PM

A few things seem odd, especially in the enlarged image. First is that appears to resemble a FMJ round, but FMJ rounds usually have a spherical radius on the tip, this "round" appears to have what we call in the machining industry a "tit", which occurs from having a cutting tool located below center of a rotating workpiece. Not a very predictable feature since it is not controlled and would therefor cause inconsistant trajectory.
Second the lack of rifling marks on the spent round and the existance of prior mentioned "tit" which would have received some degree of blunting having even hit a feather pillow at velocities in excess of 2200 feet per second, hollow points would even show signs of mushrooming, especially in smaller caliber rounds that naturally travel at higher velocities, an example being 22-250 BTHP rounds that disintegrate upon impacting a single blade of grass when fired at the higher end of reloading recommendations.
Third, there appear to be 3 radial rings for crimping a case neck into. 3? I've only ever seen 1 as that's all that is needed to crimp a cartridge neck into regardless of the powder charge. 2 of the rings after the start of the ellipse forming the point and are useless. Surface tearing caused by a form tool will
cause a similar appearance and a mis aligned form tool can also cause the "tit" mentioned before.
Finally, the cross section appears to be about 2/3 the cross section of the index finger holding the slug taking into account the oblique view of the finger, placing it at least in the 7.62 category, what we see of the slug is greater than 2 times its diameter, half a diameter is exposed between the finger and first "crimp" groove. The fingers need something to hold on to as do the rifeings need a surface to create spin, the slug must be pushing an inch long if not longer.

The photos look like a hoax.

Posted by: R30C at July 10, 2007 09:18 PM

It is not entirely impossible for someone to be struck by a spent round. Remember that, at Pearl Harbor, Admiral Kimmel was hit by a Japanese machine-gun bullet which just bounced off and did no harm beyond smudging his uniform. The present claim will stand or fall on other factors.
Does anyone out there know enough to have an opinion on Soviet/Russian and Iranian ammo?

Posted by: Bleepless at July 10, 2007 09:31 PM

It looks a lot like the Soviet/Chinese manufactured 7.62mm (only pictures I could find quickly here used for AKs. NATO rounds have a more gradual slope. I have to admit that I've been out of the Army for 10 years and there have been at least 2 generations of small arms in US inventory since then.

R30C is correct, at a mini minimum the round would have marks from being forced through a rifle at a couple thousand fps. It would also would go through the bed and lodge in the wall if it were stone, go through the wall if it were plaster.

The only way this could have landed on her bed in the state it's in - is if it fell out of the soldier's ammo pouch.

Posted by: Doug Halsted at July 10, 2007 09:42 PM


Posted by: Confederate Yankee at July 10, 2007 09:50 PM

It is *possible* that if a window was open and someone fired a round up into the air as Iraqis are prone to do and the round landed on the bed as it's velocity was spent.

It would be simply coincidence that it happened during any kind of US activity unless there was some Iraqi Death Blossom going on a mile or so away.

Posted by: crosspatch at July 10, 2007 11:29 PM

it's a suppository for an enema which must be taken by all AP stringers and photogs cuz dey r full of sh*t.

Posted by: reliapundit at July 11, 2007 01:32 AM

Where is the rifling?

Posted by: David at July 11, 2007 01:39 AM

I confess to coming here as a liberal troll to make pretty much the exact same comment as reliapundit. So now let me change that to:

It's the chip shoved up rethuglican bloggers to keep them in touch with Karl Rove (and keep them pure for Grover Norquist.)

Posted by: anon at July 11, 2007 02:33 AM

Does the possibility that a fresh unfired round was handed to her in order to take a photo to go along with the story impeach her narrative in any significant way?

I think not.

Thanks for playing.

Posted by: spartacvs at July 11, 2007 06:40 AM

I've got a few flavors of 7.62x54R on hand and it doesn't look like any of them.

I think its a ball point pen with a metal casing.

Let's not forget -- AFP's faked pictures ignited the intifada. They're real pros at faking news.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at July 11, 2007 06:45 AM

"That looks like horizontal banding there... which, if correct, makes it look to me like what she's holding is the product of a lathe"

"It's weird - the more I look at it, the more I think, "arrowhead.""

That's the first two things I thought when I saw the pic. It looks like it was machined rapidly on a manual mill, rough and not something that would be shot from a bore. It doesn't look like lead (which would be too soft to "machine") but it could be almost any material. It has a lack of "sheen" like it was being used for something. I would think that "if" it had been fired from a weapon and lodged in her bed (which i doubt) there should be some deformation or some lateral scrape lines. I see neither.

I'd be real surprised if it is tungsten. It's too crude looking.

Posted by: markm at July 11, 2007 07:12 AM

From elsewhere:

Posted by: markm at July 11, 2007 07:52 AM

I think that the idea that in Iraq, a country awash with weapons and ammo, someone would actually fake a bullet is just silly. Give someone a bullet as a prop, I can believe, but actually turn one out specially for the purpose...

Posted by: Rafar at July 11, 2007 08:04 AM
Does the possibility that a fresh unfired round was handed to her in order to take a photo to go along with the story impeach her narrative in any significant way?

I think not.

Well, nobody ever accused a Tbagg reader of being intelligent, have they?

According to the caption, she claimed it was this specific bullet that hit her bed. As there is no other evidence presented at all--not the bed, nor anything else--publishing this photo hinges on this being not only a random bullet, but the specific bullet that hit here bed.

If this is not the bullet, her story and the caption are false. Period.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at July 11, 2007 09:01 AM

Stringer photographers using props? That's unpossible!

Passion of the Toys *Insert meme stating that you should do a websearch, since my content was blocked*

Posted by: BohicaTwentyTwo at July 11, 2007 09:07 AM

Several problems.
1/ Unless it did have the jacket, it should show signs of being fired.
2/ It is the wrong color for most standard rounds, so it would have to be 50 cal or greater.
3/ How did it make it to the bed without going through at least a window?

Seems to be that this photo even without considering the source is fisher than the entire us fishing fleet after a good haul.

Posted by: sonofdy at July 11, 2007 09:22 AM

A fine example of lathe work done at Green
Helmet's Machine Shop!!

Posted by: Tincan Salilor at July 11, 2007 09:28 AM

I don't see the significance. She was in a fire zone. If this truly is a previously live round, how does it mean anything that the round came near her. I don't know about the rest of you, but this is a fairly common occurance in the US. With the amount of gang warfare and cops that indiscriminately fire their weapons with a large amount of ammo expended, I have seen numerous situations were bullets were found where they are not supposed to be.
As far as my reaction to the picture, it appears that the bullet was never fired. Almost the same as the bullet found on JFK's stretcher in Parkland after he was declared dead.

Posted by: David Caskey at July 11, 2007 09:42 AM

"I don't see the significance."

No, neither do I. Most stories out of Iraq these days seem to be desperately trying to keep the viewers attention by either;

1) Tying developments to events that happen to Americans.

2) Putting up pictures of exceptionally big attacks (Car bombings, etc).

3) Putting up "human interest" fluff involving death and destruction.

Frankly the news out of Iraq is pretty dull and depressing. To get your ratings you need some connection.

"I don't know about the rest of you, but this is a fairly common occurance in the US. "

Really? Good Lord...

Posted by: Rafar at July 11, 2007 10:00 AM

when people hold just a bullet, with no cartridge, they would normally hold it up between thumb and forefinger. The way she is holding it suggests there is a cartridge still attached, or the shaft of a target arrow and someone else mentioned. It *does* look like the tip of a target arrow one would use in an archery range.

Posted by: crosspatch at July 11, 2007 11:32 AM

It looks like an 8 MM mauser round.

Posted by: TH at July 11, 2007 11:44 AM

SLAP round still seems most plausible.

As others have mentioned there is no visible engraving from barrel rifling as would be expected from any bore caliber round. Sabots, being sub bore caliber, do not show engraving.

It does not appear to have a jacket or any gilding metal that I recognize and does have the coloration of machined tungsten.

If it is made of tungsten this could also be a useful explanation of why it doesn't show any significant deformation.

It is difficult to tell it's size relative to her knuckle, but 7.62mm is certainly in the realm of possibilty. Given the limited number of calibers in common use there by all combatants (5.56mm, 7.62mm, 12.7mm and .50 cal) it appears bigger than the smallest and smaller than the biggest, so most likely is a 7.62mm.

As to why it came to rest near, but not through, her bed? All ballistic projectiles run out of gas eventually and bullets - especially ridgid monolithic solids - do some very intersting things, especially when they ricochet and/or tumble.

Her grandson may have found it in the street.

Ultimately, a bullet coming to rest somewhere in a combat zone, especially one that does no harm, strikes me as less than newsworthy.

Posted by: ThomasD at July 11, 2007 12:15 PM

I think that the idea that in Iraq, a country awash with weapons and ammo, someone would actually fake a bullet is just silly.

AP feels the need to fake news in a country "awash" in real news. Sounds silly, yet they do it routinely.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at July 11, 2007 12:56 PM

I've torn down old (i believe WWII era) 50 cal. rounds and stripped the jacket off the bullet (In my younger days there was nothing I wouldn't break down to see what it was made of,) and this looks similar the the steel core found in those rounds. Rough machining marks from the lathe and all. Assuming they're still made the same way the slug in the picture will have been clad in a copper jacket in much the same way the lead core of any other full metal jacket bullet. The cores I exposed were surprisingly non-uniform, presumeably they were turned on a manual lathe and in a hurry -- don't know. As I recall, neither core had as rounded an ogive as the one shown here, but they were both rounder than the jacket, with the resulting space in the fore of the jacket stuffed with lead. I used a micrometer to measure them, so they were definitly 50's.

Posted by: dmoss at July 11, 2007 02:14 PM

dmoss beat me to it. It looks like a steel-cored armor-piercer with the copper jacketing stripped off.

Posted by: Tully at July 11, 2007 02:24 PM

I go w/ Avenger. Itīs never been fired, itīs never hit anything w/ any measurable velocity. Itīs a ball point pen, thatīs why sheīs holding it like that.
Claes Henrikson
major/Swedish armed forces.

Posted by: Claes Henrikson at July 11, 2007 03:51 PM

Call me crazy but that looks like some sort of .50 muzzleloading bullet.

In my opinion, it was never fired from a weapon.

Posted by: sickboy at July 11, 2007 04:28 PM

"It looks like an 8 MM mauser round."

Yeah, my Dad had an 8mm Mauser and it did look almost just like that. The "armor piercing" rounds had a steel jacket that looked much like the one she is holding too.

I have also read that we often find many old Mausers in insurgent weapons caches.

The marks on the bullet are probably from where the vice or pliers were applied to pull the bullet out of the cartridge.

Posted by: crosspatch at July 11, 2007 08:41 PM

Just did a quick web search and the Mauser K98 is in use in Iraq by insurgents.

Link to pic of 8mm Mauser round

Posted by: crosspatch at July 11, 2007 08:46 PM

Look very, very closely at that bullet. It is a lead bullet with a steel jacket. You can see where the jacket has peeled off on the left side of the projectile, down near the old woman's thumbnail. See it...?

Does the US make (or use) any saboted steel-jacketed rounds (no rifling marks)? Who does?

Posted by: Jay Stranahan at July 13, 2007 02:43 PM

I doubt it isa U.S. fired projectile. It looks too big to be a 7.62/.308 cal. and shaped wrong for any of those round in U.S. service, or russian or chinese ammo for AKs. Also, 99% of those have a copper fmj and this does not.

Now as stated, the muhj, AQ, and the insurgents are known to use 8mm mauser. Fired from a very worn rifle, it may lack rifling and old surplus ammo is sometimes that color. Fired a long distance, it would have destabilized and started tumbling, basically becoming a bullet shaped rock tossed from afar.

I'd say, it is possible it was spent and came in through a window possibly open for coolness at night and flopped on the bed. It may even be related to the U.S. raid as an object fired AT them. The AFP and most leftist loons will blame Bush and the Military anyhow, no matter who fired it.

Posted by: JP at July 13, 2007 04:35 PM

I have seen some very worn bores in old K98s (and many other rifles) and they still fired well, and more acurate than the typical muhj sniper is capable of.

Posted by: JP at July 13, 2007 04:40 PM