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Old September 12, 2012, 05:53 PM   #1
Mike / Tx
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Pouring HP's and Learning to Blend Alloy's....(bit long)

Being relatively new to the casting world, my initial goal was to simply produce some quality rounds to feed the appetite of my Raging Bull 454. That said I started out with the Lee 300gr RFGC 6 cavity mold. It was no small undertaking, as it involved close to a year of research, not to mention numerous questions and PM's on another site dedicated to Cast Boolits. It only took about a month and I was hooked to the gills. I started off with only a couple of molds, a bucket and a half of wheel weights and am now in up to my chin.

Since that time just over a year now I have laid in a goodly supply of ram materials, and purchased over a dozen different molds for my rifles and revolvers. I haven't gotten into the rifles just yet, but the revolvers, I am having a blast with. My latest acquisitions mold wise have been a few of the MP Cramer type brass molds. They are an awesome piece of craftsmanship for sure. The neat thing is that most come with at least a couple of HP pin options and when I get one I get all that are offered. They DO require a bit more love and care, but the result is well worth the effort. When you can sit down and pour out 20 pounds of alloy into almost pristine HP bullets, with little to no more effort in most cases than a VERY slight tap on the handle, you know your in the big league for sure.

This all said, with a HP verses a SWC, RN or RFN, you have to consider a few more things other than simply what the fit will be or which lube to use. You have to consider the velocity at which they will be driven, as well as what the expected impact velocity will be as well as what the intended target will be, in order to get proper expansion. Now this isn't to say that you cannot simply pour up a mound of HP from pure, or any of numerous lead/tin alloys, but you still have to do the trial and error thing to determine if the alloy is to hard or too soft.

I had purchased a couple of the LG Iso cores. I tried some of the alloy and found how well they poured, and how little work was needed, and went for it. They pour up the prettiest WFN's and RFN's you ever wanted to load up, as well as HP and any other style. The issue isn't with that, it's with the antimony being higher than the tin content which makes the HP a bit too brittle resulting in the noses blowing off even at the lower velocities. When drive to full magnum velocities they really don't stand a chance.

So my quest began in earnest to put together an alloy, using what I had on hand, and being able to duplicate it over and over, when needed. I started out downloading an Alloy Calculator spreadsheet put together by one of the other members on Castboolits. It is a very user friendly tool and while it will not get you down to the last increment of purity, it will get you in the cheap seats and you can at least enjoy the game. Most of the alloys listed on it were derived from known and tested alloy which can be purchased form Rotometals. This makes it VERY good for someone who wants to simply put together say 20 or so pounds of a particular alloy for a specific purpose, like HP's.

I took the spreadsheet and began to input numbers. It's all inf and well, but it uses pounds, so when you input ounces you have to use a decimal in the front. This isn't a big issue, but if your like me and formulas don't work with your brain, then you need a quicker method of figuring out what .0426 of a pound really is. That isn't a number I used but a good example of why the free download Convert for Windows is good to have stuck to your desktop.

After a few weeks of piddling with the numbers I found what I hoped would be a good match of tin, antimony, and lead. Since I don't have a big supply of either tin, or pure lead, I was working with the smallest amounts I could, and still have enough to pour up a batch of bullets for testing. Using the LG Iso Core alloy as my base I blended up my first batch. This one comes in at a 1.5/1.5/97 in percentages of tin, antimony, and lead. I had thought of going softer, but then considered that I would be driving some of these to Ruger only levels in my 45 Colt. (After all it is a Redhawk. ) After a bit of shooting over the weekend, I think I made the right decision.

So below is the link to the results of my initial testing, I would show the picks but this is probably long enough already. I will however throw in this teaser shot just for kicks,


Here are the rest,
Alloy Testing

I'm already working on one that will be just a touch tougher I hope, that will allow me to bump up the velocities for my 41, 44, and 454, well see soon.
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Old September 12, 2012, 06:28 PM   #2
GP100man
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Excellent post on your endeavors Mike/Tx !!

Alot of people get caught up in the "harder is better" whirl wind of alloys then start scratchin their head or give up completely on lead bullets!

I got caught up in that & you would`nt believe the alloys I wasted ,literally

Then an ole caster took me under his wing after watching me scrub lead from my Redhawks barrel at the range , after he learned me the basics it was like a new world opened up to purty blue skys !!!

I also use Iso lead ,but my tin content is a bit higher `round 3% ,it tuffens the bullet a bit & I consistently get 12-12.5 bhn & can go to 1200-1250 before strippin starts in my GPs.

Casting HPs is different , I have a few Lyman SC & 1 NOE aluminum 360-180.
I found keepin the molds closed on the pins & casting hot get me very consistent HPs to feed my revolvers.
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Old September 12, 2012, 10:26 PM   #3
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B-E-A-utiful.
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Old September 13, 2012, 04:12 PM   #4
dunerjeff
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They do look nice. It might be an added benifit to add just a bit more tin as said, antimony?maybe, but I'm talking just 1/2% to toughen them up so they don't flatten quite as much. But to much and they will start to splinter.Softer is definately better for a good hunting bullet. Harder(14-15bhn) is good for targets and velocities.
Those molds all MP's or some from NOE?
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Old September 13, 2012, 05:39 PM   #5
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I don't have anything to add. I'm interested in the process and want to follow the thread.
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Old September 13, 2012, 06:29 PM   #6
Mike / Tx
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Thanks for the kudo's, I appreciate it. I however could have taken years to come up with what I did had it not been for the previous ground work laid out by so many others ahead of me. It has been with their sharing of knowledge and effort, that I worked through this as quick as I did. I DO owe them the thanks.

The base alloy I used is a 1/3/96 and after blending in a bit more pure lead and tin, I brought it to a 1.5/1.5/97. While that might not be a huge change, it made a dramatic change in the malleability. I went from finding bits and pieces within the first inch and having the base shank penetrate to within an inch of the bottom and sometimes beyond, to stopping within 8" of impact, and retaining all but around 10grs of the starting weight. I do not however think that this particular alloy will be as well suited to the higher velocity of the 41 and 44, and the jury is still out on the 454. If it will hang in there with the 44 up to around 1350 or so, I might give the 45-270-SAA a try in the 454. I mean worst case I have to get out the Chore Boy and do a bit of scrubbing. Best case I will have one heck of a hog slapper, for sure. Even if the HP don't quite cut it, I can still use the 300gr RFGC and get expansion from the already big flat nose on it.

As for the molds yes those were all from MP, The left one is the 452 45 270 SAA, the middle and right are the 452 640 with SM and LG pins. I also have one in a 41-258, and a 432-256, which are supposed to be as close to Keith's SWC dimensions as anyone can find. I can say this for certain, they shoot VERY well. The latter will be what I work on next with the next batch of alloy.

GP100, you absolutely right about the harder not always being better. This rang through most of what I have read over the past year and a half of research. The overwhelming theme has been fit is king and lube is queen, and everything else fall in line.

There are SO many variables in which one could use any number of different alloys to accomplish the same goal. The thing is if you cannot keep things somewhat consistent your never going to duplicate the same results. A slightly harder alloy might not expand, or might lead where you didn't have it before, or any number of things.

I have, since I began this, tried to keep somewhat decent notes on what I pour up. They might look like hogwash to someone else but to me they make perfect sense. When I make up a batch of alloy, I usually pour up at least a half dozen bullets, usually the Lee 452 255 as it has a nice size to it and I have a 2 cavity mold which works well with my ladle. These go into a snack baggie, with the date, temp poured, and the alloy used. I also do the same when I pour up a batch of bullets. This lets me take the sample at any given time after and check the hardness, without having to waste a perfectly good bullet. Having several samples lets me check at any interval I might want to as long as thee is still a flat spot left on them. To date I haven't run out of samples before shooting up the bullets or alloy used to pour them.

As for lubes, well I try and keep it simple. I use the 45/45/10 almost exclusively. I do however have enough raw materials to blend up several other great lubes once I get into my rifles. I also have a decent supply of Carnuba Red from LAR's as well as a good supply of Speed Green. While I haven't used any of it yet except a bit of the CR, I have been assured by plenty of folks that I will not need anything else, if I cannot get the bullets out the barrel with any one of these, I might as well forget about that particular barrel shooting lead.

My passion however is for my revolves. I hunt with them, I carry one of them on my hip while in the country almost everywhere I go on the property. You just never know when a hog will wander out into the open and provide an opportunity to test your skills, or add to the freezer. I REALLY hate to stop what I am doing right in the middle to skin and quarter one, but I will if I have to.
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Old September 13, 2012, 08:47 PM   #7
dunerjeff
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There is a couple of copper babbits that you can mix in your alloy to give just a tiny bit of copper to toughen up the bullet too(I used about .5%), for good penetration while still being soft for the good mushrooming. I've tested a little bit of it with my 9mm. I had the bullets doing good for holding its mass while mushrooming nicely. I shoot into a wax block, which acts a little like water ,so it is harder on bullets than tissue, so a good performing bullet in tissue may have to be "over expanding" a little in the wax. Haven't been able to test that theory yet.
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Old September 13, 2012, 11:10 PM   #8
GP100man
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A cheap styrofoam cooler filled with wet almost slushy news paper for me for my test media , If I wanna test how tuff they are I use saturated sand .

Here`s a BareBottomed 358156 shot into my sand slush at 1200fps .Trying to see if the alloy would splinter .



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Old September 14, 2012, 08:00 AM   #9
res45
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Pretty happy with the results I get with my NOE HP mold in the 38 Spec. 2" snubby fired into wet pack media. For the 38 I leave the GC off and simply tumble lube the bullet.


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Old September 14, 2012, 12:27 PM   #10
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Yep, them last two have the perfect mushroom, with the base left for driving deeper.
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