1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Reloading with lead bullets

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by john1911, Aug 2, 2007.

  1. john1911

    john1911 Well-Known Member

    I thinking about starting to reload my .41 mag and .44 mag with lead bullets. I currently use jacketed bullets and H110 powder. When I started shooting, the guy that helped me out warned not to shoot lead bullets because of leading the bore.

    I've been thinking of ordering some cast bullets from Meister. I assume these already have the lube on them? Where can I find data for these bullets? Will pushing these bullets at mild velocity cause leading in the bores? What powders work best with lead bullets?

    I would like to try these bullets before I invest in the stuff to cast my own. Any advice is appreciated.
  2. halvey

    halvey Well-Known Member

    Was he serious? You can clean the bore you know...


    It's all in your reloading book. You do have one, right?

    It may.

    The same ones. It's all in your reloading book. You do have one, right?
  3. Ed Gallop

    Ed Gallop Well-Known Member

    Leading should not be a problem. It will brush out. I had an unusual leading problem with my 45 Colt. After 30 rounds I had a a lot of resistence getting the cleaning brush into the barrel. The barrel was heavily coated brom back to front. The more I shot the worse the accuracy.

    Lead should contain 5% of tin to harden it enough to grab the grooves so I increased to 10% and it didn't help. Excessive sooting of the brass was also a problem requiring 3 to 4 times longer to clean. I lowered the powder load but it didn't make a difference in sooting or leading. I switched to Unique from HS7 and it helped a little, but was still bad. I lowered the powder load down to 6 gr and the leading continued but the dirty brass was reduced about 50%.

    After a lot of on the job training, I discovered the throat of the cylinder chambers were considerably smaller in diameter than the barrel (new revolver). This caused loose bullets and therefore excessive leading. I sent the revolver to the manufacturer (Heritage) to fix the problem. Ed.
  4. RPCVYemen

    RPCVYemen Well-Known Member

    What velocity?

    I think Hornady suggests keeping their lead (soft swagged) bullets under 1100 fps. I have only shot lead bullets in my Blackhawk, all in the 750-850 range, and have seen no leading in somewhere around 2K rounds.

    Ed, weren't the loads you were shooting way off the published charts for lead bullets?

    If I remember correctly, the loads you specified were almost 50% over the loads I found listed in manuals I have at home - Hornady and Lyman. I think you were shooting 10 grs of Unique with a 255 gr lead bullet, where I think the max in the Hornady manual was 7.x grains.

    I don't have the manual at work, but I think that that 7.x of Unique load in the Hornady manual pushed the bullet to 850. It would not surprise me if the 9 or 10 gr load you were using pushed the bullet beyond 1100 fps.

    Did you ever chrono the loads?

    If you are above 1100 fps, you might need to look at gas checks, etc.

    People shooting heavy hunting loads in 45 Colt seem to prefer jacketed bullets. The "Ruger only" section of the Hornady manual only lists loads for jacketed bullets.

  5. snuffy

    snuffy Well-Known Member

    Tin alone added to bullet casting lead will NOT harden it alone. Tin lowers the melting temperature and increases the fluidity so it fills the cavity better. More than 2% tin is wasted. Good bullet lead needs antimony to harden it. Antimony is present in wheelweights and especially linotype and other type metals.

    Trying to make a revolver with mismatched cylinder throat/bore diameters shoot lead bullets is nearly impossible. Slugging the cylinder AND barrel will tell you if you can expect lead bullets to shoot in your gun. Then matching the bullet size to those diameters should result in very low leading.

    Then as far as accuracy goes, that's up to the person doing the loading. Taking for granted the bullets are well made, filled out with sharp corners on the base, driving bands and nose. Then they are consistent in weight, and lubed with a good lube.

    Shooting lead bullets that somebody else made and sold, removes some if not most of your control over the above factors. In other words, you get what you get! Some will sell different diameters so you could match up with what your revolver has, but most sell only what the normal bore diameters are.

    I know one fella that will work with you as for not only special diameters, BUT ALSO any alloy you want. He has many molds already, but if you want something else, he buys the mold, casts them to a specified diameter and alloy and sends them off!
    I don't know how his prices are, I cast my own, so I've never ordered any.
  6. cloudcroft

    cloudcroft Well-Known Member


    "The guy" was right.

    Lead bullets at magnum velocities are likely to cause leading, and it's not that easy to remove (don't ask me how I know but I found out after shooting .357 magnum lead bullet reloads in a S&W revolver back in 1974). You can try VERY hard lead bullets but personally, I won't use any lead bullet for magnum loads...and haven't since my 1974 experience.

    Just stock up on bulk 41 and 44 jacketed bullets -- they're really not too expensive (yet) -- for magnum loads and avoid leading issues/questions entirely. Save the lead bullets for "41SPL/44SPL" power level/velocity loads (using the 41/44 magnum cases and marked somehow so you KNOW they are reduced-velocity loads)...unless you like excessively cleaning gun barrels.

    Good luck,

    -- John D.
  7. RPCVYemen

    RPCVYemen Well-Known Member

    Since I only shoot lead bullets, should I be using one of the bore cleaners that is lead specific? I think there's one called "Montana Xtreme".

  8. kellyj00

    kellyj00 Well-Known Member

    I use hoppe's #9 (available everywhere) to remove leading from my semi-autos.

    I do not have a revolver.
  9. James Thomson

    James Thomson Active Member

    You should consider loading with lynotype. You need something that is hard or you will be scrubbing it out of your barrel. I would look for a bullet with a gas check also. I loading for 44 Mag and only used lynotype. Never had a leading problem.
  10. Ed Gallop

    Ed Gallop Well-Known Member

    RPCVYemen... I started out with HS7 and changed trying to solve a bad brass sooting problem. One thing led to another. When I switched to Unique I first loaded 10 gr. I dropped to 9 gr as stated on Handloads.com as a standard load for 255 gr lead. I only fired a round or two of each and could feel it was too hot so reduced it to 7 gr. Then I reduced it to 6 gr and it was still leading quite a bit. That is when I measured the chamber and barrel. I'm learning a lot lately, the hard way, and should know better at my age. I'm not interested in shooting maximum loads in the 45 Colt. I just want an accurate 45 yard load. I didn't look in the right places for what I needed.

    I feel an undersized cylinder has been the problem I had with excessive dirty brass and excessive leading all along. I'll know for sure after Heritage returns my 45.

    I read that wheel weights were pure lead and needed 5% tin found in solder to harden it for smokeless powder use. That was in the Lee loading information. I'll look for Lynotype and give it a go. Thanks. Ed.
  11. RPCVYemen

    RPCVYemen Well-Known Member

    I didn't understand from your earlier posts that you'd dropped down to 6-7 grains of Unique. That definitely should not give you a velocity where you'd expect leading. Glad you figured out what was going on.

  12. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Well-Known Member

    I shoot mostly lead bullets. When it gets dirty you clean the bore. A bore can be fouled with copper too so I don't know where that guy was coming from.

    If you get excessive leading you:

    1. are driving the bullets too fast.
    2. need a harder alloy bullet.
  13. jcord

    jcord Well-Known Member

    I load hard cast (mine) in 357 mag/38 special for handgun and rifle. I also load hard cast in my 30-30 at 2000 fps Gas checked and 45-70 at 1800 (no gascheck)

    Leading is caused by too soft lead or poor bullet fit to the gun. I water quench my 45-70 rounds using pure wheel weights and I never have a leading problem.

    In 357 I have used the same technique to fire unchecked bullets at 1400 FPS from my revolvers and 1800 FPS from my Timberwolf. Try casting your own. I load for pennies now and I can afford to shoot a lot more.
  14. scrat

    scrat Well-Known Member

    Ok i have to jump in this one. i have casted thousands of bullets. Leading isnt really a problem. you start off really low on powder. follow you reloading books recomendation. usually a little lighter though. Then work your way up just a little. not going to high. its more about accuracy than how fast you can send the bullet. your looking for accuracy. once you have it you stop. Next its all about the type of metal. wheel weights are the best i have ever used. i also quench my bullets. Hech i go all out. fill a bucket with cold water and add a tray of ice to it. A soft rag on the bottom and a sponge on top. That way they land on the sponge and roll off onto a soft rag until the pile builds up. Also The next important thing is the lube. a lot of people spend a great deal of time experimenting with lubes. Problem is that you will not know what kind of lube you are getting when you order bullets on line from a caster unless you ask. Some types may be different from gun to gun. Alot of us like and use lee liquid alox. Why because it coats the whole bullet. not just two little grooves.

    So with this can you still get leading of the barrel? Yes. however there are many steps you can take like what i just mentioned to reduce or eliminate leading of the barrel. Then same time its just up to you.

    Why do we use lead. One it cost a whole lot less. a lot lot less. at 17.00 being the average price for speer or any other name brand bullets for my 30-30. i can make lead cast bullets or buy them from anywhere at $30.00 for 500 or even more. some guys can sell you some for 35.0 for 1000. or i can make them my self for almost nothing. Oh yea when you buy the name brand jacketed its usually for 100. Thats it. Then on top of that why do i shoot lead. For one i can tailor the bullet to my gun. Then the accuracy is so amazing with the right powder combination. i can match anyones performance with my lead cast bullets.

Share This Page