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Thread: High pressure/high velocity versus soft lead

  1. #1
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    Default High pressure/high velocity versus soft lead

    I'm trying not to ask too many questions too fast ...but here's my next one anyway (and I'm open to wild opinions, conjecture, hard facts, and experience here):


    1. From what I understand, low velocities/low pressures (without gas checks) should use softer lead bullets so the bullet will be able to obturate properly and prevent blow-by and leading. Makes sense. The corollary is that harder lead alloys used at low pressure/low velocity can result in leading due to blow-by. Real life evidence seems to support these relationships. Harder lead requires higher pressures in order for it to obturate correctly.

    2. Gas checks are always a good idea but not always required.

    My question is this ...Is it OK to shoot soft lead at higher pressures/velocities? It seems to me that it would obturate just fine at the higher velocities and that if the bullet doesn't cause fouling due to friction at lower velocities, then it shouldn't at higher either. No blow-by and no friction issues should equal no leading issues if shooting soft lead at higher pressures/velocities. What am I missing here? I thought someone said not to use soft lead at higher velocities ...why not?

    Thanks,
    Brian

  2. #2

    Default soft lead + velocity = leading

    Brain,

    You sound like an intelligent guy, so just keep things simple. If you take something soft, like a lead bullet and rub it slowly against a harder substance, like gun barrel steel, nothing should happen, but start rubbing that lead faster and faster and you will start leaving lead on the surface. Yes, of course the soft lead will obturate well, perhaps too well at velocities they were not meant to be shot at. Soft lead bullets were never intended to be shot at high velocities. If you shoot soft lead non-gas checked bullets at higher velocities, they will lead up your barrel, for the several reasons that have been beat to death in this thread.
    You will get less leading with a hard cast non-gas checked bullet fired at the same velocities as a soft lead bullet, even with gas cutting. This is something that has not, in my observance, been mentioned. If you are going to shoot lead bullets, especially in a rifle, you really should slug your bore, so as to know what diameter bullet you need for that specific gun.

  3. #3
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    I agree with #1. but not necessarily with #2.

    Soft lead or almost pure lead bullets of commercial availability are swaged and not cast. They do not have lube grooves and are lubed by spraying on a wax or parrafin. I used to swage my own and rolled them on a cookie sheet with melted wax to lube them. This lube will, for lack of better phraseology here, melt, break down, go up in smoke is driven at higher pressure and the resultant higher temperature. I have done this and they lead the full length of a revolver barrel.

    I've never cast bullets of pure lead but have cast them at 20 to 1 and even they leaded the barrel when above moderate velocity. I think if I had better lube that would have worked better or added a gas check but didn't try that. My thinking here is if the lube is such that it melts and becomes a lubricant it is good if it gets too hot too quickly and burns away that is bad. I suppose matching the lube to the velocity or pressure/temperature would be the idea. I read of the various lubes for different applications and velocities and that makes sense to me. The higher pressure obturates the softer bullet tight against the bore and puts greater stress on the lube. This is my thinking and it some how fits into what I have seen with bullets and lubes.

    I have found it easier to get more predictable performance from #2 alloy and the addition of a gas check makes a more forgiving bullet. In other words, nothing softer than #2 allow, except for the swaged target loads at no more than about 850 fps, and then use a gas check for the harder cast stuff. I've shot a lot of #2 alloy or something close to that in BHN number, without gas checks and with various kinds of lubes, up to 1100 fps or so in handguns with little or no leading and good accuracy.

    It is difficult to segregate and organize bullets in various bins as to application and velocity when you can get by well with just one. One bullet that is hard cast can be shot at 800 fps or 1800 fps if it has a gas check and is properly sized for you gun. Or maybe two if the second is one of the target loads with super soft lead and dry wax lube. I think every use, other than the target soft lead, can be filled with the custom made to order gas checked hard cast bullet of appropriate weight.

    Thats what's so nice about this Beartooth, Cast Performance and Congiolosi bullets, the leg work is already done. These folks make bullets of correct alloy, with hardness and size to order, with a good lube of your choice, all you need to do is load and shoot.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  4. #4

    Default Correct

    Sounds like we are on the same page. I only tried swaged commercial bullets several times and didn't like them for the leading I got. Their initial accuracy quickly faded in my experience with them. I stopped using cast rifle bullets of any sort because imho, they were a real pain in the arse to get right in a number of calibers. Guess I'm just not that much of a dedicated caster, though I cast pistol bullets a great deal when I was loading "commercially."
    I also appreciate the commercial bullets from the sources you mentioned for the same reason(s). When I open the boxes, they look like little gems shining in the light. Dan Congiolosi has had to raise his prices for valid reasons, and sometimes it takes him a while to get them out, but I still like to patronize his business.

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    I cast for many of the calibers I have in both rifle and hand gun and I would say, in my personal opinion that air cooled wheel weights with 2% to 4% tin added will work for 90% of the shooting I do with very little if any leading in the barrels of rifles or forcing cone on revolvers. I use this alloy for my ultra mild 45 colt loads with a 230 gr hollow point and 8 gr of Unique for about 700 – 800 fps, and also my super hot 45/70 load with a 426 gr gas check bullet and XX gr of Reloader #7 at 2050 fps. Neither of these two loads or any or similar loads for 30/30, 375 Win, 375 H&H, 30-06, or 243 have any tendency to lead the barrel with this alloy so long as velocity is kept below 2100 fps (give or take) and provided that the bullets are .001 to .003 over bore diameter. I have found with my rifles at least, that sizing is not necessary with my cast bullets, and I have moulds from Lee, RCBS, Lyman and Saeco. I run them thru a sizing die that is the same size as the as cast bullet to facilitate lubing and then shoot them as is with no issues what so ever. I have also tried several different types of lube, both hot and cold, and find for my use the standard 50/50 allox beeswax lube works best because it does not need to be heated and will flow thru my luberisizers even at 50 F in my garage. The only issue that I have with this alloy in air cooled bullets is in the smaller calibers………….. like 30 and smaller, in that they have a tendency to “smoosh” or bend when I run them thru the sizing die. For those smaller calibers I will switch to a harder alloy that runs about 18 bn or use the WW + tin alloy and quench the bullets in cold water as I drop them from the mould. This will harden them up a bunch and make sizing a piece of cake. Now, as far as terminal performance and alloys goes, I don’t have any information to offer as I have yet to shoot a critter with any of these loads so your kind of on you own there.
    “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alangaq View Post
    like 30 and smaller, in that they have a tendency to “smoosh” or bend when I run them thru the sizing die. For those smaller calibers I will switch to a harder alloy that runs about 18 bn or use the WW + tin alloy and quench the bullets in cold water as I drop them from the mould. This will harden them up a bunch and make sizing a piece of cake. Now, as far as terminal performance and alloys goes, I don’t have any information to offer as I have yet to shoot a critter with any of these loads so your kind of on you own there.
    Lee makes a push-through sizer that will eliminate nose deformation. Being a Lee product they aren't that spendy either. Be careful with water dropping. The ultimate hardness of water dropped bullets of a given composition is determined by the temp the bullets drop from the mold. If you drop them hotter or cooler they achieve different hardnesses after a few days. If you heat treat them instead of water dropping they will all attain the same hardness.

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    For a good read on shooting cast bullets at jacketed bullet velocities find a copy of Veral Smith's book "Shooting cast bullets at jacketed bullet velocities".

    Veral Smith is the father of the bullet moulds used by Beartooth Bullets and Cast Performance Bullets.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlleninAlaska View Post
    For a good read on shooting cast bullets at jacketed bullet velocities find a copy of Veral Smith's book "Shooting cast bullets at jacketed bullet velocities".

    Veral Smith is the father of the bullet moulds used by Beartooth Bullets and Cast Performance Bullets.
    Thanks. I'll look for it. Someone else used the analogy that rubbing lead on something slow leaves no trail, but rubbing fast does. I also think that with more obturation from higher pressure AND rubbing the lead faster on the rifling or forcing it through the forcing cone faster that it makes sense that more lead would be left behind ...but I don't know for sure. Looking forward to reading that book...

    Thanks,
    Brian

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    PS: Got it! LBT sells the "Jacketed Performance with Cast Bullets" book by Veral Smith in their catalog ...$25 plus shipping. Got the order form printing right now...

    bd

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    LBT, Lead Bullet Technology is/was Veral Smith's company until he ran into some trouble with the Feds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlleninAlaska View Post
    LBT, Lead Bullet Technology is/was Veral Smith's company until he ran into some trouble with the Feds.
    Trouble with the feds? What happened?

    Brian

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    I believe it was something to do with Taxes.

  13. #13
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    Default Barrel leading and velocity/charge weight

    Here is my experience. I will let you analyze it:

    I used to shoot cast lead 158 grain semi wadcutters down in Arizona from my .357 Dan Wesson. I loaded a very light load. (Don't remember how much, but the propellant was Unique, and right around 38 Special amounts, which in the larger case should have given me a bit less velocity). Using magnum or regular primers did not make any difference to my leading, but I found that just a few tenths of a grain of propellant made a big difference in the amount of lead in my barrel.

    Same bullets, same lube, very often the same batch, and this difference was very consistent over a two year period. Just a little more propellant (and subsequent velocity) gave me a lot more lead.

    Larry (Lost Sheep)

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