BHN, Optimal Hardness, Leading Issues And Other BS
Part 2 - Leading Issues And What To Do About Them.

    Nobody likes to deal with fouling in their guns but the fact of the matter is that everything we shoot WILL FOUL to some extent. Thereís no such thing as a free lunch applies here to our shooting.
    Donít want to deal with fouling then donít shoot the gun. Now of course thatís not practical if we like to shoot and shoot a lot. Controlling the amount of fouling that one does get can be a big help in the clean up afterwards.
    It still amazes me that even still today many shooters still turn their nose up at shooting cast bullets. I see the same concerns voiced over and over again on the various shooting and reloading forums despite the fact that others who answer these complaints with positive experiences relate the advantages of shooting cast bullets.
    The fact they choose to shoot plated or jacketed bullets doesnít alleviate the problem of fouling it just changes the equation to a different kind of fouling and that is copper fouling. This type of fouling is the hardest and most difficult to remove as it needs to be broken down chemically with powerful solvents capable of literally eating the copper away. Copper fouling is very bad to any accuracy.
    Next time you look at a bench rest shooter look at the number of shots fired between cleanings. It is not very many. Now compare that with the strings of shots that most other people shoot thru their rifles and handguns with copper bullets between cleanings. Most people never get all the copper fouling out of their guns when they have been heavily used as most people wonít spend the time or work necessary to get the barrels clean. Some have taken the steps to use an electronic bore cleaner like Outers Foul Out that removes the copper or lead fouling out thru a reverse electroplating system that pulls the fouling to the rod in the center thru the chemical bath in the barrel by electrically charging the rod.
    Most people I have dealt with donít go to this level of cleaning. Most are content to run a few brush strokes and wet patches and think the barrel is clean enough for their next round of abusive shooting. Others will take time to carefully soak and scrub and work long and hard to remove their copper fouling.
    Copper, in addition to being difficult to remove is very abrasive as well. The BHN number on copper jacketed bullets runs about 35 BHN; which is way above the hardest of cast bullets (21-22BHN). Plus add in the fact that the bullets offer no lubrication for the copper unless you are using Molly coated bullets which carry their unique sets of problems.
    Lead bullets on the other hand are lubricated and are far less abrasive by a ratio of 10 to 1 over their jacketed counterparts.
    The main concern always revolves around the amount of lead fouling that the shooter is going to encounter.
    By following some simple guidelines one can have a very positive experience when shooting quality cast bullets.
    First off is going to be the condition of the barrel. If there are rough spots or tool marks within the barrel then those areas are going to be prone to increased fouling.  A simple lapping with some very fine lapping compound can do wonders for smoothing out a barrel.
    Many times some have shot so many abrasive jacketed bullets thru a gun that the barrel is already smoothed out and just needs a thorough cleaning and prep before switching over to lead bullets.
    Having proper measurements of the barrel and cylinder throats for revolvers and barrel dimensions on the automatics is half the battle to get lead bullets to shoot well with a minimum effort to clean up afterwards. Lead fouling is easier to remove than copper fouling and when lead is loaded correctly there can be almost no fouling to clean up even after hundreds of rounds have been shot.
    The biggest complaint I hear from others that have had lead fouling issues from other cast bullet makers is usually centered on one of three types of lead fouling.
    The first is known as breech bore fouling with lead fouling usually found in the first Ĺ inch or so of the barrel near the breech (backend). Many have speculated and try to explain why this happens in some guns and not in others. Some will claim that the bullets are too small while others will claim the bullets are too large. Some will say that there is a constriction in the forcing cone area where the barrel was threaded and crush fitted into the frame. Others will say that its gas cutting leaving deposits behind from melted bullet bases. And finally some will say that the bullets are too hard while others will say they are too soft.
    Lots of different opinions and there is a few grains of truth in all of them but which one is the right one?
    The process of the bullet first engaging the rifling engraves thru the bullet as the lands act as a knife cutting thru the lead bullet (copper too for that matter) as such an alloy that lacks ductility and cannot give will tend to foul more in this area.
    Some will try to overcome the problem with additional lubrication (Molly, Lees liquid Alox or Rooster Labs Rooster jacket which is a liquid wax that dries hard.) which on some cast bullet brands is not a bad idea. Many lubes as used by commercial casters are based on the ease of its application rather than any inherent lubrication quality.
    Soft lubes do a better job of providing lubrication in this area while some harder lubes do better job at the other end providing more protection at higher velocity over soft lubes.
    Our lube is a semi hard lube providing a balance between the two with real lubrication qualities based on its all synthetic formula.
    Breech bore fouling is most affected and cured by trying and finding the proper powder speed for the load that you wish to shoot.
    Pistol users for many years were relegated to a few choices in the selection of canister powders with most of these being very hot and fast and generally not very well suited for cast lead bullet shooting.
    Over the years and with the growth of Combat and self defense and  Cowboy Action Shooting  there has been a onslaught of new powders that offer cooler burning temperatures, better pressure curves, and so much improvement in general cleanliness of powder residue that it makes shooting cast lead bullets easier than ever to get great results.
    I can offer a lot of guidance in powder and load combinations so that you can get the most out of shooting our cast bullets. 
The next type of fouling is the fouling that leaves long streaks of lead throughout the barrel from breech to muzzle. Generally this comes down to improper fit and the alloy being too far out of spec for its intended usage. I donít see many complaints centered on this type of fouling but there are some. I can help with this also if it happens to you.
    The last type of fouling that happens is the fouling at or near the muzzle end of the barrel caused by too much velocity or the lube not providing enough lubrication for the velocity achieved. This is the least reported issues of lead fouling that we hear about.
    With the alloys that we offer our premium grade alloy will take 1600 fps with ease and I have had many that have pushed it to 1800 fps in .445 super mags with magnum speed powders. Which by the way brings up another important point?
    My basic rule is that as one goes UP in velocity one is to move DOWN in powder speed.
    Slower burning powders like Alliants 2400 (dirty but good) and Accurate Arms No.9 and WW296 and Hodgdons H110 and IMR 4227 and Hodgdons Lil Gun can all easily achieve magnum velocities with our premium cast bullets with almost no lead fouling.
    Bear in mind one thing though and that is on an equal load basis between a jacketed bullet and a lead bullet of the same weight the lead bullet will be driven to a higher velocity than its jacketed counterpart due to the lead bullet having less resistance in the bore.
    The Cowboy Action Alloy and our Target Grade Alloy are both high quality ductile alloys made for lower velocities of 1000 fps or less although I have had reports of some pushing it to 1200 fps with no problems. I developed this alloy as metal prices skyrocketed over the last few years and many shooters did not need an alloy to take 1600 fps. 
Think of tin and antimony (the most expensive parts of the alloy) like octane in gasoline. The more tin and antimony I put into the mix to make the alloy stronger and harder the more expensive it becomes. If your car runs on 87 octane then you are just wasting money for 93 octane. If your car or in this case your gun is going to be running like a sports car at high velocity and needs premium then thatís what you go with to get your best results.  And if you have a super hotrod like .454 Casull or a 500 S&W or something related to them then the Casull Alloy will handle that as well up to 2100 fps without the need for a gas check.
    Finally a word on barrel preparation. Pre-lubricating the barrel with a quality lubricant after the barrel is clean will make the next round of cleaning go even easier. I will be introducing a new line of gun lubes and greases that will be simply outstanding in this application. Iíll have more on this coming soon.

Thank you for letting me be of service to you,
Bob Palermo / President.

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