Why are bullets made of lead if lead is so soft?

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I just saw a GIF of a lead bullet hitting a steel plate and of course the copper jacket of the bullet flowers open and the lead just kind of smushes against the plate and doesn’t do anything, why don’t we make bullets out of a stronger metal?

In: Engineering
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It depends what you want to shoot at.

It is usually living targets. The thing with living targets is that a perfect but small hole wouldn’t kill them. (Considering you don’t hit some vital part). It is even better for survival to have clean heat-desinfected hole than stuck bullet inside your body.

So how do you send a body to the ground fast and guaranteed? You use the impact force. And that’s the thing with soft lead. It deforming means it is passing on all of the force it has. This way broader area of body gets impacted.

If you wanted to shoot through metal plate, you may consider some better-shaped tip or some other material.
Try researching different tank ammunition for reference.

And finally if you wanted to shoot werewolf or other mythical beast, it’s best to have bullets made out of silver.

Two things:

– Stronger metal will wear out barrel much faster than softer metal. And there are legal issues for bullets made of harder metal inside softer jacket/sabot, as those combinations are used for armour piercing bullets.

– The denser bullet material is, the better its performance, and lead is cheapest high density material.
Bullet made from other high density metals (like solid copper) are more expensive.

Because you generally aren’t shooting steel plates and when you are you do use some stronger.

Lead is cheap, heavy and because its soft it won’t go straight through a soft (flesh) target but deforms inside the target doing more damage.

But if you are shooting at vehicles known to be armoured…well it’s called armor penetrating rounds for a reason. They’re usually a steel or tungsten core in a copper jacket.

If a bullet passes *through* the target, is it wasted energy, less damage. Soft lead will deform into a mushroom shape, essentially splattering onto the target. This larger surface area will be harder to push through the target, meaning all the kinetic energy is transferred into the target, more damage.

For anything wearing armor, you need harder materials, to punch through the armor and damage the soft squishy targets inside, like people in a tank, or a body behind armor.