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Thread: Is shooting Tracer bullets damaging to bore?

  1. #21
    Boolit Master Drm50's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    SE Ohio
    Well you guys have the misfortune of running into the only Vietnam Vet that wasn’t a Special Ops, Seal, CIA, Green Berete, etc. I only told you what the instructors at USSADS told those of us that were being trained in automatic weapons. That was their line at the time and it made sense to me.
    I think I was in the last class of conventional ADA, from 5.56 to 40mm Bofors. If you want to shoot tracers in your gun it’s your business.

  2. #22
    Boolit Grand Master

    Larry Gibson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Lake Havasu City, Arizona
    The OP's question was one of "damage". ["Will doing so cause any damage to the bore?"]

    A bullet that will "damage" to the bore is different than normal wear that a bullet causes, at least to me anyway.

    BTW; the friction from the bullet causes little wear in a barrel. It is heat and erosion that wears out [shoots out] barrels. Were it friction the barrel would get the hottest to the touch toward the muzzle end where the barrel is thinnest and the bullet is moving the fastest. What causes "damage" a barrels bore, other than normal wear from heat and erosion, are firing undersized bullets that do not obturate which causes severe gas cutting, corrosion from some priming compounds and conditions if not properly cleaned and poor cleaning technique. Of course barrels can be severely damaged by firing excessive pressure loads [the firearm may also be damaged] and a round with a bore obstruction.

    As mentioned previously, in firing 30 caliber traces the ignition element is ignited by the hot powder burning in the bore but any residue from that is expelled out the muzzle by the volume of expanding powder burning gas pushing any residue and the bullet down the bore. I does indeed happen very quickly [micro-seconds] and the trace element is ignited after the bullet leaves the bore.

    Bottom line is I believe Drm50 is correct...…."If you want to shoot tracers in your gun it’s your business" because I've shot a lot of them in my own rifles and haven't damaged anything yet...….except the target......
    Last edited by Larry Gibson; 05-21-2020 at 09:26 AM.
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

  3. #23
    Boolit Grand Master

    Shiloh's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Upper Midwest
    Play it safe.
    Treat like corrosive ammo. Most trace compounds or initiators contain chlorates.

    Je suis Charlie

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  4. #24
    Boolit Grand Master
    Mk42gunner's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Butler, MO
    I don't believe tracers will damage or cause any more wear to a barrel than normal jacketed rounds, as long as you clean your rifle shortly after firing.

    As to tracers (not APIT) causing fires, it is definitely possible. I set the machine gun range at Fort Hunter-Ligget while conducting a crew served weapons shoot with NMCB-5. IIRC that was done with .50's and M-60's, seems like we didn't get to the MK-19's until the second day.

    We used to conduct famfires off the fantail of every ship I was on, except for the junk boat, after ensuring a safe distance from anything else on the water. Occasionally you could hear a ricochet, but I had no idea just how badly water deflected small arms rounds until one night on my last ship the MEUSOC battalion on board did a shoot with 5.56 tracers pulled from SAW belts.

    Wearing NVG's it was very clear that once a round hit the water it could go just about any direction, The tracers showed up a purple streaks, it was like a quarter of a sphere with no safe zone.


  5. #25

    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    The Pacific NorthWet
    I've not been concerned about rifle/pistol barrels but had a friend wanting to shoot a 12 Ga flare in his dad's O/U super pricey trap gun, I suggested he not do that (heavy chokes in both barrels I think.) That could end badly, if the tracer was stopped by the chokes. (I haven't taken a 12 Ga tracer apart, interesting to think of tho)

  6. #26
    Boolit Master
    StratsMan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    St. Charles, MO
    Since the OP is handloading loose tracer bullets, I will also caution him to check the base of the bullets being loaded. Every loose 30cal tracer bullet I've seen had the copper cup in the bottom, as shown in Larry Gibson's previous photo. I have also seen missing cups on the tails of tracer bullets, with the igniter compound exposed. I would NOT load those bullets, as you may ignite the tracing compound inside the barrel (can't imagine you wouldn't). I don't know about corrosion, but that's gotta add to the pressure in the barrel, possibly to dangerous levels.

  7. #27
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Longview, Washington
    Most of the tracer without the disc or copper cup is sold as not likely to trace , I have used some of them for cheap blasting ammo , my experience with it was same as the place that sold it , maybe 1 in every 5 or more would trace .

    I also found no extra trash or difference in cleaning barrel , no noticeable change in recoil or velocity , I do not have pressure testing equipment .

    I am not loading it for highest velocity or for match ammo , but see no reason to waste better ammo on casual shooting , save the good stuff for where it matters , YMMV and it is a personal choice to use it or not .

    Along with the cautions advised in above posts , please use care and caution as in all reloading and shooting .

  8. #28
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    30 miles South of Cheyenne, unfortunately
    Quote Originally Posted by M-Tecs View Post
    Propane is not flammable ---Propane and oxygen mixed is highly flammable. In the mid 70's I was tasked with disposing of couple of dozen highly rusted 1 pound propane cylinders. Shot with a single tracer the gas just vented out. A second tracers would give you a nice fire jet but nothing resembling the Hollywood type type explosions. To get that we would fill balloons with Oxygen and Acetylene. Hit with a tracer they popped pretty well.

    I had been given about 1,100 rounds of 30/06 tracers. Shot them all and I didn't see and noticeable damage from the tracers. I did pit the bore from not being aware that corrosive primers required different bore cleaning techniques. Those tracers killed a couple of dozen propane tanks, a bunch of Oxy/Acetylene balloons and maybe 700 or 800 carp. Yes not legal but this was in the middle of nowhere in the 70's. It's amazing how much water deflects bullets.
    I LOVE shooting carp, especially with my 44 MAG. Can't do it anymore around here with all the development.
    There are 550 million arms in worldwide circulation. This is 1 firearm for every 12 people on the planet. The only question is , HOW DO WE ARM THE OTHER !!? The Lord of War.

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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