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Thread: metal for bullet trap

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    metal for bullet trap

    I normally shoot into a dirt pile, but it's hard to recover the lead from a dirt pile. I'm thinking about putting a metal plate set at a 45⁰ angle so the bullets will turn down into dirt below steel plate. I plan to weld skirts on sides so bullets don't angle to side. 99% of my shooting is cast bullets with 30 cal being less than 2,000 fps, and 45 cal being less than 1500 fps, mostly around 1,000 fps.

    How thick does this metal need to be? I'm thinking 1/2" for back plate, and perhaps 3/8" for sides. Do those thickness make sense? Less thickness required? More?

    Would this hold up to an occasional factory load of 5.56?

    Thanks for any guidance and suggestions on this project.

    Ken H>

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Oklahoma Rebel's Avatar
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    I have a big piece of I think regular mild steel, about .20 thick, at a 45 degree angle, ok for most cast up to 44 mag, but not full bore ( 21.5gr 296/ 275 swc) those will dent it, and I think any jacketed boolit would probably go through, I have also shot my sks with cast at it, it will dent it too, but not penetrate. your thicknesses will work better, and they probably wont dent either.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master

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    A lot also depends on the type of steel it is. A500 alloy is impact resistant abrasion resistant and dosnt seem to work harden from the hammering. We used some 10 series diamond plate for indoor range ( this was a commercial use) and every so often one of the plates would crack/. Another problem was the plates would bow from the surface stretching. You might consider 5/8" or 3/4" for the back, at some point someone will launch a full bore jacketed load into it. The above plates were 45* angle and 1/2 diamond plate. Contenders and most rifles would ding or divot them. Serval lines of thought on assembly welding is permanent but makes repairs harder to perform when is needed. A bolt together type assembley has a couple advantages as lighter pieces to move and can be assembled on site. Repairs are easier to do. But you may need to retighten bolts or replace them occasionally also. Another option to consider is a water tank under the back stop. Left 3"-4" out the backand a ledge on each side rain water would fill it for you. Lead would be contained in the water tank and a slotted shovel would remove it easily and quickly. To save the back of the tank a kick plate of 1/2"X3"X3" angle iron welded down the bottom edge to direct bullet down into tank away from tanks back. The water tank saves having to dig and sift thru sand or dirt to recover lead. Just use the slotted square nosed shovel and remove it, let it dry and your good to go.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    The water tank is a good idea - the steel would most likely be A36 since it seems to be most available at decent price.

    I had planned to weld everything up since that's the easiest for me as opposed to bolting. From the calculations the finished trap would be less than 100 lb which wouldn't be too hard to handle with a cart. I'm too old 'n beatup to be handling 100 lb anymore.

    Don't know why I'm wanting the bullet trap - I've got enough lead stockpiled to last me rest of my shooting life. Just another project I guess. Maybe to hear the bullet go "Wham"! when it hits?

    Ken H>

  5. #5
    The only problem with very hard steel (AR-500) is that cast bullets generally shatter when they impact. A hard cast bullet will sometimes literally turn to dust when it impacts AR-500.


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  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Like the OP I also wanted to try to save some lead. I had a piece of old steel plate that some one had given me years ago so I tried it at 50 yards set up at a 45 degree angle to see if it would stop 38 and 45 target wadcutters.This plate is only 1/8 inch thick and I think pretty soft steel.It works very well with the boolits going into the dirt. I have not tried to dig them out yet but when I do I will then dig a pit and fill it with sand.I use this target frame with steel plates that are the same size as the black bullseye of the 50 yard slow fire pistol target for the big plate and the small plate is the size of the 9 ring .




    Here is what the boolits look like after they skid down the plate into the dirt.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master redhawk0's Avatar
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    Might I make a suggestion...instead of leaving the bullets deflect into the dirt...dig a 20-24" pit and fill it level with sand. It makes sifting much easier when removing lead during the collection process. (just watch out for animal droppings)

    redhawk

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  8. #8
    Boolit Master MyFlatline's Avatar
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    Another option is rubber mulch with a steel plate backer. So far so good.Click image for larger version. 

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    The 45 Colt bullets have made it the farthest, 36" s . It has stopped the 444 Marlin, 41 magnum, 35 Remington, 45 Colt, 30-30, 357 and I'm forgetting a couple. I did not like having to sift thru the sand.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks for all the ideas folks - I think it just might work the way I was hoping.

    TCFAN: What's the thickness of your gongs? I was hoping to use 3/8" thick A36 steel.

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Another option is the scroll type trap where the bullets are funneled into a tube and spin around in it until energy is expended built right the energy expened bullets fall back out the front and into a pan.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenH View Post
    Thanks for all the ideas folks - I think it just might work the way I was hoping.

    TCFAN: What's the thickness of your gongs? I was hoping to use 3/8" thick A36 steel.
    The large steel plate is 1/4 inch thick and the small one is 3/8 inch. Both are AR500 steel.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Those scroll type traps are really neat - but I'm looking for something a bit easier to build and cheap is my middle name {g}

    A500 armour plate - that stuff sounds a lot more expensive than simple old A36. It's an abrasion resistant steel, low carbon and fairly soft at only 500 brinell hardness which is around Rc 20
    delete the following: "which is pretty much same range as A36"
    - A36 is MUCH softer than AR500 with around 60 to 90 Brinell hardness for A36.

    I do see lots of gong target vendors using A500 rather than A36 - I wonder just how much longer the A500 will last vs A36 (or other mild steel).

    Thanks again for all the suggestions and info
    Last edited by KenH; 03-08-2018 at 01:11 PM. Reason: I never could get the strikethrough code to work

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy


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    Quote Originally Posted by country gent View Post
    Another option is the scroll type trap where the bullets are funneled into a tube and spin around in it until energy is expended built right the energy expened bullets fall back out the front and into a pan.
    This is what I use for all loads except for rifle. Just a .22LR will be ok. I gather the lead, molt it down and cast again.

  14. #14
    Boolit Bub
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    A36 is the basic soft hot rolled steel and it is nowhere near Rc 20. It is nearer to Rb 80. It won't stand up to anything very long except for light lead pistol rounds and rimfire 22 ammo. You should use at a minimum AR 400 and the AR500 is better. Yes it's more expensive. It's like a lot of things, spend your money once for the good stuff and your life will be happier.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Deadeye - you are correct on A36 hardness. Not sure where I got in my mind A36 was around Rc20 (500 brinell), but darn it, I KNOW I read it somewhere. Maybe I got my lines crossed and was actually reading a different alloy. Here's a chart showing what A36 really is - and it confirms Deadeye's statements. Even hardened it's only half of AR500.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  16. #16
    Boolit Grand Master

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    We have some club shilouettes and gongs from A 36 and we flip them every few months. this stops removes the bowing that happens from the repeated full power hits. This is a private club and a lot of the hits on these are full power jacketed rifle rounds at 200yds. Eventually the A-36 gongs crack from work hardening / stress. The Set of A500 gongs do get reversed every few months on general principle but none have cracked yet.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master jmorris's Avatar
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    Mine is 3/8” steel not AR @ 45 degrees, it will deflect a 308 and .223 but it will dent, so I fire them into a target backer that is 3/8” AR 500.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Well, I just ordered a 1/2"X6" hanging gong of AR500 for $26 shipped. Seems to be decent price. I'll hang it low just in front of dirt pile. Still on fence about the 1/2" A36 for a backstop/bullet trap.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Reducing the angle to 30 degrees will help with reducing impact damage and reduces the height of the trap from 70.7% of full sheet length to 50%. Some of the engineers on here ought to be able to calculate the reduction in kinetic energy applied to the plate at different angle of impact.
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  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy
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    +1 to wmitty above....reduce the angle.

    It's one of those subjects that has many perspectives,how much importance do you put on reclaiming your lead?I've tried them all and have a workable solution but it could be completely irrelevant to the next guy.Good luck with your project.BW'b.

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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