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Lead vs TMJ/FMJ

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Lead vs TMJ/FMJ

Postby JediSkipdogg » Mon Aug 29, 2011 5:08 am

I'm still not in the process of making my own bullets but I'm wondering the advantages/disadvantages of straight lead vs TMJ/FMJ. I've only loaded rifle so far so everything has been copper jacketed. Now I'm going into handloading and trying to figure out is the savings worth it. For example, in 380 I can get 1000 Missouri Bullet Company for $70 whereas the best deal I have found on FMJ is $118. So, is the savings worth it? Any problems with straight lead from MBC?

I have also found similar deals for 9mm, 40, and 45 which are the other calibers I plan on reloading.
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Re: Lead vs TMJ/FMJ

Postby OhioMoose » Mon Aug 29, 2011 5:42 am

JediSkipdogg wrote:I'm still not in the process of making my own bullets but I'm wondering the advantages/disadvantages of straight lead vs TMJ/FMJ. I've only loaded rifle so far so everything has been copper jacketed. Now I'm going into handloading and trying to figure out is the savings worth it. For example, in 380 I can get 1000 Missouri Bullet Company for $70 whereas the best deal I have found on FMJ is $118. So, is the savings worth it? Any problems with straight lead from MBC?

I have also found similar deals for 9mm, 40, and 45 which are the other calibers I plan on reloading.


Lead bullets are cheaper, but:

1. Depending on the gun, hardness of the bullets, and velocity of the load, barrel leading makes gun cleaning chores a little more odious for lead bullet loads. Not likely to be a problem in .380, but as velocity increases, barrel leading increases;

2. Some (especially indoor) ranges won't let you shoot lead bullets other than in .22 .
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Re: Lead vs TMJ/FMJ

Postby BobK » Mon Aug 29, 2011 6:37 am

I only shoot lead handgun bullets in 9mm, .40 S&W, .44 Mag, & .45 ACP, except in the rare instances where I am shooting self defense ammo.

It is not only cheaper, but it is also easier on the barrel.

If the bullet fit is proper, the hardness within the correct range, and the powder charge appropriate, leading is not a major issue. Even if someone does get heavy leading, it isn't difficult to clean it out once you know the tricks of the trade.

MBC has a strong reputation. When I haven't been able to cast my own, I purchased their .45 ACP 200 gr LSWC. With a 300 round range session, I had virtually no leading whatsoever -- their bullets actually were cleaner than the ones I cast.
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Re: Lead vs TMJ/FMJ

Postby Sevens » Mon Aug 29, 2011 6:58 am

In my own opinion, loading and shooting cast lead bullets is for somewhat advanced folks who don't mind the amount of tinkering it calls for and the folks who don't mind the greater attention to detail that the entire process requires.

I'm not saying you need to be brilliant to pull this off... but the savings certainly does come at a cost.
Most of that cost is the inspection and cleaning time for the barrel of whatever you are shooting it out of. In my experience, even the least leading loads still dirty up the bore and the rest of the pistol more so than jacketed or plated bullet loads. And if you are really depositing lead in a bore, you are not simply talking about an issue of how clean or pretty your handgun is, but you are talking about the function of it and at some point, the safety of it as lead accrues in the barrel.

If lead is building up in the bore, the bore is getting incrementally smaller. When it's getting smaller and the bullets you are sending through it remain the same size, pressure will increase accordingly. So it's in your best interest to inspect the bore when developing new loads and to spend more time inspecting and cleaning at the conclusion of the range day.

Lead bullets often drop lead in a barrel for one of two or three reasons, in my experience. The biggest reason is sizing. If you find the right size bullet and it's a decent, tight fit, you'll greatly reduce your chance of leading. If the bullet is undersized for the bore, it'll skid down the tube and not properly engage the rifling and lead strips will get pulled off the bullet and left in your barrel. Lead bullets can also leave deposits when you run them too fast, in some magnum loads where a proper jacketed bullet is the norm. And it's my understanding that some bullets can lead up a bore in use with certain powder (while not with others so much) if the flame temperature is hot enough to melt the base of the bullet.

Even after all of these years, I still consider myself a neophyte when it comes to fully understanding cast lead bullets and how best to use them. I feel this way because my use of them ends up being little more than trial & error. Good for me, however, is that I have had great success with many of them, so I feel like I've gotten somewhere.

I use cast lead bullets in 9mm, .38 Special and .45 Auto. I'm tinkering with them right now in .44 Magnum. On occasion, I will also load and shoot them in 10mm.

There is an alternative to cast lead bullets that will still save you a little bit over the cost of jacketed, and that's plated. I do use a lot of plated. You can't send them at the same screaming speeds as true jacketed, but they run very well for me and when purchased in bulk quantities, I save a good bit of dough over jacketed. And as was mentioned -- many (most?) indoor ranges these days won't allow the use of pure lead bullets due to the airborne lead that you often get from shooting them. This is much more work for the air filtration systems present and necessary on indoor ranges.

I know a lot of people like & use Missouri bullets. I've not tried them. They are very competitively priced and have a lot of happy customers.
I use Dardas cast bullets out of Essexville, Mich. http://www.dardascastbullets.com/
They are a little more expensive... but I have found that they work awfully well where I use them, so I've stuck with them. Very accurate bullets in the loads I've worked up for them -- in my handguns, anyway.
I like to swap brass... and I'm looking for .32 H&R Mag, .327 Fed Mag, .380 Auto and 10mm. If you have some and would like to swap for something else, send me a note!
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Re: Lead vs TMJ/FMJ

Postby BobK » Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:22 am

Sevens wrote:I use Dardas cast bullets out of Essexville, Mich. http://www.dardascastbullets.com/
They are a little more expensive... but I have found that they work awfully well where I use them, so I've stuck with them. Very accurate bullets in the loads I've worked up for them -- in my handguns, anyway.

I also like it that Matt Dardas drops by the forum sometimes and posts a comment.
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Re: Lead vs TMJ/FMJ

Postby Sevens » Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:31 am

He's got a depth of knowledge of cast bullets that I don't believe I'll ever have.
I like to swap brass... and I'm looking for .32 H&R Mag, .327 Fed Mag, .380 Auto and 10mm. If you have some and would like to swap for something else, send me a note!
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Re: Lead vs TMJ/FMJ

Postby Dano442 » Wed Aug 31, 2011 9:42 am

JediSkipdogg wrote:I'm still not in the process of making my own bullets but I'm wondering the advantages/disadvantages of straight lead vs TMJ/FMJ. I've only loaded rifle so far so everything has been copper jacketed. Now I'm going into handloading and trying to figure out is the savings worth it. For example, in 380 I can get 1000 Missouri Bullet Company for $70 whereas the best deal I have found on FMJ is $118. So, is the savings worth it? Any problems with straight lead from MBC?

I have also found similar deals for 9mm, 40, and 45 which are the other calibers I plan on reloading.


I have recently gotten into handloading for a couple of reasons. 1) It is Cheaper. 2) It's fun, in a hobby kinda way. That being said, It'll take about (10-20) 50 round boxes of ammo to pay for the inital investment. Then I can start saving money. As far as 380 goes, of which is what I'm loading mainly right now. I can get the bullets for about $.10 each, brass for about $.12 each, powder and primer for about $.04 per/each. For a combined total of $.30 per bullet. I normally buy off the shelf at Buckeye Outdoors and the Winchester White box ammo over there is going for $22.46 out the door. I can get the Blazer brand for cheaper, but have never been a fan of the Blazer brand. So at $.30 per bullet for a 50 round box, comes to about $15.00. So that is a savings of about $7.50 right there. If I pickup my brass and reload it, I just cut $.12 outta the picture on the next reload. So now the next reloaded box only cost me about $.18 per bullet/ $9.00 per box for a savings of about $13.50 on the box. Then for every box there after the same. you got keep an eye on your brass to make sure it doesn't fatigue and get brittle on ya. I'm gonna make the 1 caveat. ****Don't skimp on the initial investment, that could be a fatal mistake if you are not measuring your powder weight on a consistent basis to verify that it is correct. And not cleaning your brass properly and so on. Also, keep a reloaders log. I have an excel spreadsheet version if anyone wants it.****

Note**** You can get your ammo at CTD.com (CheaperThanDirt.com) for a great price if you are buying in bulk. Let's face it, if you are going to reload, you will have to buy in bulk to get a good deal. Lets say about 1,000 of all cartridge components. At CTD.com you can buy 20 boxes of WWB for $307.81 (based on my zip code for shipping). That is about $.31 per bullet. About $15.50 per box.

So the question is, "Did the doctor tell you to get a new hobby?"

Hope this helped JEDI.
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Re: Lead vs TMJ/FMJ

Postby evan price » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:21 pm

I personally load cast lead for over 90% of what I shoot. Lead gets a bad rap sometimes for its properties, such as leading the barrel, dirtying the gun, and being hazardous to your health. Let's not forget that for most of the time guns have been around they shot lead bullets only.

The biggest pitfall people run into (and it's one that I personally fell into too when I started using lead) is that the perception is there that harder = better. Copper jackets are harder than lead, so it follows that a harder bullet will perform better in any application. This is incorrect. A copper jacket will never lead foul (obviously) but other than that there is no similarity.

When a bullet is fired there is a time period when the gunpowder ignites and starts producing a rapidly expanding volume of gas. This time period is very brief, milliseconds at best. During the time that the pressure is building the bullet is obeying Newton's First Law- Objects in motion tend to stay in motion, objects at rest tend to stay at rest. The bullet wants to stay where it is. The crimp of the brass case helps that bullet to stay put while pressure builds. The pressure wave strikes the bottom of the bullet and- just like a car being rear-ended at a stoplight- the back of the bullet compresses inwards towards the core. This causes the grease groove to shorten, and the lead to conform tightly to the dimensions of the barrel.

Too hard of a bullet and the bullet does not deform enough or quickly enough. Then hot gas blows past the bullet and erodes lead from the bullet which gets deposited in the barrel typically at the chamber end.

Too small of a bullet and the same thing results. The bullet does not obturate enough to seal the barrel and you get leading at the chamber end.

Too fast of powder and it can raise pressure too quickly and scorch the bottom of the bullet and vaporize lead or blow by before the bullet obturates fully, leaving lead at the chamber.

Lubrication of the bullet is also important. The lubricant coats the bore and helps prevent the lead from sticking.

Improper or insufficient lubricant for the velocity will cause leading towards the barrel as the lube fails and the bullet starts to stick and lead peels off as it squeezes through.

Too soft of bullet for the velocity will cause the rifling grooves to strip out on the bullet and leave a heavily leaded bore from front to back with thick shavings of lead.

There are other causes of leading traceable to problems with the barrel or chambers.

The most important thing with cast is to have a bullet that is neither too hard nor too soft, that is sized properly to fit the barrel and chamber, and that has a good lubrication, combined with a powder charge and expected velocity that is appropriate with the factors listed above. Obviously the faster you push the bullet the harder it needs to be- within reason; truly hard alloys such as linotype are best reserved for rifle velocities. I find that for most pistol calibers up to about 1200 fps or so, a standard alloy of around 10-12 BHN hardness works about perfectly when properly sized and lubricated. This is about the hardness of clip-on wheel weights. Once you start getting up into 9mm +P or Magnum velocities (1300 fps or thereabouts) you start needing harder bullets of 15-16 BHN such as the 'Hardball' alloy of 92/6/2 or Lyman #2 90/5/5.

Compared with using jacketed bullets- which is basically just pop them into the brass and you are done, no thought required- lead can seem like alchemy. When you shoot lead you need to consider the totality of the cartridge and application and every element it requires. I've seen combinations that work great in one gun totally fail in someone else's gun.

The benefit of lead is certainly cost and the ability to make your own. For me, saving money is good and all, but I really like tha fact that as long as I have something to melt I will always have bullets, despite what market conditions or legal situations arise. And the cost savings is pretty nice, too. I can load and shoot 38 specials or 9mm for roughly the same price as 22 Long Rifle which is really nice on range days. The savings from a few boxes of 44 Magnums or 45 Colts basically pays for the moulds. If you reload, casting your own is a nice addition to the hobby.
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Re: Lead vs TMJ/FMJ

Postby JediSkipdogg » Wed Aug 31, 2011 10:45 pm

Evan, so is there any differences in loading lead? I don't plan on casting anytime soon so let's keep that out. I barely have enough time to load and if I had to cast my own I'd never have anything to shoot. LOL.

Here are the costs differences of buying three different ways. 1000 rounds each of 95gr .380, 124gr 9mm, 180gr .40.

Montana Gold FMJ - $357.94
Dardas Cast - $212.00
Missouri Bullet - $207.50

So which is the best way to go? Reviews on all three are stellar so I don't expect any problems there. Are there any differences in the loading process when loading lead vs FMJ?
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Re: Lead vs TMJ/FMJ

Postby evan price » Thu Sep 01, 2011 2:42 am

JediSkipdogg wrote:Evan, so is there any differences in loading lead? I don't plan on casting anytime soon so let's keep that out. I barely have enough time to load and if I had to cast my own I'd never have anything to shoot. LOL.

Here are the costs differences of buying three different ways. 1000 rounds each of 95gr .380, 124gr 9mm, 180gr .40.

Montana Gold FMJ - $357.94
Dardas Cast - $212.00
Missouri Bullet - $207.50

So which is the best way to go? Reviews on all three are stellar so I don't expect any problems there. Are there any differences in the loading process when loading lead vs FMJ?


Missouri Bullet also has a 5% discount for THR members so don't forget that.

The only differences...#1, make sure your expander is expanding the case mouth enough so that you don't shave lead as you seat the bullet. #2, make sure that you are not post-sizing the finished round (such as a Lee Factory Crimp die). Post sizing the case, the brass will spring back, the lead bullet will not and stays undersize. #3, check your seater die periodically to make sure it doesn't get gummed up with lube residue and change your OAL. #4, get your wallet reinforced to hold the extra money from the savings :lol:
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Re: Lead vs TMJ/FMJ

Postby AmericansForGuns » Fri Sep 09, 2011 5:47 pm

JediSkipdogg wrote:I'm still not in the process of making my own bullets but I'm wondering the advantages/disadvantages of straight lead vs TMJ/FMJ. I've only loaded rifle so far so everything has been copper jacketed. Now I'm going into handloading and trying to figure out is the savings worth it. For example, in 380 I can get 1000 Missouri Bullet Company for $70 whereas the best deal I have found on FMJ is $118. So, is the savings worth it? Any problems with straight lead from MBC?

I have also found similar deals for 9mm, 40, and 45 which are the other calibers I plan on reloading.

I ended up, after getting tired of shopping for bullets, just buying a Lee Production Pot IV (~$60), a two bullet mold (~$25) and 50 pounds of lead ($50 at that time) from guy in northern ohio (well, and other necessities).
In the end if your like me and its a money thing...ie cost per round...casting your own lead is a great way to go.
Lee has a pretty good selection of bullet molds and they are pretty much idiot proof. I was casting good bullets within half an hour.
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Re: Lead vs TMJ/FMJ

Postby JediSkipdogg » Fri Sep 09, 2011 5:56 pm

AmericansForGuns wrote:
JediSkipdogg wrote:I'm still not in the process of making my own bullets but I'm wondering the advantages/disadvantages of straight lead vs TMJ/FMJ. I've only loaded rifle so far so everything has been copper jacketed. Now I'm going into handloading and trying to figure out is the savings worth it. For example, in 380 I can get 1000 Missouri Bullet Company for $70 whereas the best deal I have found on FMJ is $118. So, is the savings worth it? Any problems with straight lead from MBC?

I have also found similar deals for 9mm, 40, and 45 which are the other calibers I plan on reloading.

I ended up, after getting tired of shopping for bullets, just buying a Lee Production Pot IV (~$60), a two bullet mold (~$25) and 50 pounds of lead ($50 at that time) from guy in northern ohio (well, and other necessities).
In the end if your like me and its a money thing...ie cost per round...casting your own lead is a great way to go.
Lee has a pretty good selection of bullet molds and they are pretty much idiot proof. I was casting good bullets within half an hour.
:)


I would love to cast but I barely have time to reload. My reloading speed is currently what limits my shooting time.
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Re: Lead vs TMJ/FMJ

Postby tomfolery » Sat Sep 10, 2011 12:12 pm

Jedi, it pains me to say this, but Target World has decent lead projectile prices. You avoid shipping costs which really helps. I load lead exclusively in all handgun calibers. I don't think it's any harder to clean than FMJ/TMJ rounds, besides, that's what my ultra-sonic cleaner is for :D
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