Bullet question.


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Mat, not doormat
September 1, 2007, 02:57 AM
Ok, here's a general question about bullet construction. This is brought to mind by the threads about "What would you carry if you lived in olden times?" Someone made the comment that if they lived way back when, then they'd have to carry a big bore, because of the lack of expanding ammunition. But soft lead bullets were the original expanding ammunition. Also curious about many folks' insistence on "only carry premium self defense JHPs."

What makes an expensive premium JHP preferable to an old fashioned softcast lead bullet, at handgun velocities? A JHP will generally expand, provided the hole doesn't clog, and it's traveling the right speed, etc. Soft lead will expand, whether there's a hole in the end of it or not. You can load a lead hollowpoint backwards in the case, and it will still expand.

I can see the point of JHPs in a high velocity rifle application, where a soft lead bullet would shred/disintegrate/lead the heck out of a barrel. But why in handguns?

~~~Mat

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Steve C
September 1, 2007, 05:20 AM
What makes an expensive premium JHP preferable to an old fashioned softcast lead bullet, at handgun velocities? A JHP will generally expand, provided the hole doesn't clog, and it's traveling the right speed, etc. Soft lead will expand, whether there's a hole in the end of it or not. You can load a lead hollowpoint backwards in the case, and it will still expand.

JHP's just plain work better in actual shootings and in tests using various media. Soft solid bullets do not expand at most handgun velocities, take a .38 spl SWCHP and a SWC, pick a relatively soft media and fire away. The HP will usually expand, the SWC remains relatively unchanged unless it strikes something hard.

Expansion in and of itself doesn't make the bullet effective, its a combination of expansion and penetration.

While solid soft lead bullets would work fine most of the time, if I'm potentially putting my life on the line I'd like very advantage possible.

Snapping Twig
September 1, 2007, 05:34 AM
If you're talking anti personnel, then a modern jacketed bullet is better. If you're talking hunting, a hard cast TC or SWC is the ticket.

Expansion is important in soft tissue and a jacketed round has that.

Monolithic solids are better for game as the target is harder to penetrate due to bone and musculature. Larger caliber rounds are considered "pre expanded" for this purpose and passing through both sides of the animal is preferred.

Passing through both sides of an opponent puts bystanders at risk and wastes energy, so jacketed rounds are superior at entering but not exiting, although there are no guarantees.

Hopefully that's helpful if a bit abbreviated.

Snowdog
September 1, 2007, 05:42 AM
Preference.

I don't think anyone will champion the argument that soft lead bullets are ineffective for defense. However, modern JHPs are generally considered more effective (in terms of performance involving expansion) and most subscribe to this philosophy, just as I do.

Besides, I doubt you'll get the consistant expansion from a soft 200gr .45acp slug with a brinell of 10 (for example) as you would a 200gr XTP at similar velocities unless of course you smack a bone.

The Lone Haranguer
September 1, 2007, 11:12 AM
Originally posted by Mat, not doormat:
But soft lead bullets were the original expanding ammunition.
The pure lead round ball of cap 'n' ball days did have some expansion. I read several years ago of gelatin testing of these. IIRC, the .36 caliber, 79-gr. round ball from a Colt 1851 Navy replica blew a cavity in the gelatin about the same as that of a .380 ACP hollowpoint, and the .44 caliber (actually .457" diameter), 141-gr. round ball from a Colt Walker expanded some and performed about the same as a .357 Magnum 158-gr. JHP. (The Colt 1860 Army was somewhere in between, but I don't remember the exact figures.) When they tested "conical" (roughly equivalent in shape to a round nose with a flattened tip) bullets, there was little or no expansion. Even the blunt semi-wadcutters or full wadcutters usually just mash or peen over a little bit, nothing you could call expansion.

A JHP bullet, especially from a snubnose revolver, may not always expand, but if it does, so much the better. I want all the advantage I can get. ;)

Jim Watson
September 1, 2007, 12:16 PM
A hollowpoint does not have to have a jacket.
The "FBI" .38 lead hollowpoint does quite well without the stiff copper jacket to reduce expansion at revolver velocity.

M. Ayoob reported that NYPD went from .38 roundnose "widowmakers" to (swaged soft) semiwadcutters with no improvement in "stopping power."

CWL
September 1, 2007, 03:35 PM
Lead ammo will foul barrels and mess with the operation of semiautomatics. My barrels remain clean with modern ammunition. Also lead slugs don't perform well in polygonal rifling. They would also cause failure in my gas-operated P7 pistols.

Your question is actually as old as the introduction of semiautomatic pistols themselves. Metal-jacketed ammo came with the introduction of the first commercially available semis such as the .30 broomhandle Mauser over 100 years ago. These bullets travelled at 1400fps and needed the jacketing to remain intact in the barrel as well as for stabilization. FMJ bullets had a reputation for breaking apart inside people and were thus deemed deadlier than pure lead slugs.

Snapping Twig
September 1, 2007, 04:53 PM
I don't know CWL, I think it's a case of lead MAY foul barrels. I shoot hard cast 230g TC bullets I make from wheel weights through my .45acp W/O ANY leading. I have several .44's and .357's and a .45LC which all shoot lead exclusively. The .45LC does lead at the forcing cone, but the accuracy is not compromised in the slightest, it's a laser beam, and the lead comes out easily.

I shoot both mild and heavy loads through all my revolvers with the nod going to the heavy loads on balance. Some of my bullets are gas checked, but most are not.

It depends on a lot of things like lube, sizing, load values, alloy and powder selection, but my point is that leading is not guaranteed and generally not a problem under 1000fps.

I have no experience with the polygonal barrels, but I've heard your thoughts on it from many and I believe what is said.

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