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Trick Bullet

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Normally bullets are used to damage or kill a target by simply hitting them while moving really fast. Sometimes however, you want your bullet to do something else. Maybe you're fighting enemies that shrug off or dodge standard bullets, or you just want a special trick up your sleeve (or magazine, as the case may be). Enter the trick bullet. These can perform all sorts of neat tricks to give the shooter an edge. Armor piercing, penetration, fragmentation and incendiary rounds are probably the most common types due to existing in real life, and silver bullets are also common thanks to their purported effectiveness against werewolves (and some vampires). In fiction however, they can get much, much weirder: Homing bullets, ricocheting bullets, and literal bottomless magazines are just the tip of the iceberg.

Compare Depleted Phlebotinum Rounds (bullets that do the same job as a normal bullet, better) Abnormal Ammo (which is generally used because you don't have access to normal bullets, and any special effects are just a bonus). Some Mage Marksmen can enchant their bullets to become this. See also Trick Arrow for the archery equivalent and Trick Bomb for the explosive equivalent.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Sven in Black Cat frequently supplies Train with these. Freeze bullets come to mind, as do paint bullets.
  • In the first chapter of City Hunter Ryo uses a gold-tipped .500 Nitro Express bullet so that, once shot in the ear of the target (Ryo is just that good), it won't leave the skull and use all of its enormous power (it's an elephant bullet) to move him. As the target is the challenger for a boxing championship who has murdered the previous challenger (leading to Ryo being hired by his fiancee to avenge him) and is threatening the life of the champion's daughter to fix the match, the well-timed shot has the effect of making it appear that the champion hit the challenger so hard it not only killed him, but sent him flying out of the ring.
  • In Ghost in the Shell, Togusa likes to put these in his gun. In the first movie and an episode of the series, he does it with a Tracking Device (fired into a car).
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind:
    • Giorno modifies some bullets that transform into a tree for Mista to fire at Ghiaccio to knock him off their car and unfreeze it.
    • When fighting Cioccolata, Giorno modifies some bullets that transform into a tree for Mista to fire at Cioccolata's helicopter to ensnare it. Later Giorno uses another bullet to transform into another tree to prevent him from falling, and kicks a section of its branch for it to later transform back into a bullet to fire itself into Cioccolata's head. Later, said bullet transforms into a beetle that burrows out of his head.
  • Macross 7: Basara's Valkyrie (and later, the rest of Fire Bomber's custom machines) has its guns loaded with "speaker pods" rather than bullets. Rather than explode, these rounds burrow into an enemy machine, seal the hole they create, and broadcast Basara's music into the enemy ship. Notably, he used this ammunition long before they discovered the series' main enemies are more affected by music than bullets: Basara is a pacifist and believes he can bring opposing factions together through song (it's sheer coincidence he turns out to be correct).
  • One Piece's Usopp's "Stars" would fall into this category, fired from his preferred weapon, the slingshot. Standard ammunition include exploding pellets (needle and fire varieties), rotten eggs, Tabasco sauce, slippery oil, glue, and toy cockroaches. After the Time Skip, he gains seeds that form quick growing plants to terraform the battlefield or attack the enemy. Or make an emergency boat.
  • Some of the caster shells in Outlaw Star do things other than kill the target. Early on in the series Aisha is shot with one and it only paralyzes her, despite being a rather large caliber. Then again, she's an alien Cat Girl...and that's ignoring the ones that create micro-black holes. Oh, and it's not enough to keep the Big Bad down for good, either.
  • Rebuild World: Akira ends up using multiple of these that typically start priced Too Awesome to Use but get sold to him cheaper as his Hunter Rank rises.
    • Due to having difficulty fighting tank-like monsters, Akira starts using Armor-Piercing Attack CWH rounds that allow for a One Hit Poly Kill. The recoil means having Powered Armor is a Required Secondary Power to survive firing them. He needs to be using his anti-material rifle or later multi-weapon to fire them, however.
    • Akira gets cheaper armor-piercing rounds for his assault rifles, that nonetheless let him ambush a group of robbers turning two to Ludicrous Gibs and sending a third Blown Across the Room.
    • After Akira ends up carrying around too many different weapons and pares down to two Bifurcated Weapon SSB rifles, to stand-in for his Grenade Launcher, he sometimes uses clips filled with Homing Projectile rocket-propelled-grenade bullets. Essentially tiny homing missiles, they’re good for hitting a moving target, making up for the inaccuracy of firing from a moving vehicle, and shooting down enemy missiles.
    • To make up for the fact he keeps running into enemies firing whole clips of CWH rounds barely scratches, Akira ends up getting bullet Energy Weapon hybrid C-rounds. These are Charged Attack bullets that receive a customizable charge from his multi-weapon’s energy reserves.
    • Akira eventually gets illegal Antimatter rounds that create an Unrealistic Black Hole like effect for severe threats.
  • Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs: Since his Robot Buddy Luxion has factories that allow him to make pretty much anything, Leon typically uses rubber bullets magically enchanted to put enemies to sleep. The reason for this is to prevent escalation and try to avoid getting the spotlight for killing so many people (also killing people makes Leon Stress Vomit.)
  • In the "Escape from Pain" episode of Trigun, Vash the Stampede is hired to kill a teenage runaway, but shoots the boy with rubber bullets to fool his employer.
  • World Trigger:
    • The Lead Bullet is a special type of Trion bullet that can phase through shields and produce lead bricks on targeted Trion Bodies to slow down the actions of opponents rather than damaging Trion Bodies. Notable users: Tamakoma-2 Yūma Kuga (in his Black Trigger,) and Chika Amatori, Mirai Hatohara (former Ninomiya Squad member,) and A07 Shūji Miwa.
    • Both the Hound and Viper are damage dealing bullets that aren't limited to flying in a straight path. While the Hound can curve to home in on a target, the Viper can make sharp turns based on a pre-programmed trajectory or alter its path on the fly if the user is skilled enough to manipulate it in real time.

    Comic Books 
  • The entirely creepy infectious bullets from Crossed.
  • The Gambler, foe of the Golden Age Green Lantern, carried a derringer that fired ammonia gas and blackout gas as well as regular bullets.
  • Judge Dredd:
    • During The Apocalypse War, Judge Dredd gets an armourer to reduce the charge of a standard execution round to penetrate his badge and an inch of flesh only so he can fake his suicide. It works, but the charge is still stronger than intended and ends up pressing on his heart, weakening him and making escape from the Grand Hall of Justice more difficult.
    • The Lawgiver's Abnormal Ammo. While canonically, the six rounds are Standard, Armour Piercing, Incendiary, Ricochet, Heat Seeker and Hi-Ex, some writers add different types such as marker shells, stumm gas rounds and electronic tagging rounds.
  • Back before he got his own series, The Punisher would have to use non-lethal rounds to justify him teaming up with other heroes. These were eventually revealed to have a painful sedative in them.
  • In Rocket Raccoon's solo title, a merchant in the background of a bazaar is selling plant-looking guns she claims impregnates living targets with their bullets to grow more guns.
  • Shooting Star, a member of the Rangers team in the Marvel Universe, wears a pair of specially-designed "star shooters", which look like six-shooters but which actually shoot projectiles made of an unknown material, shaped like five-pointed stars. The stars paralyze living beings they hit.
  • Superman: Terra-Man's six-shooters can fire a variety of different ammo, including kryptonite slugs, heat seekers, explosive rounds, and bullets that teleport their target.

    Fan Works 
  • My Huntsman Academia expands on the original RWBY's use of Dust-enhanced ammo. Izuku usually carries Gravity Dust ammo, which gives his shots extra oomph and help him punch his foes into walls and each other more easily with the pure kinetic force they provide. He often buys a few clips of Lightning Dust ammo when going on especially tough missions. Those hit by it are shocked, making it useful against both Grimm and people due to causing temporary paralysis.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Le Cercle rouge: Jansen is shown smelting his own bullet. Later he explains to a mystified Corey that the idea is to make a special bullet that will be in a molten state when it hits the keyhole, which will allow it to fill up the space between the tumblers in the lock, thus acting like a key and deactivating the alarm system at the jewelry store. It works.
  • In Dobermann, Dobermann has a variety of miniature rocket shells that he fires from a launcher mounted in the barrel shroud of his Hand Cannon. Ones we see used include tear gas and high explosive.
  • In Heathers, there are the Ich Luge bullets, which pierce the skin and tranquilize, without killing. Subverted in that they're actually completely ordinary bullets, and Veronica is being lied to.
  • Hellboy has the titular character shoot Sammael with a tracking bullet.
  • In The Hunter (1980), "Papa" Thorson carries a stun gun that fires beanbag rounds to allow him to bring his bounties in alive. Leads to this immortal exchange:
    "What's that?"
    "Stun gun."
    "What's it do?"
    "Ruins your day."
  • Phone Booth: The cops shoot Stu with a rubber bullet to trick the sniper.
  • In The Rundown, The Rock's character is shot with bean-bag rounds.
  • The bullets in Wanted; the conceit is that some are multiple-stage bullets, like an Apollo-era rocket, and are designed to be able to bend, manoeuvre or otherwise change their course in flight.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Eddie use a gun that fires toon bullets: bullets that are self-aware cartoons and can steer themselves in flight. Unfortunately, they aren't the brightest of toons.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • The mutant-cure delivering bullets from X-Men: The Last Stand.
    • Amnesia bullets in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Although technically those weren't "amnesia bullets", they were regular bullets made out of adamantium, thus the only thing they had that could pierce Logan's Nigh-Invulnerable skull. They were supposed to kill him but his brain was able to regenerate, just without a huge chunk of his memories. Anyone else would fair far worse than just amnesia.
  • xXx features both standard tranq rounds and a "blood drop" round that not only delivers a dose of tranquilizer but includes a blood squib that makes it look like the tranq'd target is actually shot with a standard bullet.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Classic Doctor Who episode "Battlefield", UNIT is shown to have developed specialized bullets for the most common alien weaknesses, such as gold tipped for Cybermen, high explosives for Yetis, armor piercing for robots, even silver for Werewolves.
  • In The Expanse the guards on Dresden's secret research station had guns loaded with gel rounds, that for some reason were colored blood red so that the already jumpy OPA boarding party (who weren't using gel rounds) panicked when one of them took a gel to the helmet. None of the guards survived.
  • In the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Burned," a man wanted for setting fire to his ex holds off the cops by threatening to kill himself with a knife. Benson shoots him with rubber bullets in order to prevent a suicide and to take him in. As the SVU cops had never used non-lethal bullets before this scene, and there's no set-up for it in the episode, it's close to being an Ass Pull.
  • Mission: Impossible: In "Gunslinger", Jim uses tranquilizer bullets to allow him to capture the Big Bad and The Dragon by staging a Showdown at High Noon.
  • Supernatural: A devil's trap bullet is an ordinary bullet with a pentagram carved onto the tip. It was first devised by Henry Winchester as a way of stopping Abaddon. When someone fires one of these bullets into a demon, it acts the same way as a devil's trap by debilitating the demon and keeping them from moving or using their powers, but it can be removed with some effort.
  • The security guard on Wonderfalls carries a gun with rubber bullets. The effect is that they knock the target off his feet without wounding him.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A scenario in the old Adventurer's Club magazine called for the PCs to be spies trying to infiltrate a company headquarters. This was actually a training mission, and the "guards" carried guns loaded with specialized ammo that felt like a normal bullet but didn't do the damage. The GM was told to tell the players they'd taken damage based on the caliber of gun they were shot with, but track the actual damage secretly until someone got around to checking the injury. (One option for this scenario involved real criminals trying to break into the "headquarters" while the PCs were in the middle of their infiltration ... and their weapons were real.)
  • Eclipse Phase, being made by some of the Shadowrun devs and set just a little past the Technological Singularity, has several of these for Firearms, on top of the usual ammo types like Armor Piercing rounds. Railguns can only use regular and Armor Piercing rounds, though.
    • 'Flux' ammo, that can reconfigure itself, allowing users to inflict normal wounds, or inflict lesser injuries for crowd control.
    • Bug ammo, which tags the target and allows you to track them via the Mesh.
    • Capsule ammo, as per Shadowrun Capsule rounds above.
    • Jammer ammo, which sticks to the target and jams wireless signals.
    • Splash ammo, which is similar to Capsule, but splashes the contents on the target instead of injecting it directly into them.
    • Zap ammo, which stuns enemies like a taser shot.
      • There are also several 'smart' ammo types, which - with the exception of Biter, Flayer, and Proximity types, can be combined with the above-mentioned types.
    • Accushot ammo, which reconfigures itself in-flight to ignore the effects of wind, drag, and gravity - allowing users to ignore range penalties.
    • Biters and Flayers, which increase damage dealt, and Proximity ammo that can harm targets even if it doesn't strike them directly.
    • Homing and Laser-Guided ammo, Exactly What It Says on the Tin. 'Zero' ammo allows burst and full-auto weapons to 'zero in' on a target during extended firing.
    • Ultra-Tech has a truly amazing number: Aerosol, liquid, flare, memory baton, tangler, stingray (to disable robots), swarm, EMP, jammer, strobe, warbler, force, implosion, psibomb, stasis, vortex. Those are just the non-lethal ones.
    • High-Tech has basically everything realistic.
  • Paranoia cone rifle shells.
    • ECM: electronic jamming equipment - any electrical equipment (including robots) in the Area of Effect stopped working.
    • Smoke: smoke cloud that blocked normal vision.
    • Corrosion gas: damaged all metal in the Area of Effect.
    • Vomit gas: caused severe nausea in victims.
    • Gauss gas: laser fire through the Area of Effect is more effective.
    • Dirt gas: made laser reflec armor less effective.
    • Hallucinogenic gas: Oh look! Beautiful pink unicorns!
  • Expatriette from Sentinels of the Multiverse specialized in guns, and has specialized ammo to match. From the mundane (Hollow Point rounds), to the uncommon but still used in Real Life (Incendiary Ammo), to the clearly exotic (Liquid Nitrogen Ammo, which comes with a debuff on the damage dealing capabilities of whomever is hit by it, and Shock rounds, which deal extra damage on every enemy target in addition to whomever they're shot at]]
  • Shadowrun
    • Paintball rounds - used to mark enemies for later identification.
    • Gel ammo: does stun damage instead of lethal.
    • Ex-Ex: or (extra) explosive rounds. For when a grenade is too lethal, but regular ammo isn't lethal enough—or illegal enough.
    • Capsule rounds: for delivering a drug cocktail of your choice directly into the bloodstream.
    • The following rounds also exist in the game, but have real life counterparts
      • Dragon's Breath: shotgun -> flamethrower
      • Stick 'n Shock: taser rounds
      • Shock Lock: for breaching doors
  • Warhammer40000 (of course) has the Imperium employ these, specifically for the Bolters. Because having full-auto .75 caliber RPG-bullets wasn't enough, they also come in super-armor-piercing, anti-materiel, anti-psyker, incendiary, sniper and "mutagenic acid" flavors. The last one is pretty much official terminology for "Tyranid killers".
    • Some Dark Eldar weapons aren't intended to kill, as they need to torture their victims in order to sustain their souls.

    Video Games 
  • Nisha the Lawbringer in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! gains these with her Riflewoman capstone skill, The Unforgiven. When using her Showdown ability, any shots that hit enemies ricochet to hit other enemies for 10% damage. Additionally, her bullets have bombs that explode at the end of Showdown, heavily damaging any enemy who survived getting shot.
  • Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls: The Megaphone Hacking Gun uses a variety of Truth Bullets, including Move that activates machines and Dance that forces Monokuma units to dance.
  • Fate/Grand Order has EMIYA Alter's Noble Phantasm, Unlimited Lost Works. He combines his guns, and fires a bullet with his Origin of "sword" into the enemy, manifesting his Reality Marble with them as the anchor. Since they're incompatible, the results are... messy.
  • Ghost Trick: Cabanela fires a special bullet into Yomiel's body, which can be tracked by a modified pocket watch.
  • In the Mega Man Zero series, EX Skills for Zero's Buster Shot weapon. In the first game (where there are no EX Skills) this is limited to one of the game's three elemental types (fire, ice, lightning) but the second game onwards expands on the system, giving Zero a wide range of attacks with the Buster Shot. The most common shot types include a Spread Shot and an Energy Ball that either blows up on impact (fire-type) or leaves a trail of sparks when it hits a wall or the floor (elec-type).
  • Team Fortress 2: the Engineer's Rescue Ranger can fire a spike with a battery attached to it that can repair friendly buildings in addition to damaging targets.
    • The Medic's Crusader's Crossbow fires a large syringe, which somehow heals allies yet harms enemies, even disguised Spies.
  • Terraria features a wide variety of special bullets, from the commonly seen silver, ricocheting, penetrating, and homing bullets to weirder ammunition such as cursed bullets, nano bullets, and party bullets.
  • West of Loathing has Silver Bullets that do double damage against undead and demons, incendiary bullets that ignite a target, and chemical bullets that poison their targets.

    Web Animation 
  • In RWBY, ammunition can be enhanced with Dust for various effects. For instance, Gravity Dust ammo has far more oomph to the point of rocketing the one using it backward when fired.

    Western Animation 
  • In Duck Dodgers in the 24˝th Century, Dodgers fires an Ultimatum Gun at Marvin, which shoots a bullet that stops in mid-air, opens and out pops a written ultimatum. Marvin responds with an Ultimatum Responder, which fires a bullet that stops and shoots a bullet of its own. Dodgers fires the Ultimatum gun again, and this time the bullet's message reads "Ouch!"
  • In one Halloween Episode of Gargoyles, Owen shoots a were-Fox with a gun, later revealing that it was neither a bullet nor a tranquilizer, but a tracking and monitoring device. There was also the episode where Dr. Sevarius shot Elisa's brother with a gun loaded with a vial of Mutagenic Goo that turned him into a pseudo-gargoyle (a flying cat-monster thing).
  • Hanna-Barbera's Ricochet Rabbit and Droop-a-Long Coyote had Ricochet fire bullets that - for example - would stop in front of the bad guy, open up to show a hand carrying a mallet, and bop the bad guy on the head.

    Real Life 
  • See rubber bullets. This kind of thing can be found in most calibers but shotgun shells take the overall award; ignoring stuff like grenades and other weapons we have:
    • Rounds designed to breach doors.
      • You can make a shotgun round that work similarly to a breaching round at home by mixing birdshot with melted wax. The result is a slug with a similar amount of energy as a solid lead slug, but with much higher stopping power and lower penetration. This does decrease the accuracy, but not as much as you would expect.
    • Beanbag rounds (designed to be less-lethal).
    • More recently; Taser rounds, although they're still experimental (most recently seen in the case of Raul Moat).
    • Dragon's Breath, anyone?
    • There are also military and law enforcement training rounds known as simunition, that have the same results as paintballs but are sized like normal rounds and fired from standard issue weapons that has their entire upper receivers, barrels, operating parts, and magazines replaced, and often have portions of the weapons painted blue. They have the same general shape, but these changes are intentionally highly visible so that mistakes and harmful accidents are not as likely to occur.
  • Grenade Launchers can fire signal flares when needed, and distress flares are often loaded into standard 12-gauge shotgun cases.
  • The Taser XREP is a miniaturized taser fitted within a 12 gauge shell with a range of 100 feet, primarily intended for use by police forces as a less-lethal incapacitation option.
  • Smart Bullets, though most are still in development or experimental. The term is a catch-all for several different types, such as guided bullets, bullets that transmit data about the target area, and intentionally limited range bullets (intended to minimize the risk of collateral damage).