The world is suffering from the creatures of fantasy and nightmares which can appear with just a few minutes of warning anywhere, regardless of it being the middle of the street or on top of your bed while you are asleep. It can be a single one, or millions that swarm the area. The world's infrastructure has been degrading, food and supplies are harder and harder to come by. While firearms work well against these creatures the bodies left behind attract and breed both insects and disease. It is not feasible to hold on to area's with low populations as a sudden appearance of many nightmares can wipe them out.

As resources to convert to ammo becomes harder to come by civilians turn to the only resource they have in abundance: dead nightmarish bodies. They have slowly but surely started an entire industry around the collection, transport and processing of all the bodies into as many useful things as they can.

The question: How can an abundance of dead bodies be used to create as many ammunition types as possible?

The types of ammunition that I am mainly looking into:

  • "civilian" ammunition with low armor penetration◇
  • civilian shotgun ammunition for home defense.
  • military/trained militia ammuntion with armor penetration
  • a small caliber fragmentation weapon (like a grenade, mortar, rocket).
  • crossbow bolt-like ammuntion♡
  • any additional characteristics for the ammunition, like tracer ammo.

◇ civilians have a lower training and higher chance to miss, but do have to defend themselves against monsters that might be nearby before a proper military response can deal with them. Since most monsters don't wear armor the civilians dont need armor-piercing qualities, the lack of armor piercing also means that basic armor protections can reduce lethal friendly fire incidents and makes repairing local infrastructure easier after a fight.

♡ should bullets be hard to create I was thinking of using the biodiesel from my previous question in backpack-powered repeating crossbow weapons, using the 0.75+horsepower that a leafblower can generate to fire crossbow bolts.

Conditions that apply:

  • use of alternative materials is allowed, as long as 75% or more of the bullet is gained from the dead bodies.
  • the previous question already covered propellants and explosive fillers, this question only concerns itself with the projectile
  • anything of the creatures can be used. Their skin, bones, remaining fecal matter or small quantities of specialist materials if you see a use.
  • the size of the creatures goes from dog-sized to paraceratherium-sized (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraceratherium).
  • while Cthulian sushi-monsters, giant spiders and more are part of the nightmare force, for ease of answering the important bulk of the bodies are of similar in consistency as pigs, bears and cows and any other bodies are discounted (unless only tiny amounts of material needs to be gained from this group of bodies). any magical properties, like the giant spiders not collapsing under their own weight, are instantly gone upon death of the creature. the refinement process can take a maximum of 5 years.

Using dead bodies for material 3: fuel

Ps: the obvious idea would be to use bone bullets, but bone is likely too brittle and too light to be used effectively. I could unfortunately not find any information for using calcium bullets or possibly combining calcium with the carbon or other materials of the dead bodies.

  • $\begingroup$ you can use gunpowder to launch arrows, but if they have guns they should have metal for bullets. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Aug 24, 2021 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ It depends how many of your nightmares involve people with guns... $\endgroup$ Aug 24, 2021 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ @John were those arrows made of bodily materials? Bullets are generally lead rather than the metals guns are made off, and the volume of bullets in use would be much higher than the volume of weapons over a few months. Having an alternative to put into your weapons would be important in a scenario where you arm almost the entire populace and as the question prescribes alternatives made out of bodies are necessary. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Aug 24, 2021 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Demigan if your using smoothbore black powder the metal matters less, you will wear out barrels faster. the nice thing about bullets is you can recycle them, your losses are literally just your loses. gunpowder launched arrows can be made of wood so ones bone should work fine. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Aug 24, 2021 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ @John that assumes I'm using black powder, it assumes that almost all ammo is recycled and it ignores the question I am asking. I do not see enough bullet material return to arm the entire populace with and even if it somehow did I am telling you: the fluff of this story does not allow it. I am using dead bodies for that ammo if possible and dealing with the consequences of that in the story. I am not looking for alternatives. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Aug 25, 2021 at 3:21

1 Answer 1


I can't think of a good solution to the bullet problem. None of the materials present in significant quantities in an ordinary body have the right combination of density and ductility to match a modern bullet. The closest I can get is iron, but the survivors would need to process a massive amount of blood and muscle to get enough to work with.

However, I can envision a projectile, to be fired out of a musket-style muzzle-loader, which is something like a cross between a musket-ball and a baseball. Dense bone, or bone-derived cement, could be wound with strips of leather glued in place with hide-glue or bone-glue. This layer would be softer and less prone to fragmenting, and would hold the cement-ball together even if it shattered.

As for shotgun ammunition, I'm imagining a parchment cartridge (like old-fashioned grapeshot) filled with, for example, teeth, bone fragments, scales (if available) or boiled leather. If pain deterrence works on these creatures, the projectiles wouldn't necessarily need to have a lot of penetrating power to provide defense.

Armor-penetrating ammunition is a tricky one, since, as mentioned before, there aren't a lot of high-density materials one can get from a body. I think the most promising option is something like a high-explosive squash-head round, which mushrooms on impact, just before the explosive detonates. To my knowledge, HESH rounds aren't very good at actually penetrating armor, but they can still kill or seriously injure the wearer by deforming the armor, through pressure waves, or by causing the inner layer of armor to spall and produce shrapnel.

Crossbow bolts, I think, are pretty straightforward. Some sort of rigid shaft (a straight-enough bone, perhaps, or a rod made of something fairly rigid like boiled leather, with a pointed tip.

Rounds could quite easily be made incendiary by processing bones to extract white phosphorus from them.

Tracer rounds can be made by mixing potassium nitrate (saltpeter) from composted bodies with a suitable fuel like hide glue, perhaps boosted by metallic calcium or white phosphorus.

If the creatures aren't especially resistant to burn injuries, a projectile could be built consisting of a brittle container filled with water and surrounded by bone-derived lime. The reaction between water and quicklime is exothermic, and can very quickly heat up to the boiling point of water.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ the rock salt thing is more urban legend than truth, a shotgun that shoots rocksalt will not last long, it will rust apart rather quickly, nor will rocksalt penetrate skin, it doesn't have enough mass unless you are very very close. bone will face similar problems. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Aug 24, 2021 at 17:17
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not surprised to hear that. My dad is an occasional teller of tall tales. I've removed that from the answer. $\endgroup$ Aug 24, 2021 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ Its a pretty common urban legend, someone probably did do on occasion and today you can even buy rock salt rounds, but its really really bad for gun. Not that that stops people. you really need something high density for bullets. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Aug 24, 2021 at 17:30
  • $\begingroup$ Done some research: the body has ample calcium and phosphor. Pure calcium is soft (10% of iron but stronger than lead) and calcium phosphate is half as dense as iron. This would make for soft and lightweight bullets. It is definitely too weak to go through armor, but what would it do to flesh? This might be exactly what I'm looking for, or be too weak. I'm ignoring the carbon-angle here as carbon might be strong but too elastic. Also I found this, however incomplete it is and in a language I don't understand: forum.cartridgecollectors.org/t/organic-frangible-bullet/34639 $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Aug 24, 2021 at 20:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Demigan metallic calcium also reacts violently with water, and also with air if heated. probably not a good idea. calcium phosphate has a similar problem to salt it is too light to have any effect except at very close range. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Aug 25, 2021 at 5:11

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