Post by Peter Trei Post by ***@bid.nes Post by Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor) Post by Robert Woodward Post by ***@bid.nes Post by Robert Carnegie
How about using gold instead of uranium in
the ordinary missiles that are fired at the
enemy's homes and personal possessions?
DU munitions are slightly less dense than gold munitions would be, but DU
is much harder. Gold would "splash" where DU penetrates.
Also, DU is flammable. When it penetrates armor some is shaved off into
tiny bits that ignite from the heat of friction. That's considered a
bonus in munitions. Gold is non-flammable even when molten.
Gold would make ideal ammo for black powder guns and shotguns though.
It's half again as dense as, and softer than, lead so it's more prone to
"mushroom" rather than "through and through", would barely react with
powder and primer residues to foul the barrel, and it's nontoxic so
raptors and scavengers eating uncollected hunted birds and such wouldn't
In chapter 13 of _Mirror Dance_ (by Lois McMaster Bujold), the museum in
Vorhartung Castle had several antique firearms* owned by Emperor Vlad
Vorbarra (from one of the Bloody Centuries, I suspect). Vlad, having the
money, used gold spheres as bullets (and they were retrieved after use,
* From the description, I think they were Blunderbusses.
Gold wouldn't be ideal, though, because one of the reasons people used
lead and still do is that lead melts at 621 F; gold melts at 1,948 F,
making it a LOT more of a pain in the ass to deal with in terms of
melting and casting it into bullets.
Its softness allows it to be hand-worked into slugs or pellets much
easier than an equal volume of lead could be melted and cast. Plus, no
fire or fume hazard.
Lead is entirely suitable for mass-produced ammo for the hoi-polloi of
the aristocracy. Vlad's ammo, handmade by skilled artisans...
Not saying that's book canon (haven't read it) but it would fit. A lot of
being an aristocrat is about one-upping one's peers.
Lead poisoning (of the chemical, biological kind) is a serious health problem
at indoor shooting ranges. Properly constructed ones have astonishing large
(and loud) air handling systems to make sure there's always a brisk breeze
running towards the targets, away from the shooters. Shooting ranges gather
a lot of heavy-metal dust on the floor, which is another problem.
The problem is not only from the lead evaporating off the (very hot) bullet
as it exits the muzzle, but also from the lead styphanate which has been the
main compound of primers for many years. (The primer is the shock
sensitive component which ignites when hit by the firing pin.) In the
past decade or so, lead-free primers have become more available.
A gold bullet would reduce, but not eliminate the lead problem, unless it also
used a lead-free primer.
Switching from lead to gold bullets is problematic because of the
differing densities. A 180 grain (A fairly popular weight for .30-06
rounds) gold bullet is going to differ significantly (from a ballistics
standpoint) in dimensions from a 180 grain lead bullet - The gold bullet
is going to be smaller overall, so that if you're going to maintain the
diameter to make it a .30 calibre round, while maintaining the 180 grain
weight, you're going to have to make the length of the bullet shorter -
By eyeball, there won't be that much difference, but once you start
sending rounds downrange, the difference will become screamingly obvious
- Without digging around for specific data, chances are somewhere
between good and excellent that you'll end up with a tumbling bullet,
which means accuracy is going to become almost nonexistent. To maintain
any kind of accuracy, the rifling twist rate will have to be changed.
Which pretty much means a new barrel specifically rifled for gold
bullets. Considering the "installed base" of .30-06 rifles out there,
you're talking a *HUGE* cost to switch over. And that's *JUST* for
Of course, this all totally ignores the difference in price between lead
and gold - As of a check about 2 minutes ago, I'm seeing gold going for
a bit under $1250 per ounce, while lead is going for about a buck a
pound, or (punches calculator buttons) looks like a smidge over 6 cents
per ounce (I'm aware of, but for simplicity, deliberately ignoring, the
Au=troy/Pb=avoirdupois measurement system difference) - So a gold bullet
would cost roughly *TWENTY THOUSAND TIMES* as much as the same lead
bullet. The last time I bought a box of .30-06 rounds, I paid a tad
above a buck and a quarter a shot. Make the bullets out of gold and now
it costs me almost 25 thousand dollars to fire *ONE SHOT*.
Not gonna happen!
(Although the gun-control nutbars would absolutely *LOVE* the concept -
*ANYTHING* to make guns harder to own, maintain, or use is a Good
Thing(TM) so far as they're concerned.)
If the door is baroque don't be Haydn. Come around Bach and jiggle the Handel.