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Old February 22, 2012, 03:20 AM   #1
Maxx_Ammo
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COPPER OR LEAD which is it?

Ok Im currently loading copper plated bullets from B&B supply:


Size----- Price
.380/9mm - .10
.38/.357- .10
10/40- .12
44mag- .13
45acp- .13
45LC - .13
I have heard both sides for people I respect and am a little confused to the fact of which is better as a whole for the barrels of my pistols. I see the price savings of the lead over the copper and under stand that you cant run the lead as "HOT" as the plated but im just punching holes in paper.. Can you give the fact and some guidance?
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Old February 22, 2012, 03:44 AM   #2
FrankenMauser
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Copper fouling is detrimental to accuracy, and a pain to scrub out of your bore.
Leading is detrimental to accuracy, and a pain to scrub out of your bore.

Proper maintenance and attention to proper load data negates the problems with lead. Avoiding copper fouling is nearly impossible (but proper maintenance prevents accuracy from suffering).


For punching holes in paper, lead is fine.
Do a little research on how to choose the properly-sized lead bullet for your bore, and the velocity at which you can shoot certain hardnesses. It will be extremely beneficial. This site has a fair amount of information available, as well as castboolits.gunloads.com.
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Old February 22, 2012, 05:06 AM   #3
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THANKS

I will check out the info here at TFL and will start my research.. was hoping their was a short answer.. lol
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Old February 22, 2012, 08:51 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxx_Ammo
and under stand that you cant run the lead as "HOT" as the plated
At normal pistol velocities, sure you can. I routinely run .44 mag cast bullets to 1300+fps, which is fairly hot for any handgun load. My .357 loads run nearly as fast and I've never had a problem with lead, after I learned to properly fit the bullet to the bore.
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Old February 22, 2012, 09:02 AM   #5
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I have had to spend considerably more time and elbow grease cleaning up after lead than after plated ...... I avoid it now.
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Old February 22, 2012, 03:19 PM   #6
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Any exp with the lead and copper remover fluids on the market today.. if so any that you recommend?
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Old February 22, 2012, 03:46 PM   #7
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A copper brush and Hoppes #9 will work for both. It is my impression that you are over thinking this though. Neither are bad for your barrel. Lead can be picky about bore size where jacketed/plated don't tend to care. If lead works for you, you shoot outdoors and you don't mind washing your hands more go with lead and save some money.

What calibers are you shooting where velocity would be an issue with either plated or cast? I shoot hardcast lead in full power 357 Magnum loads all the time with good results.
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Old February 22, 2012, 07:07 PM   #8
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I have had to spend considerably more time and elbow grease cleaning up after lead than after plated ...... I avoid it now.
Then you did one of two things:
1. You used a bullet that was not properly sized to your bore.
2. You pushed them too hard for the alloy.


That's all that matters.
Properly fitting the bullet to your barrel is FAR more important than any other factor. Secondary, is bullet hardness.

The "Hard Cast" bullets most manufacturers sell to reloaders as a magic pill that won't foul, are just a waste of antimony. Being extra hard can actually contribute to leading, because the bullet is so hard it fails to obturate.

Slug your bore, before using lead bullets.

If all of that sounds like too much trouble, you have two options:
1. Use jacketed bullets.
2. Use plated bullets. (But you're still stuck with lower velocities; often lower than you could push a properly fitted lead bullet.)
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Old February 22, 2012, 07:37 PM   #9
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First, no typical bullet is "bad" for your bore. Cast is probably the easiest on your gun though. Followed by Plated.

I run cast in everything I reload. Though to be honest, I do run a fair bit of plated in 9 mm.
How much leading one gets is dependent on your situation. I can run cast bullet faster in .357 than I can plated. I haven't messed with the the slugging of the bore thing. Even w/ full steam 158 gr/2400 loads, it's really not that bad. If your worried, buy a Lewis Lead Remover in addition to the normal brush & solvent.

Typical plated bullets shouldn't be pushed faster than 1200 to 1300 FPS. Cast can go faster without any real issues. Plated will start shedding their coatings. This will adversely affect accuracy at the minimum. I suppose they could theoretically start leaving debris in the barrel (unlikely I know).
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Old February 22, 2012, 08:42 PM   #10
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Any exp with the lead and copper remover fluids on the market today.. if so any that you recommend?
I moved on from Hoppe #9, it just didn't do the cleaning job for me.

If you are going to shoot lead, make sure all the copper is out of the bore before you start. Lots of good copper removers out there, most have ammonia in them. Don't use brass jags or brass brushes or you will get false positives.

For cleaning after shooting lead I first run a patch soaked with Ed's Red through the bore after shooting. I let it set overnight. If you don't want to make Ed's Red, Kroil is about the same stuff. Then I take a brass brush and unravel a couple of strands from a chore bore cleaner (get pure copper, not the copper coated) and wrap them around the brass brush. It cleans out any lead like you wouldn't believe. The Ed's Red wicks under any lead and softens carbon very well.

I don't tend to use plated. I can shoot jacketed cheaper. So I either shoot lead or jacketed.
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Old February 23, 2012, 12:06 PM   #11
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Then you did one of two things:
1. You used a bullet that was not properly sized to your bore.
2. You pushed them too hard for the alloy.
On both occasions I shot lead, cleaning was a PITA.

The first was a couple of boxes of Factory LRN .38's out of my .357 ....

The second was 50 rounds or so of a buddy's 200gr SWC .... Oregon Trail cast bullets ..... my notes say they averaged 892 f/sec out of his gun, which does not sound "hot" for a 200gr .45ACP ..... they were sized .452, same as my plated bullets are......

In both cases, the bore was a PITA to clean.
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Old February 23, 2012, 02:26 PM   #12
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"a little confused to the fact of which is better as a whole for the barrels of my pistols. I see the price savings of the lead over the copper and under stand that you cant run the lead as "HOT" as the plated but im just punching holes in paper.. Can you give the fact and some guidance?"

Maxx,
I can produce no facts but some known generalities.
Lead is 'slicker' than copper. Thus, lead in it's self will do less damage to barrel steel. The key is to run the proper alloy/hardness bullet for the velocities needed for the job. Killing paper doesn't take a lot of energy, but you will want a flatter trajectory to make the shots easier. I wouldn't wasted my money on plated bullets.
The problem with soft bullets is that they strip off in the rifling. That's leading. Lead is a very inert metal (sewer pipe!). So chemicals to remove it must be less than pleasant for the barrel steel. That leaves brute removal. Bronze brushes or copper screened 'Lewis Lead Remover' (that could be Louis) are brute removal. Both can and will damage barrel steel. Not one or two passes, but several.
This is where harder cast bullets, plated/coated bullets and jacketed bullets come into the mix. The down sides are greater costs for the bullets and they too will strip off in the rifling. The up side of this is that chemicals the 'eat' copper have very little effect upon steel. (But, boy do they stink!)

What to do?
Buy or cast hard/harder lead bullets and size them to the proper size, lub with GOOD lub (not motor oil and bees wax) and load to levels that don't lead for punching paper. [Side note: casting your own is both a lot of fun and a lot of work.] There are many lead bullet producers and none what to make bad product. If you can't find any local, try 'Missouri Bullet' or 'Illinois Bullet', I've use both and several others as well or just Google it.
Gona move on up to hunting levels? Two ways to go, jacketed or heavy lead bullets. Different view for bought of these, I can see both.

Good bullets can make just plinking more fun and will make for better target loads.

Load safe and enjoy,

OSOK

Last edited by oldpapps; February 23, 2012 at 02:36 PM.
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Old February 23, 2012, 02:51 PM   #13
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Quote:
The second was 50 rounds or so of a buddy's 200gr SWC .... Oregon Trail cast bullets ..... my notes say they averaged 892 f/sec out of his gun, which does not sound "hot" for a 200gr .45ACP ..... they were sized .452, same as my plated bullets are......

In both cases, the bore was a PITA to clean.
It doesn't matter what size the bullets were, if you don't know what size the barrel is. It is not uncommon to see .45 Auto barrels around .454".

If plated stuff is working for you; then stick with it.

I'm simply trying to point out that leading issues are nearly always a byproduct of an improperly-fitted bullet; and/or people trying to shoot alloys that are too hard, because they think it will make up for not measuring their barrel.

Occasionally, you'll find instances where you can blame the barrel itself. One example is my POS Taurus PT-138 .380 Auto. At the chamber and at the muzzle, it measures .358"x.359" in the grooves. To properly seal that bore, I would need a bullet that is at least .3595" in diameter, but .360" would be even better. (The difficulty in locating a .380 bullet sized to .360" is a post unto itself.) But... it also has a loose spot in the middle of the barrel. I don't know how big it is, but I do know that a .359" slug will not touch the bottom of the grooves, and light can be seen around it.

That loose spot is enough to cause significant leading. However, situations like that are quite rare. My current loads don't lead at all, though. To maintain a gas seal in the barrel, and prevent leading, I got my hands on some hollow base lead and hollow base plated bullets. As the bullet travels down the bore, the skirt maintains a proper gas seal, and I get no leading. ...and that's from a bore that's closer to 9mm Makarov, than .380 Auto dimensions, and has a loose spot in the middle.
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Last edited by FrankenMauser; February 23, 2012 at 03:19 PM.
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Old February 23, 2012, 03:15 PM   #14
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Feedback

this is why I love this place good honest opnions and feedback..
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Old February 23, 2012, 03:41 PM   #15
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Maxx,
Looks/reads like FrankenMauser knows his bullets. He's got some good info here. I'll agree with him.

Be safe and enjoy,

OSOK
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Old February 23, 2012, 05:47 PM   #16
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contact the cast bullet association inc. 10web@castbulletassoc.org if you want to know talk to the best in the bus. cjs
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Old February 23, 2012, 09:37 PM   #17
SteveHawaii
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Here's a nice, straight forward gun cleaning product test:

http://www.frfrogspad.com/cleaners.htm
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Old February 24, 2012, 12:08 PM   #18
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There is nothing that a handgun needs to do that cannot be done with lead. Your barrel will far outlast you shooting lead. Leading does not have to happen. Yes, cleaning out leading from poor loads bites. Cost is substantially less.

Plated or jacketed will be less smoky. You won't have to worry about getting the load just right to avoid leading. Your barrel will outlast you, unless you shoot competitions where you put a lot of rounds downrange. Fouling is easy to clean. Cost is substantially more.
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