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Lead free Bullets

10 Apr 2014
@ 11:52 pm (GMT)

Barry Shone

Hello everyone. I am a reader of these forums and have read both of Nathan's books. I am becoming increasingly concerned that the forthcoming regulations outlawing lead in bullets here in California is going to change how I hunt and how I kill by virtue of limiting the characteristics of the bullets I can choose from. I am a butcher by trade so I prefer the "meat saver shot". Most of my hunting is for Columbia black tail deer up to 160 lbs and pigs mostly around 60 to 100 lbs occasionally upwards of 300lbs. I have 7mm-08, 30-06 and soon 35 whelen to work with. I am unfamiliar with the non lead bullets and how they perform. I have it in my mind that in order to avoid delayed kills I am going to need to limit my range and change my preferred shot placement to the shoulder. Any input would be greatly appreciated.



11 Apr 2014
@ 03:20 am (GMT)

Mike Davis

Re: Lead free Bullets
have a read around about barnes all copper bullets. they look very good and MOST people who use them swear by them. X-man on the 6.8 spc forum has done a heck of a lot of bullet testing and the results speak for themselves
if you cant find it there look on www.huntingnut for Slimjim ...same guy and in my humble opinion a very wise chap. I dont think you will be affected much at normal( under 500yrd) ranges but others who shoot that far and further may say otherwise.
11 Apr 2014
@ 08:46 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Lead free Bullets
Hi Guys. Mike, I am not sure that I am happy with such a generalization. Of the thousands of emails I receiver per year, may people wish that I was more damning of the Barnes bullets due to lack luster performance.

As you have said Barry, shot placement has a pronounced effect. Yet ideal shot placement is just that- an ideal. Wind comes into play, the limited accuracy of average Joe's truck rifle, Shooting technique, animal movement, snap shooting etc.

And as you have said Mike, range also has an effect. The velocity paramaters of 2400fps (potential delayed killing) and 2200fps (further delay in killing) also have an effect. To a Texan hunting a wide basin, delayed killing (similar to bow hunting) may be no big deal. But ask someone who hunts the Rockies how he feels about delayed killing and you'll get a different story.

The main things to consider barry will be both range and shot placement. I suggest you stick with the same shot placement but keep very close to the shoulder, right in the crease. Following this, monitor performance over a period of time, observing how the bullet behaves at increased ranges. You may have to make a call such as "at 300 yards and beoynd, I neede to aim to strike bone". This will mean that you have a basic set of rules where you can still retain meat saver shot placement. I use this rule with the .243- but the range at which shot placement becomes more critical for fast killing is 200 yards. In the Swede, its around 240 yards. You will be able to observe this in a scientific and repeatable manner.

You will want to run around 120 grains in the 7mm-08 and 130 grains (TTSX) in the .30-06 which will probably become your go-to. I think you will like the 130gr bullet once you have given it a run, it does have some reach. The Whelen will go fairly well with the 225gr bullet. I have experienced delayed killing on lean game with this bullet but internal wounding is generally very broad.

Just remember, once you get out a bit, you can break bone and not damage too much meat. One way to go is to take out one quarter only. By that I mean taking the animal slightly quartering so that you lose one shoulder but the bullet exits behind or in front of the offside shoulder.

But as for truly ling range work- well I have put my thoughts in the book. I have also spoken to researchers in the U.S on the behalf of U.S hunters. I have found the researchers to be amiable. Politicians tend to look for quick solutions though. Pity you could not get a copy of the book to Arnie huh.

I am also going to be working with DRT towards more powdered metal core bullet designs (iron or bismuth). So please do not be disheartened by law changes, this is just an interim phase and over time, bullet makers will gradually overcome challenges.

11 Apr 2014
@ 10:38 pm (GMT)

Barry Shone

Re: Lead free Bullets

Thanks for opening my eyes to other sources of information. Though this site is head and shoulders above the rest different perspectives are always welcome with me.

Nathan thanks for the refresher/review and the bullet recommendations. The drop dead date here in California is 2019. I think in the mean time I will employ double loading to give the new fangled a try when appropriate while carrying the tried and true as a back up and range extender.
06 May 2014
@ 09:04 pm (GMT)

Barry Shone

Re: Lead free Bullets
Anyone have any experience with cutting edge bullets? They sound like good performers at extended range despite their solid copper or brass make-up.
07 May 2014
@ 01:00 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Lead free Bullets
Hi Barry, I have a reader / correspondent who has been studying the cutting edge bullets and reporting to me.

The more traditional CE designs are pretty much the same as the GS Custom bullet which sheds its petals on impact. Performance tends to be very similar to the Barnes bullets, even though the mechanism of wounding is slightly different.

But in more recent times, Cutting Edge have been coming up with some interesting bullet designs, perhaps based on similar findings to my own regarding copper bullet limitations. Cutting Edge have produced (ongoing) a new line of bullets featuring immensely frontal areas very much like the Hornady XTP, the entire ogive being a polymer tip. When my correspondent tested these in ballistics gel, the sample bullet flipped the block off his test bench, something that had never occurred before. Wounding on game seems to be excellent, also with occasional blow back, rendering large entry wounds which indicates maximum energy transfer.

There is also a GS type Cutting Edge bullet worth mentioning- their .338 caliber long range bullet. The petals on this bullet have been continuing to strip back (like a banana skin) on impact, resulting in a fully frangible bullet, something that is very much needed for long range hunting. Fortunately, Cutting Edge have made efforts to put autopsy photos on their website. To this end, I am simply parroting what I have seen on their website in the form of photographic evidence (regarding the .338 bullet).

I hope to be able to test some of the CE bullets one day. This is a company that is thinking outside of the box and really making a go of it.

09 May 2014
@ 08:52 pm (GMT)

Barry Shone

Re: Lead free Bullets
Thank you for the reply Nathan. As I read through their web site the things that they talk about sound like the things I have learned from these forums to be important in a long range hunting bullet. I may give them a try.


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