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View Full Version : Does shooting 45acp lead bullets damage barrels?


1911Operator
04-26-2010, 8:55 PM
I am looking into reloading my own rounds, and wanted to know if shooting non copper coated (just lead) bullets would do damage to my barrel. I have a SA 1911. I do not mind cleaning my gun if people are going to say its really dirty. if it does do damage are there any barrels that are made to shoot lead? Im only shooting at 7-15 yard paper targets at Jackson arms. Im not using my gun for any kind of competition. im just a average Joe looking to shoot more often and not pull money out of my life savings :( , well thanks in advance for your input!

pontiacpratt
04-26-2010, 8:58 PM
If i understand right shooting lead down a barrel will only foul the rifling quicker leading to loss of accuracy. Lead is softer than steel so it will not damage

Richie Caketown
04-26-2010, 8:59 PM
then why do you have to lube the lead bullets before using them?

1911Operator
04-26-2010, 9:01 PM
If i understand right shooting lead down a barrel will only foul the rifling quicker leading to loss of accuracy. Lead is softer than steel so it will not damage

thanks for the quick reply! yeah if i start reloading I will probably run 300 rounds a week through my gun a week. So its not like ill be blasting 1000 rounds every time. I had a problem shooting my kimber 22 conversion, I had plated rounds, and thats what kimber says to shoot, I got to about 400 rounds of double tapping and the barrel was sooooo baked with lead, the rounds were going into the target sideways. I never let the gun cool down of anything, dint notice the barrel dirty till I saw that happen.

tankerman
04-26-2010, 9:28 PM
If i understand right shooting lead down a barrel will only foul the rifling quicker leading to loss of accuracy.Not all lead bullets cause 'lead fouling', but all copper jacketed bullets will cause copper fouling, which does cause a drop in accuracy.

tankerman
04-26-2010, 9:55 PM
Enough of the 'old wives tales'.
http://www.shootingsoftware.com/fouling.htm
Copper Fouling

This article is provided by RSI as an instructional aid. If you have never used cleaning solutions other then those that come in cleaning kits, this article is especially for you. You may be doing everything possible to achieve a perfect rifle load but if your barrel fouls too quickly your effort is wasted.
Let's start with the basics.

1) For the purpose of this article we are addressing only the most common form of fouling caused by copper left in the bore from bullets fired with smokeless powder.

2) It takes several shots to first heat then "foul" a cold clean barrel so velocities stabilize and optimum accuracy can be achieved. This is because initial shots through a clean barrel produces different frictional energy until lube is blown out and the bore is coated with powder residue and/or copper so bullet friction begins to stabilize. The following pressure trace taken from a bench rifle shows what happens when starting with a cold clean barrel. The trace happens to be for a moly bullet load but the same phenomenon is evident with bare copper bullets.

And the copper keeps building up! Soft metals gall and stick to similar metal. Each round fired through the barrel will deposit a little more copper until accuracy deteriorates. Once a barrel is fouled successive shots will not remove the copper.

3) When copper fouling becomes severe, bumps of copper above the bore surface create restrictions that "tear" the base of the bullet jacket as it passes down the barrel. This adds air turbulence at the base of the bullet and is detrimental to consistent flight.

4) All barrels foul. It is simply a matter of how many shots are needed to first stabilize velocity then how quickly it fouls so severely the rifle starts "tossing flyers". Obviously if it takes nearly 10 shots for velocities to stabilize and at that point the barrel is fouled so severely accuracy is impossible, you have a problem. The barrel is called a "fouler".

5) Copper is easily removed with a good copper solvent. Ammonia has been the chemical of choice for removing copper from barrels for over 100 years. To my knowledge there is no detrimental affect from using an ammonia based solution providing it is thoroughly removed before the arm is stored.

There's a zillion more 'factual articles' just like this one.......................all you need to do is Google, 'copper fouling;.

nn3453
04-26-2010, 10:02 PM
then why do you have to lube the lead bullets before using them?

Lube reduces leading (since lead is soft, unlubed lead projectiles will leave behind more residue in the barrel). In addition, it can act as a seal.

1911Operator
04-26-2010, 10:03 PM
whoaaaa thats alot of info!

SixPointEight
04-26-2010, 10:04 PM
Lead is typically softer than copper. There's probably a way to mix it with enough tin to make it harder, but meh. Anyways, the only way I can see it damaging your gun is if your gun isn't chambered in .45ACP lol

tankerman
04-26-2010, 10:04 PM
And more.............
From: njohnson@nosc.mil (Norman F. Johnson)
Subject: Re: Severe Powder fowling w/ Reloads
Date: 11 May 1995 22:37:18 -0400
Lines: 159

David,

# I have been have some trouble with my 357 Mag., 9mm Makarov, and
# 45ACP reloades. I have notices especially in the 357 Mag. some severe
# powder fowling between and ontop of the riflings. I have tried changing
# powders and primers with no luck. Additionaly I am using hard lead
# bullets(Brinell 18) with each load. Here is some load info:

Could you be confusing powder fouling with lead fouling?

Some stuff that you may be interested in:

Bore leading stems from numerous, but usually related causes.
The principle cause I have discussed here before but is one that
is little known or understood by the vast majority of reloaders.
It is gas cutting. A bullet should not be more than .0005"
smaller in diameter than the throat (not the bore) of the gun.
This is true in rifle or pistol. Smaller diameter (lead) bullets
will allow hot gases to rush by and erode the base and sides of
the bullet. Some of the eroded metal plates onto the bore where
it is run over by the bullet.

The best cure to this source of bore leading is to fit the bullet
to that particular gun's throat. Since only a few reloaders have
the ability to do this (throats on recently made revolvers being
typically several thousands oversize) another approach is to try
a softer alloy. That is NOT a typo - a softer alloy will have
more tendency to obturate or "bump up" in the throat and is
often successful in reducing leading, especially in non-magnum
loads.

In MAGNUM loads where bullets already fit the throat and leading
is still excessive, sometimes a harder alloy is the answer -
sometimes. I find that most leading in this case is because of
the choice of powders. It is my experience, speaking of magnum
loads, that one should use the slowest powder that will give the
desired performance to make for successful cast or swaged lead
bullet shooting. My .44 magnums and .45 Colt boomer loads using
W-296 and H-110 give insignificant leading - and some of these are
much hotter than I would be willing to publish here. My bullet
alloy is moderately soft, measuring 12-13 BHN and gas checks are
rarely used.

I have recently been trying pure lead bullets in my 45-70 loaded
ahead of a case full of MR-8700, moderately compressed. To date
I have had no observable leading at 1300 fps in both the Marlin
and T/C Contender. That is with pure lead, folks. If the
buffalo hunters could do it, why shouldn't we?And as before there are a zillion factual articles on how to avoid barrel leading, Google will locate the answers for you.

Like I said, done with the 'old wives tales'.

Knauga
04-26-2010, 10:08 PM
I've shot more than 1000 LSWC through my 1911's without any issue. They are dirty, but beyond that they shoot just fine all day long.

PutTogether
04-27-2010, 1:00 AM
then why do you have to lube the lead bullets before using them?


Lead bullets are lubed to be loaded into brass cases during manufacture of ammo, not to shoot them. If lead bullets aren't lubed, they can get shaved a bit being forced into the case by the seating die.

The lube is a reloading thing, NOT a shooting thing.

railroader
04-27-2010, 1:44 AM
Pretty much only shoot my lead reloads in my 45's. I once in a while will run some FMJ rounds through them but very seldom. I have a kimber custom with 10 years of lead through it without issues. Mark

pontiacpratt
04-27-2010, 5:45 AM
Not all lead bullets cause 'lead fouling', but all copper jacketed bullets will cause copper fouling, which does cause a drop in accuracy.

So copper being harder than lead will always foul, and lead being a very soft metal with a low melting point normally does not?

Fjold
04-27-2010, 6:19 AM
Lead bullets are lubed to be loaded into brass cases during manufacture of ammo, not to shoot them. If lead bullets aren't lubed, they can get shaved a bit being forced into the case by the seating die.

The lube is a reloading thing, NOT a shooting thing.

Nope,

Grease type lube was always applied to grease grooves in the bullets before the black lube coatings were invented. This was done to reduce leading in the bore and has nothing to do with reloading.

To prevent shaving the bullets as you seat them you flare the mouth of the case more.

eaglemike
04-27-2010, 6:39 AM
Nope,

Grease type lube was always applied to grease grooves in the bullets before the black lube coatings were invented. This was done to reduce leading in the bore and has nothing to do with reloading.

To prevent shaving the bullets as you seat them you flare the mouth of the case more.
Perzactly....... ^^^^^^^

Properly loaded lead bullets will wear the barrel less than copper jacketed. A moly-coated 230rn loaded with correct powder will not lead a smooth barrel at all. A 200rnfp or swc, same thing. All the way down to a 155swc, which I used to shoot major plus with - at over 1150 FPS. I did have a nice smooth barrel, which can make a difference.

Proper sizing and hardness makes a big difference. Please don't ever shoot soft .451 sized bullets in your .45acp, unless your bore is .450 - because you'll be hating life getting the lead out. A proper lead bullet is bore size up to maybe .0015 over. Common sizing is .001 over bore. You can even shoot lead bullets in Glocks if you know what you are doing - most people don't know what size bullet to run, etc.

If you don't know how to slug your barrel, get some old reloading books or ask for help. Match barrels are usually identified with the size.

all the best,
Mike

Forestgnome
04-27-2010, 6:42 AM
Go ahead and shoot lead if you want, no harm. Easy way to get the lead out, shoot some jacketed afterwards. Blows the lead out pretty well.

Hank Dodge
04-27-2010, 6:59 AM
Lead bullets are lubed to be loaded into brass cases during manufacture of ammo, not to shoot them. If lead bullets aren't lubed, they can get shaved a bit being forced into the case by the seating die.

The lube is a reloading thing, NOT a shooting thing.


:icon_bs:

The lube has nothing to do with loading, it is there to lubricate the bullet when fired. Different lubes work better with different lead alloys and powders. Most commercial lead bullets are sold with the lube already on them so you really shouldn't need to worry about it. Lead bullets are great. I shoot lead almost exclusively in my revolvers and quite often in my 1911. I don't figure that you will be casting your own bullets, I'd just buy them from a quality supplier and run with it. Stay away from the cheap swagged bullets though, I've found that the cast are much better. You might find that one bullet profile works better than another in your autoloader. Pick up a copy of the Lyman reloading manual, it's a great reference source.

mif_slim
04-27-2010, 7:13 AM
Wow, and after all these years with all the resource we can get now, the lead myth still lives on!! ;)

I especially like the lube for reloading part. :D

lazs
04-27-2010, 9:42 AM
I know of no 1911 made today that uses anything but cut rifling so all are safe to use with lead bullets. Some of the plastic guns use a different rifling and are unsafe to use with lead bullets.. "unsafe" meaning.. take your chances.

I have shot lead bullets almost exclusively for decades and cast my own out of common lead sources like wheel weights.

I like shooting 38/44mag/45 acp etc for three of four dollars a box of 50.

Lead bullets will work well or better than jacketed for 99.9% of all situations that we own a handgun for.

The limitations are.. You need to have the right sizing die for the gun that will be shooting them. The throats and the bores have to be close with the throats slightly larger. The bullets have to have a decent to great lube and be of reasonable hardness past about 1100 fps. The bore of the gun has to be true and not rough. The last often can be made better with a few thousand jacketed rounds or some sort of polishing system.

Accuracy is pretty much equal to jacketed with a slight nod to well fitted and heavy lead bullets with the right propellant or light loads with powders that can "bump" up softer lead bullets (unique does this) Like say.... wadcutters.. target loads that will make one hole groups.. soft lead wadcutters that are hollow base. the powder gas forces the bullet to expand to fit the rifling.

But.. if you like to pay 20-50 bucks a box for jacketed ammo.....

Notblake
04-27-2010, 10:12 AM
Lead is better for barrel life than copper. Think of it this way, would you rather poop a really hard poop? or a really soft poop? which would cause less strain on your 'barrel'? as stated before, where you run into problems is that with a softer poop you need to wipe more ........

that is actually a really good analogy.... lol

oh and Bore Snake is your FRIEND! Now that I use em I can't believe that i didn't use them before.

Snapping Twig
04-27-2010, 10:28 AM
Been casting and reloading since the early 80's. My firearms don't know what a factory round is.

Here's a quick reloading highlights advisory for shooting lead.

Bullets need to obdurate to seal properly to prevent hot gasses from escaping around the bullet as it speeds down the bore. Leading is caused mainly in this way - melting.

Cure... oversize the bullet by .001 over bore size. ie. for a .357, size to .358.

Hard cast and swaged lead are two different things. Sizing is important and with a proper lube, swaged lead can shoot cleanly up to @ 900fps or so. After that, you need hard cast.

Lube - use a good one. Alox and beeswax is the standard. I find it smoky, so I use White Label BAC, but YMMV.

Bottom line, lead is easy on the barrel and for an equal powder charge you get higher velocity with lead - up to 100fps in some circumstances.

I use cast lead from wheel weights and unless I'm loading for rifle, that's all I'll ever use. I do cast for rifle too, just for fun. Some day I'll switch totally and leave the jacketed bullets behind completely.

Sinixstar
04-27-2010, 12:58 PM
You do realize that the 1911 was designed for Lead Round Nose ammo, correct?

That's WHY some 1911s have issues with HP ammo in the first place. The feedramp was designed with round lead bullets specifically in mind. Copper jacketed rounds came into play well after the fact.

Now, with that in mind - why would you think that lead ammo would damage your barrel?

Hank Dodge
04-27-2010, 1:13 PM
You do realize that the 1911 was designed for Lead Round Nose ammo, correct?

That's WHY some 1911s have issues with HP ammo in the first place. The feedramp was designed with round lead bullets specifically in mind. Copper jacketed rounds came into play well after the fact.

Now, with that in mind - why would you think that lead ammo would damage your barrel?


Lots of folks just don't get it. A good deal of modern day shooters have no clue what things used to be like. I've always had a liking for the older guns, so it's natural for me to shoot them the way they were designed. Folks I see at the range punching paper with factory JHP ammo at $25 a box make me really happy I learned to roll my own.

OK...here's one for you. Anybody else ever shot black powder in their 1911? I loaded up a batch on a whim a while back. It was a hoot!
:p

1911Operator
04-27-2010, 1:19 PM
You do realize that the 1911 was designed for Lead Round Nose ammo, correct?

That's WHY some 1911s have issues with HP ammo in the first place. The feedramp was designed with round lead bullets specifically in mind. Copper jacketed rounds came into play well after the fact.

Now, with that in mind - why would you think that lead ammo would damage your barrel?
I thought after shooting about 200 rounds lead would build up in the groves and eventuraly I would get a round stuck in my barrel without knowing, then the next round would blow up. I had a problem with my kimber 22 conversion, I shot about 400 rounds of coated rounds and the barrel got so gunked up the rounds went into the target sideways! thats a 22 with a heavy barrel , but my 1911 , like 99% of all of them, has a relitively thin barrel considering the size of the round. just got scared after that incident with my kimber 22. I though it would be better to ask then just go into doing it.

Sinixstar
04-27-2010, 1:28 PM
Lots of folks just don't get it. A good deal of modern day shooters have no clue what things used to be like. I've always had a liking for the older guns, so it's natural for me to shoot them the way they were designed. Folks I see at the range punching paper with factory JHP ammo at $25 a box make me really happy I learned to roll my own.

OK...here's one for you. Anybody else ever shot black powder in their 1911? I loaded up a batch on a whim a while back. It was a hoot!
:p

Never out of a 1911, but yes on a .45 Long Colt. It is pretty crazy to see. I'd be nervous to blast off in a 1911 with black powder for the dirt alone. The amount of cleaning that would have to go into that - yikes.

Sinixstar
04-27-2010, 1:34 PM
I thought after shooting about 200 rounds lead would build up in the groves and eventuraly I would get a round stuck in my barrel without knowing, then the next round would blow up. I had a problem with my kimber 22 conversion, I shot about 400 rounds of coated rounds and the barrel got so gunked up the rounds went into the target sideways! thats a 22 with a heavy barrel , but my 1911 , like 99% of all of them, has a relitively thin barrel considering the size of the round. just got scared after that incident with my kimber 22. I though it would be better to ask then just go into doing it.

Coated with what?

I've found it takes a good deal of shooting (i've put 600 rounds of lead down a barrel at a time without much dropoff in accuracy) before you notice a serious decrease in accuracy. You are probably going to get tired before your barrel does.
Worst case - if you're shooting high volumes during your range outings, keep a good brass brush on hand to delead the barrel from time to time (every couple hundred rounds, or as you see fit).

They also make steel tornado brushes specifically for de-leading - but i've never been a big fan of these. Steel on steel is more likely to cause damage to the barrel then Brass (softer) on steel.

edit : Also bear in mind copper fouls as well. Personally I find copper fouling more annoying as it's a lot more difficult to remove. Virtually impossible without the aid of cleaners and solvents actually. Lead is soft enough it will come out with a good brush and some elbow grease.

Juicymeat
04-27-2010, 2:07 PM
If shooting lead without constant cleaning causes a decrease in accuracy, I'm pretty damn sure you're not going to notice it. In my experience shooting lead bullets isn't any dirtier than shooting jacketed ammo. The cleanliness between reloading FMJ and lead however is a different story unless you're using moly coated lead bullets.

To 1911operator: the only thing properly loaded lead ammo will do is give a bit more smoke and hell of a lot in savings compared to loading jacketed ammo.

bohoki
04-27-2010, 4:30 PM
Lead bullets are lubed to be loaded into brass cases during manufacture of ammo, not to shoot them. If lead bullets aren't lubed, they can get shaved a bit being forced into the case by the seating die.

The lube is a reloading thing, NOT a shooting thing.


this is pretty big fud

the lube is to reduce leading traveling down the bore

i cast my own and lube with lee liquid alox and it makes a bit of smoke on firing it seems to reduce lead in the grooves but it cleans out easy enough with a good sturdy copper brush (i get at gunshows the pistol one with the wire loop)

as to harm it could harm your gun only if you fire say thousands of rounds without cleaning till the barrel gets so clogged you get a pressure spike and kaboom

i seldom go more than 500 rounds before a bore scrubbing

casting my own the savings is great it makes shooting 45 as cheap as shooting 9mm which i cast as well
it all comes down to power and primer cost and 9mm and 45 use just about the same amount of bullseye
4.5 grains for 45 and 3.5 for 9mm

tankerman
04-27-2010, 4:41 PM
Lead bullets are lubed to be loaded into brass cases during manufacture of ammo, not to shoot them. If lead bullets aren't lubed, they can get shaved a bit being forced into the case by the seating die.

The lube is a reloading thing, NOT a shooting thing.You don't know anything about reloading and should not be giving advice.

Snapping Twig
04-27-2010, 5:00 PM
Forgot to post this earlier.

Lead removal made really easy...

Take your regular brass or bronze bore brush, and wrap some strands from a copper Chore Boy scrubber pad (available at the grocery store) around the brush.

Use whatever you like, oil, Hoppes, whatever, and then run it though the barrel.

Repeat as needed.

Totally blows the Lewis Lead Remover tool out of the water and it costs next to nothing.

Hope this helps.

2Cute2Shoot
04-27-2010, 5:10 PM
If shooting lead without constant cleaning causes a decrease in accuracy, I'm pretty damn sure you're not going to notice it. In my experience shooting lead bullets isn't any dirtier than shooting jacketed ammo. The cleanliness between reloading FMJ and lead however is a different story unless you're using moly coated lead bullets.

To 1911operator: the only thing properly loaded lead ammo will do is give a bit more smoke and hell of a lot in savings compared to loading jacketed ammo.

I have an OLD 1911 that shoots 45. I think it has had at least 20,000 rounds through it, which I think a lot were self loaded lead, and I don't think there is any problem with accuracy :). I think you should be OK as long as you have a clean gun.