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Copper plated vs LRN

This is a discussion on Copper plated vs LRN within the Ammo Dump forums, part of the Firearm Forum category; Does copper plated .22 ammo keep a gun cleaner than bare lead? Obviously, with center fire ammo FMJ prevents leading of the bore, though it ...


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Old September 22nd, 2012, 11:57 PM   #1
 
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Copper plated vs LRN

Does copper plated .22 ammo keep a gun cleaner than bare lead? Obviously, with center fire ammo FMJ prevents leading of the bore, though it seems that in the case of .22s bores simply don't get very dirty. Plus the fact that plating is exceptionally thin.

I assume there must be some difference, otherwise it wouldn't make sense for both to exist. So what's the reason?



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Old September 23rd, 2012, 11:51 AM   #2
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KJS, Good question! All 22 Short, 22 Long, and 22 LR ammo use very soft ... almost pure lead in their bullets (BHN5). This is necessary to force bullets to expand (obturate) in the bore to get a good seal. Without a good bullet-to-bore seal, pressure is lost when it "blows by" the bullet. Not only does this reduce velocity, it also causes the bullet to melt a little on the circumference and turn to lead vapor. Some of the lead vapor remains in the bore, solidifies, and collects in the bore's striations causing "lead fouling". As fouling builds up with each round fired, accuracy gets continuously worse.

With "bare lead" bullets, a heavy wax like lubricant was used on the bullets to prevent fouling. This works great in all types of 22 rifles and handguns except "blow-back" action semi-autos where some of the wax mixes with powder residue and is blown back into the action, which causes malfunctions. Wax lubricants were used since 22 rimfires were invented and are still used by some manufacturers. Wax lubricants have one serious disadvantage ... it melts when exposed to heat or rubs off the bullet when handled. The biggest improvement in 22 rimfire ammo was a technique called "washing" which is very similar to plating but results in a much thinner brass or copper coating on the bullet. All 22 rimfire lead bullet you see that are brass or copper colored use the "wash" process. Some look dull and some have a heavier coating making them look shiny. Copper or brass washed lead bullets are still very soft so they will obturate but because the thin coating is harder than lead, it tends to control fouling better in the bore. Many ammo companies use a dry powder lubricant or light wax lubricant on their washed bullets to reduce fouling even more. The down side to washed bullet is the plating actually adds weight to the bullet and because the wash process is far from perfect, there can be a notable difference in weight with bullets in the same box of ammo.

Traditionally, standard production 22 rimfire barrels often have rough bores with lots of striation marks (scratches from the machining process). As each round is fired, these striation marks work like a file and remove a little of the bullet's circumference. After several shots, the striation marks fill in with copper or brass coating, leaving a nice smooth surface that enhances accuracy. Many people will fire a half dozen fouling shots from a clean bore to "condition" it before competing or sighting in a scope. If the bore has excessive striation marks, fouling will build up, even with washed bullets and are especially bad with "bare lead" bullets.

Nearly all "match grade" 22 LR ammo uses traditional bare lead bullets with a light lubricant and are loaded to standard velocities (1140 fps in a rifle) and use 40 gr bullets. Using bare lead allows the manufacturer to keep the bullet weights exceptionally uniform, which keeps muzzle velocity more uniform, and in turn makes accuracy better. You would think this very expensive ammo would shoot better than non-match grade ammo but that is rarely the case with standard production 22s. Match grade 22 rifle, pistol, and revolver barrels have polished bores. If you inspect the bore on a clean match grade barrel, you will not see any striation marks ... just a very shiny surface that looks like it was chrome. So when you shoot bare lead match grade ammo in a match grade barrel, there are no striation marks to cause fouling.

So here's my recommendations: if you have a standard production 22 LR rifle, pistol, or revolver ... you will likely get your best accuracy and minimal fouling with copper or brass washed bullets. If you have a match grade barrel, your best accuracy will be with match grade "bare lead" ammo. Bare lead non-match grade ammo such as Federal Champions, Remington Thunderbolts, or Winchester Wildcats are not recommended in newer guns with low round counts unless the bore has been lapped and polished. After a 22 has been fired thousands of rounds and has been cleaned frequently, striation marks eventually wear thinner and don't foul as much so bare lead bullets may work OK. Don't waste your money on match grade ammo if you have a standard production barrel.
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Old September 26th, 2012, 05:06 AM   #3
 
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Originally Posted by Iowegan View Post
So here's my recommendations: if you have a standard production 22 LR rifle, pistol, or revolver ... you will likely get your best accuracy and minimal fouling with copper or brass washed bullets. If you have a match grade barrel, your best accuracy will be with match grade "bare lead" ammo. Bare lead non-match grade ammo such as Federal Champions, Remington Thunderbolts, or Winchester Wildcats are not recommended in newer guns with low round counts unless the bore has been lapped and polished. After a 22 has been fired thousands of rounds and has been cleaned frequently, striation marks eventually wear thinner and don't foul as much so bare lead bullets may work OK. Don't waste your money on match grade ammo if you have a standard production barrel.
Hmmmm, (As mentioned in another thread), I initially slicked up the barrel on my 77VBZ with JB on a tight patch, and it helped with the rough spots. But I was afraid to get too crazy for fear of damaging the barrel. I think that .22LR barrels use a milder/softer steel, but that could be wrong, as it's a 40+ year old impression.

What's your opinion of lapping RF barrels with the JB approach? I have my eye on a couple thousand Federal HV Match.
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Old September 26th, 2012, 05:15 AM   #4
 
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Originally Posted by Iowegan View Post
Don't waste your money on match grade ammo if you have a standard production barrel.
Good to know. I'm always tempted to get some to try in my MKIII and see if I notice a difference but always decide not to because of the price. Thanks for the tip.
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Old September 26th, 2012, 05:57 AM   #5
 
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In a .22 the copper clad generally work much better in auto loaders than lead bullets. The .22 CCI AR Tactical bullet works really good in .22 auto loaders that may have had trouble with other loads. Lead .22s seem much more dirty than copper clad when shooting from revolvers.
After shooting .22 target rifles for years and talking to other owners most agreed more wear is done to .22s through improper cleaning than from a particular bullet type.
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Old September 26th, 2012, 06:22 AM   #6
 
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KJS,
You would think this very expensive ammo would shoot better than non-match grade ammo but that is rarely the case with standard production 22s.
Couldn't agree more. Only rarely have I found the high priced match stuff to group better than the over the counter stuff in the dozens of rimfires I have owned over the years and the majority of my rimfires have grouped just as well or better with the high velocity stuff as the standard velocity stuff. My Ruger Marks, in particular - Mark Is, Mark IIs, Mark IIIs - seem to have a decided preference for CCI mini mags and they do nearly as well with Federal bulk HV ammo.
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Old September 26th, 2012, 08:00 AM   #7
 
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So far the plated 40gr Mini-mags (lubed) and plated super-x hyper 1435 40 gr (not lubed that I can tell) are the two most accurate for me at 100 yards beating all the 40gr lubed lead solids and the CCI SV lrn 40gr and Federal match lrn 40gr are the worst with the match ones being much worse than the CCI...

As they say...you have to find the right bullet...whatever it is...and use it...shish...that is turning out to be ten times more time and money than I ever thought possible...
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Old September 26th, 2012, 08:07 AM   #8
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By my experience, copper wash leaves the bore a lot easier to clean. Little difference on revolver chambers or any other areas of a gun, since that's mostly powder residue.

I've tried Blazer, CCI, Remington, Winchester, Peters, and several other other brands. Good old Federal bulk, 36gr copper washed HP, performs as well as any. I may get a fraction of a percent more duds, but I can live with that for less than three cents a shot. Out of my last 550 round box, three took a second hit to fire. Not bad.
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Old September 26th, 2012, 11:03 AM   #9
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More 22 stuff .... The "normal" ammo stocked by most stores is "high velocity", which is available with several different bullet weights ranging from 32gr to 50gr with 40gr solid points or 36gr hollow points being the most common. HV ammo with 40 gr bullets are rated at 1255 fps from a rifle barrel. Stores that maintain a large inventory of ammo usually stock "standard velocity"(ie CCI Green Tag), which are rated 100 fps slower than HV ammo. Nearly all "match grade" ammo is also "standard velocity" and with rare exceptions, are only available with 40 gr bullets. Hyper velocity ammo uses lighter weight bullets, typically from 26gr to 32 gr and can reach velocities as high as 1650 fps (CCI Stingers).

Gun manufactures such as Ruger, design their 22 LR rifles, revolvers, and pistols around "high velocity" ammo .... specifically with copper or brass washed bullets. As such, they don't waste any time polishing the bore and they use recoil springs in semi-autos that are designed for the thrust of HV ammo. It is not unusual for semi-autos to malfunction with "standard velocity" (or match grade) ammo because the weaker ammo does not develop enough thrust to cycle the slide or bolt. It's also very common to see match grade barrels with tight chambers intended for match grade ammo with .221" bullets. The standard for 22 LR HV bullet diameter is .222~.223" or .221" for match grade, however it is not uncommon to to find bullets as fat as .224". Bore diameters in standard production rifles and handguns is .221~.223" whereas match grade bores are usually .221". One notable exception is a Ruger Single-Six where bore diameters are .224" to accommodate 22 Mag ammo with .224" jacketed bullets. Further, the long accepted barrel twist rate for 22 LR pistols, revolvers, and rifles is 1:16 and was geared for 40 gr HV bullets.

Because there can be a couple thousandths difference in bore diameter and chamber diameter from gun to gun and bullet diameters can vary from brand to brand and even lot to lot, it becomes quite a challenge to find ammo that best matches bore diameter to bullet diameter for optimum accuracy and chamber diameter for best function. This is why you frequently see comments like "22s are ammo fussy" and it is very true. Using a bullet that is too fat will often result in failures to feed plus they are more likely to foul an undersized bore. Under sized bullets will feed better but because they don't get a good seal in the bore, they will also foul the bore and won't be as accurate.

Just for grins, I measured several of my 22s and here are the results:

10/22 Carbine, made in '74; .222" bore, .225" chamber
10/22 TD, made in 2012; .222" bore, .225" chamber
10/22 DSP, .223" bore; .225" chamber
10/22 with Green Mountain match grade barrel; .221" bore, .223" chamber

MK III Slabside Competition; .222" bore, .224" chamber
MKK III Target Bull; .222" bore, ,225" chamber.

S&W Mod 18 revolver; .221" bore, .223" chamber, .224" throats
S&W Mod 17 revolver; .221" bore, .223" chamber, .224" throats
S&W Mod 41 pistol; .221" bore, .223" chamber

Ruger OM RSS5 Single-Six (22 LR only); .222" bore, .224" chamber, .224" throats
Ruger NM Single-Six (22 LR/22 Mag); .224" bore, .224" chamber (22 LR), .224" throats

Savage Mark II Target rifle; .223" chamber, .222" bore
CZ 452-E2 rifle; .223" chamber, .221' bore
Marlin 39A rifle (micro groove rifling); .224" chamber, .223" bore

As you can see, there is quite a variation in this small sample. For the rifles and handguns with .221" bores, match grade ammo shoots best. For all others, CCI Mini-Mags seem to shoot quite well and cheap Federal bulkpack 22s are great for plinking. Years ago I went on a quest to find the most accurate ammo for each of my 22s. It didn't take long to give up because I would need a lot of different ammo and since then, I have accumulated even more 22s.
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Old September 26th, 2012, 12:02 PM   #10
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TMan51, Thought I would address your questions separately. As for metallurgy in 22 barrels .... years ago, the standard for 22 LR barrels was mild cold rolled steel. This metal was not the best for barrels as evidenced by older Winchesters, Remingtons, etc that developed "shot out" bores. Most recent manufactured 22 barrels use the same alloys as high power rifles. Barrel metals are quite soft compared to internal parts such as hammers so it's not a hardness issue, rather the desired properties of alloys that resist wear and extend barrel life. Typically, stainless alloys are more wear resistant and don't pit or rust like carbon steel alloys. Some high $$$ barrels are hammer forged with modern alloys that will probably last forever.

As mentioned before, Ruger and most other companies don't waste a lot of time polishing bores on standard production guns. As such, you may end up with a lot of machine marks known as "striations". There are two types of striations ... those that extend from the bore (high spots) and those that are more like scratches (low spots). Low spot striations are seldom a problem because they fill in with lead or plating and smooth out after firing a few rounds from a clean barrel. High spots caused from rifling cutters do indeed affect bore fouling and because fouling goes hand-in-hand with accuracy, each round fired will cause more fouling to build up, making accuracy degrade.

Center fire rifles that fire jacketed bullets will "break in" by shooting a 20 round box of ammo, however 22 LRs with lead bullets may never break in if there are high spot striations. The best solution is to use a bronze bore brush and scrub the bore with powder solvent after each shooting session. Eventually, the high spots will wear down. You can accelerate normal bore wear by using products like JB Bore Paste. This will get rid of high spots but will also wear the "good" areas in your bore so use it but don't over do it and concentrate your efforts on the bad spots. I do not recommend "fire lapping" in any barrel. If the bore is so rough where you have to fire lap, the gun should be sent back for a new barrel.

Another caution ... if you have a polished bore match grade barrel, use powder solvent and a nylon bore brush (or a bore snake) to clean and avoid using any type of metal bore brushes. Stainless steel bore brushes will damage any bore so avoid them all together.
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Old September 26th, 2012, 09:15 PM   #11
 
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Someone I know showed me the difference he can get between low cost CCI Blazer & Wolf match grade for 3 times the price.

From a heavy barrel .22 rifle @ 50 yards he can consistently make 5-shot groups that can each be covered with a dime using CCI Blazer that's as cheap as any ammo you're going to find.

If he steps up to Wolf match grade then he get get 5-shot groups where each hole touches.

Moral of the story: seems that unless you're a skilled marksman firing a quality rifle from a rest you're not at all likely to notice such a difference. Looks like CCI Blazer is good enough to get any job done, short of winning a bulls eye competition.
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Old September 27th, 2012, 08:41 AM   #12
 
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I have no idea if it is related to plating or not but the plated rounds continue to be the most accurate at 100m for me...

The mini-mags are the all things considered champions with me due to highest reliability combined with accuracy that has been hard to beat combined with what is usually easy to get...combined with reasonable price...

The Super X hyper 1435 uses a plated 40gr hp bullet...and has been the most accurate for me...however, about 10% of them coming out of the box have been bent...and quite a few more don't go bang...plus they cost 50% more than mini-mags...plus hyper is not allowed in SBS...

The CCI Velocitor is also 1435fps hyper velocity and it too uses a 40gr plated hp...the accuracy is not better than mini-mags for me...possibly not quite as good...the quality and reliability seems the same as mini-mags...they cost twice as much...I don't see any reason to buy any more of them myself...

The Remington Viper is 40gr plated 1435fps...haven't tried it yet...plan to...LGS has it for $35/500pk...

I not 100% certain I am not getting marginal strikes from my gun at this time...

I also tried Federal Game Shock...I am pretty impressed with this round so far...quality seems very high...plated 40gr rn...accuracy at 100m seems to be in between mini mags and super x 1435...price is $7.50/100pk where I normally shop...

Have compared now Blazer, Federal, Peters 40gr lubed lead rn and and two SV target 40gr lead rn and none of them are nearly as accurate for me as the plated mini mags, super x hyper, game shock...

Having said that...super-x hv in 1280 and 1300 are no better than any of the Peters or the Federal bulk lead rn...not sure yet about Blazers...

Conclusion for me is that neither the plating nor the lube nor velocity are dominant factors...except that hv/hyper are more accurate for me at longer range...

I am very interested in all this right now and don't have an opinion regarding which is better or why...all I know is I need the most accurate bullet I can find for a reasonable price that is NOT hyper velocity...

I have been just running dry patches thru my TacSol barrel from time to time using a coated cable for .17 bore...that is what the manufacturer recommends...actually they recommend using weed whacker line...I keep the cable clean and because it is .17 it doesn't drag and I do my best to keep it from dragging on muzzle/bore...don't know if it is good or bad...

And running lots of both plated and lead rounds thru it...don't know if that is good or bad...

Right now for me the plated rounds are winning on all counts except for lowest possible price...seem to be lots of good, reliable, accurate plated rounds for a reasonable price tho...

Interesting topic for sure...
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Old September 27th, 2012, 03:36 PM   #13
 
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TMan51, Thought I would address your questions separately.

As mentioned before, Ruger and most other companies don't waste a lot of time polishing bores on standard production guns.

You can accelerate normal bore wear by using products like JB Bore Paste. This will get rid of high spots but will also wear the "good" areas in your bore so use it but don't over do it and concentrate your efforts on the bad spots.
Many thanks Iowegan.

I appreciate your insight and experience, and as my bore feels very good, I'll sort and weigh ammo, and drag a patch through the bore every couple thousand rds.

Best regards,
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