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Lead Glandes Sling Bullets
According to the contemporary report of Vegatius, Republican slingers had an accurate range of up to six hundred feet. The best sling ammunition was cast from lead. For a given mass, lead, being very dense, offered the minimum size and therefore minimum air resistance. Also, lead sling-bullets were small and difficult to see in flight. In some cases, the lead would be cast in a simple open mold made by pushing a finger, thumb, or sharpened stick into sand and pouring molten metal into the hole. The flat top end could later be carved to a matching shape. More frequently, they were cast in two-part molds. Sling-bullets were made in a variety of shapes including an ellipsoidal form closely resembling an acorn; possibly the origin of the Latin word for lead sling-bullet: glandes plumbeae (literally leaden acorns) or simply glandes (meaning acorns, singular glans). The most common shape by far was biconical, resembling the shape of an almond or an American football. Why the almond shape was favored is unknown. Possibly there was some aerodynamic advantage, but it seems equally likely that there was a more prosaic reason, such as the shape being easy to extract from a mold, or that it will rest in a sling cradle with little danger of rolling out. Almond-shaped lead sling-bullets were typically about 35 millimeters (1.4 in) long and about 20 millimeters (0.8 in) wide. Sometimes symbols or writings were molded on the side. A thunderbolt, a snake, a scorpion, or others symbols indicating how it might strike without warning were popular. Writing might include the name of the military unit or commander, or was sometimes more imaginative, such as, "Take this," "Ouch," "Catch," or even "For Pompey's backside."