Heh, probably a very stupid question... reactive metals in bullets


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razorburn
September 20, 2006, 01:08 AM
So I was watching TV and saw some show where the hero was using bullets cast from calcium metal to get a true exploding bullet... basically it's like shooting a bomb since it reacts so violently with water, or things containing a lot of water, like a human body. Is such a thing really possible? To make bullets out of one of the highly reactive metals, like lithium, potassium, barium, etc. Remembering live high school experiments, a bullet sized piece of those metal dropped into a bathtub full of water caused a tremendous explosion, literally destroying the metal bathtub. It'd be a whole new world for "stopping power". :p

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hso
September 20, 2006, 01:32 AM
The problems with the idea is that they'd be unsafe to manufacture, unsafe to handle, are not of suitable hardness to penetrate and would be prohibitively expensive.

AJAX22
September 20, 2006, 01:39 AM
If you were able to get a small cylinder of reactive metal, then use a lathe to bore a corresponding hole into a bullet, finally sealing it with a water proof substance, it would have almost the same effect. but yes it would be dangerous, it would be unstable, and it would be difficult to handle.

but it would work, and it would be nasty.

I wouldn't do it, it'd probably be considered a DD

Geronimo45
September 20, 2006, 01:52 AM
If it reacted violently with water, it'd have to be covered up. An awful lot of moisture in the air. I guess it would work once the jacket came off... lithium burns (maybe it would be a cauterizing bullet. Don't expect it make you feel any better, though). Lithium and calcium... go down the periodic table and you'll find stuff like that. It has to be stored in oil to keep it from reacting to water vapor in air.

mondocomputerman
September 20, 2006, 02:28 AM
I know sodium reacts with water. It will do cool things after you put it in the bottom of a urinal, and wait for the next person to use it. Don't ask me how I know this.

Dr. Dickie
September 20, 2006, 08:13 AM
Potassium reacts even more violently than sodium; however, none of them (including calcium) is going to make it to the point of being shot unless you store them under some organic solvent to keep moisture away. Calcium does not react all that violently (not usually any flames, lots of heat, hydrogen gas, and hydroxides though). If left out in the air, the natural moisture will cause it to turn into a white chalky dust fairly quickly.
Actually aluminum reacts faster probably than calcium, its just that aluminum forms a passivation layer on exposure to air that prevent future oxidation (mix a bit of acid however, and ya got something--DO NOT TRY AT HOME!!).
A bullet of potassium, shot into an individual would likely spout out a violet (purple) flame (burning hydrogen gas) while turning the inside of the person very, very basic thus dissolving the fat (turning it into soap--saponification). Though, since it would be inside, you would not likely see much.
Did have a rather stupid undergrad one time drop a centimeter square of sodium into a liter of water (fortunately in a dry hood). Scared me silly when the thing detonated (no one hurt, but a lot of small glass pieces thrown around). Again, fortunately in a dry hood, with the door just cracked open. Last time I answer a question off-hand figuring they would know enough to not DO THAT!

Nathan Williams
September 20, 2006, 08:26 AM
How about a hollow point filled with a drop of oil, containing a ball of magnesium, and a wax cap on top? Would be unstable but would work. Disclaimer do not attempt probably illegal, and certianly dangerous I am speaking hypotheticaly.

Bubbles
September 20, 2006, 09:55 AM
"Blue tip" (incendiary) and "gray tip" (AP/incendiary) rifle rounds are available for purchase and contain a very tiny incendiary charge. They are illegal for hunting. They are quite expensive, though you can purchase just the bullets and safely load your own.

razorburn
September 22, 2006, 03:48 AM
Heh, so something like that would actually be possible? That'd be interesting to have bullets that rely on chemical power instead of mechanical. A near 100% 1 shot stop would be likely in any com shot, since instead of just crushing flesh in the path of the bullet, flesh hit by that would simply cease to exist as it is rapidly and violently converted into a different form of matter altogether, leaving an enormous and permanent open wound channel that could not be plugged by body tissue like with ordinary bullets.


I just watched a video of cesium metal contacting water, and its really incredible. Cesium is the most alkaline of the natural metals, and reacts the most explosively with water. The chemical reaction turns turning the water in the body into cesium hyroxide and hydrogen gas, and a great deal of heat and energy released. All three are very damaging in themselves. Cesium hydroxide is the most powerful of known bases, even glass is attacked by it, and it would rapidly eat through the body. The hydrogen would be ignited by the intense heat and energy of the reaction exploding outwards as a fireball so violently it would probably endanger the shooter as well. any remaining cesium will burn in the prescence of oxygen creating a brilliant blue flame that cannot be extinguished as it burns through the body. Even a .22 loaded with a jacketed cesium bullet would get 100% 1 shot stops with shots in the torso. Of course, I see how it wouldn't be so practical. The metals would have to be jacketed in something very stable, it's expensive, and being that reactive it may pose a danger to the shooter that's as significant as the threat you're trying to use it against. Still, it's interesting to speculate.

Macpherson
September 22, 2006, 04:11 AM
While I must say the idea sounds interesting (probably moreso than it should ;) ), given that things like napalm and HP ammunition are prohibited for use because of their "cruelty", bullets that liquify the victim's flesh WHILE setting them on fire WHILE causing the same ballistic damage that normal bullets do would probably be frowned upon by anti's worldwide and every county we go to war with :)

Gord
September 22, 2006, 12:00 PM
...would probably be frowned upon by anti's worldwide and every county we go to war with

Can we start with Los Angeles County? :neener:

jerkface11
September 22, 2006, 12:18 PM
Does sweets remove cesium fouling?

Imaginos
September 22, 2006, 04:36 PM
The Expanding FMJ bullet recently introduced would be a great delivery mechanism because the pellet of reactant could be completely sealed within the bullet at the factory. The bullet hits, the tip expands crushing the reactant pellet and squeezing it out through the sides of the bullet. No real chance of fragmentation near the surface of the target.

I would ewxpect BAT-man tp classify this a chemical weapon and/or destructive device, and incredibly illegal about 2 seconds after the ads appear. However, the CIA will probably want to buy all you can produce.

Geronimo45
September 22, 2006, 04:50 PM
We've all seen the photos of the jacket on a hollow point peeling back or coming off and exposing the slug underneath. It ought to work for a non-lead bullet (it'll be branded as a cop killer). Actually, not a bad idea - supposing we can seal the bullet completely in its jacket, and that the average idiot can't drop a cartridge and make it blow up.
Would be expensive - but probably more effective than a lot of other ammo types. Would be very interesting to see it work in a gelatin block. Since the human body's got an awful lot of water making it up, something reacting violently with water could be devastating.

camp_gunner
September 22, 2006, 05:58 PM
In a similar fashion to ammo of a bygone era, it would have to be labled "Not to be used on civilized people." Frankly, this is not a new idea, seeing sodium metal react in my high school class a long time ago gave me the idea. Works best in the larger cals, you 17 cal shooters are just out of luck.:rolleyes:

boilingleadbath
September 22, 2006, 06:04 PM
Out of boredom, I went and calculated the energy and volume of gas produced from a RMFFMJ (reactive metal filled full metal jacket) .45 round. (assumed as being 15 grams total; 7.5 grams sodium)
7.5g sodium = .32 moles

So, that's 3.6 liters of hydrogen gas (at room temp, mind you - it'll probably acctualy be 4.5 L at 100*C.)

The reaction with water liberates 44kj of energy (that's 59,000 foot-pounds)

That's enough energy to boil roughly 1 mole of water, giving us another ~30 liters of gas.

So... 34 liters of hot gas produced inside the body. That's going to make a mess.

(take all numbers as aproximate... I didn't really pay much attention to precision - but it's better than a factor of two, for sure.)

44AMP
September 22, 2006, 06:43 PM
Keep in mind that we already have laws on the books that state that bullets made out of anything other than copper/lead (with as few exceptions) fall under the laws as armor piercing (whether they will pierce arome or not), and are already illegal for sale (as loaded ammo) in many areas, and completely illegal in other areas. And, if your bullet actually explodes, it is a "destructive device". and must be registered with the BATF, each round would require a serial number and seperate registration.

That said, the principle problems with the chemical filled bullet is reliability. If your bullet reacts AFTER exiting the body, you have gained nothing. If your bullet reacts after 10-15seconds, where would you be on legal and moral grounds? Suppose your magic bullet detonated AFTER your assailent was down and incapacatated. Wouldn't this be the equivalent of shooting him again (execution)?

It is an interesting technical question, but of no real world utility. Just the opposite, in fact.

I would think that a chemical exploding bullet, like a poisoned bullet shows intent to KILL, and as civilians, we are not allowed to kill. We are allowed to defend ourselves (and others), and if they die as a result of being stopped, that is just too bad. But if we clearly intend to KILL, then we are liable for murder/homicide. It would be viewed as a premeditated act.

Overall, it would be a VERY BAD idea to shoot someone with a bullet like the ones under discussion.

TexasRifleman
September 22, 2006, 06:59 PM
Can we start with Los Angeles County?

Now now, you know you will get the thread locked if you say anything about Californias' draconian gun laws.... :rolleyes:

razorburn
September 23, 2006, 12:30 AM
Well, the reaction is instantaneous with contact with water, and this natural law is as reliable as gravity. I expect a good sealing FMJ hollowpoint that expands well and will open up to reveal the reactive metal core will work very well, the most important factor is that it does not overpenetrate the target through and through. If it does, you'll still have all the normal ballistic power of a standard bullet, but you lose out on the chemical power. It'd need to be a well designed hollowpoint. Right now, they're not really regulated and you can buy these metals(although some, like cesium, at exhorbiant prices. or things like sodium for much cheaper.) online from chemistry suppliers. It's a basic elemental substance that makes up the world, like oxygen or carbon etc. Would batfe be able to control something like that? Of course, this is all speculation for the sake of interest, only because it's an interesting topic.

So someone calculated that a .45 acp bullet with half it's mass made of sodium metal would release about 69,000 ft lbs of enery, + about 400 fpe from the normal ballistic action of the bullet. So what's that, 3 or 4 times more powerful than a .50 bmg? Stepping into the power levels of a cannon without producing any extra recoil, and in a neat handgun size package.

Cesium metal is the most reactive of all the metals and produces a far more powerful reaction with water, so powerful few places will demonstrate for you. You'd probably get northward of 200,000 fpe from a jacketed cesium bullet, plus the side effects of transforming flesh into a mixture of hydrogen gas, water, and metal hydroxide, producing the heat to ignite the highly flammable and explosive hydrogen, creation of the most powerful base known to man which will dissolve all flesh it contacts, and ignition of an unextinguishable cesium metal fire. That level of power unleashed on a body would probably annihilate it altogether. A smaller cartridge could be used and still get a 100% 1 shot stop rate.

RyanM
September 23, 2006, 12:37 AM
How about a hollow point filled with a drop of oil, containing a ball of magnesium, and a wax cap on top? Would be unstable but would work. Disclaimer do not attempt probably illegal, and certianly dangerous I am speaking hypotheticaly.

Nope. The oil would coat the metal, and it would take several minutes to a half hour before bodily fluids washed it all away (depending on exact location hit). Wouldn't that be a nice surprise for the people in the ER?

Other than that, the bullets would be way too dangerous. Yunz seem to be assuming that everyone, everwhere, is 100% accurate. A miss would be deadly to anyone within a few feet of where the bullet hits. Or you'd end up with a mostly intact bullet lodged somewhere, until a few years later, the copper jacket finally corrodes away, and *BOOM*! Wouldn't that be a nice surprise for innocent bystanders?

foob
September 23, 2006, 12:48 AM
Actually aluminum reacts faster probably than calcium, its just that aluminum forms a passivation layer on exposure to air that prevent future oxidation (mix a bit of acid however, and ya got something--DO NOT TRY AT HOME!!).

Eh?

Aluminium + acid = salt + hydrogen gas.

Aluminium + air = combustion with white flame.

Nothing scary dude.

It's a basic elemental substance that makes up the world, like oxygen or carbon etc. Would batfe be able to control something like that?

Dude a bullet is basically made up of a few basic elemental substance that makes up the world, like oxygen or carbon etc. Does the BATFE regulate it? Hell yes. :neener:

duck_god1982
September 23, 2006, 02:14 AM
I have had this talk with several people. Everything from dipping your bullets in poision to filling your hollow points with mercury and capping it off some how. One thing I know for sure is that this is highly dangerous and very illegal. We are talking serious jail time if caught with said ammo. About 2 yrs ago we had a local guy making pellets for pellet guns that would hit then explode. He got caught making the rounds and is still in jail. I don't know how he made them just that they worked really well on strays and other pests.

mdao
September 23, 2006, 04:53 AM
Out of boredom, I went and calculated the energy and volume of gas produced from a RMFFMJ (reactive metal filled full metal jacket) .45 round. (assumed as being 15 grams total; 7.5 grams sodium)
7.5g sodium = .32 moles

So, that's 3.6 liters of hydrogen gas (at room temp, mind you - it'll probably acctualy be 4.5 L at 100*C.)

The reaction with water liberates 44kj of energy (that's 59,000 foot-pounds)

That's enough energy to boil roughly 1 mole of water, giving us another ~30 liters of gas.

So... 34 liters of hot gas produced inside the body. That's going to make a mess.

(take all numbers as aproximate... I didn't really pay much attention to precision - but it's better than a factor of two, for sure.)

So someone calculated that a .45 acp bullet with half it's mass made of sodium metal would release about 69,000 ft lbs of enery, + about 400 fpe from the normal ballistic action of the bullet. So what's that, 3 or 4 times more powerful than a .50 bmg? Stepping into the power levels of a cannon without producing any extra recoil, and in a neat handgun size package.

/Doing the math for the fun of it. Previous energy calculations in this thread are way off as they ignored OAL and density.

If half of a .45 ACP bullet's mass was sodium (and the rest of it lead), you'd end up with a ~37 gr .45 ACP bullet. Dimensionally, the bullet would be the same as your run of the mill 230 gr bullet. The low mass is due to sodium being ~ 11 times less dense than lead.

~18.5 grains of sodium is a little over a gram (closer to 1.2 grams). Total chemical energy for that amount of sodium is 6200 J, which comes out to about 4600 ft lbs. Energy would be... well, who knows what it'd be for a 37 grain .45 ACP, but let's just say 600 ft lbs kinetic energy (Glaser like). Total energy would be ~5200 ft-lbs or so. .50 BMG puts out ~13000 ft-lbs of kinetic energy. So, total energy is not quite .50 BMG energy, but comparable to .470 NE.

Now it may just be me, but I wouldn't trust a bullet like this.

First, it would be an ineffective penetrator, you know, the abysmally poor sectional density and all. (Sectional density would be 0.026. For reference, 35 gr .25 ACP has a sectional density of 0.079, and 230 gr .45 ACP has a sectional density of 0.162.) At least there's no need to worry about overpenetration... I'd be surprised if such a bullet got more than 2-3" of penetration in gelatin. Not so surprised if it fragmented upon hitting gelatin.

The explosive effect likely wouldn't happen either. The body may be mostly water, but the heat of the sodium reacting with water would cauterize the area, stopping the reaction before the sodium would have a chance to ignite and explode the hydrogen gas generated from the reaction.

So, most likely, you'd end up with a very shallow, self cauterizing wound.

Cesium would be better, at least it'd get up to ~ 80 gr bullet weight. Still, you'd end up with the same results as for sodium, just with a little better penetration, a little radiation poisoning, and a higher long term cancer rate. Explosion odds are also worse than sodium's, not that sodium has much of a chance of exploding.

I'd take a nice 230 gr .45 ACP JHP over either of these any day of the week.

EvisceratorSrB
September 23, 2006, 06:07 AM
If a round with some alkaline element in the core were effective, the big bore rifles would not be used in the military at all anymore. (well I lied there would probably be some use to stop armored vehicles and such) If this were true, the .223 would be king, and maybe even a smaller caliber with the same capabilities, maybe more velocity, might be adopted.

However this is all assuming scientists in trench coats in an underground bunker/lab manage to stabalize the damned thing.

Dr. Dickie
September 23, 2006, 06:09 AM
"Eh?

Aluminium + acid = salt + hydrogen gas.

Aluminium + air = combustion with white flame.

Nothing scary dude."

Aluminum + air (oxygen really air is 70% nitrogen) forms a white powder that passifies the outside and prevents futher rust (happens so fast that we say that aluminum doesn't rust).
Aluminum + acid = salt and hydrogen gas. It is the rate that makes it fun--and the hyrogen gas spits HCl around.
Remember: thermodynamics proposes, kinetics disposes:evil:

Bwana John
September 23, 2006, 12:14 PM
Cesium metal is the most reactive of all the metals and produces a far more powerful reaction with water,
If we are talking about "the alkali metals", or the far left column of the peridioc table, you forgot about Francium.

Glockfan.45
September 24, 2006, 12:01 AM
If we are talking about "the alkali metals", or the far left column of the peridioc table, you forgot about Francium.

Yes but you forget as most of us I suspect are military buffs we despise all things French :neener: .

thegriz
September 24, 2006, 12:24 AM
If these bullets detonated inside the body the damage would be tremendous. I saw photos once of some moron to who held a cherry bomb in his mouth and his head exploded. It's similar to a shotgun discharging in somebody's mouth.

However, the explosiveness results from the rapid production of gas with no easy escape route. It expands in the body until something gives and then you've got a real mess. If it exploded in the air it would be like lighting a little pile of gunpowder - just a big poof - maybe some small scrapnel from the bullet. For a big bang you need it to explode inside something, compressing the gases that are released.

So I'm not sure the comments about this being a danger to anybody nearby if it explodes after leaving the the body or misses altogether are valid (unless they are hit directly).

Sealing the substance inside a bullet should be easy enough. Just don't go around chewing on your bullets or using them to open your beer bottles and you should be perfectly safe.:)

Dr. Dickie
September 24, 2006, 07:44 AM
Bawa John "If we are talking about "the alkali metals", or the far left column of the peridioc table, you forgot about Francium."
Glockfan.45"Yes but you forget as most of us I suspect are military buffs we despise all things French "

I choose to think of it as coming from "Stripes."
"If any of you homos touch my stuff, I'll kill you.":neener:

razorburn
September 24, 2006, 07:58 PM
Well, francium is pretty much unobtainable since it only managed to exist for a few minutes in a chemists lab, right? Besides, being highly radioactive and with a half life of only 22 minutes, I wouldn't want one in a bullet. :p

and yeah, missing wouldn't pose a problem, it should be one of it's advantages over incendiary rounds. It's a metal that reacts explosively with water, so if it's not surrounded by a mass of liquid like in a body, and only is exposed to air, there would not be any explosion. The bullet would just oxidize and crumble into dust.

PromptCritical
September 25, 2006, 03:12 AM
For a good demonstration of the effects of these metals, check out this video: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2134266654801392897&q=alkali+metals&hl=en

Pscan12
December 13, 2012, 10:31 PM
I see a lot of talk of cesium and sodium filled rounds, but what of rubidium? Naturally occurring, next to no radiation, can be absorbed for use in nature, so the risk of accidental contamination is low. The reaction is near a violent as cesium, much more than the hydrogen/sodium/potassium rounds, and being the 16th most abundant element on earth, wouldn't require extensive outsourced mining operations, like cesium.

I would think delivery would be key. I would put this in a rifle round. Sure, you'd lose out to range (rubidium having 13.5% the density of lead) but with combat being reduced to double digit distances in most cases, having a round that reaches out to 300m+ loses it's value. To handle the speeds of delivery, I would forgo wax sealed over modified designs. Assuming it is used in current issue, 14.5" 5.56 rifles, I would marry the M855A1, supplement the bismuth with rubidium, and thicken the base of the jacket to control expansion and provide some stability to flight. Of course, this would be like firing a 35-40 gr varmint round the length of a 75 gr match bullet. With a steel (or similarly dense, non-polymer tip), the majority of the mass would be forward. I would reduce the overall length of the steel tip and focus on more reliable cold forged sealing techniques to keep the rubidium from leaking. Maybe going so far as to use a lead soft tip approach.

The end result would, in this example, create a stable fluid reactive round with limited over-penetration capabilities that would be sturdy enough to be jostled around in a magazine for days on end.

Dnaltrop
December 13, 2012, 11:11 PM
This thread gives me fond memories of one of my Favorite science teachers... blowing tiles off of the ceiling with ascending reactions.

Just a little too large of a chunk, tossed in a pot of water.... Now that's education!

Robert
December 13, 2012, 11:18 PM
Back in the ground zombie thread...

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