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Powder Coat and Hunting bullet hardness

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  • Powder Coat and Hunting bullet hardness

    Just trying to think through the options that powder coating now offers in hunting bullet hardness. I've been shooting cast bullets in my Winchester 30-30 and my 30-40 Krag. I've always cast Clip on Wheel weights with 2% tin added. This has produced a bullet hard enough to prevent leading when gas checked lubed with Junior's 411. I've tried 3 different bullets the 170 Gr RN 311291, the 170 Gr FP 311041, and an Ohaus 170 Gr FP. These are sized .311 and pushed at about 2000 FPS with 30 grains of IMR4895. All produce acceptable accuracy.

    I've wondered a bit about the bullets penciling through a deer with out expanding but held off on adding pure lead to soften them a bit due to leading concerns. Now, with the advent of powder coating (which I've adopted very successfully in .223) I'm thinking that perhaps I could soften these up quite a bit. Has anybody on here used dead soft lead or at least lead softer than COWW? I've used the COWW with 2% in my 45-70 for deer at about 1500 fps. Punched through both shoulder blades and kept right on going. I did not recover the bullet but the hole coming out of the hide was exactly the same size as the hole going in, in spite of the fact that it drove through both shoulders. I'd rather not have that happen with 30 caliber bullets. Any thoughts?
    Last edited by Rockydog; 10-08-2017, 22:27.
    Every once in a while in life we need a policeman, a lawyer, a doctor and a preacher. We need a farmer three times a day, every day.

  • #2
    There are people far more into this than I but powder coat and even Hi-Tek will hold soft bullets together and help with accuracy at handgun velocities.. I recently PC and HT coated some swagged lead hollow base wad cutters. I loaded them UPSIDE DOWN in 38 spl and shot em into a pile of magazines .. normally this is a failure. I also shot jacketed rounds at the same velocity and... the coated bullets expanded perfectly with almost no weight loss while the jacketed either did nothing or exploded.. I mean.. nothing but jacket lead separation.

    I am no hunter but I would think that a pretty soft bullet in HP or.. with just the nose filed flat after PC would both expand and retain weight. I think you are on to something in 45 caliber tho.. you really don't need expansion. I have killed dogs deer and hogs with 44 mag hard cast (in limited numbers) and even with no expansion they killed like the hammer of thor.

    My guess is that for what you want to do.. A hollow point mold with bullets fairly soft or just unknown that are both HT and PC coated is best. HT adds almost nothing to dia. So I would do that first.. one coat is enough... Then I would do PC.. neither coat will stop the HP from working and probly help. I don't know which holds the bullet together better so why not do both?



    • #3
      I'm just a bit confustigated here. Wheel weight alloy with a bit of tin should work fairly well for deer. For years my alloy was ten pounds of wheel weights and one pound of linotype. These days it's a bit more complicated but still the basic BHN level is 11. Now I add a one third cup of chilled or magnum bird shot which altered the basic BHN not one bit but allows the bullet dropped from the mold into cold water to harden to a BHN lever of 32 over a several week period. Those are use strictly for target purposes. What few bullets I have recovered from deer showed results that matched factory jacketed loads and meat damage was no different from either type bullet. Tests on bundles of wet newspapers also showed equal results. All I can add is 17 dead deer can't lie. Bullet usually used was the Lyman #311291 and was used to take 15 of the 17 deer. The other two were with the RCBS #30-180-FN. Dunno what they looked like as both passed though the deer and kept on going. Estimate velocity was about 1900 FPS for the RCBS bullets and close to 2000 FPS for the Lyman loads. Ranges on the animals ran from about 40 yards to maybe 120 yards.
      Paul B.


      • #4
        I would cast some with pure lead, coat them, and test them. Worse case, you clean some leading out.
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        • #5
          On my .223 cast rounds I have been "cupping" the nose a bit using a drill bit that cuts a shallow bowl in the nose. This cup seems to initiate a hydrostatic shock effect as it passes through. They impact Prairie Dogs similar to V-max or Ballistic tips when run a bit over 2000 fps.

          I got the idea from reading the attached story on Swift Breakaway bullets: You can see a picture of the tips on the swift after the break away plastic point has broken away in the pics. However soft they are, I think I will be cutting a similar cup on my cast hunting bullets. RD
          Every once in a while in life we need a policeman, a lawyer, a doctor and a preacher. We need a farmer three times a day, every day.


          • #6
            paul.. I am in no way pretending to have the actual game performance experience that you have. And.. I know more than a few cast bullet normal lube guys who say as you do.. I have even handloaded rounds for them. I have been water dropping from the 70's just because it was faster.. noticed the bullets were.....HARD I agree the shot adds even more.

            Soo.. if those hard bullets expand (robert) there really is no need for pure lead with powder coat. In fact.. I think with PC or HT the hardness is not even important. Bullets so hard they would normally shatter hold together.

            I think rockydog is on to something.. they make 'hollow pointers' I am thinking he is correct with the slight cup or even.. just file a flat point on the bullet. I honestly believe that coatings are a game changer. any exposed lead is going to promote expansion. and certainly a flat point can't hurt nor a dimple.

            What is important to take away is that these inexpensive cast bullets that are PC or HT coated are doing the job of really expensive custom bullets.



            • #7
              the powder coat changes nothing.
              it just covers the lead.


              • #8
                run.. with respect.. When you see cast bullet shatter on steel. and PC or HT bullets hold together.. When you see so called 'undersize' coated bullets shoot more like jacketed.. then saying they change nothing is tantamount to saying copper jackets or gas checks change nothing.. I have enough velocity and accuracy testing to say that.. there is indeed a 'change' so far for the better. IF.. there were no change then leading would happen just as easily with coated bullets as uncoated correct? and of course.. bullets would shatter just as easily and guns would be just as dirty and/or hard to clean. and. the accuracy of a undersize bullet would be the same coated or not.. we all know jacketed bullet are 'undersize' for caliber compared to cast. They also have a dead soft swagged core. Powder coat or HT simply clings to the 'core' better than expensive copper jackets.

                The worst myth maybe for self defense is the hollow base wad cutter loaded upside down. HUGE hollow point with dead soft lead.. mostly it fails. gets clogged and/or just folds over and/or shatters. not gonna argue.. seen it a bunch of times but...

                I coated a bunch of HBWC bullets with both HT and PC and sized to .358 and loaded em upside down alongside of the same velocity soft point 158 grain jacketed rounds shot from a 7.5" barrel here is the results.. you can see the jacket on the jacketed round is almost gone. You could pick the rest off with a fingernail. The coated bullet? no coating is coming loose.. and the weight retention even with the extreme hollowpoint of the upside down HBWC is about 90% which is far greater than the jacketed.. these were fired into newspapers. Both showed perfect expansion.. normal HBWC upside down showed almost no penetration and mostly turned sideways and shattered or flattened with little penetration..

                Soooo in my opinion... the PC and HT coat does indeed change more than a few things. Some.. may be very important..

                Disclaimer... I have $500 or more into normal lube size equipment.. It has sat idle for more than a year.

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                • #9
                  leading does happen with coated bullets.
                  they follow basically the same rules... too small= leading.

                  powder coating can help in some situations that jacketed would also cover but where a cast bullet would get damaged and cause problems.
                  but, just comparing a jacket to a coating isn't the same thing.
                  you have a chunk of lead inserted and you have a coating baked and bonded in place.

                  I swage my own rifle bullets.
                  I use sierra jackets.
                  I weight swage the core which breaks everything in the alloy down.
                  I bond the jacket and core, and I water drop them right after the bonding process.
                  so now I have bonded a sierra jacket with a core that has a BHN of 18.
                  it's basically the same as the sierra pro-hunter but without a pointy tip [or is it?]
                  field performance say's no they are not the same, yet all the base components are the same.


                  • #10
                    run... I have not encountered leading of any coated bullet. in fact... the bores/guns shooting coated bullets are cleaner than jacketed even. I will say tho that I am talking about handgun bullets here. which.. in some respects makes mismatch of bore/chamber even worse but.. velocity is nothing like rifles soo?

                    Bonded bullets.. no idea if the magtech jacketed bullets are bonded but they are good quality.. the jackets will come off.. On the coated bullets... the way you test your process is to smash the bullet flat with a hammer. if it flakes off you messed up. This is a pretty intense test by any ones standards I think.

                    Ok.. I will admit I have not fired em in any really badly mismatched barrel/chamber guns but... I have fired ones that are 'small' meaning.. a tad smaller than what I would run with my old cast/lube bullets and there was no leading and the guns cleaned just as easily which.. with coated bullets is laughably easy.

                    Another thing I have done is use some 'range lead' that I was given. this seemed really really soft... mostly jacketed bullets and 22lr bullets. I coated em and there was no leading.

                    I would not compare coated to either normal lube/size or jacketed. or even plated for that matter... they are an entirely different animal. To me... for handguns they are a game changer.

                    The increase in accuracy if any (most are) is nothing most people will recognize over regular cast/lube.. the smoke is very very much less.. the cleaning is very much easier. the mess of loading is very jacketed bullet like. The bonding is pretty crazy.. when done right the coating simply stays on the bullet.

                    here is a smash test with some 245 grain 44 bullets.. these are gas check bullets.. as you can see the gas check is coming off. the coating is not. these are of course crimp on GC and no way 'bonded' but the violence of the test is not in question to me.

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                    • #11
                      A friend hunts strickly with cast bullets. He loads a Elmer Keith pattern bullet in a 45lc lever and pushes it pretty hard and a 357 and 44mag levers the same way the last deer he took the hole was the same on both side straight threw the rib cage liguidfied the lungs.


                      • #12
                        My experience with cast bullets on game is, in the majority, with BPC rifles and cartridges loaded with BP and bullets cast 25-1 with 40 cal. being the smallest. Of about a dozen deer and a half dozen hogs so shot only one moved from its tracks and all it did was turn around and fall. No bullets have been recovered so I can't speak to any expansion or lack thereof. Exit holes appeared to indicate no expansion. What I do know is if well hit with heavy bullets game doesn't go far.

                        My limited experience on game with harder bullets, basically Lyman #2, at higher velocities and fired over smokeless powder mimics the performance of heavy for caliber bullets fired at moderate velocity over BP. The caveat to that, if there is one, is that I always shoot heavy for caliber bullets with a fairly large meplat for the caliber; 200+ in 8mm, 250 in 9mm and 275-280 in 9.3. I believe those weights would correspond well to 30 cal., 35 cal. and 38 cal.

                        Granted, my experience is not vast however, those are the results I have observed.
                        "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools". Romans 1:22

                        "Those who fail to study history are condemned to repeat it"

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                        • #13
                          I think with hard cast sized/lubed bullets that to run em at any high velocity especially in handguns... you need to go with a pretty hard bullet. Now.. that bullet is almost always gonna punch right on through game and kills by smashing vital stuff. That being said.. why not just PC or HT coat the bullets? If you do it right they are not going to lead. hardness is not a huge deal with those coatings. a for instance.. many run plated bullets at high end hard cast or low end jacketed velocity. Those bullets have a very soft core.

                          Getting decent alloy is getting harder and more expensive. A trend now is 'range lead' this is normally pretty darn soft with all the jacketed bullets and 22 lr bullets in the mix. trying to figure out what it is and how to make it #2 or whatever is getting harder to do.

                          Enter powder coat and Hi-Tek short of swagging or buying jacketed bullets... no cast bullet is going to be better for clean shooting. jacketed bullets are too expensive for me to practice with. And actually.. all I do is plink anyway. swagging is not for everyone and it is fairly expensive and also depends on a certain softness for the core.

                          Powder coat and especially Hi-Tek? I can teach someone in an hour.. The cost is almost nothing. for either you need a $25 toaster oven. plain old automotive pc for the PC process.. the powder is cheap. Hi-Tek... I believe it is easier to use. It does take acetone tho to mix the powder. it is much harder to mess up tho and coatings are mostly a lot more even and thinner.

                          Soo.. to me.. for practice ammo where the alloy is cheap and unknown.. why not pc or ht the bullets? They won't smoke and they won't lead and they will be every bit as accurate or more so than plain lube/size or plated bullets. And for a fraction of the cost of plated or jacketed.

                          Now.. when it comes to hunting.. and again.. not something I do anymore. you can PC or HT relatively soft or hollow point bullets and they will expand and hold together. if.... that is what you want. The HBWC bullet I showed was shot into dry magazines.. it was both PC and HT coated. simple to do.. dead soft lead.. without the PC/HT coat these bullets just turn into little flakes of lead fired into dry magazines.



                          • #14
                            So here is the stock HBWC bullets shot into dry magazines .. there might be a 22 lr in the mix.. mostly tho I took the big chunks. almost all the rest was lead dust. On the HT/PC coat bullets even if a chunk came off it was a large chunk. Using hard cast bullets and a coating they would probly just deformed a bit just as a cast/lube bullet would.


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