Leading from lead bullets

NNNN Senior MemberPosts: 24,000 Senior Member
I read this stated theory that if you shoot cast lead bullets in a handgun that is usually shot with
jacketed bullets you will get more leading because lead sticks to the copper in the barrel.

I'm thinking how can this be true. First of all, are not all lead bullets made with molten lead poured
in a mold of some kind and the mold separated to get the hardened product; however, in some cases
the hardened lead is stamped out of the mold.

I was led to believe and it is my experience, that barrel leading is a combined function of bullet hardness, bullet lube, and or
speed of the bullet; as some manufactures ammo leads a barrel badly and another manufactures ammo does not
in the same handgun that is used for shooting lead bullets or jacketed.

I would like to get an answer as to whom is right as to the leading issue before I jump in the guys
and maybe have to fall on my sword.
A Veteran is someone that served in the Military, it does not matter where they served.


  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 6,656 Senior Member
    Good question, Ned. I'd like to know as well.

    A few weeks ago I took a concealed carry class that was taught by a gunsmith. The instructor was going over various types of handguns. When he go to semi-autos, the stated emphatically NOT to shoot lead bullets through them as it would lead to leading at the front of the chamber as the round was being loaded from the mag.

    Any way, I'd like to know, too.

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 19,121 Senior Member
    I can see it Ned. If you have copper fouling in the bore, it's normally making "rough spots" in the bore. It's been fairly well known that a rough bore is going to lead up (or copper foul for that matter) worse than a smooth bore. Lead's also a lot softer than copper, so it's easier for it to get stripped off the bullet by the roughness
    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.

  • rapier5316rapier5316 Member Posts: 312 Member
    Jerry, I think your "instructor" is more concerned with shearing of the lead or possibly scuffing during chambering than leading due to fowling. That may lead to chambering or head space problems.
    Bringing out the Libra side of my cuspy birth. On the other side of the scale: How many .45 200 grain LSWC bullets are used in autos by the Practical Shooting disciplines from stock duty styles to bullet hose race guns, not to mention the racier calibers.

    To address the original post: I think that any roughness in a barrel would increase the rate of build up. Perhaps, all bullet guilding metals are harder, more abrasive than the hardest of lead alloys.

    Continuing along that line of thought: Adding a copper disc to the base of a lead bullet would then accelerate this build up even faster. Contrary to the practice of adding a gas check to heavy or hot loaded Lead bullets to keep the flame from melting and depositing the lead every where.
    "The power of the United States has peaked, oppression follows." Robert Prector, Socionomics.net
  • Ranch13Ranch13 Senior Member Posts: 820 Senior Member
    Leading can usually be traced to a to small diameter bullet, or something damaging the bullet during the loading process. Excessive crimp and sometimes to much neck tension is leading just waiting to happen.
    If there are rough spots in the barrel either from machining or from some other fouling deposits a lead bullet will leave part of itself at that spot.
    Bullet lube is intended to coat the barrel and keep the lead from "tinning" to the barrel steel, many so called lubes fail miserably..
    Copper fouling cause leading? . Could be a good possibility.
    Loaded rounds moving from the magazine to the chamber? not unless the feed ramp is really screwed up so bad that it's disturbing the bullet nose, and if that's the case, there'll be worse problems than leading in the barrel...
  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 24,000 Senior Member
    Ranch13 wrote: »
    Copper fouling cause leading? . Could be a good possibility.

    Thank you, I'll not comment on the subject then, except here.

    I shot some Federal Champion LWCHP today and got no leading plus a Doubletap hard cast---- no leading. The other day I shot the same hard cast
    ammo and got a lot of leading. This revolver gets a steady diet of jacketed ammo. The difference may have been shooting the federal champion
    first as that ammo is as heavily lubed as some .22 ammo that looks like it was dipped in grease.
    A Veteran is someone that served in the Military, it does not matter where they served.
  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 24,000 Senior Member
    Would .44 spl bullets a few thousands over .43 cause leading just as the bullet meets the riffling?
    A Veteran is someone that served in the Military, it does not matter where they served.
  • Ranch13Ranch13 Senior Member Posts: 820 Senior Member
    Sometimes with hard cast bullets if the velocity is low, they'll lead like crazy. Pick the velocity up and the leading may cease.Also many times the commercial hard cast bullets use some of the crappiest lube..
    But I'm suspecting your example of the bullets with plenty of lube, left things in good shape for the other bullets.
    You might get some leading in the forcing cone, but when Remington used to sell bulk lead bullets for the 44's they were sized at .432.
    One thing that needs done if there is some leading is to be sure and get all the lead out before the next session. As leading will beget leading..
    A patch soaked in puregum spirits of turpentine pushed thru on a jag is about as good as it gets for lead mining.
  • DurwoodDurwood Senior Member Posts: 970 Senior Member
    Smoothness of the bore plays a more significant role than other factor I've noticed. I mainly shoot cast bullets from my handguns and have for several years although that wasn't always the case. I noticed my older Smith & Wesson revolvers (60s vintage) resist leading no matter the brand, hardness etc.
    You have the right to your own opinion, but you don't have the right to your own facts:guns:
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    They used to say to fire some jacketed bullets after you fired lead ones and it would get a lot of lead outta a handgun. Some might argue that would only embed it more in your barrel.

    NN, factory lead bullets are cold swagged and they will lead up @ about 8-900 FPS real bad in some guns. You can scrape off lead with your fingernail on one.

    Hard cast lead bullets are much better and won't lead up you barrel near as bad and depending on their hardness/rating you can usually go several hundred FPS faster before leading starts. Of course, Gas-Checked lead bullets will solve the leading issue pretty good, or at least if the cast bullet is sized right for your guns bore.

    Oversized lead bullets that are much over what your guns bore mikes out will lead up and cause pressure to rise. Nominally, a .38 spl/.357 lead is .358 diameter where jacketed are .357, .44 caliber are .429 for jacketed and .430 for lead.

    .45 ACP are .451 and .452 and 9mm are .355/.356. There used to be more variation in different gun makes and still are in some, but you could order hard cast bullets sized for say a Colt/Ruger/S&W. Jacketed bullets, you are pretty much stuck with the nominal factory offerings that should do just fine in any industry standard spec bore

    The worst leading I ever had was some factory .44 caliber Hornady 240 LSWCHPs I loaded @ about 850 FPS in .44 spl cases fired from a S&W model 624 .44 spl.

    Some semi-autos do better with lead than others for a myriad of reasons from how the barrel is made, gas operating/recoil system, magazine and feed ramp and probably some other factors like if a compensator/gas ports are used.

    Of course, a bad bore/chamber/roughness will only amplify leading issues.
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
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