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Reloading lead rounds

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by army_husbandky, Apr 3, 2010.

  1. I am not a first time reloader, I have been reloading ammunition for many years, but I am starting to feel some of the financial “crunch” and am trying to figure out how to reload a little more, for lack of better terms, cheaper. One way that I know that I can do it is if I change from TMJ and FMJ to lead rounds. I have always stayed away from them because I have had others tell me that if I shoot them through my pistol and don’t clean all the lead out of the pistol, then it could pit and ruin the barrel. I know that I would have to work up new loads for lead rounds, and these would be just everyday plinking rounds, but is this something that I should be worried about, is it really that hard to clean all the lead out of the barrel? TMJ and FMJ is not only getting hard to find, but is also getting more expensive. A little help here would be greatly appreciated. Thanks THR
  2. If you are making a transition from jacketed bullets to lead then you need some information to help make the process succesful. I have an extensive amount of information on my site that will help you get the most performance out of shooting quality lead bullets with almost no lead fouling even at magnum velocities. Check out the reloading tips section on the web site at www.pennbullets.com
  3. NuJudge

    NuJudge Well-Known Member

    If you wish to look at using Lead bullets, go to the Cast Boolits and Cast Bullet Association websites:

    Shooting commercially cast bullets will save a good bit of money, but casting your own will save much more if you can get in the habit of scrounging things like Lead.
  4. Travis Two

    Travis Two member

    Lots of great information there along with the best cast bullets you will ever find bar none. Penn Bullets is my No.1 supplier.
    Theres even an April Special going on with Free Shipping.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2010
  5. Quoheleth

    Quoheleth Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the world of cast lead.

    The afrorementioned castboolits site is excellent, but you'll get good info here, too. Cast lead is cheaper than the jacketed stuff. I buy all of my cast lead bullets from Missouri Bullet (http://www.missouribullet.com/) - just as an example, his 158gr LSWC for .38 specials is $28 for 500 bullets. If you have brass already and are able to get primers @$3.50/100, that means your cost per 100 rounds will be @$10 (use this to figure your cost: http://www.handloads.com/calc/loadingCosts.asp)

    It will take some tinkering to find the load that works for you and your gun, but it is entirely possible to work up a load that requires little or no scrubbing after shooting hundreds of rounds. It is also possible that you turn your rifled barrel into a smoothbore, choked with lead, if there's a problem. Generally, you push a soft bullet slower (like .38 Special, for example) and a hard bullet faster (.357 Magnum, 9mm, etc.). If you push a soft bullet too fast, it "strips" while going down the barrel and shears lead into the rifling of the barrel. Too much of that will choke the rifling and accuracy suffers. It might sound intimidating, but I learned to load with cast bullets. In three years, I think I've loaded <300 rounds of jacketed ammo, but several thousand rounds of cast lead.

    If the barrel gets leaded, several techniques can be used to clean it up. A brass brush with solvent gets the lighter stuff out. Heavier leading responds well with the green kitchen scrubbers, cut to fit the bore, and dipped in solvent. Really nasty fouling can be quickly knocked out with a tool called the Lewis Lead remover. I've only had one bad leading experience, and as best I can figure I grabbed the box of bullets for .38 Special velocity and tried to use it for medium-velocity .357 Magnum stuff. After two cylinders, I was throwing bullets all over my target. I opened my cylinder and looked down the bore....no rifling. Took it home, and with some elbow grease, Hoppe's, and the Lewis tool I was cleaned up in short order.

    Unless you have some funky lead, lead should not cause pitting in the bore of your gun. It's a soft non-corrosive metal. I bet you've shot lots of .22 rimfire. Guess what? It's all lead. Safe, cheap, and wonderfully accurate.

    So, don't be afraid or intimidated. Do a little more homework and research. Ask questions here and at the castboolits forum. You'll be pleasantly surprised at what you learn and can do with lead. Oh...Lyman has a specific cast bullet reloading manual that is pretty good, I understand. I have their pistol and revolver manual which has been very helpful to me.

  6. I was reading the reloading tips from Pennbullets, yes, lots of good information, one thing that lost me, maybe I read over it and missed it, but when you get these bullets do you have to lube them, or do them come lubed? would there be any special preperations that I would need to do to get the bullet ready to be reloaded? I'm still reading through the information, so I may come across it. Also, would I have to load these bullets differently? I know with 230 Gr, 45 ACP 7.7 GR of Alliant Power Pistol is what I am currently using, would this be OK to use with cast bullets, or would I need to change the way I reload.

    Again, lots of great information, starting to like what I am hearing, but I will continue on with my homework, again everyone, thank you
  7. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Lead bullets come lubed. If you cast your own you must lube them.

    What calibers? .45 ACP would be a good one to cut your teeth on. Its very hard to get it to lead with any reasonable cast bullet. Nice one to start with and gain confidence.
  8. Quoheleth

    Quoheleth Well-Known Member

    Quick answers...

    Look at the cast bullets. If there is a colored band around the bullet, that is the lube. It looks and feels kinda like melted crayon, but it's a bit more scientific than that. Some folks like using a process called "tumble lube" where you pour a liquid lube over the bullets in a tub, roll them around in the lube, and then set them out to dry. Most commercial bullets do the former; some home-casters do it, too, but others prefer the latter. So, if you bought from Penn or Missouri the bullets would be ready to roll. Speer and Hornady's lead bullets have something similar to a tumble-lube and are also ready to go out of the box.

    Cast bullets are usually .001" wider than jacketed, so you may have to bell your case mouth just a bit more so to not scrape lead/lube off of the sides of your bullets.

    For data, consult your manuals (you do have a manual, yes?). It should have data for both cast lead and jacketed bullets. My Lyman Pistol and Revolver manual shows that Power Pistol can be used in both 200 and 230gr cast lead bullets. Check your manual for specific data.

  9. jmortimer

    jmortimer Well-Known Member

    Done right hard cast bullets will not "lead" your barrel. They are easier on your barrel and it will last longer. You can always get gas checked bullets or add gas checks whcih will also prevent leading. For me, hard cast lead bullets are the only way to go.
  10. jcwit

    jcwit Well-Known Member

    Correct dia. bullets, with the right lube, loaded at the correct velocity, should give no leading problems. Only cal. I have problems with is 9mm and never have found a solution. Small chunk of chore boy wrapped around an old cleaning brush and most any cleaning solvent or pentrating oil will quickly scrub out any and all lead, not really a problem.
  11. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Well-Known Member

    Keep velocities below 1000 FPS, and leading will not be a problem unless you have an especially rough barrel.

    If you are shooting an autoloader, you may need to switch to a lighter recoil spring to get the lighter loads to function reliably.
  12. ok, did alittle more research, like I said, loading lead bullets does not sound to bad right now, still a little cautious about using lead though. The gun that I will be using is my everyday CCW, so you can see why I would be so cautious. But in my studies, I have found this little tool, Lewis Lead Remover, would that make cleaning out the barrel any easier, or would I just be wasting my money and time?

    I want to apologize if I am not able to get back and check the thread as often as I would like to, I am US soldier in Iraq right now, and I know that when I get up and go to work in the mornings, everybody is probably sleeping or getting ready to go to bed. I come back and check my threads often, so if you have any comments or anything that you know will help me out in my reloading, please post, I check every morning (Iraq time) when I get up and go in on shift.

    Again, everyone thank you for the help in my reloading with cast bullets endevor
  13. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    I have about 25 handguns I have shot lead bullet reloads in for going on 50 years.
    I don't own a Lewes Lead Remover, and have never really needed one.
    Probably would be great for revolver forcing cones, but I just never got a round tuit.

    If you own a .22RF of any kind, you probably shoot lead bullet .22 LR through it in mass quantities at 1,200 - 1,400 FPS all the time. Right?

    Ever seriously lead the barrel up in your .22 rim-fire?

    Just try it before you decide leading is going to be a problem.
    Do it right, and it won't be.

  14. 918v

    918v Well-Known Member

    If you do everything right, you will not see significant leading. Whatever you see in the bore will easily come out with a bronze brush and some lead remover solvent. Lead does not cause or even contribute to pitting. Moisture does. If you leave your gun in the wrong place, the barrel will pit whatever fouling is in it- lead, copper, carbon, etc.
  15. 243winxb

    243winxb Well-Known Member

    Alliant Power Pistol is not listed for lead bullets in there data. They do list Unique for 230gr lead. If you want to load a 200gr lead, Bullseye is good from 3.8gr target load to about 5.0gr. As for cleaning, Hoppes #9 still works fine for me.Wet the bore , let it soak at least overnight or longer.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2010
  16. Gadzooks Mike

    Gadzooks Mike Well-Known Member

    I've heard of it, don't use it. I shoot mostly lead at the range and haven't had any problems with leading. I'm shooting a 40 S&W automatic, loading rounds around 1000fps, and using bullets from Missouri Bullet Co. I pass a patch with Hoppe's #9 solvent down the barrel, scrub it good with a brush, and wipe it out good, then oil it. Barrel looks like new. They key is the hardness of the lead and the pressure (not velocity) of your load.

    Thanks for your service. Because of what you do, we sleep safer.
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  18. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Me either.

    Yep. pretty much. Usually none at all, but if there is, it's really light.
  19. mcdonl

    mcdonl Well-Known Member

    Not to mention the fact it is wicked fun to go from this:


    To this:


    and Finally to this:

  20. Jesse Heywood

    Jesse Heywood Well-Known Member

    I have the Lewis Lead Remover. It does what they say, and is great for getting the lead out of the forcing cone in revolvers. For a semi-auto I probably wouldn't invest in one.

    One thing to beware is bullet lube. Some use a paraffin lube which doesn't work very good. I haven't had leading problem with the Missouri Bullets, and from reading the Penn website lube shouldn't be an issue.

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