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Thread: Bullet trap for recycling lead – need help please

  1. #1
    Boolit Master JIMinPHX's Avatar
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    Bullet trap for recycling lead – need help please

    With the price of lead going through the roof & wheel weights becoming hard to find, I decided that it was time for me to build a little bullet trap so that I can reuse my lead.

    I’m toying around with a couple of different design ideas, but coming out of the gate, I decided to stay with a tried & true design. I basically copied the .22 rimfire traps that can be had commercially for about $50 & just made one out of heavier material. I used a piece of 3/8” A-36 steel plate at a 45 degree angle for the backstop. I took a couple of shots at it with a pellet rifle & the pellets ended up in the decelerator chamber, so I think that I have good geometry.

    The next big question is how hard can I hit this thing without damaging the backstop. I’m going to try it out tomorrow. I’ll hit it with some 38s first & if that goes well, then I’ll move up to a .45acp. I’m a little shy about pointing a magnum at it, even with just 13BNH lead. Does anyone out there have any experience with a 3/8” soft steel plate backstop? Does anyone know how big of a slug I can throw at this thing & how fast before I bend it? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Jim

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    Jim,
    Way back when, I shot NRA Hunters' Pistol Silhouette. We used 3/8" hot rolled steel for the targets. The .41 Mag and heavy .44 Mag loads would bend the targets. 41 Mag was the worst offender.. Now, these targets were oriented 90 degrees to the muzzle, so that probably aggravated the problem. High velocities will ruin your backstop in short order, but non-magnums should be OK. You might consider welding an "X" shaped truss of the same material to the backside of the impact area.
    BTW, if you know someone in the local haghway dept., see if you can get some broken blade edges from a grader or other earth moving machine. They are said to be very hard and wear resistant.

    Jack

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    Boolit Master






    Lloyd Smale's Avatar
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    take a look at mine here http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?t=21235 it was made of simular material and takes constant hits from 500 linebaughs and ive shot .223 and .308 fmj at it many many times and it shows absoultely no wear. The day that pic was taken i emptied the lead barrel for the second time and it weighted 325 lbs so you can get some idea how much lead that its taken so far.
    Soldier of God, sixgun junky, Retired electrical lineman. My office was a 100 feet in the air, closer to God the better

  4. #4
    Boolit Master and Generous Donator
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    JIMinPHX:

    Keep us posted, and provide photos or sketches when you get it worked out. I have gotten some bismuth from STP here, to try out (straight or alloyed with 5-8% tin) as an alternative to the soon-to-be-banned lead here in PRK. But at $6-8 per lb., I definitely want to be able to recycle it. I plan to work with loads in the range of .22 CF Maynard to .44 Spl., at least to start with.

    floodgate

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    Static steel plates made of the same material will dish after many shots and become unsafe. Those are hung near vertical though. Your 45 degree backstop should extend its life quite a bit. I'd stick with pistol rounds.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master JIMinPHX's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info guys.

    Lloyd’s trap looks to have less angle than mine does. That’s one reason his will take hotter hits than mine will. Also, boiler plate is probably a bit tougher than the A-36 (hot roll) that I used. I’ve pointed a .308 at a piece of 3/4" 1018 at a 45 degree angle before. .308 ball ammo will take a nasty gauge out of it on the very first shot.

    I’ve got 2 traps in the works right now. The first that I started building is the one that will probably become my main unit. It has a detachable decelerator chamber for easy emptying & a removable backstop plate for two reasons. The first reason is that the current 1/2" plate that I have is 40 pounds all by itself & removing it makes moving the trap much easier. The second reason is that I will be able to change the back stop if it gets messed up. It will accept up to a 1” thick back plate, or sandwich of back plates. I figure that if I get a thin piece of hard plate, I can put it in front of the thicker back up plate for hot rifle calibers. This one is not finished yet.

    The one that I’m going to test today is bullet trap Jr. It’s a small one with a 3/8” back plate. The whole thing is little bigger than the piece of copy paper that I make my targets out of. I figured that if I am going to end up doing some destructive testing to find out what my max caliber is, I’d rather not loose too much material (plate) in the process. Bullet trap Jr. is shown below.
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  7. #7
    Boolit Master JIMinPHX's Avatar
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    Bullet trap Sr. in progress below
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master Ricochet's Avatar
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    Smile

    A few years ago my little sweetie (pictured in the "Christmas Goodies" thread) shot at a friend's 3/8" steel pig silhouette with my .300 Weatherby magnum from about 50 yards. The 200 grain Speer Hot Core spitzer, loaded over 100 grains of WC860, drilled the neatest round hole you ever saw right through the pig.
    "A cheerful heart is good medicine."

  9. #9
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    My 50 yd plate of 1/2" steel looks almost like yours. HEE, , I need to dig up the woods and smelt the dirt to recover any lead. Boolits from heavy handguns just explode and cut a trench. I can pick up a few gas checks now and then. The plates are bolted to the frame with stainless aircraft bolts and I have sheared a few. I have not bent the plates though.
    I think Lloyd has the best but I can't make one at home. It would take 20 tanks of oxygen.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master JIMinPHX's Avatar
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    Well, I did my first test this afternoon. I was a little short on time, so I just sent a couple of rounds downrange, but I learned a lot.

    130 grain 13BNH .357 slugs at 675fps & also 1350fps did no damage to the backstop, but the remains of the bullets were just about powder. Results from .45 cal 200 grain commercial lead semi wad cutters at 800 fps were similar, but some of the remaining chunks were bigger.

    Not that much of the bullet material ended up in the decelerator chamber. A lot of it simply fell on the ground. Some spattered back out through the back of the paper target, mostly within an inch of the top edge. I suspect that a piece of cardboard may have stopped it. In all, I sent 2170 grains downrange & recovered about 950, a little less than half.

    The gray spatter in this picture is worth a thousand words.
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  11. #11
    Boolit Master JIMinPHX's Avatar
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    I had a piece of paper under the open area behind the front legs. That caught a lot of gray dust & probably accounted for about 35% of my recovered material. Very little of the gray dust seemed to go through the paper. What little did go through was at the right & left edges. The next time that I use this thing, I'm going to cover up all the open areas with cardboard & also the top inch across the front opening. I think that should improve my recovery ratio quite a bit.
    Last edited by JIMinPHX; 12-29-2007 at 11:12 AM. Reason: spelling error

  12. #12
    Boolit Master JIMinPHX's Avatar
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    This side view (with wood removed) gives you a little bit better idea of how it's put together. The yellow line shows the angle of the bottom deflector plate & also where it ends.
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    Last edited by JIMinPHX; 12-28-2007 at 08:41 PM. Reason: add info

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Suggestion.

    HI,
    What would happen if you made the slope longer?
    Less lead splatter/dust maybe?
    I am going to do the bullet trap also, small portible, thinking of 2 layers of rubber mud fiaps attached to front & back of 2x4's at front as decelerators. Also would work to put targets on.
    Tire wts. are getting hard to scroung. And on a school teachers pay I can not buy them & afford to shoot.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master JIMinPHX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BOOM BOOM View Post
    HI,
    What would happen if you made the slope longer?
    Less lead splatter/dust maybe?
    I suspect that would be the case.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master JIMinPHX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BOOM BOOM View Post
    HI,
    I am going to do the bullet trap also, small portible, thinking of 2 layers of rubber mud fiaps attached to front & back of 2x4's at front as decelerators.
    I thought about building a decelerator box too. I was going to use crumb rubber, also known as rubber mulch. I did a little sniffing around. If you call it rubber mulch, you can pay as much as $0.75 per pound in 1 cubic foot (30 pound) bags. If you call it crumb rubber, the price can go down as low as $0.17/Lb in bulk quantities.

    The biggest difference in grades seems to be the percentage of wire free material that is guaranteed. Landscape grade is usually 98% wire free. Play ground base is 99.9% wire free. At a 6" depth, the playground grade had a maximum safe fall height rating that is about twice that of wood/bark mulch. Nugget sizes can be had from wire mesh sizes up to over an inch.

    I was just about ready to go out & buy a cubic foot of this stuff to play with, then I read an article that said this stuff kills plants because it leaches zinc into the soil. Since zinc is not the caster's friend, I decided to hold off on trying that material. Also, the stuff doesn't float, so I would need to come up with a good way to separate it from the salvage metal efficiently. I don't have that one figured out yet.

  16. #16
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    Jim

    I use rubber mulch in a 3sided 2X2 square steel box with one end having a 2ft wood
    bullet paster board and also a wood top like a dog house.

    as far as separating...I was thinking ofworking with salt water seperating baths before I took a new job....I have not had time to mess with is since august...but I will, and I think it will work. at some point the rubber should floatin the brine if I am remembering some old chem classes correctly,,,

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    I built a bullet trap 25 years ago for my basement that worked fine. I would suggest that you decrease the slope of the steel back plate so that you get the bullet to slide down it rather than smash into it and break up. At the bottom of the slide the bullet needs to pass into a chamber that has a deflector plate set at an angle to stop the bullet or turn it into another deflector/stop plate and contain the lead shards and powder from getting out of the trap. You may lose a small amount of lead from the inpact on the first plate but the second impact and the one that stops the bullet should be in a confined area inside the trap. You can design a clean out door or device to retrieve the PB. Hand gun traps are simple to make, High velocity rife traps are more difficult.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master






    Lloyd Smale's Avatar
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    I can bet one thing looking at your desing. the bottom 2x4 isnt going to last long. The bullet fragments are going to tear it up. But they it would be easy to replace. As to the lead dust. In the one i make thats what you end up with for the most part especially if your using harder alloys. When i empty my drum its about 3/4s full of just lead dust.
    Quote Originally Posted by JIMinPHX View Post
    This side view (with wood removed) gives you a little bit better idea of how it's put together. The yellow line shows the angle of the bottom deflector plate & also where it ends.
    Soldier of God, sixgun junky, Retired electrical lineman. My office was a 100 feet in the air, closer to God the better

  19. #19
    Boolit Master JIMinPHX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lloyd Smale View Post
    the bottom 2x4 isnt going to last long. The bullet fragments are going to tear it up. But they it would be easy to replace.
    That's exactly what I figured.

    It turns out to be correct. I had left that area open so that I could have a hole to empty out the catch bin. The damage to the wood was a little less than I had expected, but it is deteriorating. With a trap that small, it turns out that it is easier to just turn it upside down & empty it that way, so I'm going to weld up that opening.

    This picture shows the wood that covered that opening.
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  20. #20
    Boolit Master JIMinPHX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 357maximum View Post

    as far as separating...I was thinking ofworking with salt water seperating baths

    That's a good idea. I know from scuba diving that ocean water is 34/33 times heavier than lake water. I'll have to see if I can find out what the maximum % solubility of salt is in water & compare that density to rubber.

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BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
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LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check