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Discussion Starter #1
Instead of having a all lead bullet can you harden the lead with copper, zinc or nickel? Any recommendations or ideas?
Thanks
 

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You can harden your lead with small percentage of tin. I bought some 50/50 solder (50% lead and 50% tin) at a farm auction and added some to each each batch of lead I melted. The lead/tin ratio may vary in solder: 60/40, 50/50, or 40/60, the key is the solder contains lead and tin. What you don't want to use is lead free solder, which is what is predomantly sold today.

Adding tin to your lead will make you bullets harder. Solder is used because it has a lower melting point that lead and is easily mixed in your melting pot. The other metals you mentioned must be melted as such elevated temperatures that it would be beyond the scope and safety of most homeowner workshops.
 

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I watched a video and yes the tin is important. The guy I was watching also would dump the bullets into a bucket of water as soon as they were out of the mold. It apparently hardened them a little more.
 

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In the past, lead wheel weights were used to add tin and antimony to lead bullets to make a harder alloy. Lead wheel weights are very rare nowadays because of strict EPA regulations.
You beat me to it. But, yep, antimony is one of the hardest metals on the planet and complements lead just fine. My dad still has a 20 gallon bucket of wheel weights we picked up back in the '70s. He did melt a lot down and cast them in old wrought iron cornbread loaf molds and they're stacked as such . . . . somewhere. But he still has a lot of wheel weights collected in their original form.

He also collected a lot of old Linotype when the local newspapers were switching from old Linotype printing presses to more modern materials.
 

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You beat me to it. But, yep, antimony is one of the hardest metals on the planet and complements lead just fine. My dad still has a 20 gallon bucket of wheel weights we picked up back in the '70s. He did melt a lot down and cast them in old wrought iron cornbread loaf molds and they're stacked as such . . . . somewhere. But he still has a lot of wheel weights collected in their original form.

He also collected a lot of old Linotype when the local newspapers were switching from old Linotype printing presses to more modern materials.
Yes, those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end. Linotype has a whopping 4% tin and around 12% antimony.
 

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You wanna know the truth? I remember being a kid and begging God to let me grow up fast. What I wouldn't give now to go back and start over at 10YO again.
 

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to harden pure lead, you add percentages of tin and antimony. for things like wheel weights you can add additional hardness to the alloy with a water quench right out of the mold. I think my WW alloy drops at around 16 BRN, water dropped to 18 BRN and over time will continue to harden up to 22 BRN
 

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Discussion Starter #10
In the past, lead wheel weights were used to add tin and antimony to lead bullets to make a harder alloy. Lead wheel weights are very rare nowadays because of strict EPA regulations.
Thanks. I have 50 pounds of old wheel weights. That's why I'm asking.
 

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A 10 YO with a 50 dollar bill in our pocket. We would be rich and could buy the best 22 rifle in the Sears catalog!
You let me go back to age 10 with a $50 in my pocket - knowing what I know now - well, I might not make it past 15 . . . .
 

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A 10 YO with a 50 dollar bill in our pocket. We would be rich and could buy the best 22 rifle in the Sears catalog!
Or go down to the local hardware store and get a surplus M1 Garand. My MIL has an advertisement from back in 1947 where a local hardware store here was selling surplus M1's from WW2 for a whopping $20. I almost cried when she showed me the ad. :icon_ cry:
 
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LYMAN (TM) #2 Alloy is 2% TIN, 6% ANTIMONY, and 92% LEAD.

That is the time-tested, "good stuff" for casting, Lube was, in the past 50% Alox 4831/50% beeswax.That is what LYMAN developed all their cast bullets and loadings with. Bullets were lubed and sized in the same operation.


Now, there are metal suppliers selling 5/5/90 and calling it" Lyman #2", but more tin, less antimony will make it just about a wash. Fact is, if your bullet fills the mold and comes out consistent weight, it will probably shoot uniformly, if you develop a load for it that is accurate in your particular firearm.

There are people who "powder-coat" their bullets, who do not size them, do not lube them, make gas-checks out of aluminum beer cans instead of copper - they take all kinds of variations.(LEE says their molds will drop a bullet sized exactly, thus needs no resizing. I still run all mine thru the lubrisizer.) And most of the time, it seems to make very little difference. There are some new bullet lubricants that perform quite well and do so without the smoke from the old alox/beeswax lube. I'm still using the old stuff because nearly a half a century ago, I got quite a bargain buyout on a case of the stuff - hollow sticks for my 450 Luber/sizer. ("Old-School" AND frugal, at the same time)

You want enough tin in your alloy to fill out the bullet molds just right and therefore, the weights are consistent. The antimony helps regulate the hardness - You don't need it too terribly hard even for the standard 9mm and 45 bullets. Where you want more hardness is for high-performance loads in rifles and revolvers.

It's easy to wind up with a whole gang of bullet molds, if you load for a bunch of different calibers. That's when you begin to take bullet alloys more seriously.

Dropping bullets directly from mold to cold water will harden them somewhat more than what your alloy choice alone will. Bullets will naturally "age" harder. You can soften your bullets by annealing them in an oven, bringing them to around 400-450 degree and then letting them cool in the oven - not open-air cooled. Normally, just letting them air-cool from the mold-drop will give you satisfactory bullets for most purposes.

The major issue is keeping the pot temperature neither too hot nor too cool, keeping the mold temperatures right, and maintaining pressure in the mold until the bullet fills out, then allowing enough metal to remain on top of the sprue plate that the shrinkage does not draw a hole in the bullet. (You'ld be surprised how long it takes some people to get that trick)

Consistency in materials and process will bring consistency in product. There's an awful lot of stuff to be on top of all the time, but it can be done and the first time you bag an 8-point whitetail with a bullet you made and loaded is a moment to remember.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
While we are the subject. Can you cast copper bullets using copper only?
 

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While we are the subject. Can you cast copper bullets using copper only?
Yes if you can find a mold that will handle the higher temps. You can cast pretty much any metal that will liquify and harden at room temperature. How well they perform constrains the different types of metals you want to cast. I mean you could cast bullets made out of sodium but I wouldn't recommend trying to water quench them.
 
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Back in the early seventies, when dimes only cost ten cents, we cast up a dozen 158 gr SWC's for 357MAG to see what they would do. Took a little more heat than lead, but the Lyman pot was new, then, and did it handsomely.

Surprise - they shot cleanly and well, though they weighed less than lead. Accuracy was good, but pressure was just a tad high. (Primers not only flattened, they squared out to about the max.) Expansion was not on a par with lead, but I doubt if a vampire would have noted the difference.

Just one of those things you do at 2AM when your buddy tilts his head to a certain angle, closes one eye, and says, "You know, I wonder what would happen if . . . . " (Yes, we both watched a lot of "The Lone Ranger" at the Rosedale Theater on Saturday afternoons after the war).
 
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Time to do some reading. Start here; Cast bullet reference on lead alloy's, min / max pressure, lube, shrinkage, then here; From Ingot to Target: A Cast Bullet Guide for Handgunners and start readin the, From Ingot to Target

The majority of bullet hardness comes from antimony while the Tin lowers the melting point and creates better mold fill-out. Clip-on wheel weights also contain arsenic which is the ingredient that allows for quenching to happen. Lead w/o arsenic will not quench.

Within those pages one will also find a procedure for heat treating lead bullets.
 

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While we are the subject. Can you cast copper bullets using copper only?
i can not imagine a steady diet of solid copper bullets doing your rifling much good either ( a brinnel hardness of around 90 ). they are used in big game rifles of course ,but those don`t get shot much .
 

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Instead of having a all lead bullet can you harden the lead with copper, zinc or nickel? Any recommendations or ideas?
Thanks
None of those, copper and nickel wont melt into the lead due to their much higher melting point an zinc will contaminate the lead and not allow it to fill out the mold.
Tin or linotype are the way to go, You can also harden cast lead bullets by dropping them into a bucket of water straight out of the mold.
 
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Wheel weights work great

Instead of having a all lead bullet can you harden the lead with copper, zinc or nickel? Any recommendations or ideas?
Thanks
The tin in them is to help them flow in the mold. Antimony is for hardness. Another good alloy in linotype or old printers type. They are both harder than wheel weights. Any one of them are good to cast. Proper and consistent temperature is key.
 
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