fire danger

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Ross Smith posted this 2 weeks ago

It is extremely dry in Utah . I know that steel core bullets and aluminum tipped bullets can start a fire but what about our lead alloy bullets. Just how hot is the splatter coming off a metal target? I have always assumed we were safe.

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RicinYakima posted this 2 weeks ago

It is not the heat of the bullet from firing, but sparks from ferrous metal in the bullets hitting hard rocks, tracers, etc. Aluminum, brass and copper are non-sparking. 

Black powder patches and loads that blow burning powder out of the muzzle are also fire starters. Black powder shotguns with fiber wads are another high risk. 

You are more likely to start a fire from the heat off of your catalytic converter than anything else. 

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Little Debbie posted this 2 weeks ago

I don’t think it’s the heat of the splatter, but sparks created by the impact. Years ago I was involved in the testing night vision scopes on .308 Winchester rifles. I was very suprised when shooting Sierra 168 Match King bullets at steel targets to see the sparks upon bullet impact. Granted these were jacketed bullets at 2600-2700 fps, these sparks are invisible in daylight. I don’t know if the sparks would start a fire or not but they do occur. I’d love to have access to night vision to see if lead bullets at moderate velocity would create sparks upon impacting steel but those days are long past.

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David Reiss CBA Membership Director posted this 2 weeks ago

Lead is non-ferrous so it won't create sparks. 

David Reiss - NRA Life Member & PSC Range Member Retired Police Firearms Instructor/Armorer
-Services: Wars Fought, Uprisings Quelled, Bars Emptied, Revolutions Started, Tigers Tamed, Assassinations Plotted, Women Seduced, Governments Run, Gun Appraisals, Lost Treasure Found.
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Ross Smith posted this 2 weeks ago

Debbie: Here in Utah we have had a few fires in the past from"regular " ammo. Copper and brass don't normally spark either. That's why I wondered if the heat of deformation and friction would get lead hot enough to ignite dray grass. Last year we had all state lands closed to shooting because of fires. So far so good this year.

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Aaron posted this 2 weeks ago

In my years afield and on the range both professionally and for fun, the only small arms ordinance I have seen cause fires is tracer ammo and smoldering black powder cotton ball patches. The probability of an "impact spark" causing a fire is so low as to be improbable. Just ask any reenactor trying to spark a fire with flint and steel. Without the correct tools and properly held char-cloth and tinder, it isn't going to happen. smile

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RicinYakima posted this 2 weeks ago

WA regularly close the public ranges in high fire seasons. However, it is because people smoking and not from the shooting. 

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Tim DeMarais posted this 2 weeks ago

I would not expect a problem with lead bullets.

I do wonder about jacketed bullets at high velocity causing sparks from the steel target itself. The manufacturer of my AR-500 targets states velocity should be kept below 2850 fps (at the target) to avoid pitting the steel.

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dale2242 posted this 2 weeks ago

I had a friend tell me that he had a lead bullet fired at a metal target start a fire in a dry log near by.

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Ross Smith posted this 2 weeks ago

Dale: This supports my question about just how hot the "splatter"is that comes off a metal target. It doesn't have to be a spark.

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kootne posted this 2 weeks ago

It is well documented that high velocity varmint bullets can generate enough heat to melt the lead core in flight. It would seem to me molten lead is a pretty good start to a fire in dry grass.

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RicinYakima posted this 2 weeks ago

It is not the temperature of the lead fragments, but the quantity of heat, as in BTU's. That is never going to happen. 

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MarkinEllensburg posted this 2 weeks ago

It is well documented that high velocity varmint bullets can generate enough heat to melt the lead core in flight. It would seem to me molten lead is a pretty good start to a fire in dry grass.

If this is so please provide the documentation.

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Wineman posted this 1 weeks ago

Big issue here in northern California. Last year a massive wildfire was caused by shooters on BLM land who were shooting into hay bales and got a fire started. Like the Boy Scouts, make sure the fire is out and cold before you leave. Plus, don't shoot into rocks, dry brush, use tracer etc. No public range allows steel jacketed or steel core ammunition. Probably not much longer before lead gets banned too. With the 4th of July coming, it is going to be a crazy week ahead.

Dave C

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dale2242 posted this 6 days ago

BTW, the bullet that started the fire was a 240gr SWC from a 44 Mag revolver.

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Aaron posted this 6 days ago

So riddle me this. If small arms projectiles start fires with the frequency proposed here, why didn't Europe burn to the ground within a few months of the fighting there in WWII? There were ZILLIONS of rounds of small arms fire expended and yet, the buildings and fields didn't burn down because of a "hot" 30-06 or 8mm round. How come when people are shot with small arms, the wound isn't cauterized by the "hot" round?

Food for thought......

So.....have YOU actually WITNESSED a round impact start a fire? I don't mean an 88mm artillery round that has WP in it, I mean a 9mm or a 44 Mag or 30-30 bullet fired into a target or hay bale. No....stuffing the muzzle into a hay bale and rapid firing 6 rounds of 44 mag isn't what I am speaking of. Have YOU, under normal circumstances on the range, actually WITNESSED a normal small arms round, start a fire?

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Ross Smith posted this 6 days ago

Aaron: every year Utah has had range fires started by by target shooters. I think the majority are from the steel core,tracer,metal tipped type bullets. This is documented. I broached the subject about the POSSIBILITY of starting a fire with lead.

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delmarskid posted this 6 days ago

I used a round hay bale for a 50 yard back stop until it would not hold bullets anymore and never saw smoke much less a fire.

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Aaron posted this 6 days ago

Hey Ross,

I hear what you are saying and looked up the Utah fires. What I discovered was that "BLM officials say they believe the blaze was caused when a bullet hit a rock and sparked the fire. This is the 20th target-shooting related fire this year in Utah, they said."

I did not find one reported occurrence of a fire that was conclusively proved to have been started by small arms fire. Now if some knucklehead is shooting tracer ammo on a range or somewhere likely to start a fire - that is HIGHLY LIKELY. However you asked initially if lead alloy bullets can start a fire. I think the general consensus here is that they can't do that.

It is more likely that shooting range fires are caused by cigarette smokers flicking butts, or black powder shooters not policing up their smouldering patches, or trash cans getting lit off somehow - generally with cigarette butts dumped into them. When I start fires with flint/steel, the razor sharp flint strikes the high carbon steel striker and shaves off some steel which due to the friction involved "sparks" or burns. It is the high carbon steel burning when cut with flint. Any steel on or in a small arms bullet is not high carbon steel and these bullets are hitting sedimentary or metamorphic rock which will shatter, crack, absorb, or fragment when struck with a bullet. Flint is igneous rock like granite BUT flint can be sharper than a razor blade. Literally.

To test this out, I took a steel core from a 30-06 WWII armor piercing projectile and mounted it into a wooden base so I could strike it down its length with one of my best fire starter flints. I got no spark whatsoever from the steel core of the bullet. It is not a high carbon steel conducive to sparking when struck with a flint. I actually was hoping it would spark but alas, it didn't.

Bullets hitting rocks don't spark. If they do spark, the very small spark has to land in something like char-cloth to get it glowing. I think the odds of this happening are astronomical based on my observations on ranges for over 50 years.

I just can't see "standard" target ammo starting any fires. The authorities investigating these fires may be correct that the fire originated near a shooting range but it's doubtful the fire started due to standard range fodder.

Now having said all this, I am also old enough to have eaten several helping of crow. I like mine best with gravy! big_grin

 

 

 

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Brodie posted this 5 days ago

Way back when I was in college in Thousand Oaks, CA.  We had a place to shoot in a little canyon off the road..  I had gotten ahold of some thick triangular steel plates, and I shot them with every rifle and pistol that I had access to.  The  300 WM would penetrate clear through the plate, as would the 338 and a 270 Weatherby all with jacketed bullets, but the .458WM never did get through no matter what I loaded in it.  The holes in the mild steel plate always reminded me of holes burned through a steel plate with a cutting torch.  The edges always looked to be melted.  I have always figured this to be due to the heat generated by the impact of a high-speed bullet.  The sparks were reported to have been from a 308 bullet contacting a steel plate where pieces of the plate flew off.  Whether these could start a fire or not is problematic.  The conditions would have to be perfect wherever the spark laned.  The bullet and its core, however, are another matter.  They will be very hot and need sand or dirt to land safely.   If you are going to be shooting during a high fire hazard you need to be doubly safe.  If you bounce a lead bullet off of a rock or steel plate that lead bullet is going to be very hot and does not need to have tinder to fall in.  

I live in a high fire area, we have had two wildfires here already this year, they have not closed the forest yet, and after the four rainy days that we have had, I doubt that they will.  Luckily, the monsoon rains came early this year.

B.E.Brickey

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Ross Smith posted this 5 days ago

You are absolutely correct Brodie.

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