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ten_ringer 12-17-2009 02:29 AM

alternative to lead bullet ideas
No, I'm not one of those enviro-hippies that wants to get rid of lead because I think it poisons the earth. I'm interested in lead-free alternatives to bullets because of the #1. increasing cost of lead, #2. decreasing availability of lead, and #3. increasing likelihood that our leaders will eventually make modern lead cartridges impossible to legally obtain. I'm tackling the case, primer, and powder problem in another forum, but here is my current idea for a bullet alternative:

1. I build a steel die/press that is of say .308 or .311 diameter (or a bit smaller).
2. Put a measure of de-greased iron shavings or filings in the die along with a small amount of bonding agent.
3. Squash them down to a determined length.
4. Take that out and coat it with nylon or polymer or pre-formed copper jacket.
5. Load up a cartridge and shoot without ruining the barrel?

I realize that this will change bullet weight but not necessarily length. I'm OK with that until I find out how stable they are in flight. I also realize that the bullet diameter might have to be a bit smaller to accommodate the jacket.

You guys are the experts on this sort or thing. I'm the one with the money to make it happen. Tell me what's wrong with this method. I think with all the scrap metal shavings out there and the energy savings on not having to melt the iron, an enterprising guy like me could design a machine to automate this process and churn out cheap bullets. Or maybe I'm just stupid; let me know either way.


tiberius10721 12-17-2009 02:36 AM

hell with that it sounds like to much work!:D Ill just keep buying lead. If your worried about high prices and availibility of lead wouldnt it just be easier for you to smelt your own lead?

robocop10mm 12-17-2009 03:11 PM

You would have inconsistant properties from different batches of scrap. Even with a polymer coating there would be too much steel to steel contact. Not good for barrel.
Using the steel inside a copper jacket could work but you would still have a light weight bullet. Perhaps scrap from non-toxic waterfowl shot manufacturing? More dense than steel.

res45 12-17-2009 05:10 PM

What you trying to do is pretty much how frangible bullets are made it also a technique used by Hornady to make there new NTX bullet. Both are formed from compressed copper with either some form of bonding agent or mixtures of other metals under very high pressure to form the bullet and no coating is needed. I believe in the NTX bullet however that Hornady uses only the compressed metal core and the jacket is made from copper so this eliminates the lead issue.

Steel would probably not be and advisable metal to use even if you could use and coat it,depending on how your forcing cone in pistol or rifling engaged the bullets it might cause problems with separation and I'm not a big fan of steel on steel when it comes to bullets even though most foreign surplus bullet jackets are made of mild steel there at least one piece and not compressed from powered metal.

I'm not trying to discourage your thought process or ideas on the subject but unless you have the right equipment,material and technical knowledge to make a safe and usable bullet I would do just as I have done for years and and still doing right now stocking up on what I think I will need,commercial cast bullets are still reasonably priced all over the net or can be purchased locally,component bullets are available in bulk a decent prices.

I just recently started casting my own pistol bullets, me and a reloading /shooting friend went in together on a lead pot and molds and in just a few week of looking around we have about 200 lbs. of WW alloy in ingots ready to cast and more on the way. I can understand about your concerns about the government and there banning of lead bullets but until I see ammo Mfg. all switching over to all non lead bullets I'm not to concerned about it,heck out here in the sticks where I live if you want to register you big game kill you have to drive 25 miles just to do that,can't even tell you last time I saw a game warden except over on the lake during the summer writing tickets for DWI and to many people on the boat. So being worried about lead free bullets isn't to high on my agenda as it is for some.

jca245 07-24-2012 06:49 PM

Was using a scrap steel bullet in a sabot discussed?

c3shooter 07-24-2012 09:54 PM

You want to be VERY careful that you are not violating Federal laws on MANUFACTURE of armor piercing ammo (and check THEIR definition of the same)

Two other problems- first the mass of a sintered iron bullet will be about HALF of a same size lead bullet. Will make major change in trajectory, down range energy, pressure curve, burring rate of powder, etc.

Second, we tend to think in terms of speed as linear acceleration, but there is a second speed here- the rotation of the bullet as it spins. Let's see now- a .308 is about 1 revolution in 10 inches, at say, 2700 fps, times 60 to go to minutes, x 12 to go to inches, divide by 10 for the 1-10, and HOLY CRAP! This is why bullets can blow apart in flight- from the centrifugal forces.

jca245 09-22-2013 12:16 PM

I was thinking of a similar method except using a hardening "clay" made from finely powered metal and a bonding agent similar to the Hornady bullet. You can use pretty much any metal as long as it is finely ground and blended well. Mold forming using low temperature and pressure is more doable from a home system perspective. There was an experiment done in Myth busters in making and using cannon balls made from stone. I was thinking of a concrete type substance used for forming the bullet. I would not be able to grind out perfect bullets from a rock in my lifetime! LOL
Either way, as it was pointed out, the forces acting on the projectile in the spinning and acceleration would bust it apart unless it was bonded together very well. JB Weld anyone? :)

WebleyFosbery38 09-22-2013 12:33 PM

Truth is, lead is as good as it gets for making Bullets and Solder, both of which are being demonized for really no good reason. Bullets were made for killing, solder was made for holding metals together. Neither was created for eating and the occasional lead BB in Game Animals can be eliminated before it even gets to the kitchen. If you find one someone missed, spit it out and keep eating!

We actually reclaim most electronic waste and even lead from shooting ranges because its valuable and it can be dangerous if ingested at high levels. Im a bit more concerned about the squiggly lightbulbs with Mercury in them, bad for your eyes (ballast flicker) and your bodies if the mercury is released into our aqua-firs!

Chainfire 09-22-2013 12:59 PM

Cast gold or silver would make fine bullets. Judging by the cost of .22 rounds for the last six months, I think that must be what they are now being made of.

WebleyFosbery38 09-22-2013 01:01 PM


Originally Posted by Chainfire (Post 1379782)
Cast gold or silver would make fine bullets. Judging by the cost of .22 rounds for the last six months, I think that must be what they are now being made of.

So sad but so true...

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