copper vs lead bullets

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by montveil, May 1, 2009.

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  1. montveil

    montveil New Member

    I am not a re loader but have been wondering about the differences between copper and lead bullet performance.
    given the same bullet weight , let's say 100 grains out of a small bore rifle.

    If a copper bullet is used it will be longer than a lead bullet of the same weight due to density differences what effects would this have on:

    1. bullet interception on approach to the barrel rifling?
    2. since the bullet is longer does it will have a better ballistic coefficient ?
    -will this better BC make up for the lack of density?
    -how do the two compare to downrange terminal velocity at , let's say 300 yards seeing both weigh the same would the two compare with a cross wind? copper has more surface area to be affected
    4. I assume the feeding characteristics would present problems out of auto loaders.

    Excuse my ignorance but I really don't have my head wrapped around these answers?
  2. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

    A plain lead, non-jacketed rifle bullet will have a higher sectional density than a jacketed bullet. Most non-jacketed bullets are round nosed or flat nosed so they will have a lower BC than a spitzer type jacketed bullet. A non-jacketed bullet will not withstand the same velocity as a jacketed bullet. Most non-jacketed bullets can be pushed to (maybe) 2200 fps. I do not believe it possible to push one much faster even with high quality alloy. Trying to compare the two in modern rifle calibers is pretty much apples to oranges. The only arena they can be compared is in large bore low velocity rifles (.45-70). Even jacketed bullets are going to be kept down in the 2000fps and less range.

  3. stick_man

    stick_man New Member

    You pose some interesting questions. Since is sounds like you are wanting to compare "all copper" to "all lead" or even "copper jacketed lead", they really are comparing apples to oranges. The different types of bullets have different purposes. For long range shooting in hunting type situations, you want to use a jacketed or all copper bullet at sufficient velocity to have sufficient energy at impact for a clean kill. The Barnes bullets (all copper) have long been very highly rated among premium hunting bullets. They have no lead core to separate from the jacket and often retain 95-100% of their original weight after expansion. Many premium lead core jacketed bullets now have the jackets bonded to the core so the jacket/core separation is less of an issue. It wasn't until recently that the lead core bullets would regularly retain upwards of 70% of their original weight after expansion. The highly acclaimed Nosler Partitions historically would retain only 75-80% of their original weight. I believe that has improved lately through the bonding process.

    I hunt elk with the Barnes TSX and, because of their lighter for length weights, will typically use 165 or 168gr TSX where I used to use 180gr Partitions in my '06. I can push the lighter bullets a little faster than the heavier bullets and the better BC offers great downrange ballistics.

    If I were hunting heavily wooded areas where my average shot would be less than about 150 yards, I would seriously consider going with a heavier, all lead bullet with a muzzle velocity of around 2100-2200 fps.

    For the smaller, thin-skinned pronghorn, mule deer, and whitetail, I would use my 6mm or .25-06 with something like the Speer HotCor, Sierra GameKing, Hornady Interlok. A "premium" bullet isn't always necessary for every situation.

    Hope this helps some.

    Happy shooting!
  4. buckhuntr

    buckhuntr Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporter

    After having a Nosler Partition blow up on a small twig that I couldn't even see in the scope, I made the switch to the all copper Barnes X bullets, and have never looked back. When I shoot a whitetail, I want it on the ground quick because I typically hunt very thick woods and brushy areas, and a long tracking job through that stuff is something to avoid whenever possible. I know a 30-06 or 7mm Mag is overkill on whitetail, but seeing the deer pile up in its tracks makes it ok. ;)
  5. cpttango30

    cpttango30 New Member

    according to CSI: New York Copper plated 9mmL are for armor piercing. You don't want any of those.....

    If a copper bullet is used it will be longer than a lead bullet of the same weight due to density differences what effects would this have on:

    If the bullet is longer it will need to be seated a little deeper to maintain COAL. This could affect the pressure of the load so if handloading you should reduce load by 10% and work back up.

    This will vary by bullet design and velocity of the bullet at range. If you load it to a higher velocity it will change some things a little.

    Again this would be affected by many variables like bullet size shape and speed. A very long sleek 85gr .224 match bullet is is going to be less affected than the short 50gr 224.

    I haven't seen to many pistol bullets of all copper. But rifle bullets of all copper are not much of a problem for autoloaders like the AR-15 platform. It can affect it if the COAL is not the same. If you have a COAL that is a lot longer than factory ammo then you will have feeding issues.
  6. foxmulder

    foxmulder New Member

    TV = Fake

    Sorry but I for one don't take a story writer's TV script as hard fact.:)
  7. JonM

    JonM Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

    since the next episode of amc walking dead is on tonite im putting a xbow bolt in this zombie thread's head.

    if you want to discuss copper vs cast bullets please start a new thread
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