Removing trace filling from tracer bullet?

I have a .30 M1924 U.S. tracer bullet from which I’d like to remove the tracing material. Is there a safe low-tech way to accomplish this? JG

Besides burning it? :)

You could drill it out with a hand drill and a correctly sized drill bit. Tracer material is usually safe (assuming it is not a phoshoporous type “smoke tracer”. The tracing compound in a conventional tracer, especially on an old round, is very difficult to ignite.


Assuming you can pick out the cup to expose the mixture, I have found that boiling them in a solution of Cascade Dishwasher Detergent will usually dissolve the mixture.

FYI, Cascade will also dissolve primer mixture. So that’s a good way to inert a primer too.

But, I’d like to hear of other ways to skin this cat, short of burning the mixture out.


Back in the good old days when Iconoclast was selling cartridges on Auction Arms I bought several US tracers from him and I recall him telling me he removed the tracer compound by applying a drop of vinegar and dissolving it that way. Most tracers have a thin foil disc sealing in the tracer compound so perhaps you might need to prick this with a pin or similar to allow the vinegar in. But is there really ever any need to remove the tracer compound anyway…?

Thanks to all. Yes, I do want to get the filling out because it’s swelling and splitting the jacket; the bullet and case are already separate so it won’t do any damage to the latter. I think I’ll try Ray’s detergent approach first and if that doesn’t avail I’ll have a go with the vinegar. Best, JG

I’ve had 100% luck with just plain 'ol water to dissolve out primer mix. I’ll bet that will work on the tracer mix as well. It’s already swelling, most likely due to it’s absorbing moisture. Let it soak a while and gently pick at it with a small hobby knife or tiny, jeweler’s screwdriver.