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Author Topic: Lead and other alloys (for bullet casting)  (Read 8541 times)

knobster

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Lead and other alloys (for bullet casting)
« on: October 23, 2013, 07:16:09 am »

Greetings all.  I recently started up my new hobby of bullet casting and per usual, the more I do, the more I need to learn.  Currently I using lead wheel weights that are 95.5% lead, 4% antimony and 0.5% tin.  I've read that adding a bit more tin will make for harder bullets and thus reduce leading of the barrel when shooting said bullets.

My question: What are some good (ie, cheap) sources of tin?  Most of the solder my dad has for connecting copper pipes is an alloy of tin, silver and antimony but I'm not sure what the ratios are.
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Docliberty

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Re: Lead and other alloys (for bullet casting)
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2013, 07:33:10 am »

According to Rotometals website:

Quote
Basic Rules for Harding Lead-

For every 1% additional tin, Brinell hardness increases 0.3.
For every 1% additional antimony, Brinell hardness increases 0.9.
For a simple equation,
Brinell  =  8.60 + ( 0.29 * Tin ) + ( 0.92 * Antimony  )

You can find their website here:http://www.rotometals.com/Bullet-Casting-Alloys-s/5.htm

They sell both Antimony and Tin
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Doc

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knobster

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Re: Lead and other alloys (for bullet casting)
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2013, 09:51:37 am »

Cool site!  Any idea on % increase due to water quenching?
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Docliberty

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Re: Lead and other alloys (for bullet casting)
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2013, 10:01:49 am »

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Doc

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knobster

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Re: Lead and other alloys (for bullet casting)
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2013, 11:18:10 am »

Try this site http://www.lasc.us/CastBulletNotes.htm

Hmm... from this site:

Quote
Lead conducts heat slowly and contrary to the belief of some, lead does not melt from the base of plain base bullets when fired causing leading. If it could why donít paper and plastic wads burn in shotgun shells? The millisecond the bullet is subjected to this heat simply could not melt lead. Pressure forcing the bullet against the sides of the bore could and far more likely than this is a lack of obturation (bullet too hard) allowing gas leakage down the sides of the bullet. This has the same effect as an acetylene torch cutting steel and leading would begin on the trailing edge of the rifling.

So is this telling me that gas checks are not necessary?
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securitysix

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Re: Lead and other alloys (for bullet casting)
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2013, 01:19:17 pm »

Try this site http://www.lasc.us/CastBulletNotes.htm

Hmm... from this site:

Quote
Lead conducts heat slowly and contrary to the belief of some, lead does not melt from the base of plain base bullets when fired causing leading. If it could why donít paper and plastic wads burn in shotgun shells? The millisecond the bullet is subjected to this heat simply could not melt lead. Pressure forcing the bullet against the sides of the bore could and far more likely than this is a lack of obturation (bullet too hard) allowing gas leakage down the sides of the bullet. This has the same effect as an acetylene torch cutting steel and leading would begin on the trailing edge of the rifling.

So is this telling me that gas checks are not necessary?

Depends on how hard you're going to push the bullet.  At most pistol velocities, gas checks aren't necessary.  At the very upper end of pistol velocities (full power .357, .41 and .44 magnum levels, for example), you might gain some benefit from gas checks.  At rifle velocities, they're still a good idea, and even then, at lower velocities (trap door .45-70 loads), you can probably get away without them.

Gas checks will still prevent gas cutting if you're using really hard bullets.
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knobster

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Re: Lead and other alloys (for bullet casting)
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2013, 05:13:07 pm »

Well let's see:

180gr RN bullet for a 30-06 Spr.  Plan on using Varget, velocity around 1700-2400
150gr FN bullet for a 30-30 Win.  Plan on using IMR-4227, velocity around 1600-1900
220gr RN bullet for a 338 Win Mag.  Plan on using IMR-4227, velocity around 1650-2000

The rest of my bullets are handgun so velocities won't be outrageous.

I'm looking into casting for my AR-15 but that's a whole 'nother research project.
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Tipitaka

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Re: Lead and other alloys (for bullet casting)
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2013, 10:58:08 pm »

Adding bismuth reduces the amount of shrinkage, and adding too much will make the solid state lead alloy bigger than the liquid state. Lead has a relatively low melting point, but bismuth will lower it further. I have seen weights cast in a wooden mold which were made of lead-bismuth alloy. Bismuth also makes lead harder. Lead and bismuth are often used in bronze casting, hence my interest in them. Lead makes bronze more malleable so that it can be forged after the casting process produces a blank.
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Bear

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Re: Lead and other alloys (for bullet casting)
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2013, 01:34:48 am »

Adding bismuth reduces the amount of shrinkage, and adding too much will make the solid state lead alloy bigger than the liquid state. Lead has a relatively low melting point, but bismuth will lower it further. I have seen weights cast in a wooden mold which were made of lead-bismuth alloy. Bismuth also makes lead harder. Lead and bismuth are often used in bronze casting, hence my interest in them. Lead makes bronze more malleable so that it can be forged after the casting process produces a blank.

Very cool. I didn't know that.

Bear
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Rarick

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Re: Lead and other alloys (for bullet casting)
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2013, 08:47:15 am »

No melting down toy soldier for bullets anymore.........the alloy is wrong.  Given lead poisoning laws in the industrial nations all those figurines are pewter.......

Pewter bullets?  Are they even functional aside from the thrown rock impact that is.  Would pewter make a good hollowpoint?
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Docliberty

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Re: Lead and other alloys (for bullet casting)
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2013, 09:32:44 am »

No melting down toy soldier for bullets anymore.........the alloy is wrong.  Given lead poisoning laws in the industrial nations all those figurines are pewter.......

Pewter bullets?  Are they even functional aside from the thrown rock impact that is.  Would pewter make a good hollowpoint?

You can make a bullet out of anything, wood, nylon, gold, depleted uranium, etc.  Some work better than others and some are good for very specific purposes.
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Doc

"I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on.  I don't do these things to other people and I require the same from them."  Marion Morrison

"I do not fear my government.  I fear what my government will cause me to become."   Docliberty

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." H. L. Mencken

securitysix

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Re: Lead and other alloys (for bullet casting)
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2013, 11:04:34 am »

Well let's see:

180gr RN bullet for a 30-06 Spr.  Plan on using Varget, velocity around 1700-2400
150gr FN bullet for a 30-30 Win.  Plan on using IMR-4227, velocity around 1600-1900
220gr RN bullet for a 338 Win Mag.  Plan on using IMR-4227, velocity around 1650-2000

The rest of my bullets are handgun so velocities won't be outrageous.

I'm looking into casting for my AR-15 but that's a whole 'nother research project.

At the lower end of those velocity ranges, you might be able to get away with not using a gas check.  You'd have to try it and check leading levels after a few shots.  At the upper end of those velocity ranges, a gas check is definitely a good idea.
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knobster

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Re: Lead and other alloys (for bullet casting)
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2013, 11:10:40 am »

You can make a bullet out of anything, wood, nylon, gold, depleted uranium, etc.  Some work better than others and some are good for very specific purposes.

Wood or nylon eh?  Great, now I have more topics to dig into.  Sigh... workload never lets up.
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Tipitaka

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Re: Lead and other alloys (for bullet casting)
« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2013, 06:49:59 pm »

No melting down toy soldier for bullets anymore.........the alloy is wrong.  Given lead poisoning laws in the industrial nations all those figurines are pewter.......

Pewter bullets?  Are they even functional aside from the thrown rock impact that is.  Would pewter make a good hollowpoint?

Pewter is some hard shtuff. It's 95-98% tin if you're talking Britannia Alloy (food-safe pewter) as opposed to the leaded pewter. I have only heard of the leaded alloy, I've never seen it for sale. I doubt it would expand much and it's pretty light weight so it won't maintain lethal velocity. I have a small supply of scrap pewter that weighs less than a lb total. I threw one piece of it across the garage with the only result being my ears hurting from the clattering ping sound.

If you're going to use pewter in an alloy, I know it is often used in bronze as a tin source by backyard smiths. It gives the bronze hardness as copper alone is not good at retaining its shape with heavy use.
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securitysix

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Re: Lead and other alloys (for bullet casting)
« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2013, 11:20:19 am »

No melting down toy soldier for bullets anymore.........the alloy is wrong.  Given lead poisoning laws in the industrial nations all those figurines are pewter.......

Pewter bullets?  Are they even functional aside from the thrown rock impact that is.  Would pewter make a good hollowpoint?

Pewter is some hard shtuff. It's 95-98% tin if you're talking Britannia Alloy (food-safe pewter) as opposed to the leaded pewter. I have only heard of the leaded alloy, I've never seen it for sale. I doubt it would expand much and it's pretty light weight so it won't maintain lethal velocity. I have a small supply of scrap pewter that weighs less than a lb total. I threw one piece of it across the garage with the only result being my ears hurting from the clattering ping sound.

If you're going to use pewter in an alloy, I know it is often used in bronze as a tin source by backyard smiths. It gives the bronze hardness as copper alone is not good at retaining its shape with heavy use.

Given that pewter is mostly tin and tin is often alloyed with lead to harden bullets, I suppose the questions would be "what else is in pewter?" and "how much pewter would one add to their lead to get the right alloy for their bullets?".
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