Why is soft lead needed in BP rifles?

Discussion in 'General Muzzleloading' started by N.Y. Yankee, Nov 21, 2019.

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  1. Nov 21, 2019 #1

    N.Y. Yankee

    N.Y. Yankee

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    If the patch is what engages the rifling, what is wrong with a ball made of wheel weights other than a difference in grains. I have a lifetime supply of .530 ball so I'm just trying to learn, why the soft lead requirement?
     
  2. Nov 21, 2019 #2

    Boomerang

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    The patch imprinted on the ball is what transfers the rifling spin to the ball. A hard lead ball isn't imprinted by the patch as much so it doesn't have as good a grip on it. Also you might have to use a thinner patch in order to be able to poke it down the bore without a hammer since it wont compress as easy. All that being said doesn't mean it will not work. You will just have to give it a try to find out how it shoots for you.
     
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  3. Nov 21, 2019 #3

    Britsmoothy

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    Usually but not always obturation is useful under acceleration. Soft lead does this best at its softest.

    It also aids ease of loading. Nowadays everyone ( except me) thinks they have to:
    i, hammer the ball at the muzzle.
    ii, bounce the rammer on the ball several times as hard as humanly possible.
    o_O
     
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  4. Nov 21, 2019 #4

    Carbon 6

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    Obturation, pure lead begins to become plastic above 3000 psi.
    A BHN increase of just 3 points (2% antimony) will more than double the extrusion pressure required, from 20,000 to 45,000 psi.

    Hard lead in a revolver will bend or break your loading lever.

    Use hard lead in a hollow base mini, and it won"t expand.
     
  5. Nov 21, 2019 #5

    mushka

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    For me, it's just ease of loading the rifle. I hate having to beat a ball down the barrel. Just seems wrong.
     
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  6. Nov 21, 2019 #6

    Loyalist Dave

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    You need the soft lead because the way the bullet molds are made, the lead alloy does not shrink as much when it cools as does the "pure" lead. Thus, many times folks find that to get the (larger) alloy ball to work, they use a thinner patch. The thinner patch in some cases then doesn't seal the grooves in the barrel well, and thus may cause "blow-by" of gasses, or burn through. I'm not sure that the imprinting of the cloth on the patch does anything to aid it gripping the ball..., as today we use some pretty finely woven cloth today to patch pure lead roundball with good results.

    As for revolvers, you need the soft lead to allow it to be swaged into the revolver chambers. When firing a patched round ball, though, it does not obturate into the grooves in the rifling.

    You can use a thinner patch, or you could find that using a wool wad or 20 grains of cornmeal between the powder and the alloy ball and the thinner patch, will work for you.;)

    LD
     
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  7. Nov 21, 2019 #7

    Britsmoothy

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    Sure, a patched ball does not fill the grooves via obturation but it does aid contact with the patch, lands and grooves some.
     
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  8. Nov 21, 2019 #8

    Loyalist Dave

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    Not disputed. ;) There are those that think that when fired the patched ball mashes itself into the rifling and others who beat the snot out of their patched ball with their ramrods thinking they need to mash it onto the rifling...

    LD
     
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  9. Nov 21, 2019 #9

    Docgp

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    I use the harder wheel weight lead for plinking, and the pure lead for hunting. Should get a better mushroom on impact. With my eyes and talent level, I can't tell that the soft lead shoots any better, and I use a loose enough patch/ball combo that it doesn't matter.

    JMHO
    Doc
     
  10. Nov 21, 2019 #10

    waksupi

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    I've been using wheel weight balls for 44 years. I particularly like the somewhat deeper penetration on elk and bear. I have found absolutely no difference in accuracy between WW and pure lead. I use pillow ticking as a standard patching for everything over .40 caliber, and find or order a proper size custom mold that works
     
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  11. Nov 21, 2019 #11

    N.Y. Yankee

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    Have you found much of a difference in weight over the soft lead?
     
  12. Nov 21, 2019 #12

    Walkingeagle

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    There was a member on here a few years back who did a lot of testing with brass balls (iirc) for both accuracy and performance of deer. I seem to recollect he had very positive results.
    Walk
     
  13. Nov 21, 2019 #13

    Britsmoothy

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    That was Roundball. I miss him dearly.
     
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  14. Nov 22, 2019 #14

    Walkingeagle

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    Me too sir...
    Walk
     
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  15. Nov 22, 2019 #15

    Loyalist Dave

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    Just be sure IF you get "wheel weights" they are the old fashioned type..., NOT ZINC which is what a lot of places use today. ZINC has a higher melting point and gives off bad fumes.

    OH and IF a person found out that they really needed the thick patch that they use with the all lead ball, they could possibly contact LEE molds, as they will make custom molds to a customer's specifications. You'd take a mold that makes a ball that fits when you use all lead. You then cast several balls from your favorite alloy..., and using a micrometer, check the outside diameter of the alloy balls. Then order a round ball mold smaller, by the difference between the alloy and the lead, so that when cast using the alloy it's external diameter is the same as the lead.

    So If you use say a .530 ball, and your alloy ball from a .530 mold is .536..., you'd subtract .006 from .530, and order a round ball mold that is .524, if you can. Then when you pour an alloy ball from that and it cools, it will measure .530. ;)

    LD
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2019
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  16. Nov 22, 2019 #16

    hanshi

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    I've cast and fired ball made from (the old) WW. I changed nothing except the ball and loading/firing/accuracy was no different from soft lead. I preferred WW ball in my smoothbore and used it until my supply was gone. The ball will be slightly larger & lighter than soft lead ball. If seating is hard go to a thinner patch.
     

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