Do Exposed Lead Tips of Bullets Melt During Flight?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by 147 Grain, Mar 12, 2005.

  1. 147 Grain

    147 Grain New Member

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    Have been told that bullets (with exposed lead tips) will melt from the heat / high-speed friction while going through the air.

    Is this true? If so, then the uneven or jagged exposed lead tips don't matter too much because they will melt during flight.
     
  2. 4ked Horn

    4ked Horn Writers Guild

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    No. That is a myth.

    Try this. Hold a 22 cal bullet with an exposed lead tip in a pair of suitable pliers. Now put a flame from a small hand held torch on the tip of the bullet for 1 second. This represents the time it takes a .22 coming out of a .22-250 at 4000 feet per second to go about 700 yards.

    The tip wont melt in 1 second even when facing a torch.
     

  3. jwp475

    jwp475 Well-Known Member

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    I agree Completely
     
  4. Kanab

    Kanab Active Member

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    I have seen some 'melting' or is it more of a mechanical erosion of the lead, from the powder column acting on the exposed lead BASE of FJM bullets.

    Supposedly this also contributes to air borne lead contamination in indoor ranges.
     
  5. 4ked Horn

    4ked Horn Writers Guild

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    You are correct (to the best of my knoledge) about the exposed lead at the base being effected. The intense heat AND pressure can be expected to cause an erosion to the soft, low melt temp lead as well as the throat of a steel bore. I am not a big pistol shooter but it is also my understanding that this is one of the reasons for a copper "gas check" to be installed on the base of lead bullets fired from big bore handguns that accelerate slower and are sitting on top of a considerable dose of gunpowder.

    This heat is sufficient to ignite a phosphorus core on a tracer round even though the bullet is in contact with this superheated gas for less than a pico pico pico second.

    Now as a side note, I have witnessed a friend shoot a bullet out of a .22-250 and print a nice sub MOA group. He then loaded the same components but either a hotter charge or a different powder (I dont know which) and fire at the same target and not a single round made the trip. Why? Dunno. Maybe the aliens beamed it up mid flight.
     
  6. Ron Johnson

    Ron Johnson Active Member

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    I don't think the tip melts. but some bullets, because of the construction, IE thin jacket or soft core go from being a spitzer to a semi roundnose. In a visit with Bill Stiger (Bitterroot Bullets) talk with me about that. In, I think the Speer #9 manual in the back, page 449 I think is a high speed photo which my shed some light on that.
     
  7. budlight

    budlight Well-Known Member

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    I have read articles about high speed bullets spining at 250,000 rpm. They have determined that the friction caused by accelerating from 0-3500+ fps in milliseconds causes the lead in the bullet core to become molten. That is the only way you can explain the total vaporization of small varmints. The thin copper jackets just fly appart on impact.

    You have to watch your bullet design with any of the 3600+ fps bullets. Out of 220 swift I have had just little pin holes piercing the paper at 100 yards because the 52 grain bullets are disintegrating in the air right out of the barrel.
     
  8. RBrowning

    RBrowning Well-Known Member

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    I believe when a bullet doesn't make it to it's intended target, you will find one of two causes.

    First, with high velocity, and especially a fast twist rate barrell, some bullets are spinning fast enough that the centrifigual force is greater than the yield strength of the jacket, thus the jacket opens and the bullet comes apart in flight. Look at the FEA that Varmint Al has on his web page.

    Secondly, you cant shoot straight! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif
     
  9. Kevin

    Kevin Well-Known Member

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    I would say no lead tips do not melt. Lead has a higher melting point than plastic so if lead tip bullets melt than surely the plastic ones would. An interesting note along the same lines. The smaller and pointier the tip the hotter it gets. Most of the time the plastic tip bullets are pointier than lead, thus even more heat would build up on the tip. Many of us would look at a missile and ask why don't they put a pointier tip on it to reduce drag. It is because it would get to hot.