I'm Considering Switching from FMJ to Lead Bullets.


PDA






Bruce H.
March 11, 2008, 10:14 PM
I have been reloading handgun ammunition for about five years now. I have always used copper-jacketed bullets to avoid handling lead. But with the current price of jacketed bullets I am seriously considering switching to lead bullets for my 38/357 revolver handloads. What is different about using lead bullets to handload compared to jacketed? I know that the powder charges are different and that certain lead alloys will cause leading in the barrel. What should I avoid? By looking at lead bullets on the internet it looks like most of them, if not all have multiple grooves around the bullets. All of the grooves except for the groove nearest the tip of the bullet have a wax or some kind of lubricant in them. What is the purpose of the lubricant? Is the empty groove nearest the tip where I should roll the crimp into, similar to a cannulure on a jacketed bullet? Should I stay above or below certain velocities when using lead bullets to avoid leading the barrel? Is the diameter of the lead bullet always 0.358", whereas jacketed bullets are
0.357" diameter? I have always used Winchester 231 powder for my handgun loads and in reading my Lyman manual it looks like I can continue to use Win. 231 for lead bullets. Where is the best place to purchase lead bullets in bulk? I would appreciate any suggestions.

If you enjoyed reading about "I'm Considering Switching from FMJ to Lead Bullets." here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
W.E.G.
March 11, 2008, 10:26 PM
Good quality lead bullets that are hard enough to not lead your barrels probably will cost you almost as much as you pay for run-of-the-mill FMJ's.

cdrt
March 11, 2008, 10:43 PM
Leading is not a problem if you keep your loads down to a reasonable level. I shoot tons of lead bullets in Bullseye competition with no problems. I still shoot the std 3.5 grains of Bullseye powder with either a 185 or 200 grain SWC in the .45 ACP and 2.7 to 3.0 BE with a 148 HBWC in my Clark 1911 .38 Special. A similar load with a 158 grain SWC in the .38 will not lead your barrel.

There are plenty of quality bullets out there for a good price that are less expensive than jacketed bullets. I use Bullet Works and KEAD bullets with good results. www.bulletworks.com and www.keadbullets.com.

If you keep your velocity around 700 to 800 fps you should not have a problem.

Quickdraw McGraw
March 11, 2008, 10:57 PM
Pretty much like W.E.G. said but I don't buy FMJ too much anymore I buy one of the bullets listed below.

Before shipping (thats another thread) at Midway right now you can get 500 Rainier 45 cal Plated RN for $65.99. These are plated, I load them to the same specs as lead. Shoot great and I like em.

Also at Midway right now, 500 Oregon Trail Laser Cast 45 cal 230 gr RN for $71.99. I have shot these out of my P345 and I like them also. No problems with leading.

If you buy 2,000 from Midway they have free shipping, shop around you might also find them (including shipping cheaper). Berrys also makes a bullet very similar to the Rainier.

Here are the links.

http://www.midwayusa.com/ebrowse.exe/browse?CurrentSort=manufacturer_a&CurrentCountRet=2000&CurrentManufacture=1863&CategoryString=652***19785***9015***7563***&CategoryID=17804&BrandID=&page=1&KeyWord=&TabID=19&company_select=1050&search_keywords2=&sort1=manufacturer_a&PageSelect=1&RecordsReturned=2000&PageSelect2=1&RecordsReturned2=2000


http://www.midwayusa.com/ebrowse.exe/browse?CurrentSort=manufacturer_a&CurrentCountRet=2000&CurrentManufacture=1050&CategoryString=652***19785***9015***7563***&CategoryID=17804&BrandID=&page=1&KeyWord=&TabID=19&company_select=1863&search_keywords2=&sort1=manufacturer_a&PageSelect=1&RecordsReturned=2000&PageSelect2=1&RecordsReturned2=2000

Quickdraw McGraw
March 11, 2008, 11:01 PM
Leading is not a problem if you keep your loads down to a reasonable level. I shoot tons of lead bullets in Bullseye competition with no problems. I still shoot the std 3.5 grains of Bullseye powder with either a 185 or 200 grain SWC in the .45 ACP and 2.7 to 3.0 BE with a 148 HBWC in my Clark 1911 .38 Special. A similar load with a 158 grain SWC in the .38 will not lead your barrel.

There are plenty of quality bullets out there for a good price that are less expensive than jacketed bullets. I use Bullet Works and KEAD bullets with good results. www.bulletworks.com and www.keadbullets.com.

Glad you posted these cdrt. They have some damn good prices on 45 acp lead bullets. Hows the shipping charges?

Redbeard55
March 11, 2008, 11:01 PM
I've been loading almost 20 years and have probably loaded close to 100,000 rounds of 38 Special with 231. I've been happy with the performance, but there are those at my gun club that have the belief that 231 burns too hot for lead bullets. I do have some leading in the barrel and I also have a problem of lead build up on my fluted cylinder. Its nothing that can be cleaned up, but it appears some people don't have the clean up times I consider normal.

ReloaderFred
March 12, 2008, 12:09 AM
Since about the middle of the 19th century, and up until about the 1960's, almost all pistol bullets were lead. There's no mystery about shooting them. You just have to load them correctly.

The lube grooves on the bullet are just that, for holding lube, so the bullet will be lubricated as it travels down the barrel, thereby preventing leading. Yes, the top groove of the bullet is the crimping groove, and the better the crimp, the better the ignition of the powder. Winchester 231 will work just fine for your cast bullets in the .38 Special.

You'll see cast bullets sized .357" and .358", depending on who made and sized them. Slug your barrel and use cast bullets .001" over bore diameter, unless your cylinder throats are smaller in diameter. If the cylinder throats are less, then use a bullet the same size, or at the most .001" over the throat size.

Hope this helps.

Fred

earplug
March 12, 2008, 12:15 AM
I have had great results with Zero 148 grain HBWC for target loads in my 38. spl S&W M-14 I use 3 grains of WW231.
I just tried some Billy Bullets for my 625 Revolver in .45 acp. They shot great and cleaned up very well.
I have been waiting over a month for my Kead bullets to arrive. Billy Bullets was fast and there good.

cdrt
March 12, 2008, 12:16 AM
Glad you posted these cdrt. They have some damn good prices on 45 acp lead bullets. Hows the shipping charges?

KEAD will ship 2,000 bullets in a flat rate USPS box for right around $10 which is a great deal. I'm pretty sure Bullet Works will do the same. You can give them a call to find out. Great people to deal with. I live close enough to them to just pick them up, which saves me shipping charges.

fireflyfather
March 12, 2008, 12:31 AM
Good quality lead bullets that are hard enough to not lead your barrels probably will cost you almost as much as you pay for run-of-the-mill FMJ's.

With all due respect, that is a vast oversimplification, and in many cases untrue. Especially for low powered .38 loads. I load recycled wheel weights over red dot (a fairly high pressure powder, faster than 231, anyway) for my .38, and get no leading worth talking about. Silver State 158grn LRN .358 diameter doesn't lead either, even at +p velocities, in two different revolvers.

If you are willing to throw a gas check on the back of .357 rounds, you shouldn't have leading even at high pressures. Commercially made bullets (think silver state)are at least $0.02 per round cheaper than FMJ equivalents. If you cast your own, it's on the order of $0.06 or $0.08 per round cheaper.

Too hard bullets are just as much a problem as too soft. Prevents obturation. Too soft is easily solved if you cast your own. Cowboy lead bullets will likely be low weights, harder bullets for .357 are usually heavier if you are going for lead instead of FMJ or TMJ. If you go with store bought (saves trouble), or if you size the bullets correctly, use an appropriate lube, and keep the pressures down, you can save a bundle on bullets with minimal or no leading.

Personally, I love casting, and did almost 200 rnds this afternoon. You don't have to go to all that trouble, though, to shoot lead and save money.

campbell
March 12, 2008, 12:57 AM
If you want to run them hot, go with something a bit harder. Gardner's Cache are about 18 Brinnell, and Penn Bullets are probably the best I've ever used. With Penn buy the alloys that are marked Premium or Match Grade. At tad more, but are rated to 1600 fps.

http://www.gardnerscache.com/

http://www.pennbullets.com/calibers.html

Or, like fireflyfather said, get gas checked for those hot .357 loads. Montana Bullet Works has a good selection.

http://www.montanabulletworks.com/

evan price
March 12, 2008, 01:19 AM
Gary, with all due respect to your distinguished moderatorhood on another forum, you don't know jack about lead.

I am getting good quality lead projos that don't lead up my barrels for 4.0cents each for 9mm, 4.5 cents for 357, 5.5 cents for .45 and 6.0 cents for .44 caliber.

The cheapest fmj/plated I see is over ten cents each and up.

Check out www.keadbullets.com
I use them and say they work pretty well for me and their prices are good.

Will ship up to 2000 230-gr and under in one flat rate box for $11 insured. Will ship 3000 147-gr and under in one flat rate box for $11.

3000 125-rn 9mms are $128 shipped.
2000 230-rn .45's are $131 shipped.

Grandpa Shooter
March 12, 2008, 04:13 AM
I rarely ever shoot jacketed bullets in handguns. I had a good supplier ten years ago who make his out of linotype. I started running out and picked up a lead on TFL for Mike at www.mastercastbullets.com. He is a retired LEO who knows his stuff. I have gotten bullets of very high quality from at fair prices. He will ship up to the limit of 70 pounds in the flat rate box. Heavy little buggers to carry and the PostMistress hates my guts, but what the hey, the days not right if you don't piss somebody at the PO off.

callgood
March 12, 2008, 01:42 PM
http://www.missouribullet.com/

Currently, 500 158 grain SWC for .357 mag go for 26.00. Brinell 18.

You might compare these guys. Tell them what velocity you are loading for and they can send you the correct hardness.

Last fall I ordered 500 Lasercasts from Midway for around 35 buck. The next time I checked they were 55ish. Now, they're 71? Too rich for me.

DaveInFloweryBranchGA
March 12, 2008, 02:36 PM
It always amazes me on how many shooters who don't cast bullets insist the hardness of lead bullets is what is critical in preventing leading when shooting cartridges with lead bullets. It's not the hardness of the lead at all. It's matching the size of the bullet to the groove diameter of your barrel is what prevents leading. ReloaderFred describes in his post how to do this, so I'm not going to repeat him.

What I will explain is what causes leading in pistols: It's having a bullet whose diameter is not large enough relative to the groove diameter of your barrel. Why? Because the bullet isn't large enough to obdurate at the base, thereby getting a good seal and prevent gas cutting. Do you need hard bullets to get a good seal? No, I use bullets I cast myself from wheel weights and air cool them for every pistol bullet I shoot up to and including my M1 carbine. The average hardness is less than BHN 12 at best. However, I do match the bullet diameter to the groove diameter per ReloaderFred's instructions above. My bullets seal the barrel as they travel down it, preventing the hot gases from melting the sides of my bullet and thereby preventing lead streaking many folks get from undersized, even hard bullets.

How much leading do I get from my own cast bullets? None, Nada, absolutely nothing is left in my bore in the way of leading. In addition, I get better accuracy from all my loads than I did with either jacketed or most store bought lead bullets.

That said, if you shop carefully, you can buy lead bullets that match the groove diameter of your barrel and thereby eliminate the leading issue.

Regards,

Dave

floydster
March 12, 2008, 08:56 PM
Dave , you said it all and are so right,some of you Rebels know your stuff. being a Yankee it is hard for me to adimit this, but hey, my wife is from Georgia,hehe.

fireflyfather
March 13, 2008, 12:16 AM
Agreed. Dave is spot on. There are a few simple rules of thumb for those who care about hardness, though: Stick on wheel weights (nearly pure lead) are for muzzle-loaders. Add a tiny bit of tin for black powder cartridge guns. For smokeless pistol loads, air cooled wheel weights are more than hard enough. Magnum pistol bullets or light to medium rifle rounds need either a gas check, water dropping/cooling, or something with more tin/antimony (like linotype). Full house rifle loads probably need more than wheel weights, but that's about the only application where it's necessary.

Bruce was asking about .38 & .357 loads, so unless he is pushing those .357 loads REAL HARD, he doesn't need to worry about the hardness of commercial cast. Like Dave says, the micrometer or calipers are going to be way more important. That said, the Silver State bullets I have bought were .358 (correct size for most .38 & .357 lead bullets, depending on the gun).

35 Whelen
March 13, 2008, 02:21 AM
Good quality lead bullets that are hard enough to not lead your barrels probably will cost you almost as much as you pay for run-of-the-mill FMJ's. :what:
I'll have whatever he's drinking....

Seriously, National Bullet Co. sells 158gr. 38/357 bullets for $35 per 500. That's $7.00 per 100. I challenge you to find similar jacketed bullets that don't cost twice that. I stopped shooting jacketed bullets in pistols years ago. Let's face it...we're poking holes in paper or rolling beer cans. It doesn't take a jacketed bullet to do that.
Heck, even when I used to hunt with my pistols, I used my own hard cast bullets.
35W

evan price
March 13, 2008, 02:26 AM
National Bullet Company... $35/500

Zounds, sounds like my caster charging me $20/500 is a deal then...

ArchAngelCD
March 13, 2008, 02:32 AM
I DO NOT agree all quality Lead bullets will cost you almost as much as FMJ bullet but some will. The ones that do are commanding a higher price because they spend so much money on advertising and pass the cost on to the shooter. They no better than the other quality manufactures, they are just better know. (like Oregon Trail Laser Cast Bullets) Grandpa Shooter linked to MasterCast Bullets and he is totally correct. You can buy Lead bullets for the .38 Special for about $50/k and they are just as good or better than the Laser Cast bullets that will cost you over $100/k. There are a few very good bullet makers around. Besides MasterCast there is also Roger's Better Bullets (http://www.betterbullets.com/products.htm). They also make a high quality product at a fair price. I see someone linked to The BulletWorks above. They have good prices but I never bought from them so I can't tell you how good their bullets are. I have used MasterCast and Roger's Better Bullets with a lot of success. They are uniform, accurate and don't lead your barrel when loaded correctly.

BTW, I use W231 for most of my .38 Special rounds and find it to be a clean and accurate powder. Clays is also a good powder and even cleaner than W231. It doesn't meter well so I use much more W231 than anything else.

DWARREN123
March 13, 2008, 07:12 AM
Check out Rainier or Berry plated bullets.

dave from mesa
March 13, 2008, 10:31 AM
Bruce
Check with Rudy at http://billybullets.com/.
He's here in Mesa/A.J. Saves on shipping.

Travis Two
March 13, 2008, 10:52 AM
Still No.1 as far as I'm concened www.pennbullets.com. Very diverse selection, outstanding quality, very low weight deviations, special alloys for different applications. Very good prices for this quality. Check out the customer comments and magazine write ups on the site. Informative site as well.

Vern Humphrey
March 13, 2008, 12:03 PM
Make an appointment to have your tires rotated, and while you have th guy on the phone, ask casually, "Do you have any scrap wheel weights?"

Get the appropriate Lee mould and cast your own. Lube with liquid Alox (cheap and no sizer or lubricator needed.) You'll have about a half a cent invested in each bullet you cast -- including the cost of electricity or propane to melt the wheel weights.

fireflyfather
March 13, 2008, 02:42 PM
Vern is right, though my costs are closer to $0.01 or $0.02 per round, since I pay for lead, and have some parasitic costs. Now, it takes time, but if that was an issue, you wouldn't be reloading anyway.

I have enough lead banked away for at least 10 years at my current rate of shooting. Maybe more if I can get a supply of cheap tin to harden up my stick on weights. Only takes up about 3 buckets worth of garage space, plus a like amount for casting equipment. Have at least 2 years worth of bullets cast (I shoot about a box of 50 per month of pistol, two boxes of 20 per month of rifle). Total cost for all my lead & casting equipment? Less than a case of ammo. How many bullets? probably 10-20k worth of lead.

Aceoky
March 13, 2008, 02:51 PM
I agree that shooting cast lead is the "way to go" and casting your own is rather enjoyable IMO And a great bargain, when you can get free (or even nearly free) wheel weights :)

par0thead151
March 13, 2008, 03:26 PM
anyone know of a place that sells the lee 6 cavity molds for a bargain?
ideally im looking to order 4 molds, 9 mm, 45ACP, OO buckshot (i believe 30 cal diameter) and 1 oz 12 gauge slugs.
i have a used furnace and will heat the wheel weights in a cookie pan to save my furnace from contamination...

Vern Humphrey
March 13, 2008, 03:40 PM
Midway has Lee 6-cavity moulds for $36.99 apiece, and handles for $12.99.

www.midwayusa.com

par0thead151
March 13, 2008, 03:56 PM
do i want .356 or .358 diameter moulds?
If possible i would like to not have to resize the bullets for 9 mm as it will be for my 2XTM("commie tommie", drum fed 9 mm via suomi drums) so i will be shooting at 10-50M with these loads.
the other 9 mm and 45 will be used in a sig 226 and 220.
im looking on midsouth and midway, i believe i will order up today when i find exactly which ones i need.
thanks

edit: i assume for 45ACP i want .452 diameter as well?
please forgive my ignorance as i am new to casting, but what would be an ideal all around style mold to buy for 9 and 45? there is wad cutters semi wad cutters, etc. basicaly, what are your favorite 6 cavity style for the lee brand in 9 and 45?

thanks again

Aceoky
March 13, 2008, 04:02 PM
Midsouth may have the best price?

http://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/deptsearch3x.asp?dept=%52%45%4C%4F%41%44%49%4E%47&dept2=%4C%45%41%44%20%42%55%4C%4C%45%54%20%43%41%53%54%49%4E%47&dept3=%4C%45%45%20%4D%4F%55%4C%44%53

I only checked .45 ACP $36.15 for six cavity

$12.68 for the handles btw

(not much difference but enough to look especially if Midway is out of stock on something you need)

Aceoky
March 13, 2008, 04:04 PM
"I" use the .356 for 9mm and .380

Yes .452 for .45 ACP (sorry I use the two cavity molds personally)

"I" personally like the TC or the semi wad cutter design seem to feed very well in semi autos for me.... I also like the TL (tumble lube grooves) FWIW

If you enjoyed reading about "I'm Considering Switching from FMJ to Lead Bullets." here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!