close

Privacy guaranteed - Your email is not shared with anyone.

Lead vs FMJ in the 1911

Discussion in '1911 Forums' started by barnettbill, Mar 26, 2011.

  1. barnettbill

    barnettbill

    Messages:
    181
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2003
    Location:
    Abilene TX
    I am considering (Strongly) getting into reloading. In my research lead bullets are WAY cheaper than FMJ. I seem to remember reading that the 1911 is ok with this, as that is what the US millitary shot back in the day. Is it still the case with todays 1911s. If it helps I have a Kimber TLE II and I am rather AR about keeping it clean so cleaning is not a problem.
     
  2. HAIL CAESAR

    HAIL CAESAR Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,272
    Likes Received:
    27
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2007
    Location:
    In my shop
    Lead is the way to go for cheap shooting. Nothing wrong with it at all. Actaully your barrel rifling will last much longer shooting lead than jacketed. Usually reloaded lead ammo tends to be weaker, which equals much longer life of the gun in total.
     

  3. ILannoyed

    ILannoyed

    Messages:
    340
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Location:
    SW Chicago Burbs
    I love lead and have no problems in my 1911 shooting LRN and SWCs.
     
  4. barnettbill

    barnettbill

    Messages:
    181
    Likes Received:
    2
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2003
    Location:
    Abilene TX
  5. k45

    k45

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    You may have to do some work finding the right powder and bullets to minimize leading. Missouri Bullets are very good, I get very little leading and it cleans up quick.

    BTW, Ed's Red is a great (and cheaper) cleaner, especially if you are shooting lead.

    Ken
     
  6. BlayGlock

    BlayGlock

    Messages:
    1,245
    Likes Received:
    3
    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2010
    Location:
    Texas
    +1 on the MO bullets. I use thier 230 LRN for all of my reloads.
     
  7. WellArmedSheep

    WellArmedSheep NRA Member

    Messages:
    2,065
    Likes Received:
    6
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2006
    Location:
    Ala-freakin'-bama
    You might also consider moly-coated bullets. They're a little more expensive than than bare lead, and they're cleaner...less smoke and leading of the barrel.

    I've put several thousand Black Bullets International 147gr 9mm's through Glocks and my 9mm 1911 with ZERO leading. I did an experiment with my Glock 34 to see how long I could go without cleaning about a year and a half ago. I got to 3000 rounds without problems, but ended up cleaning it since I was going to the GA State IDPA match just to be on the safe side.
     
  8. k45

    k45

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    Just so that you don't confuse the OP, leading sometimes is more of an issue in 9mm than in .45. With good bullets and powder, leading does not seem to be an issue in .45.

    Ken
     
  9. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    Messages:
    10,016
    Likes Received:
    3
    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    Location:
    Conifer, CO
    Regardless of caliber leading, or lack of leading is always dependent on several factors. Three of those factors relate to the bullet itself. The most important is bullet size. An undersized lead bullet will almost always cause leading. Given certain velocities pressures will not be great enough to cause sufficient bullet expansion, (obturation) into the lands causing gases to pass by the bearing surfaces and cause leading.

    In times past it was normal for a lead shooter to slug the barrel on each gun to determine proper bore diameter and cast bullets one-thousandth over. As an example, id a .45 barrel slugged at .452 then the cast bullet should be .453. Modern technology, industry standards and exacting tolerances has pretty much done away with the need for slugging newer barrels. With the standard for a .45 barrel being .451 a shooter can feel comfortable loading a jacketed bullet of .451 and a lead bullet of .452. Lead bullets should always be a minimum of one-thousandths over bore diameter of leading is likely to result.

    Another factor that contributes to leading is alloy hardness. Too hard of an alloy and the bullet will act similar to an undersized one, it will 'skip' down the barrel and fail to obturate into the lands. Although a harder bullet has it's place in most rifle loadings and in some high velocity handgun loadings they are not needed and in fact are a detriment in most handgun applications. There are many commercial casters that are fond of using the marketing mantra of Hard Cast bullets. Depending on the actual Brinell hardness, (the standard by which lead hardness is measured) and depending on a bullet's intended application this may be either a good or bad thing.

    The third factor associated with a bullet and its potential to lead is the bullet lube that is used. No other factor causes more controversy than proper bullet lube and to an extent proper lube is again dependent on intended application. Each experienced caster has determined which is the proper lubes for his individual applications through trial and error and most commercial casters use lubes that are adequate for common handgun loadings. For the novice lead shooter learning to 'read' a barrel may at first be a little daunting but a quick shortcut to performance is that if leading is occurring toward the muzzle portion of the barrel the bullet is running out of lube before exiting and a harder lube should be tried.

    The last major factor in potential leading is velocity. Lead has it's limitations, (although experienced casters can certainly produce alloys that will allow non-leading rifle loading up to the 3000 fps levels) and is not intended to be pushed at high velocities, especially in handgun loadings. As an example, a straight wheel weight allow, (make friends with a tire shop owner, show up with a case of premium beer and walk out with a 130 pound 5 gallon bucket of wheel weights) will produce an alloy of an 11 to 12 Brinell hardness which will allow a velocity of around 1200 fps without leading. Add a bit more antimony, linotype or water quench the bullets, (must have arsenic in the alloy for quenching to work) and those velocities can be greatly increased.

    For the novice lead shooter/loader it should be understood that powder choice can play a role in leading. Fast burning powders will contribute to leading in anything over mouse flatulence loads. For mid-range and above, (excluding MAX loadings), Unique is probably the best powder out there for lead bullet shooting.

    For those who have never shot or loaded lead bullets know that they will not only reduce the cost of your shooting, (in most cases, there are exceptions) but are every bit as accurate as the jacketed bullets that you're now shooting... certainly within the limits of your holding ability. Home casters have long known that shooting their own cast bullets can reduce the cost of shooting by 75% or more.


    Jack
     
  10. Hokie1911

    Hokie1911 >

    Messages:
    9,712
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2003
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    That's good info Jack. I will be starting to reload in a few months and have been starting to do some recon on components. I will give lead bullets a look, as I am looking at a cost effective way to shoot more .45. Thanks!
     
  11. k45

    k45

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    Jack posted very good information. A few comments I will add:

    Reducing the load will not necessarily reduce leading. I went to extremes reducing the load without success. That was before I understood about obduration :( I was going in the wrong direction!

    Unique is a well used powder, but doesn't meter as well as other powders. I have had very good .45 results with Winchester Super Target and Action Pistol (now sold by Ramshot as Silhouette ).

    Ken
     
  12. Hound_dogs_01

    Hound_dogs_01

    Messages:
    1,811
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2008
    Location:
    Carrollton, GA
    As much as I love unique in my revolver loads. In semi-auto i perfer W231, Its a bit cleaner.

    Best shooting .45 ACP load i have ever shot was 5.0grs of W231 with a 200GR SWCL. I have used it with a 14lb recoil spring all the way up to a 22lb recoil spring and worked every gun flawlessly!!

    Alex
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2011
  13. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    Messages:
    10,016
    Likes Received:
    3
    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    Location:
    Conifer, CO
    I certainly didn't mean to imply that Unique is the only powder to use with lead bullets and if that's the way it came across I apologize, write it off to my poor communications skills. I've been loading Unique since the early 60's and as you can imagine many of the powders available today weren't even a gleam in their inventor's eye. I guess sometimes my bias shows through.

    It would have been more accurate for me to say that mid, to upper mid-range loads for lead perform best with a mid-range burning powder of which there are several fine choices. A cooler burning single base powder as opposed to a double base also helps mitigate potential leading problem in anything over mild, yet highly accurate target loads.

    Newer loaders are often aghast when some of us who are a bit longer in the tooth proclaim that a handgun loader can go through their entire career with three powders on the bench; Bullseye, Unique and 2400.

    Progress is sometimes hard to accept. :supergrin:


    Jack
     
  14. MajorD

    MajorD

    Messages:
    2,894
    Likes Received:
    631
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2010
    the 45acp has always been standard with the military with a jacketed bullet. Most high volume civilian shooters use lead cast bullets due to cost. most of the shooters showing up at camp perry for the national bullseye championships will be shooting cast bullets with great accuracy and reliability -go forth with lead bullets without worry. to tell you the truth I use cast bullets in the majority of my loads with good effect,even those destined for my glocks.
     
  15. wrx04

    wrx04

    Messages:
    1,257
    Likes Received:
    48
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2008
    Location:
    MI
    I have about 5000 reloads through my gun (all montana gold 230gr fmj) and i havent had a single problem yet. I have really started thinking about switching to lead bullets and save some money, but here are my concerns:

    1) It will greatly increase my lead exposure, especially since i shoot indoors often. That along with cleaning it will give a higher chance of potential lead poisoning (I know Jack will be along to call me a huge sissy for this:supergrin:)

    2) None of my reloading books have data for lead. I know its supposed to be less of a charge compared to fmj, but how much?

    3) I dont understand fully what the bullet lube entails. Do i have to do that myself or do they come lubed already? Do you lube the bullet before or after you have made the cartridge?

    Are any of these things valid concerns? Where can i find the info for #2 and #3? I would love to start shooting lead and save some $$$ if these things can be taken care of.
     
  16. k45

    k45

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    #1 - it's not the lead bullets that are a health concern. Years ago my lead level was high. I quit casting bullets in the basement. No help. I quit shooting lead bullets, went back to FMJ. No help. The problem was the poor ventilation at the range! Probably from the lead in the primers. When I started insisting on only using the lanes with good ventilation (and insisting that the ventilation be turned on) my blood lead level went down.

    #2 - get a better loading manual :) Lyman has a lot of lead recipes. Hornady has some. Also the online resources, Hodgdon (for Win. and Hodgdon powders), Accurate Arms, Ramshot all list lead loads.

    #3 - When you buy cast bullets, they come lubed. Again, Missouri Bullets have a great reputation as do some others. Only when you cast your own bullets do you have to worry about the lube.

    Ken
     
  17. wrx04

    wrx04

    Messages:
    1,257
    Likes Received:
    48
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2008
    Location:
    MI
    Thanks for the reply, Ken.

    The indoor range by me has pretty crappy ventilation and i shoot about 3X per week. I'm gonna start going to the outdoor range more when the weather gets nicer, but that is kinda concerning. How did you know your blood lead levels were up? Just routine bloodwork?

    I have the Lyman and Speer loading manuals and i didnt see it in there. I will have to look again, maybe i missed it.

    I think i might give MO a try once i get through the 2000 MG i just bought. I appreciate the help.:wavey:
     
  18. k45

    k45

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    I think I had it checked since I was casting bullets.

    After that, I watched which lanes had better air movement and waited for them to become available.

    I'm not saying other bullets aren't good, it's just that many of us have had good results and customer service from Mo Bullets.

    Ken
     
  19. michael e

    michael e

    Messages:
    2,811
    Likes Received:
    3
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2010
    MY RIA 1911 dont seem to like lead. I have to change seating depth of bullet and try again. I use hard cast lead in all my guns. SWC is my favorit with my 1911 only thing if you have doulbe stack guns they dont seem to feed reliable. RN work great in my glocks sa ria so i have changed to that for time being
     
  20. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    Messages:
    10,016
    Likes Received:
    3
    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    Location:
    Conifer, CO
    wrx04:

    I'm hurt to the quick knowing that you think I'd call you a sissy... you're still a rookie and have yet to reach sissy status. :supergrin: You have however come a long way since your first lurking on the loading forum. Given a few more decades you'll undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with.

    K45 has given you good information which if followed will leave you little to anything to worry about.

    I never shoot indoors so lead exposure in that sense is not really one of my concerns although I have spent quite a bit of time in indoor ranges both in the military and my old department. (Safety concerns were much more lax that they are now... by a wide margin.)

    I understand that many indoor ranges prohibit the use of lead bullets with some going so far as to require CMJ's as opposed to FMJ's.

    Although I no longer shoot indoors I've cast indoors for the last 47-48 years and although I've averaged a lead blood test at least every two years during that time I've never even approached the high/normal limit. (High normal is a 9 on a 1 to 9 scale IIRC.) Within the last few weeks I finished casting my normal winter allocation of between 50 and 60 thousand bullets in various calibers and weights. It usually takes me the rest of the year to collect the 12 to 14 hundred pounds of wheel weights it takes to produce that amount.

    With very simple precautions loading lead also poses no problems. Some loaders wear latex gloves when they load lead, I suppose it can't hurt but I don't really see the reason. Unless you were raised by cats you know how to wash your hands instead of licking them clean. If you get hungry while loading suck on a lollipop or Lifesaver in stead of a lead bullet and you'll have nothing to worry about.

    Get into the habit of loading lead, (especially if you cast your own) and you'll be amazed at how much you can save. With the money I saved casting this winter I bought two new STI Trojans and still have enough left over for something else... I'm considering a truck load of Metamucil. As life progresses priorities tend to change.


    Jack