how often to clean when shooting lead?


April 25, 2007, 09:53 AM
I'm going to start reloading with cast lead 45 acp 200 gr SWC for my Springfield 1911, an XD and a Sig 220.

Do I risk hurting myself or these pistols by shooting unjacketed lead?
Also, How often do I need to clean these pistols?
Do I have to stop shooting after 200 rounds in one afternoon just to clean the pistol for safety's sake?

I don't want to hurt myself, my guns or my friends by doing anything unsafe with reloads. Please clear this up for me!

If you enjoyed reading about "how often to clean when shooting lead?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
April 25, 2007, 09:56 AM
With a good load you should be able to shoot 4 or 5 hundred rounds in one afternoon easy with no ill effects. A good load will not lead up your barrel. You can shoot lead for the lifetime of the pistol :)

April 25, 2007, 10:03 AM
I shoot lead 357's out of pistols without problems but my 357 levergun will leadfoul at the last few inches of barrel. I think the extra 14" cause the lead to heat-up more than a pistol barrel.

April 25, 2007, 10:32 AM
lead bullets require a little more of an exact science to come up with an ideal load. Too light and they will function well, but will lack a little in accuracy, too hot and they will lead the barell, just right and they will expand to take the rifling fully and can amaze you. I usually use slower powders filling the case more and acheiving the same velocity as jacketed, but usually with lower peak pressure. I use bullseye for jacketed HS-6 for lead. You can always use plated bullets like Rainier makes, they are almost as cheap as plain lead, but a lot more forgiving. I am not sure if the XD has polygonal rifling like glock an HK use, but if this is the case you have to be especially careful that there is no lead buildup, as even a small amount of barell obstruction can increase pressures quite a bit, and a few have kaboomed when a jacketed roung was fired through a leaded barrel. Just about any pistols manual has the "never use reloaded ammunition":rolleyes: but Glock and HK models have an additional "use only jacketed ammunition" warning.

April 25, 2007, 10:53 AM
It all depends on your combination of barrel bullets , lube and load. I cast my own(have been for 37 years) and I don't clean the bores of my hanguns. I shoot .38 spl, .45 acp, .357 mag and .44 mag. If you are getting no leading there is no point in cleaning except to make you feel good. Let your barrel tell you what to do. Check it after 10-15 rounds, look at it again after 20-30 rds and if there is no or very little leading and it does not accumulate I would'nt worry about it in a days outing. Do your usual cleaning routine when you get home. If you are getting leading in the .45 I would change bullet brands till I found one that did not lead. The .45 is a very lead friendly cartridge.

April 25, 2007, 10:55 AM
I think the extra 14" cause the lead to heat-up more than a pistol barrel.

Sounds like not enough lube and or not a hard enough alloy for the pressure/velocity. I would say the bullet is running out of lube. Not uncommon with designs for handgun bullets in longer barrels.

April 26, 2007, 12:06 PM
Almost all of my reloading is with cast bullets. I do get leading with some loads, especially after a lot of rds fired. No big deal. 5 or 6 passes with an old bore brush with some strands from copper Chore Boy pad wrapped around it, after a patch with Breakfree usually takes it out. Regardless of load, some guns, because of rougher barrels usually, especially new ones, have a tendency to lead more that others. As far as safety, using listed loads should be plenty safe unless you have a Glock or other brand with the same type of rifling.

April 26, 2007, 12:53 PM
the XD isn't polygonal as far as I remember....
Thanks for the info!

I've never shot lead bullets before...what does lead fouling look like? is it easy to see?

April 26, 2007, 01:57 PM
Yep, it's easy to spot. You might want to check your chamber after shooting lead bullets. It's kind of weird but sometimes you'll get some lead coating in the chamber from when the cartridge is stripped from the magazine and enters the chamber. It will rub on the top of the chamber and leave a small scrapping. When the round is fired, the lead heats up and creates a thin layer on the top of the chamber.
I've mentioned this before, since I saw it happen on my 1911s. I just used a .38 bore brush to clean the chamber on my hardball gun. You have to shoot FMJs for Leg Matches, but I use a 230 grain RN for practice. There were some very small lead deposits in there.

Navy Vet & SWIFT Boat OIC

April 26, 2007, 02:45 PM
you load your ammo.........I load for bullseye shooting and after shooting a zillion rounds, have never had to clean for lead. If you load your rounds fast, they will lead the barrel. Otherwise, I just cleaned the gun when it got dirty......chris3

July 15, 2007, 12:05 AM
i'm trying to find the right load to minimize leading. Any recommendations would be appreciated. I had heard Bullseye was good for lead. I like the Lead RNFP rounds.


July 15, 2007, 12:28 AM
shooting a 200 gr LSWC using about 4.8 to 5.1 gr. of 231 and Winchester primers.

When our club competition PF for Major was 160, 4.9 gr. of 231 ran about 810 FPS, with extremely low SD and ES--and, from that 1911, about 1.5" groups at 25 yards.

The barrel didn't lead, but I did watch the chamber a bit and kept it clean. I'm no expert of powders, but from my experience with lead bullets in .45 ACP, 10 mm, and some in .40S&W, you generally have no issues if you keep your velocities below 1000 FPS.

As for bullet shape, I really think that's dependent on your firearm--e.g., what feeds reliably.

That's not hard to do with a .45 ACP--so have at it.

Jim H.

If you enjoyed reading about "how often to clean when shooting lead?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!