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Old April 17, 2012, 08:22 AM   #1
northwingnut
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New to lead bullets

I just tried reloading so .40s with lead bullets. After I read some threads about it, I relized I should have bought bullests with a larger diameter. The ones I have are .400 and when I shoot them they leave a fair amount of leading. My question is, do I have to slug my barrel or are all XD .40s the exact same? And now that I have leading, what is the best way to clean it out?
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Old April 17, 2012, 09:02 AM   #2
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It is best to slug your individual barrel. Theoretically every 40 S&W barrel is .400 at the grooves but in reality a lot are plus or minus a thousandth or two. Did you buy hard cast lead bullets though? Don't try to force one of those down your barrel. You will want something like pure soft lead and oversized as well so you know it sized down.

How is the accuracy or the reloads you made? When I have shot truly undersized lead bullet I've gotten key holes and 8+ inch groups at 25 yards. When I've shot properly sized lead bullets that were too hard the accuracy was fine but there was leading. Virtually all .400 lead bullets are hard cast, which in itself is a "one size fits most" type deal. Bullet makers would rather sell a bullet that is too hard for most than too soft for some.

For leading I'm currently using a copper brush and Remington bore cleaner.
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Old April 17, 2012, 09:08 AM   #3
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Did you measure those bullets with a ten-thou mike?
Did you test other powders?
Did you clean and condition your bore?

Are you certain it's the bullets?
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Old April 17, 2012, 11:07 AM   #4
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You may want to check your barrrel for its rifling type also.

Cut rifled barrels (Colt, Browning High Power, most revolvers) handle cast bullets quite well overall.

The smoother polygonal type rifling found in many of the newer pistol designs don't seem to be very amenable to cast bullets. Leading with these barrels is a common complaint.

Given the above, what type of pistol are you using?
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Old April 17, 2012, 12:16 PM   #5
northwingnut
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I am using a sprigfield xd and I think it is conventional rifling. The bullets are hard cast lead with the lube strip. They seem to be just as accurate as jacketed.
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Old April 17, 2012, 12:39 PM   #6
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lead

lead bullet's are typically slightly larger than jacketed by about 1 thousandth ,you need to keep the speed down below 900 fps to keep from having excessive leading . what brand of bullet's are they ? been using Missouri bullet co .optimized lead bullet's with good result's in my 9mm and 45 acp.
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Old April 17, 2012, 01:12 PM   #7
northwingnut
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They are HSM. The dia is .400. I have noticed that most hard cast are .401. I started with 4.5 grains of Unique but maybe I should load with even less.
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Old April 17, 2012, 02:36 PM   #8
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High velocity isn't the problem. Plain based cast bullets are routinely pushed to 1400+ fps without leading. You can actually cause leading by driving a hard bullet too slowly--what happens is that the pressure isn't sufficient to cause the bullet to "slug up" and seal the bore. Most commercial cast bullets are actually much harder than necessary, but that's because the manufacturer wants the bullets to reach the customer intact and not all beat up and deformed from the gentle, loving hands of shippers like UPS/Fedex.

I'd suspect you might just need to work up to a higher pressure load to eliminate or minimize your leading, but you really should measure the bullets and your barrel as the other guys suggest.

Last edited by AlaskaMike; April 17, 2012 at 02:43 PM.
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Old April 17, 2012, 03:03 PM   #9
Scharfschuetzer
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Alaska Mike is correct.

When a bullet is too hard for the pressure of the load, it will often fail to obturate (slug up as AM notes) in the bore and it allows some of the gas from the burning powder to gas cut past the base of the bullet and melt or vaporize some of the lead from the circumfrance of the bullet. This is what often the causes leading with hard cast bullets at lower velocities even when the bullets are of the proper diameter.

While it may sound counterintuitive, hard cast bullets are often way too hard for most applications in normal pistol loads. Surprisingly, wheel weight alloy is just about perfect for most applications up to about 1,100 fps. With gas check designs, WW aloy has proven quite good up to about 1700 fps in my rifles. A good lubricant is also helpful in preventing leading. I've never been satisfied with the hard lubes that come on most commercial bullets. I think they use it so that the bullets look good, don't feel so greesy and so that they survive shipment in hot temperatures better. The old NRA alox formula (available from most suppliers) has been my prefered lube for both pistol and rifle cast bullets with smokeless powders.

Approximate Brinell hardness comparisons of lead alloys:

Pure Lead BHN 4

Wheel Weights 12

Lyman #2 BHN 15

Hard Cast BHN 16

Lino Type BHN 21
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Old April 17, 2012, 11:53 PM   #10
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One other recommendation for after you slug your barrel to get proper bullet size... don't use the Lee Factory Crimp Die. When you load cast bullets, you generally need to crimp only enough to straighten out the flared case mouth. The FCD will actually size everything down and will "swage" your bullet down to .400 or slightly smaller diameter, leaving it undersized for your barrell. Undersized bullets = barrell leading at nearly all velocities.

There is lots of great information available on this forum as well as a few others. You could read for weeks on end and not get through it all. I would suggest you do a search on "Fryxell" for some excellent articles about casting. Also, check out the Cast Bullet Association, LASC, and CastBoolits, as well as pick up a copy of the Lyman Cast Bullet Manual #4.

Happy casting!
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Old April 18, 2012, 12:36 AM   #11
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I loaded lead for a couple of XD40's for about three years. I noticed them to be a little more prone to leading than other 40's I've used the same or similar loads through. I use range pick-up .40 brass and I don't hot-rod them at all; typically a 175 grain bullet at 850 fps. The lead bullets I used were .401".

I use the Lee factory crimp die with lead bullets in several pistol calibers, with lead bullets, and I run my crimp firm enough that pushing a loaded round against the bench will not set the bullet back. I have suffered neither inaccuracy nor leading as a result.
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Old April 18, 2012, 06:36 AM   #12
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me, too, me, too....

I use LEE Carbide Factory Crimp Dies for virtually every auto-loader cartridge I make.

Bore conditioning: Cut a SMALL patch from a KLEENBORE Lead-Away cloth (or similar) and from the chamber end ONLY push it through the bore three or four times (I use fitted wooden dowels and hammer the patch through).
Then clean the bore normally utterly anally until it literally squeaks.
Then saturate a clean conventional patch with Tetragun Oil (yes I know it stinks like a$$) and swab the bore until oil drips out.
Then let it dry completely (might take a few days).
Then recommence lead-bullet shooting with reduced or eliminated leading.
Yeah.
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Old April 18, 2012, 09:36 PM   #13
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I didn't see what weight lead you used, 4.5 gr Unique is pretty light. I load 5.7 gr Unique with 180 gr lead, ONLY after working up to this load.I get only light leading, a patch on a brush usually takes care of it. The other guys are right - too light a load causes leading in the barrel.
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Old April 19, 2012, 12:00 AM   #14
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I don't think so JKP. I run Missouri Bullet's 200 grain LSWC's at a froghair over 600 fps from my 1911's (pest load) and they lead the least of any cast bullet I shoot.
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