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Use blank round to remove stuck bullet from barrel?

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by JellyJar, Jan 24, 2013.

  1. JellyJar

    JellyJar Well-Known Member

    I saw a video on Youtube the other day where a man was showing off a three inch Colt Detective Special he had recently obtained. He then pointed the barrel to the camera and there less than half an inch from the muzzle you could see a bullet! He was shooting handloads and one did not have enough oomph to push the bullet all the way out.

    It occurred to me that if he were to use a blank round, being careful not to use too much gun powder, he could then just "shoot" the bullet the rest of the way out of the barrel.

    Do any of you think this would be either a good or bad idea?


  2. Arp32

    Arp32 Well-Known Member


    (A bad one...)
  3. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Well-Known Member

    I'm not a balistician, so maybe others can refine or correct my thoughts here.

    Bad idea. The stuck bullet would act as a barrel obstruction. The pressure from the blank would build up a head of steam (technical term, there) and hit the stuck bullet, possibly causing a bulge or rupture of the barrel.
  4. Atbat82

    Atbat82 Well-Known Member

    I'm far from an expert, but that strikes me as a very dangerous way to remove the round. He'd be far better served with a small hammer and a rod.

    I don't even know if the blank would work (I honestly don't really know how they work), but I'd be reluctant to put any more powder through that gun until the blockage was removed. JMHO
  5. jamesbeat

    jamesbeat Well-Known Member

    I've read that this type of thing can cause dangerous overpressure, but I've bever been 100% convinced that this is true because a lot of cartridges have a great deal of empty space inside (very light .38sp target loads for example).

    I would err on the side of caution and tap the bullet out with a brass rod and a mallet though. No need to use an explosion when you can use a method that you know is 109% safe.

    ETA: no that's not a typo. Using a brass rod and a mallet would be precisely 109% safe :D :D :D
  6. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

    BAD idea.

    Tap it out with a brass rod.
  7. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Not only a bad idea.

    But a sure way to damage the gun or the barrel beyond repair.

    Trapped air between the stuck bullet and the powder gas from a blank will either do nothing.
    Or it will destroy the gun.

    The stuck bullet IS a barrel obstruction.

    The only safe, non-destructive way to remove it is drive it out with a brass rod and hammer.

    There is no logical reason to stick a bullet in a barrel with handloads in the first place if you got the brains god gave a goose.

  8. frankenstein406

    frankenstein406 Well-Known Member

    I'm pretty sure a martial arts actor died on a movie set. The gun was loaded but there was no powder only a primer and bullet. The first one got stuck and the second one pushed the other one out and killed him. So I guess a primer would work but just knock it out with a rod. Also blanks are usually stuffed full of powder for the flash effect on movie sets lol
  9. USAF_Vet

    USAF_Vet Well-Known Member

    If you are referring to Brandon Lee, the gun that killed him had a bullet lodged in the barrel, and a blank round was fired, which forced the bullet out of the barrel, striking him. He died later on the operator table.

    So what the OP is suggesting could in fact work, but who knows how much space was in thefin that killed Lee.

    Still, a bad idea all around. Remove the obstruction properly.
  10. jamesbeat

    jamesbeat Well-Known Member

    Trouble with that is maybe nine times out if ten that would happen, but what if it didn't?
    The cylinder gap might be enough to reduce the overpressure, but why risk it when you could use a brass rod and be 109% safe? :D
  11. 230RN

    230RN Marines on Mt. Curibacci

    According to Hatcher*, the US Ordnance Department did a bunch of experiments on this and found that stuck cleaning rods and patches and "hatcord" cleaning devices and even bullets could readily be removed from the Springfield rifle by firing a case half-full of the regular (not blank**) powder with no bullet.

    However, it was decided that since the experiments were done in carefully controlled conditions, and there was no way to predict what conditions there might be in field use, it was not a method to be recommended.

    He also notes that several times during the experiments with really bad obstructions, the firing pin went click and nothing happened. They had plenty of fun opening the bolts by tapping them open with a broomstick, where the bolt suddenly flew open with a loud pop and one case was ejected so smartly that it got stuck in the opposite wall.

    Hatcher comments extensively on several anecdotes (as opposed to rigorous experimentation) where bullets have been shot out of barrels. In most instance, the barrel lets go. However he also notes that one machine gun had developed a distinct bulge at the point where the following bullet hit the stuck bullet, went on through, and left a distinct egg-shaped bulge in the barrel. The machine gun continued to operate normally.

    He also notes an instance in a 1917 revolver where a person had shot five followup rounds and all six bullets ended up stuck in the barrel.

    This, however, you will note, was with a revolver, where excess pressure could be relieved from the barrel-cylinder gap. When the 1917 barrel does let go, it is usually along the stamped-in lines saying "Property of U.S. Government."

    All in all, a barrel with a stuck bullet or any other obstruction should be taken to a professional for removal.

    * See Hatcher's Notebook, "Experiments with barrel obstructions," pp 180-197, and "The strength of military rifles," pp 198-211.

    ** Blank powder is extremely fast powder designed to generate standard exit pressures with no projectile. Don't mess with it.

    Terry, 230RN
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2013
  12. hueyville

    hueyville Well-Known Member

    I would not recommend removing a stuck bullet by any other means than a brass rod and a hammer. That being said, I have in my younger days not been so cautious. I had a friend that was mechanically inept and like to drink who decided to take up reloading. A very bad idea for his personal situation. He had some pistol loads he made and apparently every other round had no powder charge while the others were double charged. He was shooting.them through a Springfield .45. He stuck a bullet and didn't know it. Gun didn't cycle so he racked the slide and dropped the trigger. No joy so he tapped the rear of the slide squeezed the trigger again and kaboom. Case ruptured, which in process of blowing the magazine out cooked off the top round in the magazine. It ejected the magazine, blew the wooden grips off the gun and spilt the magazine in the ground. His hands and face were black with powder but other than freaked out, unhurt. I took his new pride and joy, field stripped it, cleaned it, dropped a spare barrel in it and put a set of pachmyers on it. It ran like a champ with my loads and he got over it.

    I went to my vault and pulled a .45 I had built like a tank for experimental purposes with ultra heavy loads. Idea was to push bowling pins off the table even with a poor hit. I was too lazy to pull all his bullets so I would POP, rack the slide then go BANG till I disposed of his mistake. I bought his press and other equipment from him and supplied his range ammo from then on. Check the reloading section of this site for the picks of the Glock that went Kaboom with factory ammo. I have seem way too many of them in pieces over the years. Would I clear those bad rounds same way now? No, I bought a bullet puller next opportunity. Be careful and wear your glasses, guns do come into pieces on occasion.
  13. col_temp

    col_temp Well-Known Member

    And that is a great point! ;)

    230RN said it well. Forget the idiots on YouTube and refer to the professionals!
  14. HoosierQ

    HoosierQ Well-Known Member

    Well yes it was Brandon Lee and yes the bullet did come out and kill him. However everybody was concerned about Lee. No note was taken or mentioned of what kind of shape the gun was in after the accident that I ever saw. It may have been ruined in the process of dislodging that bullet. Getting the bullet out won't do you much good if you can't put another one through it...either because the barrel or your hand blew off!
  15. Blackstone

    Blackstone Well-Known Member

    It'll probably work fine 9/10 of the times, but still a terrible idea
  16. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Well-Known Member

    Before a guy does something like that, it's common to hear words like, "Hey, hold my beer and watch this."
  17. hueyville

    hueyville Well-Known Member

    On my friends Springfield I assumed the barrel was bulged or damaged in some way and is why I rewplaced it at the range. I later examined it closely measuring chamber, checking for roundness, bulges, or any signs of any portion being out of spec. Even managed to get my veterinarian to x-ray it. It passed all tests, was reinstalled in his pistol and it shot just as good afterwards as before. It was still in that pistol 25 years later when he passed. Some guns are tough. An all steel frame, slide, cylinder, etc handgun that is built over spec will take a lot. Now an ultra light weight with aluminum alloys, polymers, etc, are better operated with in spec ammo especially those with unsuppoted chambers.
  18. Crash_Test_Dhimmi

    Crash_Test_Dhimmi Well-Known Member

    Yeah its a great idea, just have a camera rolling to record the results and post the warning, er uh production to youtube for everyone to see the results! :evil:
  19. JFrame

    JFrame Well-Known Member

    If I recall the Brandon Lee tragedy correctly, the prop-man first loaded the .44 magnum revolver with dummy rounds (no powder, just casings and bullets), for the filming of a straight-on look at the revolver. He then swapped out the dummy rounds for blanks, to film a sequence of the gun being fired at Lee. But in one of those amazingly cruel twists of fate, a bullet from a dummy had gotten dislodged from its casing in the course of handling the revolver, and lodged in the barrel. One might question the carefulness of the prop-man in question, but he never noticed that one of the dummy rounds was missing its bullet.

    Then a full powder charge from a blank propelled the lodged bullet into Lee.

    As someone else noted, because all the attention was, with good reason, on the mortally wounded Lee, we never heard any further details on the gun that was used.

  20. 230RN

    230RN Marines on Mt. Curibacci

    Do I have my accidental movie deaths mixed up?

    Years ago I read of an actor who, while still in costume and carrying a handgun loaded with blanks, went to the studio commissary for lunch and while "showing off," held the gun to his temple and fired, thinking that the blanks were harmless anyway. The story was that the wadding material of the blank exited with enough energy to peneterate the thin bone of the temple, and the expanding gases from the blank entering his brain cavity made a mess of his brain and that he died instantly.

    Do I have this incident mixed up with the Brandon Lee tragedy?

    I did a quick search on accidental movie shooting deaths and the Lee story as related in this thread seems to be the only one that comes up.

    Terry, 230RN

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