Lead is a cheap metal that is readily available. In addition to the economic benefits, it has physical properties that make it useful in a device intended to cause harm. Lead is extremely dense and therefore flies straight and true. It’s density allows the best transfer of kinetic energy into a target.
There are however many other types of bullets not only lead. There are mixed metals, copper, and brass. Entirely copper bullets are malleable and expand when they hit a target causing a larger wound canal. This is used for hunting large thick skinned game animals. In the end most bullets have at least a little bit of lead, even if it is just the core or base, as it is the most effective (and cheap) choice.
In addition to what littlegreen said, Lead is also a common material for bullets because it is a very soft metal. If you have ever been fishing, you know that you can open and close lead sinkers on your line with just the power of your fingers. The reason softness is beneficial to bullets is that inside the barrel of a gun there are spiral grooves called”rifling”. When the bullet is fired, these grooves carve into the bullet slightly, giving it a spiral trajectory, like a nice pass in football. This allows the bullet to travel in a straight line at a very high speed. Harder metals resist the spiraling effect, causing inaccurate trajectories.
Interesting enough, bullet jackets are made out of copper, or copper and zinc mixtures. In to-day’s age, bullets are made with a number of materials though: aluminum, bismuth, plastics, rubber, steel, tin, and tungsten are some of the more interesting parts to a modern bullet.
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