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Old February 1, 2017, 07:29 PM   #1
Nick_C_S
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Range Report: Testing coated bullets

I bought some S&S Hardcast coated 148 DEWC's (.358") for 38 Special back in Dec '13. I loaded 50 of them (on 12/25/13 - you'd think I'd have better things to do on Christmas day ), and when I shot them, I noticed a horrific smell of burning electrical insulation (PVC?). Anyway, the smell was disgusting and outright noxious. I've smelled coated bullets before at the range and just thought is was shooters using some funky new powder or something. Now I know what I was smelling. Anyway, I put them away after that.

Last summer, I loaded 200 of those same coated 148's (I bought 1000 of them), but never got around to shooting them until today. I wanted to test to see how they do as far as leading, clean barrel, etc. - all the advantages coated is supposed to deliver.

They were loaded with 2.8 grains of Bullseye; WSP primer; Starline brass; taper crimp at the crimp groove. This is my tried-n-true IDPA Power Factor recipe (except usually with a non-coated slug). It chronographed at 734 f/s today (30 round sample). A little high, as the recipe usually yields around 724 f/s, but I could have been just a touch heavy with my powder drops - I don't quibble over 10 f/s.

When I shoot lead, I usually run a copper brush though the cylinder throats and barrel every 50 rounds or so - just a habit I picked up over the years. Anyway, before the first scrubbing, I took a peak down the barrel with my little flexy-light-thingy and saw a bunch of lead in the breech and throats. The gun was leaded up pretty good.

I shot the remaining 150 rounds - scrubbing every 50. When I got home and "cleaned" my gun, I could only scrub out about half the lead in the breech. The first 3/4" or so of the breech end still has its grooves piled up with lead.

So no. The coating didn't help with leading at all. At least, not in this application.

I don't want this to get into a bullet fit / hardness / slugged bore kind of discussion - I know all the things needed to minimize barrel leading. I have never slugged the bore or throats. I have fire-lapped the gun (Smith M67 4") per Unclenick's instructions and the barrel is nice and polished shiny. When I shoot a softer slug (Missouri Bullet Co) of the same type (148 DEWC), leading is much less. So yes, I believe there's a hardness thing going on, or whatever. None-the-less, the coating didn't help. I have also shot SNS non-coated DEWC's; and they lead about the same as these coated jobbie-doo's.

Bottom line: I can't stand the smell. And the coating certainly didn't help with the leading - at least, not in my most common application. So that leaves me with no advantage of coated - just a noxious smell. I'll shoot off the remaining 750 slugs I have; but I don't intend to buy any more.

Coated bullets just aren't my thing, I guess.

P.S. This is not an indictment of SNS Hardcast Co. They make great, consistent bullets; and deliver well packaged and timely. They're a good company to do business with from my experience.
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Old February 1, 2017, 09:11 PM   #2
Billglass
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As I understand it...if you are getting a burnt plastic smell...the coating was improperly cured....
To low of a temperature or not long enough

I'd call SNS
I'd bet they would replace your bullets
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Old February 1, 2017, 09:58 PM   #3
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For what ever reason, it sounds very much like a bad batch.

The "state of the art" knowledge about how to apply coatings in volume and yet still maintain good quailty control is probably still evolving.

For the "do it yourself in small volumes" crowd (myself included), we know how good this stuff is. I have complete confidence in my ASBB HF red shake and bake coatings. I drive 327 magnums, 357 magnums, 357 maximums as hard as I ever drove jacketed and get results as good as jacketed. Reports from the "do it yourself" crowd that use other methods to apply coatings indicate that they can get similar performance.

To appliy coatings in the volumes needed for a commercial vendor and still get the coating right every time may be different.

If you get a batch that does not work, you should contact the vendor. Even if you do not get complete satisfaction, letting him know puts him in a potisiton to either improve his product or take a chance that he will get bad PR when people start sharing their results in public (such as this thread).
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Old February 1, 2017, 10:03 PM   #4
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I noticed a bad sickening smell from Acme 148 wadcutter red coated bullets using a good charge of 2400 behind them in 357 brass.
Accuracy was not up to par with uncoated bullets either.
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Old February 2, 2017, 08:44 AM   #5
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I have shot thousands of home cast/PCed bullets and have never experienced any plastic burning smell, nor has anyone around me said anything. Something is not rightvwith the bullet youbare shooting. Try something else.
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Old February 2, 2017, 09:32 AM   #6
Mauser69
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ALL Coated Bullets STINK!!!!

Despite the fact that I have not actually tried "ALL" coated bullets, I will stand firmly behind my belief that they all have a terrible stench. The smell is just disgusting.

My experience with them is somewhat different than the OP, but I appreciate the post and observations. I have found the coated bullets I purchased from MBC in three different calibers to definitely reduce leading in all loads, at any speeds and pressures. But they did NOT eliminate leading. Unfortunately, it is totally impossible to mention leading on one of these forums without the drones immediately jumping in and pontificating on their simplistic ideas and solution.

The issues around leading are actually fairly complex, simply because there are so many things that can affect it, either good or bad. Coating a bullet with anything, from simple grease to plastic, WILL have some affect - it is impossible for it not to.

For me, coated bullets are a mixed bag. I HATE the horrible stench, but I do appreciate the reduced leading. In the end, I just try to stick with plated and jacketed bullets for most shooting.
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Old February 2, 2017, 12:54 PM   #7
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Yeah, they're stinky

Quote:
Despite the fact that I have not actually tried "ALL" coated bullets, I will stand firmly behind my belief that they all have a terrible stench. The smell is just disgusting.
Indeed. Acrid. Nauseating. Noxious. Foul.

During yesterday's test, the breeze was to my back, so it was no big deal. And yes, they all have a terrible stench. At least, that's been my experience. I smell them frequently at the range; and especially, at action pistol competitions. If mine are stinky because they're under-cured, then there's a lot of under-cured coated bullets being shot out there.

Quote:
My experience with them is somewhat different than the OP, but I appreciate the post and observations.
You're welcome. I'm sure many others have had much better results than mine; otherwise, they wouldn't be so popular. So I know they have a place in the world of handloading. But I'm going to pass. In my case, they are kind of a solution in search of a problem.

Quote:
In the end, I just try to stick with plated and jacketed bullets for most shooting.
Yeah. Me too. And I also shoot a lot of lead. I like lead. Lead - especially in 38/44 Special and 45 ACP - is tac-driver accurate (assuming sized properly).

Speaking of 44 Special: I load a lot of 185gn DEWC's from Penn bullets (sized .431"). The last shipment I received were coated (bright red color). I called them. (They always answer directly - no "push this; push that" - or get voicemail, and they call back. Nice folks.) I told them that I didn't receive the product as ordered. They told me that they know, but the 185 DEWC's have become so popular in coated, that they no longer offer non-coated. The guy implored me to give 'em a try. He said they won't stink (??). Anyway, these coated DEWC's are "in the queue" to be shot at the range. Once I shoot off the last of the non-coated, the coated are next in line ("queue," as they say in the U.K. ). We'll see how that goes. One thing I've noticed that the red coating is quite brittle and chips off easily - nothing like the SNS units; which are rather soft (under-cured??).
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Old February 2, 2017, 06:24 PM   #8
chris in va
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An inexpensive powdercoating setup will fix all these issues. No stench, no leading, use whatever color you like.
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Old February 2, 2017, 06:41 PM   #9
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I'm looking forward to what you find, Nick! I've recently loaded a box of 122gr 9mm with the Hi-Tek coating and I'm looking forward to a range trip. You are very thorough and all of your reports are extremely tidy & interesting.
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Old February 2, 2017, 07:53 PM   #10
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I have been a fan of coated bullets for about 14 years or so. Never tried the brand you are talking about but they are not all the same. Not only that but differences in application of the exact same product can cause different results.

That said, if they are not working out for you quit wasting money on them.
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Old February 3, 2017, 09:42 AM   #11
Mauser69
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Quote:
During yesterday's test, the breeze was to my back, so it was no big deal.
Yeah, the direction of the breeze makes a big difference. My range is about 100 yards from my back door, and I live in a hollow where the breezes pretty much swirl around any time the air is moving, so I cannot escape the stench at all.

I am sure that some people are more sensitive to bad smells than others are, and what stinks vs what smells good is totally subjective. I do not like most perfumes, and I cannot tolerate most stinking soaps, lotions or anything that puts smell into laundry at all -just horrible. But I have always found the smell of normal bullet lubes and burning powder (all of them that I have shot) to be fairly nice - I have been shooting since the 50s, so smells associated with that activity over the years are good. Maybe if I was a young pup with no experience, that terrible coated stench would not seem so bad? But I ain't, and it is.
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Old February 3, 2017, 10:31 AM   #12
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I just received some coated bullets from Bayou Bullets http://www.bayoubullets.net/. This is gonna be my first use of coated bullets.

When they arrived, I noticed they're made down the road about 40 miles from me. I may call and ask if I'd be able to visit to see 'em made. Just out of curiousity. Might be fun....
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Old February 3, 2017, 07:25 PM   #13
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My Bayous don't stink, just the shooter...well most of the time, not always
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Old February 3, 2017, 08:41 PM   #14
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Nick it's a funny thing about the SNS coated bullets,which I shoot by the tens of thousands,including on indoor ranges. I have never smelled them-there's nothing. Yet every great once in a while at some steel match or IDPA stage somebody will absolutely gag over the smell of my bullets. I think it's the same thing as how some people are hyper sensitive to perfumes. It's in their genes I guess...
Weird how you get anything left in your barrel. I run these bullets anywhere from powder puff to fireballs in 9mm and 40 and when I clean the barrels it looks like they have been chromed. Accuracy is on par with lead and better than plated or jacketed,for me anyway.
So for me there is only an upside to using these bullets,plus SNS is a family operation,father and son,and the mom builds Caterpillar diesel engines that power the machines I run at work. Sorry your experience was not a great one.
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Old February 12, 2017, 07:34 PM   #15
Nick_C_S
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Coated 185 DEWC's

Quote:
I'm looking forward to a range trip. You are very thorough and all of your reports are extremely tidy & interesting.
That range trip for 44 Special for me was today. Back in August, I loaded Penn's 185 DEWC's, coated. I put them in the queue for use and got to shooting them just today. (FINALLY, some dry weather!)

Unlike S&S's soft gold colored coating, the Penn's are a hard red coating (brittle and chips off easily). They're loaded with 5.8 grains of Bullseye and run about 900 f/s through my 5" Smith 629 Classic.

There was a very light breeze today - bordering on non-existent - from my back-right to front-left (which is the normal prevailing wind direction at my range). But I did catch a whiff or two of the coating, and it didn't seem nearly as bad as S&S. It was clearly different. So that's a good thing.

However, after just twelve rounds, I took a peak down the barrel, and it was a completely leaded up mess. Just awful - from the breech, the grooves were thoroughly leaded as far down as I could see (about 2-1/2"). Now this gun's barrel is scruffy and lends itself to leading - so we need to factor that in. But all said, the coated bullets were no cleaner than the straight lead units.

I shot 70 of them total. After 35, I put a cylinder of jacketed 44 Mags through it to clean up the barrel. After the second 35, I finished the day with 24 more rounds of the jacketed mags (240gn JSP; 13.0gn HS-6; CCI 350; great round.), so I need not scrub to get the gun clean. And don't scold me - this is a practice I've done for over 30 years and it works. As soon as one of my guns stops being tac-driver-accurate because of this practice, I'll let everyone know .

To sum it up, these bullets' coating does nothing for me. Oh, the nice thing about Penn is you can pick your bullet size - I choose .431" - I know somebody was going to ask me that . Not that it matters; .430's do the same. I'll continue using these bullets because I like the profile; they are a good low-recoil weight; sit deep in the case (reducing excess space); and cut a nice sharp round hole in the target - something that's oddly important to me. But the fact that they're coated is of no significance to me.
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Old February 12, 2017, 08:02 PM   #16
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I have bought a lot of Bullets from SNS in the last two years all coated . Guessing maybe 10,000 or more all 44 Mag . The coated bullets shoot great no smell and very little smoke from lube or lead . I like loading them as no lube getting on my hands . The only thing I do not like is the color (RED)
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Old February 12, 2017, 09:16 PM   #17
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Quote:
They were loaded with 2.8 grains of Bullseye; WSP primer; Starline brass; taper crimp at the crimp groove. This is my tried-n-true IDPA Power Factor recipe (except usually with a non-coated slug). It chronographed at 734 f/s today (30 round sample). A little high, as the recipe usually yields around 724 f/s,
I hope just you use These loads not for Home Defense or CCW. If the 148 Wadcutter has an velocity of ONLY 734 fps than it has only 177 ft/lbs of energy.
That is weaker energy wise many of the 380 acp rounds are loaded to.

I suggest getting at least over 1000 fps since only then it is a serious load.

If this 177 ft/lbs is OK for defense then nobody should ever belittle anymore the whimsy 380 acp with it's 188 ft/lbs of energy.

However an 148 WC loaded to 250 ft/lbs (about 870 fps) can drop from defensive distances (about 5 meters) easily an 200 Kg cow/heifer (for slaughtering). The animal if shot at the brain on the spot dropps on ist knees.
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Old February 12, 2017, 10:08 PM   #18
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Quote:
I hope just you use These loads not for Home Defense or CCW.
Heh-heh, no. These are pure target shooters. The only thing they need to penetrate is about 3 millimeters of cardboard.
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Old February 12, 2017, 10:14 PM   #19
TheGuyOfSouthamerica
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I did not know the smell of the lube was such an noticeable thing.

I use animal marker crayons approved for animals and neutral for humans. Smells like crayon if shot. By now I never smell anymore a thing when I shoot my reloads.
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Old February 12, 2017, 10:21 PM   #20
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I have loaded many Bayou and SNS coated in several different rounds. Never noticed the bad smell that many have mentioned but I always shoot outdoors. Accuracy is very good and I have not seen any leading. After reading this thread I looked closely at the guns I shot coated bullets with this weekend, two 9's, two 45's and a 40, no lead.
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Old February 12, 2017, 11:19 PM   #21
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All coated bullets of course are not the same. Foul odor and residue are eliminated with moly coated bullets furnished by Bear Creek Supply. I have used thousands of their rifle bullets with no complaints. Some may object to the black colored coating. Bear Creek does not have a web site and orders must be placed by phone, number is on the web. Google Bear Creek Supply to read what others say about the molys and to find the telephone number.
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Old February 13, 2017, 12:16 AM   #22
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Maybe you weren't shooting the right color

I don't care for them either,
You think the smell is bad now, wait till you are around when someone digs them out of the backstop and smelts them!
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Old February 13, 2017, 01:00 AM   #23
Nick_C_S
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Quote:
You think the smell is bad now, wait till you are around when someone digs them out of the backstop and smelts them!
EEEuuuww! No thanks.

Coated bullets never enthused me. I just bought some to try and see if I'm missing anything. It didn't work out and that's okay. No biggie. Lead, plated, and jacketed suit my needs just fine. It's all good. I have lots of bullets. What I'm not going to do is get into a "try this brand; try that brand; exercise in chasing my tail. Ain't nobody got time for that .

Time to move on.
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