Do Mercury Tipped Bullets Exist?

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Our Associate portal can be found here

The internet is rife with myth, heresies, and conspiracy theories born out of fiction, but mercury tipped bullets do not exist. Not commercially and not legally either. Also, a mercury tipped bullet wouldn’t become the explosive projectile imagined by Frederick Forsyth in Day of the Jackal. 

I highly doubt there are ballistic advantages if any, that mercury tipped bullets may have over their standard counterparts. In the instance that a mercury-tipped round is successfully fired, it would be for but one deadly purpose. 

How Deadly Would Mercury Tipped Bullets Be?

Depending on the purity of the mercury you want to use, you’ll need more than 10 grams or 0.353 ounces to make it potentially lethal. To overcome splatter and in the case of over-penetration, you’ll need to up the dose so that enough mercury is absorbed into the body. 

The added payload weight would significantly mess with a mercury tipped bullet’s ballistics. Depending on the amount absorbed prior to the target getting medical help, any heavy metal poisoning won’t have immediate terminal effects. 

Liquid mercury targets the liver, heart, kidneys, and the central nervous system. If a victim gets doses of a chelating agent, the effects of identifiable symptoms may be reduced. 

While acute poisoning by mercury tipped bullets will often lead to death, it’s from liver or kidney damage that was pre-existing. 

Another possibility is that the mercury will attack the central nervous system and the brain. All I am saying is, the mercury tipped bullets gunshot wound could prove more fatal than a secondary poisoning by the heavy metal. 

However, some of its compounds, like mercury fulminate are highly toxic and sensitive to friction or heat. 

A bullet tipped with mercury fulminate will explode, not in a dramatic Day of the Jackal style, but fragment further nonetheless. Unlike liquid mercury where the victim is slowly poisoned to death, mercury fulminate acts soon after the gunshot. 

Let’s examine the myths surrounding mercury tipped bullets and scenarios where they have been tried and tested. 

Forsyth’s Weight behind the Mercury Tipped Bullets Myth

The Day of the Jackal is Frederick Forsyth’s bestselling novel based on a real-life terrorist. He describes a process where bullets are filled with mercury, enabling them to explode on impact.

The bullet tip was drilled, and a drop of mercury poured into the hole, which was then sealed. According to Forsyth, when this bullet is fired, the mercury pushes forward to augment the round’s ballistic capabilities. 

This concept, designed for maximum knockdown power, was one envisioned sorely in a work of fiction, though a few individuals claim to have tried it. It capitalizes on the bullet’s momentum and the continual devastation that the mercury carries past the fragmented round.

There are many holes that I can punch into a theory involving topping off bullets with mercury, or any other ballistic substance for that matter. 

The very thing intended to make the slug explode on impact can also detonate when it’s firing from the chamber with grievous ramifications for the gun and the shooter. It’s all imaginable and may sound doable, but that’s until you factor in the physics. 

And then there are legal angles