Jump to content
SASS Wire Forum

Recommended Posts

3 factors impact leading... speed, fit and softness.  soft lead shot fast will lead, poor fitting bullets will lead... I go the opposite direction to reduce leading, I want a HARDER bullet.  

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Lead hardness needs to be related to pressure/velocity of loads.  The higher the pressure, the harder lead should be.  For cowboy shooting type loads softer bullets as specified by OLG are the way to go.  Bullets that are too hard don't obturate (fill the bore) well and tend to lead the forcing cone area.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I once had access to a huge supply of lead. Typically, BHN was 25+. Hard, but considerably softer than copper. I've shot tens of thousands of them with no ill effect.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Soft bullets (Brinell 8 or 9) are PLENTY hard enough for our loads.  If you are leading at cowboy game velocities, you are shooting a bullet that is too small and/or lubed (or coated) badly.     Of course, when we shoot a game where accuracy largely does not matter, you can shoot almost any hardness of cast bullets and still be on the steel.  How hard is that?   Still soft enough to scratch a groove with the edge of a fingernail if you press hard.

 

Now, since commercial casters have to make slugs that will work (no leading) at magnum velocities and pressures - about all they want to cast is Brinell 16 alloy "6-2".  Bullet diameter matching to groove diameter (plus one thousandth of an inch) is about all that you have left with what is available from commercial casters.

 

good luck, GJ

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Lankyframe #44046 said:

Seen this on the wire awhile back but now can't find it. It was a discussion about shooting soft cast bullets to reduce leading. Was wondering what hardness gives the best results.

Lanky Frame

https://www.pennbullets.com/ReloadingTips/ReloadingTips.htm

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I cast my own.  Follow the directions in the Lyman and Lee books.

Cap&ball bullets are pure lead.

All handgun bullets are 3-5% tin for medium hardness.

Rifle bullets (.300 Blackout loaded to 1400-1600 fps) are 10-12% tin.

No problems with leading or accuracy.

Others know much more than my simple method but it works for me.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Speaking of lead hardness, has anyone improvised a method to measure the hardness without expensive equipment?   

 

For all these years I just relied on knowing the source material - wheel weights,  linotype, pipe, etc.  When in ingots or some other form, by making an experienced guess. I've clack the edges of two ingots to see if one dents and the other doesn't.  Ring sound and oxidation color. Scratch. 

 

Lately I've used a spring loaded center punch to poke a known metal and the one I question.  

 

735242276_OddBulletsintoballsJan2021.jpg.39006af72a2827a2cf3b27722661f4b3.jpg

 

Here is a video where a guy uses a bathroom scale and drill press to press a calibrated dint in the lead.  It may not give values on the Brinell scale but should give a relative comparison value.

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I buy some commercial bullets from Missouri Bullets and Bang and Clang that are BH12.  I also bought some soft cast bullets from Desperado.  There was no leading problem with any of these softer bullets.  Now that I am casting I am using softer alloys.  I did have a problem with my .44 mag Marlin used for WB leading.  Using coated bullets eliminated that leading.  That's another variable you can try if experiencing leading.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Warden, I use a Lee hardness tester, think I paid $50.00 for it used at a gun show, its a little hard to use at first but with a little practice I found it to be accurate. SCJ

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, yes, yes.. testers can be bought but they are expensive - even the a Lee.  (And mostly out of stock.)  I just thought someone had developed a test method without buying store bought tools.

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Warden Callaway said:

Testers can be bought but they are expensive - even the a Lee.  (And mostly out of stock.)  I just thought someone had developed a test method without buying store bought tools.

 

Several folks have developed something very cheap.   Search Cast Boolits "lead alloys" forum for testing with drawing pencil sets.   A $20 set from Hobby Lobby or Michaels or other art supply store will test bullets for you for next 20 years.  The set come with different hardness marks.   The Cast Boolits forum gives you a conversion from art-pencil hardness to Brinell hardness.  It's just about as accurate as my Cabine Tree hardness tester.

 

good luck, GJ

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, Garrison Joe, SASS #60708 said:

 

Several folks have developed something very cheap.   Search Cast Boolits "lead alloys" forum for testing with drawing pencil sets.   A $20 set from Hobby Lobby or Michaels or other art supply store will test bullets for you for next 20 years.  The set come with different hardness marks.   The Cast Boolits forum gives you a conversion from art-pencil hardness to Brinell hardness.  It's just about as accurate as my Cabine Tree hardness tester.

 

good luck, GJ

 

 

Do you have a link?  I'm not coming up with anything like that on the Hobby Lobby site. 

 

A Google search comes up with stuff as expensive as the Lee test up into the hundreds. 

 

Not having good luck..

Link to post
Share on other sites

If I can dent it with my thumbnail it can go into balls for a percussion revolver. No dent?  It goes into cartridges.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, J-BAR #18287 said:

If I can dent it with my thumbnail it can go into balls for a percussion revolver. No dent?  It goes into cartridges.

 

That's about the technical level I'm at!  

 

I did find this video that has both the pensil test and Lee test.  I'm looking at the Staedtler set. $15 range.

 

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been doing the pencil lead test with the staedtler pencil set.  Takes a bit of getting used to and developing a consistent method-but is pretty accurate to get within @ 2 bhn range after some practice.  Practice using a know hardness bit of lead.

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Been doing a lot of reading and so far this is what I have found.

 

For the pencil test to be accurate the lead needs to be square. Thar is don't use a point but remove enough wood to expose the lead and then using a piece of fine sandpaper square off the lead. The hold the pencil at a 45 degree angle to the lead and push. The pencil should cut a small sliver of lead out of the sample. A light scratch is not sufficient.

 

resources?rid=b29a62a425c343ba6a3e88b508

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Adding tin is an expensive way to go, as it is the antimony that hardens the lead, tin mostly just makes the lead flow better. I've had very experienced people tell me anything more that 2% tin is a waste of time. Personally I have found with proper techniques .5% works fine. I have an LBT tester, but after casting for the last 15 years I find I rarely need it, can guess within 3 Brinell points just using my pocket knife. I LBT test often enough to back up my simple testing. Most of the bullets I use are in the 9 Brinell range,  a bit less for BP and a bit more for my 9mm and 45acp bullets. I don't run any Magnum bullets nor high speed rifle bullets. I never get leading in  my cowboy guns nor my autos, just using traditional grease groove bullets. Proper fit is more important than hardness, IMHO.

    Every once in a while I buy a large batch of lead of known composition. In that case I melt it all down in to a large batch and ship a sample off to be tested by someone with an XRF testing gun. I usually comes back as usable with some mixing, but sometimes I luck out. I bought a 300 lb sailboat keel a few months ago, and it came back as having 6% tin! That I am going to save to make handgun Hollowpoint bullets, as the tin helps the bullet hold together. Be a waste to use it for regular SASS stuff. They sure didn't need it for use in a keel, guess they just put in what they had on hand.

Edited by Springfield Slim SASS #24733
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

With lead  being hard to find   in Australia I now shoot basically pure  lead in all my Cowboy guns whether  BP or smokeless...I have a local scrap yard that keeps me going & a Magna Caster to do the job.

At the velocity we shoot I've never had a problem.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites


I’m jealous.  The scrap metal recyclers here will not sell to individuals.  Not sure if it is just Springfield, or wider.  But it’s frustrating.

 

My apology, I screwed up the quote function.

Edited by J-BAR #18287
Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Hobby lobby wants $35   (for a pencil set)

 

Went by a Hobby Lobby today.  The cheap set (which works fine) was $10.   I picked up that set as a backup for my other two sets :lol:  Not to put too fine a point on it!

 

You can do well with just these pencils -

4B - 6 Brinell - 30-1 lead-tin

3B - 9 Brinell (great for cowboy, and semiautos below 1000 FPS)

B - 12 Brinell  wheel weights (Old alloy; modern will be softer))

F - 16 Brinell - 6 Sb - 2 Sn commercial alloy

H - 20 Brinell water quench Wheel Weight - about right for moderate cast rifle slugs

2H - 24 Brinell - water quench 6/2 alloy   - high velocity cast rifle slugs

 

good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had this LBT tester so long, I can't really remember NOT having it. I can't remember when I bought it, but I remember it was expensive as hell, for what it is - like eighty bucks or somesuch...? 

LBTtester.jpg

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Soon after finding the pencil set, Sawmill Mary ordered a set off Amazon.  Days pasted and it was due to be delivered on Wednesday by USPS.  Then tracking showed it in Hillsboro, Missouri with a change of address request.  She called our local post office and upshot was that it just got in the wrong bag. It would show up in a couple of days.  This morning, it's back in Kansas City after going through Des Moines, Iowa!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I got around to using my pencil set to judge hardness. 

 

1879529273_PencilhardnestestMarch2021.jpg.a8372d302b273c1023e0ef891cdbd808.jpg

 

The ingot on the left made from the pipe that I just melted scored easily with the 6B pencil and left the biggest mark from my spring loaded center punch. The two corn shaped ingots went up to about a 3B and made almost as big a dent.  The bullet was about an HB and was left with a dent half the size as the soft lead.  So the left ingot translates to pure lead, the two other ingots to plumbers lead (I think it came from sheet lead from hospital demolition) and the bullet about wheel weights and range scrap. 

 

I would have judged the middle two as pure lead.  I thought the bullet was actually harder. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.