Hardness of .38WC

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by zant, Sep 6, 2012.

  1. zant

    zant Well-Known Member

    Sep 24, 2009
    In another thread-Alpo said all factory lead bullets are swaged....A retiring gunsmith gave me 5000-.38 HBWC....Zero brand....I'm going to keep 1k for my .38s but wanted to melt rest for casting-what hardness are they now?How much tin would I have to add(per lb)to make them hard enough to cast for 45/70 at about 1400fps?Can I use as they are for a muzzleloader??Thx
  2. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

    Aug 12, 2011
    Add Linotype to the swaged bullets. 3 lbs bullets and 1 lb. linotype for the 45/70. For the muzzleloader, pure lead is best, but the plain bullet alloy is worth a try. I would guess they have about 2% antimony. A 1 to 1 mix of pure lead & linotype gives a BHN of 15. If only using tin, 10 lead & 1 tin for a BHN of 11.5 Antimony is the cheapest metal to harden, when compared to tin. But all alloy should have 2% tin for high velocity loadings.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2012

  3. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    I think theyd be OK for .45/70 at whatever hardness they are now. especially at that velocity. I find good lube is more important than bullet hardness.
  4. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    For a 45/70, to make the molds fill better, you want between 5 and 10% tin. A 10:1 to a 20:1 mix. If you get a one-pound bar (or spool, but bar solder is cheaper) of 50/50 solder and put it in a ten pound pot, you end up with 9 1/2 pounds of lead and a half pound of tin. 19:1. Oughta work fine.
  5. zant

    zant Well-Known Member

    Sep 24, 2009
    Thank you gentlemen,I can always depend on having dumb questions answered here:)
  6. mikld

    mikld Well-Known Member

    Jun 24, 2009
    Hmmm, I thought Zero bullets were cast. Commercial cast bullets can run any BHN up to 18+ (just what I've seen). Swaged bullets, whether wadcutters or semi-wadcutters are usually soft (8-10 BHN).
  7. mikld

    mikld Well-Known Member

    Jun 24, 2009
  8. noylj

    noylj Active Member

    Jul 27, 2007
    Most current swaged bullets are about #2 Lyman alloy. Years ago they were almost pure lead.
    Get a Lee hardness tester and have some idea of what alloy hardness you are using.
    Almost all casters nowadays seem to be using excessively hard alloys.
    Since leading isn't that hard to deal with, I have always started soft and worked up and found what worked best. 10-12 BHN works well for me in almost all my guns (by the time it is too soft, I am loading with gas checks and the soft bullets are just fine).
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