I’m trying to write about an 1800s outlaw who shot a policeman in the wrist, and another in the leg on two separate occasions. He had a Colt percussion .31 (among other weapons). The wrist wound only broke the skin and travelled under the skin part way around the wrist. The leg wound on the other policeman also only broke the skin, but travelled under the skin probably four or five inches.
This led me to conclude there was something wrong with the revolver. In
the case of the policeman wounded in the wrist, he later identified a
bullet made from a mould belonging to the outlaw as being ‘conical’ and
similar to the one cut from his wrist. In the later leg wound, that
policeman was killed by a longarm wound to the head, a couple of other
wounds, and the strange one to the leg, where the bullet entered under the
skin travelling around to the inner thigh. That revolver bullet was
produced in court being described as ‘conical’.
This got me to thinking that this colt .31 may have had problems with the
percussion caps or the powder. Somehow the revolver was underpowered.
I have seen photos of Colt bullet moulds and of the percussion caps. But I
don’t understand how the bullet was made up. Obviously the bullet was made in the mould, and was fired by the percussion cap, but what was the
cartridge into which powder, bullet and percussion cap were inserted?
More importantly, and this is where I need your help, could old percussion
caps, or, say, dampness or adulteration of the powder, have caused the
stange underpowered shots to both policemen?
Are there any other possible explanations?