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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
SO I thought I might reignite an old topic with a new approach. We're always examining ammo as a group (i.e exotic, hunting, target etc.) and I've wondered for some time about just doing a flat out comparison. In this case we'll be looking at steel and lead as title would suggest, along with a set of pro's & con's for each. As a hunter, my primary concerns are effectiveness x availability. This combo is because I can't get too hot on any ammo type for which there isn't immediate terminal results on my quarry - & but at the same time, I would hate to get hooked on a sweet ammo type that I couldn't readily source.

As an aside, I feel I should mention that for the quarry I was hunting and the purposes listed above, my previous favourite ammo was glass marbles. There are some drawbacks, such as being a bit of a hassle; being slightly bulky & noisy, sometimes having inconsistent weights, & busted glass in the catchbox. But we're not here to talk about marbles, are we?

Having used both lead & steel for my own purposes in many variations, I feel that they have their own merits depending on ones intended use or preferences. For example, when hunting rabbits we might want to consider the distance we generally find them at. If they're at the further stretches of our comfort zone, we might take medium steels (8-9mm) and roll with some fast tapers. If we're doing pest control on Crows or Starlings at shorter ranges & need some extra punch, we might opt for the .45 leads & some powerful straight cuts. Some might even take the '.40 calibre avenue', and roll with 1/2" steel to get the most surface area x speed without the drop associated with .50 cal lead x some looped tubes. The combinations are ENDLESS!

So I ask you fellow slingers; what say you to this discussion? Have you a preference? No preference? Do you use them in separate roles for different purposes? Or like I was, are you simply stuck with what you have because you haven't yet found a source for something different? All thoughts & opinions, pro's & con's of your own, even price comparisons would be excellent.

Thanks for looking guys happy shooting!
 

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Availability of ammo where you are think has the most impact on choice.

If I had my way and an endless supply I'd shoot 8mm lead as much as I possibly could. Though for me its a luxury item. I have a few 10mm which I was able to make with a mould I have - but its reserved for the 'perfect' hunting scenario... Whats great is the energy transfer that lead provides. Also doesn't ricochet that badly.

Steel in 9.5 is what I use about most of the time - simply as its what I started off on. The only real downside is ricochets... Steel can bounce like crazy, sometimes in a shower of sparks.

Talking to Q - he suggested switching to marbles (plinking). Steel balls are difficult and/or expensive here in Portugal. But marbles are cheap from the many Chinese shops. From a hunting perspective I'd probably avoid them due to their weight inconsistency and lighter weight...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I agree with all points there Matt, especially on the energy properties of lead. It really sinks the critters, especially with the right setup. I too hoard my last few leads when I get low, but Im not even kidding when I say the gun shop is a two minute walk from my house & I've just recently gotten chummy with the owner. He's now slowly selling out his remaining stock of Hornady roundballs to me (in .36,.44,.45 & eventually a few boxes of .50) before he reorders new muzzleloader stock - for whatever reason he didn't explain. All I know is I'm getting 100 rounds of .36 which would normally be $10 for $7.50 so 2 boxes for $15 which to me is a good deal considering they only get used in my catchbox & when I hunt. If I EVER 'plink' with lead, its with a bedsheet backdrop and trough so I *hopefully* don't waste them. As for the marbles I'd have to agree. I took ALOT of game/pests with them before I moved up to lead and to be fair, when I go shopping later I'm buying 1000 marbles as backup ammo. They might not be 'perfect' but IMO their as good as you're going to get in the event steel or lead becomes a hassle to find.

I always joke that in a SHTF I'll probably have ammo for days, because who's looking in the shops for marbles during a crisis? No one lol. As a sidenote - the weight inconsistency seems to be less of an issue if you roll with 'solid' marbles i.e. solid blue or green etc. as opposed to 'cat eyes' or otherwise decorative marble. They seem to hover within 75-80 gr. with pretty little deviance so if you're keeping your shots inside say 40' you're golden. :)
 
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Nothing transfers it's energy like lead. Great for hunting. Steel is good too but a square hit on an oak tree will send steel right back at ya at the same speed you shot it. So for squirrels I carry 7/16" steel and .40 cal lead. The lead for a close brushy shot.
Lead for targets requires a soft target to avoid flat spots on the ball. I like steel for targets.
I like glass for snakes as the 5/8" ones weigh bout the same as 7/16 steel but don't penetrate the snakes head. It's like hitting him in the head with a hammer.
Anyway I like anything that shoots straight! LoL just my $.02
 

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It is at these moments I wish I was 7 years old again. I took squirrels, doves, quail, rabbits pheasants and one duck throughout my youth on round granite pebbles that I was always on the lookout for while running the river. My jar never got below half full. I would use marbles only when I didn't mind to lose a few raggedy ones I'd score shooting marbles with the other kids.
Even when I got a clean headshot me or one of my buddies would be running towards the critter to step on its head or stick them in the ear with our Buck knife.
I only run if I am chased now so that option is out. Fishing sinkers are easy to get. I did get a richochet once from a missed 9.5mm steel shot that was about two whiskers away from the 'no way zone' once, but I am done having kids.

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LOL - As a kid I always had pockets full of round river stones. They were actually hard to find - area had a lot of shale. Marbles were so coveted so only used when I knew the chance of finding them after was high.

Had a ton of lead at one stage which I used to cast sinkers - and made ammo from. This was my high-spec hunting ammo and only used for shots I was darn sure of. Still have that mould and made a few rounds from lead I managed to scrounge.

Later found bicycle bottom bracket BB's in 6mm - they were ridiculously small compared to everything else I shot (up to 20mm lead sinkers) and did make a 'special' target setup with those.

I wish I knew what I know now about shooting at age 10 or so.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Nothing transfers it's energy like lead. Great for hunting. Steel is good too but a square hit on an oak tree will send steel right back at ya at the same speed you shot it. So for squirrels I carry 7/16" steel and .40 cal lead. The lead for a close brushy shot.
Lead for targets requires a soft target to avoid flat spots on the ball. I like steel for targets.
I like glass for snakes as the 5/8" ones weigh bout the same as 7/16 steel but don't penetrate the snakes head. It's like hitting him in the head with a hammer.
Anyway I like anything that shoots straight! LoL just my $.02
I'm with you in all points there Joe, I've been lucky not to have any steel come flying back at me yet knock on wood. Haven't used 7/16 ammo yet but I'd love to give it a go, I've heard nothing but good.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
It is at these moments I wish I was 7 years old again. I took squirrels, doves, quail, rabbits pheasants and one duck throughout my youth on round granite pebbles that I was always on the lookout for while running the river. My jar never got below half full. I would use marbles only when I didn't mind to lose a few raggedy ones I'd score shooting marbles with the other kids.
Even when I got a clean headshot me or one of my buddies would be running towards the critter to step on its head or stick them in the ear with our Buck knife.
I only run if I am chased now so that option is out. Fishing sinkers are easy to get. I did get a richochet once from a missed 9.5mm steel shot that was about two whiskers away from the 'no way zone' once, but I am done having kids.
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That was some lovely po boy nostalgia there Mo I love it, felt like I was right there on the trail with you debating on glass or stone for a tricky shot LOL! Yeah out of a hot set those sinkers are the devil on small game and birds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
LOL - As a kid I always had pockets full of round river stones. They were actually hard to find - area had a lot of shale. Marbles were so coveted so only used when I knew the chance of finding them after was high.

Had a ton of lead at one stage which I used to cast sinkers - and made ammo from. This was my high-spec hunting ammo and only used for shots I was darn sure of. Still have that mould and made a few rounds from lead I managed to scrounge.

Later found bicycle bottom bracket BB's in 6mm - they were ridiculously small compared to everything else I shot (up to 20mm lead sinkers) and did make a 'special' target setup with those.

I wish I knew what I know now about shooting at age 10 or so.
I hear you on that 'if I only knew then' sentiment lol! I wish I'd had access to lead ammo making, heck I wish I could set up for it now and I'm damn near 30 hahaha.

But alas, I am an apartment dweller.
 

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If you've got a gun range in your neighborhood then go out at night and you can dig up quite a bit of dinged up lead. Then the trick is making it round again!

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We got wheel weights from the auto shops. Had an old pop corn popper to heat it with. Set up all night down the basement pouring .36 cal. balls for our muzzle loader. surprised we didn't choke to death breathing that stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
A pop corn popper, now thats just plain awesome hahaha...now I've heard it all. I'm looking for a cheap single ball mould or two, in probably .36 & .44. Been looking online and the prices vary widely so I'm having a tricky time. Also I'm trying to source my lead before I get myself too far into the game so to speak lol.
 
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A pop corn popper, now thats just plain awesome hahaha...now I've heard it all. I'm looking for a cheap single ball mould or two, in probably .36 & .44. Been looking online and the prices vary widely so I'm having a tricky time. Also I'm trying to source my lead before I get myself too far into the game so to speak lol.
If I read SJAaz correctly all you need is a flathead screwdriver, a flashlight, and a rentalcar parking lot?

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Yeah I've heard that, so much lead free crap out there these days.

Where would I get one of those cups you have? I honestly have no problem making my lead Civil War style i.e. over an open fire, with a little melting pan, and a single shot mould or two. I've wanted to do this for some time and I want to get set up to do it before spring is in full swing lol.
 
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