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Leading problems in 45 ACP

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Here is a question for all you reloading wonks.  Having shot Glocks for years I think that cleaning your pistol is something you do when you have nothing else better to do or if you have a major match.  I have treated my 1911s the same way.  I will go a couple thousand rounds between cleanings (except for a couple drops of oil on the rails if the slide gets sluggish).  I have had no problems.  I will get a half an inch of leading just beyond the throat of my barrel and that is all.  I have used Promo, Red Dot, Tite Group and WST with the same results.


Now there is my neighbor.  He shoots tactical 2 gun matches.  His 1911 will gum up and accuracy will degrade after 200 rounds.  He wants to know why.  He is shooting a hard cast 185 gr bullet on top of 4.5 gr of tite group.  Both of his pistols react the same way, one is Colt and the other is a Kimber.


I have used 230 gr bullets from the same manufacturer for many years and now shoot bullets cast from lead from those bullets recovered from my private range.  So we shoot basically the same alloy.


So why is leading such a problem for him.  I have used Tite Group before so I don't think it is the powder.  We are shooting bullets of the same alloy so I don't think it is the bullets.  Is it the load?

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Barrel.......... some do, some don't. Crap happens.

or had/has residue builup.

you would be amazed....

Try gettin a rifle barrel cleaned enough to shoot barnes bullets.

once ya do, yes, they will shoot very well indeed.

just an opinion....

and, so far... my glocks seem to shoot okay with the lead bullets I have tried. I do however keep a good eye on it.

hope that helps.


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Size,size, size.  Bullet MUST seal the barrel well or there will be leading with cast bullets. Do a GOOD job of slugging the barrel.  If necessary, Cerrosafe cast the rear end of barrel.  Make the bullet one thousandth over that diameter, and lube with a good lube.  I like White Label BAC or for something not sticky, White Label Carnuba Red.


TOO HARD an alloy - I now shoot 8 Brinell hardness (for the last 2 years) - and get very little leading.  That is about 1.5% antimony, 0.5% tin.  Just about range scrap from ranges where it is primarily pistol lead.  I used to shoot harder .45 slugs, and got leading in the first half inch - at the throat.  That was with 12 to 14 Brinell hardness.


I have also been coming to the conclusion that crimping should not be very tight.  If the mouth of a loaded round is at 0.471", on a typical .452 bullet, that is tight enough.  Taper crimp, of course.


I read a set of guidelines for where the leading occurs and why.  Something like this:

in front of chamber, nowhere else - bullet too hard or undersized (gas cutting past base)

all along the barrel - bullet too soft or lube not working well

only out toward muzzle - lube running out


Even with pistol ammo, there should be a little lube left on the muzzle (a lube star).  If it's dry and dusty out there, lube grooves may not be holding enough, or lube is not working well.  Sub 1000FPS pistol ammo should not be all that hard to make run without leading problems.  And the chamber pressure of .45 auto ammo (about 18K psi) does not demand more than about 10 Brinell MAX hardness.  Shooting "hardball" alloy, at 16 BNH, for what we do in WB?  I've found it a waste of hard lead.


Good luck,GJ

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I believe his loads are of low velocity and not excessive velocity, according to Hodgdon's  load data 5.0 grains is the lowest recommended starting point with a velocity of 892 fps. Although that's faster then my 230's at around 750 fps the 230 is going to seal off the chamber much quicker.


I think the leading is caused by the gap difference from end of widest part of the 185 vs 230 reaching the rifled portion of the barrel, thus allowing gas passage and leading.


Personally I would verify the bullet size needed,  increase my powder charge and look at increasing the OAL to help seal off the chamber quicker to limit gas escaping. I'm betting if that bullet can be moved closer to the end of the chamber and pushed out quicker his problems would diminish.





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Try the LASC site you will find in detail the causes of leading with low or medium velocity loads. kR



Although the main web site for the club has changed to:





You will at least for now find their large archive of cast boolit resources at the old location:




I sure hope they continue to keep that set of articles available, but I would guess there has been a change of command at the club, and you know how that can go. 


Especially valuable are the articles by Glen Fryxell!  Such as:


From Ingot to Target: A Cast Bullet Guide for Handgunners


This is a PDF that, if printed as a cast boolit shooter's handbook, would cost probably $30 bucks and be priceless at that price point!  And Chapter 7 is worth it's weight in gold because it dissects the common symptoms and causes AND SOLUTIONS of various types of leading in barrels.  After carefully reading Chapter 7, your shooting buddy will be able to both DESCRIBE the leading he is getting (much better than "the gun gums up") and FIX his leading problems!


Good luck, GJ

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  • 1 month later...

I find too many over lube their 1911s and the guns gum up. I think too many folks over lube their guns and they get problems and blame dirty powder. I find almost NO lube works great on all my 1911s--some have over 10000 rounds through them.

If you get leading from the forcing cone on, your bullets are too hard or too small. Somewhere around 10 BHN is ideal for .45 Auto. If using commercial lead bullets, go to mastercastbullets.com, Missouri Bullets, or Penn Bullets and get their "soft" alloy (which are still much harder than needed).

Has your friend ever slugged his barrel to determine the actual groove diameter? This will not only help determine the proper size bullet, but show any tight or loose areas in the bore--either will cause leading.

He should use a lead bullet that is AT LEAST 0.001" larger than groove diameter.

SAAMI specifies a 0.4520" jacketed and 0.4530" lead bullet for .45 Auto. Going larger (0.454" for reloaders) doesn't hurt anything.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Fit, fit, fit.

Diameter of bullet. What is his diameter pre- and post-seating? Is he swaging the bullet diameter down?

Next, get a softer alloy (8-12 BHN). Unless he casts himself, he probably has an 18-22 BHN bullet.

A clue to what is causing the leading is where the leading first begins to appear.

If it appears near the chamber, chances are that bullet diameter or hardness are the cause. A diameter too small or an alloy too hard will allow high pressure gas to leak past the bullet, which erodes the bullet and leaves leading near the chamber.

If the leading first appears on the leading edge of the rifling (if you imagine the bullet being pushed through the barrel, you will note that one edge of the rifling does most of the work of imparting a spin to the bullet. This is the edge you see when you look through the barrel from the breech end), the bullet might be too soft or the velocity too high.

If the leading appears in the second (front) half of the barrel, the bullet is running out of lube.

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HI Gang;

            I have done all the right thing to reload bullets and sometimes it is good and sometimes it is not. I have a brass curly pot scrubber that I cut off some and wrap it around a bore brush to remove the lead.

  I reuse the ones that work and avoid the others unless the price is to good.

Life and shooting is to short to stress too much, "when its time to shoot, just shoot "

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I think his gun is gummed up from the lube.  That seems to be the only thing that gets mine gun to get sticky.  Same way a .22 does and for the same reason.  I run Oregon Trail 230 round nose with no problem except the gun gets gummy after a couple thousand rounds.  I can lube it and it will keep running but I think the build up is hard on the gun as far as tolerances.  I use Vihta Vuori N-320 which I think is the best there is.  I have tried everything as far as powder.  I can soft brush the chamber clean and have no leading that I can see.  I get what I think is lube build up on the slide.  I am going to start cleaning after 500 to 1,000 rds now as I think it is easier on the gun.  I have gone over 3,000 by squirting oil on things when they get sticky. 
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