Author Topic: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?  (Read 10815 times)

Offline CountryRootsCityJob

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Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« on: November 02, 2009, 10:09:54 AM »
Well I'm not there yet, but I hope to some day... and when I do, this is where I'm going to come look first.

Now I know there are other web sites and forums that might already have the information, but I'm tired of joining 500 different web site and blogs... SO!

I've seen that a lot of you cast your own bullets.  All that equipment can be discussed another place.  What I want to know is where do you get lead?  I went to a tire dealer and asked what they do with leftover wheel weights- they re-use them... bummer.  Is that normal?  So if not there, am I supposed to walk down the road and randomly find wheel weights?  Can't say that I've ever seen any so far, and I'd rather not pick up hitch-hiking to find wheel weights to replace my hobby of shooting!

Okay, so lets say I found some lead... how do ya know what the alloy is?  My reloading book tells me all sorts of stuff about which alloy to use for what and such... Muzzle loaders are great with pure lead, but a 30-06 should probably have a harder alloy with a gas check- sorry, talk about those somewhere else :)  A handgun uses lead that is somewhere in between, right?  How do you know what the alloy is...

I know one answer is to go out and buy a hardness testing machine... like the Rockwell or Brinell (more commonly used for ammunition)... but aside from plopping down more money, what do you guys do?

Thanks!
~CRCJ

Offline idelphic

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2009, 12:05:01 PM »
The easiest to deal with is wheel weights.  Just so happens that I converted a few pounds (about 63) of wheel weights to ingots this weekend.

While it was a one time thing, I got 50# off ebay with 10.35 shipping.  You just have to scout around to different service stations and try to work up a relationship to get them. 

Forget Wal-Mart,..  They have a policy against it.  You can also try salvage yards.  MIDWAY USA does carry a full line of reloading supplies,.. powder, brass, casting material and molds, to pre-cast bullets. 

Offline cohutt

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2009, 09:19:21 PM »
become obsessed with finding it and just keep asking, you can find it.
-
Found a new friend in the radiation shielding business and one in the scrap business.  never had the patience for the tire stores.
Have manually reclaimed lead from the berm (2 times- I am a slow learner, that's enough for one lifetime).

btw if a tire store told me they were reusing their wheel weights i would not buy tires there.

sample of what you can find if you are persistent:








Offline CountryRootsCityJob

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2009, 12:25:50 PM »
Okay, so how about the lead alloy / BHN (Brinell Harness Number) ? 
Example questions:

How would one go about creating/finding Monotype lead (BHN of 28- hardest)?
Do you have to buy the Lyman No.2 alloy, or is there a way to make it?  I assume you could buy it from Midway USA or something... but that sorta defeats the point in a way...

Also, digging bullets out of the backstop... anybody know what type of lead is used in jacketed bullets?  (I might get desperate sometime and need to resort to that!) "Second place gets to dig the bullets from the tree!" -Sergeant York  :D

I guess, are there recipe's for bullet alloy casting?  When I look at my book, there are percentages for Lead, Tin, and Antimony... where do you go to get Tin and Antimony?  Can you go down to the grocery store and buy it as some home goods product and toss it into the melting pot?  (I've known that to work in other applications- blacksmithing is on example) 

Hmm...
Quote
Posted by: cohutt
Found a new friend in the radiation shielding business and one in the scrap business.

Can't help but wonder about that one :)  Although I suppose the lead simply reflects that stuff and doesn't absorb it... couldn't help but think about what could possibly be released as the lead changed phases (solid to liquid and back) - but I suppose if there is any danger, you'd die a natural death long before that was enough to get ya...

Offline idelphic

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2009, 01:55:32 PM »
Don't make it harder then needed...

Unless you are planning to load HOT loads, the hardness of wheel weights should be fine.   FIL has been loading on the low side for pistol and some rifle rounds, and has yet to lead a single barrel... 

Now if you go HOT,.. then you can use gas checks on the rifle rounds, or  alter the hardness level.. but most of the time you shouldn't need to.. 

But I'm still new to this.. so YMMV.

Offline Uncle Bob (he ain’t right)

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2009, 03:39:13 PM »
You could post a add on Craigs list. (I buy clean lead for XX a pound).
 A friend of mine is closing the family printing business. I have bought some of the type print at .50 a pound. That's the going scrap price so I am really getting a pretty good deal. It seems to be much harder than anything I've used before. I will probably add some wheel weights or pure lead to it to acheeve a little softer alloy.  I am using a spring loaded punch to check the hardness. I compare the size of the dimple with a dimple it makes on known material.

Offline cohutt

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2009, 04:00:30 PM »
I don't worry about radiation, the scrap is the virgin stuff in the bottom picture- not demolition. I doubt I'd worry about it if I had some demolition scrap anyway.


Go to this page, THE reference for alloys and all things cast :http://www.lasc.us/CastBulletNotes.htm

ideplhic is correct. 
the biggest myth on casting is that harder=less leading.  dead opposite a lot of times, all depends on the fit and application.
I shoot soft stuff - under 12 bnh  99% of the time, only 50/50 pure and ww and have zero leading issues.

Offline RipTombstone

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2009, 10:05:38 PM »
One easy way to get a comparison of the hardness of your lead, is to use a set of good sketching pencils.
Get a piece of lead of KNOWN hardness, and try to scratch a line on it with each pencil until you can leave a scratch. Once you can scratch it with the pencil, you can go over the other ingots in your pile, and can sort them by relative hardness, compared to the known ingot.

Its much like a glass scratch test for testing minerals and rocks.

I got my lead from a fellow that makes his money from hauling stuff to the scrap yard. I would take him a few things, and he would trade me in lead. I brought home a full wheelbarrow, plus a small trash can clear full of wheelwieghts for the price of a few junk aluminum wheels.
Since the high prices on metals last year, the local shops are not reusing them, but have to trade them in when they get new ones. Thats what they say anyway. My wheel weight stash is getting low at this time.

A good spot for Linotype is an old printing business. Its very hard and almost brittle. I mix in soft lead to make it work for me.

Soft lead can be had from plumbers or even talk to your city water department (which is where I work). A lot of old water services were made from lead pipe, and some cities remove it from the ground if they find it. A nearby city told me they have a few pallets full of pipe sitting around yet. This is great lead for muzzleloaders, but also works for other apps too. Mix it with Lino, or with WW, and you can have a nice alloy.
RipT

Offline dicko

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2010, 02:58:21 PM »
the biggest myth on casting is that harder=less leading.  dead opposite a lot of times, all depends on the fit and application.
I shoot soft stuff - under 12 bnh  99% of the time, only 50/50 pure and ww and have zero leading issues.

It is not a myth.   If you think softer is better, by all means try pure lead at max MV in a six inch 357.   The rule, well proven, is that the harder the alloy the less leading.   That's why the cast bullet industry standard is 6% antimony.   Plain base rifle bullets are good for 1600FPS with at least 8% antimony, preferably a bit more.   If you doubt that, try pure lead.   As a commercial caster I have tested just about everything in every way possible, and the results leave no room for argument.    I'm in good company - check out Veral Smith and his book "Jacketed Bullet Performance with Cast Bullets."

As for fit, it should go without saying that the bullet must fit the gun.   If it doesn't, there can be all sorts of problems, whether leading or other things.   That is a separate issue from alloy hardness.     

Offline mxitman

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2010, 03:41:47 PM »
I've gotten some stuff from rotometals... http://www.rotometals.com/default.asp

Offline dicko

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2010, 03:56:12 PM »
Where do you get bullet alloy ?   Simple - you make it.   You buy suitable equipment and some lead and antimony.  Note that I didn't mention tin - I'll explain that later.   Let's skip the equipment for now and focus on the alloy, as that was your question.   Bullet alloy is a mix of lead, tin and antimony.   But you can kip the tin.   Tin does not harden lead much, the antimony does that.   Tin is for castability and adds some hardnes but not much.   Antimony is the hardening agent and adds some castability.  I found that the antimony adds enough castability that the tin can be dispensed with.    How hard ?   The commercial cast bullet industry standard is 6% antimony because that has been proved to be hard enough for all handguns except very high velocities from long barrels.   In the US it is common to use wheelweights as is.   If they work for you, OK, but understand that historically they contained 4% antimony.   Now it is seldom more than 3%, often less.   4% Is (just) enough for 45ACP velocity but 2 or 3% is not.   That's why the industry standard is 6%.

Wheelweights are a good basic material if you can get them.  If not, your local scrap yard.  There, you will find that lead comes in all sorts of forms, like old pipe and roof sheet.   Occasionally you will find linotype, but not often enough to factor it into your regular plans.   Generally, scrap will contain an average of 1% antimony.    If you add 5 or 6% antimony by weight you won't go far wrong.   Melt large batches in a turkey fryer and cast into ingots for feeding your bullet casting pot.    Once you have learned to blend alloy you can blend any alloy you like, eg the monotype you mentioned.   It is just a matter of adding the percentage of antimony.   Antimony is purchased from specialist lead foundries or from The Antimony Man, you won't get it from any hardware store or supermarket.    

Forget about hardness testers, there are a waste of money and you don't need them.   Hardness is directly related to antimony percentage, so all you have to do to get any hardness you want, is to get the antimony percentage right.   The Brinell hardness of antimonial alloy can be found in any metals handbook.  But you don't need to bother.   Just use particular antimony percentages for particular bullets.

Bullet casting is a simple operation that can be done by anyone.   But it helps to understand the technology.   Unfortunately there is more BS written about bullet casting than anything in shooting.  You won't find much useful in Lyman's Cast Bullet Handbook or pretty much any publication.  They all focus on bullet performance and load data, very little about the all important matter of casting, and a good bit of false info.  I have trawled through most of that LASC Cast Bullet site and don't think much of it either.   It looks impressive at 500 pages, but when you get into it, much of it is superficial and doesn't get down to the real nitty gritty.  

Offline Greywolf27

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2010, 04:10:54 PM »
Great info dicko!!!

My friend father has a healthy stack of wheel weights and ingots he has molded that I have access to.  Your last post actually answered half of my question... which is... what % do you recommend for 30-30 Win and what are your thoughts regarding gas checks.

Offline cohutt

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2010, 07:34:10 PM »

It is not a myth.   If you think softer is better, by all means try pure lead at max MV in a six inch 357.  

Dicko  

Who the said I shoot pure lead at max 357 velocities?  


I agree that a new caster can over complicate things but a blanket "harder is always better" statement is a bunch of crap.  As a commercial caster you aren't trying to find the best alloy for a particular application or gun, you are using the alloy that meets your minimum hardness standard to sell for general loading and shooting.

Lasc isn't there for commercial casters, it is for individuals looking to learn the craft for their own use.  

Hmm.. I guess educated individual bullet casters don't buy commercially cast bullets do they?


But I agree that there is a lot of stuff on lasc that likewise I don't find useful; still the basic alloy articles are worthy of consideration by any new bullet caster.  

Attention new casters:


Don't trust dicko's statements that harder alloys are always better.

Don't trust my statements that softer alloys can be much better in a lot of applications.

Read up on it yourself.  
Cast some out of whatever alloy you think is right or whatever alloy you have available.  
Experiment a little in your guns.
Use what works for you.

http://www.lasc.us/CastBulletAlloy.htm

http://www.lasc.us/FryxellCBAlloyObturation.htm

http://www.lasc.us/FryxellCommentsCBAlloys.htm
« Last Edit: September 23, 2010, 07:43:56 PM by cohutt »

Offline CountryRootsCityJob

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2010, 06:07:15 AM »
Hmm... the main intent of this thread was to talk about WHERE TO GET LEAD.  Because if I can't find any lead, I don't need to worry about the alloy...

So far I have tried Craigs list and asked around at a few tire shops...  any other suggestions?  (*I'm trying to avoid spending mass quantities of $)

Thanks,
CRCJ

Offline Roswell

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2010, 09:09:12 AM »
Have you tried junkyards? or freecycle?

Offline cohutt

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #15 on: September 24, 2010, 04:07:57 PM »
Sorry, we shouldn't have side tracked as much.

I've gotten lead or people I know personally have gotten lead from:


Stained glass companies
xray/radiation shielding companies- they have scrap that can actually cost money to send back to their sheet lead supplier.  if lead is high, not so. if it's down closer to a buck and you are looking at more than a few miles transport they may just give it to you.  This has worked for me.  
contractors who do hospital work  (demolition always finds lead shielding to be disposed of.)
commercial roofers- the remove a lot of lead flashing; to a lesser degree residential roofers will come across it
plumbers- any house with cast iron sewer pipes will have lead seals that go a couple lbs @ each joint.
tire stores for wheel weights
if you live in larger city poke around the bus maintenance shop, they do their own tire work and the WWs on a bus are huge
The nuclear medicine clinics/departments of hospitals have their radioactive materials delivered in small lead shielded casks that (last time I heard) are 1 use containers.
scrap yards- i've had great luck with my local one, but it is owned by a buddy of mine and he doesn't want to mess with lead so his check in / scale guy has pulled it aside for me. I've picked up everything from ww to plumbing ingots to monotype to flashing of all sorts.

Offline bartsdad

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2010, 12:37:42 AM »
Sorry, we shouldn't have side tracked as much.

I've gotten lead or people I know personally have gotten lead from:


Stained glass companies
xray/radiation shielding companies- they have scrap that can actually cost money to send back to their sheet lead supplier.  if lead is high, not so. if it's down closer to a buck and you are looking at more than a few miles transport they may just give it to you.  This has worked for me.  
contractors who do hospital work  (demolition always finds lead shielding to be disposed of.)
commercial roofers- the remove a lot of lead flashing; to a lesser degree residential roofers will come across it
plumbers- any house with cast iron sewer pipes will have lead seals that go a couple lbs @ each joint.
tire stores for wheel weights
if you live in larger city poke around the bus maintenance shop, they do their own tire work and the WWs on a bus are huge
The nuclear medicine clinics/departments of hospitals have their radioactive materials delivered in small lead shielded casks that (last time I heard) are 1 use containers.
scrap yards- i've had great luck with my local one, but it is owned by a buddy of mine and he doesn't want to mess with lead so his check in / scale guy has pulled it aside for me. I've picked up everything from ww to plumbing ingots to monotype to flashing of all sorts.

Thanks cohutt. We all can learn something from this: If you ask for help moving,have an excuse to get out of helping. ;D

Offline CountryRootsCityJob

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #17 on: September 29, 2010, 10:19:53 AM »
I've gotten lead or people I know personally have gotten lead from:

Stained glass companies
xray/radiation shielding companies- they have scrap that can actually cost money to send back to their sheet lead supplier.  if lead is high, not so. if it's down closer to a buck and you are looking at more than a few miles transport they may just give it to you.  This has worked for me.  
contractors who do hospital work  (demolition always finds lead shielding to be disposed of.)
commercial roofers- the remove a lot of lead flashing; to a lesser degree residential roofers will come across it
plumbers- any house with cast iron sewer pipes will have lead seals that go a couple lbs @ each joint.
tire stores for wheel weights
if you live in larger city poke around the bus maintenance shop, they do their own tire work and the WWs on a bus are huge
The nuclear medicine clinics/departments of hospitals have their radioactive materials delivered in small lead shielded casks that (last time I heard) are 1 use containers.
scrap yards- i've had great luck with my local one, but it is owned by a buddy of mine and he doesn't want to mess with lead so his check in / scale guy has pulled it aside for me. I've picked up everything from ww to plumbing ingots to monotype to flashing of all sorts.

Wow... that's a lot of info I never thought of! 

Offline RipTombstone

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2010, 11:45:24 AM »
Again, check with your city water department. We remove lots of lead pipe when there are leaks in it. It comes out, and comes home. We dont remove whole lines, but I have brought home 10-12 ft of it at a time. Most of the time its a 12" chunk or so, but every little bit helps.
If they ask, tell them you are making fishing wieghts. Get a sinker mold, and trade some sinkers for lead.
RipT

Offline r1kk1

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #19 on: October 07, 2010, 10:56:56 AM »

http://www.lasc.us/CastBulletAlloy.htm

http://www.lasc.us/FryxellCBAlloyObturation.htm

http://www.lasc.us/FryxellCommentsCBAlloys.htm


I find myself quoting that website also. Elmer Keith liked 1:16 for his casting duties.

I don't like the expense, the limited selection of calibers and loads available within calibers, so I reload.
I have some obsolete stuff I load for, special sizing requirements, so I cast.
I have a subcaliber that there is one bullet maker for it, also other obsolete bullet diameters so I swage.
I make my own bullet lubes for intended purpose of the cartridge.

take care,

r1kk1

Offline dicko

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #20 on: November 04, 2010, 12:46:09 PM »
Great info dicko!!!

My friend father has a healthy stack of wheel weights and ingots he has molded that I have access to.  Your last post actually answered half of my question... which is... what % do you recommend for 30-30 Win and what are your thoughts regarding gas checks.

Apology for my absence, just picked up on this.   30-30 is no different from other rifles.   Just make it hard enough.   The rule of thumb has always been that plain base bullets are good for 1600FPS before leading becomes a problem.  I have pushed slightly faster in 308 Win, but my experience confirms 1600 max.   8% Antimony will work fine, but try 6% and go with it if it doesn't lead.    At 1600FPS you can use Unique - low powder quantity and low pressure.

With gas checks you can duplicate factory velocities in moderate calibres.  2400 max is the rule of thumb.   Again, I have had more, but confirm that 2400 is easily achieved in calibres that are good for that.   The modest velcity calibres like 30-30 are good candidates for cast loads.   Use crimp on gas checks, avoid the Lyman push on only gas checks, they fall off.   Lyman says it doesn't matter.   I reckon it does.

Offline dicko

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #21 on: November 04, 2010, 01:18:36 PM »
Hi, Cohutt

I didn't say you shoot pure lead at max in a 357, I said you should try it if you think soft alloys are so good.  You are right that the really keen guys don't buy my bullets, they cast their own.   I encourage that, otherwise I wouldn't be giving advice, so what's your point ?   You are also right that commercial casters must cast hard enough to satisfy the general market, and that the guy looking for best results should cast his own.  But the important point is "hard enough" not "soft enough."   If I cast softer than the recognised industry standard, I'll lose my customers when their barrels lead up badly.  It has been well proved by long experience, that's why there is an industry standard.  What you didn't mention, is that most commercial casters don't just cast millions of bullets of a single alloy, they explore and test everything, because their knowledge has to be ahead of the game, its their business.   What I say is based on years of testing, and millions of bullets for a bunch of demanding customers, not on guesswork or untested opinion.   But its no skin off my nose whether forum members believe you or me, its their decision.




Offline cohutt

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #22 on: November 04, 2010, 05:34:43 PM »
Fair enough. 

I have an abundance of pure and softer alloys so I worked my alloys up from the low side of the scale, until as you stated, they are hard enough for the application. 

I know a couple of commercial casters here in the US and this is consistent with what they have told me. 

Come see us more often; you are obviously a knowledgeable "gun guy" who can add a lot to the forum.


Offline 4bull

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #23 on: November 05, 2010, 12:11:31 AM »
i get mine from the trash man , the pool guy, and plummers. wheel weights ,all over i buy them from a guy who walks all over .
he like the money for his time. the junk yard gives .29 lbs but sell at .89 lbs .
roofers for the realy soft stuff , tire shop get 100. a 5 gallon bucket full.

afSTER AWHILE YOU WILL BE ABLE TO TELL THE HARDNESS WITH YOUR FINGER NAIL. 
check your rounds , we can harden our bullits by droping them in water while still hot. i put sponges in the bucket to stop the splashing.
this is supost to add carbin to the lead,and make them harder.

Offline dicko

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Re: Lead- Alloys and Where to get it?
« Reply #24 on: November 05, 2010, 12:30:47 PM »

afSTER AWHILE YOU WILL BE ABLE TO TELL THE HARDNESS WITH YOUR FINGER NAIL. 
check your rounds , we can harden our bullits by droping them in water while still hot. i put sponges in the bucket to stop the splashing.
this is supost to add carbin to the lead,and make them harder.
[/quote]

No, you can't.   The guy has yet to be born who can measure hardness with finger nail.   What the finger nail CAN tell you is if you can mark the bullet it is too soft, period, but it sure can't tell you how hard it is.    Why struggle with such crude and inaccurate methods when all you need do is get the antimony percentage right ?   

Hardening by water quenching is indeed a proven technique, and it is possible to get as hard as 35 Brinell (4/12 linotype is 22).  But it is not s simple as just dumping in water.   For success it requires an arsenic percentage within close limits, around 0.25% I think, but I'm a bit vague about it because I haven't done it for years.   Too little arsenic doesn't work, and too much embrittles the alloy.   In extreme cases bullets have been known to fragment on firing.   To complicate matters, tin retards the effect.    It worked well with wheelweights because they had the right arsenic content and very little tin.   Don't know if it still works as well, because wheelweight alloy is not as consistent as it once was.

Quenching works because the alloy is quickly cooled from hot.   It amounts to heat treatment.  But the most effective method is to heat the bullets in an oven, then quench them.   It is more consistent than just quenching from the mould, and temp control is better.

You won't have much success if the arsenic content is not right, and you have no way of knowing that.   A good method of adding arsenic to the alloy is to add lead shot, certain types of which have an exact percentage of arsenic.  But then you have to be confident that your alloy has none to start with.   Bottom line - it is too iffy for regular use.   That's why I have limited experience with it - it is too iffy and too time consuming for commercial casting.

But this is not intended to discourage anyone from trying.  This kind of experiment is what makes casting and reloading interesting.   Just be aware of what is needed, then, if it doesn't work you'll know why.