Leading Question

  • Last Post 30 April 2019
Tom-in-Pittsburgh posted this 24 April 2019

Hello to the Board. I've recently read with interest Ralph Schneider's FS articles about removing leading - both mechanically and chemically, also Lloyd Robert's 00 steel wool tip.

Over the years I've heard that another effective method for removing leading is simply to fire a few jacketed bullets through the bore. I haven't seen any recent comments on that method (maybe I've missed them?).

Any comments about the effectiveness (or not) of that approach?




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tlkeizer posted this 24 April 2019



Tom, a few years ago (42 if my arithmetic is right), I did my first casting; it was for my .357 using a friends newly bought mold and nearly pure lead he had.  Cast the bullets, loaded the cases with "light" .357 loads, and went to the range.  After a box of bullets I could not hit the target, and looking down the barrel I had made a smooth bore.  Borrowing a few rounds from the guy next to me, I shot a cylinder of jacketed bullets, and the bore looked proper with lands and grooves.

Now, there were plenty of things not done as well as they should have been, like having tin and antimony in the lead to have a hardened bullet, putting lubrication in the lube grooves, shooting a light .38 special load, you know, just a few minor things like that.  BUT, the jacketed bullets did get most of the lead out, who knows what pressures were developed in the first couple rounds.  After I got home I used my Lewis Lead Remover and did get a lot more lead out, but starting with a smooth bore there was a lot of lead to remove.  I don't know if more shooting would have cleared all of it out, I wasn't going to borrow enough bullets for two cylinders full.  

My long ago experience is it helps in the field, but attention needs to be applied when returning home.


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tony1960 posted this 24 April 2019

TK, I've been told by a number of people of the usefulness of jacketed pills in removing lead. Reminds me of a story recounted by the late Bill Davis of his time at the LAPD academy and the "stripy bullets".

Has anyone here used Mercury as a remover, yes, I am aware it is VERY dangerous but as a segway into discussion. I do have a small container of mercury given to me 30+ years ago, still unopened.

I have used Sweets before now with some success, especially in the cylinder. How much damage is is doing to the metal being left for 30 mins of so to soften the lead, or any is a guess but it does work. Maybe I should fill the cylinder up with that soft drink that adds life (apparently) it'll take the stains off my driveway.



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David Reiss CBA Membership Director posted this 25 April 2019

 In my experience JBs don't remove lead or not very much. On the other hand I too have a bottle of mercury which I always handle with great care. It does remove lead easily and completely. 

David Reiss - NRA Life Member & PSC Range Member Retired Police Firearms Instructor/Armorer
-Services: Wars Fought, Uprisings Quelled, Bars Emptied, Revolutions Started, Tigers Tamed, Assassinations Plotted, Women Seduced, Governments Run, Gun Appraisals, Lost Treasure Found.
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lotech posted this 25 April 2019

I tried this method and gave up on it a long time ago. You can get some lead out with jacketed bullets, but cleaning with a brush is still mandatory if you wish to remove all traces of leading. It's best to put more effort into eliminating the leading problem to begin with. 

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Coydog posted this 25 April 2019

I had read in the Lyman cast bullet manual #3  about the 2 ways to get the lead out of a leaded barrel. One is to scrub it out or use JB. Well I had shot some factory rounds with lead bullets loaded in my 44 mag RH . They lead the barrel bad. So I try the JB  thing and they clean the lead out.I just had the copper foul to clean out. But did not get any more factory led rounds any more. After I cast my own I do not have that problem anymore. So it dose works. 

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John Alexander posted this 25 April 2019

When talking about removing lead by shooting jacketed bullets i would think it might make a big difference whether the jacketed bullets are pushed by the pressure and temperature of a 38 Special or in  a modern rifle with much higher pressure and temperatures.

My experience is that full charge modern rifle loads take out leading effectively.  I have no experience with leading in pistols.


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Brodie posted this 25 April 2019

Mercury metal of and by itself is not particularly dangerous.  Use the same precautions handling Hg  as you would handling lead.  Where the danger lies is when people use mercury metal to recover gold from rock.  The crushed rock is mixed with the mercury and then boiled off.  The MERCURY OXIDE IS HIGHLY DANGEROUS.

My Father had a patient who tried to commit suicide by drinking Metalic Mercury.  It passed completely through her system.  Her anal sphincter could not hold the mercury in and it would dribble out as she walked down the hallway.  Little drops of shinny Mercury would fall and shatter on the hallway floor.  She lived to a ripe old age after a little counseling. 

Just don't try to distill the mercury to recover the lead after you treat your barrel.


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BigMan54 posted this 25 April 2019

I've got a friend, who doesn't believe in shooting Jacketed bullets after Cast to remove leading. He says it just smooths out the lead in the grooves. I tend to agree with him. I use a good fresh Bronze Brush and then some J-B. It works the the best for me. 

My DAD used mercury 60yrs+ ago to remove leading/copper from those bores that were a bit rough. Usually old, old rough bores. He had special rubber plugs for every caliber. And a special funnel for pouring the mercury into the barrels. But it was a once or twice a year proposition. He would sell the rifles off with the bores in better shape then He got them.

He believed in keeping only those guns ( Rifles & Handguns) with perfect bores. But He would "play" with a rough bored gun just to have the experience of it. 

I've never wanted to "FART around" with mercury myelf.


I HATE this tablet. Twists your words just like arguing with a woman.

Long time Caster/Reloader, Getting back into it after almost 10yrs. Life Member NRA 40+yrs, Life S.A.S.S. #375. Does this mean a description of me as a fumble-fingered knuckle-draggin' baboon. I also drool in my sleep. I firmly believe that true happiness is a warm gun. Did I mention how much I HATE auto-correct on this blasted tablet.

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pisco posted this 27 April 2019

hi i give my rifle a scrub with ed’s red then a scrub with 50/50 viniger/ hydrogen peroxide only leave it for a couple of minutes then scrub with hoppes finish with a swab of metho then oil

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pat i. posted this 28 April 2019

I've seen a lot of jacketed bullets with what looks like little to no contact between the bullet and bore of the rifle so don't know if jacketed after cast is a perfect solution for removing lead. For my .30 calibers I wrap a piece of that lead away cloth around a 6.5 caliber brush and it pushes any leading right out. I used a bore scope to check the results and it seems to work pretty well. Probably not much help for a 22 caliber though because I don't think you find a brush small enough to use.

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Tom-in-Pittsburgh posted this 30 April 2019

Thanks for all the helpful comments & suggestions. I'll probably never get that mental picture out of my mind now -- the lady dribbling mercury out of her butt as she walked down the hall.

This forum is a lot like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates -- you never know what you're going to get! surprised

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