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Is it illegal/unwise to modify pistol ammo?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Cousin Mike, Aug 11, 2006.

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  1. Cousin Mike

    Cousin Mike Member

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    Hello all.

    I have a question, and didn't know which forum to post in, so I gave it my best guess. Mods, please move if necessary so I'll know where to post a question like this in the future.

    My question is basically stated in the title, but I'll be a a little more specific. Let's say you have a box of FMJ's or JSP's for target shooting, and wanted to experiment. If you have the tools / ability to turn one of those rounds into a nasty but efficient little JHP round... if you can do so without changing the weight, profile, and sectional density (by too much) of the round - is there some common knowledge against doing so? Is it illegal? Is it not smart?

    Just wondering - opinions and facts (especially legal facts) on the matter would be greatly appreciated.


    Mike
     
  2. Hkmp5sd

    Hkmp5sd Member

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    It is not illegal and not smart. If you don't know what you're doing, it is very easy to make a gun go kaboom and remove a few fingers and/or facial features.

    If you want to make hot loads, get into reloading and follow the directions of those that have done it before, safely. Reloading manuals will tell you everything you need to know about how hot to make the rounds.
     
  3. Cousin Mike

    Cousin Mike Member

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    Apologies... I should have specified. I'm not taking the case off, or changing powder composition, or anything I don't know how to do. What I'm asking pertains more to re-shaping, making appropriate cuts to the nose of the round in order to make it a JHP.

    I know a little something about how to work with / cut metals and have tools that would be good for the job - but I don't have any equipment for, nor know anything about reloading. Sorry if I was unclear.
     
  4. ugaarguy

    ugaarguy Moderator Staff Member

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    Mike, its very doable. I remember posts where some of the older guys have talked about a tool made just for making a HP cavity back when HPs weren't available like they are now. However, BIG CAUTION, while cutting a HP cavaity you can easily push the bullet deeper into the case - when this happens you reduce case volume which therby increases pressure when the round is fired. This is very important with some rounds like the 9mm Luger.

    -Speer Reloading Manual Number 13

    So if you do this, pull out the good calipers and make sure you don't push the bullets deeper into the case. With that caution in mind, have fun experimenting, and get us some pics of test results when you try them out.

    Edit: Looks like it might be called an Old Forster hollow pointing tool; http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=2596871&postcount=61
     
  5. Cousin Mike

    Cousin Mike Member

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    So far, only hazard has been...

    slipping with one of my sharper tools, and sticking myself in the thumb once or twice... But I'm used to that kind of stuff. I'd sure like to know what this tool is that is made especially for digging out HP cavities... With the price of premium JHP ammo nowadays, someone could make a killing marketing something like that :D

    I'll definitely make sure to get some pictures up here soon - the one's I've completed already look pretty mean. Also, I'm being VERY careful not to set the bullets back at all, since the cartridges I'm working with at the moment are .357 Magnum rounds. :what:

    Thanks for the advice ugaarguy!

    Anyone else ever altered FMJ rounds?

    Stories to tell?

    Results to share?
     
  6. fecmech

    fecmech Member

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    Cousin--Something to think about. FMJ bullets are formed from nose to base leaving the base of the bullet with the lead core exposed. HP bullets are the opposite with the base fully jacketed and lead core exposed and hollow pointed at the nose. If you hollow point a FMJ you have a lead core in a copper sleeve open at both ends. Now in a .357 apply 35,000 psi to the base of the lead core. Do you think there is any chance the core may leave the jacket behind in the barrel to act as an obstruction for the next shot?? I don't know myself but sure would not want to find out. Nick
     
  7. mete

    mete Member

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    "Nasty and efficient" So you think you can make a more efficient bullet than companies that have spent years and many dollars in development ?? Altering FMJs has been done for many years but not successfully as far as I know.
     
  8. brickeyee

    brickeyee Member

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    As was already posted, learn how to reload.
    You can cast bullets or make them any way you want.
    Screwing around with already loaded rounds is just asking for trouble from setback. There is no way to alter the ahpe without removing metal and now you have alighter bullet. It will have about the same velocity as before so both the momentum and energy have been decreased.
    It takes force to make any tool cut, and if you push on a bullit to hard it can move in the case. Bad pressure things happen if a bullet is pushed further into the case. Even repeated chambering of the same round can casue setback.

    There is also more to making a bullet expand than just cutting a hole in the nose.
     
  9. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    Just get into reloading, buy a hollow point mold, and cast your own. Don't buy a 358-158 lee hollow point mold, though, inaccurate ain't the word in evey revolver I've tried that bullet in. :rolleyes:
     
  10. Cousin Mike

    Cousin Mike Member

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    Hmmm... never thought about that.

    Not really using FMJ's, I have a box of JSP's here, and some cheap CCI JHP's... With the CCI's, all I've done is 'refine' the already-existing HP cavity to a design more of my own personal liking.

    Now the JSP's, those are a little different. The lead is already protruding from the copper jacket, and there's a flat lead tip at the end of the round. All there is left to do is crate a hollow point in the lead and refine the edges. I'm not modifying the copper jacketing in any way, rather smoothing the exposed lead somewhat over the jacket after creating the hollow point. The result looks almost exactly like WWB 125grain .38Spl +P JHP's, inside and out. Mine are actually better looking, and more uniformally designed.

    I think a picture would explain better than my words.

    fecmech, your advice on altering FMJ rounds sounds well reasoned and thought out. If I ever do attempt to alter true FMJ rounds, I think I would only do such with the Winchester Winclean ammo, which also has a fully jacketed core. Thanks a ton, as I had never thought of this before... I'll also be very careful if/when I decide to fire the rounds I've already created.


    mete - I never said I thought I could make a better JHP than a multi-million dollar company. :D Although, in my own defense, I think the rounds I have already tinkered with look better than some of store bought ammo I have for comparison. I'm sure they would finction fine, seeing as how I haven't changed the design - just 'tweaked' it a little. I thought I was clear in my first post about simply wanting to experiment.

    I'd also like to know how one would go about rating "success" percentages in basement experiments with bullets. I'm sure, somewhere there's some old guy who's figured out how to modify regular, cheap old BS ammo into something that performs a little better - nothing wrong with having a little fun, right?
    I also tend to subscribe to the school of thought that if no one did it with any success, there probably wouldn't be a tool made for it.

    Thanks again, ugaarguy for that link. I googled "Forster hollowpointing tool," and found a link to a site that sells them for less than $20. Might be worth looking into one of these.

    Thanks again, everyone, for your thoughts.

    Edit: MCgunner, I definitely plan to get into reloading - hopefully sooner than later. Thanks for the advice on the Lee mold! I'll be sure to stay away from those! :D how difficult/expensive is it to make your own rounds? Wouldn't one need a laboratory of sorts, or am I getting way ahead of myself with this one?
     
  11. grendelbane

    grendelbane Member

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    Experimentation is good. Elmer Keith and Phil Sharpe experimented with bullets as well as powder charges. George C. Nonte and Dean Grennell continued the tradition.

    Even Col. Cooper got in on the action!:what:

    Carrying those experimental loads for serious purposes might not be so good. While not actually illegal, it might look bad in a courtroom.

    But, for pure research, experiment with anything that you think is safe.

    Prudence is byword here. Also, remember, there are plenty of bullets available that either expand too much, or don't expand at all. It is a zero sum game between expansion and penetration. What you gain in expansion, you lose in penetration, and vice versa.

    Remember, iron and steel core, beryllium copper, brass, bronze, tungsten, and depleted uranium core handgun bullets are usually illegal. Notice the big loophole here, apparently U-235 core bullets are acceptable!:what:

    Probably best not to use these either.:neener:
     
  12. KD5NRH

    KD5NRH Member

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    You mean like all the other ammo companies claim to do?
     
  13. ugaarguy

    ugaarguy Moderator Staff Member

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    The fact that I rent a small house, sans garage or work room is the only reason I don't cast my own. My buddy does it and has shown me the equipment. You buy old wheel weights as scrap lead from tire shops, melt 'em down in a little lead furnace, and pour the lead, using the furnace spout, into the mold. After the bullets harden, you remove, lube and size. It's pretty simple really. http://www.midwayusa.com/ebrowse.exe/browse?tabid=2
     
  14. lawson

    lawson Member

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    my dad has a picture of my grandpa making hollowpoints out of .38 spl LRN with some simple tools he made. he was a sheriff's deputy and was issued LRN, so he modified it.

    of course, these days hollowpoints are widely available and inexpensive, so i've never bothered to modify my ammunition.
     
  15. Majic

    Majic Member

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    Remember that to make the cavity you will have to remove metal and that will change the weight.
     
  16. BlkHawk73

    BlkHawk73 Member

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    Looks are not exactly an aspect of a cartridge that really matters is it? After all, once you load the gun, you'll never see them again anyways. For me, it's far easier to buy commercially loadedammo to suit my needs or simply make my own reloads.
     
  17. Cousin Mike

    Cousin Mike Member

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    It's understood that I will be decresing the weight some by removing the center of the tip of the JSP rounds, but it's not enough weight to matter IMO. The JSP's weigh 125 grains. At the end of this process, at most, I'm probably removing 1-2 grains of weight, and simply redistributing the rest of the bullet weight - not removing it. Not very much IMO, but I do understand that a very tiny amount of weight will be removed. That's okay for what I'm doing. The most that comes out of these is a few shavings of lead the size of a grain of sand. I also chose JSP rounds to do this with because they expand anyway... Might as well see if adding a hollow point type cavity will add to the performance of the round, IMO. I'm not turning 125's into 110's though. There is VERY little lead actually being removed. Ideally, there's virtually none.

    The JHP's I'm working with, I doubt I am removing more than a single grain of weight, if any. I'm simply re-shaping the existing cavity. Besides, the JHP's I have are 158gr. weight. I don't know if a 1 grain loss on a reshaped cavity is going to be detrimental to performance. I plan on testing these rounds in wet phonebooks to see if they work in the same way as a name-brand JHP round. One poster said there's more to making a bullet expand than cutting a cavity in the tip of a round. I guess that's what I'm trying to figure out through experimenting.

    As for the looks of the rounds, I refer to looks as a testament to how I think they will function. I was wondering when someone was going to ask me that. :D Nah, I really don't care how they look flying through the air, as you are correct... I won't see them anyway. But - when I compare the rounds I've made to some of the JHP rounds I already have here for PD, these look as if they would function just as well, if not better.

    Because of the information I've been given here, I don't think I'm brave or knowledgeable enough to experiment with true FMJ hangun rounds, nor do I have tools that I think would work well for that.

    And for the last time, I am NOT making these out of necessity, or to save a few bucks. Gee whiz! Don't any of you people ever do anything for fun?! :D Don't you ever think,

    "Hey... maybe I can do this just as well as the pro's!" ?

    My guns are my absolute favorite posessions. I wouldn't experiment w/ anything that I considered dangerous to their function - I'm not experimenting with Federal Hydrashok's, or Speer Gold Dots, or serious quality rounds that I think I can improve on. These are just crappy soft-point and hollowpoint, $9 for a 50-box rounds that I bought for target shooting, and simply haven't had the chance to shoot yet.

    I keep quality, name brand JHP's for all of my guns. This is simply for fun, and to answer a question I have. I will compare these home-made hollowpoint rounds to name brand hollow point rounds of a similar design, and see if mine work like regular JHP's. The idea is to use these in comparison with premium JHP ammo, then take some pics, and show the good folks here the results when my little experiment is done.

    No one ever learned or improved anything by leaving it all to the pro's, you know :D

    Edit: You know what? Now that I think about it, you guys should be thanking me! LOL!

    You wouldn't even have your precious store-bought premiuim ammo if some crazy bastard, somewhere, didn't dig a hole in the end of a bullet and experiment... I wonder how many people told him that was a stupid idea :cool:


    :neener:
     
  18. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    A properly designed hollow-point bullet has a tapered jacket of proper thickness and composition, proper alloy for the core, and is closed at the base.

    The FMJ maker doesn't bother with all that -- so the best you can do when hollow-pointing an FMJ is to produce an inferior bullet.

    The worst you can do is have the bullet shed its jacked in the barrel, and if you don't notice it, the next shot blows up your gun.
     
  19. Majic

    Majic Member

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    The weight removal does matter. You have now just changed the center of gravity of the bullet.
     
  20. Owen

    Owen Moderator Emeritus

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    How do you know your bullets are actually better? Have you done any testing?
     
  21. Cousin Mike

    Cousin Mike Member

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    It’s all speculation right now, owen… I just posted the question last night – I haven’t had the opportunity to go and try them yet.

    Nothing is going to help my case much, except pictures. I don't know of any ranges around here that will let me bring in wet phone books to shoot up. I'll post pics as soon as I finish shooting up the Columbus Yellow Pages. I don't think pictures of my alterations are going to change anyone's mind until we see how they work.

    Once again, I appreciate the advice about altering FMJ rounds, but I’ll consider it understood that I am not using FMJ.

    I’m not doing anything that would cause the jacket to slip off – I would think that would require doing something to radically alter dimensions, weight, and/or the jacket itself. I’m not altering the jacket at all, with either round. Making the cavity more pronounced in a pre-existing, low-quality hollow-point round might not make it more effective… but then again it might, which it the point of this whole thing.

    I don’t think it’ll blow up my gun.

    As for what I am doing with the JSP’s, take a look at some WWB .38Spl +P JHP’s.
    Then take a look at some Remington UMC JSP’s. The WWB is the exact same round as the Remington – open at the tip, with the lead exposed. The Winchester round just has a very crude hole punched in the middle of the round, and some simple cuts on the jacket. I don’t think that replicating that design will blow up my gun either.

    I hope you guys don't think I'm being hard-headed... I hear everything you're saying, and I'm taking everyone's advice into account, weather you’re for or against the idea. I still think that it can be done safely. I know it's been done for a long time, as some posters have already said. I’m trying to set up a place out of town to go shooting with some friends or family, but everyone seems to be BS’ing at the moment. If it takes too long to set up some outdoor shooting, then I’ll post pics of the rounds first, and then the results when I can.

    I’m grateful for everyone’s advice. Thanks again everyone for responding – more points of view are always appreciated.

    Mike
     
  22. warmrain

    warmrain Member

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    I have been told by those who have gone there that some FMJ bullets do not have complete jackets, they do not cover the rear of the bullet. When these are turned in to HP bullets the lead comes out through the front of the remaining copper.

    IMHO there's no reason to experiement with a loaded round because you don't know what is inside it.

    IMHO I would:
    1. make my own bullet from scratch if it was my goal to design a better bullet.
    2. hand load existing bullets (e.g. excellent choice from Hornady) for a specific use.
    3. Purchase the best of the existing rounds and test them for effectiveness (e.g. in gelatin with a chrono)

    I would not make an experiemental "nasty" bullet and carry it for SD. It may not work or it may work the the prosecutor may ask why did you make that "nasty" home-grown bullet, wasn't the normal stuff bad enough for you...
     
  23. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    They are not the same round -- regardless of how they look. Try measuring the hardness of the core of the two bullets, the thickness of the jacket, and so on.

    If your modified bullet sheds its jacket and leaves it in the bore and you fire another round, you will ruin your pistol.
     
  24. warmrain

    warmrain Member

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    Vern,

    "If your modified bullet sheds its jacket and leaves it in the bore and you fire another round, you will ruin your pistol."

    This is the very thing that was occuring according to the poster of the thread I was referring to in my previous post.

    Gee, is that a "run-on"or what...? :rolleyes:
     
  25. one-shot-one

    one-shot-one Member

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    bad idea

    ammo bullet weights and powder charges are "matched"
    removing mettle/lead from a cartridge without knowing the
    powder charge COULD result in unsafe pressures.:what:
     
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