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Thread: Curious case of the shrinking bullet

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    Curious case of the shrinking bullet

    Although this mystery has been solved to my satisfaction, for the sake of discussion (and for those who enjoy solving puzzles on their own) I'll withhold my solution and provide only some of the clues.

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    These two bullets are shown just as they were cut from the same well-used brick of Clear Ballistic gel. They came from the same lead pot, dropped from the same mould, and were fired with the same powder charge from the same .44 Bulldog snubby. The bullet on the left is the expected .43 caliber. The bullet on the right is closer to .40 caliber and now drops freely through the Bulldog barrel.

    Finally, the 2 o'clock void in the bullet on the right is an embarrassment -- not a clue. No further comments on that are required.
    Last edited by pettypace; 03-12-2020 at 08:45 AM.

  2. #2
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    lar45's Avatar
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    Can we see a side profile of the boolits in question?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by lar45 View Post
    Can we see a side profile of the boolits in question?
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  4. #4
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    You got me , I have no idea what would cause that.
    I will have to watch and learn.

  5. #5
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    There are noticeable differences in the width of the driving band and length of the portion forward of the driving band. Are you sure these are the same bullet? Even if the bullet were deformed on impact don't see how the driving band would get longer.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master Drm50's Avatar
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    This was suppose to occur firing same bullet as dropped through same 44 Bulldog? Discounting the driving band issues the only thing I can think of is stratified alloy. Bullet on right looks to be coarse cast which is usually high zinc content. That doesn't make sense with the difference in the slugs measurements.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rich/WIS View Post
    There are noticeable differences in the width of the driving band and length of the portion forward of the driving band. Are you sure these are the same bullet? Even if the bullet were deformed on impact don't see how the driving band would get longer.
    Yup... Same bullet, for sure.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drm50 View Post
    This was suppose to occur firing same bullet as dropped through same 44 Bulldog? Discounting the driving band issues the only thing I can think of is stratified alloy. Bullet on right looks to be coarse cast which is usually high zinc content. That doesn't make sense with the difference in the slugs measurements.
    Not sure what you mean by "dropped through same 44 Bulldog." But to clarify: They were both shot through the same .44 Bulldog and now the skinny one will fall right through the barrel. Both bullets were cast from the same alloy. The change occurred after pulling the trigger and before cutting them out of the gel. And there were no "barriers" between the barrel and the gel.

  9. #9
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    Did one of them slam into the other in the gel?

  10. #10
    Boolit Master Drm50's Avatar
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    Sorry, I meant bullet was used as dropped from mold, not sized. Thinking if everything was the same until fired through Bulldog the only reasonable thing would be a undersized chamber in cylinder.
    Last edited by Drm50; 03-12-2020 at 10:59 AM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drm50 View Post
    Sorry, I meant bullet was used as dropped from mold, not sized. Thinking if everything was the same until fired through Bulldog the only reasonable thing would be a undersized chamber in cylinder.
    I should have mentioned that both bullets were sized and lubed through the same die.

    As for an undersized chamber... Well, it is a Charter Arms. But no. A bullet sized to .430, as these were, can be eased through all five chambers without sizing or rattling.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by C. Latch View Post
    Did one of them slam into the other in the gel?
    Nope!

  13. #13
    Boolit Master Drm50's Avatar
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    I'm curious to see how bullets of same diameter, fired through chambers of .430+ through same barrel can end up a smaller diameter by .030".

  14. #14
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    Crooked launch would be my first guess, have you checked for runout on any remaining loaded ammo?

    Poor lockup is my second guess (The cylinder not perfectly aligned with barrel during firing).
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonB_in_Glencoe View Post
    Crooked launch would be my first guess, have you checked for runout on any remaining loaded ammo?
    Nope. Ammo was pretty well loaded with special attention to bullet alignment while seating and crimping.

    Poor lockup is my second guess (The cylinder not perfectly aligned with barrel during firing).
    And no. Although I have been abusing it, the Bulldog is relatively new and still pretty tight. But enough of these loads could change that.

  16. #16
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    Another Clue

    The skinny bullet in question was the tail end of a two-projectile load I was testing. The two bullets were stacked base-to-base as shown below. The nose of the skinny bullet was facing the powder.

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  17. #17
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    So ...the "tail end" boolit got swaged down by the case?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.”
    ― The Dalai Lama, Seattle Times, May 2001

  18. #18
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    The internal taper of the case swaged it down.

    What weight are the bullets? That looks like a lot of lead to stuff into 1 case.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master Drm50's Avatar
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    Why didn't you say it was a double load in first place? O

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by reddog81 View Post
    The internal taper of the case swaged it down.
    Nope. They seat in the case just fine. No swaging and no bulging of the case.

    What weight are the bullets? That looks like a lot of lead to stuff into 1 case.
    Bullets are 160 grains each and seated deep in the case. So the load has to be approached judiciously. I won't bother testing this particular load again -- not because it's too heavy but because there's nothing good about shrinking bullets.

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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