How to choose between jacketed and lead bullets?

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by Pistol Preacher, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. Pistol Preacher

    Pistol Preacher New Member

    Jul 10, 2010
    Williamsport, Pa.
    Hello all!

    I have all the tools I need to reload.

    I will reload .38 Spl, .357 Mag, .223, .22-250, .243, and .30-30.

    So you can see the wide variation of calibers for me to reload.

    So now I need to choose my powder and bullets.

    I do have the Lyman Reloader's Manual to use.

    My question is when looking at some of the calibers they have a wide assortment of styles in both lead and jacketed bullets.

    How do you determine which bullet to use.

    For handgun calibers it is for target, plinking, and CC.
    For rifle it is for target, plinking, and hunting.

    First - how do you determine whether to use lead or jacketed bullets?
    Is one better for your barrel than the other?
    Does cost influence the purchase?
    Are you using the manual with the pressure and velocity, BC, and SD listings to help you make your decision?

    So now you have determined between lead and jacketed bullets - now how do you determine which bullet style to go with?
    Are you using basically the SD and BC to determine this?

    I have roughly 500 each of spent American Eagle .38 Special and .357 Magnum cartridges to reload.

    Maybe get an assortment of bullet types and do up 50 of each to get an idea?

    I need some advice.

    I want to go over to pick up the bullets and primers today!

    And if you want to throw in some powder advice, my ears are open for that as well!!

    This way I could pick up bullets, primers, and powder.

    Thanks again.

    God bless!!

  2. Kevin Rohrer

    Kevin Rohrer Active Member

    Apr 9, 2010
    Medina, Ohio
    Pistol: For everything except hunting I goto the gunshow and get lead bullets cheap ($55 a thousand for .45 230gr). For hunting, I would use a hard cast Keith bullet.

  3. woolleyworm

    woolleyworm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2009
    SW Fort Worth
    It is going to be load specific for your intentions.

    In 38's, I load alot of lead full WC's for plinking and range time. ( wad cutters )
    for 45acp's , I like 230gn LRN due to cost.
    For some other rounds, like the 110gn jacketed bullets that I use in 38spcl loads, that one is small game hunting.... (if I can ever get the time to)

    For rifles, if you're looking for target bullets, the SMK's are hard to beat. ( sierra match king), but these are far from hunting bullets.

    for hunting, you'll need to pick a few and see what your rifle likes. There are several companies out there that offer "sampler" packs of premium bullets, this way you don't have to buy a full box of 50 or 100.

    For starting powders, I'd go with some Win231, H335 and IMR4064. These are all good versatile powders that can be used in multiple loads.
  4. BlackEagle

    BlackEagle Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2011
    For pistol caliber I am happy with titegroup; others swear by other powders.

    Hunting and target shooting are two different things here in the UK; you would need one kind of bullet for hunting and another for target shooting. I don't have any hunting privelages so I can justify only target rounds to the police when they come to inspect my guns and ammunition. For target shooting I've had good results with Sierra Match King. Bullet weights will depend to some extent on the twist rate in your rifles. From what I understand heavier bullets like tighter twist rates.

    Powder choice depends on bullet size (or vice-versa). I selected Vihtavouri N140 for my .223 initially, and later when I got a .243, found I could use N140 with 73 grain SMK's.

    You will find that your gun likes some bullets better than others; that one weight and style gives a tighter group than others. I settled on SMK initially after talking with other shooters, and trying out a couple of different kinds.

    If you can find someone with a similar gun to yours, ask what they use.

    I use 3.8 grains of titegroup with a 158 grain round nose flat point lead bullet for my .357 rounds. It works fine in my gallery rifle--a Marlin 1894.

    My 1:10 twist .243 rifle likes 70 grain SMK with 38 grains of N140.

    There is a sticky at the top of this section of the forum about a ladder test, to help find the right powder load for you.

    Of course, that's my limited experience. Others have a whole lot more experience and will be able to give other advice.
  5. mikld

    mikld Well-Known Member

    Jun 24, 2009
    I'd recommend starting with tried and true bullets (45 ACP, 230 gr. jacketed or lead Round Nose. 38/357; 158 gr. Semi Wadcutter, either lead or jacketed. For .223, jacketed 55 or 60 gr.) Usually more loads available and all the problems have already been worked out and questions can be answered here. When you get your reloading down pat with the proven bullets/loads then go on th something a bit more "exotic". Jacketed bullets are a bit easier to use than lead for the new reloader (minor differences in loading methods; possible barrel leading with cast bullets, a bit "cleaner"). I'd also suggest finding a bullet/load in your manual before you buy components.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012
  6. myfriendis410

    myfriendis410 Member

    Mar 30, 2011
    Lompoc California
  7. Pistol Preacher

    Pistol Preacher New Member

    Jul 10, 2010
    Williamsport, Pa.
    Okay, here is the deal.

    I purchased Hornady XTP 125 and 158 grain FP bullets.
    I will use mainly the 125s for my .38 Specials for my wife.
    But I want to try them on each so I am able to test them out to see how well they are.

    I picked up 1 lb. of Alliant 2400 for the .357 and will get either Unique or Bullseye for the .38 Special.
    For the .38 Unique is listed for each bullet type with it being the recommended for the 158 grain.
    For the 125 grain Bullseye is recommended and Unique is not on the chart.

    I was able to get 1000 small pistol magnum (.357) primers but they were out of small pistol (.38).

    So I am on my way.

    Next is to make my choices for reloading the .223, .243, and .30-30.

    Any other thoughts come to mind after reading what I have stated?

    Thanks and God bless!!

  8. 1LoneWolf75

    1LoneWolf75 Active Member

    Apr 29, 2012
    Farson WY
    My .30-30 likes 150 grain bullets. I started with 31.5 gr IMR4320(min) and worked my way up. Has more push than kick. I settled on 31.5 gr(middle). Bullet choice is the Sierra Pro-Hunter 150 gr, part number 2000. They are flat nose. Would like to try round nose just haven't got to it yet.
  9. 76Highboy

    76Highboy Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2012
    Here is my answer.

    Lead bullets are cheaper to shoot. They are fine for low velocity shooting. When the bullet begins reaching higher velocities (higher pressure) more barrel leading will occur and the higher the velocity the more a lead bullet will tend to mushroom. However, when using even a hard cast bullet on big game animals there is a risk of the bullet breaking apart in the animal and if the bullet/velocity is not sufficient the bullet can discinegrate on the shoulder of a large animal like an elk or a deer. A softer lead bullet is very unwise to hunt with and it mainly designed for target shooting and MAYBE shooting smaller animals like rabbits, etc. If you are target shooting at higher velocities and you have leading issues you can gas check the bullet end that will help. I never gas check because I keep the fps low.

    A jacketed bullet however can achieve a much higher velocity without any leading and it will remain more intact that a lead bullet. A FMJ will pass through an animal if the velocity is high enough, but a JHP, at the right velocity will penetrate, expand, and stop in the animal transferring 100% (of the energy left) of the energy from the bullet to the animal and remain in the animal intact. That is optimum and that is a re loaders goal.

    My rule of thumb that I use (some may disagree) is target shooting I use a lead bullet for target shooting and hunting small game. For hunting big game ( I have never shot a big game animal with a handgun) and for self defense I recommend a JHP like the Speer Gold Dot, or the Hornady XTP's. Both are excellent bullets.

    Personally for me, my big game rifles only get jacketed bullets shot through them. No lead there. You can go with lead and if you do use a gas check, but IMO a lead bullet placed right performs well, but a lead bullet placed wrong disinegrates. A jacketed bullet has much better penetration on a shoulder, etc.

    To sum it up.

    Target shooting, small game, lead, or a FMJ is good too if you can get them cheap.

    Big game/self defense, JHP, but if you go lead in a handgun, make it a hardcast SWC. Example, the Elmer Keith 240gr. SWC.

    Google Elmer Keith. That will teach you a lot about lead bullets. Every reloader should be well acquainted with old Elmer.

    Hope that helps.
  10. Fast Forward

    Fast Forward Member

    Jul 16, 2011
    Chaska Minn
    Have you factored in Barrel Twist rates when considering bullet weight?
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