Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

MS in Mechanical Engineering (M.S.M.E.)


Mechanical Engineering

Degree Granting Department

Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Stuart Wilkinson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nathan Gallant, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rasim Guldiken, Ph.D.


Bismuth Bullets, Ballistics, Environmentally Friendly, Alternative Metal Ammunition, Non-Toxic


In seeking to develop environmentally friendly lead-free non-toxic bullets, the research ballistically evaluated the performance of copper-jacketed handgun bullets containing a pure bismuth core. The lead was first removed from 140 grain HornadyTM XTP® bullets of 38 caliber (.357 diameter) by melting. The empty jackets were then refilled with pure bismuth, including the forming of a correctly sized hollow-point cavity. Due to the lower density of bismuth as compared to lead, the bismuth-cored bullets consistently weighed 125 gains. Conveniently this allowed direct comparison to commercially available 125 grain HornadyTM XTP® lead-cored bullets of 38 caliber. Both bismuth-cored and lead-cored versions of the 125 grain bullets had identical nose dimensions and jacket material, the only dimensional difference being the bullet length below the cannelure. Shooting took place at an outdoor range using a 357 Magnum RugerTM SP101® revolver with 3" barrel as the test weapon. FBI protocols were followed when firing through clothing, wallboard, plywood, steel plates and laminated glass. Wound paths and bullets were captured in ballistic gelatin, with data collected for velocity, penetration, expansion, and weight retention. Bismuth compared favorably with lead in all but the laminated glass test, where it under penetrated due to jacket separation.