Cast bullet and leading


November 10, 2007, 07:10 AM

First time I shoot cast lead bullets. Previously I was always shooting FMJ bullets.

I am kind of a maniac when cleaning my guns. I spend about 40 minutes each time after I shoot and oil every part to make sure Mr Rust never visits me. No big deal, I like it.

Wise question #1 - I use Hopes #9 to clean. Is there a better product to disolve the lead in the barrel?

Stupid question #2 - If I shoot a few FMJ after I shot the cast lead bullets, will it clean the barrel and save time on removing the lead deposits?

Stupid question #3 - I use accurate #2, 5.2 grains cast lead RN 230 grains with gas check (The blue line on the bullet). The shots are a lot more smoky than with the same load but with FMJ. IT is as much smoke as if I would pull out a puff from a cigar and exhale it in front of the gun. Is it normal or do I do something wrong that I should do?

Thank you

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November 10, 2007, 08:00 AM
No stupid questions here.

Hoppe's does not do much to dissolve Lead. It does do decently at dissolving powder fouling and does some good at removing Copper fouling. If you have Lead fouling, Mr. Brush is your friend.

Firing a couple rounds of Copper-jacketed ammo will remove Lead fouling. There are some people that believe that this will raise pressures for those jacketed bullet cartridges. I am not one of those people.

The smoke you see on firing cartridges with most cast or swaged Lead bullets is mostly from burnt bullet lubricant. One sees it much less with higher pressure cartridges and loads, such as the .357. The .45 acp is lower pressure, and you will see it a lot with most lubricants.

The up-side of Lead bullets is much lower costs (particularly if you cast yourself) and lower wear. I do not see a difference in accuracy at 50 feet.

Travis Two
November 10, 2007, 08:17 AM
There is no solvent that will disolve lead. Only mercury will absorb lead into solution and thats dangerous. Some solvents are better at removing lead by getting under the fouling and lifting it out like Shooters Choice or Butch's Bore Shine and others. Some will use a copper scrubber like Chore-Boy wrapped tightly around a patch and scrub it out by way of mechanical abrasion. Shooting a few jacketed bullets is favored by some and shunned by others. I don't recommend it.
Still the best way to eliminate leading is to minimise its formation in the first place. The blue line on the bullet is not a gas check but rather a wax ring thats there to lubricate the bullet to minimise leading. Some lubes do a better job than others.
Some will augment the lube by applying addtional lube on the exterior of the bullet such as Lee liquid alox or Rooster Jacket or moly coating them with a moly spray.
Powder speed can have a profound influnce on the amount of smoke and leading produced. Trying different "cooler powders" like Hodgdons Clays (Straight Clays) results in very clean shooting loads as well as some other powders like WW super target for example and others.
The quality of the cast bullets you buy can also influence the amount of leading you expierance. Some manufacturers use different alloys to achieve optimum results. Some alloys are just too hard for .45 acp.
Do some research and you'll find a load bullet combo that will work well for you too.

cracked butt
November 10, 2007, 09:26 AM
Buy a 'lead removal cloth,' its a pice of cloth chemically treated to remove lead. Cut strips of the cloth and wrap them around a bore brush- this will take the lead out of a barrel.

There is no solvent that will disolve lead.
Acids will dissolve or react with lead, though they lead to bigger problems. Acetic acid (vinegar) will dissolve lead fairly easily but once again you have to deal with toxic byproducts (lead acetate).

November 10, 2007, 11:32 AM

Thank you guys for the answers.

Only one thing ere. One sees no problem shooting FMJ after lead bullets to remove the fouling and one does not recommend it...

So..... If I shoot 20 lead and one FMJ I guess the "pressure" issue will not appear and the barrel will stay clean. Right?

Thank you

November 10, 2007, 12:47 PM
There is a cast bullet company, Missouri bullet company, that says they optimise their hardness to an application range and mark the box with the Brinell number. THe idea being that you can harden a bullet based on a pressure range it will operate in, to minimize leading but maximize expansion of the base. Their page explains it better. (

November 10, 2007, 12:52 PM
If you are getting that much leading you have a problem. You have to hard or too soft a bullet most likely. Change bullets and see what happens. The best way to speed up cleaning out leading is to stop it in the first place.

What caliber?
What bullet?
What load?

With these answers we can get a good idea what is causing the leading and give recommendations to stop it. :)

FieroCDSP is on the right track with matching bullet hardness for the application.

November 10, 2007, 01:14 PM
Stupid question #3 - I use accurate #2, 5.2 grains cast lead RN 230 grains with gas check (The blue line on the bullet).This sounds like a .45 ACP load, and if so, you don't have gas-check bullets.
Nobody makes a gas-check 230 grain LRN .45 ACP bullet, because it isn't ever needed to stop leading at .45 ACP velocity's.

The blue line is bullet lube applied in the grease groove. The smoke is from that burning off.

Your 5.2 grains Accurate #2 is very near a max load in .45 ACP.
More then likely your bullets are too soft, and stripping out of the rifling.
That is why you have leading problems.

Either reduce the load slightly, or switch to a harder bullet and the leading will very likely stop.

November 10, 2007, 01:27 PM

The leading is not really bad. Just a little bit at about 1/4 inch after the chamber for about 1/4 inch long after 100 rounds shot.

I scrubbed witt my brass brush for 5 minutes, then used the end of a brass rod to "scratch the remaining and used a brass brush for 5-6 minutes and it went all away.

In fact, to see the leading, I had to use a bore light and it looked like the barrel chrome was a little bit wet.

I am using Gardner's cache bullets. They are pretty good in quality.

Thank you

November 10, 2007, 01:47 PM
What caliber?
What gun?

We can probably help you stop the leading entirely, but you need to help us help you, by telling us what you are shooting.

November 11, 2007, 07:02 AM

The caliber is .45ACP and the gun is Springfield XD. The XD has a rifled barrel.

Thank you

November 11, 2007, 07:42 AM
You should be able to shoot your XD.45 with virtually no leading at all. Try a different bullet. The one you are using is too hard, I think, since your leading is at the breech end of the barrel. It is not obturating enough to seal the bore and hot, high velocity gases are blowing by the bullet and "cutting" the bullet, depositing lead. If you shot enough without cleaning it would eventually cover the entire bore.

It could be too soft a bullet, but I think it is too hard. Try a couple of different hardness bullets to see. :)

Which bullet are you shooting now? What does it say about it on the box as far as hardness or BHN or "hard cast" or "swaged" etc.

Travis Two
November 11, 2007, 10:27 AM offers a less hard .45 acp bullet in Target Grade that has worked out very well for me.

November 11, 2007, 01:22 PM
In the mean time, get yourself a "Tornado" bore brush in .45 caliber and stop digging at it with a cleaning rod end! :D

They remove leading almost instantly.

November 11, 2007, 02:33 PM

Do yourself a real favor and buy a Lewis Lead Remover. The device uses brass screen on a rubber collet to literally scrape leading from barrels as well as revolver cyliders with utterly no damage.

One kit as supplied will service both auto pistols and revolvers and contains an attachment that'l let you clean the forcing cone of a revolver bbl as well.

The kit is cheap and far, far more effective than any solvent. Check Brownell's or any reputable dealer.

Darth Muffin
November 11, 2007, 03:07 PM
Mpro7 bore gel and a brass brush works great for me. Dip the brush in the gel and run down the barrel once or twice. Let sit for 10-15 minutes while you clean the rest of the gun. Dip the brush again and scrub through 10-20 times. Run 1 or 2 dry patches (or a bore snake if you're really lazy) and that usually does it.

I have one magnum revolver which always has serious lead issues, for that one I follow up with the lead cleaning cloth (already mentioned) cut into cleaning patch size on a brass jag. That will get ANYTHING clean.

November 11, 2007, 04:12 PM
rcmodel, the tornado brush looks to be stainless.

Would that not scratch your barrel?


Did a little searching. The looped design is what keeps it from scratching.

I put a few on order immediately.

Right now, I'm using Chore Boy around a bristle brush. It works, but it's a bit tedious.

Hopefully, the tornado brush will speed things up.

BTW, the only leading I get is in a revolver. The leading occurs when the bullet makes the transition from the cylinder to the forcing cone.

No leading in my 1911's.

Same bullet manufacturer.

November 11, 2007, 04:24 PM
No, it won't hurt a thing.
They are little SS coils so there are no sharp edges anywhere.

I have been using them forever for stubborn cleaning jobs without a sign of any bore damage.

November 11, 2007, 04:54 PM
Before you throw away those "too hard" or "too soft" bullets try wiping the bearing surface of 10-20 of those with Lee liquid Alox and shooting them.
IMHO commercial bullet manufacturers use the crappiest lube they can buy; most of it is blue or red dyed paraffin or worse. By tumbling purchased bullets in liquid Alox I've eliminated 90% of leading in .380ACP, 9mm, 38spl, 45ACP and can easily shoot 100 rnds between brushings with no loss in accuracy. Any lead bullet that is big enough to obdurate the bore and shot at target velocities can be shot without significant leading if properly lubed. I have an abused model 15 S&W with a barrel whose last 1/8th" looks like a cast iron fry pan that shoots 40-50 rounds before accuracy drops off to where it wont hold the black of a 25 yd target. With .357 and hot 9mm loads, lube is not quite so effective so I shoot jacketed bullets in these.

November 11, 2007, 04:58 PM
I notice that the longer I shoot lead out of a gun the easier it is to clean after each use, I have heard some guys call this "seasoning the barrell". My commander see nothing but my own lead bullets and it cleans just as easy jacketed ammo.

November 11, 2007, 05:56 PM
I have shot 400 to 500 rounds through a .45 and had no lead when I cleaned it. No reason to suffer from leading in the .45ACP. :)

November 12, 2007, 06:17 AM

Thank you guys for the hints! I tried something yesterday at the range:

Put a FMJ at the bottom of each magazine and the remaining are lead bullets.
The last 6 bullets I shoot are FMJ.

I came back to home and I had no lead at all to clean!

By the way, those bullets are from Gardner's cache. In my humble opinion, those are nice quality bullets when I compare to what I saw with other producers.

Thank you

November 12, 2007, 06:47 AM
FWIW, in my experience that blue lube is LBT and in my guns it smokes like crazy and I get a little bit of leading. (I don't load real hot, but not bullseye loads either).

If I get bullets lubed with Carnuba Red I get MUCH less smoke and zero leading. YMMV

Have a good one,

November 12, 2007, 05:19 PM
You will have to find a lead bullet that is hard enough and has a good lube on it that your gun likes.Keep velocities reasonable.I cast alot of my own bullets with wheel weights and use alox bullet lube.With non magnum type rounds like 38spl and 45acp and so on I get very little leading after firing several hundred rounds.

For cleaning lead I use either a Lewis lead remover and kroil or an old bronze brush and COPPER Chore-Boy and Kroil,makes cleaning easy.

November 12, 2007, 06:39 PM
You may find it useful to check the diameter of the bullets. If they are the wrong diameter, that can lead to leading problems too.

November 12, 2007, 07:52 PM
"You will have to find a lead bullet that is hard enough and has a good lube on it that your gun likes."

Too hard is as bad as to soft.
.45 ACP velocities are low enough you can use pure lead (swaged) bullets).

November 13, 2007, 06:20 AM

Already checked the diameter and it is perfect.

Thank you

November 14, 2007, 12:05 AM
I agree with RCModel That Tornado brush is awsome.
Using cast bullets at high velocity you will more then likely always get some leading. Tame em down a little and it will help. As mentioned earlier also if you are gas cutting and pushing past the rifling your accuracy will suffer.

My colt Ser 70 .45 acp has fire'd over 100,000 rounds in the IPSC games and leading is just part of life. Some cast bullets are worse then others. A lot of guys would do just what you mentioned and fire some hard ball to get the lead out. Other shooters dis liked that practice and would have nothing to do with it. I like to stay on the safe side and never do it. The Tornado brush works way too fast to even think about a risk. Chemicals are chemicals< I dont like them and probably never will. For removing copper OK. But not lead.
The right hardness will help a lot. The smoke is no big deal. Some of the race guns with comps would look like little trains puffing away.:eek:

November 14, 2007, 12:57 PM
The caliber is .45ACP and the gun is Springfield XD. The XD has a rifled barrel.I don't know what Springfield is doing, but 1911 barrels have very shallow rifling designed for jacketed GI hardball.

As such, they need hard lead alloy bullets or leading & accuracy will be a problem.

Soft or pure lead bullets will strip out of the shallow rifling and lead up the barrel no matter what you use for bullet lube.

Pure Linotype works best for 1911's.

November 14, 2007, 07:01 PM
I think I read this tip here a year or so ago, but Kroil (the penetrating oil) works great for me at removing lead. Swab some down the barrel. Let it sit a while and then run a bore brush down the barrel. Lead seems to come out in sheets.

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