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Plain lead vs copper jacket bullets

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by henkech, Feb 16, 2014.

  1. henkech

    henkech Portland, Oregon New Member

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    Hi, I'm considering getting into reloading, here's a question. I'm wondering if plain lead bullets (like if I cast my own bullets) will foul the barrel and chamber of guns to a much greater extant than copper jacketed? I am asking because it will be much cheaper to cast my own bullets, than to purchase bullets. But I'm concerned especially about the firm chambering thrust in a semi-auto, perhaps leaving too much lead behind. As well as what happens when the gun is fired. I would be reloading 9mm for a pretty nice CZ gun, and I care about making good ammo to shoot in it. thanx, Chris
     
  2. Darkker

    Darkker Mesa, Wa Active Member

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    As far as the CZ is concerned.
    The biggest issue, is what you cast. Is it softer or harder, and how fast are you pushing them? Those are the biggest issues relating to lead fouling. Assuming you are running things appropriately slow, with an appropriate powder; there shouldn't be much. Now that said, my Glock has never copper fouled much at all. I have something around 3,000 rounds through my G17, only had to clean for copper once.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
  3. GunRightsCoalition

    GunRightsCoalition Vancouver Well-Known Member 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    I've never had any serious lead buildup in anything however I also clean after every trip out shooting. Doesn't matter what kind of barrel it is I still clean it.
     
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  4. XSubSailor

    XSubSailor SW WA Active Member

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    Lead is much less expensive (whether you cast your own or not) than jacketed or plated bullets.

    I load lead bullets exclusively (that I purchase) and shoot them through any and all of my 13 pistols with no lead fouling at all...including 357Sig pushed to 1325fps.

    That being said, there is much more science and experience needed to accomplish this than is need to reload jacketed bullets. I highly recommend reading Lyman's Cast Bullet Handbook. It contains some excellent info that you will find nowhere else.
     
    never4get and (deleted member) like this.
  5. Mikej

    Mikej Portland Gold Supporter Gold Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Yep!
     
  6. evltwn

    evltwn Gold Hill Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    As you stated, loading your own cast bullets will be much cheaper than if you had bought bullets. HOWEVER, casting comes with a "cost" that must be recognized. You must acquire lead, whether it is recovered range lead, line-0-type, wheel weights (pretty much dried up as a source, as manufacturers are using zinc). The lead, from whatever source, must be smelted into ingots before going forward with any casting. If using range lead, this will result in a plume of black smoke from your melting pot...I know a guy who was interrupted by firemen called by his neighbors as he smelted in his back yard.

    There is also the concern for inhalation of fumes from the molten lead. This is NOT a good thing to happen. And of course, there are the inevitable visits from the "tinsel fairy" (an explosion of the molten lead when moisture is introduced into the pot.) Protective gear is a MUST, as even the most experienced among us has had such a visit.

    Factor in the cost of the molds, sizing dies, yada yada yada, as well as the time expended, and you can see, "cheaper" might be considered somewhat of a misnomer.

    The final warning I will offer is simply this: You will get HOOKED when you get your casting figured out and you are cranking out your projectiles. Good luck and enjoy!
     
  7. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    Real men shoot lead. I think in California they have to shoot wood or something. true story
     
    westy39, 2ndtimer, never4get and 7 others like this.
  8. noylj

    noylj high desert Active Member

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    Lead will lead the chamber at a faster rate than copper will copper the chamber.
    Proper fit (bullet OD generally AT LEAST 0.001" greater than barrel groove diameter) of bullet will eliminate almost all leading. As much as many hate it, Lee Liquid Alox also does a great job of eliminating leading and a little goes a long way.
    Any leading is easy to remove. There are many ways. I find copper fouling to be much harder to remove, it just doesn't build up as fast.
    There are virtually NO lead fumes from molten lead (< 10^-6 mmHG or < 10^-9 atom @ around 370°C). Can't facts be checked before dissemination?
     
  9. skydiver

    skydiver Sandy,OR Well-Known Member

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    The Lone Ranger used silver.
     
  10. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    True.. lead has to be vaporized to create/give off appreciable fumes. I forget what it is but I think it's like 1200F or greater. Lead melts at like 600F or so.
     
  11. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    Lead while it builds up quicker, also comes off quicker because the same property that causes it to lead also aids in cleaning. Also, IIRC the CZ75 is a hard chromed barrel, so drop it in some peroxide/vinegar mix, and it'll make that lead fall off.

    I tend to avoid the lee allox, I've never had good results with it, it smells, it's sticky at all temperatures, and it doesn't prevent leading, however for a tumble lube it's really the only game in town. I usually prefer something I can run through a lubesizer, in the past I used Rooster's Zambini pistol lube, however this is no longer made, I do have a huge stock of it, but before too long I'll be needing to look for something new. After using a "real lube" vs alox, you couldn't pay me to go back.

    The other option are using some of the powder/wax based lubes like moly disulfide, these work ok, but are kinda messy.
     
  12. jonn5335

    jonn5335 Longview Active Member

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    I wouldn't recommend it unless you shoot a lot. I do cast, reload and shoot a lot of lead bullets. Things to consider are setup costs and the amount of time you invest in not only gathering material but smelting it, casting, lubing, waiting a day or two for lube to dry, sizing bullets, lubing again, waiting to lube to dry again and then after you do all that you can reload . . . I am not trying to discourage you but there is a lot that goes into it. I have shot thousands of lead bullets with no ill effects to me or my guns and I have never had any problems with lead build up. Good luck whatever you decide

    old pc pics (149).jpg

    old pc pics (150).jpg

    old pc pics (184).jpg
     
  13. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    john, nice. What kind of bullet container is that (the black one).. it looks good and stout.
    My favorite is Private Selection 1.5qt ice cream containers.. super heavy duty stackable with lid and reasonably priced excellent ice cream.

    7B3714F5-C29C-379C-FCC16345993A9373.jpg
     
  14. evltwn

    evltwn Gold Hill Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    While its true that no fumes emanate from lead ingots in a furnace, noxious fumes are generated when smelting range lead down to ingots. The thick plume of black smoke can be used as a reliable indicator. Hows that for facts?
     
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  15. Marine Airedale

    Marine Airedale Central Oregon Coast Member

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    Absolutely!

    I buy lead bullets in bulk, and shoot them in all of my handguns. The only thing I cast for is a couple of my black powder rifles.
     
  16. Sabertooth

    Sabertooth Josephine County Active Member

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    My two cents worth. Step one, start with copper jacket bullets, round nose or semi wad cutters. Learn the rules of reloading and follow them!!! Step two, move on to store bought lead. Why? All the chemestry has been done for you. Cast bullets are not pure lead. Bullet lube is formulated for you.
    I just retooled to cast my own bullets, $550. Should have kept the stuff I bought in 1973. Oh well, stuff happens. Bullet lube is required on cast bullets. I use three different kinds, low speed, med speed and high speed. Bullet lube can be store bought or home made.
    Who makes all my equipment?? RCBS, life time, no questions asked warranty. Have used the warranty several times, my screw ups.

    Reloading is additive, just ask some of us old timers.
     
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  17. best defense

    best defense Beaverton, OR Active Member

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    I only started casting bullets about two years ago, but I have found that I can afford to shoot more these days than I could when I had to buy all of my bullets.

    Here are a few things I have discovered thru trial and error:

    1. Wheel weights make pretty good pistol bullets.

    2. Pure lead does not make good bullets unless you are shooting it in a muzzle loader.

    3. Trying to make cast bullets shoot to the same velocity as jacketed bullets will cause problems. Slow them down.

    4. If you go to a tire store and buy 4 new tires for your car or truck, check with the store owner or manager to see if you can get some wheel weights. The answer is not always yes, but a good customer who tells his friends how great tire store XYZ treated him is worth hundreds of dollars in advertising, and these days, they have to pay to get rid of the "toxic" lead. New weights may be zinc, but the old ones are lead.

    5. Do not try to melt down batteries for lead. That is very dangerous.

    6. Steel bullet molds cost over twice as much as aluminum molds but they also work better and last longer.

    7. There are lots of little things you will experience on your own, but one big one is keep water away from your lead pot!!!!!!!
     
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  18. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    WW-lead makes great pistol bullets, usually comes out at about 10-12 BHN which is only slightly softer than No.2. The thing I don't like about WW is the breakdown process. Most tire shops are not picky about what they put in there, so you need to sort it by hand to pick out the tire stems, bits of rubber, used gloves, stem valves, occasionally you will find tools and other junk in there. Also lead is on the outs for WW, so more and more of it is going to be zinc and steel (steel seems to be the preferred material as it's much much cheaper than zinc) the soft-lead tapeweight is common for high performance wheels, it's also made of dead soft lead, so you have to separate that out also.

    You can determine what something is by dragging it against the concrete... this will tell you whether it's lead, or not lead.

    Battery lead rarely contains a significant portion of lead metal, most of it is lead oxide, which yes can be smelted back into metal, but requires a reducing environment, and is orders of magnitude more hazardous to your health than recycling the metal. Battery lead also contains calcium and strontium, which improve hardness in their use as batteries, but has characteristics that make it no good for bullet making (it impedes mold whetting), and usually contains very little tin, but it does contain enough antimony to make it hard.

    I used to run a business casting lead bullets... I've since gotten out of it, I don't even cast for myself anymore. Instead I swage. Either way I have to buy lead to do it (I'm so over smelting WW), and swaging is faster, and cleaner.
     
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  19. Sabertooth

    Sabertooth Josephine County Active Member

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    Been looking at the swedging set made in Medford, like the idea. Just not the price.
     
  20. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    Yea, the corbin brothers want some serious cash for their stuff. If you check out the guys over on castboolits forum in the swaging section they do a lot of trading and group buys on stuff. I'm currently working on adapting a production set so it will work on a RCBS RC4, I havn't decided if the home swaging market is one that I will get into on a long term basis, but for the moment at least, there's lots of chasing down suppliers and looking at different technology options that I need to consider first.