Remove stuck bullet jackets?


January 8, 2012, 03:38 PM

I had a horrible day at the range today. I managed to get three 158gr Hornady XTP bullets stuck in the barrel of my new to me S&W 27. This was the first time shooting a very light load that had worked great in my other, shorter barrel revolvers.

I could not perceive a difference in the sound of these rounds, and I was thinking why no holes in the target? Totally embarrassed.

The good news is that the barrel does not seem to be bulged.

The bad news is that all my attempts to remove these three bullets has resulted in nothing but three copper jackets in the bore. And they are STUCK!

I have started to carefully cut a slot to allow the jackets to fold inward, but the margin for error is so small that I forced myself to just stop and see if there is a less dangerous way.

I am not is a big rush. Would any sort of copper solvent work to loosen the copper off of the bore? The copper that is left is paper thin, but remarkably strong.

Thanks in advance!


If you enjoyed reading about "Remove stuck bullet jackets?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
January 8, 2012, 03:46 PM
Well, there has to be lead inside the jackets.

I can't imagine an XTP just squirting the core out of the first one.
And the lead cores sure has heck have to still be in #2 & #3, cause there was no place else they could go with a stuck bullet in front of them.

Best advice I can give you is:
Stand the barrel pointing up and fill it with penetrating oil.
Let it set a day or so, then drain it out.
Put more penetrating oil in the back end and let it set.

Then get yourself a bore diameter brass rod and drive them back out with a hammer.

As for light loads & jacketed bullets?

That is why you should Never go below the listed Starting Loads shown in the reloading manual.

You can get away with stuff like that using grease lubed lead bullets.
But not with jacketed bullets.


Jim Watson
January 8, 2012, 04:21 PM
"I can't imagine an XTP just squirting the core out of the first one."

I saw it happen, although with a light loaded Speer JSP. And not one of the old 7/8 jacket SWC types, either, this one had a good bit of jacket over the ogive.

But you are right, it could not happen at all as he stacked the next two behind it.

I was testing some loads on Friday. I had a strange sounding shot and immediately stopped to check the barrel. It was clear but the point was, I looked. I only do rapid fire with loads I consider well developed.
With the really weird stuff, best to hang a clean target and look for one shot, one hole, EVERY TIME. Replace the target as required.

January 8, 2012, 04:29 PM
You can try that, OR

Take your barrel and plug one end of it good. Use a plug that will stand up to ammonia. Then get a bottle of Sweets and dump that down in the bore and let it soak overnight. If it doesn't dissolve it outright, it should weakend it enough that a brush will get it out. If not, clean it out the best you can with CLP, dry, and then repeat.

Whenever you dump the Sweets out, clean out all the left over. Don't leave any of that stuff behind. Some say not to let barrels sit overnight, but others swear by it for yearly cleaning. I use it as needed for fouling, but I have heard of a stuck jacket being removed this way.

When you dump the Sweets out of the barrel, the more blue it is the more copper is in solutions. If it looks like a lot of blue and is kind of thick, you know it's working.

Good luck, just at this point I'd abandon trying to mechanically remove it. You may ruin your barrel. If you can't dislodge it with a plastic or hardwood dowel (soft won't cut it) then stop. Copper and brass is probably still okay, but I don't take chances.

You state the copper is very thin. This sounds like a job for Sweets for sure. Go find a bottle, make sure to take a nice big whiff of it when you open the bottle so you can join the club, then plug up your barrel and carry on. If it is as thin as you say it is, it should completely dissolve overnight, I'd be surprised if it didn't. If not, it should easily fall apart when you try to remove it. If not, repeat and try again, but trust me, this will work eventually. Science says.

January 8, 2012, 04:35 PM
The thing is, 3 stuck Hornady XTP bullets end to end can't be "very thin" as they all have lead cores inside them.
(Unless he already drilled through them with a cordless drill & a dull drill bit!)

I do not recommend pounding on hardwood dowel rods either.

You ain't got a bore obstruction until one of them cracks down the grain, and one tapered end wedges super tight beside the other tapered end.

Then, the cordless drill and dull drill bit might be the only option left.


January 8, 2012, 04:56 PM
Thanks, guys-

The jackets are all that is left after all of my fruitless beating with a brass rod and finally drilling the lead out.

There is nothing left of these bullets except for the jackets. I quit sawing the jackets just shy of the lands and was surprised how stiff the copper still is. I thought that it would just fold in on itself when it got so thin. They are really stuck to the bore.

I am soaking it in Hoppe's copper solvent just to feel like I am doing something. I am hesitant to saw any more now that I am so close to the barrel.

Is there a way to customize a drill bit to remove more of the copper? I am grasping at straws here.

A chemical solution seems very attractive right now.



Jim Watson
January 8, 2012, 05:01 PM
Any drill bit you could buy or grind would cut the rather mild steel of a gun barrel about as easily as the copper, and no real way to guide it away from the bore.

Sweets would eventually dissolve the jackets out but they warn against leaving it in the barrel that long. Might work ok, might not.

I am about ready to make the call and throw myself (yourself) on the mercy of the S&W shop.

January 8, 2012, 05:09 PM
So there was a drill bit already involved!

At this point?

I might try driving a hard cast lead SWC bullet down the bore (with a bore size brass rod) and maybe a bullet driving band will snag onto the scrap jackets left in the bore.

But sending it to S&W is sounding better & better all the time!!


Rail Driver
January 8, 2012, 05:15 PM
I agree with those that say send it to S&W. You piled up 3 bullets in the barrel. If it's not "ringed" or bulged, I'd be impressed. A friend of mine recently had something similar happen (only 2 bullets though) trying to work up a load for his 10-3. His barrel didn't look bad until he got the bullets out (brass rod method). Once he got them out and shined a light down the bore you could see the swelling in the bore even though you couldn't tell from the outside of the barrel. The gun still shoots, but with the ever so slight loosening of the bore about 3/4" from the end of the barrel, the gun keyholes and accuracy is crap.

*Edit to add, he wasn't using "full power" loads, they were fairly weak, but above starting load for the bullet he was using.

January 8, 2012, 11:07 PM
Thanks again for your help.

I am just sick over this.

I am soaking it in Hoppe's overnight because it feels like I am doing something.

My plan is to get better copper solvent and attempt to drive the jackets out with a hard lead bullet.

More than one reply suggested sending the revolver to S&W. What would they do to solve this problem? I am trying to envision some special tooling or techniques.


January 9, 2012, 11:52 AM
Who knows.
But I bet they have fixed more of then then you have.

What would S&W do?
Perhaps a reverse electroplate like the Outers Foul-Out?
Perhaps an exact fit steel range rod they have on the gunsmiths bench?
Perhaps drag an old rifling cutter through the barrel and snag them?

My other thought late last night was to get a stick of Cerrosafe alloy, plug the barrel with a tight patch wad, and pour a slug of it over the jackets.
Then drive it out with a brass rod.


January 9, 2012, 11:53 AM

No luck driving a cast bullet through. It just smeared over the jackets.

I have not tried he more aggressive copper solvent yet.



January 9, 2012, 12:09 PM
Thanks, RC... we must have been posting at the same time.

I am just amazed at how tightly they are stuck in the bore. It took a lot of force to get that bullet through there.

I have a tight fitting steel rod that I am going to try after lunch.

Then back to the chemical/electrolysis options in preparation for the Cerrosafe attempt.


January 9, 2012, 04:25 PM
May want to use Kroil instead of a copper solvent, it's about the best penetrating oil around. I've seen it remove rusted seized bolts better than anything else. The use of a lead or Cerrosafe slug may be a good option as suggested. A perfectly sized steel rod would be a good option.

Even the Outers Foul-Out tells you may want to be careful. Since the controller limits current and voltage it should be safe. But since your actually do a plating process (to dissolve the jacket) I would change the solution more often. Use with caution....

January 9, 2012, 05:26 PM
I got them out.

What an ordeal.

My successful method was to make a "safe" saw blade by putting heat shrink tubing on both ends of the blade. The plan was to have the tubing ride on the bore to keep the blade off of the steel while sawing the bullet jackets as much as possible.

This was slow going, trying to cut only the jackets. I cut two slots 180 degrees apart.

The next step was to make a small scraper/chisel that could catch the edge of the jacket and upset it inward.

Again, this was slow going as I did not want to gouge the barrel more than necessary.

Surprise! there were FOUR bullets in there, not three as I first thought.

I cleaned the barrel, and looked down it afraid of what I would see. I had violated all of the conventional wisdom on barrel preservation and fought the equivalent of WW3 in there with steel tools. There were some really light scratches near the crown, but no other evidence of my stupidity. No gouges, no bulges or rings. Whew!

What a relief!

Now I need to take the 27 completely apart because there are jacket chips everywhere.

Thanks for all of your suggestions!

No more light loads with jacketed bullets for me! What a hard lesson to learn!


Red Cent
January 9, 2012, 06:19 PM
Speechless :cool:

January 9, 2012, 06:27 PM

January 9, 2012, 06:47 PM
Wow. Just wow.

I told you how to get them out without hurting the barrel. Sweets recommends not leaving it in for too long, but in modern barrels and in certain situations and when you don't do it a lot, it is okay. This was one of those "certain situations". Hoppes, even the copper solvent, isn't strong enough to do what you needed to do. Sweets is the only gun product out there that dissolves only copper that I know of and is made for firearms.

January 9, 2012, 06:53 PM
Has to be a bulge in the barrel.

January 9, 2012, 07:11 PM
Has to be a bulge in the barrel.

There are no visible bulges inside or outside the barrel, even under very close scrutiny with bright lights.

However, if you push a tight patch back and forth really slowly, you can sometimes perceive a different resistance in the area in question. I am sure this is the damage done by this mishap.

If you run the patch back and forth as if you were cleaning the gun, you would not notice this. I sure noticed it, and cannot escape the conclusion that this barrel is damaged.

I will shoot it next weekend and see if the accuracy is OK, and verify if there are any unusual leading patterns.

Still hoping for the best!


January 9, 2012, 07:31 PM
I knew you would feel the bulge with the patch. Dont give up some times crazy things like this will improve the accuracy. Shoot it and see how it does. Good luck

January 9, 2012, 09:19 PM
Go get some Missouri Bullets and a couple bottles of Trailboss. I use that with 3.75 gr. You did a good job getting it fixed, so congrats, lessons learned.

If you enjoyed reading about "Remove stuck bullet jackets?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!