Hand loading (making ammunition from new component parts, namely, cartridge case, primer, propellant, and bullet) and reloading (making ammunition by reusing spent cartridge cases with new primers and propellant using either new bullets or homemade bullets) are practiced by many firearms enthusiasts, especially in the United States. Reloading can substantially reduce the cost of ammunition, provide ammunition for firearms chambered for unusual or obsolete cartridges, and give scope for "tailor-made" designs. Both hand loading and reloading use commercially available primers and propellants which are basically the same as those used in commercially manufactured ammunition.
Reloaders use either commercially available bullets, or make their own from commercially available lead alloy bars or a range of suitable scrap metal alloys. Two specifications for manufactured bullets for reloading purposes are:
By using varying amounts of tin and/or antimony to harden lead, reload-ers can control the hardness of their bullets. They can also cast composite bullets, one mold casting the nose portion and another mold casting the base portion. The two portions are then glued together using epoxy glue.
Sources of scrap metal suitable for use in bullet making include old lead pipes, old cable sheathing, lead sheeting from old roofs, commercial lead wire, and scrap "tin" such as pewter, high-speed bearings, 50/50 bar solder (lead and tin), and basic white metal (92% tin and 8% antimony). The main sources for reloaders are wheel weight metal (approximately 90% lead, 1% tin, and 9% antimony) and printing type metal of which there are five types ranging in composition from 62% to 94% lead, 3% to 15% tin, and 3% to 23% antimony. Linotype is the most commonly used type metal (85% lead, 4% tin, and 11% antimony).
Provided that the homemade bullets meet the criteria for hardness and accuracy the reloader is not overly concerned with the exact composition. An alloy of 90% lead, 5% tin, and 5% antimony is generally the favored mix. Cast bullets may be further hardened by heat treating. For heat treating to be effective, there must be a small amount of arsenic in the alloy.
other Projectile types
Less common and unusual projectiles, such as exploding bullets; saboted subcaliber bullets; flare loads; wax, rubber, plastic, and wooden bullets; frangible bullets; tear gas bullets and canisters; baton rounds; flechette cartridges; poisoned bullets; multiple loads; shot loads for pistols and revolvers; and other special purpose projectile types, are known and are occasionally encountered in forensic casework.
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