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Old 06-23-2006, 07:11 AM
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Removing stuck bullets.

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I had reloaded some 158 gr. copper jacketed bullets in .38 spl and apparently got some "squib" loads. I think the problem was old powder but I'm not sure. Anyway, I was shooting my Dan Wesson (interchangeable barrels) and a bullet failed to go through. So I changed barrels thinking I would remove the bullet later and - of course - it happened again. So now I have a 4" and 8" barrel with a stuck copper jacketed bullet. I've tried knocking them out with a wooden dowel but they won't budge. I could try a metal rod but they seem pretty welded in place. I know I can drill out the majority of the bullet but the copper jacket will still be left, stuck to the barrel. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to remove the bullet? If I drilled out the lead core is there any chemical that could dissolve the copper without harming the barrel? I'd take it to a gunsmith if they have any secrets.
It's cast bullets from now on! Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 06-23-2006, 08:37 AM
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I would stear clear of running a drill bit in your barrel. You need a heavy brass punch and really hit it hard to remove it. You should be trying to shove it back out of the breach end. Don't try to push it on through. The wooden dowel might work, you just have to put some more steam behind it when driving it out. Try to stay away from drilling inside your bore though.
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Old 06-23-2006, 09:01 AM
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Metal rod. Do not use wood! It can splinter, and wedge itself in the barrel.

Originally Posted by faucettb
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Old 06-23-2006, 09:54 AM
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With patience and time, you will be able to drive the slugs out the breech end of the bore with a soft non-ferrous rod. Try to find one that is almost bore diameter, or as large as you can find. Those squib loads probably didn't have the energy to really obturate the bullet base into the lands/grooves. Letting the bullets soak with muzzle up and introducing a good liquid penetrant oil may help the process.

Please DO NOT attempt to bore the bullets out with a drill.
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Old 06-23-2006, 01:18 PM
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While a brass rod would be my first choice, Veral Smith claims cold-rolled steel is soft enough to be safe in a bore. I haven't tried it personally, but thought I should pass that along in case the brass deforms too much and it becomes necessary to try something harder. If that is scary, you can sprial wrap a layer of electrical tape on an undersize rod to prevent it rubbing the bore at all. I would recommend using a 2 lb hammer, so you get some inertia to help.

Use a set of aluminum vice jaws with v-grooves to hang on to the middle of the barrel while you do this. I thought about attaching it to the barrel shroud with the barrel nut, then clamping the shroud, but I think you could perhaps damage the threads or mar the shorud that way. The same holds true for using a backing plate. If you are pounding down against a backing plate under the forcing cone (breech) end of the tube, use brass or aluminum.

The suggestion to let penetrant soak into the bullet is also a good idea. I think I would apply it from both ends. You want lube ahead of the direction you will push the bullet toward. In fact, when you wipe the excess penetrant off you could add a couple of drops of motor oil to help ensure the slide. Both Kroil and PB Blaster work pretty well as penetrants, though I find PB Blaster actually does the most dramatic loosening. It is also much harder on plastics and paint, so watch where you let it loose. Stinks more, too, so keep it away from places the wife goes. Most automobile parts houses carry one or the other or both. These fluids work by capillary action, so a soak just means keeping the parts wet with the stuff. Give the bullet ends a good squirt and put neoprene stoppers in the ends.

A last thing that might help is used sometimes with cases stuck in sizing dies, and that is to freeze the barrel for a couple of hours or overnight. The cold will shrink copper half again more per degree than the steel, and lead will shrink two and half times more more than steel. Even though the copper and lead in the bullet are alloys, this ratio should still be close to true, so the cold should help. Going from room temperature to home freezer temperature will produce about a quarter of a thousandth of an inch difference in the sizes of the bullet core and the bore. You can increase that size difference to about six ten thousands if you use dry ice, but have cold gloves handy to pick it up with if yo do that.

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Last edited by unclenick; 06-23-2006 at 01:24 PM.
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Old 06-23-2006, 01:59 PM
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This would be a worse case:

First: squirt penetrating pol at both ends of the bullet and let is soak. Heat (from a hair drier if that's all you have) and reapply oil.

Metal rod near bore diameter..want it to slide fit, but have little slack (reasaon being the larger the diameter, the less likely to bend and have the rod cause more problems than it cures). Make the rod about 4" longer than the barrel.

Polish the sharp edge from the end of the rod..not much, just a smooth radiused edge rather than an abrupt 90degree corner. Polish the body of the rod as well.

Two 1" thick scrap blocks of hard wood. Drill each so that the rod will just pass through. It's nice to counterbore the bocks so the barrel self-centers ina little depression around the rod's hole.

Set barrel in it's depression in the block...set you other wood block OVER THE OTHER END OF THE BARREL. Drop the rod through it's hole in the wood bock and into the barrel...hold it hard up against the stuck bullet (to keep the rod from bounching after being stuck with the hammer). A SHARP rap of the hammer..SHARP is key. Not driving circus tent pegs, just want to get it started. One it moves 1/2 inch, it's over the oil-wet section and will move easily.

Why the top wooden block? So if you miss with the hammer, will strike wood...not barrel.


Now...if you decide to drive the bullet from the bullet-nose-end, it's nice to grind a concave face to the that it gathers bullet towards it's center rather than pushing it out to the sides (which would just stick it harder). If you decide to drive the base end, make the rod's face nice and flat (to match the bullet base).
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Old 06-23-2006, 02:27 PM
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You've already gotten some good tips. I will add one more.
Barrel on wood block with rag on top muzzle up.
Pour oil in muzzle to a depth of about 2 inches.
Close fitting wood dowel a little longer than barrel.
Put a cotton patch or two on end of dowel to make for a even closer fit.
Push it down the muzzle until it stops( is contact with surface of oil).
Hold a rag around barrel and dowel at the muzzle and give the dowel a good sharp whack with your hammer( a heavy dead-blow might be good here).
If all goes well you will have a clean lubed barrel.
Good fortune to you sir.
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Old 06-24-2006, 12:23 PM
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Many thanks for all the good tips. Confidence now abounds!
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Old 06-24-2006, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by mcg6637
Many thanks for all the good tips. Confidence now abounds!

You really can't put in too much penetrating oil or wait too long for it to do it's work...keep that in mind. Heat is your friend in this...oil will move towards heat, so heat BELOW the stuck bullet and add oil above.

You are going to be surprised how easily that bullet gets driven out once you give oil, heat, and time a chance to do their stuff.
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Old 06-25-2006, 07:32 PM
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i had a loaded round stuck in the chamber of my 223 once, the gunsmith filled the barrel with oil, made a lead plug and whacked in with a hammer, basically it turned the barrel into a hydraulic cylinder and popped it right out
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Old 06-29-2006, 07:21 PM
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With a jacketed bullet the oil is a great idea.
As for a rod, I use steel rods, normally about 3/16 inch, or so. What I do is wrap the rod in two places with tap to bring it up to bore diameter. One place just near the end that will go by the bullet and the other further up. That way I have the strength of the steel rod, and I know that it is centred in the bore.
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Old 06-30-2006, 07:59 AM
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Hi mcg,

I have experienced the same problem. I stuck a 180-grain .40 bullet in my HK USPC. I just about detsroyed my cleaning rod trying to punch that bullet through the bore. In fact, I just about punched the core through the jacket. I keep a can of Kroil in my cleaning kit, so I squirted some into the bore and let it soak for a few minutes. The bullet then slid out of the bore just fine.

Whatever you do, don't use power tools.

Best wishes,
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Old 07-01-2006, 06:00 PM
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I recently had a round stuck in my sizing die. I was having no luck at all removing the round from the die. Finally, I thought I'd give Kroil a try. I'd heard it could penetrate the tiniest opening. I waited about ten minutes then gave the press handle a tug. Lo and behold it dropped right out. and not with a super effort. Kroil is really making me a believer. Best wishes.

Cal - Montreal
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