Barrel wear-jacketed vs. copper plated vs lead - Pistolsmith

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Old 06-10-2001, 07:14 PM   #1
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Somewhere I recall reading that jacketed bullets will wear out a conventional barrel in 5,000 rounds. Is this true? How does barrel wear compare for plated vs the lead bullets. Logic would indicate that the plated would wear the barrel quicker than lead but how much quicker and how much less than jacketed?

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Old 06-10-2001, 07:36 PM   #2
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"Wear out" is, of course, a relative term. The rifling is simply degraded over a period of time and accuracy begins to deteriorate. You will not notice the day to day or week to week difference. The only way you'll know is one day your groups will be 8" and when you bought the gun you could shoot 3".
Relax, it doesn't happen over night. You'll need to shoot tens of thousands of any round to "wear out" a barrel to the point where you will want to replace it. Proper maintenance and cleaning will keep it running longer.

I don't have specifics, but any barrel should give you decent accuracy past 5,000 rds, unless it is made of Play-doh.

You are right about the wear severity...jacketed, then plated, then lead.
Old 12-09-2001, 08:39 AM   #3
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I know this is a old post but I thought I would just throw in my 2 cents worth. If who ever told you that a barrel is going to wear out in 5000 rds, then I have alot of guns really wore out. If you properly maintain your gun you can shoot 10's of thousands rounds of lead throught it. Look at 22lr. Hot loaded jacketed rounds will wear your barrel out in time, but depending on your shooting habit's you won't see it
Old 12-09-2001, 04:24 PM   #4
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I believe that 5000 rounds is a reasonable accurate lifespan for a centerfire rifle, e.g. HP competition rifle, varmint rifle, etc. However, they're usually suffering from throat erosion, which is an effect of heat, pressure, and friction all combined. Pistol cartridges (especially the .45 ACP) shouldn't cause this for a LONG time.

I wonder if any of the many .30-30's or .45-70's (or other low-pressure, barely- or non-bottlenecked rifle cartridge) out there that have fired thousands upon thousands of rounds have "shot out" barrels? How many of those were victims of cleaning violations rather than repeated firing?

I expect that action trouble (barrel fit or frame/slide battering) from normal wear-and-tear (steel to steel contact) due to firing and cycling a semi-auto pistol would be more likely to occur before the bore would be smoothed from shooting copper jacketed lead, but I've been wrong often enough before not to be surprised if I am again. :smile:


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: georgek on 2001-12-09 17:28 ]</font>
Old 12-09-2001, 06:34 PM   #5
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Old 12-11-2001, 03:17 AM   #6
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Are you talking rifle or pistol barrels?

.38 super jacketed loaded to major PF (115 grn @ 150 fps or so) will burn out a pistol barrel sooner than super loaded to more sedate velocities. This is more a function of burning out the throat then anything else, but on a pistol you can't shorten the barell and cut a new chamber like you can on a rifle. I've heard from 5k to 100k estimates on barell life for supers.

.40 and .45 will last just about forever, jacketed or lead.

For rifles, I've heard you can get about 8k to 10k from non magnum cartridges like .223 and .308. This in jacketed ammo. I know guys who shoot lead in rifles, but I think it's pointless to do so. The hyper velocity rounds like .300 mag, .220 swift, etc. will erode your throat after about 2k rounds, but you can have the barrel turned down and rechambered.

I am only an amatuer about this kind of stuff, but that's been what I've heard from what would seem to be reliable sources. I will defer to others with more expertise.

Old 12-11-2001, 04:26 PM   #7
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One variable I do not see included is the PURITY of the lead (or, for that matter, the jacket; this is less of an issue). Joe DIY, casting old wheelweights in his basement is probably not going to remove as much dross and other erosive contaminants as a commercial bullet company. I also suspect that there are differences among various commercial bullet makers.

Wouldn't take much grit from wheelweights, etc. to score a barrel........

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