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Minimizing damage in test fired .223 rem bullets

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Michael Courtney:
It seems to me that there may be a need for inexpensive methods to minimize the damage in test fired .223 bullets.  There are expensive ways to solve the problem, but such capital expenditures are probably not realistic for examiners who only encounter the need to test fire .223 bullets once a year or less. 

I am bouncing around some potential ideas to reduce damage in test fired .223 bullets using inexpensive and common materials that would be useful for examiners who encounter the need to do so infrequently.

What do y'all think of the value of this research idea?  Is this problem already solved?


Michael Courtney

Charles Clow:
The cotton box seems to work fine.


Geoff Bruton:

I agree with Charles - the cotton box is a very cost-effective and practical way of collecting high velocity projectiles.

Another alternative is safely downloading the propellant charge such that the velocity is reduced to the point where shooting into a water tank is now practical - below 1700 f/s rings a bell...

Good luck, and best wishes to all,

Axel Manthei:
We have done the downloading for years until we found out that downloading might influence  (.... not as intense as ... ) traces on the bullet surface. From this moment on we went to the full load and the moving cotton box.

Cotton seems to work best. But it also depends on the different typs of cotton.



Bob Shem:;topicseen#msg8164

The post above offers another option.

For non-members here's the gist:

Why the foam?

This design is one that I used as the basis of an AFTE seminar presentation in Houston, Texas in 1991.

The presentation was entitled "Recovering High Powered Rifle Bullets at Full Velocity Without Damage".

The reason for this experiment was to find a method to replicate most closely the interior ballistic conditions of the shooting without destroying my test shots in the process.  High powered rifle bullets, particularly the soft points and 223s, tend to come apart in the water tank - unless they are downloaded.

Downloading cartridges was found to affect the markings on the casework bullets in question so I experimented with different bullet collection methods until I came up with the system in the drawing.

My experimental setup was more humble than the system in the drawing.  It consisted of two open-ended four foot tall stackable plywood boxes packed with blocks of open cell polyurethane foam and placed on top of a 55 gallon plastic drum full of water.  I did my shooting from a construction scaffold.

My cheapo setup was total Rube Goldberg, plus I had to do my shooting on the weekend (when no one else was in the building) in our vehicle inspection area with the works down in the grease pit.  This was not the best test firing arrangement for the long term because some of my co-workers are nervous of discharging firearms.

The foam will take a considerable number of bullet passages before replacement is necessary.

The foam stays in place quite well with no (or very little) foam falling from the array into the water tank.

I have attached a photo of two 69 grain Sierra boat tailed hollow point bullets fired back in '91 for this experiment.  The bottom bullet was fired directly into water.  The top bullet passed through eight feet of foam before being stopped by the water.  Both bullets were fired in their factory load condition with no downloading or modification of the ammunition or firearm.

click on the photo for a larger view


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