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Old April 11, 2012, 08:37 PM   #1
RoGrrr
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Spent Bullets

I just got back from the range after picking up some bullets from the backstop. Since the backstop is dirt and I didn't have all that much time to sort, I just grabbed all I could in the short time I was there. That amounted to a kitty litter bucket full, about 200 pounds.
I plan to melt it all and discard the jackets (I have a disabled neighbor who gathers and sells scrap and he would love to have the copper jackets. I know it's not that much but he'll be happy), leaving a mixture of lead. I know cast slugs are alloyed but what is the composition of the lead in jacketed bullets ? Is it pure or is it alloyed too ?
I would imagine it won't make much difference in the boolits I'm casting.
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Old April 11, 2012, 10:58 PM   #2
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The cast bullets you pick up can be anywhere from near pure to linotype. That would be very soft (around 7 or 8 bhn) to very hard (around 22 bhn). The cores of jacketed bullets are generally on the very soft end of the scale, often using pure lead.

Mix them up and see how they cast. If you don't get good mould fillout, add a little tin to it (maybe 1% or so). Depending on what caliber you are shooting, you will likely do well with that mix. For the magnum loads, you may want to add a little linotype to the mix to harden it up.

Do you have a hardness tester? That would tell you a lot about the alloys.

Good luck, be safe, and happy casting!
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Old April 11, 2012, 11:48 PM   #3
RoGrrr
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Thanks for the reply. I'm shooting 9 and 45. I use the 45 for bowling pins and use a fairly stiff load of Universal. The 9 is light target only.
I don't have a tester yet. I'll probably get one but not sure when. And since I don't load heavy, I might not need it. I'm not even sure what price range the testers are in since I hadn't even looked around at them.
My question was mainly out of curiosity, as I'm fairly new to pistols and also casting. It galls me to pay about 10 cents apiece for a 45 boolit when I can cast it for next to nothing, which is why I went to the range today and scrounged spent slugs.
I'm also looking for the right settings so my slugs fall out of the mold without having to rap the blocks with a hammer handle. I have an IR thermometer and plan to log my experiences using it for data gathering.
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Old April 12, 2012, 07:21 AM   #4
briandg
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I wouldn't want to do that from an indoor range that is a high percentage of .22. that's not going to be particularly good lead. Same goes for jacketed cores. I expect that most jacketed bullet cores are going to be the cheapest possible alloy, which will be pure lead with only enough tin to firm it up.
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Old April 12, 2012, 07:37 AM   #5
Dave P
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"which is why I went to the range today and scrounged spent slugs."

I would be surprised if this was allowed at your range - but maybe it is. Lead being considered a hazard, and liability issues, damage to the berm, etc.

And Don't breath that lead dust while you are digging.
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Old April 18, 2012, 11:23 AM   #6
stu925
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This thread just revealed to me a lead source I had never considered before. The training range at work, I haven't started casting yet (I'm still in the planning stages) but I think I'd be about the only guy there that would be collecting lead so I'm sure I could probably have it all to myself. I figure they fire somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500 .38 rounds a week and probably 1000 .223 a week between April and November so that should be quite a bit of lead I can dig out of the berm 7 months out of the year. Wonder if I'd have to clear that with the boss or if the range officers would even care. If I can have that lead then I'd be a fool not to go ahead with my casting plans.

Stu
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Old April 18, 2012, 12:26 PM   #7
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The range officers may have a problem with anyone digging on the berms? But just picking up spent bullets is easy and doesn't mess up anything on the berm. I can usually fill a plastic coffee can in about 40 mins. just picking them up off the dirt. Joe
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Old April 18, 2012, 08:51 PM   #8
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Cores from jacketed rounds will generally be very nearly pure lead (as mentioned above). Range lead will usually average around 8 or 9 bhn, but could be higher or lower depending on the percentage of .22s being shot compared to the bigger bores. If you get lots of magnum shooters, you might have your alloy actually be around 11 or 12 on average.

Most range officers won't let you anywhere near the berms during shooting times. I'd suggest talking with the range master and see if you could come in before or after shooting hours for some scrounging. Also, best time to find spent slugs on or near the surface is right after a good rainstorm. You will probably find most weight with least disruption to the berm at that time.

Other sources of lead include wheelweights, roof flashing, X-ray shielding, stained glass shops, and old printing shops. Or, you could purchase lead from others who have gathered it or from places like Rotometals (great place to do business with, reasonable pricing, and gun friendly).
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Old April 18, 2012, 09:07 PM   #9
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I see the fellow that mines is back at it at our range.He has been told but..
After a couple month we will have to get the Bobcat back in there and pile the berm back up. Kinda costly.
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Old April 18, 2012, 10:55 PM   #10
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I've seen people talk about berm mining over at castboolits.gunloads.com, but have never done it. The lead content WILl be a bit varied, and you really will need that Brinell hardness tester. If you can get permission from the owners, and make it a day long event with other casters in the area, you can come up with a LOT of lead. I have had no luck with that idea down here - some of those berms have to be STIFF.
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Old April 19, 2012, 12:09 AM   #11
briandg
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I've done it, but heck, mine the thing? most of the time I could walk along the front of the berm and pick up a pouchful of lead just off of the ground in front of the berms.

If someone is digging, they're vandalizing the berm. If they are digging, it's also at least suspicious that they are doing it to sell the metal.
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Old April 19, 2012, 07:23 AM   #12
dahermit
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"...what is the composition of the lead in jacketed bullets ? Is it pure or is it alloyed too ?
I would imagine it won't make much difference in the boolits I'm casting ..." The exact composition of lead cores from jacket bullets vary by manufacturer. However, unless you are engaged in cast bullet rifle competition where pin-point accuracy is sought and most bullets being for handgun plinking, the exact alloy of the bullets you will cast is of little importance. Have been casting since the sixties, and have only found the lead alloy of "maintenance free" batteries to be unusable (contains calcium) for bullet casting.
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Old April 19, 2012, 09:17 AM   #13
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Before I retired from APD, I had a friend that had the contract for maintaining the indoor range of the Fed Building. Part of his job was cleaning the bullet traps.

We got tons of lead, I would just throw the spent bullets in the melting pot I used to make ingots. The trash, dirt and brass would float to the top and I'd dip it out. When its clean, I'd flux it and make ingots.

I never had problems with leading, some yes but easily cleaned up by cleaning the gun after each use.

I'm not one who believes one has to have super hard cast bullets. I've had better results with good lube and I don't shoot my pistol/revolvers at rifle velocities.

As long as the mixture allows me to cast lots by weight, I'm happy.

Now, I don't have access to such indoor ranges but I shoot all winter long in my back yard. Normally come spring and the snow melts I can recover (or my grandkids gather them) my bullets and back into the pot to make more ingots.

I guess when I get to the point where via accuracy I can tell the difference in lead, I'll change, but I don't see that happening in the near future.
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Old April 19, 2012, 02:33 PM   #14
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I'm with you, kraig. I make ingots. I start a pot full of metal. I drop all of the ingots on concrete to hardness test them, and try to get good balance of hard and soft. toss in every sprue after 5 casts, add the harder and softer ingots alternately, and they are consistently good enough.

I'm certainly not overthinking this, am I? I'm just casting bullets and shooting the darned things at paper. I'll start taking it more seriously when the consequences of not having better bullets are higher.
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