What the Powder Does
While the fulminate of the primer explodes, the powder on top of it does not, or at least it should not, explode, but instead it should only barn when the flash from the primer strikes it and further it should burn slowly and evenly, one grain lighting the next one to it until the charge is all consumed.
Now, as every grain of powder burns it sets free a certain amount of gas and when nearly all of the charge is burned the gas generated by it is under a very high pressure and it pushes on all sides of the cartridge with equal force, but since it can't get out except at the open end it has got to start the bullet in order to do so.
As the charge of powder burns the pressure of the gas grows greater and ever greater until the inertia of the bullet—that is its dead weight—is overcome and it is forced to leave the shell.
Collins, A. Frederick. Shooting, for Boys,. New York: Moffat, Yard and, 1917. Print.
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