Lead Bullet Hardness

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by starman, Jan 21, 2010.

  1. starman

    starman New Member

    Dec 23, 2008
    Just curious, my local source for lead bullets has given me the following information on his cast bullets.
    92% Lead
    6% Antimony
    2% Tin
    Saeco Hardness 8.5 to 9
    Brinell Hardness 16
    He calls these hard cast bullets, I've read the article from Shakey Pete's Shootin Shack concerning cast bullets. His article say's that most commercial suppliers use a 85% lead, 5% tin & 10% antimony and that they're to hard to slug up properly in anything other than maginum loads. I've been loading these in both 38spl, 357mag & 45acp all loaded w/ start load capacity. I use HP38 powder w/ the 38's and 45acp. I've noticed a lot of residue on the front face of my revolver cylinder so I'm guessing either the bullet is a little unsized or the lead is to hard or even its just the nature of HP38. I'm going to measure some of my bullets tonight to see if they'er the recommend diameter of 1 to 3/1000 over the chamber size. But I have no way to check the hardness of the lead at this time. Shakey's article mentions increasing the powder load to help with the slug up of hard cast bullets, I might try that.
    I guess I'm just throwing this out there for opinions from you old timers of hand loaded ammo

    Last edited: Jan 21, 2010
  2. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    A properly sized cast bullet will slip right into the cylinder throat. you want the bullet .001 to .002 larger than bore diameter. I cast with wheelweight alloy, its just about perfect as is for 1000fps or less and will do nicely in magnums if fitted with a gascheck. The trick is to use a good bullet lube. I have pushed WW alloy to 1600 fps in my .44 mag and .480 ruger but both bullet designs wear gaschecks. I lube them twice with ALOX once while they are still warm from the casting procedure and again after i size them. this ensures plenty of lube in the grease grooves to help keep leading to a minimum.

    Hardcast is best left to magnum cartridges with plain base designs. since the bullets are consideably harder than normal, the plain base helps seal the gasses off at the rear where it belongs.

    Severe lead in the barrel throat/forcing cone area= gas cutting, bullet failing to obturate.
    Severe lead in the muzzle end=insufficient amount of lube or wrong kind of lube used.
    Severe lead throughout the bore=No lube at all or Too much velocity, back your loads down...

    Keep in mind, lead will streak throughout the bore just like a jacketed bullet will. This is normal and does not indicate a leading problem...

  3. mikld

    mikld Well-Known Member

    Jun 24, 2009
    Your alloy of 92/6/2 is close to Lyman's #2 alloy (15 BHN), and the 85/5/10 is pretty close to Linotype. I haven't found it necessary to shoot anything harder than Wheel Weight alloy (9 or 10 BHN) in my handguns; .44 & .357. The harder alloys, Lyman #2 and Linotype do require magnum pressures to "slug up" in the bore/seal the gasses. I just size my boolits .002" over bore and use WW alloy. No probs so far with med loads of WC820 under a plain base SWC.
  4. starman

    starman New Member

    Dec 23, 2008
    Thanks guys, I'm not sure which lube my supplier is using, but I will find out. ( update just called him and he says its a commercial lube that's put in at 130 deg's at 60psi) mikld your member icon looks like my S&W 686 fine weapon indeed.

    I will take some diameter meaurements tonight

    Thanks again
  5. AngelDeville

    AngelDeville Member

    Aug 28, 2007
    commercial bullet manufacturers generally use alloys, AND lubes that are too hard.

    The reason... they hold up to being tossed around in a cardboard box for who knows how long before they are used by the consumer.

    WW's are fine for 90% of pistol shooting, and I even cut WW's down a little with pure lead to soften them up a bit.

    If your pistol lube is the consistancy of crayon wax it's way too hard....
  6. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    ditto on the useless hard lube on commercial cast bullets. It only works properly if its unbearable hot outside and you leave the ammo in the sun to get hot before you shoot.

    There are 2 lubes for boolits that are worth using... SPG in its many incarnations, That moly impregnated stuff they made for BP silhouette shooters is fantastic. And my personal favorite is LEE Alox. The beautiful thing about Alox is it doesnt just get put into the grease groove. it coats the entire bullet. You can Alox your commercial cast with good results, and its cheap and one bottle will lube about 2000 bullets.
  7. mikld

    mikld Well-Known Member

    Jun 24, 2009
    Before I started casting my own, I used commercial swaged (way too soft). Hornady I believe, back before the internet and I didn't know about "hard" cast boolits. Anyway, I had to tumble lube them to get them to shoot clean. I've also t/l some cast boolits I bought that the lube was flaking out of. Worked pretty good.
  8. Popgunner

    Popgunner Active Member

    Dec 3, 2005
    Your suplier's BHN of 9 would probably be wheel weights or something similar.
  9. gazzmann

    gazzmann New Member

    May 16, 2009
    So. Fla.
    I've been using cast bullets from Dardas Cast Bullets for two years now. Check out his site.
    Excellent quality and top notch service. No fouling whatsoever.
    Give Matt a call. He will be happy to talk to you.
  10. Terry_P

    Terry_P New Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    How does he ship? I've found USPS flat rate the best for for cast and lead shot, etc. The guy I have used looks like the same price but it includes shipping. I just am not excited about the lube he uses.
  11. dardascastbullets

    dardascastbullets New Member

    Dec 21, 2008
    Essexville, MI
    I must take issue with the claim that 'most commercial suppliers use a 85% lead, 5% tin & 10% antimony' alloy. I am not aware of any commercial cast bullet manufacturers that could afford to use this alloy. Most of the reputable manufacturers use the common bullet alloy of 92-2-6 and variants thereof. This alloy is quite suitable for most applications and produces world class quality cast bullets for us. The use of subjective terms such as 'hard' vs 'soft' is nebulis at best. Using a bonifide Brinell Hardness value to describe an alloy is objective and is the only way that I can describe an alloy's hardness.

    The same holds true for cast bullet lubricants. To declare that a 'hard' lubricant is 'too hard' and will not function properly is baseless. A lubricant's hardness is quantified by its Shore A durometer value. Shore A is a compatible range for waxes and soft plastics. A properly engineered cast bullet lubricant will perform flawlessly under its intended use.

    Most waxes become pliable (and thus will flow) within a temperature range of 95-115 degrees F. The pressure that is required to impart the lubricant perfectly to the bullet is dependent on the lubricant's ingredients, ambient temperature, bullet diameter, depth of the lube grooves, quantity of lube grooves, temperature of the heated base, and temperature of the wax column (if applicable). It is extremely important to apply the lubricant in its plastic state and not in its liquid state to produce a world class quality cast bullet.

    One last item .... the cast bullet needs to fit properly in order to function properly. This requires that the bullet should be at least 0.001" larger than the bore diameter for proper fit (this is true for any firearm whether it be a rifle or a pistol). This is why we offer custom sized diameters for all our bullets - each firearm is unique and requires its own sized diameter.

    I trust that I have cleared up any misconceptions and good luck with your shooting!
  12. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    fair enough. I learned a bit more about Hard lubes today;)
  13. gazzmann

    gazzmann New Member

    May 16, 2009
    So. Fla.
    By the way Matt ships flat rate USPS. Usually 2 days to get from Michigan to Fla.
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