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Why not copper?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by ExAgoradzo, May 20, 2019.

  1. ExAgoradzo

    ExAgoradzo Member

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    So, because I live in California I don’t really have a choice, but I am curious as to why someone would not like the solid bullet. For example the TTSX. It seems to me that the best argument against using the solid approach is that it needs a greater velocity to open up sufficiently. That argument falls on partially deaf ears to me because I won’t take a shot more than 200 yards. I am just not good enough and don’t practice enough to shoot further than that from a field position... honesty here...

    So, I would really like to know. Perhaps you’ve always liked the Partition, or the SGK, or some thing else...

    I’d like to learn.

    Greg
     
  2. LoonWulf
    • Contributing Member

    LoonWulf Contributing Member

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    I prefer heavy, soft bullets, as they open bigger holes.
    Can't killem deader than dead, but you can killem dead quicker.
     
  3. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    Copper solids have relatively poorer sectional density, higher cost, smaller range of expansion velocity, lower weight per profile, can require a faster twist, and can be more difficult to tune for reloaders.

    They work, and can be great, but they’re often not as versatile as a lead core bullet. When I pay more for a product, I expect to get more, and typically, with copper solids, you don’t get more for your money.
     
  4. mcb

    mcb Member

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    I am a fan and I don't have any state laws pushing me there.

    2vu5axg.jpg
    Barnes 45cal 275gr TSX launched at ~1850fps from my 450 Bushmaster. This particular bullet passed through a raccoon at about 20 yards then nearly 3 ft of forest floor where I recovered it. 100% weight retention.

    7zDje6W.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 in the third and found in the fourth milk jug. 100% weight retention.

    If I am fortunate, these two bullets will be used to take deer this coming season.
     
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  5. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    For hunting they can be very good, for target shooting, not so much, for cheap plinking not at all.

    They have their place in the world, but they are not the best for everything by a wide margin IMHO.
     
  6. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    "Barnes 45cal 275gr TSX launched at ~1850fps from my 450 Bushmaster. This particular bullet passed through a raccoon at about 20 yards then nearly 3 ft of forest floor where I recovered it. 100% weight retention."

    What was left of the Racoon??:what:
     
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  7. old heeler

    old heeler Member

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  8. ExAgoradzo

    ExAgoradzo Member

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    Yes, cost: I should have added that. No doubt.

    But my understanding is somewhat different than Varminterror. As I understand it, the weight is less but that is made up for because it is solid: you are getting a longer bullet for weight.

    I do understand they are not the end all be all. But I am a fan: and I’d like to know the other side.

    Thanks
    Greg
     
  9. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    Getting a longer bullet isn't without tradeoffs. You're using up cartridge capacity, so you often cannot drive these bullets as fast as lead ones can be driven.
     
  10. mcb

    mcb Member

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    He was sort of inside out. Both of the armadillo I shoot with that same bullet split the entire armored backed like shooting a milk jug.
     
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  11. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    I was thinking it would have exploded into red mist like a prairie dog.:what:
     
  12. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    It's super important that we have a choice. Just like legislation that forces new construction to use obscure sockets for CFL's, bullet regulation hinders innovation and progress. I am personally, absolutely against lead and use only lead-free primers. I have no exposed lead anywhere on my firearms, ammo or reloading bench. But I am even more against government regulation of bullets. It's counterproductive.

    For meat game, I wouldn't shoot anything else -- Barnes TSX, TTSX, Hornady GMX, Nosler E-tip. For shot I'd use steel, bismuth or tungsten. I'd even use bismuth for muzzleloaders unless I had the twist rate to shoot saboted copper. I don't see the point of contaminating meat with lead. But I even choose Barnes XPB or TAC-XP for civil purposes, entirely because of the terminal performance -- given the cartridges of my choice.

    Others have pointed out some of the characteristics of solid copper. They're not necessarily disadvantages, but they do require forethought and accommodation. Copper projectiles can be engineered to open at a goal velocity, but to give them the toughness to avoid shedding petals, TTSX tend to perform best at higher velocity. Still, many TTSX have minimum velocities for expansion of as little as 1500 fps and perform very well at 1800fps or more. The handgun TAC-XP and XPB perform very well at 1100 fps or more and may not be the best choice for self-defense ammo in the most popular cartridges, but can work superbly in .357 Magnum (where I use them) and in the big bore hunting magnums. .357 Magnum is a good example of a cartridge that is optimized for solid copper bullets. Because copper is not as dense as lead or tungsten, a bullet with the same sectional density is going to be longer. In a rifle, that could call for a higher twist rate (but the VLD, ELD trend is going that way anyway). In a handgun or an AR-length intermediate cartridge, we need powder capacity. 9x19mm minimizes powder capacity for grip size. It simply isn't optimized for copper bullets. .357, on the other hand, provides plenty of space for the long bullet and enough powder to drive velocity well over the requirements.

    With rifle rounds, copper bullets change some of the old standards for bullet weight and sectional density. For example, a 140 gr. bullet would have been considered "standard" for a .264" caliber with lead. With copper, a 120 gr. bullet will probably serve for the same purposes. Copper's toughness compared to lead means that lighter bullets will penetrate better than heavier lead bullets that shed their weight in the target, drastically reducing their sectional density as they go. A hundred years ago, people would use a 30 caliber 170 or 180gr bullet to shoot deer. Today, a 100 gr. copper TTSX in a smaller caliber will perform at least as well. But you can see from the 220 gr. pictured in the post above, fast and lightweight isn't the only way copper can be made to work, though subsonics are probably going to work like handgun bullets without remote wounding effects from hydrostatic shock. But if velocity is the key to shock wounding, then lightweight copper that will hold together at high velocities is going to have the advantage.

    I am in a state that does not regulate lead or bullets. But the only thing I shoot lead for is the low cost. I shoot copper plated bullets (handgun) and hollow-point (rifle) bullets so there is no exposed lead on the bullet and no lead in the bore or vaporized off the base (FMJ). I also shoot only lead-free primers. This keeps lead off my guns, off my reloading bench, out of my tumbling media, out of the air I breathe, and off my hands. I would shoot solid copper or sintered metal bullets exclusively if they were less costly and in the case of sintered, were ballistically closer to solid copper. As it is, the XPB's I shoot in handguns are 10 times more expensive than the copper-plated bullets. The .357" 158 gr. RMR plated hollowpoints are excellent substitutes for the 140 gr. Barnes XPB as they're nearly the same length, and due to the difference in start-pressure, both take about the same powder charges. At practical handgun ranges, the POI is close enough and again I can shoot 10-times more bullets for the same expense. For .357 Magnum, there is comparable but no better terminal performance than the Barnes XPB in any bullet.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
  13. JimKirk

    JimKirk Member

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    Many folks just can not get past the idea that copper bullets will work best if they are several weight steps below normal lead core bullets ....

    Take my .25/06 ..... the 80 grain Barnes TTSX will drop a GA whitetail as quick or quicker than a 117 grain lead core ..... the copper bullet has to be driven as fast as possible in a cartridge.....

    Many times when folks claim that copper bullets fail ...it was because they chose the wrong weight copper bullet .....most of the time the same weight as the common lead bullet ..... It just don't work that way ....

    I fault Barnes for not be "louder" about the weight issue ....
     
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  14. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    If forced to use them I'd not feel at all handicapped. You just have to use a different strategy as to loading and hunting. You cannot use the same bullet weights as lead and expect the same results.
     
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  15. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    And, unless they shed a petal, they don't lose weight when penetrating game like lead core bullets do so the end result is usually a recovered copper bullet similar in weight to a recovered standard lead-core bullet.

    I have to load them in hunting calibers here in Ca, and the Barnes TSX and TTSX are what I load in .243, .257 Robt, 6.5x55, .270, 7mm Rem Mag, .300 Weatherby and .45/70. (Total junk 'science' got lead hunting bullets banned, but I digress). Finding a happy load can be a pain, but once you do it's worth the effort.

    Stay safe.
     
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  16. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Member

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    I can't cast copper.
     
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