What is this?
September 1, 2015 4:21 PM   Subscribe

Nail? Projectile? Weapon? It punctured my bike tire.

My tire now looks like this after being punctured as I rode through a sunurban California neighborhood.

Here's a closeup:

I'm worried someone shot it at me. Maybe that's because I have no idea what it is. Do you have a clue? No one I've asked does.
posted by cccorlew to Grab Bag (12 answers total)
it looks like it's chrome plated. people don't chrome plate bullets :)

(okay, a little precautionary googling tells me people do chrome plate bullets. but then they seem to treasure them, not shoot them.)
posted by andrewcooke at 4:25 PM on September 1, 2015

It looks like a nail punch.
posted by tamitang at 4:26 PM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

It looks like the tip is rounded, so not a nail punch (they have a hollow to contain the head of the nail and prevent it slipping). Centre punch maybe, or simply a drift.

The aspect ratio is all wrong for a bullet, but that is not to say it wasn't used as a projectile in this case. However Occum's Razor would suggest that you ran over it, and because of the angle at which it was lying it penetrated the tyre.
posted by GeeEmm at 4:35 PM on September 1, 2015

Best answer: It's a nail set or nail punch. Probably one that was wrapped in a plastic case, but the plastic is missing.

It is absolutely not a bullet.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:40 PM on September 1, 2015

Yeah, looks like a punch or bob of some sort. Something is meant to grip it by that groove. It was not projectiled at you.
posted by jeffamaphone at 4:49 PM on September 1, 2015

I think that's a punch from a tool with a changeable bit. Here's an image of a similar tool set.
posted by 26.2 at 5:10 PM on September 1, 2015

Best answer: Looks like a punch bit from a spring loaded center punch, similar to this one or this one on Amazon. Hard to say for sure, though, as the bit in your picture doesn't look hardened or especially sharp -- I mean, of course it's pointed, but its point looks rather dull for a punch.
posted by mosk at 5:27 PM on September 1, 2015

The closest picture I could find is at this site. This photo shows the type of c-clip which is often fitted to the slot in pins like this.

If you could give the dimensions it may help a bit. From the image with the penny I estimated it is just over 2" long and about 1/4 inch in diameter.

That size and the chromed appearance makes me think of a soldering tip or woodburning tip, but I find nothing online with the groove.

I believe it would be too small for a nail set and most punches would have either a flat or more sharpened business end. And most punches would not have the groove in the upper end. I agree with mosk above that it looks dull for a punch.

Hinge pins would generally have a larger flat end and not so much of a conical tip.

It somewhat makes me think of a set of tools with a handle and interchangeable tool tips - if so, the groove might be to hold the tip in the handle. I just saw the note from 26.2 above. If it was meant to be an awl, it seems too dull, too rounded.

I agree with all of the above that it is a very unlikely projectile. Just a lost bit of metal that was sitting in the roadway just right to catch your tire! :(
posted by tronec at 6:11 PM on September 1, 2015

It looks like a cheap metal stylus for an old-school PDA (like Blackberry era).
posted by holyrood at 7:04 PM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks! I think Mosk has it. I was recently mugged and badly injured while bike commuting so I am likely just a bit paranoid (link to my blog report on it [hope that's OK.]) I didn't think it was a bullet, but thought it might have come out of some sort of nail-gun-like thing that was perhaps launched at me. I am relieved to find it was just another piece of junk in the road that I was unlucky enough to hit just wrong.
posted by cccorlew at 8:02 PM on September 1, 2015

For what it's worth, I also ride Schwalbe Marathons and the only puncture I've ever had was a large nail that took the exact same path through my tyre wall as this thing did through yours. So yeah, while it looks kind of dramatic and unlikely at first glance, with puncture resistant tyres that's probably the one of the common types of puncture you're going to get.
posted by embrangled at 8:24 PM on September 1, 2015

Yeah, looks exactly like the drift pins we use for aligning the holes in mechanical parts before the actual fasteners go in. (So that the non-tapered bolts do actually go in like they're supposed to)
posted by ctmf at 8:31 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

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