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(1990's, United States) I heard the following at work in the gun shop. The events described below (if it's not a legend) occurred in the 1990's in the southwest.
A small-time hood (about to be even smaller) broke into the home of a World War Two veteran and stole, among other things, the old G.I.'s .45 automatic pistol, which he used in battle in the 1940's. The hoodlum then reported directly to a local convenience store and proceeded to rob the cashier while brandishing his new pistol. The cashier, no dummy, followed orders and handed over the contents of the register.
Our thug took the money and turned to leave, but suddenly decided he didn't want to leave a witnesses... other than the security camera, that is. He leveled the pistol at the cashier and pulled the trigger.
"CLICK!" went the gun.
At this unexpected development, the puzzled crook looked straight down the barrel of his weapon and uttered the words, "What the...?"
As it turned out, the WWII veteran had WWII vintage ammunition in his WWII vintage pistol. Priming caps over time are known to lose their "spontaneous" nature, particularly if stored improperly, causing what is known as a hang-fire: The primer smolders into a delayed ignition.
Such was the case here.
Just as the puzzled crook had the barrel pointed squarely at his own eye, the hang-fired primer detonated, sending a half-inch chunk of lead and associated hot combustion gases directly into the felon's skull at 900 feet per second.
The range was less than six inches.
As the story was related to me, the police officer who responded to the original gun burglary was also at the scene of the armed robbery. He picked up the .45 and verified the serial number, then returned it to the WWII veteran.
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