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Old February 5, 2013, 11:16 AM   #1
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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Using pewter in my bullets

Hello all: I have a question or three to ask if y'all don't mind. While the wife was browsing in a GoodWill Store lately. I usually just mope around here and there. This last time our adventure together included my finding a couple picture frames made of pewter. I've been told some time back that pewter can be used in the making of cast bullets. I have soft sheet lead, lino, and coww available for my use.

1. Is pewter worth keeping on hand to add as an alloy to a casting furnace recipe?

2. Just what would be a good pewter recipe to try?

3. How good would those bullets be for 30-30 hunting rifle usage at moderate speeds?

thank you, Gents.

S/S
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Old February 5, 2013, 11:43 AM   #2
maggys drawers
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Pewter has a high tin content. This helps fill out the mold, giving sharp edges to drive bands and bases...so it's very good alloy material. I add about 2% tin to my 50/50 ww/pure lead mix and it works fine. Should shoot fine in your 30-30.

Is your bullet gas checked or plain base ?
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Old February 5, 2013, 12:31 PM   #3
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Keep in mind that pewter is a class of alloy, and different pewter's have different constituents. They are all mainly tin, though, so I would just use the pewter as if it were tin. Look up pewter on the Wikipedia for an overview.
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Old February 5, 2013, 12:37 PM   #4
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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Bullets are indeed Hornady G/C.'ed
Lyman mold 311041 & resized to 310 Dia.

Which seems to be working pretty well on deer size game. You said add 2% pewter to a 50/50 mix. (I haven't been using soft lead in my bullets.)

Only C-O-W/W material. So can I just weigh my w/w lead before smelting. Then figure out what 2% of its weight would be in pewter. Than add that same amount of pewter to to the recipe. Is that correct for a recipe made up entirely from W/W lead only?

Will those pewter alloyed bullets increase in their BHN hardness factor without a cold water drop?

Just what would their BHN hardness then be?
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Old February 5, 2013, 12:49 PM   #5
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Just to clarify, I think he means 50:50 pure lead to wheel weights, and not 50:50 solder. That dilution of wheel weight alloy is not an uncommon mixture if you are trying to limit the antimony content of the mix for bullets you will use in extreme cold. Wheel weights are known to shatter in extreme cold (all sub-zero) because the antimony (up to 4%) is too brittle in sub-zero temperatures.

If you just want to shoot more conventional bullets, you can get into the ballpark of mimicking Lyman #2 alloy by adding 5% pewter by weight to melted wheel weight metal. This alloy may end up with a little more tin than antimony which means that if you try to water quench it hard, after the hardness peaks (around 2 weeks aging) it will then drop off again over a year or so. Bullets with less tin than antimony can remain hardened for a very long time.
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Old February 5, 2013, 08:55 PM   #6
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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Well from whats been written so far about pewter's usage in molten lead alloy. And in regards to the questions I've asked. I have gleamed more information than expected. Thank you, goes out to you two knowledgeable gents for sharing what you know about the subject. I appreciate your time and effort to comment.

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Old February 5, 2013, 10:08 PM   #7
maggys drawers
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Thanks for clearing that up, Uncle Nick. I did mean 50/50 ww to lead, NOT 50/50 solder.

Sure Shot- what I do is fairly rough estimation....I have a Lee 20 lb pot. I put in equal amounts of ww ingots and lead ingots till the pot is almost full, then add the pewter to come out to 2%. That figures out to about 6 1/2 ounces of tin for 20 lbs of alloy. This alloy is hard enough for my 44 mag. lever action rifle (with gas checked bullets), so I don't see why it wouldn't work in your 30-30. It also saves on ww, since they are getting harder to find.

I melt my pewter down and cast it in an old fishing sinker mold. Since tin is lighter than lead, I leave the sprues on the tin sinkers and figure it comes out about right. Never have weighed them, but it seems to work. I keep an eye out for a kitchen scale at yard sales, but haven't seen one yet.
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Old February 6, 2013, 01:12 AM   #8
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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maggys drawers: I see you only mix in 2% pewter on a twenty pound batch of 50/50. Uncle nick said 5% with his recipe of W/W alone. So knowing those two recipes for pewter use. Does make it easier to understand just what to expect. (A cold weather bullet near Lyman's #2 alloy in both circumstances)
The idea of molding pewter the way you do (sinker mold) makes sense if you indeed make 20 lb. batches time after time. But there's where we differ. When I cast. I make a little alloy or I make allot. But I do have a very good scale here. Its Primary use was to measure spices in a butchers shop. The scale can measure both Grams & and as little as 1/10 th of an once. All seen on a LCD screen. So I intend to just break up the pewter I have into small chunks and plan to store it that way till needed.
I never looked up the composition of pewter. Although I always thought it contained lead and silver. Wow!! How wrong I was on that one. And the idea to mix W/W with an equal part of soft lead to save a bit on W/W costs is indeed pleasing to know. "Stuff is getting spendy these days no doubt"_To say I was enlightened here tonight is an understatement. I learned a whole lot Sir. Now if I could get that 3-cavity mold I want from NOE Molds. That Sir would make my day. Many thanks again to you two.

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Old February 6, 2013, 01:00 PM   #9
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My mix is to mimic Lyman #2 Alloy, about BHN 15, which is what a lot of the Lyman mold diameters are cut for. If you use a different alloy they may come out heavier or lighter and a little narrower or a little wider. The emphasis here is on 'little'. All well within a normal sizing die's ability to correct.

2% tin is used in Terracorp Magnum Alloy (and is usually cited as the minimum amount of tin needed to improve mold fill and castability) which also has 6% antimony, IIRC. It's another good casting alloy if you want about BHN 16 as-cast. But if you use 50:50 WW plus 2% tin, you'll have about 2% antimony and 2% tin, which won't be as hard as cast, being about BHN 10-12 or so (again IIRC). But because of small amounts of arsenic in the WW it will still be possible to harden them by water quenching up to about BHN 25 or so, if you want to, and without getting brittle, and because the tin content does not exceed the antimony content, it should settle at about BHN 21-22 and stay there for a decade or more.

Theres a book on line at the Los Angeles Silhouette Club site that you might want to read.
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Old February 6, 2013, 01:09 PM   #10
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Remember, too, that modern "pewter" has almost none to no lead in it, and the metals used to replace the lead in the alloy may not be useful for bullet casting.
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Old February 6, 2013, 01:13 PM   #11
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NOE molds are truly a treat to work with- I have 3 of them. You will not regret buying any NOE mold. The high quality workmanship produces very good castings.

MP molds are also very high quality. They are brass, made by a guy in Europe. They are so nice I almost hated to pour lead in them...almost. They make some of the finest castings I have ever seen. It took me almost a year to get the first one- he had a day job and worked on them after hours. He has since quit and went into mold production full time. I would hope that has reduced the waiting time on his molds. Here is a link- if you can afford them, they are worth the money and something to be handed down through the family. I have 2 of them, they are my favorite molds to use.

http://www.mp-molds.com/
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