LRN vs FMJ

LRN vs FMJ

This is a discussion on LRN vs FMJ within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I have seen lead bullets deform and morph into figures that HP's would dream of looking like. So other than saving the time of scrubbing ...

View Poll Results: LRN vs FMJ

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  • LRN

    13 34.21%
  • FMJ

    25 65.79%
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Thread: LRN vs FMJ

  1. #1
    Member Array CountShotula's Avatar
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    LRN vs FMJ

    I have seen lead bullets deform and morph into figures that HP's would dream of looking like.

    So other than saving the time of scrubbing the lead fouling out of a gun barrel, are there any other disadvantages of a LRN that makes it significantly lesser than a FMJ? Now I am not saying we start casting .357 Sig LRN but for ammo under 900 fps (gas checked or not) does a LRN offer better wounding aspects than FMJ? A plain lead bullet can definitely deform greatly after hitting hard bone or even squash if rapidly decelerated through tissue. I have seen FMJ clean enough to be reloaded and shot again just like the brass it came with.
    For reasons like this it is under my presumption that a LRN would be of higher capabilities than a FMJ.


  2. #2
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    I have seen lead bullets deform and morph into figures that HP's would dream of looking like
    That is correct. Lead has killed lots of people. One only needs to look at the Civil War for proof.

    Lead worked great when bullets velocitys were run of the mill. Most handgun rounds were subsonic so leading wasnt really an issue. As ammo became more advanced and the speeds started going up, the lead at the base of the bullet would deform and to a small extent even varporize which caused fouling problems especially at rifle velocitys.

    Some one figured out that copper pretty much eliminated the problems that exposed lead had and then jacketed bullets became the norm.

    Somewhere at some point in time, exposed lead was outlawed for military use and it was considered to be inhumane because people were dieing of infection.
    It was thought the killing someone with a FMJ was more humane than killing someone with lead, which never made much sense to me, but they didnt ask me.

    Even today, FMJ is used by the military.

    As one that casts most calibers of bullets, using lead, I can testify to the fact that they will kill just as well as any other bullet out there. I made bullet hollowpointer that is used in my Dillon press, that works very well. Using it, a 230 grain LRN becomes a 180 grain lead hollowpoint that expands just as well if not better than any modern hollowpoint out there.

    The real beauty in lead is in the fact that if for some reason bullets become unavailable for some reason, the homeboy can still shoot.
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  3. #3
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    I'll take lead. There is far too much reliance on the bullet jacket by so many out there in self-defense-land. Seems that it must be jacketed or it won't be effective in so many minds. Gotta have jacketed hollow points, even in low velocity numbers like .380, .38 Special, and .45 ACP. The full metal jacket bullet doesn't have much to recommend it but the early 20th Century Hague accords on rules of war and dead reliable feeding through semi-auto handgun designs. A handloader can have more choices than factory loads offer by using lead bullets.

    I'll go one further and state that the bad reputation of the .38 Special 158 grain lead round nose has been blown all out of proportion in my view. It's not a popular view and there are many horror stories that have been handed down about failures of that load. There has to be a grain of truth to it's reputation too but it has been magnified until one would think that 158 grain round nose lead bullets just bounce off. I've even seen it claimed in print in gun rags that they are even ineffective for cottontails which is bunk.

    I have shot the usual run of Texas critters with the 158 grain round nose lead bullet in the .38 Special, up to and including largish feral dogs and two deer and they tended to understand that they'd been shot, they remained shot, they didn't continue on with much enthusiasm after being shot, and they gave up the ghost after being shot. After perhaps a couple of years of using 158 grain lead round nose bullets in my handloads I lost the inexpensive source so went back to 158 grain lead SWCs. I didn't notice a marked difference in killing power between the two styles of bullets (there was a lot less difference than I would like to think there was) and a bunch of critters were hammered by the .38 Special during those years of tromping in the hinterlands. I still like the notion of the sharp-shouldered lead semi-wadcutter design best but the round nosed bullet does the business with good hits. No design really works well with bad hits.

    I never had to stop drug-crazed criminals with either round nose or SWC bullets in the .38 Special and, with any luck, won't be called on to do so.

    "Conventional wisdom" has condemned the 158 grain round nose lead bullet which may not be the "best in the west" but it also may have taken a lot of the blame over the years for a poor performance and has been made out to be the scapegoat when poor shooting was the real culprit.
    gasmitty, mauser1959, OD* and 2 others like this.
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  4. #4
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    Hotguns: The Hague Convention of 1899 banned all soft and expanding ammunition in wartime.
    The Contracting Parties agree to abstain from the use of bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body, such as bullets with a hard envelope which does not entirely cover the core, or is pierced with incisions.
    So thereafter the LRN bullet was banished from the battlefield.

    bmcgilvray: There have been horror stories and failures with just about every caliber of handgun ammunition. I try not to listen too close to the "horrors" your range buddies uncles cousin having .38 special LRN bounce off a dixie cup at 20 yards. I remember an activity where we would line up 30 or so people, tell the first person a short story than have him/her repeat it to the person behind him/her. The last person would than tell the story out loud, it was always different than what we had told the first person.

  5. #5
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    Lead works just fine. In reality, the design and profile of the bullet has alot more to do with bullet effectivness than one might believe. IMO, from my own experience, the LSWC fired at standard velocity is just as effective as ANY bullet ever devised, and in many cases more so.
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    Lightbulb LRN vs FMJ

    It has long been known that lead bullets break,crack,and splinter bone upon impact,while full metal jacketed bullets usually punch a clean round hole.Studies of these effects can be found in Hatchers' Text Book of Pistols and Revolvers.
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  7. #7
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    Id venture to say if anyone on Boot Hill could come back and give their opinion, they would probably tell ya lead works just fine.
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  8. #8
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    It has long been known that lead bullets break,crack,and splinter bone upon impact
    That really doesn't sound all that bad

  9. #9
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    I'm a relative newb, but I will stick with FMJ. I find it a bit cleaner, & modern manufacturing techniques seem to make it very dependable.
    "Historical examination of the right to bear arms, from English antecedents to the drafting of the Second Amendment, bears proof that the right to bear arms has consistently been, and should still be, construed as an individual right." -- U.S. District Judge Sam Cummings, Re: U.S. vs Emerson (1999)

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by glockman10mm View Post
    Id venture to say if anyone on Boot Hill could come back and give their opinion, they would probably tell ya lead works just fine.
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    No less, no more."


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  11. #11
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    Actually, there are some really good reasons to use FMJ or even TMJ (total metal jacket) or IRT (indoor range training) rounds.

    First, lead does begin to deform and break down at supersonic speeds that are not unusual in many handguns. In effect, the bullet shreds and a portion of it may vaporize leading to changes in accuracy and LOTS more vaporized lead in the air.

    Second, unless you use TMJ or IRT rounds, you stand the chance of breathing a lot of lead - FMJ's have the back of the bullet exposed to the explosion. Speer makes some excellent TMJ rounds under the name of 'LAWMAN' Speer Ammo - Lawman Clean-Fire

    Lead is not a good thing to breathe and if you are doing a lot of shooting, you may be getting significant exposure.

    Check out
    Poison on the range: Lead exposure

    Third, Lead rounds are mroe likely than jacketed to gum up your gun and expose you to more lead when cleaning them.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by DoctorBob View Post
    Actually, there are some really good reasons to use FMJ or even TMJ (total metal jacket) or IRT (indoor range training) rounds.

    First, lead does begin to deform and break down at supersonic speeds that are not unusual in many handguns. In effect, the bullet shreds and a portion of it may vaporize leading to changes in accuracy and LOTS more vaporized lead in the air.

    Second, unless you use TMJ or IRT rounds, you stand the chance of breathing a lot of lead - FMJ's have the back of the bullet exposed to the explosion. Speer makes some excellent TMJ rounds under the name of 'LAWMAN' Speer Ammo - Lawman Clean-Fire

    Lead is not a good thing to breathe and if you are doing a lot of shooting, you may be getting significant exposure.Check out

    Poison on the range: Lead exposure

    Third, Lead rounds are mroe likely than jacketed to gum up your gun and expose you to more lead when cleaning them.


    after 50 odd years of shooting and re-loading; often 12,000 or more rounds a year, i had my Dr check my lead. it came back under normal. 7 i think with 7.5 being normal for my area of the country. he mentioned that at 35 he has to report it though even 18 gets his attention. less than half my shooting is indoors. all of my re-loading is without gloves and 80+% is lead bullets. balance being rifle ans SD rounds

    using the fans at the range and washing up after a session is important. even if it was not posted in 3 places its just (oh, my--here is that phrase---) common sense.

    as lead dirtying a gun, unless the gun has a timing problem with it spitting or shaving lead, i do not notice a problem. actually, 22's seldom get more than wiped down as many find that a seasoned bbl shoots better than a shinny cleaned on. YMMV with larger calibers but the bore snake is all i have used for many years and if there is no leading, there is nothing to clean.
    i will admit to finding formulas for hard lead such that the bbl does not lead. even polygonal bbls are fine with my re-loads.again--YMMV

    lube dirting the gun--thats is a different adventure. Missouri bullets seem to cause me the least trouble.
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  13. #13
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    Some people have blown the whole toxicity of lead regarding firearms out of proportion. I remember getting lead smeared all over my fingers loading .22 lr LRN into magazines. Of course I am not sticky my fingers into my mouth or anything, just go home and wash up.
    As far as I know lead traveling at high speed is much more deadly.

    But if I was at an indoor range with a lousy ventilation system, I'd probably try not to inhale the smoke for the same reason I try not to inhale car exhaust.

  14. #14
    Distinguished Member Array ArkhmAsylm's Avatar
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    My range has pretty decent air flow equipment to keep things moving downstream. I've messed with my body's chemistry enough!
    "Historical examination of the right to bear arms, from English antecedents to the drafting of the Second Amendment, bears proof that the right to bear arms has consistently been, and should still be, construed as an individual right." -- U.S. District Judge Sam Cummings, Re: U.S. vs Emerson (1999)

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    I try to return as much lead as possible to its source as often as possible, 230 grains at a time.
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