What is normal barrel leading. (Pics, almost)

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by GioaJack, Mar 10, 2010.

  1. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

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    Those loaders on the forum with more than a few mango seasons of experience are more than familiar with normal fouling characteristics of lead bullets. There are, however, many members here who are either new to loading or have been loading for years but have avoided loading lead due to either miss-understanding or viscous wives-tales that seem to permeate our beloved hobby. (See how sensitive I can be. :whistling:)

    For those who are relatively new to the sport it should be noted that lead bullets, a very high percentage of those being pure lead, have been shot for far longer than jacketed bullets have been in use. Within certain velocity and pressure limitations lead is very compatible with modern pistols and in general just as accurate. It is without question a less expensive way to shoot.

    From the numerous threads and posting that appear in our little internet gatherings there seems to be some misconceptions on how many lead rounds can be fired before the world must come to a screeching stop while all manner of tools, solvents, the elbow grease of three men and a small boy and judicious use of military explosives are used to remove the leading. If done correctly, none of this is true.

    When our very own Little Stevie was up here a few weeks ago to try his hand at casting the conversation naturally turned to barrel leading. I was shocked that Stevie would even be concerned with such a thing given his reputation for not paying attention to detail or having any interest in ballistics what-so-ever. :supergrin:

    Since I had just been shooting the week before my range bag was still sitting on the floor filled with pistols. I suggest we tear down a couple of the semi's and check the revolvers to see how much leading there actually was. Had I known what his reaction was going to be I never would have told him that I'd shot them all twice since the last time they'd been cleaned and that the all had between 200-300 rounds of lead through them. After he passed out and collapsed to the floor my past law enforcement training kicked in and I immediately applied Italian CPR... "Hey, get up or U gonna die! It worked... first time it's ever been successful.

    We tore down a G30, (aftermarket LW barrel), a Star PD .45, a Smith model 60 and a Smith model 686... I figured that was enough to get an idea of what was actually happening in the barrels. We checked 'em all with a bore light and guess what... pretty much nothing. Few light streaks and some powder fouling... certainly nothing more than you'd expect to see if you'd been shooting jacketed.

    Since Stevie's visit I've shot the guns twice more, putting an additional 2-3 hundred additional rounds through each gun... all lead rounds. (All cast from straight WW's and lubed with 125 degree flow rate lube.) Since it's been snowing for two days I decided to finally clean the guns today... I never rush into anything.

    The first gun I tore down was the Star PD. As I lit up the barrel with the bore light a stroke of genius hit me... PICTURES... take pictures of each barrel and post the lack of leading. Some of you may be familiar with the saying, 'Man plans... God laughs.' Ever try to take a picture of the inside of a barrel... don't even bother, it doesn't work.

    As discouraged as I was with the photographic attempt I still cleaned the guns... and they were just as easy as they always are. My method is simple and quick. I use Butche's Bore Shine, (I used to use Hoppe's but started using Butche's last year... I like it better) with some Kroil mixed in. I leave a few strands of Chore Boy wrapped around a brass brush, soak it with solvent then 6-8 passes with the brush, a few more if I've really been lazy about cleaning followed by a couple patches, reassemble the gun and have a cigarette before cleaning the next one.

    Bottom line, don't avoid lead, there's nothing mythical about it. Use the right alloy, the proper sizing, proper lube, stay within reasonable limitations and you'll find that lead bullets and handguns go together like Oreos and milk.

    For those of you who have no idea what a Star PD is, it's the bottom one.
    [​IMG]

    Shoot lead, shoot it a lot, save money and have fun.

    Jack
     
  2. PCJim

    PCJim Senior Member

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    Having grown up in the lands of peaches, apples and pears, it has taken me a quite a few seasons to acquire a taste for mangos. And I have a very nice mango tree in the back yard! Do you miss them?

    Thanks for the post. I wish I had those Ansel Adams skills that you stated I severely lacked (actually I used to be quite the photographer back in the older days when 35mm was prevalant), as well as an uncleaned barrel from my Saturday adventures so that I could post some pics of a leaded barrel. Maybe I'll grab the misses' Nikon this weekend and try to post a few.
     

  3. Bob2223

    Bob2223 Jack's buddy!

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    Good post Sir
    Even without the barrel pics.

    Even if you do get a little leading it's not that hard to remove it yourself (if you don't have a butler to do it).
    After casting for 3 pistol calibers I don't ever see me buying jacketed for hand guns again!


    G-30 ?
    You do play with plastic guns ! :shocked:
    First it was knitting now this !
    :faint:

    Bob
     
  4. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

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    I have found that lead doesn't "build up". Even when I use a load that leads a little, the barrel looks the same after 3 rounds or 300. I have even fired one shot and inspected the barrel making a mental note of the where the streaks are, then fired another shot and done the same. What I found was that the streaks from the first round were gone and new ones were there from the second shot. It's as though each shot wipes out the previous shots leading and leaves it's own.

    What I have also found is that powder choice can be tailored to eliminate leading. By switching to Unique for my hotter loads, and limiting Bullseye for lighter loads, I get NO leading. I can fire hundreds of rounds through a given gun and not have any leading. The carbon crud that builds up everywhere else is an issue, but leading isn't.

    While I haven't tried many different powders, I think other powders would give similar results based on their burn rate. For instance, AA#2 for light loads and AA#5 for full loads, or HP38 for light and Universal for full. I just use Alliant powders out of brand loyalty and because I like all of the old data for the old powders.

    The carbon crud is easily cleaned with any gun solvent and a toothpick for the crannies where it gets thicker.
     
  5. Motown Fire

    Motown Fire Everett

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    Good post. Thanks for sharing. I only load lead and have never lived up to the "leading" myths that I always read about in stock Glock barrels.
     
  6. BK63

    BK63

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    I shoot hundreds of rounds of cast out of the wheel guns every week and the barrel never has lead in it. I just put the LW barrel in the G30 and as soon as the cast I ordered gets here I can't wait to load some up and try out the new barrel. For now buying cast will do for me but I'm going to be reading some casting books before I delve into that but I can see it's yet another addiction I can't break away from.
     
  7. PCJim

    PCJim Senior Member

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    Here is a link to nine pictures I took today after shooting appx. 120 rounds thru my 9mm P226 during an IDPA shoot. The pics are just under 2mb each and may take a couple of moments to load.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/42490370@N04/sets/72157623613548268/


    Jack, I don't have the caliber of equipment that Ansel had, so go easy on the critique.
     
  8. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

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    For only 120 rounds you're getting way, way more leading than you should. I can go through 600 rounds and not have anywhere close to that. (I suspect that some of what we're seeing is powder fouling but it still appears to be a lot of leading.

    Are these photos with the hard lead you mentioned and the possibly undersized bullets or are they the new ones the caster said he'd do for you?

    I must admit that your pictures a VASTLY SUPERIOR to what I ended up with. I tried it with a bore light in the barrel and all I ended up with was a picture of a sun spot and my thumb. :crying:

    Don't get a big head because you beat me... remember, you're competing against an idiot.

    Jack
     
  9. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

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    Jack, use the macro setting on your camera and some natural light. I'm not a photgrapher, but that's the point. I can take very close shots of things like bullets outside and on macro and they look like they were taken under an electron microscope.

    PC, your leading looks typical of commercial harcast bullets and fast powder. If I'm correct, try a softer bullet lubed with liquid alox and a slower powder like Unique. Now if those are soft bullets and you are using Unique or similar, I'll just rant in jibberish and storm out of the room exclaiming that I am still right.
     
  10. PCJim

    PCJim Senior Member

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    I used the misses' camera which has better macro photography capabilities to take those pics. I haven't used my professional 35mm camera in decades....

    Anyway, back to the leading. Those pics are of the hard cast, .3555 9mm 125gr LCN bullets that I have been shooting for the last two years. I was told they measure 8-10 on the SAECO scale, and are quite hard. These were pushed by 3.9gr BE at an avg velocity of 1020fps.

    I did finally slug both the Sig barrels. The 9mm came out at .3555 and the 40 at .3995-.400 (the fishing sinker sure grew in size between the store and my home). I was not able to beat it thru the barrel, but was able to obtain enough of an imprint to get a pretty good measurement.

    I have not yet contacted the commercial caster to have him make some at .356 and .357 for testing purposes. Figured I'd do that in another week and pick them up on the way to see my daughter.

    I don't know why they are running 9mm at a standard of .3555 and 40 cal at .400. I would have thought their standard would have been .356 (or maybe .3565) and .401. We are talking lead here, and doesn't everyone work up their loads carefully?
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2010
  11. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

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    A couple of things. First, the bullets could be a bit bigger as you mentioned. I have a theory, based purely on the feeble workings of my brain, that commercial casters size their bullets a bit small so that they will chamber in every gun. This way they don't get complaints about their bullets not chambering.

    Second, your bullets don't need to be that hard.

    Third, a slower powder will help.

    I shoot bullets that are soft enough to let me dig my thumbnail into them slightly. I size them to 0.401" and lube with liquid alox. I can run them with Bullseye at lower charges and not get leading. I can load them faster with Unique. This is all in 40SW, not 9mm, but I have gotten similar results in 38/357 mag.

    I don't know if it's the bigger bullet, softer lead, liquid alox, or more selective powder usage, but the combination of all of that basically gives me zero leading.
     
  12. dwhite53

    dwhite53

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    I apply Lee Liquid Alox to all the cast bullets I shoot. It's cheap insurance as the 4 ounce bottle will lube thousands of bullets. At $4.00 it's pretty cheap. I won't say it definitely helps as I've not done any real experimenting but I'm sure it doesn't hurt.

    The stuff is easy to apply, dries in about 24 hours, once dry it's easy to handle.

    Just another tool in the tool box.

    All the Best,
    D. White
     
  13. PCJim

    PCJim Senior Member

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    WiskyT, I think its a combination of all of your thoughts - most specifically though a larger diameter bullet. Like Jack stated earlier, if it's skidding down the barrel like a luge sled, its going to lead something fierce. I'm sure that this is my problem, being that the bullets are undersized.

    No worries - only about 2.5k of 9mm and 400 of .40 to go thru before I'll be done with this problem. They burn thru quickly enough, it won't take long.