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Old September 10, 2012, 10:38 AM   #1
rajbcpa
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Does copper platting help avoid leading?

I'm not sure what advantage these may have over lead cast. The platting is very thin, so I assume it does not do much... the platted units are a bit more expensive, but not significantly so. Does the crimp scrap off the platting at some point?

Are these worth the extra dough?
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Old September 10, 2012, 10:59 AM   #2
serf 'rett
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I don't get lead build up in my pistol when shooting plated bullets.

I also don't apply a heavy crimp.

What are you looking at loading? Caliber(s)?
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Old September 10, 2012, 11:01 AM   #3
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Note that different brands have different plated thicknesses. The thicker ones are supposed to keep lead from spreading around at impact. Berry's are an example of thicker.
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Old September 10, 2012, 11:06 AM   #4
serf 'rett
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Unclenick is correct (as usual).

I should have been specific and stated I don't have leading problems shooting Berrys bullets. Can't speak for some other brands - no experience!
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Old September 10, 2012, 11:11 AM   #5
serf 'rett
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Quote:
Are these worth the extra dough?
Depends on whether you like cleaning lead out of your barrels.
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Old September 10, 2012, 11:19 AM   #6
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Quote:
Does the crimp scrap off the platting at some point?
Hasn't caused problems for me...

Quote:
Are these worth the extra dough?
For me, yes... I don't like anything about barrel leading.
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Old September 10, 2012, 11:34 AM   #7
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I am not seeing much, if any, price difference between plated bullets and good lead bullets\. I buy Berry's 124gr HBFP by the thousands for 8cents a piece including shipping. I can get nice hardcast lead bullets locally for the same price.

Besides leading, it comes down to what shoots the best with your gun. For my 9mm that means Berry's. For .380 I get about the same results with Berry's as lead so I shoot both about the same, depending on where I feel like shopping when I am running low. For .45, I get the best results with FMJ ball and LSWC. I seeing a bit more lead than I would like with the LSWC so I might try Berry's, but sometimes the results are worth the extra cleaning.

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Old September 10, 2012, 12:03 PM   #8
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I've used plated bullets from several manufacturers including Berry, Ranier, and x-treme. All performed well and NEVER leaded. They're my bullet of choice in 40 calibre, where in SOME guns, lead bullets can be problematic.
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Old September 10, 2012, 05:15 PM   #9
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I don't get leading from shooting my cast lead bullets, so plated bullets have no benefit for me. I can also push my cast lead bullets faster than plated can go without the plating coming off. I understand that there are some who just don't like cast bullets, and some guns that don't like them either, and that's fine--the plated bullets give them an option that's a little cheaper than conventional jacketed bullets.

However, the idea that shooting cast lead bullets always results in a leaded barrel is just ridiculous.
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Old September 10, 2012, 05:38 PM   #10
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I load lead and jacketed, and the only advantage that just jumps out is that lead is not authorized in polygonal barrels, and jacketed is. I know that lead can go supersonic. Properly lubed and sized, lead can do just fine. It's just not authorized in polygonal tubes. I leaded up a 1911 barrel in my younger days. It's a wonder I didn't walnut the barrel. I came to appreciate jacketed bullets in fullness. Now I shoot both. Just no lead in polygonal rifling. Not authorized.
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Old September 10, 2012, 05:43 PM   #11
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It also limits lead exposure at minimal cost. Almost all airborne lead (something like 95 to 98%) is generate when the base of the bullet is vaporized by hot powder. It's amazing how much cleaner the weapon is overall compared to a conventional FMJ.

For those of us using ported or compensated guns, it keeps the ports clean as well.

I also shoot a lot of steel targets and the softer plated bullets are destroyed more thoroughly than jacketed projectiles.

I shoot plated bullets outdoors and clean the cases in a sonic cleaner, which eleminates the majority of lead contamination in shooting, cleaning and reloading ammo. Once lead-free primers become more reliable and more readily available, then I'll probably switch to those, too.
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Old September 10, 2012, 05:50 PM   #12
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Lead in your barrel is due to bullet fit. Slug your barrel and cylinder throats. Next step is to use the proper bhn hardness of a bullet. Hard cast comercial bullets are not the best. Example if your bullet is a bhn of 18 that is going to need in the neighborhood of 25,000 psi to get it to expand and fill the barrel of your gun. At those pressures depending on the load it may not be obtainable for a lead bullet. Take 38 special of example that is in the area of 12 to 15,000 psi. The bullet will not expand if its a bhn of 18 so you would want a softer bullet like a bhn of 10 or 12.
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Old September 10, 2012, 06:04 PM   #13
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testuser wrote:
Quote:
It also limits lead exposure at minimal cost. Almost all airborne lead (something like 95 to 98%) is generate when the base of the bullet is vaporized by hot powder.
Are you sure that's correct? That directly contradicts what I've read about airborne lead contamination in indoor shooting ranges. I'm certainly no authority on it, but everything else I've read on the subject indicates the vast majority is due to primer lead compounds, and extremely little from metallic lead.

Also, the base of the bullet does not normally vaporize from the heat and/or pressure of the powder charge burning. The exposure time just isn't enough to do it.

Last edited by AlaskaMike; September 10, 2012 at 06:20 PM.
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Old September 10, 2012, 07:42 PM   #14
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There's a lot of hyperbole about lead and I see high infection rates on this board, lol. Why is everyone so terrified of lead?

Bullet bases do not vaporize. Airborne lead contamination in indoor ranges is from the primers. Leading in gun barrels is from improper fit to bore and/or incorrect bhn of the lead as stated.

I have no use for plated bullets, but I have loaded and shot some that friends show up with. Eh, they make holes. I shoot almost exclusively lead boolits in my handguns and I got plenty of leaded up barrels in the early years. You don't melt down lead sinkers, size them to .429 and loaded to 1200 fps and stay lead free! (my fault, not the lead!)

But you can melt wheelweights, air dropped, sized to .430 and (I) did stay lead free. Water quenching WWs increases hardness to ~24 bhn where I have driven them to 1700 fps with no leading (different caliber). If one strives to learn a little about hardness/pressure and sizing then one can enjoy as good or better than factory jacketed performance with no leading and at a fraction of the cost of jacketed. To each his own.

The big calibers (44 Mags and 45 Colt/Casull) shine with lead boolits. I wont shoot jacketed through my 44s anymore. I have a half dozen moulds ranging in weight from 180 to 320 which covers anything on this continent.
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Old September 10, 2012, 08:41 PM   #15
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I had a terrible problem at first with lead, even with my own cast bullets using a Lee mold I was given. There were lead "wires" unwinding from the groves near the end of the barrel after shooting just a couple hundred rounds. The barrel turned smooth bore! I went through a lot of those copper Chore Boy pads for awhile, mechanically scraping out that lead. I didn't give up though, because I know other people were successful. So I joined some web forums, got the Lyman Cast bullet handbook, and read every article on lasc.us more than once. It was more than just a little helpful.

Now I can shoot literally thousands of rounds out of my CZ Shadows and other guns, and not have even a hint of leading. In fact, I hardly even see the need to clean the inside of the barrel anymore when I'm shooting it regularly. Even then, I only use a nylon brush and some CLP and a patch to make it shiny.

One problem I had was with commercial 9mm bullets that are invariably sized to .356". A lead bullet at .356" just doesn't do it for my guns. Commercial bullets also have a really solid lube to facility packaging and shipping that really aren't ideal for handgun velocities. So casting my own bullets from molds of different weights, diameters, and profiles opened up a whole world of experimentation for me, as did formulating and experimenting with my own lubes. It was really fun to experiment with alloys of various hardness too (a hardness test kit really is useful). Then different powders and charges... you get the idea.

A person who shoots lead has to be willing to tinker and experiment at least a little, since everything isn't reduced to some simple formula or recipe that will suite every purpose. Some guys like guns for self defense only and are willing to feed them commercial JHPs. Others among us make it a hobby to varying degrees. To me loading (and casting) lead is just an extension of reloading in general, and the tinkering and overcoming problems becomes a rewarding activity in itself.
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Old September 11, 2012, 09:32 AM   #16
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Actually, in a recent thread on another forum with contributions by one of the most experienced and trusted shooters I know, it turns how he and a number of other folks have shot a lot of cast bullets with no lube at all and still got no leading. That surprised me, as I'd simply never tried it, having been suckered in by conventional wisdom to always using lubes or paper patching. It is a question of sizing and alloy selection and gun condition being coordinated such that no bullet scraping or gas cutting is involved inside the bore or chamber. And, on reflection, why not? Lead alloys are typically more slippery against steel than gilding metal is. That's why babbitt alloys alloys can be used successfully in bearing journals. But rough or constriction plagued bores, undersized chamber throats, undersized bullets, and unnecessary bullet jump to the lands can all contribute to leading.

A smooth bore surface in a 1911 barrel doesn't lead much if you load to headspace on the bullet. I've run over 3000 rounds without cleaning in my school gun with no appreciable lead accumulation. Light lead traces form just beyond the throat almost immediately, then just stop growing. They seem to be shooting themselves clear as fast as they accumulate thereafter.

Years ago I put a front sight extension on a bull barrel Ruger pistol of mine that overhangs the muzzle. It's remarkable how thickly the lead splatter builds up on it's underside. It's true that .22 bullet lead is soft, but so is the muzzle blast shaving it off pretty mild as muzzle blast goes.

So, what causes lead contamination at ranges? It's both primers and exposed bullet bases. The primers create the water soluble lead compound smoke that is the immediate airborne health hazard. But lead dust all over the range is from gas cutting of bullet bases by both muzzle blast and revolver barrel/cylinder gap blast. Pure lead metal itself isn't particularly hazardous, but the fine dust gradually oxidizes and contaminates the ground and can be picked up on shoes and hands and even be blown around with other dust to some degree (though it's heavy). So it's a factor, though I tend to think it's more an EPA fine hazard than a health hazard. The health risk from the lead dust is essentially nil if you wash your hands before eating after you shoot. I base that assessment on lack of remarkable blood lead levels in myself and other range rats I know who've been tested. It seems like you'd have to work at it to get that stuff in your system in quantity.
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Last edited by Unclenick; September 11, 2012 at 01:57 PM. Reason: typo fix
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Old September 11, 2012, 11:24 AM   #17
tkglazie
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Light lead traces form just beyond the throat almost immediately, then just stop growing. They seem to be shooting themselves clear as fast as they accumulate thereafter.
Ah, thanks Unclenick, you have no idea how happy this makes me. I noticed these same traces in my (relatively new) SR1911 and wasnt sure if this was normal or something to be concerned about.

Rather than concern myself with getting every last speck out of the bore in this area I guess I will continue cleaning as I normally do and monitor the areas for growth. I had just assumed that if there was anything there now it would just get worse with time.

Thanks
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Old September 11, 2012, 11:27 AM   #18
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I've shot 10s of thousands of plated bullets, 38spl, 357mag, 40s&w, 45acp, 10mm, and even 30 Carbine with great success. The 40 and 45 were through stock Glock barrels and I've never had a bit of leading, some copper that needed removing after 5-6K rounds but not a single bit of leading. And, you can shoot plated bullets significantly faster than the mfgs claim. My 158grn plated 357mag loads are chrono'd at 1,822fps out of my 24" Rossi levergun and they fly out to 300yds without any problems. Pretty accurate too as at 200yds I shoot at 8" steel plates with my 20" carbine. Load them with care and they behave just like lead but without the mess.
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Old September 11, 2012, 02:01 PM   #19
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You would have to break through the copper to get leading. I've seen that on some very thinly plated bullets from the now-defunct National Bullet Company. If your plating doesn't break through (recover a bullet from soft dirt to see) then if follows that leading is impossible to accumulate; just copper plating in its place.
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Old September 11, 2012, 04:32 PM   #20
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Are you sure that's correct? That directly contradicts what I've read about airborne lead contamination in indoor shooting ranges. I'm certainly no authority on it, but everything else I've read on the subject indicates the vast majority is due to primer lead compounds, and extremely little from metallic lead.

Also, the base of the bullet does not normally vaporize from the heat and/or pressure of the powder charge burning. The exposure time just isn't enough to do it.
Yes, very sure. It's been documented in numerous studies and has been noted by owners of compensated guns. The Speer FAQ does a good job of explaining it quickly and you'll find a lot more data online...

http://www.speer-ammo.com/general/faq.aspx#q3

It's also why "lead-free" ammo is always loaded with a jackted bullet that's completed encapsulated.
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Old September 11, 2012, 05:01 PM   #21
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There's a lot of hyperbole about lead and I see high infection rates on this board, lol. Why is everyone so terrified of lead?

Bullet bases do not vaporize. Airborne lead contamination in indoor ranges is from the primers. Leading in gun barrels is from improper fit to bore and/or incorrect bhn of the lead as stated.

I have no use for plated bullets, but I have loaded and shot some that friends show up with. Eh, they make holes. I shoot almost exclusively lead boolits in my handguns and I got plenty of leaded up barrels in the early years. You don't melt down lead sinkers, size them to .429 and loaded to 1200 fps and stay lead free! (my fault, not the lead!)

But you can melt wheelweights, air dropped, sized to .430 and (I) did stay lead free. Water quenching WWs increases hardness to ~24 bhn where I have driven them to 1700 fps with no leading (different caliber). If one strives to learn a little about hardness/pressure and sizing then one can enjoy as good or better than factory jacketed performance with no leading and at a fraction of the cost of jacketed. To each his own.

The big calibers (44 Mags and 45 Colt/Casull) shine with lead boolits. I wont shoot jacketed through my 44s anymore. I have a half dozen moulds ranging in weight from 180 to 320 which covers anything on this continent.

Well said.
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Old September 11, 2012, 06:01 PM   #22
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I've been very satisfied with plated bullets in a wide variety of handgun calibers. I've never had leading, pealing, smoke or problems with them in revolvers.
Accuracy has been great in everything except stock Glock barrels.
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Old September 12, 2012, 02:06 PM   #23
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Plated bullets and cast lead have their own niche in the shooting sports. Some indoor ranges don't allow exposed lead - use plated. Shooting lead produces a lot more smoke due to the lube. Don't like the smoke - use plated. Plated bullets are more forgiving during the reloading process. Less flair required and when seating and crimping are done with a single die, the die setup is less critical.

Cast lead is more budget friendly. Cast bullets are more commonly available in a greater range of sizes to accommodate over-sized bores. Proper sizing and hardness of lead should minimize or eliminate bore leading altogether. Powder choice and charge weight can minimize smoke but will not eliminate it. Proper die setup is a bit more critical with lead. A bit more flair is needed to avoid shaving lead and lube. Build-up of lube in the seating die can alter seating depth, requiring periodic cleaning of the die. Most reloaders seem to favor seating and crimping with separate dies when using lead. An improperly setup combo die can lead to a buildup of lead/lube at the case mouth causing issues with proper chambering if not removed.

I recently switched to lead in my 1911. I'm happy with the economy and performance and have not had any issues with leading. Still playing with the load to try and minimize smoke. I'm still using plated rounds in my 9mm CZ SP-01. I really like Berry's 124 gr. HBFP in 9mm and I don't think I can find this in a cast round. I might experiment with lead sometime in the future.
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Old September 12, 2012, 05:20 PM   #24
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Sorry. Got carried away and missed the thread title. Yes, plated bullets will eliminate barrel leading. Properly sized cast bullets of the appropriate BHN will also. Or at least minimize it to the point of a non-issue.
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