Cut lead bar verses round ball

I’d not heard of cut lead bar being used in lieu of ball. The use of “findings” in a fowling piece or a blunderbuss, sure, but not this. Interesting.

If you can melt lead or a similar metal or alloy (and who can’t?) and pour it into a slot between some boards, you have buckshot for your scattergun, or bullets for your “smooth rifle”.

I wouldn’t try it on the line at Boomershoot though. Well OK I might, but I wouldn’t expect any detonations, much less hits, from 400 yards.

10 thoughts on “Cut lead bar verses round ball

  1. Cool. I like that “accurate measure by eyeballing it” when making the lead bar projectiles. Much more effective than I would have guessed. Makes sense that when it hits it does respectable damage, what with corners and all, but not intuitive at all.

  2. Very interesting. It seems that a two part cylindrical mold of near bore diameter would be a very good substitute, especially if the mold had internal protrusions (think “sharp edged venturi”) to define approximate projectile weights, producing a slightly cylindrical projectile with tapered ends, rather than a spherical one, not greatly unlike today’s boat tail bullets. If the technology existed, and by the lack of information I assume it did not (although the technology did exist to produce two part hollow spherical molds, so maybe – joining several hollow spherical molds would produce a cylinder with indentions; it’s possible the manufacturing technology existed but no one had the idea) carrying a “stick” of projectiles, a knife and a mallet-like device could have been a faster means of providing projectiles.

    • Certainly the “technology” (the ability to melt lead and pour it into things) existed thousands of years ago, before gunpowder. Hand carving a simple mold would have been only slightly more challenging.

  3. Thinking about it some more, two pieces of hardwood, a router with a round nose router bit of appropriate size to cut a near-bore-size groove in each piece of wood, and small diameter headless nails driven into the sides of the grooves (and mating with holes drilled into the opposite wood piece along the edges of the grooves) would produce a long “stick” of lead with indents. Given the molding profiles I’ve seen on 17th and 18th century buildings, the technology certainly existed to put grooves in hardwood.

    Any idea, Lyle, why this didn’t exist? Or, did it exist and I’m just unaware of it?

    • Well if you think a little bit more about it; if you can make a firearm you can certainly make a simple bullet mold, complete with lube grooves if you were so inclined.

      Keep in mind however, that at least in the British and some European way of thinking, the idea of accurate fire was not generally considered. Volley fire in the general direction of enemy formations was the practice of the day, and in that endeavor the cut lead bar shown in the vid was just as effective as anything.

      Aiming at an individual human target was in many circles considered un-chivalrous, or somewhat nasty and distasteful. That attitude reverberated well into the 20th century. What the Turks, on the other hand, may have though about it back then I don’t know.

  4. “…the technology certainly existed to put grooves in hardwood.”

    Yes it did, long before the 17th century. More like right after the sharp rock was discovered and way before metals were discovered. Stone age tribes were making blowguns with lapped bores too.

    • Also, and hardwood mold would only be good for a very small number of pours. The 600+ degree metal will char it a bit each pour. But there’s no reason a more sold mold couldn’t be made for any bullet design back in the day. The deal with the simple rectangular bar is it would have been extremely simple as an alternative to a proper mold, or a number of proper molds in various calibers. He made the caliber point in the vid– one bar could serve several different guns.

  5. Joseph Plumb Martin describes in his book about his time as an enlisted soldier during the Revolutionary War taking damaged cartridges and making shot for use in hunting small game. He would hammer out the lead musket ball until it was flat, cut it into strips, then chop it into little cubes.

    The technique actually works fairly well. My father wrote an article about it for Backwoodsman magazine, and he even managed to get a squirrel that way.

    I believe it was the March/April 2011 issue, if you can find it in the local library.

  6. I think back in the 1970’s there was some experimentation using square shot for upland bird hunting; the article I saw used about 1/16″ square lead sticks they cut into pieces with a big paper cutter.

    Supposedly gave denser patterns or something(hey, I saw it a long time ago).

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