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Discussion Starter #1
I've been reloading for a couple of years--.327, .357, and 9 mm. Initially I only used jacketed bullets. But reloading led to shooting a lot more, so I started using plated bullets (both Berry's and Rainier) to save money and I have been happy with those. But I am shooting more .357 rifles (an Henry and Rossi lever, and a Ruger bolt). The velocities I like to shoot (1600 to 2100 f/s) are too high for the plated bullets. And I think I'd like to try wadcutters as I try to improve my longer distance target revolver shooting.

I've done just enough reading to be both confused and dangerous. I had never considered lead bullets because of worries about leading, and because I assumed you couldn't push lead any faster than the plated bullets. It would appear proper loads (bullet diameter, CUP, Brinell hardness, coated bullets) eliminate (mostly) the leading concern, and it would seem that lead bullets will tolerate the velocities (or close to the velocities) that I am considering.

So I'm thinking about doing this to 1) save money over jacketed bullets, and 2) possibly also increase my choices (wadcutters) for my target revolvers.

With all of this background, should I consider loading lead? If yes, I'll be back with some basic questions (such as how to slug a barrel, etc.).
 

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You don't have to slug the barrel to shoot lead unless you are making your own. I have only shot about 200 jacketed bullets out of 117,000 the rest lead. I shot lead in everything from 32/20 to 300 win mag. You may want to move the f/s down to low 1000's high 100's (800 to 1200 f/s). The need for speed is for more knock down power than paper targets. Why be hard on your hands and shoulders. I shot 38 short colt and 38 s&w in my GP-100's. Good fun @ 650 f/s.

P.S in revolvers look at the cylinder if you slug. Add all six or five then divide by 6 or 5 and use the average.
 

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Lead works very well. Get a lead bullet loading manual for all the info you need
 

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Discussion Starter #4
dannyd: for revolvers I agree staying out of the transonic speed zone makes sense. But for the rifles I'm shooting at metal targets up to 225 yards away--and I'd like a flatter trajectory, hence my wanting to shoot at higher speeds--will lead tolerate the speeds I mentioned?

Sin Nombre: all of my reloading manuals list lead bullets and specific loads. But is there a specific "lead only" loading manual?
 

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Lyman puts out a good size reloading manual for cast lead bullets. Includes both rifle and handgun. I use it all the time for my cast lead bullet reloading.
 

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You need to find the services of a bullet caster who builds in volume and will build you a hard cast bullet with gas check ..normal lead hardness bullets moving much faster than 900/1000fps will melt (barrel leading) 2 ways ..barrel friction which hardness addresses and burning gas which the gas check will shield ..and it gets worse the longer the barrel

The down side to the suggestion is I would suspect you can buy bulk jacketed bullets as cheap as a quality hardened lead bullet with gas check ..I assume cost is the underlying reason for wanting to shoot lead

So I very quickly checked hard lead w/gas check price $24.00/100
and I found jacketed SP for $174/1000 ..the latter being talked about by users as working great in their respective carbines

Bear
 

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Discussion Starter #7
You need to find the services of a bullet caster who builds in volume and will build you a hard cast bullet with gas check ..normal lead hardness bullets moving much faster than 900/1000fps will melt (barrel leading) 2 ways ..barrel friction which hardness addresses and burning gas which the gas check will shield ..and it gets worse the longer the barrel

The down side to the suggestion is I would suspect you can buy bulk jacketed bullets as cheap as a quality hardened lead bullet with gas check ..I assume cost is the underlying reason for wanting to shoot lead

So I very quickly checked hard lead w/gas check price $24.00/100
and I found jacketed SP for $174/1000 ..the latter being talked about by users as working great in their respective carbines

Bear
Wow! This is great info. On sale, I can score appropriate jackets bullets for $18/100. So perhaps there is no advantage to lead at the rifle velocities I want to shoot.
 

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64chevy the only way I will ever shoot lead bullets out of my .357 Lever action rifles the bullets are going to have to be hard cast lead semi wad cutter with a gas check. When you check into prices of a bullet like this its probably cheaper in the long run to just shoot a good quality JHP or JSP bullet from Hornady, Speer, Sierra, in a good reload or just the same configuration in a factory load!!!
 

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30 years ago I bought 25 lbs of old printer's typeset. That stuff makes great rifle bullets. I add about 20% linotype to 80% wheelweight lead and have had great results.
 

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Morning 64Chevy;

I used to shoot a lot of lead in most of my revolvers & some of my long guns.

As posters mentioned above-- lead can & will work at higher FPS speeds but is not as cheap as most think as the QUALITY hard cast are more expensive than just soft lead junk & the gas checks add more money yet.

Then you need to add in the cleaning supplies needed as you will have to clean more often & probably use more expensive lead removing products.

If you shop around (continually) for reasonable bullet deals as I do then you can eventually find some good deals on brand new jacked (seconds) or quality jacketed pulls (careful with these as some are like new & other can be pretty deformed).

I have (had been anyhow) playing with powder coated lead but quality powder coated didn't seem to save me much & doing it myself was a real pain in the a$$)

Last November I found & bought 10,000 38/357 jacketed pulls for 4 cents each with better than 90% being almost like new with the remaining usable but not pristine. (I did have to run them through my tumbler to remove some tarnish though)
 

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I played around with lead bullets but could never quite figure them out so I switched to plated and am happy. Now I'm not pushing them as hard as the op but I like my results. If I get into SASS SHOOTING I'll have to go back and work out the wrinkles of lead bullets. I may have been expecting too much from them. I'm assuming there's always going to be some lead clean up to do afterwards.
 

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You can buy 500 powder-coated slugs in a variety of styles online for just a little more than plain lead. I can't find a ink right away but just google powder coated bullets for sale and you'll find them.

Benefits are slightly higher velocities, little or no leading and for some no need of gas checks.
 

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I shoot only lead and i would disagree with many that have posted responses. I use range scrap so I actually have no idea how hard my bullets are. They tend to be softer than commercial but they perform better. I use Lee tumble lube molds and liquid alox lube. If I need a rifle bullet I install a gas check. I can load 38 or 9 mm cheaper than I can buy 22 lr. Not everyone will agree with me but that has been my experience. Shooting cast can be quite fun. As for clean up I find that I have no more mess than jacketed ammo. I believe bullet fit has been key for me. Cast bullets need to be fatter than jacketed.
 

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But for the rifles I'm shooting at metal targets up to 225 yards away--and I'd like a flatter trajectory, hence my wanting to shoot at higher speeds--will lead tolerate the speeds I mentioned?
Flatter trajectory really helps when you don't know the true distance.

I used to shoot handgun metallic silhouette with cast lead (linotype). The rams were always at 200 meters. Sights were adjusted for that distance.

If you're hunting and your target is around 200 yds +- 50 yds, that's a different story. That's where high velocity really pays off.
 

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Look at the end of the day it just comes down to work and your willingness to find the right cast bullet and load. I run cast in my 30/06 at 2000fps with no issues but it took a bit to get there. I have since been powder coating my cast stuff and have been amazed at the results! So far it would seem that there are no pressure restraints with powder coat. I mix my P.C with MEK to make a liquid then dip the bullets and let dry then I bake at the required temp, size with no lube then load'em. Bullet dia. is also does not seem to be an issue. I have been casting for over 30 yrs now and take great pride in making cast that work as good or better then jacked with no lead but P.C just made that much much easier.
Creating a liquid p.c eliminates the need to have spray equipment or the mess with tumbling and I dont have to coat the nose ( I like lead colored bullets). You can do what you are trying to accomplish with the proper hardness and gas checks and a good lube but you will most likely find some leading at the pressures that are required for the velocities you want. Good luck. Feel free to pm me if you have any PC questions.
Also you will find that slower burn rate powders will lead less because they have a lower pressure curve! Remember leading is caused by pressure NOT velocity pressure is what gets you velocity!
 

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Alloy hardness needs to match the loads PSI. For me, maximum rifle velocity is 1800 fps for best accuracy in 30-06 and 30WCF.
Cast can be made harder with cheap alloys containing 2% or more antimony, when oven heat treating is used.
 

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Wow, answers all over the place! In my experience bullet to gun fit is prolly the single most important part of shooting cast bullets (whether you buy or cast your own). Yes, you need to know your gun and it's dimensions; throat diameter and groove diameter for your revolvers. Chamber/throat sizes for your semi-autos (less so then revolvers) and barrel groove diameter. Without these facts, it's all a WAG. With proper bullet to gun fit I have driven 160 gr. LSWC cast of wheel weight alloy, plain based, air cooled to over 1200 fps in a 4" .357 Magnum with no leading.

Besides the ultimate satisfaction of shooting your own hand made bullets, you will learn a bunch more about your guns. I have 5 revolvers and I know the cylinder throat, barrel bore and groove diameters for each one. I have three rifles I have the same dimensions recorded (and I found my .303 British that's supposed to be .312" is really 3.18"!). Slugging a barre is easy and gives a lot of info ( bbl. constrictions, bulges, etc.). I have a few guns that have not had a jacketed round fired in them since I've gotten them, a couple new and a few used. Leading in a barrel ain't the end of the world or the gun's barrel. It's just a PIA to clean.

I cast bullets successfully for 12 years before I got a hardness tester, but all my bullets fit the guns so I had very little leading. I tried the "PSI vs BHN" formula, but it was a waste of brain power for me as I saw no difference/improvement...:rolleyes:

Start reading here for a good background and pick up a Lyman's Cast Bullet Handbook (3rd Edition is more new caster friendly, but a 4th Edition will do.).
From Ingot to Target: A Cast Bullet Guide For Handgunners, Table of Contents - Fryxell/Applegate

Taking a bunch of dirty greasy scrap lead and smelting it and getting clean ingots then melting those clean ingots and casting a bunch of bullets and custom sizing and lubing them for a specific gun is the epitome of satisfaction. Nuttin' like it...
 
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