Lowe’s Shopper Injured When Bullet Explodes In Purse



You hear of people who handle guns improperly and end up worse for wear, but it’s not every day you read about a person injured by a bullet that is nowhere near a gun at the time.

And yet, a Lowe’s shopper in Pennsylvania ended up having to go to the hospital after a loose bullet in her purse apparently exploded and did some damage to her leg in the process.

Police confirm to the Williamsport Sun-Gazette that the woman did not have a gun in her purse or on her person as she strolled the aisles of the hardware store on Sunday.

“Something must [have] hit the primer of one of the bullets,” the local police chief tells the paper. “The bullet stayed in the purse, but its casing put a hole in the purse and caused a minor leg wound.”

The woman chose not to go the hospital right after the incident — possibly because the police would need to be called and then maybe it would end up in the local paper — but did, at the urging of her son, seek medical attention three hours afterward.

Police: Bullet explodes in woman’s handbag while she shops at home improvement store [sungazette.com]

Thanks to Lovemypets00 for the tip!


Edit Your Comment

  1. Velkyr says:

    Do americans really keep bullets on them at all times? Even if they don’t have a gun to use them with?

    • dpeters11 says:

      Generally, I keep mine on a bandolier, much safer than just rolling around in my pocket. Everyone just assumes I must be packing.

    • MutantMonkey says:

      Yes, we are all legally bound to do this. I’m surprised it isn’t obvious by all of the similar cases you hear about in the news.

    • sp4rxx says:

      Well, you see, there is a lengthy process to get the “conceal and carry” permit for the gun. There isn’t any paperwork for bullets …


    • nishioka says:

      Not all of us. Just the dumb ones.

    • MathMan aka Random Talker says:

      Maybe she was just running errands and went bullet shopping before going to Lowe’s. That could actually be feasible….

    • Jawaka says:

      So which perfect country do you live in?

      • Cor Aquilonis says:

        Wait a second… who said having loose bullets in your purse was imperfection? After all, where would she be if an action movie broke out around her? I think it’s a sign of preparedness.

    • wickedpixel says:

      As someone who goes target shooting often I can see how this could happen. I generally just stow my bag at my feet when I’m at the range and it’s not too far-fetched that loose ammo could get knocked into a purse that’s been left open.

      • falnfenix says:

        this is probably what happened. i’ve come home with casings in pockets, in the turned-up hem of a particular pair of pants i’m too cheap to get hemmed, and in my purse. if i have a cartridge with an obvious issue with the casing, i’ll put that in my pocket until i finish up. sometimes i remember to hand it over to the attendant, and sometimes i don’t.

    • Moniker Preferred says:

      I always tell my European colleagues that all Americans are packing heat at all times, even when traveling. I say this with all seriousness.

      They are pretty certain I am joking, but the 10% doubt tends to keep them in line.

    • spamtasticus says:

      Yes. Our constitution mandates it just in case the Eropeans ever get all their countries together under a political and economic umbrella that lasts long enough to empower them to come back and reconquer their colonies. Fortunately, its looking like we will be able take our bullets out of our pockets soon…

  2. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    ” “The bullet stayed in the purse, but its casing put a hole in the purse and caused a minor leg wound.”

    So, they weren’t, in fact, harmed by a -bullet-, per se…

  3. keith4298 says:

    I have been handling bullets for a long time and have NEVER seen this happen. I’m not saying it’s not possible, but I’d like to hear more about this – something doesn’t sound right.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      i’m sure it will be on mythbusters soon

    • KyBash says:

      Freak things happen.
      Millions of people carry cartridges in their pockets or purses every day. Once every twenty years or so you hear of one going off.

    • IWanaGoFishing says:

      This doesn’t pass the smell test. Bullets don’t just go off on their own, nor are their primers particularly sensitive.

    • dangermike says:

      I’m also rather experienced in that regard and also haven’t heard of anything *exactly* like this but do recall a story several years ago about a man using a .22 LR as a fuse shunt in his pick and winning a darwin award for the harm he caused to his … err … extremities when it went off.

      Anyhoo, I would say it seems unlikely but not impossible that random purse items could pop a primer (perhaps a pen or a key or some other pointy metal object). Maybe it was just one of those million to one freak accidents. The most surprising part to me is that it was significant enough to warrant medical attention. My own experience with ricochet hits has been that they are rarely more unpleasant than direct airsoft hits. Without a barrel to focus the blast and hold the casing, it is the brass and not lead that would go flying, and with severely diminished ballistics compared to an intentional firing.

      • SKChance says:

        It takes more than a sharp object to “pop” the primer on a modern centerfire cartridge – the primer is specifically designed to need the energy from the impact of the firing pin to go off – in part to prevent just this sort of accident.

        A .22 rimfire, however, is easier to set off.

        • dangermike says:

          Like I said, it seems unlikely but not necessarily impossible. I’m not saying that mere contact with a sharp object would have set it off. That would be a foolish assertion. That’s not how these things work. But a sharp object jammed into the primer by the various detritus one might find in a woman’s purse could provide the necessary impulse for ignition, and that the damage was reportedly done by brass rather than bullet, IMHO, lends credence to the story.

    • golddog says:

      Yeah, I’m with you. I’m sure it depends on the caliber and jacket, but without the chamber and barrel to provide pressure to propel it forward, I have always seen the bullet go nowhere. I’ve seen a round or two in my time set off outside the gun. If I had an unlicensed gun in my purse that accidentally shot me in the leg, I’d probably be tempted to leave the scene and go to the hospital later with this story too.

      • Harrkev says:

        It does sound fishy. The most likely thing to happen is that the primer would be shot out. A primer does not weigh much, so would not do much damage.

    • Sian says:

      I’m guessing there was something else in there, like a cellphone battery or *something* that would cause an electrical discharge or cook the round if in contact for too long.

      • The Porkchop Express says:

        a 9 volt? would that do it? Seriously, I don’t know and I just need to know which supplies go in which bag when the zombies come.

    • Difdi says:

      I’ve seen it happen with bad primers, but that’s usually due to age or corrosion, manufacturer quality control is pretty high, given how bad quality control at the factory tends to turn the factory into a hole in the ground post haste.

  4. gman863 says:

    “CLEAN UP ON AISLE 12!!!”

  5. Coffee says:

    Watched “The Grey” about a week ago. Was okay, not great. There’s a scene where Liam urges the other survivors to tie a shotgun round to the end of a sharpened stick and “poke” the wolves with it in order to set off the shell. I thought that was ridiculous, but I guess, given this event, it’s possible. Still…poke it with a stick?

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      To be fair, it is an exploding stick…

    • Bsamm09 says:
    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      It’s an improvised “bang stick” which are usually used as a defensive weapon against sharks. Some gummint agencies have similar ones for covert use but obviously don’t advertise the fact.

    • RandomLetters says:

      I haven’t seen the movie yet so I don’t know how the devices were constructed but that sounds a lot like typical Hollywood physics at work. A bang stick has a spring-loaded firing pin waiting for the stick to be poked against something hard enough to trigger it. A wooden point on a stick doesn’t seem like it would be a hard enough surface to set off the primer.

      • KyBash says:

        About forty years ago, we were playing with a new (to us) Rockwell hardness tester. One guy brought in an arrow he’d made using traditional Indian techniques (certain type of wood, scraped rather than cut, tip hardened in a flame, etc.). I don’t remember the numbers, but we were really amazed that it was harder than many of the metals we’d tested.

    • Difdi says:

      Wouldn’t work as anything except an inefficient firecracker. If the primer went off at all (doubtful, sticks generally are too soft), the shell would explode in all directions. Bang sticks and shotguns work because the shell is contained in a metal cylinder, with the end open to channel the shot down the barrel.

      You might scare off wolves with a firecracker, and you might even injure one with the close-range blast (people lose fingers to firecrackers every year) but that arrangement would have almost zero chance of injuring a wolf badly enough to make it stop trying to kill you, let alone killing it outright.

      Hollywood physics, pure and simple.

  6. Zowzers says:

    incorrect nomenclature. a Bullet is the projectile and as a general rule they do not explode. Cartridge is the proper term of the bullet + casing,powder & primer combination.

    so the cartridge “exploded” not the bullet.

  7. Blueskylaw says:

    My rights, rabble rabble, taking my guns away, rabble rabble, maching guns needed for hunting, rabble rabble, paranoia, rabble rabble

    • Coffee says:

      How dare you question the Constitution. That document is sacrosanct and can never be amended, sir >:(

    • Costner says:

      I suppose one could say there is a right to bear arms but not a right to carry ammunition? lol

      Here is the kicker… I’ve heard more stories about disposable lighters and cell phone batteries exploding than I ever have with bullets… so obviously this isn’t a common occurrence. This borders on being nonnewsworthy (if that is a word).

    • Maximus Pectoralis says:

      Can’t survive without government rabble rabble rabble rabble need free money rabble rabble rabble big brother knows best rabble rabble rabble redistributive justice rabble rabble rabble

      • Jules Noctambule says:

        No such thing as a middle ground in your world, huh?

        • Coffee says:

          It’s Maximus’ own form of redistributive justice ;)

          • Maximus Pectoralis says:

            It seems that my terminology was wrong. The correct terms were “economic justice” and “redistributive change”

            Although to my credit the youtube video does say “redistributive justice” in the title.


        • Maximus Pectoralis says:

          Why “my world” and not Blueskylaw who insinuates anyone who is a CCW holder is a paranoid unintelligent redneck? I don’t have CCW (state is one of the very small minority that doesn’t allow it) but I own several guns and plenty of ammo. Yet I’ll bet that I do a much more complex and intellectually challenging job than the majority of people here. Of course, since I am entirely self-taught in my field of work, my advanced technical skills are no match for someone with an art or english degree since I am not “educated” and indoctrinated in the “correct” system of thought. Of course I have been known to read heretical books that criticize Communism so I suppose I should be burned at the stake, or better yet, sent to the gulag for Re-Education Through Labor.

          As far as “paranoia”, try, as I have, having a drugged-up lunatic try to smash down the front door of your house, stabbing the door knob with a carving knife and meat fork, and wanting to murder your family because, as he claimed, he saw someone who insulted him run into my house (when it was locked, at 2:30 in the morning). I didn’t own any firearms back then but it was part of the reason I decided to finally start buying them. Fortunately there happened to be a police patrol just a few blocks away and they were able to apprehend the suspect before he was able to knock the door in. The next one who does that will have to hope the police get there first.

          There is a stereotype among the left that anyone who owns a gun is an unintelligent neanderthal redneck. Isn’t it funny how those of us who enjoy civilian marksmanship and self-defense, both long-standing American traditions, are both belittled simultaneously as being so unintelligent as to [not kindly ask criminals to stop murdering us / not join the highly exclusive field of police officers / not trust the telescreen to protect us from thoughtcrime] yet simultaneously be so savvy as to be successful in business and [not pay 100% of our income to taxes / not support public union money-funnels to politicians / not believe the Ministry of Truth]. The whole “anyone who’s not a marxist / trusts in redistributioninst keynesian voodoo-economics is a half-man half-ape mutant abomination” thing gets really old real quick.

          • pgr says:

            But, Keynesian economics does work in spite of what your redneck friends tell you.

            One only has to look to Europes’ current economic problems and see what happens when we don’t follow them instead, but the selfish, ‘fraidy-cat, self-centered polices the conservative right espouses in the USA today ;(

            • Maximus Pectoralis says:

              Sure, it works, there’s just one missing ingredient. Hmm, what could it be…? Oh that’s right, a world war to ramp up production! A few million people dead has never been too high a price for the left to try out something new — just look at the various Soviet Famines and the “Great Leap Forward” in China! Millions starving to death is a small price to pay in the name of workers’ righgs and centralized state economic planning!

              If you actually look at the “austerity” programs in Europe you’ll see it’s a sham. Most countries that implemented “austerity” cut their spending by such small amounts that it would make little or no difference (like 1-2% cuts after raising spending by 50+% over the previous 8-10 years) OR by jacking up taxes. And jacking up taxes, particularly on the rich, in order to maintain or increase government spending levels is exactly what Keynesian economics calls for. I’m pretty sure the only reason the left likes it is because it calls for more government spending, which means more money going out to wasteful bureaucracy and corrupt government unions.

            • Maximus Pectoralis says:

              Oh and one last thing — about those evil selfish conservatives:


              There is no virtue in demanding that the government take money from someone else and give it to someone else. And contrary to what the left may claim, their is no sense of community participation in the government taking your money by force and handing it out to someone you’ve never met, whether they deserve it or not.

              Try donating time, money, blood etc. as I have done and maybe you’ll understand. But no, that’s the government’s job right? You are just supposed to sit by and let the government live your life for you.

    • HomerSimpson says:

      You just KNOW this is Obama’s fault…..somehow

  8. Kuri says:

    And on a future episode of Mythbusters…..

    • framitz says:

      I think this will be more difficult than the 22 cartridge as a fuse.

    • RandomLetters says:

      They could probably do this episode with just pieces from older ones. They’ve come close to this one several times while ding other myths.

  9. Bort says:

    another possible reason for not going to the hospital, no health coverage?

  10. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    Probably a .22? Rimfire is much more prone to this.

  11. CrazyMann says:

    Guns don’t kill people, purses do.

  12. proliance says:

    A .22 will explode if you hold a 9 volt battery against it. I could see this happening in a purse.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Ahhhh, it touched the external contacts on her cell phone battery! Good answer!

  13. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    And I have some experience with this type of situation. My mother in law was a first class hoarder. We literally shoveled stuff out of her house, and began burning stuff in a burning barrel. My sister in law’s husband was nearby, and all of a sudden, he heard “bang, bang, bang” in quick succession. Turns out there was some stray .22 ammo in amongst all the debris. He was hit in the shoulder with a shell casing.

    That’s why I submitted the story. I couldn’t believe someone had this happen to them because they had ammo in their purse!

  14. ldillon says:

    That’s nothing. There was an incident where of a guy who used a live .22 cartridge as a replacement fuse in his pickup truck. He got shot in the groin….

    • Maximus Pectoralis says:

      Didn’t the Mytbusters bust that one years ago?

      • Zowzers says:

        Yeah, that seems really improbable. Nature is lazy, and blowing out the side of the casing is a whole lot easier then actually shooting off the bullet…

        • Maximus Pectoralis says:

          I think it is possible for the case to be projected out, but with a .22 it wouldn’t have very much force. A larger cartridge can carry a dangerous amount of powder, but having the primer in the middle would, I would think, result in a lower chance of accidental ignition. This is both due to the much larger surface area of the casing for a short-circuit to conduct through and the much smaller area for a physical impact.

          Of course if someone is carrying loose ammo in her bag, God only knows what else might be in there which could ignite the primer. IMO if you’re going to carry ammo around, keep it in a magazine (semi-auto pistol) or speed loader (revolver) or, preferrably, in a locked-in magazine or in the cylinder respectively for a carry weapon.

  15. JJFIII says:

    How long before somebody blames Lowe’s and suggests a chargeback, EECB, small claims court, or that they make their own bullets and leg wounds at home?

  16. oldtaku says:

    Lipstick, kleenex, wallet, tampons, sanitizer, lip balm, bullets.

    At least she only shot herself. The worst is when one of these idiots ends up hurting someone else.

  17. MountainCop says:

    I DO make my own bullets and leg wounds at home :)

  18. Buzz says:

    After reading the headline, I just knew she was trying to steal the bullets used for the nail guns.

    • Maximus Pectoralis says:

      I’m curious if it was one of those charges? I’m pretty sure powder actuated tool charges are significantly more powerful than a .22 cartridge since there is a much larger space for gas to expand between the charge and the nail vs. the casing and bullet in a .22LR. I have a powder actuated nailer and it’s quite impressive how such a small charge can drive a nail deep into solid high-strength concrete.

  19. pgr says:

    It’s a sick society we live in!

  20. Press1forDialTone says:

    Aside from the crappy shopping experience, crummy customer service, lack of selection,
    no one to help you, shelves that go up to Neptune, hundreds of beeping fork-lifts, long
    lines at checkouts with monkeys manning the scanners…..this is the main reason I don’t
    shop at Lowe’s but choose the infinitely better Menard’s (a regional competitor) instead.
    The staff call you by name and ask if they can assist you and if not to call the front
    desk number on your cell and ask for them. Can you imagine?

  21. Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

    I bet she had one of those bullet key chains.

  22. DragonThermo says:

    Why is Lowe’s attached to this story? Is it Lowe’s fault for letting her in the store with a loaded purse? Is it Lowe’s fault for loading her purse with ammo?

  23. some.nerd says:


  24. Matthew PK says:

    I don’t understand this story… that’s really not how bullets work. Without a confined space there is not acceleration, just powder burning and the bullet separating from the casing.
    I’m guessing she got a powder burn or that she had done something to the bullet.

  25. shthar says:

    That’s some Wifi they got in that store.

    Or the microwave in the breakroom was on high.