Lead Hardness

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by steve4102, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. steve4102

    steve4102 Former Guest

    Jan 27, 2006
    I'm processing wheel weights and lead pipe into ingots. I am going to mold 45 ACP and 10MM Auto bullets. Do I need a Lead Hardness tester to get the alloys just right?
  2. jack404

    jack404 Former Guest

    Jan 11, 2010
    lead just right ?

    dont ask how to get it just right

    there'll be 4000 answers and most very different

    pure lead is a bit soft , zinc is safe to use as a hardener 12 parts leads 1 of zinc but you have to get the temp up and that risks lead oxide fumes so only outdoors and with a particulates mask eh

    antimony is better but expencive thats what they use in printing plates along with tin

    14 lead -20 lead pats per 1 part antimony

    tin can be added too but again you'll need to get the temp high

    12- 19 parts lead to 1 of tin

    your choice on the mixes

    everyones different

    mine is 37 parts lead 1 of tin and 2 of antimony

    fluxed well and away we go
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2012

  3. myfriendis410

    myfriendis410 Member

    Mar 30, 2011
    Lompoc California
    Wheel weights are (if I remember correctly) about 80% lead and 20 antimony with a small amount of arsenic as a grain refiner. I use pure WW for my cast rifle bullets in the Sharps and scavenged range lead in the pistol. If I want something in between I mix the two 50/50. I also add a small amount of tin to the melt to aid in "wetting" to the mold.

    WW after casting respond well to heat treating and they will harden significantly over time. This is because of the arsenic in the alloy along with the antimony. A mix will harden too, just not to the same level of hardness. If you cast WW it would be a good idea to let them rest for a month, or heat treat them at 450 F for one hour prior to lubing/sizing.

    I've never owned a hardness tester, but it's a tool that has it's place if you are looking for something specific. Casting for pistol won't be as taxing as finding an alloy for a rifle that works well.

    There is a wealth of material out there and I recommend you spend some time perusing the lasc website. It will answer all of your questions. It's a great resource.
  4. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    WW drops at about 12-13 BHN, quenching into ice water right out of the mold will get you 15ish which is sufficiently hard for most handguns save for the mega magnums that produce over 1400 fps.
  5. mikld

    mikld Well-Known Member

    Jun 24, 2009
    You don't need a lead hardness tester for lead bullets shot in a 45 ACP. If you made an alloy of 1/2 WW and 1/2 lead pipe, you'd have "soft" alloy, but not too soft for most handgun bullets. Prolly run about 9-10 BHN. Remember, harder ain't necessarily better. More important is bullet size. For your 45, .451" to .453" will be ok and if you slug the barrel run bullets about .002" over groove diameter. No experience with 10mm, but I've used straight wheel weight alloy with hefty .44 Magnum loads w/o any leading.....
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