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Brand new to reloading - bullet selection question


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Hey all,

I am new to reloading and am putting together my shopping list right now using suggestions here on the forum. I have a Sig 1911 .45 ACP and have always used FMJ store bought ammo. I see so many of you going with just lead bullets such as Bayou. In fact, I don't see where Bayou even offers a FMJ.

What are the downsides to lead RN bullets vs. FMJ vs. plated? I see lead as being significantly cheaper, but would think it would be much dirtier too. I am only going to shoot maybe 3,000 rounds per year at the most.

Any help would be appreciated, I'm sure this won't be my first question.....



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Don, lead is dirty, potentially unhealthy, clogs up your reloader and gun if

you're not careful, is more finicky re: your crimping, and my experience is

not as likely to feed through my BHP as is metal jacketed bullets (my 9mm

feeds jacketed bullets 100% and lead is 99%).

But, it is cheaper, and all the problems above can be lessened if you

take care to do so. :cheers:

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I think Bayou bullets are a good middle ground between lead and FMJ; you get some of the economy of lead without the handling issues. My guns run a lot cleaner with them as compared to lead, and they didn't lead my G34 barrel. The downside is you can't walk into your LGS and get them, but 3000 will more than fit into one flat rate box. I highly recommend Bayou, and as a bonus, they are good folks too!

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I have a few old rounds of military ammunition issued by the US Army to a friend of mine. The bullets are 230 grain lead round nose. I load lead to about 735 fps with AA #2 and have had good success. I have also loaded plated bullets with good success. I have never experienced excessive leading with moderate loads. I have however experienced leading when I exceeded the leads compressive strength or used undersized bullets which allowed gas cutting.

I suppose using lead bullets is dirtier in general than jacketed but so what? I took a brand new pistol to the range to perform a reliability test. I fired the dirtiest ammo I could find in it. The first range session included about 200 rounds. This was repeated through several range sessions with no cleaning till the pistol had approximately 800 rounds with no lubrication or cleaning past the initial cleaning and lube I performed when I unboxed the new pistol. That was my reliability test for that particular 1911. It never missed a beat. I finally cleaned it and it has now launched a couple of thousand lead bullets with no issues. (yes, I clean it regularly now)

Another advantage or lead bullets over jacketed is less barrel wear due to the relative softness of the lead. You may need to polish or lap the barrel to smooth it out to achieve maximum performance but that will make jacketed bullets perform better also.

I believe the concern about ammo being "dirty" is overblown. I clean my guns and wash my hands anyway, how much I wash off matters not at all.

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Shooting a traditional cast or swaged lead bullet that’s to soft or the wrong size for your barrel can be frustrating, (and messy) the only issue I have with them is the muzzle smoke.

Using coated lead bullets seems to be a good compromise between cost and muzzle smoke. Whether you choose Bayou’s green coating or the more traditional Poly/Moly coated from Bear Creek, BBI, Precision, etc.

I don’t use or recommend plated bullets because they:

A. Cost as much or more than real jacketed bullets.

B. I’ve never gotten them to shoot as accurately as jacketed or lead bullets.

However, every new reloader I’ve ever mentored starts out loading jacketed bullets (lately from Precision Delta) because it’s easier for a newb to make quality ammo with them. Once you have a better understanding on what’s going on, making the switch to lead is a whole lot easier.

Hope this helps.


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Dude. Lasercast! Seriously. I shot lasercast bullets for years in my .45ACP and NEVER had ANY lead build up whatsoever. Some people still say they act like lead but I would have to say that they must be shooting some hot loads for that. I shot lasercast for many years in many calibers and NEVER saw any issues except saved money. That said, I don't shoot Lasercast in my open 9mm major gun, but for .45ACP competition loads... load them and save money and shoot them all day long. They are a silver-lead alloy so they are harder than lead. Not to mention if the need ever arises you are all set for werewolves!

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