Copper vs. Lead bullets!!!

Discussion in 'Rifles, Bullets, Barrels & Ballistics' started by cordj549, Feb 21, 2011.

  1. cordj549

    cordj549 Member

    Feb 18, 2011
    For all of you experienced shooters out their what is the major differences between lead vs copper bullets . I know that California banned the use of lead bullets . i Was just wondering if their are any advantages of using copper over lead or guilded metal bullets . I shoot a new sendero 7mm rem mag the farthest kill shots i feel safe taking is 500 yards but hope with time and practice i can extend my range .would it be worth it for me to give copper bullets a try. i hunt primarily mule deer , and elk. any advise will be well appreciated thanks to all.
  2. MontanaRifleman

    MontanaRifleman Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2008
    As for non custom bullets, your best BC's will usually be in jacketed bullets such as Berger VLD's and Sierra Match Kings, etc. Barnes, Nosler and Hornady offer monometal bullets made of copper or guilded metal. My first choice of these are the Nosler E-Tips... haven't tried the Hornady GMX yet.

    Overall, I like the monometals for their controled expansion and deep penetration.

  3. MEV

    MEV Active Member

    Nov 16, 2010
    I live in California, lead is not banned in the whole state at this point, however I have no doubt the liberals are going to try and perhaps then for the whole US. I do not work for, nor am I in anyway connected to any manufacturer of bullets, I just shoot them into critters I am hunting.

    I have used Barnes X, TSX and Tipped TSX's since 1992, from .22 to .33 calibers. I do not use them due to any ban. I found these bullets have produced results I consider very favorable to me. They expand reliable, without any chance of blowing up as lead core copper jacketed bullets did. All copper bullets penetrate very well, due to the length (copper being lighter than lead) and holding together.

    The Barnes X design expands with four pettals, which are triangluar with the leading edge in contact with the target upon opening being sharp which cuts through the tissue rather than crushing through as a standard lead core, copper jacket bullets does. This causes a deeper wound as the X bullets cuts it encounters less resistance, it also causes a wound that bleeds more.

    Since 1992, I have harvested bull elk, mule deer, blacktail deer, wild hogs, coyotes, black bear, and various other critters with the Barnes X. These along with some 100 other critter harvested by folks who I was hunting with who also were using the Barnes X. All of which I examined while processing the carcasses. With all of the other good performances I have layed out already, I also noticed the all copper bullets overall produce less bloodshot, which I suspects is due to the bullet cutting rather than crushing through the body.

    As far as accuracy, the original Barnes X did not always get along with all rifle barrels. This seems to have been corrected with the Barnes Triple Shock, with the bands cut into the bullets. I have had very good accuracy with the Barnes X and newer TSX. My go to long range rifle is a 1958 Winchester Model 70 in .264 Win. Mag. with the original barrel on it. With the 120 grain Barnes TSX at 3480 fps, it will put three rounds in a 1.5 inch group at 300 yards.

    Another positive of all copper bullets, due to there overall length, I have found there ballistic coefficent is very good, more so than what the manufacturer thinks they are. I have check there performance out to 600 yards and found there ballistic coefficent to be higher than advertised, they shoot very flat.

    As you my gather, I like them alot, but only because I have seen them work many times in the field. MEV
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2011
  4. Outlaw6.0

    Outlaw6.0 Well-Known Member

    Feb 18, 2010
    This topic gets talked about a bunch: do I go to a mono-metal bullet for maximum penetration & bone crushing power or do I use a "conventional" bullet for a higher BC w/higher delivered energy & less wind drift at extended distances?

    There is no easy answer here, for those harvesting muleys, whitetail & speedgoats at extended distances (greater than 500yds). I don't know if there is a need for a TSX or E-Tip, I honestly believe a VLD will work fine with proper shot placement.

    Would I recommend using a VLD (i don't care the weight or caliber) on a 75yd broadside shoulder shot on a mature bull elk?? No a chance in this life time... as stated by many of our peers here on LRH, a bullet/cartridge combination needs to be tailored to your tasks (preferably the most strenuous). Just as you would select a tow rig, you probably shouldn't select an F-150 to pull your 40' 5th wheel camper. (although I'm often suprised at what I see on the interstate headed toward the mountains!) :rolleyes:

    Think of your bullet selection the same way, you are talking a Maximum distance of 500yds & probably much less, I would recommend the TTSX in the 140-150 weight (I don't believe there is any reason to go heavier). As stated in the post above, the Barnes has by FAR provided the most reliable results in the game fields. Keep the bullet weight on the mid-low side & CRANK the velocity, a fair number of LRH members as well as myself have found this to be the best way to achieve fantastic results from Barnes bullets.

    This thought process sounds funny right? Why would I shoot a lighter bullet faster in a magnum cartridge? Won't it blow up like all the horror stories say it will??.... Lets take a look at why this works; first you start with a "conventional" bullet.... say a Partition. Most people I know who shoot Partitions use the 160grn partitions in a 7mm which is 10-20 grains heavier than any Barnes I would shoot in a 7mm. Why the difference? Because the Partition is designed to shed weight like it's a contestant on the biggest loser while the Barnes is designed to retain it's weight & penetrate farther. So we put a 160 Partition next to a 160 grn Barnes (or E-tip or GMX) on a perfect standing broadside Mule Deer and we will notice that the mono-metal bullet zips right through our critter providing somewhat substandard performance (my experience) while the Partition sheds up to 50% of it's weight (all over the inside of the animal- yay) & most of it's energy in the animal (most of the time) doing exactly as it was designed to.

    Now we drop the Barnes weight down to a 140 TTSX, Crank the velocity (My hunting partner is running over 3200 in his factory 700). Now we are going to have a higher impact velocity, which will increase the hydostatic shock upon impact as well as help or MUCH tougher bullet expand & punch through those shoulder bones that like to eat the bullets with lesser integrity. With the increased velocity the bone fragements tend to travel farther & cause more trauma in the wound cavity. The bullet retains it's shape, thus less worry about deflection inside the animal, no time spend picking pieces of core & jacket out of you meat while you are field dressing your anmal & dumping nearly the same amount of energy in the animal while still exiting (a must to me) providing double the blood loss & easier tracking (if applicable).:D

    It was put to me like this, if you take a bullet that was designed for a broadside shot on an elk lets say... this bullet is designed to expend all of it's energy in the ~24in of the elk's chest cavity & either stay in the chest or exit with very minimal energy/velocity. We have spotted our trophy animal & have to RUN our hardest to the top of the ridge to catch him before he goes out of sight. We flop to our stomach, chamber a round in our trusty rifle & try our hardest to settle the crosshairs behind the shoulder of our trophy... breathe, breathe, (stupid cross hairs won't stay still!!) exhale, squeeze....BOOM!!
    %$#@#!! our shot has gone farther back than we wanted, now our prize bull is headed full steam ahead towards the thickest timber you have ever seen & the only shot we have is an extreme raking shot to get into the vitals. Do you really think a bullet that is designed to shed up to 50% of it's energy in 24in of animal has ANY chance whatsoever of penetrating a full 48in of excited elk to reach the vitals??

    I won't be betting my elk hunt on it any time soon... Keep in mind the above "soapbox stand" is my experience & opinion only, I shoot a LOT of Barnes Bullets, my hunting partner, my father & his hunting partners all shoot Barnes bullets; Why do you ask (there so darn expensive) Because they have provided us with the best chance possible at cleanly harvesting our animals.
  5. rscott5028

    rscott5028 Well-Known Member

    Apr 18, 2010
    I agree with Outlaw6.0 and would summarize as follows:

    (1) You have to hit your target. Which means that you need a load that agrees with your rifle. Past some arbitrary distance, BC becomes increasingly critical in order to mitigate our inability to judge conditions.

    (2) Damage to vital organs is a function of #1 and the terminal characteristics of the bullet at impact velocity. Monolithic bullets stay together better, but tend to require higher impact velocity to function optimally (frequently 1800-2000 fps). While jacketed bullets expand easily, but may not function as intended when impact velocity is too high.
  6. elkaholic

    elkaholic Well-Known Member

    Dec 4, 2008
    I agree with most of the above. I never use to like monos at all but they have made vast improvements in the last couple of years. I still think their primary use should be for the closer ranges and heavier game. Thats not to say that they aren't effective on deer sized critters at closer ranges. For longer range, say over 600 yards, I still think the traditional swaged lead core, jacketed bullets with a high b.c. are far better. Some of the bullets I am currently making will expand down to 1400' and will maintain that velocity considerably further out than the monos. As was already stated, there is no such thing as a perfect bullet for every situation but there are plenty of good bullets out there when used appropriately.......Rich