How to Harden Lead for Reloading
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  1. #1
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    Dec 2011
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    Red face How to Harden Lead for Reloading

    I have been reloading for many years and thought I would give my formula for hardness. I use 3/4 lead and 1/4 hard lead shotgun shot. This combo leaves very little lead in your bore and makes the bullets quite hard, of course I mix alox to blend everything together.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Oct 2010
    JAX, FL
    1299 times
    Anything that is already an alloy of lead and antimony will harden more lead the more the pre-existing alloy is added to the fresh pure lead. However, unless you are buying lead wire or some other known source of pure lead, then it's likely that your lead already has a bit of antimony in it. Antimony in the lead alloy will also harden when water quenched. I drop my cast bullets right from the mold to a five gallon bucket of water. They don't dent each other when they hit the bottom. If you use wheel weights in your alloy then they already have a very usable amount of antimony for most cast bullet use. Water drop them and I use them for up to 2,000 fps bullets for my .30-30 loads. Most of my lead comes from range scrap. I have to flux it and stir it real well to get all the crud out of it. But when water dropped, they work great for everything but magnum pistol or rifle. Lead remaining in your bore is more attributed to improper or not enough lube, poor cylinder throat diameter, or improper bullet diameter to bore fit. I cast for my .357" bore and size them at either .358" or .359" and if they are for a .38 special then a light tumble lube with alox works just fine. If they are magnum then I dip them in the warmed alox to fully cover the baring surface of the bullet. I still find the use of "hard cast" bullets to cause more problems to new lead bullet reloaders than they help. I would say step one is to make sure your cylinder throats are not either too small so they swage down the bullet to less than bore diamter and that they are also not so large that the expanding gas doesn't flow around the base and not manage to seal the bullet to the throat. If the throats are all fine, then move to the bore. Make sure your bullet diameter is at least .001" over the bore's diameter. This will force the bullet to obturate to the bore and keep the bullet sealed in the bore. A soft alloy bullet like those used in HBWC's will obturate easier than a hard cast SWC and most people buy or cast overly hard bullets that don't quite match the bore. Then they have barrel leading and don't know why. Last, try and match the lube to the intended pressure. As pressure goes up, the more you need lube to resist flowing too fast. A thin film of alox works on a .38 special moving at 850 fps while a harder wax based lube will be needed with a .357 magnum bullet screaming down the bore at high pressure. If you use tumble lube groove bullets then you might be able to get enough alox to stick to the grooves to work at higher speed, but you would have to test your loads to find out. If you aren't bored enough yet then go read the LASC's notes: Cast bullet reference on lead alloy's, min / max pressure, lube, shrinkage,
    It's a trick... Get an axe...



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