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Old 12-08-2009, 11:48 PM
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Default Using 9mm lead and FMJ bullets

I've been looking into reloading and it seems as though lead bullets are the cheapest way to go. I've got a few questions that I can't seem to find an answer to. The gun in question is a 9mm sigma.

-Will the lead require excessive cleaning?
-Are lead bullets bad for the sigma in any way? Barrel?
-Can I shoot FMJ after lead?

The reason I ask is that this is the only handgun I have and will be my daily carry gun. I usually clean my gun after every trip to the range but I want to know if using lead bullets will lead to a long drawn out cleaning process.

Thanks in advance for your help!
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Old 12-08-2009, 11:57 PM
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The question of "will shooting releaded lead bullets in my 9mm give me barrel leading problems?" is not easily answered. There are many factors.

1. Yes, it may give you barrel leading if you load to higher velocity, mismatch the bullet and barrel diameters, or use a hot burning powder.

2. No, leading won't be a problem if you shoot hard cast lead bullets, match the barrel and bullet diameters, and don't try for maximum velocities.

3. Plated bullets loaded to around 1,000 fps with Bullsey, WW 231, or similar fast burning powder will eliminate leading.

4. Regular, thorough cleaning with brass bristle brush and bore solvent will minimize leading. Some formulas clean more effectively and prevent leading buildup.

5. Mixing lead and jacketed ammo is no problem. Regular cleaning is a must for best reliability because lead bullets usually foul more than jacketed bullets.

For serious carry, you DO clean and lube after every shooting session, don't you?
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Old 12-09-2009, 12:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john traveler View Post
The question of "will shooting releaded lead bullets in my 9mm give me barrel leading problems?" is not easily answered. There are many factors.

1. Yes, it may give you barrel leading if you load to higher velocity, mismatch the bullet and barrel diameters, or use a hot burning powder.

2. No, leading won't be a problem if you shoot hard cast lead bullets, match the barrel and bullet diameters, and don't try for maximum velocities.

3. Plated bullets loaded to around 1,000 fps with Bullsey, WW 231, or similar fast burning powder will eliminate leading.

4. Regular, thorough cleaning with brass bristle brush and bore solvent will minimize leading. Some formulas clean more effectively and prevent leading buildup.

5. Mixing lead and jacketed ammo is no problem. Regular cleaning is a must for best reliability because lead bullets usually foul more than jacketed bullets.

For serious carry, you DO clean and lube after every shooting session, don't you?
1. How can I be sure the barrel and bullet diameter match?

2. What about these bullets, Missouri Bullet Company

3. All I can find for plated bullets is Berry's. Are there any cheaper?

4. Any suggestions on cleaners?

5. I can't shoot lead and FMJ without a clean in between can I?


I have not actually started carrying yet, my class is this sunday. But yes, I will clean and lube after every shooting session.

Last edited by reyno2ac; 12-09-2009 at 12:11 AM.
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Old 12-09-2009, 12:25 AM
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1. Nominal 9mm groove diameter is 0.355". Nominal cast lead and plated bullets are 0.356" diameter. Most all modern 9mm use these dimensions. Older guns, say WWII surplus may be smaller or larger due to wartime rushed production.

2. Berry's sells very well here on the West coast. Bullet costs increase greatly due to shipping costs, so regional sources are best buys.

3. Some say you should not mix cast and jacketed bullet shooting sessions because that would make gun cleaning more work. I have not found that to be true. Butch's Boreshine, Hoppe's, Breakfree CLP, and several others combine copper and lead solvents in addition to the usual nitro powder solvent.

4. Lead bullets shoot dirtier, and not just because of the possibility of leading. Lead is a soft material, and it can smear, streak, or flake off in chambers, magazines, and barrel throats where it reduces gun reliability. That is why regular, after-shooting cleaning is important, even more important that if shooting only jacketed bullets.

5. Bronze or brass bristle brush cleaning is just about a must for lead bullets. The widely available plastic bristles don't do much more than clean powder residue.

6. For minimum leading problems, use the good copper plated lead bullets (Berry's is one). For maximum economy, buy or make your own cast lead, lubricated bullets.

I've fired almost nothing other than cast lead bullets in my pistols and revolvers for the last 30-something years, with only a handful of jacketed bullets at each shooting session. Regular cleaning & lubrication prevents any leading or reliability problems. Many other competition shooters will tell you the same thing. Cast lead bullets are just as accurate, just as reliable, and a whole lot cheaper to shoot than factory jacketed bullets.
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Old 12-09-2009, 12:46 AM
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Only caveat is that accuracy can sometimes be a tricky thing with lead bullets in 9MM. I have gotten consistently good accuracy with lead bullets
in my Browning High Power due to its slightly slower twist, in my M639
and M659 it was less consistent, the make of bullet played a role-in my case I used what I found sold locally. I recall reading-by Dean Grinell, IIRC-that the Bar Sto barrels (no longer available for S&W IIRC) were better for lead bullets due to their lands and grooves being equal width.
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Old 12-09-2009, 12:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john traveler View Post
1. Nominal 9mm groove diameter is 0.355". Nominal cast lead and plated bullets are 0.356" diameter. Most all modern 9mm use these dimensions. Older guns, say WWII surplus may be smaller or larger due to wartime rushed production.

2. Berry's sells very well here on the West coast. Bullet costs increase greatly due to shipping costs, so regional sources are best buys.

3. Some say you should not mix cast and jacketed bullet shooting sessions because that would make gun cleaning more work. I have not found that to be true. Butch's Boreshine, Hoppe's, Breakfree CLP, and several others combine copper and lead solvents in addition to the usual nitro powder solvent.

4. Lead bullets shoot dirtier, and not just because of the possibility of leading. Lead is a soft material, and it can smear, streak, or flake off in chambers, magazines, and barrel throats where it reduces gun reliability. That is why regular, after-shooting cleaning is important, even more important that if shooting only jacketed bullets.

5. Bronze or brass bristle brush cleaning is just about a must for lead bullets. The widely available plastic bristles don't do much more than clean powder residue.

6. For minimum leading problems, use the good copper plated lead bullets (Berry's is one). For maximum economy, buy or make your own cast lead, lubricated bullets.

I've fired almost nothing other than cast lead bullets in my pistols and revolvers for the last 30-something years, with only a handful of jacketed bullets at each shooting session. Regular cleaning & lubrication prevents any leading or reliability problems. Many other competition shooters will tell you the same thing. Cast lead bullets are just as accurate, just as reliable, and a whole lot cheaper to shoot than factory jacketed bullets.
1. Is using .356 bullets with .355 the norm?

If I order the missouri bullets is there a special lube I need to use when firing or reloading them?
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Old 12-09-2009, 11:15 AM
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I reloaded some lead bullets for my sigma and due to the shape of the bullet I had to seat them shorter than FMJ. The fatter nose on the lead would hit the rifling and not let the gun go completey into battery. They were a PIA to get them out of the gun when it jammed.

I would surely try some before I loaded in huge quantity. Ask me how I know. Your sigma may be different than mine. They shot well enough once I got them short enough but I only shot steel plates and did not try for groups.
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Old 12-09-2009, 11:36 AM
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I load MBC smallball bullets over bullseye powder and have had very good accuracy out of them. Haven't had much leading and clean-up normally takes about the same amount of time as I spent when shooting jacketed bullets. The only two guns I have shot my load out of are a Ruger SR-9 and a Springfield XD-M, so I can't say anything for the sigmas for sure but I would say your experience would be similar.

To answer your questions:

1. Yes it is normal to load a .356 lead bullet in 9mm, lead bullets are always about one thousandth over the jacket bullet you would use in order to get a good bullet to barrel seal.

2. The lube is already on MBC bullets, most hardcast bullets come already lube the only time you have to lube lead bullets is if you buy them unlubed or you are casting your own.

Also if you are thinking about plated bullets I would just go with FMJ in 9mm the cost difference is VERY small. I have used some FMJ bullets from Roze Distributing and they were very accurate and the price isn't much different than plated or lead so you may want to check that out.
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Last edited by DrewW; 12-09-2009 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 12-09-2009, 01:02 PM
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I would like to suggest a trick I've used for years... shake (to mix well) Breakfree CLP & wipe down the gun, chamber & barrel before shooting (everything except the grips). Do not over do, wipe down with a dry patch after. You only want to leave a film. Any fouling, dirt or debris will be on top of the film & a lot will wipe off in the intial stage of cleaning.

I used to make & sell machine cast bullets. The wax lube is really very good. I've heard of some using the spray lube, right over the whole lubed bullet before reloading, of course. I've not tried it myself but if I was shooting a lot, it would be interesting to compare.

I shoot lead in my S&W 39/ 645 autos just fine.
Russ
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Old 12-09-2009, 01:15 PM
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Quote:
-Can I shoot FMJ after lead?

The reason I ask is that this is the only handgun I have and will be my daily carry gun. I usually clean my gun after every trip to the range but I want to know if using lead bullets will lead to a long drawn out cleaning process.
Couple of added pints to the excellent comments above:
After shooting lead bullets, especially until you master the loading, it is important to use your eyes and look inside the barrel. If there is moderate to heavy leading, then DON'T shoot a jacketed bullet down it. Clean out the lead first. Otherwise, pressures can go dangerously high.

Second, if you have copper in the barrel from shooting jacketed (copper fouling is hard to see) it makes the lead stick like crazy to the barrel.

Third, I do have a 9mm 124gr lead (Lee mold) load that shoots OK in a Sigma. I throttle back to a moderate load with it.
However, since I can get the FMJ bullets from Precision Delta for almost the same price as commercial cast, it would be tough for me to buy cast.
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Old 12-09-2009, 01:27 PM
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I have been using these from Missouri Bullet Company with great results

SmallBall!
.356 Diameter
125 Grain 9MM RN
Brinell 18

My barrel slugs out to .355 in my Smith and Sig. I use WW WSF powder and load them just at 1000 fps. No leading, accuracy is terrific and feed like grits thru a goose. Plus side is they are relatively inexpensive. I usually cast my own, but when time does not permit (or I'm feeling lazy) MBC is a great source for good quality, inexpensive lead bullets, and they deliver to my Wisconsin Address in 2-3 days of ordering.
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Old 12-09-2009, 01:48 PM
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WOW! You guys are incredibly helpful! Thanks for all the tips, tricks, and advice.

I managed to pick up to 100 round Winchester and 4 50 Federal at Wally World today so I have something to shoot right now and to build up my brass pile.

When I do start reloading I think I'm going to go with jacketed ammo, more than likely from Roze. IF the price of Federal stays at $10 it will save me around $3.50 a box, and I'll be able to customize the loads as I see fit. To me, and maybe I'm being winey, the lead just seems like a little to much work and a little too messy. Especially since I'll be carrying the gun and don't want to worry about excessive lead build up.

Does anyone happen to have a picture of what excessive lead build up looks like?

Again, you guys have been great! I don't think I've ever been a part of a forum that was this helpful! I'll definitely be sticking around for a while...as long as you don't convince me to buy anymore guns right away
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Old 12-09-2009, 02:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flagman1776 View Post
I would like to suggest a trick I've used for years... shake (to mix well) Breakfree CLP & wipe down the gun, chamber & barrel before shooting (everything except the grips). Do not over do, wipe down with a dry patch after. You only want to leave a film. Any fouling, dirt or debris will be on top of the film & a lot will wipe off in the intial stage of cleaning.

I used to make & sell machine cast bullets. The wax lube is really very good. I've heard of some using the spray lube, right over the whole lubed bullet before reloading, of course. I've not tried it myself but if I was shooting a lot, it would be interesting to compare.

I shoot lead in my S&W 39/ 645 autos just fine.
Russ
He said he's got a Sigma. You think Breakfree is OK with plastic?
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Old 12-09-2009, 03:02 PM
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Not to digress from the question since all the shooting info has been good stuff. But you're talking about carrying. If you're considering handloads for daily carry or home defense, I'd do some searching on the forum. You'll find some strong opinions on both sides of that subject here and elsewhere in the gun world.
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Old 12-09-2009, 03:07 PM
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I shoot lead bullet reloads in my Browning, Luger and S&W 3913 regularly. There is an easy trick to remove leading from the bore and cylinder: buy a box of copper (pure copper) Chore Boy scrubbers. Clip off a little bit of the copper mesh and wrap it around a brass bore brush; now use it to scrape the lead out of the bore and cylinders. It won't harm the gun at all. It works like the Lewis Lead Remover only much better and cheaper.

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Old 12-09-2009, 04:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PDL View Post
Not to digress from the question since all the shooting info has been good stuff. But you're talking about carrying. If you're considering handloads for daily carry or home defense, I'd do some searching on the forum. You'll find some strong opinions on both sides of that subject here and elsewhere in the gun world.
Sorry I didn't mention that. I am not going to be using hand loads for carry or home defense, just punching paper.
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