Pro's and Con's of using lead bullets?

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by dsv424, Jun 18, 2009.

  1. dsv424

    dsv424 New Member

    Oct 27, 2008
    Garland, Tx.
    I have always used jacketed bullets when I reload, but I am beginning to get tempted into trying lead cast bullets because of the price difference. Are they really that much of a pain to keep the barrel clean because I am meticulous about cleaning my guns as soon as I return from the range. So I would think that lead build up would not be a problem. Also one of my handguns is a Glock and I have heard that lead is bad for them. Is this true? I really would like to save some money by using lead but is it worth the extra maintanence? What exactly are the "Pro's and Con's" of useing lead?
  2. Dirtypacman

    Dirtypacman New Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Merrimac Valley, MA
    As long as your doing a good cleaning after every range trip you should be good. Some suggest putting a few jacketed down the pipe before you leave and that will help.

    I don't have a Glock myself but my H&K suggests not using lead but I have and never had a problem. Just a good cleaning after each session.

  3. 22WRF

    22WRF Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2004
    and.... some of us are going to tell you that if put a few jacketed down the pipe after shooting lead you are going to drive the lead residue down in the grooves and make it harder to get the lead out.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2009
  4. Bioman

    Bioman New Member

    Apr 23, 2009
    I'm relatively new to all of this, but I thought the issue was more with rifles due to high velocity loads. I have a buddy who is in the military and he tells me that at higher velocities lead bullets can fowl rifle barrels quickly and possibly break up in flight due to air friction. No idea if this is the case or not.
  5. Dirtypacman

    Dirtypacman New Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Merrimac Valley, MA
    Ya I probably should have left that out since I have only read something along those lines - never truely tested or confirmed.

    Thanks for keeping it on point - incorrect information is not a good thing when it comes to guns.
  6. NuJudge

    NuJudge New Member

    Jun 28, 2008
    The big advantages of Lead bullets are only if you cast them yourself. After investing about $200, your cost per projectile can be around $0.02 if plain base, about $0.05 if gas checked.

    The problems? If you cast yourself, you have to have space to do it, the time to do it, you have to be careful as you are working with molten metal at 650F, and be careful not to ingest any of it because it is toxic.

    You have to shoot a lot for this to be worth it to you to cast your own.

    Lead bullets are more fragile, and finding an accurate load takes more load development.

    Some rifles and pistols just do not like cast bullets, or they do not like them pushed as fast as jacketed bullets. Fit is more critical with cast: an undersized jacketed bullet frequently shoots fine, but an undersized Lead bullet will Lead like mad, keyhole, not group worth a hoot, etc.
  7. bntyhntr6975

    bntyhntr6975 Member

    May 5, 2009
    Wichita, Ks.
    dsv424: Most will advise NOT to use lead in a Glock factory barrel. (Aftermarkets are available.) The reasons behind this will vary, depending on who you talk to. What cal. is the Glock? If its a .40, I wouldn't recommend loading for it at all. .40S&W in Glocks and XDs have really given the pistols bad reputations. (Most KBs have been from the .40s, though not all.)
  8. Mac0083

    Mac0083 New Member

    Mar 6, 2009
    Florida's Gulf Coast
    "I wouldn't recommend loading for it at all. .40S&W in Glocks and XDs have really given the pistols bad reputations." said bntyhntr6975

    ut-ohh... i have a brand new subcompact XD .40 i have been reading this forum daily since i joined. i have heard about the glock's but not the XD's. please tell me more or point me to a thread that does. And are you talking about reloading in general or using cast boolits? i know the glock's have polygon rifling, but the XD is traditional. please tell me what he meant. Thanks guys.
  9. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    When I started shooting regularly in the the mid 1980's I tried lead bullets in handguns. I loaded them to keep the velocities below 1000 FPS, as that was suppose to be the point where barrels started leading up. But it seemed that after every range session I was digging pieces of lead lumps out of the barrels of my guns just in front of the chamber with a pick as nothing else would remove it. It increased the time to clean a gun significantly to say nothing about the risk of damage to the barrel using the pick inside it.

    Then I found the Rainier Plated Bullets. They are copper plated cast lead bullets that don't shed lead or copper into the barrel. Simple barrel cleaning does the job. The copper is soft enough that it is not as hard on the barrel over time as guilding metal of jacketed bullets. I still keep the velocities down to keep from having a copper cleaning issue.There are now other sources of plated bullets. The cost factor is between commercially cast bullets and jacketed bullets but well worth it.

    I have helped friends cast bullet years ago and decided then that I didn't want to do it myself. The super hot metal, the difficulty of getting perfectly cast bullets (the yield is not even close to 100%, in my experience, and some flaws are hidden inside the bullets), and the health risks just were not worth it to me. My answer was Rainier plated bullets.

  10. carver

    carver Moderator Supporting Member

    I have been reloading and shooting lead bullets for over 30 years. They work great in revolvers! Not so good in semi autos, due to feed problems. Use the round nose type, and keep the bullet speeds below 700fps. If your gun has been ramped they should work fine. If you haven't had your pistol worked on by a smith (ramped), then you should do this first. Lead bullets are cheaper to shoot simply because they cost less to purchase. I just bought 1000 rds. of lead ball ammo in .45, they work great in my cloned 1911A1, but then I've had mine to the smith.
  11. mrkirker

    mrkirker New Member

    Jul 13, 2007
    Generally speaking, if the velocity is held below 1,000 fps leading isn’t a problem. However, the alloy content of the round can make a huge difference in leading problems. (My experiences show that softer alloys lead at lower speeds.) I use cast rounds in wheel-guns and in my 1911’s with no leading problems, but I’m careful watch the velocities.
  12. carver

    carver Moderator Supporting Member

    I don't cast my own, although I have the equipment to do so. I buy mine, and when you buy form different sources you just never know how hard your bullets are. I have had leading problems with speeds up to 900fps, so I now just keep it down to something I can manage. Most jacketed store bought ammo for .45 will not exceed 900fps, so why would I want to push lead bullets even faster? A 240gr. .45cal. bullet at 700fps still has a lot of power behind it. I would only use this ammo for target, and possibily for home defense if pressed to do so.
  13. dsv424

    dsv424 New Member

    Oct 27, 2008
    Garland, Tx.
    Thx for all the opinions guys. The guns I was considering using lead bullets for was a Walther PPK, Glock 20, SA Loaded, and a Berreta M9. Do any of these guns have inherent problems with lead?
    From all I'm hearing I believe I'll go with LD's suggestion of using plated bullets. I have purchased these in bulk in the past and just reduce the load slightly from what I would use for a jacketed bullet.
  14. woolleyworm

    woolleyworm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2009
    SW Fort Worth
    I had my order of Rainier's arrive last week, My P220 loves the 185gr for target practice. Never had any fouling issues with 4.9 gr Clays, chrony'd at 940-960 fps. They're a very economical bullet with decent consistency.
  15. Haligan

    Haligan Well-Known Member

    Feb 25, 2008
    FEMA Region II
    Everyone who has firearms capable of shooting lead, should at least learn the basics about making lead bullets.
    I shoot ALOT of lead out of revolvers semi-handguns, lever rifles, bolt rifles, and semi rifles.
    I say you should learn because, I can't predict the future any better then anybody else.
    If the day should ever come(God forbid) where you can't get reloading supplies. At least their is one component you can make yourself.
    If we can't get powder, primers, or brass ........ well I guess we have bigger problems anyway.
    My lead shoots great. Stop being lazy, clean your gun. Lead, copper, whatever, clean it !
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