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Smoke can be an aggravation to the shooter. If the sun angle is wrong or if shooting indoors, it can really hurt you in rapid fire as for IDPA and IPSC. Most smoke is from the waxy lubricant on cast bullets, with only a little from the nitro powder. A lot of people have gone to plated or jacketed bullets to reduce the smoke. (Others have because they don't like cleaning the lead and lube out of their barrels, but that is not a great concern to me.) But cast bullets still cost the least and, if good quality, are very accurate.

I ran a test to see what I could do about it. Our range faces West, so it is best to do serious shooting and matches in the morning. I went out at 2:30pm to get the sun on my left front, which shows up smoke at its worst.

I cleaned three 1911s with M-Pro 7 so I could shoot each of three cast bullets in a clean barrel.
I loaded up some .45 ACP ammo in once fired brass that had apparently been both tumbled and washed. It was clean and bright inside and out, and so dry it was tough to size even in carbide. I usually put some spray lube on it but did not want any source of smoke this time. Powder was 5.1 grains of some old Winchester 452AA and all bullets were 200 grain SWCs. This my usual IDPA load, good for about 840 fps.

Load 1 was the experimental control, a Speer TMJ. It put out very little smoke, just a light haze from the Ball powder.

Load 2 (Shot in same gun as No 1.) was a Saddlebag Bullet lubricated with the blue wax sold by Magma to go with their casting gear. It smoked like crazy, I would not like to have been shooting them for time and score under that lighting. This was no surprise, I had seen it before with other brands of commercial cast bullet.

Load 3 was a Penn Bullet with a red lube said to be Teflon based. Robert Palermo was kind enough to send me a sample after the subject came up several days ago. They are the best looking commercial cast bullets I have seen since Bull-X closed down. Unfortunately, they smoked just as much as the Saddlebags.

Load 4 was a Precision "Black Bullet" coated all over instead of lubricated in the groove. They smoked very little. A friend, watching from the side, said they smoked no more than jacketed.

I will be using the Precision when I expect bad light conditions.

I also shot some Precision 147 gr 9mm. They smoked more than the .45s. I can only assume it was because there was more powder, more pressure, more fire, behind a smaller diameter bullet. Still not as bad as wax lubed and a very soft shooting round, even at the same power factor as hardball.
 

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Thanks for the test! As a new reloader I couldn't believe how much smoke there was the first time I went out and shot my loads with 230gr Western Nevada LRN bullets with W231 powder. I thought I was on a Civil War battlefield for a while! :)

I've since tried Berry's Plated bullets and have some Precision that I haven't used yet. Plated or coated seems to be the way to go for .45, although I didn't get much smoke from my .38 SPL loads and lead bullets.
 

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Be careful w/ Precision bullets. The coating they use is harder to get out than good old fashioned lead. I understand that you're trying to be as economical as possible, ( I passed frugal a long time ago, now I'm just cheap!! ) Use lead for practice and break down and buy plated or FMJ for comp. Tracy
 

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As an experimentm, can you also try:
1. Putting some bullet lube on the base of the Speer TMJ.
2. Putting some bullet lube on the entire Speer TMJ.
3. Removing some of the bullet lube from the base of the Saddlebag or Penn bullets (if there is any).
 

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Great post. However, if you are focusing on the smoke instead of the target your looking at the wrong thing! I don't even notice the smoke for lead. As for being fast, I scare the hell out of many Master class IPSC shooters! Paul
 

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We had a "lights-out" action shoot on Monday at our indoor range. Smoke matters when you're trying to cut through it with a Surefire light.

I can't wait until I have the time to load another case of Precision bullets. They're no more smoky than FMJ and I find the moly easier to clean from my bore than lead ever was. It also seems like the more I shoot them, the easier it is to clean my bore the next time.
 
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