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Bullet question...

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by c919, Jun 2, 2010.

  1. c919

    c919 Well-Known Member

    So as I order components for my first ever batch of reloads, I have some questions.

    Is all lead created equal?

    When I see a load for a .38sp 158gr LSWC, I wonder if I'm missing something here. It just doesn't seem like this would be so simple that they were all created to the same specs. Am I over thinking this? Or can I assume that a LSWC of the same caliber and same weight, from two different companies would be safe to load with the same data?

    It just doesn't seem like this could be so....

    Please see post #10. I think this OP is poorly worded.

    Last edited: Jun 2, 2010
  2. Randy1911

    Randy1911 Well-Known Member

    The lead is not created equal. Most of it is "hard case". Which is good for all around use. Some is made of a softer lead. It is best for low velocity rounds. The reason for softer lead is that is fills the barrel better and give better accuracy. The draw back is it will lead the barrel if shot too fast. Most people us the hard cast
  3. Sheldon

    Sheldon Well-Known Member

    Speer and Hornady sell a soft lead "swaged" bullet that is good for lower velocities, but might lead if loaded hotter. As the name implies swaged bullets are formed by swaging the lead under a lot of pressure into the shape of the bullet, whereas the cast bullets are melted lead cast into the bullet shape. Hard cast lead can vary some from manufacturer to manufacturer in both hardness as well as shape. You may have to vary the overall length of the loaded round depending on the shape of the bullets between manufacturers.
  4. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Just to confuse you even more I'll tell you this. You can get worse leading from bullets that are too hard than too soft depending on the application and velocities generated.

    For slower applications, under 900 fps you want a softer lead alloy, something in the 10-14 BHN range. For a 158gr SWC .38 Special target/plinking load a 12 BHN is just about perfect. For Magnum applications something in the range of 18 BHN is better. You can probably push a hard cast rifle bullet with a BHN of 20-21 as hard as 2000 fps without leading.
  5. Steve C

    Steve C Well-Known Member

    +1 on what ArchAngleCD wrote.

    Follow this simple guideline to avoid leading: Use Speer or Hornady swagged or softer cast bullets like the 12 BNH form MBC for low pressure cartridges like the .38 spl, .45 ACP etc. or reduced loads in magnums. Use hard cast bullets like the MBC 18 BNH or those made by Oregon Trail, and most other commercial casters for magnum loads (.357, .41, .44 etc.) and high pressure cartridges like the 9mm and .40 S&W.

    Usually if you are getting excessive leading at the chamber end of the bore with commercial cast bullets your load is too light for a hard bullet. Increase your load if you can or switch to a softer bullet.

    If your leading is at the muzzle end you are probably pushing a soft bullet too fast. Reduce your load or change to a harder bullet.

    There are a bunch of other factors that can cause leading but the first and easiest correction to try is modifying your load.
  6. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    The alloy has to be hard enough to grip the rifling without skidding at the velocity you are shooting. The alloy has to be soft enough to bump up from pressure to seal the gases from flame cutting the bullet as it passes through the throats and barrel. The pressure must be high enough to bump the bullet up.

    If your throats are .001 or .002 above bore diameter, your bullets fit your throats, and the alloy is hard enough to grip the rifling on its journey while being soft enough to bump up and seal everything, it won't lead at all.


    Oh yea. If your bullets are undersized, softer is better until the velocity gets to be more than the alloy can handle. Then you are out of luck.


    Undersized bullets, unless they have enough pressure to bump up and fill the bore, will cause gas cutting and leading when the hot, high velocity gases "cut" lead off the bullet on its way between the bullet and the throat and/or barrel. Leading will be mostly at the throats and forcing cone, but will continue until it fills the whole barrel if you keep shooting the offending load.

    Properly sized bullets (in the range of .001 to .002 over throat diameter) will not suffer from gas cutting unless they are too hard.

    Bullets that are too hard will not bump up and seal the throats and barrel well, even when sized properly, causing leading.

    Bullets that are too soft to hold the rifling at the velocity they are driven at, will break loose from the rifling and "skid", breaking the seal and causing leading galore all the way down the bore.

    If the bullets are sized properly, you can get away with them being a little harder than needed.

    If the bullets are soft enough to bump up easily with the pressure used, you can often get away with them being a hair undersized, as long as they are hard enough to hold the rifling for the trip down the bore.

    Hmm....did I miss anything? Probably.

    Oh yea. Bullets that do not have enough, or good enough, lube, will tend to lead towards the end of the barrel.


    (Copied from a couple of my old posts. Brain is still asleep) ;)
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2010
  7. Travis Two

    Travis Two member

    +1 on Walkalongs comments. For more info and a better understanding overall check out the reloading tips section at www.pennbullets.com and then give Bob a call if you have any further questions. Great guy that will take what time you need to get it right plus he makes the best cast bullets period. He's not real fast but he is real good.
  8. loadedround

    loadedround Well-Known Member

    +1 on Steve C's comment. All I use in my pistols and revolvers are Laser cast bullets by Oregon Trail. No leading and very little fouling clean up afterwards. These are the hardest lead bullets on the market and are well worth the slightly higher price. :)
  9. Jesse Heywood

    Jesse Heywood Well-Known Member

    There usually isn't enough difference in bullets of the same weight and profile to make any major differences in the powder charge. Just make sure that you start 10% under the maximum charge and work up.
  10. c919

    c919 Well-Known Member

    Ok, I think I may have poorly worded my question. I understand the issue of leading, but thanks for the extra info anyhow.

    When I said 'specs' I meant length. Will they generally seat the same? Have the same amount of surface contact with the bore?

    So if I take a the load data for Speer .357 158gr SWC, could I assume that the data would be applicable to a Missouri Bullet .357 158gr SWC with all else being equal?

    Is there some sort of industry standard here? I'm just not seeing any differentiating factors listed in the product descriptions.
  11. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    No standard. Just eyeball the bearing length, but it really isn't a big deal, assuming a bullet of the same weight and basic style of similar alloy.
  12. Quoheleth

    Quoheleth Well-Known Member

    For revolvers, especially if bullets have a crimp groove, they should more or less equal another.

    YOu will want to check OAL of your loads with published dats. If it's a long bullet and you seat it deep you could cause a pressure spike.

    For example, when I started reloading for 9mm, I had a Smith M&P and I could load my 125gr LRN out to something like 1.25" OAL (this is off the top of my head). My CZ85 has a short throat, so instead of being able to use those loads, I have to crank them down to sub 1.07". I have to make allowances for that shorter powder space inside the case and use data that is for loads of that short of OAL.

    So, the answer for me isn't so much the bullet's length as it is the length of the completed cartridge.

  13. c919

    c919 Well-Known Member

    So if i were to order some lead of a certain caliber, weight, etc, I can reasonably assume it's ok to load with data from a reputable source that lists that type of bullet (but does not specify the manufacturer of said bullet)?

    I just need to make sure the OAL is correct? I was mostly concerned with seating depth. So, just to confirm, there isn't enough variation between the different manufacturers bullets to cause a dangerous spike in pressure as long as everything else is done correctly?
  14. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Correct... If you crimp a 158gr SWC in the crimp groove for a .38 Special it will most likely be fine. The manufacturer will place the crimp groove in the proper position so when you seat the bullet there you will not exceed the OAL limits set by SAAMI for that caliber. Of course you will have to verify that by measuring the OAL for yourself and when changing bullet manufacturers always drop your charge weight back and work up the load again.
  15. c919

    c919 Well-Known Member

    Thanks Arch, that definitely makes sense.

    So what about non-crimped stuff such as .45acp? Just check OAL?
  16. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    For bullets like used in a .45 Auto where you apply a taper crimp instead of a roll crimp, yes, you set the OAL when you seat the bullet. You will need a good set of Calipers to make the job easier. Once you have the seating die set you won't have to check every round, they will be the same.

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