Frederick Forsyth describes the manufacture of mercury bullets in the book Day of the Jackal at some length. I’m ot an arms specoialist, but it seemed pretty convincing. He was a journalist, so you’d think he got his facs straight. On the other hand, I am an optics guy, and I know thathe really messed up the explanation of image-intensifier tubes in another book. So maybe he just has a convincing manner. The book and the movie imply that you can make these with glycerine, as well.
The bullet used in DOTJ has a hole drilled in it, a drop of mercury placed in it, and it’s then re-sealed with lead and the shape re-constructed. The explanation Forsyth gives is that, upo impact, he mercury is thrown forward and rips the tip of the bullet apart, and the shrapnel continues to tear apart whatever body part it hit.
My question is: Why doesn’t the same thing happen when the bullet is accelerated when the gun is fired? Wouldn’t the same inertia tend to tear the *back[/i of the bullet apart? (Even if the gases propel mercury and all forward, and even if the casing helps hold it together, it seems to me the bullet would be fragmented , the mercury gone from the compartment, so that when the bullet finally it degaulle’s head (or whatever target) it wouldn’t be able to explode.
A later movie (not by Forsyth), The Exterminator, showed the killer manufacturing such bullets in what looked even to my untrained eyes like a very dangerous and stupid procedure, but evidently trying to do it as described in Forsyth’s book. I’d be willing to bet the screenwriter read DOTJ.
No fulminate is involved in any of the above. The “explosion” is a purely mechanical effect.
In he case of Hunckley’s assault on Reagan, it’s my understanding that he used azide bullets, which are explosive due to a chemical effect (although not the same as fulminate).