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Old 01-09-2011, 02:35 PM   #1
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Default Cold-swaging lead shot directly into slugs?

I would like to build a die / press setup that would allow me to form lead slugs strait from raw lead shot, so I could go without having to melt any lead. Does anyone know if it is even possible so form several pellets into a single mass (that wouldn't just break apart upon impact), using maybe a 6-ton press and at roughly room temperature?

Thanks.

*edit*

I accidentally put "bullets" in the title when I meant "slugs," as in for shotshells.

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Old 01-09-2011, 08:41 PM   #2
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Bullets? Maybe. Shotguns slugs? THAT may be another matter- since they have this DEEP hollow. needed for weight forward in the projectile, and the be sure it will pass thru a choke. Usually when bullets are swaged, diameter is going down. Here you would be going up, and I don't know that you would get enough compression to seal each pellet to the pellet next door.

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Old 01-10-2011, 12:59 AM   #3
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The slug mold design isn't the concern, only that even with a good amount of pressure the lead would not truely form into a single mass. The process would be the same as any swaging process, except it would involve raw shot rather than a solid ingot or pellet. I am worried it will be like when play-dough is left out too long to where it will not readily blend when pressed together and instead stays as separate pieces that can easily be pulled apart. Kindof like it has a thin dry "crust" over its surface. Does that make sense?


I did try making a small test mold once, which relied on the pressure of a bolt being tightened down to squish the shot together into a cavity. That worked out to maybe 500-700lbs of force, and while the shot did stick together firmly enough to stay in one piece in my hand, it did still look like a miniature bunch of grapes and would break apart when dropped or even if I pulled on it with my fingers. But, if I'd be working with a 6-ton press I'd be looking at about 20x the amount of pressure, and I'd even be willing to invest in a larger press to make it work, because the savings would pay off extremely quickly compared to store-bought slugs.

It would cost me about $.13 per shell to load those slugs, vs $1 per shell for the cheapest (least effective) factory slug loads (while comparably effect ones are more like $1.4 per shell). Thus, it would only take about 235 shells before I broke even, which is really only a handfull of range trips. I could start with store-bought cast bullets and load for about $.20 per shell, which still wouldn't be that bad, but it would obviously take me longer to break even and wouldn't in any way help me get through these big bags of shot I've got lying around from before I took a break from reloading :P .

*edit*

I did find some engineering article on cold-sintering (compressing powered metal into solids at room temp), and it did say that pretty much all metals can be cold-sintered at.... 435,000 PSI :P . For a .41-diameter slug, that would require a bit under 60,000lbs of force, or 30 tons. So, if something like, say, steel (an iron alloy) might require 50,000lbs of force to sinter, lead should be workable with much less force, which means a basic shop press should provide enough force to do it with ease. Now to decide how big of a shop press I need a 6-ton, 12-ton, or 20-ton press.


So, at least know I have good reason to believe it is possible. The biggest problem I've read that I might face is that the presence of Lead Oxide on the surfaces of each pellet might prevent them from adhering together.

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Old 01-10-2011, 01:07 AM   #4
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Crust in the case of shot would be lead oxide, and any coating placed n the shot by the maker. Sort of like making a twist steel shotgun barrel- are you SURE every one of the thousands of joinings TRULY welded to the next?

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Old 01-10-2011, 02:41 AM   #5
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Yeah, that's what Im afraid of. I'd hate to put together a bunch of slugs and have them come apart like glue-together birdshot when it really counts, heh.



I think I might make the mold or have it made, and just go ghetto and take it to harbor freight to test it on one of their display models. I'd start on the 6-ton press, and move up to the 12-ton and then the 20-ton, and check it each time to see how smooth it looks. If it works well enough to look solid, I'd see if I couldn't take it to the range to test against some jugs of water and / or some harder things like 2x4s or something.

But, if nothing else I could still use the same mold for swaging pre-cast bullets into my slugs.

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Old 01-10-2011, 08:31 PM   #6
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You would have to generate enough force to bond the lead at the molecular level. The problem will be with any coating the shot has on it. White crusty Lead Oxide or the black Graphite the makers put on the shot to prevent said oxide. No matter how thin the coating, it will impede the molecular bond.

You could (perhaps) do something like the non toxic ammo makers do with frangible shot and blend some sort of polymer into the mix and add heat. The copper frangible ammo has about 7% polymer (by volume) added as a kind of glue.

My advise would be to cast the slugs (like I do) or buy them already cast to load yourself.

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