Does a Lead tip melt?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by jameslovesjammie, Oct 14, 2006.

  1. jameslovesjammie

    jameslovesjammie Well-Known Member

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    I was having a discussion the other day with a co-worker and he said that the lead tip melts on a bullet when fired, and I said it didn't. I have seen many pictures of bullets in flight taken with a high speed camera inches from the muzzle that weren't melted. My argument is that since the bullet is at maximum velocity here, if it were going to melt due to friction it would happen when it's at the highest velocity. Since it wasn't melted inches from the muzzle, it wouldn't be melted downrange.

    Who is right here? Can someone set me straight?

    Thanks in advance!

    jk
     
  2. wadevb1

    wadevb1 Well-Known Member

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  3. RogerK

    RogerK Active Member

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    If the tip melts, all of the lead melts and the target gets hit with something resembling heavy rain. It's an Old Wives' Tale.
     
  4. James Jones

    James Jones Well-Known Member

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    I have read that the speed of the bullet passing through the air creats enough friction to make the tip get hot enough to melt but I think that the temp pest were done with pure lead and bullets are meade from a lead alloy thats a good bit harder.
    I doubt that the tip would melt away , but I have seen a couple "at the range test" that guys would shoot a group at 500yds with a lead tipped bullet that the tip was in good shape then shoot another group with the exact load but the lead tip was filed away , at 500yds the differance was not enough to worry with out of a factory hunting rifle , as the both groups averaged around 7".
     
  5. Mountainsheep

    Mountainsheep Well-Known Member

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    I don’t think that a fired bullet has enough heat exposure time to actually melt away the lead tip. What might occur is that for instance; a lead tip bullet is loaded into a chamber that is exceptionally hot from previous firing and is allowed to remain there for several moments until it is fired. This situation might allow time enough for the heat transfer and subsequent softening or actual melting of the exposed lead surface. JMHO
    Dave
     
  6. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

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    Years ago my then new (now long gone) 700 BDL in 17Rem when it wasn't going sideways would leave a little lead whisper/whisker on the edge of the hole @ 100yds.

    It seemed like the lead core was melting. When those conditions existed a very long shot would result in a wierd sound out towards 200 yds as the bullet tumbled or something at some strange angle across the country.

    FWIW
     
  7. James Jones

    James Jones Well-Known Member

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    Roy what that could be was the bullet comming apart from either excessive RPMs or a booger in the barrel making a bad spot in the jacked.
    I once loaded up some 40gr V-maxes out of my 22-250Ai 1-8 twist and none made it to the target once the velocity got above 4200fps due to the rpms spinning them appart.

    As for the lead tip melting away in a hot chamber , I think that the round would fire before it got hot enough to melt lead. I've had that happen a few time in my AR's after long shooting sessoions and leaving a round in the chamber , its called "baking off" the first time it happened the gun was on safe and I was walking to another target when the gun went off , just another reason to make sure of proper weapon controle at ALL times
     
  8. EddieHarren

    EddieHarren Well-Known Member

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    JD, the lead wire I use in making my own 30 cal. bullets is pure lead. I don't know of any bullet makers who are using an alloy.
     
  9. Fiftydriver

    Fiftydriver <strong>Official LRH Sponsor</strong>

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    All the bullet makers I know that are making a soft point, expanding style bullet use pure lead cores just like DocEd.

    I have seen in some cases alloys used on heavy dangerous game bullets to limit bullet deformation but this is generally under a FMJ profile nose and not an exposed lead tip.

    Just as an example you can put a propane torch flame directly on the nose of a lead bullet for several seconds before it will melt. Take that into consideration that there is no way the bullet will get as hot as this and over that duration of time the bullet is in the ground from terminal impact.

    I personally do not think the bullet lead tip will melt in any way, now deformation from friction is another story but not melting.

    Personally I think the lead tip stays pretty much as it is. I read a test a long time ago that measured the effect of accuracy comparing nice sharp tipped SP bullets compared to intentionally deformed lead tipped bullets. AT 100 yards there was not significant accuracy degrade but at longer ranges the effects were more dramatic and included larger groups as well as more bullet drop from a decrease in BC. If the lead tips were gone then there should be no effect in down range accuracy or drop but that was not the case.

    Kirby Allen(50)
     
  10. Black Diamond 408

    Black Diamond 408 Well-Known Member

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    Just to interject somthing that happened to me long ago with my 220 Swift. I was loading rounds for P-Dogs, i was using 45grn horn spitzers, speeds were around 4500fps. You could see the vapor trail to the target, the bullet holes were speckled with looked like a 22 birdshot shell. They didnt get much farther than 100yds before disinergration. We talked to the Hornaday Rep and showed him the targets, he said the excess speed of the Swift was melting the core and flying apart. They had the same thing happen to them in the testing tunnel. The hole in the target was round and they were still accurate. He also said that the air fricton at those speeds is very hot. I dont think that you will see any lead melting in standard loads, just the excessive speeds and thin jacketed bullets. I slowed the same bullet down to 4200fps and the spatter disapeared.

    Dave
     
  11. buzzgun

    buzzgun Well-Known Member

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    Went through this discussion on another board a few years ago......when you look at the physics involved, you will quickly understand why it is impossible for the lead to melt......I'm sure the Hornady guys said what you quoted, but they were wrong.......bullets sometimes do disintegrate in flight, but it isn't because the cores are melting.....it is because the rotational force overcomes the integrity of the jacket....this results in a jacket rupture which can cause the bullet to fly apart........

    Here is an easy if somewhat crude test for you.......take a steel plate and cut the lead tip off of a conventional bullet and a plastic tip off a ballistic tip bullet......lay them side by side on the steel plate and apply heat from a torch under the plate......the plastic tip will melt long before the lead does.......now, set up a row of water jugs and fire a plastic tipped bullet into the jugs......might take a few tries, but you should be able to recover a plastic tip intact......if the plastic tip melts at a lower temp than lead......and, if the plastic tip you recover is not melted......well, that proves that lead tips don't melt in flight.........I have even recovered a few of the plastic tips from dead animals......they weren't melted either!

    /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif
     
  12. Black Diamond 408

    Black Diamond 408 Well-Known Member

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    Not what i said, just what hornaday said.

    Dave
     
  13. buzzgun

    buzzgun Well-Known Member

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    Yep, that's why I said "they were wrong" instead of "you were wrong"...........
     
  14. goodgrouper

    goodgrouper Well-Known Member

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    You were right. One of the oldest old wive's tales in the book. Makes me laugh that it is still around.