Talk:Blank (cartridge)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Firearms (Rated Start-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Firearms, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of firearms on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Military history (Rated Start-Class)
MILHIST This article is within the scope of the Military history WikiProject. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the project and see a list of open tasks. To use this banner, please see the full instructions.
Start This article has been rated as Start-Class on the quality assessment scale.

Headline text[edit]


I think that the writer has tried to point out his opinion of how dangerous they are rather than handing out the sole facts

The lethal potential of blanks isn't an opinion, it's a fact, as evidenced by those who have been killed by their misuse. The level of emphasis may seem high, but I think that's more due to the short length of the article rather than the length of the warning. The most visible use of blank cartrdiges is in movies and television, and people don't see the behind-the-scenes effort that goes into ensuring that the blanks are used safely. Perhaps expanding that section further with information on firearms handling in movies might make more informative and less alarmist sounding. scot 15:10, 19 August 2005 (UTC)


No recoil at all? The hot exhaust gases alone would cause a recoil. It might possibly be less of a recoil. We need someone who has actually fired both types to come here and say. 04:18, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

You're right, there is a bit of recoil--from a military rifle and blank, it's probably on par with a .22 Long Rifle. I've changed the wording, and done some other cleanup as well. scot 15:47, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Newton's mechanical laws rather specifically state that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. While the propellant (technically the whole firearm) is pushing against the bullet, the bullet is also pushing against the firearm. Thus, if the blank has the same amount of propellant (most don't, admittedly), then the only other factor is the wadding; the wadding weighs less than an actual bullet, but only on the order of a couple of grams, so it would take a very skilled shooter to be able to tell the difference.
Nonetheless, I've never fired a blank before. Have you fired a blank rifle cartridge and a matching live rifle cartridge and noticed any difference? I would suggest having your magasine loaded by a friend, so you don't know which cartridge is which, in order to make it a truly scientific, empirically-verifiable blind experiment. Otherwise it's possible that the expectation of it being a blank cartridge would have made you think about it being weaker than it really is. =)
Note, of course, that any truly experienced shooter would also be able to extrapolate based on the visible entry wound whether it was his own rifle that caused the lethal injury. ;-)
--Jtgibson 20:35, 27 October 2006 (UTC)
I have fired blank rounds, and the difference between that and a live round, even from a mildly recoiling round like a .38 Special, is dramatic. As for the blind test, one thing I commonly do with revolvers is a modified ball-and-dummy drill, mixing a couple of empty chambers, a couple of .38 Specials, and couple of .357 Magnums (or .44 Special and .44 Magnum) in the same cylinder full. Spin it, and without looking, start shooting. The goal of this is to learn to control the anticipation of the shot, so you don't flinch, and to control the follow-through. The difference in recoil between a Special and a Magnum is very signficant--even a first time shooter can tell instantly when you slip a Magnum round into the gun after a couple of Specials. The difference between a live round and a blank is at least as great. scot 21:27, 27 October 2006 (UTC)
Aha. I was considering replacing "insignificant" by "less significant", but I'll hold off on that then. ;-) --Jtgibson 21:33, 27 October 2006 (UTC)
(smacks forehead) Well, looks as though I already made the change. Your call. --Jtgibson 21:35, 27 October 2006 (UTC)
Being a world war reenactor myself, I can tell you that some blanks have a very pronounced recoil (almost to the point of being able to fool me). Such an example are some of the 9mm blanks out there, which I fired through a P38. user:Pzg Ratzinger
Right, but semiautomatic actions are a different issue. I have a gas blowback airsoft pistol, and a CO2 blowback Walther PPK BB pistol, both of which have a significant "kick", on par with my Ruger MKII pistol. The felt recoil is far in excess of my .22 caliber CO2 pellet pistols, even though the .22 pellet is far heavier and moves faster than the BB or airsoft ball. The reason for the difference in perception is the mass of the slide; when it comes to a stop at the rear, it causes a significant impact and muzzle flip, which the you feel as recoil. In fact, I just remembered a better example--at one Shot Show I was at, a manufacturer had a firearms simlation system set up, a super-realistic "Hogan's Alley" type video game. The pistol used was a converted Beretta 92FS. It used a laser aiming module in the barrel of the gun, and the magazine, mainspring, and chamber were replaced with an air hose connection, valve, and piston. Upon firing, the hammer strut would open the air valve, the piston would kick back the slide and cock the hammer, and the hammer strut would close the valve back off. Even though no mass was moved forward at all, it still simulated recoil fairly well just through the reciprocation of the slide. I think this is what you were feeling with the P-38; I think if you fired the same blanks in, say, a 9mm SP-101 revolver, you'd feel recoil on the order of a .22 rimfire. scot 15:17, 21 November 2006 (UTC)


I went ahead and changed around the ordering of the sections. --Jtgibson 20:35, 27 October 2006 (UTC)

move to "blank cartridge"?[edit]

Blank is a descriptor, and sometimes used as a term for the round, but there's no need for the parenthesis when the two words form an unambiguous name. If there's no objections, I'll move the page. Night Gyr (talk/Oy) 01:36, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

Sounds good to me. scot 18:51, 18 May 2007 (UTC)

Why is a blank harmless?[edit]

One thing that is not clear is why a blank is (almost always) harmless? Is a blank exempt from Newton's Third Law? If the primer does explode, whatever is in the chamber -should- come flying out the barrel with a huge amount of momentum. This sounds like replacing a cannonball with a basketball and claiming the basketball will be harmless when it is detonated in the cannon. -Rolypolyman 17:16, 18 May 2007 (UTC)

Well, first, your example only applies to blanks that have a wadding, which is only some types--a crimped blank, on the other hand, propells nothing but gas. And yes, a basketball coming out of a gun has a huge amount of energy, but it also has a huge surface area, and will dissipate that energy in VERY short order. A basketball weighs a pound and a half, and is about 9 inches in diameter? A 9 inch iron cannonball is going to weigh far more, about 110 pounds according to my calculations. While you may assume that with the same powder charge, the energy of the two projectiles will be the same, that is definately not the case. If you consider internal ballistics, you'll see that the velocity of the projectile is limited by the speed of sound in the propellant, which is why firearms are limited to about 5000 feet per second peak velocity. This gives you a limit on how light your projectile can be and still extract a significant amount of energy from a given amount of propellant.
Switching to SI units (so I can deal with moles of matter) our basketball has a frontal surface area of 410 cm^2, so every meter it travels it's displacing 410 liters of air. At 22 liters per mole of gas at STP, that's 18 moles, which works out to 518 grams of 80% N2 - 20% O2 mix. So every meter and a half, roughly, that the ball travels, it's having to accelerate it's own mass in air from zero to nearly its own velocity to move it out of the way. The iron cannonball, on the other hand, with a mass of 50,000 grams, will travel 100 meters before it displaces its own mass in air. That means the cannonball is going to maintain its energy 66 times as well as the basketball. Even if it does have 10 times the velocity of the cannonball, it's not going to keep that velocity very long at all, while the dense iron cannonball will go for miles.
Now we made an assumption that we had the same amount of powder in both cases, and this is not a valid assumption. Blanks are generally loaded with a much smaller amount of faster burning powder than would be typical for the cartridge, so the total amount of energy available is far less. When you consider a crimped blank, with no wad to propel, then the "projectile" is the gas itself, which will expand explosively when it reaches the muzzle, making the effective "frontal surface" expand exponentially with the distance traveled, which means that while a blank at a range of inches will blow holes in things, a blank at a range of tens of feet would have trouble blowing out a candle. scot 18:50, 18 May 2007 (UTC)
Blanks are not harmless - ever. Those who pronounce otherwise are exhibiting an extreme lack of knowledge of firearms and blank ammunition. (talk) 18:45, 7 May 2009 (UTC)
Neither are toy guns; used improperly, they can be lethal, as this clearly demonstrates: Firearms, with blank or live ammunition, are safe, if used properly. Far, far more dangerous are military vehicles, which cause far more fatalities; on average there are 25 fatalities per year from military vehicle accidents (,13319,FL_deaths_071204,00.html). Injuries or fatalities from blanks are rare enough I have seen only a single documented incident of such in the US military, which was caused by a contact shot to the chest, and that was old enough to involve an M-1 Garand rifle. According to this source (Gunshot Wounds, by Vincent J. M. Di Maio) it is unlikely for a forensic pathologist to ever encounter a lethal wound caused by blank cartridge. scot (talk) 20:20, 7 May 2009 (UTC)
Would you like the name and phone numbers of people who I know that have been injured by blanks? We shoot them in competition. There's no end to people making mistakes. We also shoot from horseback and horses kill people all the time. Which is more dangerous is irrelevant. (talk) 13:24, 8 May 2009 (UTC)
"Which is more dangerous is irrelevant?" The definition of "safe" I'm using is "Adj. 3. involving little or no risk of mishap, error, etc.: a safe estimate." Which is more dangerous is wholly relevant, because the chance of risk is the very definition of "safe". scot (talk) 14:19, 8 May 2009 (UTC)
Someone please add this reference and note under Safety subheading for actor and model Jon-Erik Hexum who was killed by a blank round. Thank you. --Locke1776 (talk) 13:37, 24 September 2009 (UTC)


There is a lot of trivia on this page, none of which seems to be notable enough to have affect the article's subject matter. I think it should be moved/removed. Arthurrh 22:21, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

Dummy round[edit]

What is the difference between a blank and a Dummy round (Military dummies)? --George100 09:15, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

Short form: A blank goes bang; a dummy does not.

Long form: A blank has a primer and powder charge and is intended to make noise/generate high pressure gas; blanks usually have no projectile or a wad of cardboard, plastic, wax or wood). A dummy round mimics the shape and form of a live round including projectile, but is completely inert: no primer, no powder; used for training purposes, or to test functioning of the feed and ejection systems of firearms without the danger of an accidental discharge.

Naaman Brown (talk) 20:20, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

Undefined acronyms[edit]

FMJ and AP are used to describe rounds in one of the figure captions but aren't defined - presumably they're acronyms? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Pbhj (talkcontribs) 15:01, 7 November 2014 (UTC)

Firing squad[edit]

"A blank cartridge may also be issued to a randomly selected shooter in an execution firing squad, on the theory that each of the shooters may take comfort in the fact that they may not have fired a live round."

I don't dispute this sentence, but I do not understand how the shooter who fires the blank cannot detect it. I believe that the "theory" is simply wrong for the following reason. If the wadding has much less mass than a real bullet, the resulting recoil would be correspondingly less. It should therefore be obvious whether or not the shooter had fired a blank. Can somebody please explain this conundrum? ---Dagme (talk) 03:12, 6 April 2015 (UTC)