Thursday, September 24, 2015

Rubber bullets are (usually) not lethal, but these new plastic bullets are

The website-with-an-obvious-viewpoint, is reporting that polymer bullets are under development. The bullets are actually a polymer/copper composite (no idea of what the relative amounts of each are), but since they have less mass than a traditional round, there is less recoil when fired. But more interesting than the materials is the shape of the bullet. Take a look:
Plastic Bullets
They are rounded in the front (like many other ammunitions), but also scalloped in three locations. This design was not accidental (few designs ever are) and testing on ballistic gel has shown that this feature increase the lethalness of the bullet. Go to the article if you want the details; they are not appropriate for this column.

This opens the door to future designs that are even more "creative", since working with plastics is generally much easier than working with metals. And since we already have 3-D printed guns, it won't be too long before we have 3-D printed bullets too.

Previous Years

September 24, 2013 - Here's Research to Lift Your Spirits

September 24, 2012 - Bird-Brained Rheologists

September 24, 2010 - Biorenewables

September 24, 2010 - A Substitute for Aqua Regia


Ben Yancey said...

Those resemble the tips of self tapping metal screws which are designed to bore a hole in sheet metal to allow the threads to grip. I'm sure this is not a coincidence.

Pootie Tang said...

I am curious about the melt temp. of the polymer material. If you chamber a round while the barrel and chamber are hot, but don't shoot, can you still extract the cartridge after cooling? Any idea how adhesive hot polymer on hot metal could be?

John said...


Great catch. I knew I had seen the pattern before somewhere.


I hadn't thought about that. I would imagine that the polymer is crosslinked for a number of reasons, including this potential issue.

Anonymous said...

@ Pootie Tang

They could be using a Thermoset polymer (cures irreversibly) to produce the casings.

Unknown said...

Rubber bullets is nice if u shoot snaick inside the house,and the problem is many gunshop are not selling it.