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Bullet Molding

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Old 06-27-2009, 05:08 AM   #1
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Default Bullet Molding

I am new to bullet molding. I have all of the components to start. I have a lot of pure lead with access to a lot of metal. What metal is best to mix with lead to obtain hard bullets? The book I have only mentions pre mixed metal mixes from lymen etc.(expensive) but I want to know what kinds of metal I can buy to do this. Mostly for 357 Magnum. Any comments welcome. Thanks.
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Old 06-28-2009, 06:38 PM   #2
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I only cast for my BP guns which use pure lead, but cast bullets for high velocity metallic cartridges require tin and/or antimony. I believe wheel weights and linotype are composed of the proper alloy mix. A lead hardness tester would be a useful tool if you plan on casting your own bullets for non-BP rifles. Hardness is measured with a tester which drives a hardened steel rod into a bullet, and read on a vernier scale in arbitrary units running from 0 (Brinell 5) for pure lead, to 10 for linotype (Brinell 22) Wheel weights vary from 7 to 9 (Brinell 10-13) A hardness of atleast 6 is required for medium handgun velocities, over 8 for magnum handguns and gas-checked rifle bullets. Someone else out here can probably supply you with more information on acquiring and mixing tin/antimony with pure lead, as well as bullet sizing and gas checks.
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Old 06-28-2009, 08:15 PM   #3
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Step 1- get your hands on a copy of the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook (borrow, library, or

PURE lead is too soft for just about anything EXCEPT muzzleloaders, which NEED butter soft lead. To harden the lead, tin and antimony are added. Wheelweights by themselves are decent HANDGUN bullets for medium velocity. For harder bullets, a bit of lead/tin solder is frequently added. That is usually the easiest source of tin/antimony for the average person to find.

Dropping freshly cast bulelts into cold water has also been reported to harden the bullet. DO be very careful if attempting this -a drop of water in a pot of molten lead will give you an interesting day.
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Old 06-28-2009, 08:18 PM   #4
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For general purpose mid level loads in .357 Mag, (1100fps) wheel weights work well. Drop them direct from the mold into cool water to toughen them up. For .38 spl, up to 50% virgin lead is OK as long as you shoot light loads (800 fps and below).

For hotter mags choose a mold made for gas checks. Crimp on hte gas checks in the lubrisizer and use pure wheel weights and you can crank them up as fast as a .357 can go (unless you are talking a micro grooved Marlin Lever action rifle, they ned jacketed bullets).

Linotype has more Antimony than wheel weights and some Tin. Linotype and a gas check are necessary for high velocity rifle bullets. I shoot gas checked linotype 57gr round nose bullets through a .223 at 2300 fps w/o leading.

Tin is present primarily to improve the flow characterisitcs of the lead. No Tin and the bullets will not fill out the mold well. Tin does increase the hardness some.

Antimony is the primary hardening alloy. 1% antimony will increase the hardness as much or more than 2% Tin.

You can also get 50/50 bar solder (50% tin) to up the tin content.
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