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Tracers?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by OhioChief, Nov 4, 2009.

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  1. OhioChief

    OhioChief Member

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    Hi, pretty new to the site, and very new to reloading. Still pulling my stuff together. Have the Dillon 650 and I'm currently building my bench. Anyway, plan to start reloading .223 soon and was just wondering if you can load tracers. What exactly is in a Tracer?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Sport45

    Sport45 Member

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    A tracer is a military bullet that has the base hollowed out and then filled with a substance that is ignited by the cartridge firing and then burns on it's way downrange. They are typically loaded one for every five rounds or so in a ammo belt so that a machine gun operator can walk his fire into a target.

    They are forbidden at most ranges due to the danger of them starting fires. They used to be relatively cheap since there was little demand for them. I don't know what the going rate is now since I quit looking at them long ago.

    (I don't want the phosphorus burning down the length of my barrel anyway)
     
  3. delta5

    delta5 Member

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    I wonder if anyone has come up with a recipe using common materials to make a tracer mixture to dip your bullets into?
     
  4. longdayjake

    longdayjake Member

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    What? No, thats not how it works.

    Most tracers have a thin metal coating before the compound so that it has to melt before it will ignite. usually the tracer has already gone about 100 yards before it will ignite. I have made a bunch of .308 and .30-06 tracers that I bought a long time ago with pretty good results but there really is a danger in starting fires. Also, they really do weird stuff when they ricochet.
     
  5. loadedround

    loadedround Member

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    Delta5: As a retired chemist, don't even think about trying to make tracers. The tracer compond goes into the base of the bullet and is not an outside coating. The chemicals used in tracers, especially phosphorus, are extremly dangerous to handle, and could cause spontaneous combustion if not stored properly. Second problem would be where would you buy the chemicals? Most chemical supply houses won't sell to individuals, and if they did, most likely report the sale to law inforcement. Take my advice and don't consider it.
     
  6. delta5

    delta5 Member

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    It was just a thought. I didnt even know the material was in the base of the bullet. I figured it was just a coating on the outer surface:D
     
  7. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

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    It's hard to see but the tracer compound is white and in the base of the bullet.

    ry%3D400.jpg

    The bullet on the left is a 54 grain tracer and the bullet on the right is a 55 grain FMJ. You can see the tracer is quite a bit longer and will fill the case more when seated. You will need to reduce the powder charge and work it up.

    ry%3D400.jpg
     
  8. HisSoldier

    HisSoldier Member

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    When I was looking for tracers for .45 ACP I came upon a site that also sold materials for making one's own tracers. It required a hydraulic press.
    If I wanted the hassle of making them I sure as heck would do it. But they are just difficult enough to make to justify the high price I paid for mine.
     
  9. qajaq59

    qajaq59 Member

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    We had someone use them at the county range without telling the RO, and they started one devil of a fire. Needless to say he was not welcome at the range anymore. And I was surprised he wasn't handed a bill from the fire dept as well.
     
  10. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

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    Just curious how much the 45 acp tracers cost. The 223 tracers I bought were only $25 per 1,000
     
  11. Shoney

    Shoney Member

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    At the factory, they adjust the compouunds to control the distance the tracer ignites away from the weapon. It is usually 25 yards for small arms and 100 yards for belted ammo.

    In order to ignite a lot of the .223 tracers you need to load a hotter burning powder. Some of the surplus sites list this. Without a hot ignition, may of the tracers do not ignite.

    The problems with tracers, besides fire danger, is that the compunds ignite and burn at uneven rates. The accuracy at distances over 100 yards is very irratic. So if you get tracers that ignite at 100 yards, you will get ok accuracy at 100 yards, but not beyond.
     
  12. rondog

    rondog Member

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  13. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    You can start fires with matches or hot cars as well. The usual rules of caution apply with tracers, but there's no need for histrionics. I keep a batch of five 54R green tracers in the survival kit as mini-flares.
     
  14. NoAlibi

    NoAlibi Member

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    Think about this...

    Where are the majority of the bullets going?

    If you noticed in the photo provided by RustyFN that the shape, length and weight (and the weight will change in flight as the phosphorus burns up) of the two bullets is significantly different, so it should be obvious that the ballistic coefficients of the two rounds will be significantly different as well.

    Every 10th round in the machine gun belts in our aircraft were loaded with tracers. So, every 9 rounds were going to a different point of impact than the tracers - hardly conducive to accuracy!
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2009
  15. delta5

    delta5 Member

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    Here in rural NW Ohio, the fire depts WILL bill you for fires that you cause. This even includes field fires and brush fires that get out of control too...
     
  16. rondog

    rondog Member

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    Oh come on, tracers are for shooting jugs of gasoline and propane tanks, aren't they?
     
  17. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

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    Yes and also cars. At least that is what we use them for at our MG shoot at the club every year. :D
     
  18. qajaq59

    qajaq59 Member

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    Only if you work for Mythe Busters.........
     
  19. proplinker

    proplinker Member

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    Go to the next gun show and look for tracer cord 6' for $10 you have to drill out the base of your bullet and glue a piece of it into the hole
     
  20. rondog

    rondog Member

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  21. hokeyplyr48

    hokeyplyr48 Member

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    That looks awesome!

    But, I've seen muskets that were more accurate.... Are the tracers causing the severe inaccuracy?
     
  22. qajaq59

    qajaq59 Member

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    Ayup!!!!!
     
  23. rondog

    rondog Member

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    If you're talking about my videos, the "inaccuracy" is most likely due to the fact that those are all guns being rented by novices who've never shot mg's before, plus they're doing it at night, and most of them are just being fired into the air for the giggles of watching tracers fly through the sky.

    That was at a big machinegun shoot in Cheyenne Wells, CO, in the spring of 2008. The gun owners do some shooting themselves, of course, but the majority of them rent the guns out to flunkies like me for the thrill of blasting away on full-auto. It's a fund-raising thing for the local volunteer FD. I think the firing line that year was 900 yards long, no telling how many machineguns were there of all kinds. The landowner owns all the property from the firing line to the Kansas border, there's thousands of acres of wide open space for all those bullets to land in.

    Tracers rock!

    50tracer07JPG.gif

    My grandson, (behind the attendant and on the MP5).....

    twins02.gif

    mp501.gif

    Me with an M1 Thompson.....

    tommy05.gif
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2009
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