View Full Version : Water quenching

deputy fife
September 28, 2010, 07:52 PM
Sorry, I am very new at this stuff. I am looking at getting into casting, and online I read mixed theories to whether or not quenching works. I realize that having water close to molten metal might not be the best idea, but does it work? I just finished a lab, and we tested the strength of the same type of steel that went through different forming techniques. The quenched ss was by far the strongest, but also the most brittle. Does lead react the same to quenching, or does it behave differently? I figure you all are the wisest on this subject. If you have any hardness measurements for different alloys quenched and unquenched, i would appreciate it.

September 28, 2010, 07:56 PM
yes it will make the casts harder..and..I have noticed it will make them slightly larger diameter...I have done it for 44mag and 500 mag...but I dont do it any longer for I havent noticed a leading decrease with them hardened. Tho I dont usually shoot at maximum loads.

September 28, 2010, 08:34 PM
Welcome to the affliction, deputy fife. I don't have an answer, I mainly hang out here to learn from the smart folks here. My limited experience is that my boolits work amazingly well without quenching or any other hardening techniques. My guess is it works in certain situations.
Thanks for starting the thread, should be interesting.

chris in va
September 28, 2010, 09:00 PM
Lead hardening comes from the arsenic/antimony content in wheelweights. It's my understanding that pure lead will not harden from quenching.

I *must* quench my boolits for the 9mm, otherwise my groups look more like buckshot at 50 yards.:cool:

The 45ACP gets air cooled on a towel.

September 28, 2010, 09:11 PM
You'll want your sizing die pretty close to the cast diameter or pan lube them. I can't remember how deep the hardened metal is but I bet one of these guys does.

September 29, 2010, 10:21 PM
If I`m gonna push em I`ll WD em but for up to 1200 fps or so GOOD FIT & a GOOD lube will suffice .

September 30, 2010, 12:08 AM
I water-drop all my rifle bullets--seems to make a huge difference in those just because of higher pressures involved. With the handguns, not such a big deal. I WD the .40s&w, but that hasn't given me any leading problems either way. It just seems to group a little better quenched than air-cooled, and they're target loads, so expansion isn't a factor. It all comes down to several things--what alloy you're using, how hard you intend to push it through, what you're trying to achieve with it, and what you're pushing it through. Those are all big factors in how to treat your bullets.

September 30, 2010, 08:14 PM
So....if I'm shooting .45-90 over BP and 45 Colt loads at BP velocities with good fit, accuracy and no leading I can forego the water quenching-for now?
Sorry about the hijack, deputy fife. What are you planning to cast for?

September 30, 2010, 11:54 PM
So....if I'm shooting .45-90 over BP and 45 Colt loads at BP velocities with good fit, accuracy and no leading I can forego the water quenching-for now?

As the saying goes---If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If you're getting good performance without quenching, I'd have to say you're already on the right track. That doesn't mean don't experiment, but it's probably not something to bump to the top of the do-list.

October 1, 2010, 10:43 AM
Slightly off topic, but quenching boolits isn't the same as quenching ingots.

The hot lead is expanded and a quench closes the 'pores'. Later, when you dump single ingots into a pot of molten lead, the lead will briefly 'boil'.

Should you dump lots of ingots into the pot of molten lead, depending of the liquid level, the pot can easily 'boil over'...fast.

It only hurts for a little while though.:o


10 Spot Terminator
October 2, 2010, 06:36 AM
Deputy Fife,,,

Quenching will indeed harden cast bullets with higher amounts of antimony and tin such as wheel weights. As stated by many here it does not replace proper bullet sizing to reduce leading of your barrel due to "gas cutting". The principal reason to quench harden bullets is mainly aimed at rifle bullets where you are attempting to achive higher than average velocities with cast bullets for target shooting . Yes the boolits get more brittle when quenched and to what degree depends on how hard the alloy being cast is to start with. This being said if the alloys are too hard then the bullets become so brittle as to make them worthless for hunting purposes as they wont hold together for good penetration and exspansion. As for dropping your casts into water as you cast there is a better way that is safer and makes for more uniform hardening of the casts. Go to a thrift store and find a used toaster oven that is rated for 475 degrees or better and buy it. Place a couple hundred boolits at a time in a pan and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put the boolits in the oven for one hour, remove them and drop pan and all into a tub of very cold ice water and leave them there for a good 15 minutes. This should be done before the boolits are sized and definitly before gas checked as the heat will expand the boolits .001 or .002 and pop the checks off then shrink again as cooled. This takes wheel weight boolits from appx 12 BHN rating to near 22 BHN rating and in many applications can get you up to an additional 25 percent of potential increase in velocity for a given firearm without any leading of the barrel issues. If this is your goal pick moulds that use gas checks only to insure best results . Welcome to the addiction of casting and by the way,,, Do your friends make you carry your one and only bullet in your pocket Deputy ??? LOL 10 Spot

deputy fife
October 4, 2010, 06:39 PM
Thanks for your expertise. I plan on casting for .45-70, but will not be shooting max loads unless my gun demands it. And no 10 spot, I don't carry a bullet in my pocket, my friends don't have that much trust in me ;)

Appreciate it,
Deputy Fife

October 4, 2010, 10:31 PM
Take a hard look at the Lyman 457193 and 457125 moulds, Deputy. My 45-70 Guide Gun likes the 457193 cast with a hard (20-1) alloy, a 45-90 Sharps replica seems to like both boolits cast w/ wheel weights over black powder.
And 10 Spot, it's nobody's business where the nice deputy wishes to carry his bullet. ;):D
Thanks for helping make him feel welcome, 10 Spot. We need another newbie around here. :D

October 5, 2010, 08:22 AM
I agree with 10 Spot on the oven heating. When I want a harder bullet this is what I do cause I like the uniformaty of the bullets. I feel it makes a better batch of bullets then water dropping.

BUT I like to size mine first, then I put them in a 475 degree oven for an hour. Since they are already sized, I dont have to worry about running them thru the sizer right away again. This is just my preference.