A couple of answers to reloading questions:

Discussion in 'Vintage Topic Archive (Sept - 2009)' started by Jag, Jan 25, 2008.

  1. Jag

    Jag Member

    PLEASE NOTE: Sorry about the length of this post—I tried to shorten it as much as I could; if it is too long for you to read now, please feel free to copy the text and print it out for reading at your leisure!

    First off, most of you guys out there know that I'm new here, but I'm more than willing to share my nearly 16 years of experience with firearms with you all. I am fairly new to reloading, but I have the advantage of having learned the trade from a man with nearly 32 years of experience: my dad :D . Anywho, back to the topics...

    For the first topic, I happened to notice the thread on the "tumbling loaded rounds" issue and I wanted to set things straight. Chemistry, for me, is a VERY intriguing and important field since most of our modern technology relies on it (things like automobiles, modern cartridge-based firearms, etc., wouldn't be possible without the advances that have been made in chemical propellants and materials science). And, before I go on, I think it would best to set something straight: yes, I am heavily engaged into the field of chemistry (all types: biochemistry, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, etc.) and I do know quite a bit about what one would politely refer to as "energetic materials", but I am not some kind of "weirdo" who tries to research certain subjects that pertain to certain...conclusive...uses, if you catch my drift... :roll:

    Back on subject: in the case of tumbling loaded rounds of ammo to clean them off, here's what I know. Firstly, most "semi-soft" tumbling media, such as corn meal or certain natural grains or nuts, does not build up enough of a static charge to cause deflagration in a loaded firearm cartridge. Without going into the math or "heavy science", here's a general explanation of what causes a static charge. When two objects are rubbed together, the atoms that form their molecular structure come into contact with each other. Since the electron shells of atoms circle the nucleons (or protons and neutrons) that form the center of the atom, the electrons are the particles that NORMALLY, under standard daily conditions, come into contact with each other first (nuclear radiation and other "non-everyday" phenomena excluded, although, technically, nuclear radiation IS an everyday, natural occurrence--but that is another story). Depending on the electrical conductivity, texture, "hardness" (tensile strength, etc.), temperature, enthalpy, and a number of other factors, different materials will exhibit different properties and propensities of static buildup. Unless you were using some type of plastic or metal polishing media prone to a LARGE buildup of static (and these materials, depending on the type, wouldn't make very good media anyway since one is to soft and the other is way too hard, respectively), you wouldn't get enough of a charge or spark to set off the powder in a metallic cartridge. Remember, that cartridge case is made of metal (be it brass, steel, aluminum, or another metal) and acts like a barrier to protect the flammable powder inside it. It would take A LOT of electrical or thermal energy to heat up the case enough to detonate the powder inside. And, since metals are generally good conductors of electricity, any static charge would normally be dissipated long before it reached a point where it could spark (as a general rule, the less electrically-conductive a substance is, the more prone to static buildup it is; take plastic, for example, which is a poor conductor and readily "absorbs" electrons until there is enough of a charge to "jump" to another surface). Now, if you were to take loose powder, wrap it inside some form of Syranwrap, and throw it into your tumbler, I wouldn't want to be around to watch the probable flare-up :roll: ... (for more info about static electricity, check out this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Static_electricity )

    As for the "lead dust" issue, bear in mind that this topic has been greatly exaggerated in most modern mass media and casual sources of information on lead poisoning (as have so many other "environmental" topics, but that is again another story I will have to tell later...). Basically, lead is NOT toxic in the standard quantities that one would find in any natural food source, water source, consumer product, or ammunition source due to one important fact: how lead is transmitted into the human body. Lead "dust" must be of a sufficiently small particle size for it to be readily absorbed into an organism's bloodstream or other vital bodily systems. In other words, if you were to take a buckshot pellet and swallow it, your first major concern wouldn't be "lead poisoning"; it would be the probable blockage of your intestinal tract with a foreign object (which would cause damage to the intestinal walls, acidic buildup, stoppage of proper fluid transmission, etc.). All other things even, the pellet would probably just pass through your system during your next visit to the bathroom. As a side note, this is one argument against the ban of lead shot for use in waterfowl hunting since the lead is not normally of a small enough particle size to cause "lead poisoning" (more on this later; I will eventually include info and research somewhere on the forum about the adverse effects of steel shot as well, since, in theory, large quantities of rust particles in water can cause gastrointestinal disturbances in birds, and large quantities of rust particles, if inhaled, can cause increased respiratory impairments as well, both of which aren't good for waterfowl either). Lead must enter the blood stream in a SMALL-ENOUGH particle size, either through ingestion, inhalation, or another form of entry [what that would be I cannot think of off-hand] into the body, so that it can bind with enzymes in the body that control vital processes, particularly in the formation of bone matter. If it is of a large enough size, lead will NOT cause "lead poisoning" in the proper sense of that phrase (except, of course, if a suitable chunk of lead is driven at high velocities into a suitable attacker, but I think that's pretty self-explanatory :shock: :lol:).
    So, in conclusion: should you worry about "over-exposure" to "lead dust" from ammo? No, you should not, although it is still a good idea to wash your hands, wear gloves if handling large quantities, etc., so that your exposure is minimized (I still do, even though I have a better understanding now of what the real danger is from lead, although I will still shoot my guns and then eat, drink, and breath without washing my hands when I'm out camping or hunting, especially when my water supply is limited and should best be used for drinking; a quick wipe on my pants is normally enough to remove excess lead deposits in such a situation). Does this mean you should file down a lead sinker and start huffing the resulting dust? Not in any way, unless you like proving that lead is indeed toxic when transmitted to the body in the proper manner :p :roll: .
    Check out these links for more info on lead poisoning: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead_poisoning , http://cbs4.com/seenon/Lead.Toys.Testing.2.480204.html?detectflash=false .

    Finally, as to the powder in a loaded round, a little extrapolation is in order. Chemical kinetics is the study of the rate of chemical reactions. Basically (without boring the heck out of you, as by now you are already so, considering the length of this post), there are a number of things that affect the rate of a chemical reaction (in our case, the burning of the nitrocellulose-based propellant in the loaded cartridge). The temperature, concentration of reactants, physical state, nature of the reactants, and the presence of catalysts in a chemical reaction will all affect the rate at which a reaction proceeds. In our case, we are concerned with the physical state and the 3D, geometric size/shape of the powder. It is true that if you were to take a large flake, sphere, or rod of powder and crush it into a smaller particle, the reaction would speed up due to the greater surface area present for the molecules of powder and oxygen in the air to react on, which would thus create a faster burn rate and a higher buildup of pressure. This could be dangerous along with being detrimental to the performance of the loaded rounds in question. However, it is my understanding that a short tumbling time would not crush the powder much, if at all (bear in mind that without actual testing, this understanding is really a theory, and I have not done so; therefore, actual info about this supposition is nonexistent unless someone else out there has tried this and examined the results). I should think that a short period of tumbling WOULD NOT greatly affect the physical composition of the powder enough to make a serious difference. In short, you should be just fine to run a load of live rounds through a tumbler for five to fifteen minutes to remove case lube without a great change in burn rate or hazard levels. For more info on chemical kinetics, check out this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_kinetics .

    Another thing I saw was the thread about rock tumblers for tumbling brass. My dad used my old rock tumbler from my boy scout days in geology to polish his brass for a couple of years before we actually could afford a decent tumbler (he was an enlisted buck sergeant in the Air Force at the time and money was tight, so he improvised). It worked well enough for our purposes since it got the brass polished, so it is an option if you can't afford a dedicated tumbler.

    One last note: on the "SoftAir Walther P99" thread, I noticed that rift mentioned that he shoots 6mm paintballs through some of his airsoft guns. Bear in mind that those things can break inside the internal workings of an airsoft gun, and the liquid can cause jamming and other serious problems. Most manufacturers don't recommend shooting paintballs through their guns. But, if you want to do it anyway, I'd recommend getting the cheapest spring-cocker gun you can find and shoot them through it (I know my own expensive airsoft guns won't be seeing a 6mm paintball anytime soon). Just a word of caution, not intended as an offensive critique...

    Well, since I've now made you wish that you could find me and put me out of my own lengthy-post-minded misery with your favorite Hi-Point :p , I'll sign off. Hope you find some of this info useful, and please post your replies!


    Jag 8)
  2. Jag, buddy, you amaze me sometimes.... Great Post.

  3. Jag

    Jag Member


    thank you, Primal! It isn't often I get compliments since most people think I'm just plain quirky--or nuts :lol: ...

    I'll post more info here and in the survival section as time allows. Watch for it...

    Jag 8)
  4. Jarhead1775

    Jarhead1775 Guest

    I think we found the smartest member of the forum. Welcome and please continue educating us. A very nice piece of writing. Very impressive.
  5. :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

    My brain went back a few years remembering all of that crazy talk from science lol.

    Great Post Jag!!!! The above are just jokes brother...

    Agian great job
  6. Thanks Jag for a very informative post.
  7. +P+ Jag, You did a great job with that post. Definitely looking forward to more post from you in the future.