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jim boyd's picture
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Lead Rifle Bullets - Relic of the Past?

Are the days of the lead and copper bullets going by the wayside?

I have used, with great success, the Barnes X all copper bullets in my rifles, both .308 and 7mm-08 - they have proven devastating on the deer here in the south.

I understand that bullet placement is the key component - far more so than bullet construction - where a Core-Lokt (nothing against them, used them for years) that is properly placed is infinitely more efective than a poorly placed copper bullet.

I see a surge in the "all copper bullets" and I see some upside to them - they are touted as being very effective and I also read there are some lead concerns when you eat a deer (or whatever) that was shot with a typical lead / copper jacket bullet.

I also read that all copper bullets may not be as accurate as a standard bullet - at least in some guns.

Are we seeing the end of the line for lead jacket bullets in centerfire rifles?

I am not a bird hunter but I think that the conversion away from lead shot is pretty much complete in some areas - isn't it?

What do the BGH experts say?

Thanks -

Jim

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I personally believe that

I personally believe that they are still here to stay.  In the last couple of years there was a scare about hunters getting lead poisoning from eating game that was killed by lead bullets and that is the reason that they were going to ban them, but I think that all it turned out to be was a scare tatic.  I know that in north western Arizona and south west Utah they ask for you to not to use lead because of the condors that were eating gut piles and getting lead poisoning and dieing but that is the only problem that I have heard of. 

As far as lead being more accurate than a all copper bullet it all depends on the rifle.  You will find that even not all lead bullets are created equal in the accuracy game.  I switched most of my reloads for my rifles to the Barnes X bullets just because I like the performance that I am getting out of them along with accuracy. 

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I haven't heard of the

I haven't heard of the condors getting it eating gut piles but wouldn't suprize me someone would say that. Wouldn't that require gut shot animals? As long as lead bullets are legal I'm gonna use them and not hunt where they aren't. Barnes is probably the one that started the lead poisoning scare, they got the copper bullet's first! Lead won't go anywhere as long as it's legal, to costly for solid copper bullet's. I don't believe there is anything a copper bullet can do that a properly chosen lead bullet can't, other than MTY your wallet faster.

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I don't think so

I love Barnes Bullets.  They are phenomenally accurate in my primary hunting rifle.  Groove Bullets (now out of business) were another all copper bullet and more accurate than anything else I shot besides Barnes. 

My home state mandates "non-toxic" (read non-lead) shot for all waterfowl hunting.

But, that said there are applications where lead far out performs copper projectiles. Lead shot will carry farther and hit harder than any other shotgun pellet on the market.  I don't know anyone anywhere who hunts pheasant or partridge with copper shot.

Antique shotguns (and rifles) are not a good match for anything but soft lead.  Cast lead bullets expand in bores that may be over sized due to long guse and thus produce accuracy in old rifles that they just don't make copper projectiles for.  I'm thinking of my 19th century 9.3x57R and 500 Black powder express. 

I killed last year's moose with a 45-70 cartridge topped with a 405 grain cast lead bullet.

And cast lead is the fall back of everyone who fears ammunition bans or taxes.  Like our founding fathers, anyone with a bullet mold can cast projectiles as long as they have lead. And that holds as true for your 308 as it does for my 75 caliber Brown Bess smoothbore musket.

So I think that there is still a place for lead projectiles and there always will be. 

But that's just my opinion....

 

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lead

Here's a 405 grain slug recovered from my moose after breaking his shoulder (photo attached).

 

There is nothing wrong with a copper bullet, but in my opinion lead is still a perfectly viable option.

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Don Fischer's picture
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I couldn't get that photo to

I couldn't get that photo to go bigger, probably my computer, dial up. But looks like it really flattened out. Is that soft lead, wheel weight or a mix? I use wheel weights in my handguns but last year started mixing some lead. Think it was 30-1 to make rifle bullets with, with gas checks. haven't shot anything with them but fairly accurate and don't lead the barrel. About 2" at 100yds.

Tn, I believe your right about lead bullets being plenty good enough. For most my hunting, cup and core bullet's have exited 99% of the time. Can't imagine why I would need to spend a dollar on a bullet just to get the same thing I already have. Your example of a 180gr bullet retaining 136 grs is about 75% retained weight. Nosler bullet's by design only retain 70%. That includes the partition and the bonded bullet. For cup and core those figures can change by adding more velocity but I'm sure you know that.

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wheel weights for starters

Don Fischer wrote:

I couldn't get that photo to go bigger, probably my computer, dial up. But looks like it really flattened out. Is that soft lead, wheel weight or a mix? I use wheel weights in my handguns but last year started mixing some lead. Think it was 30-1 to make rifle bullets with, with gas checks. haven't shot anything with them but fairly accurate and don't lead the barrel. About 2" at 100yds.

That sounds like a good set up.

I didn't cast that particular bullet so I am not 100% cerytain of the mix, but it was a fairly hard alloy (will not dent easily with fingernail) and I'm sure that it started life as a wheel weight.

I'd say about 75% weight retention on that one.

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bigger pic of the recovered projctile for Don

Don Fischer wrote:

I couldn't get that photo to go bigger, probably my computer, dial up. But looks like it really flattened out.

 

I'll try to post it bigger for you:

cast lead bullet recovered from my moose

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cup & core bullets

Personally, I'd hate to see the day when non-lead bullets predominate the shooting world. Have you compared the prices of these new copper jobbies and typical cup & cores? For much of our hunting typical core-lokts, Power Points, and other similar bullets are an economical and a perfectly satifactory answer to the question of "what's needed?"

I also believe that we are being foolishly led down a path of "retained weight" advertising that is, in fact, very misleading. The fact that a bullet loses some weight as it passes through an animal's body is not necessarily a bad thing.

Where do you reckon those mini bullets are going? Through the lungs, heart, etc and making additional wound channels is where. I believe a bullet needs to not "fail" and totally come apart, but show me a cup and core recovered under the off-side hide that started out as a 180gr and now is a 136gr, and I'm perfectly fine with that, especially when I look at that fully mushroomed remnant. 

More fine, in fact, than I am about finding a second caliber sized hole on the off-side and knowing that bullet has produced bigtime energy outside that animal.

For the record I have collected game with some type of Barnes "X" bullets in at least four different rifle chamberings. Not slamming them, just trying to be realistic about what's needed for the typical hunter hunting deer, moose or elk. Of course, simply my personal opinion and yours might be very different.  Yes

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leaded

Until the federal government mandates a complete ban of leaded prjectiles (which might actually happen in the near future) lead bullets will be used and used by the masses.  Despite all the advances in materials these days, nobody has yet put on the market a projectile material that duplicates the density of lead at the same price point.  We may see one soon, as the DoD is required to go completely unleaded soon for all it's small arms.  My worry is that the tungsten/nylon they are testing will be sky high in price for the average consumer.  Lead is cheap and very effective when it comes to ballistics, but the scare in the air has people today witch hunting and waging a vicious war on this useful heavy metal.  For all the exotics on the commericial market today, lead will always out sell and be out used by the consumer as long as it is legally available.

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Wow Mike! Look at how much

Wow Mike! Look at how much expansion you got on it. I don't think I'd complain about that!

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