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Lead-free hunting bullet experiences/recommendations

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by Gtscotty, Jun 2, 2019.

  1. Gtscotty

    Gtscotty Member

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    After having nothing but great luck with Nosler Accubonds, I've been doing a little reading on lead exposure from hunting bullets and have decided to switch to lead free bullets, at least while my sons are very small.

    I already have a good load for the 127gr Barnes LRX that I will be using in my 6.5 Creedmoor, but need to come up with a new bullet/load for my .30-06.

    My baseline want is one bullet for Antelope through Elk, but with emphasis on Elk as I'll probably use my 6.5 for most medium game hunting.

    My rifle has an 18.5" barrel, so muzzle velocities will be in the high-.308 to low .30-06 range:

    150gr - 2,900 fps
    165gr - 2,800 fps
    175gr - 2,700 fps

    Shots will be 350yds and in.

    With all that in mind, I'm curious:

    1) What brand of copper bullet do THR hunters prefer, Barnes (TTSX, LRX), Hornady (GMX), Nosler (E-Tip), other brands?

    2) What general bullet weight would you look to for my use, range and anticipated muzzle velocities.

    Right now, I'm leaning towards the 168gr TTSX, the Barnes are most available near me and seem to have a good reputation for reliable expansion. What does everyone here use and like?
     
  2. courtgreene

    courtgreene Member

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    I use Barnes tsx in a .223 and 30-30. The .223 is exceptionally effective and I hope to try out the 30-30 on game soon. It is very accurate.
    I use Barnes ttsx in an 8x57mm jsm. It works fairly well. I’ve killed more deer with it than most projectiles but that’s more because I love that rifle than it is a measure of the bullet’s effectiveness.

    I don’t actually think there’s much to worry about with lead exposure from eating meat killed with a lead bullet. I do sort of worry about reloading lead bullets, but apparently I don’t worry about it enough to stop me from loading them.
     
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  3. homers

    homers Member

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    The key with non lead is having enough speed to expand upon impact. Most recommend min of 1800 fps but I prefer a min of 2100-2200 fps at the max range I expect to shoot. With that being said, most people recommend going to a lighter than you'd maybe consider bullet. 30-06, I'd say 150 gr is what you'd want to look at and see what the speed is up to 350 yards and go from there.
     
  4. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    Yeah, it really depends on the manufacturer/model of bullet and caliber more so than just the copper material. Remember that there are several subsonic offerings in copper...

    Maker Bullets
    https://makerbullets.com/proddetail.php?prod=308110SBLK

    Cutting Edge Bullets has their subsonic offerings as well. For example...
    https://cuttingedgebullets.com/308-190gr-subsonic-raptor

    Lehigh Defense subsonic fracturing bullets...
    https://www.lehighdefense.com/index...-subsonic-bullet-for-the-300-blackout-whisper

    From reading various accounts on the web, Cavity Back Bullets' MKZ round will expand down to about 1100-1500 fps depending on the caliber.
    www.cavitybackbullets.com

    Cavity Back has both 125 gr. and 168 gr. 7.62 bullets https://www.cavitybackbullets.com/category-s/117.htm
     
  5. LRDGCO

    LRDGCO Member

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    Unless you have an unventilated range in your basement that the kids are playing in, there is no health risk whatsoever from the minimal exposure to lead from shooting cast lead or lead core bullets. Wash your hands well in soapy water after cleaning firearms. No smoking, eating or drinking prior to doing so. There is a current thread on this subject with exhaustive advice and data from the EPA and CDC.
     
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  6. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    I have no lead phobias. I'm 66 years old and have been shooting since age 6. I have, however, used the Barnes 140 grain .30 caliber on hogs and it works fine....but so does the 150 Nosler BT and it's cheaper. So, I've only used the Barnes on a few hogs, but it works and it's an alternative. It's quite an accurate bullet, too, in my Remington M7.

    I took a buck a few years back with my M4 in .223 using the 62 grain Barnes TSX. It worked, not a DRT thing, but it didn't go more'n 25 yards before dropping. For deer/hog size game with .22, one NEEDS the controlled expansion IMHO.
     
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  7. horsey300

    horsey300 Member

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    I'd stick with either the lrx or an etip, the lrx has a better velocity window, (not sure what lrx weights are available in .30) or an etip, the etip velocity window still makes me like an impact around 2200 fps, BUT they expand wider than the others, having a more generous cavity. The next time my brother brings out his gmxs and Barnes pills, I'll get out my etips and see if we can't do some side by sides
     
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  8. Gtscotty

    Gtscotty Member

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    I'd like this thread to stay focused on the different lead free bullet options, type and weight. I don't have a lead phobia, I think it's unlikely that they will cause problems and have always used lead bullets, however, a risk assessment is made up of two parts: probability and consequence. From a bit of reading, it seems that the probability of my 13 month old and 3.5 year old sons getting a harmful amount of lead from meat I shot is higher than for me and my wife, but still quite low. The consequences for their young brains, if they did, however are potentially much worse than for me at similar blood lead levels, so the overall risk assessment rises.

    I wouldn't worry if it were just me and my wife, but I'd like to investigate lead-free options while my sons are young.

    Interesting, you don't hear as much about the E-tips as you do the Barnes and Hornady copper bullets, wide expansion is definitely what I want. I've been buying Nosler blems for years, maybe I should pick up a couple packs of E-Tips, what weights do you use?

    The LRX is the only copper bullet I've used on game, and I've been pretty happy with it's performance. In .30 cal, the only LRX available is 175gr, which I thought might be a bit heavy for my setup. Playing around with a ballistic calculator though, it looks like 168gboth the ttsx and 175gr LRX would both hold 2,200 fps out to 350 yds - 400 yds.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2019
  9. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    Well, that explains why Davy Crockett left a cushy job in congress only to get lead poisoning at the Alamo. His mind wasn't thinking right from all the game he shot with his patched lead round balls. :D
     
  10. VoodooMountain

    VoodooMountain Member

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    I've been curious myself about a lot of the copper options.

    I believe it was Minnesota that published a report about lead fragments in wild game. The info they put out was enough to grab my attention.

    Not to mention future lead free laws that are inevitable.
     
  11. mcb

    mcb Member

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    I recently posted this in another thread about copper bullet so I will repeat this here with minor edits. I am a fan and I don't have any state laws pushing me there.

    2vu5axgl.jpg
    Barnes 45cal 275gr TSX launched at ~1850fps from my 450 Bushmaster. This particular bullet passed through a raccoon, on open day of deer season last year, at about 20 yards, then nearly 3 ft of forest floor where I recovered it. 100% weight retention.

    7zDje6Wl.jpg

    Maker REX 30cal 220gr launched from my 300 Blackout at 1050fps. Passed through three milk jugs at 50 yards, splitting the first two, ragged hole through the third and found in the fourth milk jug. 100% weight retention.

    If I am fortunate, one of these two bullets will be used to take deer this coming season. The 300 blackout load is in my 300 BO pistol that rolls with me on the UTV working the hunting property this summer.[/QUOTE]
     
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  12. Seamaster31

    Seamaster31 Member

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    I have used a 30-06 with both the Barnes TSX and TTSX (tipped) on elk sized game. The TSX sometimes did odd things like failing to expand, and in one case changing directions by 90 degrees inside a kudu, so I would suggest passing on the TSX.. Of the two the TTSX was more reliable. Accuracy was acceptable but not quite "internet accuracy". I am not a fan of the monometal bullets but the 168 grain bullet seemed the best choice in a 30-06 for me.
     
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  13. Gtscotty

    Gtscotty Member

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    I called Barnes this morning and spoke to a very knowledgeable and helpful technician for a while about what the best option from their lineup would be. I was expecting him to suggest a lighter bullet like the 150gr ttsx, or maybe even the 130gr, but instead he said he thought that the 168gr ttsx would be the best all around performer, with the 175gr LRX also being an option. Interestingly, he said that the 168gr ttsx has the same design as the rest of the LRX line with the altered ogive shape and lower expansion velocity threshold. Apparently the 168gr ttsx was one of the first of the new design, and by the time they decided to make the LRX it's own line, the 168gr ttsx was already well established, so they elected to leave it in the ttsx line.

    That makes me much more excited about the 168gr ttsx, I'll have to try to see if I can get them to shoot well with good velocity. The 127gr LRX are probably the most accurate bullet I've tried in my 6.5, hopefully the .30-06 likes the 168gr as well.

    I think I'll try to get some E-tips to try as well, maybe the 168gr.
     
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  14. horsey300

    horsey300 Member

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    I don't run any .30s anymore, I've been burning through some 6mm 86 gr Etip blems a buddy of mine and I picked up, and then @LoonWulf donated more to the cause, been primarily using them on yotes (small exits every time and relatively nice bc) but I'd have NO problems paying full price for them for nastier than deer work, they'll likely get put head to head with an accubond or scirrocco for Idaho when we go, my brother has played Barnes (idk what weight) and gmx (225 I think) in his .338 winmag, it SEEMS THAT the expansion is wider/more violent with the etips, not saying that the others are sneer worthy by any means, we'll measure before and after diameters, I WILL say that whilst I haven't yet recovered any from kills, the internal damage (at proper velocities) is still impressive.
     
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  15. homers

    homers Member

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  16. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    I’ve used the Barnes, Hornady, and CEB monometals enough to know how they should be used, or maybe rather how to make them work.

    1) Don’t expect them to perform on game the same as a lead core bullet of the same weight.

    2) Give them a generous jump to the lands, ~50thou ballpark.

    3) Focus on high impact velocities. Look at the photos of ~1800fps impacts - the expansion is abysmal. They look like a bullet with a flower in its hair, not like an effectively expanded bullet. I prefer an impact velocity of 2200-2400fps, and I know I would have to have a PERFECT shot, and have to REALLY want to take the shot before I sent one far enough to have sub-2000fps. Hard pass on any shot far enough to fall below 1800.

    To each their own, but that’s been my experience with them.
     
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  17. wankerjake

    wankerjake Member

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    30-06 and 168gr TTSX has been a good elk killer for me
     
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  18. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    The recommendation of 2000+fps at impact only applies to 30 caliber and smaller bullets, at least with Barnes bullets. Larger calibers will work at slower impact speeds.

    I've experimented with them some, never taken game with one. But I've seen enough results to know that if used correctly they are devastating on game. But they do have limitations. Not the best long range bullet due to needing faster impact speeds and they are a little expensive compared to others.

    I'm not at all concerned about lead contaminating meat. But I'd use copper bullets with confidence if I wanted to. In fact I'd highly recommend them if hunting with a cartridge borderline too small for the game hunted.
     
  19. bob97

    bob97 Member

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    I am curious as to why.
     
  20. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Only thing I can imagine - which I don’t say much - is the monometals need a bit of steam behind them before they contact the lands to a) have enough speed to evenly engrave themselves against the lands instead of grabbing a bit of yaw, and b) subsequently need that speed to offer uniform resistance as they enter the lands, evening out their pressure-build for a more consistent burn.

    Might be completely off base, but I tried several monometals between 15-20yrs ago with underwhelming accuracy. I largely gave up on them until about 12yrs ago, a friend pointed out his “trick to success” with monometals - give them a long jump. Bingo. In the game.

    Same deal with Partitions & A-Frames, they seem to shoot better with a long jump. I expect the same reasons there too - resizing that solid copper partition across the bullet body takes a lot of force, and having a running start before that happens sure seems to make life a lot better.
     
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  21. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    Based on what I have read, the greatest risk of lead intake comes from shooting cast lead bullets.

    cFdtyUT.jpg

    The old OSHA standard was 80 micrograms per cubic meter. So, for each 158 lead bullet, there is an average of 5643 micrograms of lead blown into the air. Primers were contributing 403 micrograms of lead per shot.

    Jacketed rifle bullets are unlikely to deposit lead in the air, and I don't believe a rifle bullet without an exposed tip, is going to contribute to any lead contamination in the house or at the range.

    However, if you feel better with a lead free bullet, industry is certainly providing alternatives.
     
  22. Gtscotty

    Gtscotty Member

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    That's the bullet I'm going to focus on first, picked up a box a few weeks ago, but have been traveling for work since. I think I'm going to load up a few each at a range of different RL16 charge weights and see what kind of velocities I'm looking at this Saturday before I have to leave town again.

    I've heard the same thing for a while about monos liking jump and had similar thoughts about the potential reason. The 127gr LRX shoots very well in my 6.5, at 2.805" which, I believe is almost 0.1" off the lands in that rifle. If I can get decent velocity and similar accuracy out of the 168gr TTSX, I'll be quite pleased.
     
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  23. old heeler

    old heeler Member

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    I've used 150gr E-Tip in my 30-06 on cow elk tags and used Barnes in 270. I tried Barnes 145gr LRX in 284. I start at .050" off and E-Tips are closer to .100" and that measured case base to ogive. E-Tip is same as AB for minimum velocity and I haven't looked at GMX plus never recovered Barnes or E-Tip. I used Barnes data for 270 and I called Barnes and they send me data for 284.
     
  24. Gtscotty

    Gtscotty Member

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    I chrono'd a range of RL-16 loads with 168gr ttsx this morning and the results were a bit disappointing. No published data for this combo, but trying to extrapolate between H4350 loads with the 168's vs other lead bullets vs RL-16 loads, I came up with 52gr - 55.5 gr and loaded them in half grain intervals.

    Velocities were as follows:
    52gr - 2,492 fps
    52.5gr - 2,462 fps
    53gr - 2,483 fps
    53.5gr - 2,502 fps
    54gr - 2,522 fps
    54.5gr - 2,512 fps
    55gr - 2,551 fps
    55.5gr - 2,608 fps

    No pressure signs, but too slow.
    I then fired two of last year's loads (180gr Accubond, 56gr RL16) just to make sure the Chrono wasn't going wacky:
    2,660 fps
    2,670 fps

    That's about right for bare muzzle, with my can mounted they chrono about 2,690 fps.

    I think I'm going to load up similar runs of H4350 and RL17, maybe up into the 57gr - 58gr range, and see what velocities I get vs any pressure signs I see. 165 gr jacketed bullets over 59gr of H4350 run ~ 2,825 fps out of this rifle, I know copper bullets usually require smaller charges for similar pressure, but I was counting on being able to get to the same velocity range.

    RL-16 is pretty bulky and I was already crunching quite a bit, I just don't know if I can fit much more in.

    If anyone has Quick Load, it would be really interested to see what it says about these powders and this bullet.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
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  25. old heeler

    old heeler Member

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