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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I don't know if I'm posting this in the right place or not, but please move it if not. I shot some of my reloads yesterday in an attempt to recover the bullets, and measure them for expansion, and penetration. I used two 3" think phone books soaked in water, backed by 3 layers of soaked OSB. I was shooting .44 spcl loads with 240gr RFN lead bullets. My problem is that this back stop did not stop the bullets. They all went thru everything, and were lost. I don't really want to go to the expense of Ballistic Gelatin. So do any of you have any recomendations? I have been saving milk jugs for some of these tests, but am now not sure how well they will work. I need something that I don't have to buy every time I shoot them.
 

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Well, a snowbank will work, but I spent some time in your area and don't recall seeing too many of those.

Do you have any source of old water pressure tanks, water heaters, barrels, or the like, or even a swimming pool or deep ditch. If so, you can try firing the bullets into 2-3 feet of water and that should stop them OK, but note that anything that will stop those bullets will usually distort/expand them. If you just want to recover un-marred bullets, you can use a light load (e.g., 2-3 grains of Bullseye), which even a few feet of cotton batting should stop.

Or just drive to Montana where they have snow banks.

Jim
 

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You can use anything with enough water in it and fire direct into the water. A swimming pool works well. Bullets shot into water don't travel very far and also don't get very distorted. Another option is to fill around 10 one gallon milk or orange juice plastic containers with water and line them up in a single line. Make sure you rope them together though because the hydraulic shock when the bullet hits the first one will pretty much blow out the back of it.
 

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Depending on how hard the lead is and how much or little it expands, even water jugs may not be enough. I capture fired bullets for a living (Forensic Firearm Examiner) and we shoot into a water tank over eight feet long. A bullet that expands well will usually fall to the bottom of the tank around three feet in front of the shooting port, but a full metal jacket or something that doesn't expand is usually near the far wall of the tank over eight feet away.

Now... does it have enough energy after that long to punch through a water jug? I really can't say.

As far as gelatin goes it is pretty much the same thing. Anything that does not expand well will easily go all the way through over three feet of gelatin.
 

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Sand. About 6" of sand will stop most bullets, if I recall right. That's why sandbags are used so often in the army for bunkers. They wont last indeffinately, but they will stop a bullet fairly well and will be easy to dig through to find it as well. It should give it enough resistance to expand well enough too. Get an old feed sack and fill it up and lean it against your backstop. Not quite as easy to use as the water, but maybe easier to set up depending on where you are doing this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you all for your suggestions. I don't have a water tank that is big enough, and plastic 55 gal drums are around $30 each around here. I suppose I'll keep collecting empty milk jugs, and try them.
 

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There are really three issues here. Stopping bullets (dirt bank, sandbag), stopping bullets while preserving evidence (water tank), and testing expansion (wet phone books, ballistic gel). The OP seems interested in the third, but is having problems in that the material he is using doesn't stop the bullets so he can analyze the results.

In my limited experience I found that fine sand will cause good and consistent expansion, very similar to that obtained by ballistic gel, while also stopping the bullet in a satisfactory manner.

Just FYI, contrary to the general idea, ballistic gel is not a foolproof way of predicting how bullets will perform in flesh. What it does is provide a uniform medium for comparing bullets against one another. Flesh, animal or human, is not consistent enough to use for comparison purposes, those gunzine pictures of mushroomed bullets from "How I got my 98-point buck" notwithstanding.

Jim
 

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Well, a snowbank will work, but I spent some time in your area and don't recall seeing too many of those.

Do you have any source of old water pressure tanks, water heaters, barrels, or the like, or even a swimming pool or deep ditch. If so, you can try firing the bullets into 2-3 feet of water and that should stop them OK, but note that anything that will stop those bullets will usually distort/expand them. If you just want to recover un-marred bullets, you can use a light load (e.g., 2-3 grains of Bullseye), which even a few feet of cotton batting should stop.

Or just drive to Montana where they have snow banks.

Jim
Not that it helps your where you are so much, but a snowbank is perfect. I've recovered bullets you'd swear weren't even fired.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
There are really three issues here. Stopping bullets (dirt bank, sandbag), stopping bullets while preserving evidence (water tank), and testing expansion (wet phone books, ballistic gel). The OP seems interested in the third, but is having problems in that the material he is using doesn't stop the bullets so he can analyze the results.

In my limited experience I found that fine sand will cause good and consistent expansion, very similar to that obtained by ballistic gel, while also stopping the bullet in a satisfactory manner.

Just FYI, contrary to the general idea, ballistic gel is not a foolproof way of predicting how bullets will perform in flesh. What it does is provide a uniform medium for comparing bullets against one another. Flesh, animal or human, is not consistent enough to use for comparison purposes, those gunzine pictures of mushroomed bullets from "How I got my 98-point buck" notwithstanding.

Jim
If I decide to use clean sand, how much will I need, and can you make any suggestions on how to contain it for the tests.
 

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If I decide to use clean sand, how much will I need, and can you make any suggestions on how to contain it for the tests.
Doesn't take too much to stop pistol rounds. A foot or two will do if it's contained. The trick is, as your ? asks is "contained" .
Sand bags that are tied shut work well. You can untie them and pour out the sand and bullets. The typical burlap/canvas types will hold up to a few rounds before starting to pour out sand on their own.
 
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