Bullets coated with some type of polymer has become extremely popular in the shooting sports. Standard, unjacketed lead bullets with either a spray on coating or powder coated are purported to stop or greatly limit lead fouling of rifle and pistol bores.
My experience with shooting nearly 10,000 powder coated bullets with SMOKELESS POWDER while Cowboy Action Shooting over the past few years has proven this out. The guns stay cleaner longer without a bullet lubricant being heated and melted and coating the firearm. And your fingers stay cleaner while reloading! I’m a fan of coated bullets.
Recently, at one of the shoots and on the SASS (Single Action Shooting Society) forum, the discussion of how do these coatings respond to Black Powder propellant?
I decided to try and find out for myself.
I used two different calibers…38 Special and 38-40 Winchester…..Three different bullets….All three coated with “Hi-Tek” brand powder coating.
A Ruger New Model Vaquero was used for the 38 Specials and a Uberti 1873 revolver was used for the 38-40….
Powders used were:
Shooters World Black Powder Substitute
Schuetzen FFG Black Powder
GOEX FFFG Black Powder
Pyrodex RS Black Powder Substitute
I wanted to use Ballistic Jell to retrieve the fired bullets, but it wasn’t available at the time so I used a box filled with foam rubber and stacked magazines to stop and retain the fired bullets.
Upon firing, muzzle was about 12″ from the front of the box.
I was only interested in the base of the bullets as this is where the greatest heat impacts the bullet. If the coating was going to melt, it seems it would melt here.
Did the coating melt off and get deposited in the bore? Using a bore scope I could not witness any coating in either revolvers bore after the test.
Did the coating Rub off in the forcing cone or in the cylinder gap? Negative…Not a trace of coating anywhere.
So how about the base of the bullets?
As they say, a pictures tells a 1000 stories! Below are a number of pictures showing the base of the fired bullets and the powder that was used. (Note: There is no Pyrodex example as the black carbon deposited on the base of the bullet was impossible to remove….But judicious scraping did reveal powder coating under the carbon, but it simply could not be photographed)
Some of the “Real” Black Powder test subjects had quite a bit of black fouling over the coated base of the bullet. Soaking the bullet in Rem-Oil removed much of it to reveal the intact coating)
One observation is how little fouling on the base of the bullet with the Shooters World powder. The revolvers were also very clean after firing. Very clean black powder substitute! Especially when compared to Pyrodex…
(Depending on how the bullets impacted the stack of magazines, determined the condition of the bullet upon retrieval)
In conclusion….Is this simple test conclusive? I’ll let the Black Powder shooters decide… I do know a number of Cowboy Action Shooters have been shooting coated bullets for some time now and they ain’t going back to lubed bullets…..Your mileage may vary!
BE SAFE OUT THERE!!!
Shooters World Powder available through:
BULLETS BY SCARLETT
HiTek Coated bullets available through:
BULLETS BY SCARLETT
BE SURE TO VISIT MANY OTHER ARTICLES I’VE WRITTEN ON THE SHOOTING SPORTS, RVs, SOLAR ENERGY and other GARAGE PROJECTS