Author Topic: what type of lead for pistol casting?  (Read 4294 times)

Offline Geoff

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what type of lead for pistol casting?
« on: April 23, 2009, 11:30:47 AM »
Hey guys, I have been casting for BPCR and muzzleloading for quite a while so I have a good supply of pure lead and 1:30.  Would either of these alloys be ok for use in .45ACP, .380 or 9mm?  Or should I just use a harder alloy?  If so, what?

What about gas checked bullets?

Thank you.

Offline cohutt

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Re: what type of lead for pistol casting?
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2009, 05:08:27 PM »
with 45 you can use some pretty soft alloy. 30:1 would probably work fine.

For 9mm you'll probably want to add some wheeel weight alloy or a pinch of linotype.  I use 50/50 wheel wieghts and pure lead for 9mm with very good results. I do water drop them to they run 11-12 bnh or so. 

Don't know 380, probably like 9mm.

A lot of casters are under the (mistaken) impression that harder is better and that harder alloys are the answer to any leading issues.  This really isn't the case; a good fiit to the throat and bore is what matters most. 

I've only recently experimented with gas checks (44 magnum "business" loads).  Not needed for most of the 44 shooting i do though; gas checks are really more prevalent in rifle calibers and the highest pressure pistol calibers.

Offline Texasbound

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Re: what type of lead for pistol casting?
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2009, 09:47:29 PM »
Does anyone out there use lead from the backstops at shooting ranges?  I've been collecting it and melting it down into ingots.  I don't have a hardness tester, so I really don't know what they are at.  Is most lead from bullets going to be the same or is there a big range in hardness?

Offline cohutt

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Re: what type of lead for pistol casting?
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2009, 04:36:17 AM »
Texasbound,

That depends-

Indoor ranges tend to be most if not all jacketed rounds, so what you end up with is very soft lead ie almost pure from the swaged cores of the jacketed rounds.  Also, if you have a high proportion of 22s it will be a little softer.

Outdoor ranges can have a lot of cast bullets mixed in; i have smelted out a couple of berm digs from my range (outdoor) and the amount of hardcast in there brings up the hardness no ticably.  The ingots I cast from the berm run a little softer than wheelweights but a good bit harder than miscellaneous soft pipe and flashing.   

I don't have a hardness tester so i can't give a straight up BNH reading. My relative hardness scaling is based on tapping ingots together and seeing which dents.  Pretty easy if you start with known alloys like clip on ww or linotype.  I also haven't used any of the recovered berm lead yet - part of the looooong term stockpile, but I bet i could use it as is in 45acp and 44 "cowboy" loads, perhaps with a little tin added if needed for a good mold fill out. 

hopefully this helps.

The berm screen:



close up (you can see a little of the variety here- some cast, some jacketed):



floating jackets and pebbles on the smelt:



finished ingots




Offline r1kk1

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Re: what type of lead for pistol casting?
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2010, 04:57:45 PM »
I use wheelweight that is water quenched for a majority of my pistol shooting. This is velocities up to around 1500+ fps for 44 mag.


take care,

r1kk1

Offline copdills

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Re: what type of lead for pistol casting?
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2010, 12:26:30 AM »
I mainly use water quenched wheel weight lead myself but I also use a combination of pure and WW at times 50/50 mix with a little tin works great

Offline jjs72

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Re: what type of lead for pistol casting?
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2010, 12:32:54 AM »
I use wheel weights. They work fine, i cast for 44, 357, and 45. I swage them though.

Offline dicko

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Re: what type of lead for pistol casting?
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2010, 01:13:08 PM »
Does anyone out there use lead from the backstops at shooting ranges?  I've been collecting it and melting it down into ingots.  I don't have a hardness tester, so I really don't know what they are at.  Is most lead from bullets going to be the same or is there a big range in hardness?

Depends whether the bullets are cast or jacketed.   The cores of jacketed bullets are pure or nearly pure lead, which is much too soft and needs the addition of at least 4% antimony preferably 6%.   Cast bullets are another matter.    If 99% of the bullets you scavenge are cast, as they are at my local range, the alloy will probably be hard enough as is.   I say probably because most casters in the US use wheelweights as is.   They seldom contain more than 3% antimony in my experience ( I am a commercial bullet caster ).   That's too soft in my opinion, and needs another 1% to 3% added.   But bearing that caveat in mind, range lead is the best source there is.

When a hundred pounds of range lead has been melted, it will be a uniform alloy.   Forget about hardness testers, they are not reliable, and are in any case completely unnecessary.   You get an hardness you want by adjusting the antimony content.   A lead alloy hardness chart will tell you what the hardness is at any antimony percentage.   Note that antimony, not tin, is the hardening agent.   The industry standard for handgun bullets is 6% antimony, because that has been found hard enough for most handgun bullets.

Offline dicko

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Re: what type of lead for pistol casting?
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2010, 01:47:09 PM »
Hey guys, I have been casting for BPCR and muzzleloading for quite a while so I have a good supply of pure lead and 1:30.  Would either of these alloys be ok for use in .45ACP, .380 or 9mm?  Or should I just use a harder alloy?  If so, what?

What about gas checked bullets?

Thank you.


Absolutely not!!    Pure lead is much too soft for anything but BP, and 1:30 is very little harder.   See my answer to another question about alloy hardness on this page.   The industry standard for handgun bullets is 6% antimony.   You can get away with 4 or 5% for low velocity calibres like 38 Spl and 45 ACP, but it is simpler to stick to a standard 6% which is good for most handgun calibres.   Many casters in the US use wheelweights as is, but they are too soft in my opinion.

Somebody said that hardness is not necessarily the solution to leading, but it is well established that harder bullets lead less than soft ones, all else being equal (velocity, lube, bore smoothness).  It depends who you want to believe, but it is what leading custom mould maker Veral Smith says, and what I have proved to my satisfaction, and I cast more bullets in a year than most will cast in a lifetime.  It is also why the industry standard is 6%.

Gas checks are for velocities over 1600FPS.  There is no need for them below that.   They are therefore intended for rifle bullets.  They are used for some very high velocity handgun ammo, but generally they are for rifle bullets.