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Stacia Kane
04-04-2007, 02:05 PM
I know lead is standard, but what I haven't been able to find anywhere online is whether it would have been possible to either make one's own bullets, or have them made, of a different material? Specifically iron (which would be very difficult to make oneself, but if you knew a friendly blacksmith or paid him enough...?)

Would an iron bullet work in a flintlock, does anyone know? I imagine it would, but like I said, most sites etc. about flintlocks focus on the gun and the lock themselves, with barely mention of the bullets/balls.

alleycat
04-04-2007, 02:14 PM
They made lead balls, later bullets, in a mold. You can still find them online at one of the blackpowder supply company's websites. Lead was used both for its weight and it low melting point and, because of the softness of lead, it would "conform" to the barrel.

There would have been very little reason to make the balls out of iron, even if they'd work (which I'm not sure they would . . . iron might damage the barrel). I'm no expert on blackpowder however. They may very well have made balls out of iron (they used all sorts of things during the Civil War). One of the blackpowder shooters around here should know.

Is there a particular reason you want to use something other than lead?

Robert Toy
04-04-2007, 02:19 PM
There are a number of problems with attempting to use an iron bullet aside from the extreme difficulty in manufacturing them, they rust; it would quickly score the barrel (thus lessening the accuracy); must less dense then lead and lead melts at such a low temperature that lead bullets can be manufactured in the field.

Stacia Kane
04-04-2007, 04:12 PM
Hmm, would you be able to make a lead/iron alloy?


See, we're shooting at Faeries, and iron hurts them where other metals don't. :-) But we're not shooting supernatural guns or magic guns or anything. There's faeries in the real world (or rather, in my fictional real world.)

Thanks guys!

alleycat
04-04-2007, 04:21 PM
A soft metal would be a better choice. Does one of them have an effect on faeries . . . say silver, or something like that?

I suppose you could have a lead ball with an iron core. Since you've already got faeries, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to have a gunsmith who makes such a thing. Something like that would be fairly easy to make.

And just why are you shooting at the poor little faeries? ;-)

Lycius
04-04-2007, 04:57 PM
<nerd>The best thing for killing faeries would definitely be cold iron. However, in a black powder weapon it would be very destructive to the barrel unless it was encased in lead. It would also have a rather poor velocity as lead shot is compressed when rammed home and seals the barrel.

An iron shot would have space around it to allow gas to escape, thus seriously impacting its effectiveness.

In all honesty, guns would be a very poor choice against fey. Bows and blades would be far better. Unless...

I guess you could so something like a mini-shotgun but the barrel would have to be tempered steel and the shot cold iron. That would be horribly destructive to a faerie. It would wear down the weapon much faster than lead shot but you're still looking at a couple hundred shots before you are getting to the risk zone.</nerd>

Stacia Kane
04-04-2007, 07:50 PM
Hmm, I may have to give up on the idea. It was more a character who had a gun just happened to have iron bullets, because he preferred them. (It has to do with his nickname and was all very clever.) But if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. I doubt my readers would be experts, but I'd hate to have someone who is--as you wonderfully helpful gentlemen obviously are--read it and think I didn't know what I was talking about.

I will continue thinking about it, but if you have any other suggestions or thoughts please post them! Thank you!


(Oh, and Alleycat, these are Unseelie Fae, not sweet little faeries! :))

Higgins
04-04-2007, 08:02 PM
<nerd>The best thing for killing faeries would definitely be cold iron. However, in a black powder weapon it would be very destructive to the barrel unless it was encased in lead. It would also have a rather poor velocity as lead shot is compressed when rammed home and seals the barrel.

An iron shot would have space around it to allow gas to escape, thus seriously impacting its effectiveness.

In all honesty, guns would be a very poor choice against fey. Bows and blades would be far better. Unless...

I guess you could so something like a mini-shotgun but the barrel would have to be tempered steel and the shot cold iron. That would be horribly destructive to a faerie. It would wear down the weapon much faster than lead shot but you're still looking at a couple hundred shots before you are getting to the risk zone.</nerd>

Blunderbuss full of scrap iron?

alleycat
04-04-2007, 08:39 PM
Well, I still think lead balls with an iron core would work, but a blunderbuss is a great idea. Why, that's just the thing to blast a few bad faeries. Fill it full of rusty nails and give 'em hell.

Or, just run the little bastards through with an iron sword.

Lycius
04-04-2007, 09:00 PM
Hmm, I may have to give up on the idea. It was more a character who had a gun just happened to have iron bullets, because he preferred them. (It has to do with his nickname and was all very clever.) But if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. I doubt my readers would be experts, but I'd hate to have someone who is--as you wonderfully helpful gentlemen obviously are--read it and think I didn't know what I was talking about.

I will continue thinking about it, but if you have any other suggestions or thoughts please post them! Thank you!


(Oh, and Alleycat, these are Unseelie Fae, not sweet little faeries! :))

Give me a little history behind the character and I'll figure out the mechanics for you :)

Lycius
04-04-2007, 09:03 PM
Well, I still think lead balls with an iron core would work, but a blunderbuss is a great idea. Why, that's just the thing to blast a few bad faeries. Fill it full of rusty nails and give 'em hell.

Or, just run the little bastards through with an iron sword.

Problem is that iron harms faeries by grounding them in the conventional sense. Wrapping the iron in lead would be like shooting someone with a poison dart covered in plastic.

Swords and blades would definitely be the easiest way but iron shot in a black powder pistol is far cooler.

alleycat
04-04-2007, 09:14 PM
Problem is that iron harms faeries by grounding them in the conventional sense. Wrapping the iron in lead would be like shooting someone with a poison dart covered in plastic.
Obviously, I need to improve my fairy killing technique.

Would some kind of sling-shot and iron balls work?

LloydBrown
04-04-2007, 09:17 PM
I think the shotgun suggestion covers what you need, although it might be more of a blunderbuss.

How big are your fairies? Trying to hit tiny things with a pistol is a tough proposition anyway. Murdering everything in a room with a blunderbuss reduces the target size issue.

Lycius
04-04-2007, 09:27 PM
Obviously, I need to improve my fairy killing technique.

Would some kind of sling-shot and iron balls work?

Definitely. I just think DecemberQuinn is going for the faerie killin, gunslinger look and a slingshot would be kind of awkward ;)

I'm only nerding out this bad on this because my wife is a pagan and has a ton of faerie books and I'm an RP dork and have played White Wolf games far more than I would care to admit. You have to come up with crap like this for a character concept and then you have to sell it to the person running the game.

If the concept can be sold to a gamer dork then you'll sell it to 90% of your readers.

alleycat
04-04-2007, 09:40 PM
Ah! I actually found a few references to iron bullets.

Here's one that looks promising: http://galton.org/cgi-bin/searchImages/search/books/art-of-travel/pages/art-travel_0257.htm See the last paragraph.

So, as long as they were tried and used at least at some point in time, I'd say go with your initial idea, December.

Steve W
04-04-2007, 09:41 PM
Hi,

Why not email the curators at some of the bigger museums? If they don't know, I'm sure they might know someone who does. I fire off emails all over the place in the hope someone somewhere will know somebody who knows something... sometimes it even works!

Cheers,
Steve

Higgins
04-04-2007, 09:45 PM
I think the shotgun suggestion covers what you need, although it might be more of a blunderbuss.

How big are your fairies? Trying to hit tiny things with a pistol is a tough proposition anyway. Murdering everything in a room with a blunderbuss reduces the target size issue.

How about a blunderbuss full of chunks of iron coated in ice?...Not the blunderbuss, but the chunks of iron....in ice....to make them cold despite the discharge thing...

alleycat
04-04-2007, 09:51 PM
I never knew fairy killing was so much damn trouble. I thought they, like, got hit by cars and eaten by squirrels and put in jars by little girls.

Lycius
04-04-2007, 09:57 PM
Ah! I actually found a few references to iron bullets.

Here's one that looks promising: http://galton.org/cgi-bin/searchImages/search/books/art-of-travel/pages/art-travel_0257.htm See the last paragraph.

So, as long as they were tried and used at least at some point in time, I'd say go with your initial idea, December.

Hehe nerdery.

Absolutely love it.

Lycius
04-04-2007, 09:58 PM
How about a blunderbuss full of chunks of iron coated in ice?...Not the blunderbuss, but the chunks of iron....in ice....to make them cold despite the discharge thing...

Cold iron isn't that literal. It refers to the iron being shaped without heat.

Stacia Kane
04-04-2007, 11:43 PM
You guys are awesome! I had no idea this would be so much fun already.

Lycius, I'm PMing you.

The idea isn't so much that they open fire on a roomful of faeries--at least, not this scene, but I'm totally stealing that blunderbus thing if that's okay. I have a man holding a gun on someone. A faerie goes running by (there's more to it than that, but basically.) Guy casually picks the fae off, and it works because he has iron bullets, and that's hwne they realize he's the iron bullet guy. (It's really less of a coincidence in the book than it sounds here.)

Thanks again!! I totally know where to come if I need any other myhtological creature killed.

Did they make iron swords, btw? Weren't they steel, like in Conan's riddle of steel?

Parkinsonsd
04-04-2007, 11:53 PM
They make steel shot for shot guns taoday, for waterfowl in particular. A blunder buss would spray a cloud of little bb's at the damn little things.

Unfortunately, there's less momentum and they would only be good really for around 30 yards or less. If you have one solid of steel you will ruin the barrel.

You could also used steel tip crossbow bolts, couldn't you?

Lycius
04-04-2007, 11:57 PM
You guys are awesome! I had no idea this would be so much fun already.

Lycius, I'm PMing you.

The idea isn't so much that they open fire on a roomful of faeries--at least, not this scene, but I'm totally stealing that blunderbus thing if that's okay. I have a man holding a gun on someone. A faerie goes running by (there's more to it than that, but basically.) Guy casually picks the fae off, and it works because he has iron bullets, and that's hwne they realize he's the iron bullet guy. (It's really less of a coincidence in the book than it sounds here.)

Thanks again!! I totally know where to come if I need any other myhtological creature killed.

Did they make iron swords, btw? Weren't they steel, like in Conan's riddle of steel?

Cold iron would be a negative on swords unless it was specifically for rituals etc.. It's incredibly difficult to forge a blade out of iron without heating it. Think of wrought iron fences but done cold.

I'd have to know more about your setting and time period etc to be able to get you any historical info about weapon crafting. I'm definitely interested though. This kind of nerdery is right up my alley.

LloydBrown
04-05-2007, 01:39 AM
Cold iron spear-tips might be a better answer. Your shaft is normal, and all you have to do is file the lump of cold iron on the tip to make a point. A lot of the damage comes from the power of the thrust, not from a razor edge.

KanShu
04-05-2007, 02:50 AM
Actually, your idea is entirely plausible. And better yet, it has some precedent. As Parkinsonsd mentioned, they make steel shot for shotguns today due to problems with waterfowl eating the lead shot. This page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckshot#Birdshot_selection) has some info on the difficulties of steel birdshot.

For the other example of iron shot in history, you just have to look a little bit bigger. Cannons fired almost exclusively iron shot from the time they were invented, and although they are not thought of as the most accurate of weapons, a good gunner could easily hit a ship at a thousand yards.

Also consider that barrel wear is not going to be that big of an issue. Your gun would have roughly 330 shots before the barrel would show enough wear to hamper your accuracy (that statistic is from the Mark I 15" battleship gun, but I imagine that the pistol barrel life is somewhere in that ballpark range), and your character could go on shooting long after that before the gun became unusable.

But even before you reach that point, you have to consider: just how many Fae is your character planning to kill? A good rifleman could fire once every 15 seconds, and if you plan on taking out 300+ of those critters in one sitting then you have to wonder if he even needs the gun. Besides, if your characters are familiar enough with guns to notice that an iron bullet is out of the ordinary, it wouldn't be that difficult to find another pistol when the first one wears out (if you reach that point).

Hope this helps.

Histry Nerd
04-05-2007, 08:40 AM
Hey, December -

I have never hunted faerie, but KanShu (welcome, by the way) is right about iron shot being the projectile of choice for smoothbore cannon. A couple of reasons for this are: large iron balls are less likely to deform when impacting a surface at high speeds than large lead balls, imparting some bounce to the projectile and increasing their killing range; iron is lighter, so an army can carry more cannonballs if they are made of iron. A twelve pound ball traveling at a few hundred feet per second is rather likely to obliterate whatever it hits, whether it is made of lead or iron, so more balls with greater range is preferable.

As to the mechanics of flintlock pistols, the issues of gas escaping and barrel wear are fairly minor. A traditional ball, no matter its composition, does not fit snugly in a smoothbore barrel. If it does, it is likely to burst the barrel when fired. Instead it is rammed in with some type of wadding to keep it from falling out before the weapon is fired. The wadding may either be wrapped around the bullet or rammed on top of it.

A bigger problem, it seems to me, is accuracy. Smoothbore weapons are inherently inaccurate; a trained British Redcoat with a Brown Bess in good condition could hit a man-sized target at a hundred yards pretty much only by luck. A pistol would be even worse, pretty much useless past ten yards or so.

Rifling the barrel, or carving parallel grooves that twist down its length, increases both the range and accuracy dramatically, but now you have the problems of barrel wear and difficulty loading mentioned above. And now your ball must be very close to the diameter of your bore or it can't take the rifling. Which means you must physically force the ball down the barrel over the grooves, making it much harder and slower to load. I'm not sure how you might do that with an iron bullet.

A very efficient solution to the problems of rifling was the Minie ball, introduced in the mid-nineteenth century. This was a conical bullet with a hollow base that could be loaded easily, but when fired the base would expand to take the rifling. I'm not sure it would work with iron, but it might if you made the hollow in the base big enough.

As to how your faerie-hunter gets his iron bullets? Seems like that would be fairly simple. A friendly blacksmith with a fondness for [insert your choice of vice here]--hunter, who does not care for [vice], provides him with all the [vice] he can get his hands on in exchange for the smith's indulging his silly preference for iron bullets.

For what it's worth.
HN

Lycius
04-05-2007, 04:30 PM
Hey, December -

I have never hunted faerie, but KanShu (welcome, by the way) is right about iron shot being the projectile of choice for smoothbore cannon. A couple of reasons for this are: large iron balls are less likely to deform when impacting a surface at high speeds than large lead balls, imparting some bounce to the projectile and increasing their killing range; iron is lighter, so an army can carry more cannonballs if they are made of iron. A twelve pound ball traveling at a few hundred feet per second is rather likely to obliterate whatever it hits, whether it is made of lead or iron, so more balls with greater range is preferable.

As to the mechanics of flintlock pistols, the issues of gas escaping and barrel wear are fairly minor. A traditional ball, no matter its composition, does not fit snugly in a smoothbore barrel. If it does, it is likely to burst the barrel when fired. Instead it is rammed in with some type of wadding to keep it from falling out before the weapon is fired. The wadding may either be wrapped around the bullet or rammed on top of it.

A bigger problem, it seems to me, is accuracy. Smoothbore weapons are inherently inaccurate; a trained British Redcoat with a Brown Bess in good condition could hit a man-sized target at a hundred yards pretty much only by luck. A pistol would be even worse, pretty much useless past ten yards or so.

Rifling the barrel, or carving parallel grooves that twist down its length, increases both the range and accuracy dramatically, but now you have the problems of barrel wear and difficulty loading mentioned above. And now your ball must be very close to the diameter of your bore or it can't take the rifling. Which means you must physically force the ball down the barrel over the grooves, making it much harder and slower to load. I'm not sure how you might do that with an iron bullet.

A very efficient solution to the problems of rifling was the Minie ball, introduced in the mid-nineteenth century. This was a conical bullet with a hollow base that could be loaded easily, but when fired the base would expand to take the rifling. I'm not sure it would work with iron, but it might if you made the hollow in the base big enough.

As to how your faerie-hunter gets his iron bullets? Seems like that would be fairly simple. A friendly blacksmith with a fondness for [insert your choice of vice here]--hunter, who does not care for [vice], provides him with all the [vice] he can get his hands on in exchange for the smith's indulging his silly preference for iron bullets.

For what it's worth.
HN

Very true, the difference is that it's got to be cold iron to kill faeries. Makes the rounds less smooth and construction far more annoying.

alleycat
04-05-2007, 04:32 PM
Man, you guys are some fairy killing experts (it has to be "cold iron"). I had no idea.

I would have just hit 'em with a stick.

Vanatru
04-05-2007, 06:04 PM
Why not make a jacket round or sabot type round?

Like a minie ball but with a iron needle/point tip coming out of the lead.

take a look here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabots


-Bill

Lycius
04-05-2007, 08:01 PM
Mid 1700s tech ;)

That was my first idea actually but I'm thinking the easiest route for the tech level would be dipped conical rounds.

cold iron round and dip the back half in lead. That would be relatively easy to make, would seal the barrel and allow for rifling without risking a jam.

Jamesaritchie
04-05-2007, 08:06 PM
I know lead is standard, but what I haven't been able to find anywhere online is whether it would have been possible to either make one's own bullets, or have them made, of a different material? Specifically iron (which would be very difficult to make oneself, but if you knew a friendly blacksmith or paid him enough...?)

Would an iron bullet work in a flintlock, does anyone know? I imagine it would, but like I said, most sites etc. about flintlocks focus on the gun and the lock themselves, with barely mention of the bullets/balls.

Iron makes for a truly lousy bullet, and no one would ever use iron who had any choice. You need heavy, and iron isn't heavy enough to travel very far, or to get as much velocity at the start, and for most uses, you need soft, and iron is not soft.

Stacia Kane
04-05-2007, 08:18 PM
Mid 1700s tech ;)

That was my first idea actually but I'm thinking the easiest route for the tech level would be dipped conical rounds.

cold iron round and dip the back half in lead. That would be relatively easy to make, would seal the barrel and allow for rifling without risking a jam.

And I think that's what I'm going to go with.

Thank you all so, so much! I certainly know where to go next time I have weapons-related questions (not that I doubted before.)

Thanksthanksthanks! You guys rock.

Tsu Dho Nimh
04-05-2007, 08:44 PM
Hmm, would you be able to make a lead/iron alloy?
See, we're shooting at Faeries, and iron hurts them where other metals don't. :-) But we're not shooting supernatural guns or magic guns or anything. There's faeries in the real world (or rather, in my fictional real world.)

Thanks guys!

You could mix iron dust or filings into the melted lead. It would not mold as well and would scratch the barrels over time, but those faeries would be dead.

Vanatru
04-05-2007, 09:48 PM
You could mix iron dust or filings into the melted lead. It would not mold as well and would scratch the barrels over time, but those faeries would be dead.

I think that's a darn good idea right there and it could make for an interesting scene if told well enough. MC making his own rounds and stirring in iron shavings. Kinda neat.

Kentuk
04-05-2007, 10:51 PM
I wouldn't want to shoot at faeries with a flintlock. Too much lag time but much better then a matchlock. What is the equivilent time period? I have an old pistol probably made in the early eighteen hundreds. It is a really strange little thing with a trigger that stays in the reciever until the hammer is cocked and has a blunderbuss muzzle. The really odd thing is it was obviously designed for a percussion cap. The blunderbus muzzle means its basically a shotgun. I imagine it could fire iron bbs. The barrel wear wouldn't matter much as it was obviously meant for only occasional use, the sort of thing you would carry to keep from getting mugged.

Lycius
04-05-2007, 11:54 PM
Iron makes for a truly lousy bullet, and no one would ever use iron who had any choice. You need heavy, and iron isn't heavy enough to travel very far, or to get as much velocity at the start, and for most uses, you need soft, and iron is not soft.

We're talking about someone who is a faerie killer......

Against a faerie iron is the only choice of bullet.

Stacia Kane
04-06-2007, 01:11 AM
I wouldn't want to shoot at faeries with a flintlock. Too much lag time but much better then a matchlock. What is the equivilent time period? I have an old pistol probably made in the early eighteen hundreds. It is a really strange little thing with a trigger that stays in the reciever until the hammer is cocked and has a blunderbuss muzzle. The really odd thing is it was obviously designed for a percussion cap. The blunderbus muzzle means its basically a shotgun. I imagine it could fire iron bbs. The barrel wear wouldn't matter much as it was obviously meant for only occasional use, the sort of thing you would carry to keep from getting mugged.

It's 1755. As far as I could tell, the flintlock was pretty much the only game in town at that time, if you wanted a gun. Did I miss something (she asks hopefully)?

Histry Nerd
04-06-2007, 01:15 AM
The lead-bullet-with-iron-shavings sounds like a dang good idea. You get the benefits of lead without most of the disadvantages of iron. And you can kill those pesky faeries. I think I need one for the little sprite who keeps hiding my wife's keys....

On an almost-related note, a pet peeve of mine: don't let your characters cock a flintlock with a thumb the way you would a modern pistol. Flintlocks have very stiff springs; you have to hold the pistol with one hand and cock it with the other.

HN

ETA: in 1755, the flintlock would be the most popular by far. But there was also the wheellock, which was used primarily in pistols in the seventeenth century, and was actually superior to the flintlock in some respects (but very expensive). And of course the old-fashioned (by then) matchlock. But you're writing fantasy. Who's to say someone hasn't invented a magical percussion cap to be used with a specially-designed cartridge?

Kentuk
04-06-2007, 08:30 AM
Um... how about using fairy dust mixed with powder in a flint lock. Fairy dust of course burns very fast and hot so you only need a little of it.

Jamesaritchie
04-06-2007, 06:23 PM
.....

Against a faerie iron is the only choice of bullet.

Hmmm, didn't know that. But, honestly, in this case I think I'd go with an iron-tipped arrow.

Jamesaritchie
04-06-2007, 06:27 PM
I wouldn't want to shoot at faeries with a flintlock. Too much lag time but much better then a matchlock. What is the equivilent time period? I have an old pistol probably made in the early eighteen hundreds. It is a really strange little thing with a trigger that stays in the reciever until the hammer is cocked and has a blunderbuss muzzle. The really odd thing is it was obviously designed for a percussion cap. The blunderbus muzzle means its basically a shotgun. I imagine it could fire iron bbs. The barrel wear wouldn't matter much as it was obviously meant for only occasional use, the sort of thing you would carry to keep from getting mugged.

There isn't all that much lag time. I've hunted with flintlocks many times, and the lag time never interferes with a shot, assuming you loaded the thing correctly.

The blunderbuss is a good idea. They'll fire anything from iron balls, to nails, to a handful of rocks. They're also smooth bore, so the barrel really doesn't wear at all. But you'd better be incredibly close when you pull the trigger. You aren't going to hit anything outside of thirty feet.

Popeyesays
04-12-2007, 12:52 AM
The trigger staying in the receiver is a common trait with 'pocket pistols'. The earliest Colt revolvers have the trait and no trigger guard.

Regards,
Scott

Popeyesays
04-12-2007, 12:53 AM
Pistols of the flint and percussion lock era were often loaded 'buck and ball'--two buckshot on top of the standard ball.

Regards,
Scott

Stacia Kane
04-15-2007, 10:22 PM
Thanks!

Mlshanks
04-23-2007, 12:39 PM
I know lead is standard, but what I haven't been able to find anywhere online is whether it would have been possible to either make one's own bullets, or have them made, of a different material? Specifically iron (which would be very difficult to make oneself, but if you knew a friendly blacksmith or paid him enough...?)

Would an iron bullet work in a flintlock, does anyone know? I imagine it would, but like I said, most sites etc. about flintlocks focus on the gun and the lock themselves, with barely mention of the bullets/balls.

Possible... Perhaps.
Likely. No.

First issue, iron would play hell with the barrel of a pistol, as it is nearly as hard as barrel....and it would certaily screw up rifling (if there is any). However, early flintlocks did tend to wrap their shot in a "patch" of greased cloth or thin leather to improve the seal and keep the round ball from rattling around in the barrel... that would help some.

Second issue, forging a smooth and even ball iron small enough to fit in a pistol would be hell... And casting iron into smooth balls is equally problematic as the tempretures needed to liquify iron are higher than easily obtainable from a simple forge.

Easier all around to make iron "shot" for a shotgun or blunderbuss, where the wad is heavy enough to let the load ride it out the barrel...and the roundness is not near as critical. While your range is not going to be great (20-40 yard) on a long barraled gun (28-40"), it's a lot mor possible with the technology. The early American colonists were taking ducks and geese with "fowling pieces" that ranged from 3/4" (.75 cal) to 1.5" and often took a shooting stand or boat swivel to manage.