Monday, April 5, 2010

Re-using Bullets

Dear Cal:
I have read of hunters in the old days reusing bullets taken from animals they shot. Was this done out of necessity or just to prove a point? Have you ever reused any spent bullets?
Amthony K. USA

Interesting questions and I’ll do my best to answer to your satisfaction. I, too, have read of the bore rifle hunters removing a hardened ball from an elephant and shooting it again to kill another beast. Necessity, I’m sure. Perhaps the hunter was out of balls or wanted to conserve what he had. Most of us hunters are interested in bullet performance and so it was in the days of old. Back then, as well as now, hunters examined the bullet or ball out of curiosity. If the bullet or ball was not deformed it would have made for an interesting experiment to reshoot it.

That being said, I feel it would be unsafe to do so today. Many solids are recovered from game with seemingly only the rifling grooves cut into it. However, if the bullet has even a small out of round deformity--unseen to the naked eye--dangerous pressures may result. Of an interesting sideline, this winter I did some shooting on the warmer days. The target was stapled to a piece of 1/2-inch plywood and set against a snow bank. I fired several dozen rounds from my .450-400, .450 no2, .600, and some round balls from my 7-bore.

Last week, after the snow was about gone and I was raking my lawn I noticed the bullets and balls-all were within a one meter circle and in perfect shape, except for the rifling grooves. The plywood offered little rersistance and the soft snow gradually slowed the projectiles until they stopped. By not stopping abruptly they did not loose shape. If I can check for roundness on a run-out gauge, I may try reshooting them for fun.

Good shooting,