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a possible explanation for "bite the bullet"

Posted by Victor Rivas on April 02, 2010 at 10:26

I have an explanation of the expression "bite the bullet", in connection to "bite the bullet end of the cartridge":

Consider the process of reloading a muzzle-loaded rifle in the times when cartridges were in use:
1. Take the new cartridge into your hand so that the bullet end is up.
2. Bite the bullet end to tear the cartridge open and take the bullet into your mouth.
3. Pour the powder into the muzzle.
4. Spit the bullet into the muzzle.
5. Put the cartridge envelop into the muzzle as a wad.
6. Push everything down.

I believe those cartridges were used mostly in the military, and the process was associated primarily with being in a battlefield and preparing for action.