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Removing Stuck Bullet From Barrel

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by JDinFbg, May 23, 2020.

  1. JDinFbg

    JDinFbg Member

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    My neighbor decided to test some light loads in his 257 Roberts that he had read about in a gun magazine article that were based on using 12 gr. of Unique to drive an 85 gr. Nosler ballistic tip bullet. He loaded up a small batch and took to the range to test, but unfortunately the third round he fired did not go bang. After ejecting the case he could see the base of the bullet stuck in the barrel just ahead of the chamber with about an 1/8" of rifling visible behind it. He assumed he missed powdering that cartridge, and just the primer force had driven in the bullet. This was bad enough, but he decided to add insult to injury by trying to use a wooden dowel rod inserted from the muzzle to drive out the bullet. This only resulted in the dowel rod breaking in the barrel, leaving a fragment of dowel in the barrel just ahead of the bullet.

    My neighbor asked me if I knew how to remove a stuck bullet, so I did some online research and found a very useful response to a bullet removal question posted on the practicalmachinest.com web site. A response from a gunsmith noted two high pressure grease methods for removing stuck bullets that he had used, one of which had always been successful. I had the means to implement these methods and would have used them if all else failed, but I thought I'd try a more basic approach first.

    My first task was to remove the wooden dowel rod fragment. I was able to do this using a brass rod onto which I had soldered a #10 brass screw. The dowel had already been splintered into pieces by my neighbor in his attempt to extract the dowel, but the brass screw allowed me to hook all the pieces and get them out of the barrel. This was followed by a good flushing with brake cleaner to flush out any remaining pieces.

    My simple approach was to fabricate a tool using a 3/16" brass rod onto which I had soldered about a 2" long tip closely machined to fit the rifle bore. I also machined multiple brass collars to closely fit the rifle bore and soldered them on the 3/16" brass rod at about 2" intervals. I thought this would provide enough mechanical strength to keep the rod from bending inside the barrel - wrong. I quickly realized this was not going to get the bullet to budge, and should have taken the extra time to machine a brass rod that closely fit the bore for its entire length.

    My thought was that if I could get some lubrication between the bullet and the barrel that might allow me to successfully drive out the bullet. I clamped the barreled action in a padded vise and ran some Kroil down the barrel to soak. Kroil is advertised as "The Oil That Creeps", so I assumed if anything was going to be successful at working in, this would be it. To amplify the 'creeping' process I rigged up a fixture using a vinyl tube that I hose clamped on the end of the barrel (there was no front sight) that would allow me to pressurize the barrel with my 135psi shop air supply. I had intended to let this set for a week before again trying to drive out the bullet, but with other distractions occupying my time, this pressure soaking went on for 4 weeks.

    After this amount of Kroil soaking, I was successful at driving out the bullet using the brass driving rod I had fabricated with just a few whacks with a hammer. Upon extracting the bullet I noted that it had a steel sleeve around the tip of the bullet with some wooden dowel rod inside. Where this steel sleeve came from I don't know, but assume it must have been squeezed around the tip of the wooden dowel rod my neighbor used. Thus, the barrel is now unobstructed, but after cleaning the bore well with Hoppe's, a bronze bore brush, followed by multiple patches, I could see a ring left around the circumference of the rifling from the steel band. How this may affect the rifle is yet to be determined. Had the bullet been lodged much further forward in the barrel, I would have gone straight to using one of the high pressure grease methods.

    The Bullet.JPG
    Brass Driving Rod.JPG

    Pressure Soaking.JPG
     
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  2. Scooter22

    Scooter22 Member

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    Nice job. I cringe every time someone askes about a stuck bullet and someone says use a wooden dowel. I,ve seen and read plenty of times where the dowel breaks along the grain and causes a wooden wedge along with bullet. NO DOWELS!
     
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  3. JDinFbg

    JDinFbg Member

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    Yes, wooden dowels in barrels are only good for measuring barrel length back to the bolt face. I have since talked to my neighbor and found out where the steel sleeve around the nose of the bullet came from. Before trying the wooden dowel he tried using his steel cleaning rod and ended up breaking off the end.
     
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  4. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    I have heard of hydraulic pressure blueing used. I can’t imagine a way to get solid pressure on anything without a threaded barrel, but seems like it could work.
     
  5. Scooter22

    Scooter22 Member

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    He"s a triple threat.
     
  6. Catpop

    Catpop Member

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    Nice work!
     
  7. 12Bravo20

    12Bravo20 Member

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    Glad that you were able to get it out and hopefully the barrel is okay.

    I have used a metal USGI cleaning rod to remove stuck bullets before. I always cut the threaded part off to make sure the end is solid before using it. Luckely I have only had to to that a couple of times.
     
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  8. Ed Ames

    Ed Ames Member

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    The method I’ve heard about involves a lathe and custom machined fittings, plus a lot of clamping force to hold everything in place.

    This is pure speculation, but - for the purposes of something like this - I wonder if you couldn’t take a page from the revolver cylinder gap. Clamp the receiver in a vice, use a long tube on a grease gun to fill most of the barrel with grease, and use a brass rod as a piston to pressurize the grease in the barrel by striking the end of the rod with a mallet. Basically, the grease becomes a rod you can’t break off and won’t scratch the bore. Yes, some of the grease will get past the piston, but - just like with a cylinder gap on a revolver - you won’t lose as much pressure as you might think. Dynamic vs static pressure mumble buzzword mumble.
     
  9. PTSchram

    PTSchram Member

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    If this was as close to the breech as you indicate, why wouldn't you use a discarded cartridge case, bore out the primer pocket, use this as a drill guide, drill into the back side of the bullet, screw a sheet metal screw into the bullet and use a slide hammer to remove it?

    Or, just drill the center of the projectile away and the with pressure reduced drive it out with a brass/aluminium rod?

    Just another example

    You know what they say "If three machinists all give the same answer, follow their counsel as itHAS to be correct"
     
  10. JDinFbg

    JDinFbg Member

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    WestKentucky: I've attached a PDF file write-up of the two high pressure grease methods I found on practicalmachinist.com. I reorganized the posting a little so it followed a more logical sequence and saved in a document. I have a knack for finding great info on the web and then never being able to find it again when I really need it. Hopefully this will be helpful for others.
     

    Attached Files:

  11. JDinFbg

    JDinFbg Member

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    PTSchram: What you suggested is a similar thought of what I was going to do as my next step if I couldn't drive the bullet out intact. However, screwing in a sheet metal screw would likely compress the bullet further against the rifling, so I would still have used the brass driving tool. I originally thought my neighbor was using Barnes solid-copper bullets, and drilling out the inside would be the only way to relieve some of the compressive force. But, he later confirmed he was shooting lead-core bullets. Luckily, I did not have to go to the next step or ultimately go to one of the high pressure grease methods. I think the long Kroil soaking was the key to my success.
     
  12. PTSchram

    PTSchram Member

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    I wouldn't be so concerned as the amount of force one could exert would be tremendous-but, as I thought about this some more (consider the timestamp of my original post) drilling fully through the stuck bullet would reduce those force and one could "thread" a piece of all thread into the bullet, place a nut against the base of the cartridge, tighten the nut and gently pull the stuck bullet out.

    Kroil is amazing stuff isn't it? I was introduced to it 1981 as an apprentice A&P and have used it eve since
     
  13. Fyrstyk

    Fyrstyk Member

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    I have removed several projectiles from barrels by inserting a brass rod, of appropriate caliber, about 6" long and using it as a slide hammer by shaking the barrel up and down to dislodge the bullet. Usually only takes about a dozen or less shakes to do the job.
     
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  14. Catpop

    Catpop Member

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    That sounds interesting!
     
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