Copper vs lead

KSB209

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I read an interesting article about copper bullets and weights compared to lead. It was an older article and I can’t Find it anymore. Basically it stated that if you use non lead bullets you can drop the weight of the bullet for similar performance because they retain 90-100% of their weight upon impact vs lead bullets that retain 50-70% of there weight.
So in theory shooting a 100 grain copper would give you similar results as a 140’ish grain lead bullet.
Thoughts? I have been switching over to non lead and was interested it this really holds true.
 

cajun

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The other thing I found is the lighter bullets typically have a lower sd. I also saw a difference in the tipped versus tsx in barnes. For example in 35 caliber tsx with low sd and fairly high velocity. Really good expansion and wounding. 7mm ttsx 140 gr. High sd even at 3000 fps impact very little shock and wounding on lung shots. Looked like an arrow wound.
 

jebel

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Yes, in my experience using lighter monolithic bullets and pushing them faster than a typical lead bullet for the cartridge is what I have done for the last several years and it works very well. In general, monolithic bullets penetrate exceptionally well and typically exit the far side. That said, the innovations in monolithic bullets continues (just as in all bullets), so I would look into the specific monolithic of interest. They are not all designed to perform in the same manner any longer and you should get up to speed on the variety out there. I've hunted mostly with Barnes and now for the past couple years with Hammer bullets.
 

KSB209

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Ok so it sounds like the answer is yes with some caveats. Reason is I’m in CA and we are now lead feee (freaking communist here) and plan on a lot more out of state hunting. I’m building a new 308 and thinking that if I can get a 140-150 grain bullet in a solid that is pushing around 2000 FPS Out around 400 yards that would be about equal to my 300WM throwing 180 grain lead bullets out to similar distances... but that is my question.
I don’t really see myself going much further then 400 yards with a 308. If I was going longer I would probably take the 300WM with copper bullets in the 165’ish grain.

basically looking for a mule deer and backup elk cartridge. My 300WM is a heavy rifle and not sure I want to carry it 10 miles a day and if I can get similar performance out of a 308 I would be happy to stock an animal for a sub 400 yard shot.
 

jebel

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Your plan sounds good to me. I’m shooting a light 7mm-08 rifle with a 133gr monolithic that is still traveling about 2000 fps at 500 yards at 3500’ elevation. I took a bull elk with it at 340 yards. The 308 you’re describing should do all of that.
 

shinbone

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Regarding terminal performance, people think you need a 180gn bullet to shoot an elk. For lead bullets, that's true because the lead bullet will shed 80gn and you end up with a 100gn bullet. The lead bullet will also "mushroom" which means its leading edge becomes rounded. A round leading-edge causes less tissue disruption than a flat leading-edge. Especially when the flat is moving faster.

A good copper bullet will not shed nearly as much weight, and so you can start with a lighter bullet. This then gives you the additional benefit of being able to run them faster. Win win. Plus a good copper bullet will not form a rounded leading-edge, but a more "squared off" or flat leading-edge (think of shedding nose petals, rather than mushrooming) , which will do better creating hydrostatic shock, which really puts an animal down fast.

Another advantage of copper bullets over lead bullets is that a copper bullet is less likely to "blow-up" when shooting game at close ranges.

For the reasons above, a well-designed copper bullet is simply better than a lead bullet for on-game results. The key being "well-designed" though. All-copper bullet design has advanced significantly over the first designs from many years ago. For example, search "Hammer" bullets and read the field reports. The days of needing a 180gn bullet to take an elk (similarly for deer, antelope, etc.) are over. Most hunters just don't know that, yet.

Since lead has a higher density than copper, lead is still the king for long range shooting.

JMHO
 
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KSB209

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Thanks shinbone....that is a good summary of when I read in the article. I just wanted to see if you all agree. There is a lot of knowledge on this board with first hand experience. Whenever I read something in a magazine or internet I feel the articles are sometimes “paid for” advertising so I take them with a grain of salt.
 

shinbone

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Realize that lead is still the standard bullet material, and has been for over 100 years. Gun people are slow to accept change, so most will bad mouth copper bullets. This is especially true since the first copper bullets could have expansion problems. The newer copper bullets are a different design and alloy, and don't suffer from the problems of the older designs.

Here's a comparison in ballistic gel between an all-copper Hammer Hunter bullet and an Accubond bullet.

 
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snox801

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So I’ve been down this road also. Part of that is true a smaller billet seems to out perform its weight. Partly because speed kills.
Second not all copper are the same. I’ve have ran almost all types.
Started with Barnes and had only ok performance some not expanding. Still not up to what cup and core did for performance. So I went back to lead. Then I tried the cutting edge raptors for shorter ranges out to 400. Those kind did the best of both worlds. Nice explosive damage inside and the shank always had an exit hole only problem was the exit hole was always caliber sized. I thought I found the bullet. Then I tried hammer bullets. These are as close to lead as I’ve ever seen. They cause tons of internal trauma and nice sized exit hole. Seems to me they use a much better copper than the others. Softer Is what I gather as sometimes if you drop loaded round you could dent the front and close off the hollow point somewhat. I have shot those through pigs and it didn’t seem to effect it that much but that may be the dense nature of pigs.
 

Hespco

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I have been using the Barnes 120gr ( original X ) since 1994 on elk each year, from various 6.5's. They have never failed me. Today use the TSX/TTSX. Except last year , I used a Hammer 121 gr on my elk. A very mature elk taken at about 80 yds. Because of vegetation I was forced to take a shoulder shot. Complete penetration & a DRT. Almost zero blood shot meat. It has been my experience , that the vast majority of elk & deer I have taken has been under 200 yds. Many under 100. With elk you don't always get a rib cage shot. Many times it is an angled shot where the bullet has to hold together in order to penetrate a considerable amount of dense muscle & bone. You may hunt for days under extreme wet cold, miserable weather. If a shot becomes available I want the toughest , most dependable, deepest penetration bullet available. I have found that to be the homogeneous, copper bullet.
 
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