How to Remove a Stuck Bullet From a Barrel

By Emrah Oruc
Removing a stuck bullet from a barrel is easy with a few hand tools.

When you follow proper safety procedures, shooting rifles and handguns is safe and fun. Modern firearms and ammunition are very safe to own and operate. Occasionally, a fired bullet will get stuck in the barrel. This may be due to several factors, including too low of a powder charge, an obstruction in the barrel or a projectile too large in diameter. A stuck bullet can be pushed out with hand tools. As long as the gun is not damaged, the firearm can be re-used after the bullet is removed.

Unload the weapon and make sure there are no live rounds in the chamber or magazine.

Remove the barrel from the firearm if possible. For a rifle, remove the bolt, allowing straight-through access from the receiver to the muzzle. For a revolver, swing open the cylinder.

Pour a little solvent into the barrel from either end. Allow several minutes for the solvent to soak any residual unburnt powder, rendering it inert.

Push the wooden dowel into the barrel from the muzzle end until it bottoms out on the nose of the bullet. Use the marking pen to mark a line on the dowel just above the muzzle. Remove the dowel and place it alongside the barrel, aligning the mark on the dowel with the end of the barrel. This will tell you how far down the bullet is lodged.

Insert the dowel into the barrel from the breech end and tap the back of the dowel with a mallet. Keep tapping the dowel until the stuck bullet falls out the front of the barrel. For bullets that are stuck much closer to the breech, or for a revolver where access from the breech end is impossible, insert the dowel from the muzzle end and tap toward the breech.

Use the flashlight and shine a light at one end of the barrel and look down the opposite end. Look for damage, wood splinters or other obstructions. Clean and oil the barrel before re-assembly.

Tip

Use the largest diameter dowel that will fit inside the barrel. A dowel that is too skinny will deflect or break. It can also drive into the bullet (if the bullet is pure lead), causing it to wedge tighter into the barrel.

Warning

Make absolutely certain the firearm is unloaded before working on it. Do not use a steel cleaning rod to push the bullet out, as it may gouge the barrel's bore and ruin it.

About the Author

Emrah Oruc is a general contractor, freelance writer and former race-car mechanic who has written professionally since 2000. He has been published in "The Family Handyman" magazine and has experience as a consultant developing and delivering end-user training. Oruc holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a minor in economics from the University of Delaware.