Whatever Happened to Moly Coated Bullets?
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Thread: Whatever Happened to Moly Coated Bullets?



  1. #1
    Distinguished Master
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    Whatever Happened to Moly Coated Bullets?

    With the onset of "Social Distancing", I've had more inside time and I've been doing a lot more reading. I've been going through a big stack of Precision Shooting magazines from 96, 97, and 98 so far.

    Nearly every issue had an article about the benefits of moly coated bullets. Some issues had several articles. All of them singing the praises of moly coating, or detailing how to produce the best coated bullets. (Rather like the recent adoption of powder coated cast bullets, but even more articles.)

    Molybdenum Disulfide is a very black finely powdered compound that has very interesting lubricating qualities. It is biologically inert and nontoxic. It has one of the highest resistances to extreme pressure while still maintaining it's lubricity. The lubricating qualities are phenomenal in protecting against sliding (shear) forces but much less so against rolling forces. That means moly is much more useful in preventing two surfaces from galling or wearing, than it is for protecting bearings, especially roller bearings. Moly particles tend to become imbedded in the surfaces of the bearings with the result that they become less smooth and wear faster.

    But back in the mid 90's, moly was thought to be a remarkable discovery as a bullet lubricant. Also, it was said to prolong barrel life, delay barrel erosion, eliminate the need for barrel cleaning, and increase barrel accuracy. It was supposed to do everything short of eliminating wind drift--although come testing suggest that moly would act to effectively increase a bullet's ballistic coefficient and thus maintain a higher down range velocity. The vast majority of long range and precision shooters--bench rest, high power, Palma, etc) adopted moly coating for their bullets. Most of the best known and most respected shooters lauded the benefits of moly and set records using it. Bullet manufacturers offered their products pre coated, and even a few ammunition makers produced cartridges with moly coated bullets.

    Then, twenty years later, almost no one is using it. Why? What changed? Why has moly fallen out of favor?

    That's not to say that using moly coated bullets had no disadvantages. But they seemed minor compared to the benefits. Moly was black and stained fingers. Unless care was used during the coating process, the moly powder seemed to get everywhere. The moly coating process for bullets was a bit cumbersome. Moly coated barrels were uniformly black inside and after being shot with moly bullets, cleaning patches came out with black streaks forever afterward. And if moly contaminated metal surfaces that should not be lubricated, it was very difficult to remove.

    I got to thinking about this after working on my 7x57mm Mauser. I've had this since the early 90's and I used a lot of moly bullets in it at the time. One load using Rel 19 and moly coated 165 gr Nosler partitions was safe and accurate in my rifle at up to 3000 fps.

    Moly coated bullets have less friction through a rifle barrel than do uncoated bullets, and typically have lower velocities with the same load of powder. They need about 4-6% additional powder to recover that velocity difference. Even so, it is though that the pressures generated in the chamber and barrel are lower with moly coated bullets (even with the additional powder) than with uncoated bullets.

    It occurred to me that my loads with the moly coated 165 gr Noslers may not be safe with uncoated bullets. It seems I will have to continue using coated bullets, or start from scratch and work up new loads.

    Anyway, why did the moly coated bullets fall out of favor?
    NRA Endowment Life Member, SASS, OGCA, NC Watermen United
    “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” -- George Orwell
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  2. #2
    Tinhorn
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    I was told several years ago that moly coated bullets make the barrel very difficult to clean. I cannot comment on personal experience, just hearsay. There is a lot of better informed people here than me.

    Sent from my SM-G973U using Tapatalk
    rob42049, Maineiac and gunscrewguy like this.

  3. #3
    Wrangler
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    I understand that commercial needs ($) always require new solutions,
    and that B.R. shooters first are constantly oriented towards each new experiment,
    however, to date, I have never had to regret molycoating my bullets,
    this also in my Mausers_
    I talk about new and old carbon-steel barrels,
    where I care about not only about performance,
    but about a longer lasting life too, if possible. (I hope)_
    In my experience, moly-conditioned barrels are quicker to clean from the gunshot residues after use.
    it is understood that the moly must not be removed from the treated barrels,
    unless I want to return to the use of uncoated bullets:
    this can today be easily obtained with dedicated products or foams.
    ...next thing you know they'll want your pistol and your tobacco...

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  5. #4
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    I remember a bunch of controversy over moly coated bullets, pros and cons and probably, like me, a lot of shooters misunderstood what they were reading or being told. JMHO
    Sweetwater
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  6. #5
    Deadeye
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    I know around here... most people avoid them. They claim they tend to dirty the barrel..

  7. #6
    Wrangler
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    I remember that the problems of sulphurous corrosion hypothetically due to moly were often concomitant with moly-barrels left in unfriendly environments and with little care. (obviously I am referring to what I read from U.S. sources, assuming I had translated and understood correctly).
    To date, cleaning the shot residues from my m.barrels after use with a not particularly aggressive oil, and storing the same lightly lubricated inside, I have had no problems.
    (I cross the fingers)
    ...next thing you know they'll want your pistol and your tobacco...

  8. #7
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    I have a couple of boxes of Federal Premium in .30-06 loaded with 180 gr Barnes XLC (Coated X Bullet). I never shot them after I started reloading and just got reminded I had them after reading this thread. I think I might post them for a trade locally, see if anyone is interested.
    Maineiac and gunscrewguy like this.

  9. #8
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    Moly-lube the miracle engine treatment, even though this thread is all about boollets and shooting! it's still available for engines.

    ca'jun56
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  10. #9
    Deadeye
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    I tried them in several rifles, including a br rifle. never saw any real advantage to it for me. still have a bunch I'd get rid of, seems no one wants them anymore.
    Barry
    Maineiac and gunscrewguy like this.

  11. #10
    Tinhorn
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    That's an interesting question. I was pretty active in High Power competition during the Moly craze and I knew several marksmen using coated bullets. As I shot for my unit's rifle team, I was issued good Lake City match ammo and so I never tried the coated bullets. I did listen to those who did while pulling targets or after a match either sing Moly's praises or complain about its foibles. While I was tempted to try it, but I never did get around to it and I now wonder, like the OP: What did happed to Moly coated bullets?

    You know, this thread also brings up the question: What ever happened to cryo freezing barrels? That was once also supposed to be the end all for match barrels. I knew a few shooters who would invest their last penny in just one more 10 or X at 600 yards and they used barrels that had the cryo freezing process as well as Moly coated bullets.
    Last edited by Scharfschuetze; 03-22-2020 at 08:59 AM.
    Keep your powder dry,
    Scharfschuetze


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