How Do I Know When It's Leading


November 30, 2010, 04:25 PM
My brother and I have just began to reload 357 mag. Our first batch was a JHP bullet. That seemed a little costly just for target shooting. So we bought 1000 lead bullets and they were lubed. We loaded them maybe a little higher than 1000 FPS. No more than 1100 FPS. I was concerned about leading when we loaded them. After we got home from the range my brother cleaned his pistol and found a lot of black stuff on the outside of the pistol, that was hard to clean off.

Is this the leading that is talked about or is leading something that happens inside the barrel?

We are not sure hat we are looking for.

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November 30, 2010, 04:35 PM
That black soot is likely a mix of burnt lube and burnt powder. If they were a little "smokey" then it was probably the lube. Swing the cylinder out, and put a light behind the forcing cone. Look through the barrel, and you may see streaks in there... leading looks more like that. Just make sure you aren't pushing them a whole lot faster (unless the box says the hardness is optimized for a higher velocity) and clean your bore fairly often, and you'll be fine.

December 7, 2010, 03:54 PM
Hey thanks. I am sure that was a stupid question but you never know until you ask.

I never assume to know anything.

December 7, 2010, 04:27 PM
Black on the outside is carbon fouling from powder burning. Leading happens in the forcing cone and the barrel. If there is leading in the barrel, it will continue to build up and become obvious. If you cannot tell if it is leading inside the barrel, you are probably OK. Leading is generally pretty obvious.

Welcome to THR

December 7, 2010, 05:02 PM
Plus 1 on what Walkalong says, I've seen strings of lead come out od the barrel as long as 1 1/2 to 2 or more inches in length. Usually comes from the leading edge "IIRC" of the rifling.

Can be fairly easily removed by taking a bore brush and wrapping some COPPER Chore Boy around the brush and scrubbing the bore. Be sure its the copper Chore Boy, use a magnite, some of the chinese imported stuff is copper plated steel.

December 7, 2010, 07:03 PM
That type of leading generally comes from the bullet stripping the rifle, or skidding. Velocity exceeding the alloys strength/ability to hold the rifling. It usually cleans out easily, assuming it isn't excessive.

Gas cutting (gases leaking past a bullet not sealing the bore) lays down nasty leading that coats/"welds" its self to everything. Very bad ju ju.

December 7, 2010, 09:16 PM
Originally posted by Walkalong - Leading happens in the forcing cone and the barrel.

I ain't been shootin lead all that long, other than rimfire 22s, and so far I've not had any problems with leading. But the way you worded your answer left me wondering...

Do cylinder throats ever lead? :confused:

Enlighten me please.



December 7, 2010, 10:33 PM
Not usually. At least I haven't seen it. The gas cutting going on in the throats gets deposited on the forcing cone and into the first part of the barrel, but if you continued to shoot long enough without cleaning, I imagine it could.

Jesse Heywood
December 7, 2010, 11:51 PM
I had some leading in the cylinder about a year ago. Using hard-cast in a 45 Colt. With Walkalong's help we determined it was due to the lube used by the caster. I then bought a Lewis Lead Remover which is a big help. And I learned how to tumble lube with Rooster Jacket, which stopped the leading.

December 8, 2010, 05:30 AM
I know the op is not complaining about having to clean his firearms, some do though and especially after shooting lead bullets. I am glad he persevered and conquered his problem. I cast and enjoy the minimal cost of shooting my homemade bullets.

Here is a "pictoral" essay on cleaning a firearm after 300 rounds or so of nothing but lead bullets. All in all it took maybe 40 minutes start to finish. There will be pictures of patches of all of the leading in the barrel I got on this session. No special cleaning tools were used, just some good old homemade Ed's Red solvent, a tooth brush and brass cleaning jag with patches and a pass or two with a brass barrel brush.

Take a look.

After about 10 minutes, the outside is clean.

Then the inside:
Patches from cleaning the cylinder:

First patch from the barrel:

All done:

Front row of patches are from the cylinder and the row closest to the firearm are from the barrel. Total time about 40 minutes.

December 8, 2010, 06:42 AM
Leading is generally pretty obvious.

Yep, sometimes ya may get leading which may just be a light smear of lead throughout the barrel, this can be cleaned out with normal cleaning practices.

Other times leading might be so severe that accuray has declined and lead flakes come out with a bronze barrel brush pass, that's when a problem needs addressing.

And what I refer to as actual 'leading' of a barrel.

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