#1
Old 09-08-2003, 06:22 PM
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Diamond Bullets

The Wired article which talks about folks being able to make synthetic diamonds very cheaply reminded my of a book by David Drake, in which futuristic mercinaries are armed with diamond bullets. Could one make a diamond bullet that wouldn't shatter either from the explosion which pushed it out of the gun, or when it impacted on something other than flesh? Would the bullet be able to penetrate bullet resistant glass?
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#2
Old 09-08-2003, 06:33 PM
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Why would you want a diamond bullet? What you want out of a bullet is high kinetic energy relative to its aerodynamic drag. This recommends extremely dense materials, hence the usual use of lead, and the use of the even more dense depleted uranium by the American military. Diamonds are extremely hard, but they're not very dense at all, so I can't see what advantage they would have.
#3
Old 09-08-2003, 06:38 PM
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Also their hardness works against them. Since the lands in the gun barrel can't bite into the bullet they way the can with lead or steel-jacketed slugs, it would either seize, causing a breech explosion (really bad for the shooter), or would shatter, I suspect.
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#4
Old 09-08-2003, 06:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Gorsnak
Why would you want a diamond bullet?
I think that says it all, Tuckerfan, but if the diamond were processed to be fired out of the gun, which has rifling, wouldn't this wear down the barrel, unless it was diamond constructed, OMG, Overload. I think the article you cited best illustrates that the diamond is best for your wife or as a semi-conductor, if the get that pesky +/- thing worked out...
#5
Old 09-08-2003, 06:58 PM
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As I recall, the barrels were diamond or some other synthetic gemstone material, and the bullets were more like needles than your standard bullet. The reason they used them in the book, IIRC was because it penetrated the armor in use better than anything else available to them.
#6
Old 09-08-2003, 07:40 PM
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Hmmm, diamond bullets...

Sounds like a combination of two of the dumber James Bond movies.

Anyhoo, the shattering problem is the major stumbling block. Diamond's hardness doesn't translate to tensile strength. You'd be better off coating the bullets with a heavy metal, such as mercury (as is sometimes already done) or uranium (as is sometimes done on heavier artillery) or even teflon.

Besides, the main advantage to lead bullets is that they do flatten or shatter on impact, increasing their capacity to wound a human being. If you really want piercing power, chuck the handgun and get a good 5.56mm (or 7.62 when you absolutely positively have to waste every motherfucker in the goddamned room) rifle.
#7
Old 09-08-2003, 08:11 PM
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Umm...yeah. Well, ceramic bullets do exist, and have been tested by the military without seizing or shattering because of the rifling. One of my favourite ex-professors (the one who worked on the early M16) personally tested a ceramic 0.50 caliber round. They decided to drop it because it simply did not have the penetrating power of even a standard FMJ copper round, although it did not shatter or seize in the barrel.

A bullet could be made of diamond (which isn't the same as ceramic, but shares similar properties), but the low kinetic energy would reduce its effectiveness in many ways. Also, bullet-resistant or bullet-proof glass is often of the multi-layered type which uses up the kinetic energy of the bullet in shattering different layers of the glass, while the multi-layered design prevents crack propagation through the entire medium. Look closely at bulletproof glass and you'll see that it's often of this style. So it's debatable whether or not diamond would be the same or less effective versus bulletproof glass - my WAG is that it would be less effective.
#8
Old 09-08-2003, 08:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Anthracite
Umm...yeah. Well, ceramic bullets do exist, and have been tested by the military without seizing or shattering because of the rifling.
Cite? The only respectable reference to cermaic bullets I could find is thus:
Quote:
The Safeguards and Security people originally requested a ceramic bullet," Lowden said. "We said that wouldn't work because ceramics are typically very hard materials and don't have enough mass.
#9
Old 09-08-2003, 08:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Q.E.D.
Also their hardness works against them. Since the lands in the gun barrel can't bite into the bullet they way the can with lead or steel-jacketed slugs, it would either seize, causing a breech explosion (really bad for the shooter), or would shatter, I suspect.
IIRC, the tungsten KTW bullets use a copper cup to engage the rifling. The same principle could be used for a diamond bullet.

The biggets problem would be that the lighter weight of the diamond bullet means that it's shedding velocity a lot faster than a lead bullet, which isn't very desirable. You'd be better off with one of the other standard AP bullets out there.

--Patch
#10
Old 09-08-2003, 09:17 PM
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I'm surprised at all you naysayers and tut tutters.

The question is: can you make a bullet out of a diamond.

The answer would be: yes, but likely a pretty crappy one.

But c'mon, a diamond bullet isn't about efficiency and kinetic killing power. A diamond bullet is a signature. A diamond bullet is a style.

I bet it'll be a long time before you can afford to fill a banana clip with them.
#11
Old 09-08-2003, 09:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Boyo Jim
I bet it'll be a long time before you can afford to fill a banana clip with them.
And you'll be able to buy your ammunition at Tiffany's.

--Patch
#12
Old 09-08-2003, 09:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Boyo Jim
I bet it'll be a long time before you can afford to fill a banana clip with them.
Didja read the Wired article? They're talking about retailing synthetic (or "cultured" diamonds) for $5 a carat. Depending upon how many rounds the banana clip holds, I might be able to afford 'em.
#13
Old 09-08-2003, 09:53 PM
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E Z Duz It

Quote:
Originally posted by Q.E.D.
Also their hardness works against them. Since the lands in the gun barrel can't bite into the bullet they way the can with lead or steel-jacketed slugs, it would either seize, causing a breech explosion (really bad for the shooter), or would shatter, I suspect.
The obvious solution is to put the lands on the diamond bullet and let the bullet rifle the barrel!


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#14
Old 09-08-2003, 11:46 PM
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...well, I suppose they'd be usefull if you needed to kill Emma Frost.

Anyone feel like discussing the ballistic properties of an adamantium bullet?
#15
Old 09-08-2003, 11:53 PM
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I hear sapphire bullets are made of pure love.

/Five points for getting that reference.
#16
Old 09-09-2003, 01:19 AM
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TMBG.

Can I cash in those points now?
#17
Old 09-09-2003, 03:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Gorsnak
Why would you want a diamond bullet?
To shoot at the Gorn, of course.

So, would osmium be an even better bullet material than depleted uranium? (Assuming money were no object.) Or would it be too brittle?
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#18
Old 09-09-2003, 04:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tuckerfan
Didja read the Wired article? They're talking about retailing synthetic (or "cultured" diamonds) for $5 a carat. Depending upon how many rounds the banana clip holds, I might be able to afford 'em.
I sent an e-mail to them inquiring about a purchase. They replied in the range of $1500 a carat.

Theoretically, if everyone had one of these CVD machines in their backyard, the production cost would be 5 bucks a carat. Thats a long ways off, unfortunately.
#19
Old 09-09-2003, 04:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by MEBuckner
So, would osmium be an even better bullet material than depleted uranium? (Assuming money were no object.) Or would it be too brittle?
Sure.

http://corbins.com/benchrst.htm

Quote:
Use a high density material, such as gold, tungsten, iridium, or osmium. High density puts more weight into a smaller package, so that the mass is increased for a given diameter without making the length excessive. This has the disadvantage of increasing bullet cost. Powdered metals can be compressed with normal swaging pressures, but have lower density than solid or sintered metal. Osmium, which vies with iridium as the heaviest stable metal, can produce deadly fumes under certain conditions. Gold and iridium are safe to use but rather costly. EZ-Flo Micro-Fine Tungsten powder is available from Corbin in 7,000 grain, 35,000 grain, and 70,000 grain flasks as well as by 50-kg pail, and is used by a number of custom bullet firms and government groups.
#20
Old 09-09-2003, 08:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Q.E.D.
Cite? The only respectable reference to cermaic bullets I could find is thus:
I told you my cite, it was an anecdote that doesn't happen to show up in a Google search. They were made of the same Si3N4 that ball tube mill balls are made of, which are quite tough.

I'm sorry you feel that my reference is not "respectable" because you cannot Google Search for it, but then I'm not trying to answer questions I shouldn't be answering or which are outside of my professional knowledge base in GQ just to pad my post count, so Google is not my crutch.

Can you give me a cite for the "Since the lands in the gun barrel can't bite into the bullet they way the can with lead or steel-jacketed slugs, it would either seize, causing a breech explosion (really bad for the shooter), or would shatter"? Your cite (the "respectable" one) you found did not mention the lands needing to bite into the bullet, thus leading to explosions or shattering. So you must be relying on a non-Googlable source yourself - I guess you're just as "respectable" as I am on this subject. Why is your non-linked source is better than mine?

FTR, having seen the results of seized bullets many times down at the gun repair shop, I can also say that a seized bulet does not mandate a "breech explosion". Seized bullets are removed from guns from time to time. Yes, guns sometimes explode too, but typically this is due to an overpowered self-load combined with a defective barrel, receiver, or block.
#21
Old 09-09-2003, 08:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Anthracite
I told you my cite, it was an anecdote that doesn't happen to show up in a Google search. They were made of the same Si3N4 that ball tube mill balls are made of, which are quite tough.
Geeze, don't get your undies in a wad. I was genuinely curious about such bullets and how they solved the problems I mentioned. The idea patchbunny presented sounded promising.

As to the other thing, diamonds are freaking hard. If that lands can't bite into the bullet, either its diameter is small enough to pass by them, in which case the bullet doesn't spin and loses considerable accuracy, or the bullet jams. I have no cite, other than plain old common sense.
#22
Old 09-09-2003, 08:45 AM
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This is GQ. We don't rely on common sense here. We demand facts!
#23
Old 09-09-2003, 08:56 AM
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Your objection doesn't really stand up to scrutiny, Q.E.D..

You just jacket the diamond with copper, or use it as a hard point in a composite bullet, or use small industrial diamonds in a sintered bullet.

That part of the problem is trivial.
#24
Old 09-09-2003, 09:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Q.E.D.
Geeze, don't get your undies in a wad. I was genuinely curious about such bullets and how they solved the problems I mentioned. The idea patchbunny presented sounded promising.

As to the other thing, diamonds are freaking hard. If that lands can't bite into the bullet, either its diameter is small enough to pass by them, in which case the bullet doesn't spin and loses considerable accuracy, or the bullet jams. I have no cite, other than plain old common sense.
Fair enough, Q.E.D. FTR, I've been through the entirety of the texts from my two graduate classes on ceramic engineering, and not found a single reference in those works to ceramic bullets, but I have to ceramic armour, which is not the topic at hand. My reference is limited to the class notes from my professor who worked for the DoD, which is not even a source I can use a bibliographic cite from. I've also checked out the reference books from my other 4 materials science courses, and not found anything in there either, save for a brief mention that the "Soviet Army field-tested 20mm Si3N4 rounds" against the Chobham armour of M1 tanks. How they got ahold of samples of M1 tank armour or recreated it is not mentioned.

I'm not certain that the lands of the barrel need to "bite" as much as you believe. IIRC the steel 7.62x39 WP rounds that are very common throughout the world still work fairly well in the barrels of guns, but they do destroy the lands unless especially hardened or even (reputedly) Teflon-coated. Thinking about the mechanics of a rifle barrel, I always thought that the rifle groove guided the spin of the bullet regardless of deformation, and the fact that they "bit into" the softer metal was a side-effect or consequence of the fact that a copper or lead round was being forced at several thousand feet per second down a steel barrel - not so much that the "bite" was needed to impart the spin. Do you see what I'm getting at with this thought? That is, is it a requirement of the safe and effective design of a rifled weapon that the grooves bite into the softer metal? Because I personally honestly do not know.

FTR: I took exception to your use of the word "respectable" and you seemed to be implying that if I could not find it online, then it was not citable, and thus worthless. Maybe it is in fact worthless as a source for this thread, but not for the reasons that I'm not respectable or that it's not online.
#25
Old 09-09-2003, 09:20 AM
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No, what I meant by "respectable" was just that--a Google search for "ceramic bullet" came up with quite a few online novels and other crap having nothing to do with what I was looking for.

In any case, my feeling is the lands have to bite into the bullet a little to impart spin. I don't think mere friction will do it, though I could be wrong. Even steel jacketed bullets aren't terribly hard, since the jacketing isn't tempered.
#26
Old 09-09-2003, 10:02 AM
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I wanted to point out that Jim Butler mentioned in the Wired article was a contributing author on one of my papers. I'll send you a reference if you want.

I have nothing more of importance to add.
#27
Old 09-09-2003, 10:12 AM
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how about a diamond tipped osmium slug with a discarding sabot? Heavy, stylish and practical.
#28
Old 09-09-2003, 10:17 AM
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I like it, krisolov. Have to define "practical" in a special way, but I like it.
#29
Old 09-09-2003, 11:06 AM
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it's no 1920s style death ray, but I think it'd work just as well...
#30
Old 09-09-2003, 12:12 PM
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Just confirming that there have been various calibers of ceramic bullets. I had a large stock of them at China Lake from 5.56 through .50. We even developed a 25mm ceramic round to be used as a frangible TP projectile, and it was contracted to Coors. Not only a beer maker, they have a very nice ceramic facility. The initial rounds worked wonderfully, but it was later discovered that for various reasons, they couldn't be made in high production rates at the same quality (shattering in the barrel), so they were put on the shelf because of cost effectiveness. Eventually, sintered, powdered steel became the best method.

Everything else has been pretty much covered.
#31
Old 09-09-2003, 12:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by krisolov
how about a diamond tipped osmium slug with a discarding sabot? Heavy, stylish and practical.
Darn it, I was hoping to suggest this!

Would a diamond tip added to a regular bullet (adjusted to retain its aerodynamic integrity) actually help anything? Existing piercing rounds are so effective already that I wonder if there would be any point to this.

Now, when we can produce enough diamond to use it as a building material, then we'll be talking.
#32
Old 09-09-2003, 12:33 PM
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<obligatory reference> Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age. </obligatory reference>
#33
Old 09-09-2003, 03:20 PM
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A diamond-tipped depleted uranium round, laminated with teflon.
#34
Old 09-09-2003, 04:04 PM
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Would diamond bullets have an advantage in heat resistance? That is, say you want an exceedingly high velocity bullet. Can a lead bullet survive beyond a certain velocity without vaporizing? Wouldn't a diamond bullet be superior in this respect and thus have a greater range? Also, as I understand it, increasing velocity nets you kinetic force faster than increasing mass so our hyper velocity diamond bullet theoretically should have some oomph behind it.

Just throwing this out as food for thought.
#35
Old 09-09-2003, 05:54 PM
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[nitpick]
Quote:
Also, as I understand it, increasing velocity nets you kinetic force faster than increasing mass
You're correct, if you mean "kinetic energy" (not "kinetic force"). For momentum, on the other hand, velocity and mass are equally important. I think that the energy of a bullet is more important (if it were a matter of momentum alone, the kick of the gun would kill you), but there might be situations where the momentum is important, too.
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#36
Old 09-09-2003, 06:13 PM
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Originally posted by Particlewill
TMBG.

Can I cash in those points now?
Only if you can explain why TMBG would use the same title as a Mahavishnu Orchestra track from 1972.
#37
Old 09-09-2003, 07:33 PM
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Now that I'm home with minimal distractions, I can add a bit more. (Damn coworkers and bosses who want to chat during lunch).

Something does have to "bite" not only to give a consisent spin, but also to create a gas seal. Without a seal, you get a lot of blow-by gas that is a huge waste of energy. Ceramic core bullets are still surrouned by a softer material. A fully ceramic bullet (at least the ones that I am aware of) are set in a copper or usually, plastic sabot. In larger ammo, steel and the fully ceramic I mentioned earlier, the seal and spin is provided by the driving band, which is very small compared to the bullet and soft, made of aluminum, copper, iron, and in some cases, plastic, the bullet itself never engaging the rifling. The harder the driving band, the more work is required to push a bullet into the forcing cone, so the peak pressure climbs at an icredible rate, and barrels and gun parts wear out very quickly. Softer steels can work, but the ammo for most medium caliber ammo is actually harder than the barrels. You'd think that such a small piece of soft metal or plastic would be sheared by the rifling, but they aren't. Recovered ammo shows a perfect cut on the bands where they swage over the lands.

A different approach is polygonal rifling, where nothing "bites" into the bullet, but the bullet or sabot is completely deformed to provide spin and seal. Without them, you are shooting a musket. Even a morter round has gas seals and fin stabilization.
#38
Old 09-09-2003, 07:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ranchoth
...well, I suppose they'd be usefull if you needed to kill Emma Frost.
Geez, I'm surprised nobody has mentioned killing Colonel Kurtz yet.
#39
Old 09-09-2003, 08:36 PM
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Thanks, Turbo Dog - I know you know your stuff. Q.E.D., looks like you were correct too on the importance of the lands biting into the bullet. Oi! (raises hand)
#40
Old 09-10-2003, 12:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by krisolov
how about a diamond tipped osmium slug with a discarding sabot? Heavy, stylish and practical.
Dipped in cyanide!
#41
Old 09-10-2003, 01:01 AM
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Nah... curare is more stylish
#42
Old 09-11-2003, 06:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tuckerfan
Didja read the Wired article? They're talking about retailing synthetic (or "cultured" diamonds) for $5 a carat. Depending upon how many rounds the banana clip holds, I might be able to afford 'em.
Interesting question as to what the best weight for a diamond bullet would be. Carat is a measure of mass, right? Or is it volume? Say the diamond was the same volume as an M-16 round, how much mass would a diamond of that size have? Is ten carats reasonable?

If so, with your price you coulf fill a 30 round banana clip for $1500.

So I grant that you could afford to fill a clip, but you couldn't afford to use it as the standard ammunition of your Army of Darkness in its attempt to dominate the world.
#43
Old 09-11-2003, 07:24 PM
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Curare? Mere curare? Everyone knows that the STYLISH assassin uses tetrodotoxin derived from puffer fish. And if your victim doesn't die, he goes into a zombie-like coma, from which he can recover weeks later, only to track you down and kill you.

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OK, nobody can really come up with a use for a diamond bullet. How about a diamond rifle barrel? I understand that although diamond is very hard, it is also brittle. Wouldn't a diamond rifle shatter pretty easily?
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