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Old October 24, 2013, 09:42 AM   #1
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Test Firing Bullets

Is there a preferred method to test fire bullets so that I can retrieve them and see what they look like? What is a good way to do this on a low budget?
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Old October 24, 2013, 11:09 AM   #2
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Not just cheap, but free if you're a wine drinker, or know one. Wine boxes! Yup, those rectangular 5-liter "drink it by the gallon" boxes o' booze.
Here's how.

1. Drink the wine & sober up.

2. Pop out the little black "faucet", by separating it from the whitish plastic lip to the internal "baggies".

3. Rinse out the bladder/baggies with tap water to prevent a sour smell later.

4. set up the bladder with the opening at the top & fill completely with tap water.

5. re-insert the faucet by pushing it back into the friction fit collar.

6. Stack as many as you need back to back to trap the fired bullet. (6~7 seems about right for a .357 mag pistol). You can tape tie or whatever them together to get a good tight fit.

Fire into the center & recover the bullet by looking at how many are perforated.

Before & after of a Hornady 125 Gr XTP @ 1350 FPS fired from 15 yds done this way.
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Last edited by wogpotter; October 24, 2013 at 11:16 AM.
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Old October 24, 2013, 11:16 AM   #3
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Folks are also fond of soaked (submersed 24 hours) phone books, generally held together by duct tape.

Simple gallon milk jugs filled with water back to back to back, etc, as appropriate will also work most times.

Believe it or not, gummy bears/vitamins will stop a bullet surprisingly well. My uncle once had a bottle of gummy vitamins that was accidentally left in the car. The solidified block was no more than 1/2"x2"x4" and it EASILY stopped multiple .204Ruger bullets fired at over 4,000fps from a distance of just a few yards. It's almost incomprehensible to me and I saw it with my own eyes. Finding the bottle afterwords was another challenge altogether.

If you have one, a 55 gallon drum filled with water and shot from above will stop MOST bullets. Just don't be too in love with the drum and consider the possible directions that the bullet could deflect through the sides.
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Old October 24, 2013, 03:55 PM   #4
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Old October 24, 2013, 04:56 PM   #5
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Thank you for mentioning wet phone books Brian.


Another ubiquitous item not so ubiquitous any more. Makes me feel old and slightly foolish when I tell somebody to get some old phone books or old Montgomery Wards or Sears catalogs and people gently remind me it is the 21st Century and most normal folk find that stuff online now days. (You have heard of the internet right Dale?) It’s starting to get right up there with ‘clockwise’ and ‘dialing a phone’.
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Old October 24, 2013, 05:44 PM   #6
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Thank you all.

These are all great suggestions and I thank you all for them. I'm thinking they may all be attempted at least once since I'm test firing multiple rounds in various calibers.
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Old October 25, 2013, 03:07 AM   #7
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go, 10/25/13

I've discovered what works for recovering multiple fired bullets and a number of ways that don't work. I needed to recover multiple cast lead rifle boolits ( 30-30, 30-06, .223) with different alloys and velocities to see how much retained weight they had and to see their deformity.

First up- failures. Firing into sand. All you get is little lumps of lead.

Second- I welded a three foot long X four inch diameter pipe to a flat steel plate for the bottom. Filled it up with water and stood it up vertically. I stood on a creek bank and fired down into the pipe with both a .45 cast lead boolit and a 30-30 metal jacketed soft point. The .45 hit the bottom and flattened while throwing about a gallon of water into my face. The 30-30 opened nicely and didn't hit bottom but threw all four gallons of water onto myself and the rifle. I had to detail-strip it to get all the water out of the knooks and crannies.

Successes- since the internet era I can't find phone books in quantity to do the testing. What did work was to go to my local Salvation Army and buy all the large-paper format paperback books I wanted at $0.50 each. One titled "The Federal Tax Code" was particularly rewarding to shoot as was Jane Fonda's autobiography "My Life So Far." I still think fifty cents for a Jane Fonda book is still overpriced though.

Next you put the paperback books in a bucket and add water. Let them soak for 48 hours. They will swell up by about 50% so don't pack them tightly when dry or you can't get them out. Then put them in a square bucket or box and stack the buckets/boxes up in front of your shooting station. Just fire into the first box and then separate the boxes to show how far they went. Then open the books in the last box and flip through the pages till you get to your boolits. My rifle boolits usually went in 16-19 inches. Sometimes it's tough to open the wet pages and find your boolit so using dry, unsoaked books after the first 16" of wet books makes recovering them a snap. I also tried wet newspaper but it was really tough to open and recover the boolits. Good luck.

best wishes- oldandslow
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Old October 28, 2013, 10:15 AM   #8
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I use wet phone books or milk jugs filled with water.

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Old October 28, 2013, 12:18 PM   #9
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Sounds like a ridiculous volume of work and a horrendous mess... all of it heavy and filthy.

Seems as if the best method is somewhat described in DaleA's post #5.

Mouse around the 'net until you've found some guy that does all that nonsense and posts pictures of his results!
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