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Old November 10, 1999, 05:48 PM   #1
Jack Straw
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Now that I've started heat treating my 44 bullets I want to try treating some other calibers. However, I have several hundred bullets that are already coated in Lee Liquid Alox. Is it possible to treat these bullets or will the lube have to be washed off? Just wondering...

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Old November 14, 1999, 05:34 PM   #2
Randy Garrett
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If you try to oven heat treat your already lubricated bullets, you might want to send your better half on vacation first, as the smoke and odor will be very considerable. If you are heat treating by placing your bullets in an oven, you are working too hard and probably achieving less hardening than desired due to significant variations in the temperature of your oven. Remember it is the temperature of the bullets at the moment they hit the water that will determine the effectiveness of the treatment. And thermostats function over a broader range of temperatures than is optimum for heat treatment, unless your thermostat is very good and you only pull the bullets from the oven at the moment the thermostat turns the power off (as a result of achieving the temperature setting).
Of course this assumes that you are using an arsenic enriched alloy with proper hardening characteristics. The simplest and most reliable manner of heat treatment involves dropping your bullets directly into water from hot blocks. Also, this tends to decrease the problems associated with a bunch of hot and, consequently, soft bullets bumping into each other as they do when dumped from a tray. Hardening by heating in an oven is just not the way to go.
This is how we do it in production, and our bullets run 25-Brinnell without brittleness.

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Old November 14, 1999, 11:36 PM   #3
Contender
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Randy, I have also heard that the Alox fumes are supposed to be quite toxic although I'm not sure as to what degree.

I've also had good practical results with water dropping from the molds. I've also seen an old coffee machine perforated cup and wire mesh "dish" used for dipping the bullets into the water right from the oven with minimal bumping.

I like the production speed of the water dropping however and consider it good enough for practical hunting bullets at handgun ranges.
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Old November 17, 1999, 04:21 AM   #4
Randy Garrett
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Protoolman,
Been there, done that. However, if that is what works for you, then keep it up. I can't help but wonder though how you can possibly measure the consistency of bullet hardness with a SAECO tester, as its maximum hardness level falls far below the hardness we achieve with our methods. Apparently, your efforts are yielding less than optimum hardness. But I will have to agree with you regarding the practices of commercial bullet casters, they generally produce something far less than optimum, generally providing pitted bullets or good looking bullets with far too much antimony, leading of course to brittleness. However any notion that dropping bullets directly into water involves too many variables to be superior is flawed, unless of course one is on the fringe.
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Old November 18, 1999, 05:28 PM   #5
Randy Garrett
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Protoolman,
Yes I am quite aware that the scale of hardness used by SAECO is not the same as the Brinnell hardness scale. And I agree with your statement that exteme hardness is not necessarily the only important parameter. More important than hardness is the avoidance of brittleness, however hardness is obviously, as you know, quite important since we don't want our large caliber bullets expanding and thus losing penetration potential, especially when the game is heavy. However, on the one hand you seem to say that oven hardening is the best because of your belief that it provides the greatest hardness and that hardness reigns supreme, and then go on to state that it doesn't necessarily. If our practice of dropping bullets from hot molds into cold water was as ineffective as you like to claim, we would have problems with barrel leading and impact effect. We have neither. For eleven years now our products have been the first choice among a great many distinguished members of the print media and the Safari Club International, and their claims regarding the superiority of our castings has been quite definitive. As to our lube, I must assume that you draw conclusions based on its color. This is the finest formula we've tested, first created by Paco Kelly. If there is a better lube out there, then so be it. Protoolman, if your practices work for you, then great. However, we have found that our practices work best for us, and the field reports from our customers, now numbering in the thousands, demonstrate the effectiveness of our products beyond any doubt. As John Taffin of AMERICAN HANDGUNNER just reported to us the other day, our 44 Magnum cast bullet rounds are giving him 1-inch 5-shot groups at 50-yds without leading. Also, as reported by many others in the print media, our 44 Magnum bullets are producing 3-feet of penetration in wet newspaper. During the four hunting seasons when our 44 Magnum ammo was the only 44 Magnum ammo legal for elk hunting in our home state of Washington, virtually all of our customers reported complete penetration on our heavy elk. I'm not sure much more than that can be achieved from a revolver. Rather than pursue "theoretical perfection" I am much more interested in what gets the job done reliably in the field. I like our procedures not because I "know" that they are best possible (God hasn't spoken to me regarding this subject), but because field experience has demonstrated beyond a doubt that they work extremely well, and our procedures are not excessively labor intensive. I have no need to believe that all of our procedures are the best possible, I just need to know that they produce products that are uncommonly effective. Lighten up Protoolman, and don't be so sure of the inferiority of practices you have not had a chance to observe first hand. It sounds like you make good bullets, well, so do we.
Randy Garrett www.garrettcartridges.com

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Old November 20, 1999, 02:30 PM   #6
Randy Garrett
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Probably it would be more appropriate for us to describe our bullets from a point of view of strength instead of hardness. I found a long time ago that if my bullets were too hard they tended to break when stressed beyond their inherent strength, no matter what the alloy content. Although quite hard and resistent to deformation, when stressed beyond their inherent hardness our bullets deform, invariably modestly, at least when the game is heavy and close. From my point of view a bullet that is hard but can shatter is bad news. One of the tests I run on our bullets involves a free falling sledge hammer. I have observed that virtually all of the commercial castings that appear to have been cast with some care, will break when subjected to this torture test. This appears to be the result of achieving hardness through high antimony levels. By contrast, our bullets will, after repeated contacts with the sledge hammer eventually flatten out into what rather resembles a coin. At this point cracks are apparent around the edge of the bullet, but the casting has demomstrated terrific freedom from fracture by then. This is at least partly due to our use of minimal antimony in our alloy. This freedom from fracture has been a major player in the success we have enjoyed when our ammo has been used against extremely heavy game. As far as lube is concerned, for years we have used LBT commercial blue, but now that LBT is out of business we will be getting the same formula from another source. Interestingly, it was Paco Kelly who first came up with the formula Veral Smith used in his LBT lube. I haven't tried SPG, however I might give it a try since you like it so much. Another extremely relevent factor in the performance of our bullets is the configuration of the designs. Our HAMMERHEADs are designed to put as much of the bullet weight out front as possible, freeing up as much powder capacity as possible. Both our 310-grainer and our 330-grainer seat to .400-inch into the case, and this is about the same seating depth of most 240-grainers. This obviously gives us a velocity to pressure advantage over other heavy bullet designs that seat deeper (usually much deeper). The other extremely relevant attribute is the broad meplat. For years we used smaller meplated bullets, but have found that broader meplats just don't seem to limit penetration, indeed they seem to stabilize it. If I were to speculate why, I would guess that when the wieght carrying characteristics of the front of the bullet compare well to the rear of the bullet, there is little or no tendency for the forces of inertia to favor one end over the other, thus pushing that end (usually the rear of the bullet) towards the front,causing the bullet to go sideways. This is what we found would happen too frequently with truncated cones, which led us to the SWC which was more stable in that regard, and ultimatley to our HAMMERHEADs which are the least likely designs to go sideways, at least in our testing. Our HAMMERHEADs carry virtually the same amount of wieght in the front as they do in the back. Also, I like broad front ends as they must hurt the target animal more per unit of penetration than smaller meplated bullets.
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Old November 20, 1999, 07:55 PM   #7
flatlander
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I'd have to agree with protoolman on the uniformity of oven heat-treated bullets over the water-drop method, unless you have a fool-proof way of assuring the cast bullet drops out of the mould with NO hesitation upon opening the mould. Otherwise, if the castings sit in their cavities for varying lengths of time, there's no way the degree of hardness can be consistent, since the temperature of the metal when it's quenched determines the hardness it will reach. I set my oven using rejected bullets; when the temp is set high enough to begin to make the bullets slump, I back off just a bit and put a batch of good bullets into wire mesh baskets. After an hour in the oven, I quench the basketful in a large tub of water. If done correctly, you'll get hard bullets without smearing hot alloy with the sprue plate while trying to get the bullet dropped out while it's hot enough to benefit from being quenched. Obviously, I'm talking about individual users casting and heat-treating for their own use, not commercial casters using production methods.
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Old November 20, 1999, 11:07 PM   #8
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Randy, I think the word you are looking for here to describe your bullet strength is "Ductility". The lower antimony content alloy that you use and then heat treat results in a strong yet ductile bullet.(Will bend or deform at it's hardness limit but will hold together and not shatter)

You have arrived at an excellent spec for a hunting bullet.

Sorry to hear that LBT went out. Do you know what the circumstances were? Damn, was going to order a mold too.

Your meplat summation is right on. I have hunted from a treestand with a 357 Mag loaded with Double-ended full wadcutters seated out of the case to allow for more powder space with a carefully worked up load. Always got big laughs when I showed other hunter friends what I was using. The laughs quieted though when they got to see the size of the exit hole and internal damage of the deer I six-gunned with those loads at 15-25yds.

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