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Thread: Bullet Casting / Alloy harness question

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    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    Default Bullet Casting / Alloy harness question

    I know there are a number of you guys that cast bullets and some that do it as a profesion. My goal is for 45/70 cast bullets with a Brinnel hardness of 18. My question is this: how to mix an alloy that will reach this hardness without heat treatment? Here is what I have tried so far..... I have a bunch of melted down wheel weights that I melted myself a few years ago, all came from local tire shops in Anchorge. Air cooled, and aged a month or more, they come in at 13 to 14 bn on my lee hardness tester? everything I have ever read about wheel weights says they should be much softer. I am confident in my readings from the lee hardness tester, and have a known hardness bullet from bufflo bore and from Garret that both read 20 bn. I have tried dropping my bullets from the mould into cold water to "quench" them, but with the WW alloy they come out hard like rocks (29 to 31 bn). So I tried adding some (what I thought was soft lead) hornady black powder round balls .45 cal in with my WW alloy with 1 lb of round balls to every 5 lbs of WW and then 2% tin (from midway usa) and then water quenced these.......yep, didnt do much still read about 29 bn on my hardness tester? Air cooled they were still about 13 bn. So then, in desperation I ordered some "linotype" from a guy on e-bay yes, I know that I am an idiot, and no, I am not suprized that what I got was probably not linotype. It measures 16 bn and is in fact harder than my WW alloy, but not as hard as I expected from Linotype (19 to 20 Bn) but I have not added any tin to it yet to see what it test at with 2 to 4 % tin? I have also order 10lbs of certified linotype from midway usa to use as my "control" so to speek, and compair with other alloys, but it has yet to arrive (along with my mould for my new 375 winchester). So, I guess what I am asking, is should I try to soften up my alloy with pure lead and then water quench to the desired hardness, or harden up my alloy with Linotype and air cool to the desired hardness, or should I just bag the whole thing and buy some nice jacketed bullets and quit pulling my hair out? I have also read from many sources that hard alloy (18 + bn) is unsuitable for game as it tends to "shatter", but I have personaly fired several of those ultra hard quenched bullets into wet sand at 1800 fps and they did NOT shatter and retained 85% weight? what is your opinions on that?

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    Smile hope this might help

    I have cast and used on game, deer, wild pigs, elk & black bear, all in the low 48, cast bullets from 44 mag, 30-30 win, 30-06 and 458 win. All the bullets were cast from scrounged wheel weights and droped from mold into cold water. I remember one bullet from 30-06 shattered when I hit the front leg bone of a wild pig. It also shattered the leg bone and the pig was dispatched with a follow up round. I don't have a hardness tester and the lead was just hot enought to cast. Most shots would completely penatrate the game I was shooting at. Good luc and hope this might help.

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    Default

    You might try asking these fellows:
    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/
    Tennessee

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Life's easy when you don't have a hardness tester Honestly I've found straight wheelweights either air cooled or water dropped work well for all my applications, and I'm too lazy/cheap to invest in a hardness tester and then chase alloys to match a paticular hardness.

    I think an air cooled wheelweight bullet with a gas check will provide a superb bullet for the 45-70, hard enough not to lead, soft enough to expand.

    Something to consider.

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    Member RANGER RICK's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Your 18 BHN is almost a Lyman #2 mix .Lyman #2 has a BHN of 15 BHN . Mix for that is
    Wheel Weight=9 pounds
    Linotype=2 pounds
    Tin= 7 oz
    Add a touch more Linotype and you will be there to your #18.

    RR
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    When the Rick tells you, YOU can take it to the bank! The trick deal would be to have the body of the bullet at 18 and the me-plat at dead soft.
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tryants." (Thomas Jefferson

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    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    Thanks for the input guys. My package from Midway USA actually arrived today so all I need now is a wife to come home and watch the boys while I melt metal with FIRE! Life is good, I got clear sky's so no need to worry about the stray rain drop or snow flake causing my moulten pot of lead to blow up in my face. Incidently, the "certified" Lynotype that I got from Midway USA reads exactly 20 Brinell on my Lee hardness tester. My ultimate goal I guess is to get a bit of expansion out of my cast bullets without having them come apart or shed to much. If I can retain 90% and get a bit of a mushroom I will be stoked! These will eventually be hunting bullets for 30/30, 375 win, and 45/70 none of which leaves the barrel much faster than 2000. All my moulds are for gas checks and I run with pressures high enough to obturate alloy above 20bn in all three calibers. Once I get the hardness were I want it (and I might just try my wannabie lyno from e-bay @ 16 bn) I will try and find some sort of media to shoot them into to check expansion, pennitration etc. and of course a place to do it Used to be, a guy could go out to the Knik river access or down by Girdwood, set up a target, shoot a dozen rounds, clean up your mess and head home,,,,,,30 min max! but the A-holes that left all thier trash and shot holes in the train rails put an end to that. Have any of you guys messed around with that ballistic gel stuff? It looks like alott of work and I am thinking about the old wet newsprint in a cardboard box routine, but am open to suggestions.

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    You can't beat a box of wet newspaper. Ballistics gel is way to much work for the return.
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

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    The epitome for the ballistician, is his neighborhoods old phone books.

    What red blooded Alaskan is going to collect "The Anchorage Daily Worker", just to shoot at? That would mean paying a liberal just to take a shot at his rag.
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tryants." (Thomas Jefferson

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    I see your point, Al. When I find a need for some newspaper, I collect a pile of them from the recycle bin at work. I'm glad to say that I do not subscribe to any newspaper.
    Winter is Coming...

    Go GeocacheAlaska!

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    There was a good article about hunting with cast bullets in Handloader a few years back titled something like 35 whelen, cast bullets and elk. The author tested various alloys and hardness's on newsprint, and settled on air cooled wheel weights. He had planned on using a harder alloy, but the air cooled wheelweights performed so well in regards to expanding well but not falling appart that he went that route. His plan was to take a deer with the load, but ended up finding an elk and needless to say ~280 gr @ 2000 fps placed properly will work.

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    Member RANGER RICK's Avatar
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    Paul H

    You are correct . I would say most applications a air cooled bullet is about the best .
    I had a customer send me a picture of a 440 WFNGC .500 DIA S&W bullet.
    It was a air cooled Wheel Weight bullet , Velocity at around 1650 .
    This is from last years moose . One shot kill .As you can see it mushroomed nicely with the gas checked still attached .

    RR


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    Rick: did the customer tell you what the bullet hit in the moose? Just would like to know if it was a shoulder shot or ???????
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tryants." (Thomas Jefferson

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    Thumbs up

    Big Al

    He did and I should of wrote it down because I really do not remember . I should keep a log of all the animals that have been taken around the world , mostly from the 500 DIA big boys .
    Sorry

    RR
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    No problem Rick, I see that my question was poor, What matters beyond dead?
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tryants." (Thomas Jefferson

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    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    Thanks for the input and the photo's! I cast a few bullets out of the "E-bay Linotype" yesterday, and they came out looking absolutly beutiful and were 20 bn on the hardness tester..............so, yep, they are Linotype after all. They are shiny enough for the lone Ranger to wear on his gun belt, but a bit too hard for what I want. Will have to dig thru all my cast bullet books and web sites and see If I can find one of the recipes for mixing Lino with WW to get Hardball at about 16 bn, and will then just call it good, blast a couple into some wet newspaper for verification and then start loading them up.

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    Member RANGER RICK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alangaq View Post
    Thanks for the input and the photo's! I cast a few bullets out of the "E-bay Linotype" yesterday, and they came out looking absolutly beutiful and were 20 bn on the hardness tester..............so, yep, they are Linotype after all. They are shiny enough for the lone Ranger to wear on his gun belt, but a bit too hard for what I want. Will have to dig thru all my cast bullet books and web sites and see If I can find one of the recipes for mixing Lino with WW to get Hardball at about 16 bn, and will then just call it good, blast a couple into some wet newspaper for verification and then start loading them up.
    Here is a place that has a few mixes for ya !!!! Good luck

    RR

    http://www.lasc.us/CastBulletNotes.htm
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    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    Thanks RangerRick, that was EXACTLY the web site I was thinking about and trying to find. A huge amount of great info on there. But I just cant help thinking that getting re-loading / bullet casting information from California, is kind of like buying salsa from New York City Just kidding of course, those guys really seem to know their S&%$

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    Quote Originally Posted by RANGER RICK View Post
    Big Al

    He did and I should of wrote it down because I really do not remember . I should keep a log of all the animals that have been taken around the world , mostly from the 500 DIA big boys .
    Sorry

    RR
    Rick,

    Got any bear versus bullet feedback to share? I've always heard that a hard-cast (20-22bn) was better for bruins...

    Brian

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    I don't know much about casting bullets, I'll tip my hat to Rick any day.

    I have done a lot of casting but not too recently. I have been looking over my notes from years past and of some fairly recently acquired knowledge from the likes of Dennis Marshall, Veral Smith and Marshall Stanton. Geez, there is a lot of stuff here.

    Things I find in my old notes;

    Lyman No. 2 alloy is 90% lead, 5% tin, 5% antimony, BHN 15.
    Linotype is 86% lead, 3% tin, 11% antimony, BHN 22.
    Wheel weights 95.5% lead, .5% tin, 4% antimony, BHN 10.

    Beartooth Bullet alloy 95.47% lead, 1.5% tin, 2% antimony, .03% arsenic (more later) BHN 12. ( I think W/W metal contains some arsenic, too.)

    Nine # of wheel weights and 1 # of 50/50 bar solder = 10 # No. 2 alloy.
    Four # of Linotype, 1 # 50/50, 5 # pure lead (sheet) = 10# No. 2 alloy.

    Wheel weights and 2% tin (by weight) make very good bullets at about 16-17 BHN and can be driven to about 1400 in revolvers without a gascheck and will expand some and stay together.

    Wheel weights and 4% tin make good bullets of about 14 BHN for under 1100 fps in revolvers and the expand in any deer and stay together.

    Lynotype makes pretty bullets but they will shatter or crumble when hitting animal bones or boards in my plywood box.

    The three guys named above have successfully used various techniques to harden or increase the BHN number of various alloys by heating the bullets to around 400 degrees F for varying periods of time. Basically settling on a one hour bake at about 400 degrees. The 95.47% lead alloy above has some arsenic in it arsenic is needed for the heat treatment to work to increase the BHN number. Now I don't think I want to cook arsenic in the home oven. Also this heat treatment will raise the BHN to as high as 32 but as the bullet ages over several months it will reduce down to about BHN 22 and stay there, so hardening it to beyond 22 is a waste of heat, I guess. Several commercial caster offer heat treated bullets and those that I have seen vary in hardness from about 19 to 22 BHN. I can shoot them through 16 inch spruce trees.

    By heat treating bullets that start at about BHN of 12 we get hard bullets that can be driven to very high velocity, without leading the tube, that are also ductile enough to not shatter on big bones. The best of both worlds.

    Water quenching bullets will also increase the BHN temporarily but it is very unpredictable. I think if the bullet hits the cold water nose first it has a hard nose, if it his butt first it has a hard bottom. They have always given me various BHN numbers and varying results. Sometimes shattering on the board box some times expanding.

    Also, I once tried the annealing of the bullet nose of some linotype bullets by standing them nose up in a pan of cold water and heating the nose with a torch until theytake on a dull grey color then stop. (If you over do this the bullet will melt into a funny blob in the pan.) This did result in a soft nose bullet that could be driven to about 2000 fps from a 32-40 and 1600 fps in 38-55 that expanded on deer and on the board box but did not break up.

    All of my experiments brought me back to square one. Lyman number two alloy, cast very clean and fluxed with marvelflux. I used a lot of bees wax or bullet lube but if you don't ignite the vapors it will just make a lot of funny smelling smoke that seems to fill the house, even from the garage. Also opening the basement window will only serve to test the response time of the volunteer fire department, yeah the neighbors called.

    Clean wheel weights and 50/50 bar solder is a good way to get #2. 50/50 is hard to find now that we don't use lead on our water pipes.

    When melting and cleaning your mix don't dip off that scum on top it is all of the antimony and tin, flux it and it will mix into the alloy. After it is fluxed in then the dirt will float on top and can be lifted off. Don't use the shop vac!

    I think that's all the important stuff I know about casting bullets.
    Last edited by Murphy; 02-06-2008 at 20:17.
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