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Old June 13, 2005, 01:05 AM   #1
StrikeEagle
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Half Ton of Pure Lead

Years ago I was visiting a firearms manufacturer here in Connecticut and was allowed to clean the floor at the test range. The used all jacketed bullets. I took the scrap and melted it down and of course it was pure lead after I skimmed off the crud.

I shoot muzzle loaders, and have cast balls for all my frontloaders. But there is still a lot left over.

Of course I cast for my cartridge guns too, but I use wheelweights with a bit of tin solder for that. Pure lead is waaaay too soft. But I want to use it... just not sure how. What's the best/cheapest way for me to make a usable alloy out of the pure lead so I can cast bullets for cartridge guns?

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Old June 13, 2005, 01:51 AM   #2
Leftoverdj
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Dunno what you shoot, but 50/50 WW/Pb is a good alloy for level 1 .45-70 loads. Wadcutters for target loads can be maybe 1-2 WW/PB. That ought to to work for anything factory swaged bullets will do since they are even softer.
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Old June 13, 2005, 07:16 AM   #3
HSMITH
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Look up "the antimony man" and buy some antimony and tin. With that you can make any alloy you want from soft wadcutters to VERY hard rifle bullets.
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Old June 13, 2005, 09:33 AM   #4
LAH
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If you add 2% tin to pure lead you should get something like 6 BHN. This would be fine for low pressure loads and perhaps 900 fps. Again mixing with wheelweights is another road to venture.
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Old June 13, 2005, 06:43 PM   #5
StrikeEagle
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Thanks for the advice!

I'm trying 5 pounds lead to half pound lino... maybe with a bit of tin solder. All my cast loads are in the 750-850 fps range. So hoping leading's not a problem if my alloy goes a bit soft.

I'll let you know!

many thanks,
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Old June 13, 2005, 07:30 PM   #6
EchoFiveMike
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At that velocity, you could use it uncut. S/F...Ken M
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Old June 13, 2005, 07:35 PM   #7
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you could always make fishing sinkers - you can never have enough of those!
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Old June 13, 2005, 08:01 PM   #8
stephen426
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Please forgive my stupid question...

Is it actually worth it to cast your own bullets? Lead is supposed to be hazardous to your health and I'm not just talking about .45 caliber 230 grain slugs flying your way. When lead is heated, you end up breathing in some of the vapors. Over time it accumulates in your system and you get heavy metal poisoning (and I'm not talking about too much good ole rock and roll either). I'm just curious if you really save that much money. I guess that would depend on how much you shoot.
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Old June 13, 2005, 08:39 PM   #9
cobra81
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StrikeEagle,
I've got the same issue. I've got a constant and ample source of W/W, and then I lucked into a source of free lino....I probably have 45-50 lb of good clean lino sitting in my shop; a guy had dismantled an old newspaper and print shop, and had already cast it into ingots. If I ever shoot up all that, he will give me more; I felt like I had won the lottery! Anyway, then another guy brought me a lead sleeve from his father who used to work for the phone company. I'm not sure, but it looks like pure lead. Very soft. Last night I experimented with an alloy of:
5 lbs. WW,
4 1/2 lbs. pure lead (if the sleeve is pure lead),
and 1/2 lb of 95/5 tin/antimony solder.
The resulting bullets filled out the mold well (Lyman 311359 .30 cal carbine).
I also water-quenched them to make them a bit harder.
After I get these sized and loaded for my 30/06, I plan to see how they compare to pure lino bullets in terms of barrel leading. If anybody knows whether those splice sleeves are pure lead I'd appreciate your advice.
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Old June 13, 2005, 10:44 PM   #10
StrikeEagle
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Quote:
I'm just curious if you really save that much money. I guess that would depend on how much you shoot.
Hello!

Well... yeah, it is cheap. I scrounge the metal except for the tin... but tin Solder, bought on sale is very reasonable.

So it works out to a penny a bullet? Less?

Just like Reloading, I find that Casting is a sub-hobby of its own. I have a hood that sucks the fumes outside, and I take reasonable precautions about ingesting the stuff. Some folks cast outside to avoid the fumes... I do that myself when it's nice out.

I feel that if I take care, I'm safe enough. I know this kind of work is outside some folks' comfort level... which would spoil the fun. It's not worth it for folks who would fret about it.

I could not afford to shoot nearly as much as I do without casting.

best wishes,
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Old June 14, 2005, 10:37 AM   #11
brickeyee
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"Lead is supposed to be hazardous to your health and I'm not just talking about .45 caliber 230 grain slugs flying your way. When lead is heated, you end up breathing in some of the vapors. Over time it accumulates in your system and you get heavy metal poisoning (and I'm not talking about too much good ole rock and roll either)."

The amount of lead vapor created is very low unless you use an open flame played on the lead to melt it.
The vapor pressure of lead at typical casting temperatures is low enough to not create a signifiacnt problem if you use an electric pot. Tin will come out of the alloy around 725F-750F, so the casting temperature is usually lower than that.

Even OSHA agrees that normal soldering temperatures (around 700F) do not require any special protection from lead vapor. The flux smoke is actually more of a long term problem.
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Old June 14, 2005, 10:45 AM   #12
stephen426
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Thanks for replying to my stupid question. I guess with the proper precautions, it should be pretty safe. I don't think this is the kind of thing the average hobbyist could get into. At a penny a bullet, that is really cheap. How much does it work out to including casings, primers, and powder assuming you can reuse the casing about 5 times? How many times can you really use the casings or is it based on inspecting each case? I wish I had more time to shoot. If I got heavily into it again, I would probably start reloading but buy all of the components.
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Old June 18, 2005, 10:13 PM   #13
MADISON
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Half Ton of Pure Lead

I think yooou need 1/3 to 1/4 tom of Plumber's [50-50] Lead, to mix with your pure lead.
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Old June 18, 2005, 11:13 PM   #14
snuffy
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Tin alone in pure lead does not harden bullets. 2-3% tin will make casting a lot easier, the mold fills out better when tin is present. Tin and antimony in pure lead will harden more. Arsenic added in will allow the bullet to be hardened by tempering or quenching in cold water. Arsenic can be obtained in common shotgun shot bought for reloading.

Range lead can never be assumed to be pure. Some jacketed bullets may have a bit of tin and antimony added to control expansion.
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