Cleaner powder for shooting lead?

This is a discussion on Cleaner powder for shooting lead? within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; I recently decided to start casting lead bullets for my springfield XD 40 S&W. I am using a micro-groove mold from lee that throws a ...

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Thread: Cleaner powder for shooting lead?

  1. #1
    Member Array caddisflinger's Avatar
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    Cleaner powder for shooting lead?

    I recently decided to start casting lead bullets for my springfield XD 40 S&W. I am using a micro-groove mold from lee that throws a 175 gr SWC and I am using Alox for lube. I picked up some titegroup which seems to work very well but I get a lot of fouling.

    I started loading 4.5 gr and backed off to 3.5 gr for a light plinker load. It smokes a lot. I put 300 rounds through it without cleaning to see how much the black smoke would foul my gun. It was filthy but still shot great with virtually no leading in the barrel. A lot of soot built up under the loaded chamber indicator so that it was stuck up at the end of the shooting session.

    I tried cleaning the lube off of the base of the bullet to see if that made a difference and also loaded up to the max to see if shooting a hotter load made a difference. There was no discernible difference in the variations that I tried.

    I don't mind cleaning more often, but does anyone have any suggestions that will reduce the amount of smoke and fouling?

    thanks

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Array sui-juris's Avatar
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    I've used Accurate number #5 for .40 and it seems reasonably clean. Its not as dirty as your describing titegroup.

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    Member Array never_retreat's Avatar
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    Clays is pretty clean. You use slightly lower charges than bullseye so its fairly economical.
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    VIP Member Array edr9x23super's Avatar
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    AA2 is the cleanest of the bunch, and that is where I would start. If you are a real tinkerer, you could invest in some basic electronic gear and plate your cast bullets with copper, like Rainier Ballistics does. I think most of your fouling problems and the smoke that occurs when the gun goes bang comes from the Alox burning off.

    That is why I quit shooting lead a long time ago, it is just a nightmare to clean.
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    I think most of your fouling problems and the smoke that occurs when the gun goes bang comes from the Alox burning off.
    That is correct. Much of the smoke from cast bullets comes from the lube itself and some are smokier than others. I use hot lube, used with a lube heater and then it cools hard. That seems to smoke a lot less than Alox or the soft bullet lubes.

    Its one of the things you learn to live with when casting bullets. My personal favoite powder is AA#5, which can be used with most pistol loads.
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    The powder receives the blame for a lot of the mess that is caused by bullet lube.

    I'm still happy with ol' nasty Unique.

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    Senior Member Array coffeecup's Avatar
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    PB is the "cleanest" powder of them all. No way around the mess and smoke that lead bullet lube makes that I know of.

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    VIP Member Array Tubby45's Avatar
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    Alox is a smoky lube. No way to clean it up really.

    Faster powders aren't very lead friendly.
    07/02 FFL/SOT since 2006

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    Member Array Ping Ping's Avatar
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    If smoke is your complaint, look at lube and powder. However, your fouling problem is most likely due to your casting. If the bullet is too hard (24BHN) for the pressures you're using, it will cause fouling. Softer (18BHN) is better for pistol pressures and you will see a tremendous reduction in fouling. Not to mention an improvement in accuracy. I know this seems counter-intuitive to most, but the fact is that a harder bullet is harder to push through the bore and leaves behind more buisiness. The softer bullet conforms easier to the rifling/landing and deposits less material. Since it doesn't imbed itself as much in the pores and surface of the metal, it's also much easier to clean. However, you can go too soft aswell and see the same thing. It will still be easier to clean, but you'll get inordinate build-up. Figure out your pressure and choose the correct BHN range for that.

    Hope this helps.
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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    I use 5.0grns unique behind a 155 grn lead bullet I use a hard lube now but use to use lee micro groove bullets and alox lube and the alox smokes and the hotter your barrel gets the more smoke,If i shoot a mag rapid fire It almost looked like i shot black powder lol
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  12. #11
    Member Array jbailey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ping Ping View Post
    If smoke is your complaint, look at lube and powder. However, your fouling problem is most likely due to your casting. If the bullet is too hard (24BHN) for the pressures you're using, it will cause fouling. Softer (18BHN) is better for pistol pressures and you will see a tremendous reduction in fouling. Not to mention an improvement in accuracy. I know this seems counter-intuitive to most, but the fact is that a harder bullet is harder to push through the bore and leaves behind more buisiness. The softer bullet conforms easier to the rifling/landing and deposits less material. Since it doesn't imbed itself as much in the pores and surface of the metal, it's also much easier to clean. However, you can go too soft aswell and see the same thing. It will still be easier to clean, but you'll get inordinate build-up. Figure out your pressure and choose the correct BHN range for that.

    Hope this helps.
    Exactly, PingPing - and to elaborate just a bit further,

    The optimum hardness for any given load/velocity will result in the base of the bullet being expanded (obdurated) against the sides of the barrel, preventing the hot gasses from blowing by. This results in maximum efficiency and minimum leading.

    When the lead is either too hard or soft, the gasses "cut" the sides of the bullet, actually melting a little of the lead, and the passing bullet helps mash it into the rifling grooves. Obviously, the gasses escaping degrade the velocity and accuracy as well.

    Just one more thought while on the leading subject. If you use the Lee Factory Crimp Die, it can often reduce the bullet's dia. as it "corrects" the loaded round with its resizing ring. This can also result in the gas "cutting" mentioned above.

    Hope this helps,

    Jim
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