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Thread: Sand trap target holder

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    Sand trap target holder

    This is an ongoing project spurred by changes in CA State laws.

    As I'll be reloading nearly all my range ammo in 2018 because of the imposition of additional fees, I'd like to have a bullet trap so I can safely and efficiently recycle the lead I shoot---light to mid range loads launching .38 spl., .44 spl., and .45 acp.
    Having the BLM range to myself for mining the berm is a hit and miss deal, so I think a bullet trap(s) makes sense. Steel traps are out of my budget and I'm leery of DIY fabrications because of the risk of ricochets and also the greater distances recommended for shooting steel---others do it but my range isn't very large and I am a coward. My solution so far is a 5 gallon plastic bucket filled with clean sand dampened and pressed firm) and a snap on lid upon which a target (bulls eye or reduced silhouette) can be taped. A 1/4" piece of hardware cloth for a sieve and a second 5 gallon bucket should make retrieving bullets simple work.
    My problem is with sand leaking out of bullet holes. There are self sealing round targets 9" in diameter at Walmart (kind of expensive) I'm thinking of experimenting with. Other than that, I could use duct tape "pasters" to stem the dribbling sand. The other problem is making a lightweight collapsible stand to support the sand trap at "target elevation" rather than "rattle snake ground level."
    A 5 gallon bucket of damp sand gets pretty heavy!
    Anyway, that's my latest project----any thoughts or suggestions?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master


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    I have thought about using nesting pails. Fill each to the level between the top and bottom pail. Repeat until there is about 15” of sand total. It should not be too difficult to come up with something that clamps the pails together by using the pail handles as anchor points.

    This keeps the weight down and you can makes the trap as long as you need/wish.

    A frame of schedule 40 PVC pipe would be light and if the joints are not glued can be broken down and will be compact.

    Keeping the sand in is near impossible. I would have a 2” wide slot about 6” long at the top of the first three pails and add sand as the level drops. Duct tape would seal that slot during transport.

    Lastly, add a backer board of 1/4” plywood on the front pail. As it gets beat up, replace it.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

    nicholst55's Avatar
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    Pea gravel is much more suitable for this purpose than sand is, especially from a safety standpoint. Also, I'm not certain that a 5-gallon bucket of sand will stop a lot of bullets - especially high velocity ones. A 55-gallon drum would be a much better idea, IMHO - although much more difficult to move around. See if you can download a copy of AFMAN 31-229, on Weapons Handling. Chapter 3 covers this topic.
    Boycott YouTube

  4. #4
    Boolit Man McFred's Avatar
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    For the bucket method, I'd cut out the lid of the bucket to hold a thin sheet of heavy cardboard or lightweight plywood. Put a plug of the same OD made from the Sunday paper behind the plywood to fill in around the bullet holes and catch any sand from dribbling out. Make a template for repeated use. The wood/paper debris would sieve out and could just be burned off when you remelt the lead.

    As for damp sand dribbling out, lay down a tarpaulin underneath to collect any that falls if it's really a concern.

    I'm sure that standard velocity .38 and .44 special wadcutters won't penetrate 5 gal of sand but they may push out the side if you're off-center.

  5. #5
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    MaryB's Avatar
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    Shredded rubber might be lighter but might require a larger container... if you have vehicle access you could build a bullet trap on a trailer...

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    if you could get bentonite from a oil drill rig you could make a slurry that would not run out but could be screened to retrieve your boolits. It would be messy depending on how you made it, if I remember right the guys would take a handful throw it on new guy then mist him with the press washer he would look like he was covered in elephant snot. Maybe this would work could try worst that could happen it didn't.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master



    jmort's Avatar
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    8" of sand will stop any common bullet
    Sand is a fantastic choice in terms of stopping ability
    https://www.theboxotruth.com/the-box...sands-o-truth/
    "Had his shooting been as good as his running, he might have given a better account of himself."
    James. C. Henderson

  8. #8
    Boolit Master OS OK's Avatar
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    Here's an idea...

    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...e-Load-Workups ... < Building a >>> LEAD MISER BACKSTOP <<< for Practice / Load Workups

    and...GRMPS...haven't shot a tire out yet . . .
    a m e r i c a n p r a v d a

    Be a Patriot . . . expose their lies!

    In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. G. Orwell

    2018 is going to be a 'Jaw-Dropping Year' . . . 'The Year', the World was born to live . . .
    just, "watch your 6" .

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    If you go to a place like tractor supply ppl are using the rubber horse stall mats to seal the media from the inside of your target. 55 gal plastic drum filled with rubber mulch is pretty effective. When you want to mine the lead you shovel the mulch into another drum or wheel barrel filled with water. The rubber floats but all the bullet material drops to the bottom. Scoop off mulch and put in new plastic drum. Good luck, Jason

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
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    I won't be able to test this until after the new year, but I wonder how one of those rubber mulch tree rings would work as a self-sealing material Click image for larger version. 

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  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy
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    Maybe round nose boolits wouldn't be as hard on the tree ring/self sealing contraption as my SWCs?
    Hmmm....I might need to get some new mold blocks?

  12. #12
    Boolit Master Oklahoma Rebel's Avatar
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    juan, those reminded me of a good alternative, commercial buffer pads! they can be had in several materials, such as a fibrous type, a foam type, and I think a few others, and also they come in a variety of sizes and should be cheap to buy bulk. secure one to the inside of your lid (or whatever side is facing you) and it should self seal for quite a while before needing changed.
    An armed man in a citizen.
    An unarmed man is a subject.
    A disarmed man is a slave.

  13. #13
    I tried prototype using the Vigoro rubber mulch. Can be purchased at Home depot or Lowe's. Not all stores carry it so you will have to check around to see closest one that has some in stock. It is about $6-$7 for 0.8 cu ft bag. I filled a 5 gallon bucket and nested it inside two additional buckets for stronger sides and more mulch behind first bucket for a total depth of 21". Tried 8 rounds of 9mm. Deepest one was found at depth of about 12" and bullet was pretty much fully intact with only rifling marks and no fragmenting or mushrooming. Makes for easy recovery for resmelting.

    A 24" square plywood box with some handles would be portable enough to move around and if you dadoed the front panel you could just slide the target on its back to slide the front panel out replace with a new one with a glued horse stall or rubber mat backer.

    Easy construction, easy bullet recovery and pretty portable. 24" should be more than enough to stop pistol rounds. Double pieces of 3/4" plywood at the back or mild steel plate would provide additional "buffer zone".

    Good luck and report back on your whatever your ultimate solution is and results.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    I built one of these many moons ago. I think we hashed this over earlier in the fall on another post, but the one I built is 24" x 24" x 24" and it is filled with rubber mulch. It has a rubber paver in the front and back. I have shot a 30 06 @ 2100 FPS and a 45/70 @ 1600 FPS many times into it, and nothing has ever shot through it. The bullets always come out whole, unless they hit another bullet in the mulch. They do show how much they will mushroom out, though, which is kind of nice.

    This size can be a tad heavy, so the lid I use is off a plastic tote and is held on by drywall screws. This way, I can scoop some into 5 gallon buckets if need be. One thing to keep in mind, is that the bullets come out with a slight rubber coating of sorts, when they come out of the mulch. This stuff smokes like all get out when re-melting them.

  15. #15
    Very interesting, I know a gallery that uses pieces of rubber from a conveyor belt. hang like a book, then collect the lead or copper on the floor

  16. #16
    I would suggest a bullet box with layers of sand/rubber mat/back thin steel plate or thick plywood. haul empty box to range, slat the rubber and back plate, fill "baffles" with bag sand. Shoot. Drop bottom out of box, drain sand into suitable containers you can move w/o getting a **** hernia! (just had hernia surgery last week - why I add that caveat!) and sort at home. Sand should be reusable.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

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
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check