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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all.

The gun club I am shooting at only allows lead bullets so I got one of the guys to reload some for me. From 30 ft, most of these bullets appear to be making keyhole openings instead of normal round holes. Some of the guys at the club say its the reloaded bullets that is causing it. The gun has been shot several times from the same distance with regular jacketed bullets without this problem.

So I have 2 questions:

1. Should I just not shoot lead bullets through this gun or is there a certain type of reloaded bullet I should be using?

2. Can I continue to use the remaining bullets or are they damaging the gun?

Thanks in advance.
 

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With most of the popular plated bullets for reloading, the plating on the lead core is so thin they are essentially lead bullets. They will deform easily on the range backstop, where a gilding metal jacketed bullet will not. You should also try to determine what diameter bullets, powder type, and powder charge were used for these loads you shot. I had good results from cast lead .356 diameter 122 grain bullets when shot from a Glock 17 many years ago.
 

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wharriso, Because jacketed bullets are working OK, it's not your gun. There are two primary causes for keyholes .... both related to bullet spin from the rifling that prevents the bullet from staying stable. The first is a badly fouled bore that won't let the rifling do its job. This is usually caused by bullets that are the wrong hardness. The second and most probable cause is the ammo is not loaded with enough powder to generate the velocity needed to spin the bullets fast enough and keep them stable down range. If you can post your load data, chances are we can figure out the problem. We need bullet weight, type of powder and powder charge weight ... bullet hardness would be nice too.

1. Shooting lead bullets in a LC9 will work just fine ... providing the loads meet the proper criteria.
2. I would not recommend shooting the rest of the ammo until you find the keyhole cause.

Just a note .... shooting someone else's reloads is not wise!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
wharriso, Because jacketed bullets are working OK, it's not your gun. There are two primary causes for keyholes .... both related to bullet spin from the rifling that prevents the bullet from staying stable. The first is a badly fouled bore that won't let the rifling do its job. This is usually caused by bullets that are the wrong hardness. The second and most probable cause is the ammo is not loaded with enough powder to generate the velocity needed to spin the bullets fast enough and keep them stable down range. If you can post your load data, chances are we can figure out the problem. We need bullet weight, type of powder and powder charge weight ... bullet hardness would be nice too.

1. Shooting lead bullets in a LC9 will work just fine ... providing the loads meet the proper criteria.
2. I would not recommend shooting the rest of the ammo until you find the keyhole cause.

Just a note .... shooting someone else's reloads is not wise!
Thanks Iowegan. I won't shoot any more of those, so I won't even bother finding out the load data. I just need to find a lead bullet supplier.
 

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Sometimes I've encountered cast bullets that were undersize for the barrel. I suspect a combination of alloy and temperature as there can be a bit of shrinkage, usually a wheel weight alloy that has been doctored for hardness. (I tried that myself one time, and found the bullets cooled undersize).
No good reason lead bullets of adequate hardness for the velocity/powder shouldn't work, but there are lots of ways to get that wrong.

It's also possible to custom order an off size from many commercial casters, and once in a while a mold comes through undersize a bit. Bullets too small for the bore lead worse than properly fitting bullets.

Last but not least, some Ruger barrels come through rough, and lead immediately. I've had a couple that fouled the barrel in a couple dz shots so the rifling was hard to see.

Take a few passes with Remington 40X or JB bore paste. It not only removes the lead quickly, but takes the burrs off the rifling. Usually a few cycles of that approach helps a lot, and may cure the problem.
 

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I just need to find a lead bullet supplier.
Two suppliers I have used in the past:
dardas cast bullets
Missouri Bullet Company

In order to keep shipping costs down and decrease your per bullet cost it helps to do a group buy with several people in your area. When you call up the supplier with a 10-12 thousand bullet order you're likely to get a better bullet cost than published online. Further, they can then mix and match to get the maximum weight in each USPS Flat Rate box.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Two suppliers I have used in the past:
dardas cast bullets
Missouri Bullet Company

In order to keep shipping costs down and decrease your per bullet cost it helps to do a group buy with several people in your area. When you call up the supplier with a 10-12 thousand bullet order you're likely to get a better bullet cost than published online. Further, they can then mix and match to get the maximum weight in each USPS Flat Rate box.
Dangrd, I just took a look at the Dardas site. Can you tell me the difference between a 122 grain and a 126 grain bullet? Should I order 0.356" or 0.357" size?
 

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Thanks Iowegan. I won't shoot any more of those, so I won't even bother finding out the load data. I just need to find a lead bullet supplier.
Please read my first post again. You should be able to use plated bullets for the loads you use at that particular range. The reason for the 'no jacketed bullets' is likely to minimize damage/wear to the backstops. I prefer to shoot plated bullets in my 9mm for plinking/target loads.
 

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Dangrd, I just took a look at the Dardas site. Can you tell me the difference between a 122 grain and a 126 grain bullet? Should I order 0.356" or 0.357" size?
Jacketed 9mm bullets are .355", but cast bullets are best at one thousandth larger, which calls for .356 diameter. Any commercial bullet caster should be selling 9mm bullets by that designation, to avoid confusion, anyway. From what I can see Dardas does that. The only exception is the 9mm Makarov, which is a rule unto itself.

As to cast bullets and suppliers, there are certain things to simply be aware of. Many molds and alloy combinations can throw bullets a thousandth or so larger than mold size, but they are post-sized during lubrication to .356". You should never use bullets sized at .357, nominally, which would likely bulge the case to prevent chambering, and they are profiles intended for revolvers that have no feeding requirements.

In terms of ballistic performance there's no practical difference between 122 and 126 grain bullets, but when you're talking cast lead bullets, you need a sufficient length to assure that driving band proportion to weight is established, which is why many folks find 124 and 147 grain bullets to be more suitable. By the time you make room for lubrication grooves, and give the bullet a sufficient ogive for feeding, you don't have too much landscape for dropping cast weight below 124 grains without losing bearing and crimping surface. There are some very good bullet designs at 100 and 120 grains, but loading data for 9mm cast bullets is pretty much a 124 and 147 grain thing. Remember that if you don't have data for a given bullet weight, you can safely load from the data supplied for the next heavier bullet, as long as it's for the same construction (lead, jacketed).

As to plated bullets, I use them extensively, as much as cast bullets. But without question, a cast bullet of typical Brinnell hardness is far harder than a copper plated bullet, which is made from soft swaged lead. Now, it is a fact that some ranges sell their lead to dealers who specify clean lead; that is, no copper content for the best price. Thin as it is--and it is very thin compared to copper jackets, as I can testify as a former electroplater in my earlier years--plated bullets do have enough copper on them to make this an issue for metal dealers specifying "clean". I've measured the remnants of plated bullets after melting them in my lead pot, and the skins run about .002. Though very thin by jacketed bullet standards, that amazed me, because it's a full zero decimal thicker than what we plated for the electronics industry and for government contracts, at "two-tenths". Plated bullets are a wonderful thing, and very accurate.
 

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wharriso - what about learning to reload yourself?

A GREAT place to start is with a reloading manual.
Your local library may have one (mine did)

My favorites ...

1. Lyman 49th Reloading handbook - far & away my favorite.
It has a great "how-to" section as well as the widest array of load data.

2. Modern Reloading by Richard Lee.
If you can get past Lee's hyperbole about his own reloading equipment, it's a very good manual.
Again, good how-to section & wide array of data.
But ... he doesn't do any testing, his data is borrowed from others & he never says what kind of bullet, just bullet weights.

3. ABCs of Reloading - it's strictly a "How-to" book, no load data.

4. LoadBooksUSA puts out single caliber books (one for 9mm, one for 45ACP, etc) with data from a lot of sources.
No "How-to" section, it just has load data.

Give it some thought, it's really not hard to do.
 

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I suggest that you slug your barrel and use a lead bullet that is .001" larger.

Then you need to find a powder charge that will keep the velocity low enough that it won't cause excessive leading, but also cycle your action.

I also agree with learning to reload and cast your own. It's a fun and rewarding hobby that will help you learn your guns and the ammo they work well with.

I'm casting and loading for .45acp, .357/.38 and .30 cal.

Good Luck
 
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