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Thoughts on sling bullets (Read 7327 times)
Thearos
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Thoughts on sling bullets
Mar 9th, 2009 at 3:41pm
 
Today I spent 45 min looking at two dozen ancient Greek sling bullets in a museum. (I can't say which, for complicated reasons-- let's say that someone else is working on the material for publication). Some thoughts.


Very well made objects, usually: symmetrical shape, smooth finish-- a lot nicer, even after 2000 years, than the modern efforts I've seen on the web. No offence meant-- simply that these are handmade objects in a pre-industrial society, where people take trouble over things.

Light ? Yes, I suppose (40-70 gr.) But very dense, so the slug fits in your hand but feels surprisingly heavy. I fitted one in the pouch of a small leather sling I happened to have brought with  me. In the sling, it feels very light, actually.

Everyone knows how sling bullets are made. Here are two links to actual moulds:

http://cefael.efa.gr/detail.php?site_id=1&actionID=page&prevpos=67&serie_id=BCH&...

http://cefael.efa.gr/detail.php?site_id=1&actionID=page&prevpos=40&serie_id=BCH&...

The molten lead produces a "tree" with bullets. The "fruit", the bullet, is chipped off-- so one end of the bullet is bllunt. The other end is surprisingly sharp, even after 2000+ years-- not needle sharp, never was, but like a Philipps screwdriver or a crayon or even a knitting needle.

Finally: the lead stains your fingers. Imagine a slinger after a day's fighting: his fingers are dark and shiny from the lead he's been throwing.
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David Morningstar
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Re: Thoughts on sling bullets
Reply #1 - Mar 10th, 2009 at 2:32am
 
So the mold is made from bronze? I havent heard of that before. I thought they were all clay. Thanks!

I remember the lead on the fingers from airgun shooting. You have to wash your hands ASAP so you dont ingest it!

40-70 gr would still be heavy for Greek bullets, 25-30 is the most common size I have seen. There might be some mileage in plotting the weights of sling bullets again their location on a map. One map for where they were found and another for where they were made. You could even add a timeline and make an animated map of sling bullets through history?
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Thearos
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Re: Thoughts on sling bullets
Reply #2 - Mar 10th, 2009 at 4:52am
 
Limestone and clay most common, the bronze mould (Canellopoulos collection) stands out. The weight I give is that of the shot in the collection. In any case, they may have been a bit heavier originally (a lot of them have various forms of "metal disease"). Some of them drilled.


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David Morningstar
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Re: Thoughts on sling bullets
Reply #3 - Mar 10th, 2009 at 10:07am
 
There was an idea knocking around here recently that it might be worth adding ground up straw or similar small fibres to a sling bullet clay mix to improve their hardness, like adding straw to make bricks. Has anybody had a close look at old bullets to see if this was done?
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Re: Thoughts on sling bullets
Reply #4 - Mar 10th, 2009 at 5:07pm
 
David Morningstar wrote on Mar 10th, 2009 at 10:07am:
There was an idea knocking around here recently that it might be worth adding ground up straw or similar small fibres to a sling bullet clay mix to improve their hardness, like adding straw to make bricks. Has anybody had a close look at old bullets to see if this was done?


Straw in mud-bricks reduces cracking as it aids in even drying as well as binding together the comparatively large mass of a brick. Something as small as a sling bullet shouldn't need that provided that it is allowed to dry slowly, and the admixture of straw or other fibre would reduce both density and hardness.
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Re: Thoughts on sling bullets
Reply #5 - Mar 12th, 2009 at 8:27am
 
Quote:
Finally: the lead stains your fingers. Imagine a slinger after a day's fighting: his fingers are dark and shiny from the lead he's been throwing.


Well that's something that hasn't been factored into a slingers life before - lead poisoning.
Good bit of info on the bullets too.
(2)
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Re: Thoughts on sling bullets
Reply #6 - May 30th, 2009 at 9:39am
 
When you say 40~70 gr do you mean 40~70 grains or grams?
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Re: Thoughts on sling bullets
Reply #7 - May 30th, 2009 at 11:18am
 
horomancer wrote on May 30th, 2009 at 9:39am:
When you say 40~70 gr do you mean 40~70 grains or grams?

This will be 40-70 grams Wink.
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Thearos
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Re: Thoughts on sling bullets
Reply #8 - May 30th, 2009 at 6:16pm
 
Yes, grams. There are a few lead bullets around 100 grams, but they really are the exception. So most ancient sling bullets are slugs weighing about a US ounce (give or take a little), a bit over an inch long (around 30 grams, around 3 cm or so long), pointy at one end, boat tailed at the other. Not sure how that compared e.g. to .45 bullet !
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Re: Thoughts on sling bullets
Reply #9 - May 31st, 2009 at 2:42am
 
To Thearos.

A .45 ACP FMJ (hardball) military round has a bullet of 230 grains, very roughly 1/2 of an ounce.
Having played with my Mobile phone's converter function I offer the following data.
1 ounce = 437.5 grains.
1/2 ounce = 218.75 grains.
1/4 ounce = 109.375 grains.

250 grains = 0.5714285 of an ounce.
230 grains (the example offered above) = 0.52571422 of an ounce.

Typhon
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Thearos
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Re: Thoughts on sling bullets
Reply #10 - May 31st, 2009 at 4:20am
 
So an ancient sling bullet might have weighed the same as a modern 12.7mm / .50 bullet (which seems to be around 40 grams). How much does a Brown Bess or Minie round weigh ?
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Re: Thoughts on sling bullets
Reply #11 - May 31st, 2009 at 3:26pm
 
I found these:
- Brown Bess 545 grains (35,32 grams, according to http://www.rifleshootermag.com/featured_rifles/bess_092407/);

- Miniť 500 grains (32,4 grams, according to http://www.castbulletassoc.org/forum/view_topic.php?id=2192&forum_id=6),

- good ole Kentucky Rifle, if I read it right, only 200 grains (12,96 grams, acc. to http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/it/2009/4/2009_4_42.shtml).

No idea if that's correct.
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Re: Thoughts on sling bullets
Reply #12 - Jun 1st, 2009 at 8:40am
 
I  wonder what lengths and what material was used to make ancient "glandchukers"? I wonder how my Do-it mold bullets (1,2,3,4 ounce) bullets compare to theirs. What do you think makes the best sling for bullets/glands?
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Re: Thoughts on sling bullets
Reply #13 - Jun 2nd, 2009 at 3:20am
 
Bronze was one of the first things that came into my mind when first heard lead gland molds  Tongue , Been thinking of making a mold out of steel, working the exact same way as a bullet mold.

Also i heard from somewhere that the Romans use to cast some of their ammo in sand, using the thumb to make the mold. Anyone else heard this or is it just bull?

-Ben
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Thearos
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Re: Thoughts on sling bullets
Reply #14 - Jun 2nd, 2009 at 7:11am
 
There are bronze moulds (I can think of one in the Canellopoulos collection; there also is one from Delphi and one from Athens, but they're for round balls, no one is quite sure). The others are made of limestone. I have a few links earlier in this thread.

There is one case of "emergency lead bullets" cast by thrusting fingers, sticks, ends of spears etc in sand, and using the depression as emergency moulds. Some of these bullets were hammered into shape, others were left as were (and yes, there are some with impressions of fingernails, etc). The reference is

A. V. A. J. Bosman, "Pouring Lead in the Pouring Rain: Making Lead Slingshot under Battle Conditions", in C. van Driel-Murray, Roman Military Equipment: Experiment and Reality †= Journal of Roman Military Equipment Studies 6, 1995 (Leiden 1996), 99-103


(found at a site in Friesland)
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