Non-tox long range shooting

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by TheRoaminRaider, Aug 2, 2010.

  1. TheRoaminRaider

    TheRoaminRaider Well-Known Member

    Aug 1, 2010
    This may be a silly question, but how are a rifle's long range capabilites affected by using non-lead ammo? Should I be considering this into the equation when I purchase my next rifle if my plan is to use it as a long range hunter with non-tox only? Is there 1 cartridge that "likes" non-tox ammo better, or is there no reason to worry about such a thing?
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2010
  2. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

    Jul 29, 2004
    Non Toxic simply means led free bullets and can be made out of several materials, Copper,
    copper alloys, gilding metal and brass.

    These are considered monolithic solids and can be very accurate. and the expanding type
    perform well in hunting situations also the solids are normally used for dangerous game
    or target shooting.

    I would not base the rifle on one type of bullet unless it is for a special purpose only.

    Build the rifle in the caliber that you need/want and let it decide which bullet it likes.

    The Non Toxic bullets can be used if required (Like in California)if you have to but require
    no special rifle, Twist rate needs are the same for the non toxic as the jacketed for a
    given weight of the bullet.

    As far as I know there is no accuracy advantage in the non toxic ,just a slight increase in
    the balistic coefficient because of the weight to length ratio.


  3. Chas1

    Chas1 Well-Known Member

    Feb 15, 2009
    J E is spot on. Build the rifle in the caliber that you need/want and let it decide which bullet it likes.
  4. TheRoaminRaider

    TheRoaminRaider Well-Known Member

    Aug 1, 2010
    I guess I should have been more specific, my next rifle needs to be able to take medium to large game from 400-1000 yrds, using only no-tox rounds. I don't know if that would qualify for a special purpose or not, but I would imagine so. Since I can only afford public land hunting and with the number of said areas that either require it now or will in the near future, I decided it would be alot better in the long run to purchase the rifle knowing it will use non-lead rather than " letting the rifle chose" as yall suggest. I'm sure that would probably end in the best result, but there are those of us who can't afford spending $300 in an assortment of ammunition to "custom fit" the $1000 rifle you just paid, especially since the rifle will be "handicapped" from the beginning by limiting ammo options. I know what no-tox ammo is, and am also aware that metals of different densities and specific gravities will have different flight and impact properties. Since a copper ( or other material) bullet cannot have the same the physical properties of an identically sized lead bullet, it stands to reason that there will be differences in the flight pattern and terminal velocity, especially on a long range shot.
    Since the only 400+ yrd experience I have to date is at a firing range, punching paper with a .223 using lead, I was trying to see if anyone out there has noticed a tendency for a certain brand or caliber to perform better or worse with non-lead. For example, when the call for non-tox for waterfowl came down from the govt, certain companies were extremely resistent to the change and it resulted in the poor performing and barrel-damaging steelshot loads that were first available. Since many of the rifle brands (an even some cartridges) are new to me, I would rather not buy "Brand A" if the companies that makes "Brand A" are in some third-world country that has never heard of restricting lead or secretly own a lead plant in Siberia, since they would have no reason to design a rifle for that purpose. Or going back to the material composition, if a .270 copper round performs better than a .300 copper round, due to the size, shape, etc. Since I mainly solo backpack hunt, I have always carried a shotgun with an interchanging rifle barrel to maximize my hunting options while minimizing weight, and I have noticed a BIG difference in the factory lead slugs and coppersolids. But how much of that was Lead vs Non and not just brand A vs brand B or tipped vs hollow and so on, I really have no idea. I guess what I was wondering is if someone had "noticed that my Remington 700 .30-06 wont shoot MOA at 500 yrds with copper but will with lead" kinda stuff. Sorry, this is the first time I've joined a forum site, I'm not all that net savvy.
  5. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

    Jan 20, 2004
    Don't worry about net savvy:rolleyes: I think that being net savvy would be a bad thing!

    I'll get things started then others can shoot me out of the water.:D

    From a quick read of your post you:

    1. Shoot a rig that has shotgun and rifle interchangeable barrels and,
    2. Have noticed a large difference between the performance of lead core bullets as compared to solid copper bullets.
    With those assumptions in my head, here's my answer to your question. (grain of salt goes here, no smiley face for that:rolleyes:)

    Back in the day Lost River made some very fine solid bullets with a bronze point. They worked great in some barrels and not for squat in others. The barrels they worked in, for the most part, were tight bored barrels such as the Lilja barrels. These are known to be "tight" bored. In factory barrels with their larger bore size these bullets were fairly useless, for the most part.

    The difference between solid and lead core bullets regarding internal ballistics is that solid bullets do not swell/expand upon firing. Lead core bullet do!

    Thus with bullet diameter and bore diameter is more critical (my opinion).

    You'll notice that many of the newer solid bullets are banded which helps to solve this problem while allowing lower pressures and higher velocities.

    I don't know what make and model of shot/gun you are using but would suggest that if you're stuck with using non-toxic bullets that a "custom" barrel would increase your odds of having a shooter. Having said that I would suppose that Barnes or other offerings could be found to do the job.

    I don't think you'll know until you try.

    I have no experience with a gun that has both shotgun and rifle barrels, other than my grandson's Rossi 22/410 :), so I've gone about as far as I should.

    PS: If one cartridge/caliber shoots 'em any better than any other I'm sure it'll be a 270 Winchester:D:D
  6. rem

    rem Well-Known Member

    Feb 10, 2011
    I don't think you will ever get a lead free bullet with a (great BC) because the sectional density is to low. but if you can it should be fine.
  7. BigSkyGP

    BigSkyGP Well-Known Member

    Nov 12, 2010
    I'm not for Non-tox ammo. There are plenty of other reasons for using single piece/solid vs. guilded projectiles.

    I was shooting 168gr match out of my 300 Win Mag, and Barnes had coincidently 168gr TSXs at that time. I worked up the load. Can't just swap out one brand for another of the same weight. They are lots different. They don't build as much pressure due to the reduced bearing in the bore, they fly different trajectories, with the same zero (still blows my mind) I can't say that they are less accurate.

    Terminal performance, definitely impressive!
  8. Michael Eichele

    Michael Eichele Well-Known Member

    Jan 6, 2003
    My experience and take on mono metals and jacketed lead are:

    1: The general accepted rule is mono metal bullets made of copper, brass etc....typically require a bit more twist than a jacketed lead bullet equal weight for equal weight. This is due to the lower specific gravity of these metals than jacketed lead. In other words, it takes more length to to make a 180 grain copper bullet than a jacketed lead bullet all else being equal. To validate this idea I have taken a 12x barrel 308 and fired 200 grain SMK's or SGK's in any conditions just fine. When shooting 200 grain Barnes out of the same rifle and they hit the target sideways at 10 yards every time. There are also mathematical formulas to validate this idea.

    2: I have found that some mono metals have higher BC's per weight than jacketed lead and some that are lower. Mono metals are typically longer than jacketed lead for a given weight especially when they have the same nose and boat tail profiles.

    Bullet length in and of itself does not add to the BC value. The longer the bullet to form factor ratio the more it actually decreases the BC a bit. If you have a jacketed lead bullet and a solid copper bullet the same caliber, same nose profile and tip and the same boat tail, they would have nearly the same BC dispite the mono metal bullet being longer with an ever so slight advantage to the jacketed lead bullet due to less 'bearing' surface in the air. Nosler makes the AB and the Etip. Both are close in form factor and 180 30 cal for 180 30 cal they advertise the BC to be higher for the Etip. I am not sure why they did this unless the nose profile is sleeker which if it is my eyes cannot see it. I have not measured it so I cannot say. What I do know is the last time I ran the 180 AB over double chronies I came up with .524 which is nearly identical to their published number for the Etip. Maybe they had a different test barrel or ran them over a different velocity range. In any event, it seems out of place. When you compare the 180 TTSX against the 180 AB, the TTSX is a tenth of an inch longer. The published BC for the AB is .507 and the published BC for the TTSX is .484. I realize it isnt quite apples to apples due to the noses and boat tails not being identical or the bearing surface due to the grooves in the TTSX but it still give an idea of the BC/Sectional Density/Form Factor relationship. Then when you look to some of the GS bullets and the cutting edge bullets you find super high BC mono metal bullets. They also have very sleek forms. The 200 grain SGK's I shoot are conciderably shorter than the 180 AB, 180 TTSX etc.....yet have a MUCH higher BC. Even though some of this is due to a better boat tail, most of this is due to the higher sectional density.

    The only reason mono metal bullets have a reputation for having higher BC's is because when you have a longer bullet you can afford to lengthen the nose and boat tail and still have sufficient bearing surface in the barrel. There is only so much you can do with a 30 cal 155 be it all copper or jacketed lead. You are stuck with a pretty low BC but with a 175-200+ grain there are alot more options and possibilities. When you make them longer such as with mono metal bullets, there are even more possibilities. This is how Cutting Edge bullets makes such high BC 338 bullets and 308 cal bullets. You can take a 180 grain mono metal bullet and make it the same shape and length as a 208 AMAX. A 180 now has a pretty substantial BC even though it will be conciderably less than the 208 due to the lower sectional density. Mathematically the 180 grain with the same length and form as the 208 would only have 86.5% of the 208's BC. Or about .561-.563. You cant take a 180 jacketed lead bullet and give it the same length and shape as a 208 but you can with a 180 using all copper. It is in this sense that mono metal bullets have higher BC's than jacketed lead. It is this principal that is one of a couple that leads shooters to think that leads many shooters to believe that longer means higher.

    BC is a function of sectional density and form factor. Sectional density is a function of weight and diameter. Form factor is the nose profile and tip, bearing surface, grooves or no grooves and boat tail. The only time more length helps the BC is when it is used to make the nose and boat tail sleeker. Nothing more nothing less.

    Technically, BC = (drag deceleration of the standard bullet) / (drag deceleration of the actual bullet). The reference of the standard bullet used is 1.000.

    The below statements are not all there is to BCs. rather, the info below is BC in its most simple state used for comparison purposes to show the relation between sectional density and BC.

    BC is (for the most part) a simple function of Sectional Density and Form Factor.

    SD = Bullet weight (in pounds) / bullet diameter^2

    BC = SD / FF

    Change the SD and not the FF and you change the BC plain and simple.

    Bullet length with a specific form factor made of a material that has a given specific gravity will make up it's weight. Make it longer and the BC goes up due to the added weight and subsequent SD. When we take two different bullets of equal weight and equal form yet one is a smaller caliber such as in the case of a 180 30 cal and a 180 284 cal the smaller caliber will always yeild a higher BC. This is because the weight to caliber ratio offers a much greater sectional density. Remember, increase the SD and the BC goes up all other components being equal. The side effect is that the bullet with the smaller diameter will be that it will be longer. This is partly where the idea comes from that longer bullets have higher BC's.

    Two bullets of identical demensions where one is made of aluminum (specific gravity of 2.69) and the other is tungsten (specific gravity of 19.62) the tungsten will have a MUCH higher BC. If you have a jacketed lead bullet and an all copper bullet of identical demensions, again the jacketed lead bullet has a higher BC. You could have an aluminum bullet twice as long as a tungsten bullet utilizing the same form and the tungstun bullet will still win. It would take an aluminum bullet 7.3 times longer than a tungsten bullet to surpass the BC of the tungsten bullet. So if a bullet made of tungsten was 1" long, it would take an aluminum bullet of 7.3" to surpass the BC of the 1" tungsten bullet.

    Regardless of how long the bullet is, bullet length in and of its self does not equate to a higher BC.

    Granted there will be other factors at play where the BC is concerned such as bore quality, velocity, stability factor etc.........The above is geared towards the basic mathematical components where all other factors such as bore quality, velocity etc.... are equal. Also it should be noted that the above statements are based on the G1 drag model. It is somewhat difficult to compare ballistic properties of different bullets if the BCs are refering to different drag models. With all the computers in the world, as powerfull as they are and what knowledge of mathematics we have, there is no substitute for measuring BC accurately without firing tests. Be it doppler, TOF (by way of bullet activated relays), double chronies, or drop tests. We can predict them with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Accurate enough to get on a big peice of paper anyway to be fine tuned.

    So in short, in a sense, bullet length has alot to do with a bullet's BC but not in and of its self. Only how it relates to the overall bullet weight which in turn gives life to the SD.

    Clear as mud??

    As far as accuracy, the theory is that they have better accuracy potential due to having no jacket concentricty issues. The fact is that most decent manufactures have pretty high tolerences so I cannot say it is entirely true but I guess it makes sense. I have found mono metals to be quite finicky albiet I have not worked with them as much as I should. I know plenty shooters that use them with great accuracy results. Personally I think it boils down to using the right twist for the right bullet. That said, it applies to both mono metal and jacketed lead.

    Last edited: Feb 12, 2011