Can we talk metallurgy for casting


Nowhere Man
May 1, 2008, 10:50 AM
Trying to find .45 ACP 200 Grain SWC bullets is driving me nuts! The wait time has turned from weeks to :cuss:months.

So, everyone says wheel weights are what I want. I'll tell ya, if the local shop had enough wheel weights for 99 customers, I'd be number 100 in line....

Can I mix out 99.something plumbers lead to achieve the desired hardness? I read antimony and tin. Where do I find antimony?

What other questions should I be asking??


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May 1, 2008, 11:11 AM

May 1, 2008, 11:12 AM

cracked butt
May 1, 2008, 11:31 AM
Can I mix out 99.something plumbers lead to achieve the desired hardness? I read antimony and tin. Where do I find antimony?

You can harden the lead by adding magnum lead shot to your melt which contains antimony.

Tin adds very little hardness and is very expensive, its main benifit is that it allows the alloy to fill out moulds without getting wrinkles, creases or rounded driving bands. Use as little of this as you can get away with. Not sure how much of it is in W/Ws, but I have to add about 18" of 50/50 wire to a 10lb pot to get the moulds to fill reliably, you might have to add a bit more tin to plumbers lead.

May 1, 2008, 12:23 PM
You should buy the Lyman Cast Bullet Manual if you're serious about getting into casting. It will answer all your questions.

Hope this helps.


May 1, 2008, 02:21 PM
If you have tin and plumbers lead you would be fine with .45 acp target loads( 700-800fps) using 2% tin for castability. Some plumbers lead is harder than others but all will work at target velocities sized .452. If you can't find wheel wts or linotype and want to add antimony go and you can get what you need. The .45 is a very lead friendly cartridge, I would'nt get too hung up on metalurgy in the 800fps range, pretty much anything works if sized and lubed properly. Good luck Nick

May 1, 2008, 02:27 PM
The best source of antimony and tin is linotype. BUT it is getting hard to find. I have been getting enough to alloy my main source of pure lead from a local gunshop owner that keeps looking for lino. I also won a bid on ebay for 40 pounds that is the real deal,(it ended up costing $1.50/lb.). I now have pretty close to 300# of lino. That will alloy at 3# lino to 17# soft lead for handgun and 45/70 rifle boolits.

Sometimes friends can really come through for you. This is what friends that know you're into guns and reloading can get you.

These are lead weights that counter balanced a huge multi-spindle drill that was being scrapped at work. I heard about the weights through a friend. They could be taken home with a simple pass-out slip. They weigh 90 pounds, I got 15 of them!

Here's what lino looks like. The long chunk I got years back, the sawed up ones are from the ebay source.

May 2, 2008, 01:13 AM
If you want to buy Antimony you can get it Here (

You can get Tin (and a lot of other metals) Here (

Just make sure your charge card is healthy when you order because they don't come cheap!

Good luck finding what you need...

Mt Shooter
May 2, 2008, 02:07 AM
Years ago (72) I had a job in a print shop. I took the old lineo type and melted it down add a bar or two of Antimony and poured it into molds that where about 2 1/2 feet long with a hole at the top. that was so they could hang it on the lineo type machine. Always had sparkle jeans.

Now back to the problem at hand, I found RCBS molded bars in the fishing section of my local sporting goods store. Use? they where selling them to mold sinkers for walleye fishing. snapped up all they had, going to go and look again this spring.

May 2, 2008, 05:59 AM
There are a lot of variables here, and they are enough to drive you batty.

Different people want different bullet hardnesses. Most casters are working with a lot of Lead, plus smaller amounts of Tin and Antimony, a Ternary alloy system. Occasionally persons will use some Arsenic and Silver. Lead metallurgy is odd, in that it acts the way most metals do at elevated temperatures.

My chief source of scrap is wheelweights, which are a lot Lead, a bit Antimony, and very little Tin. I use Tin from solders and straight Tin as an alloying material. Not only does it increase hardness when used with scrap Lead containing Antimony (wheelweights), it also improves castability (fluidity of the slushy Lead during freezing).

You can take Plumber's Lead, which probably is Lead with a little Antimony, and add a few percent Tin, and produce a respectable bullet. If you water-drop the bullet from the mold and it is so hard you can barely polish it with a fingernail, there was Antimony in the scrap, and the bullet is about how I like it.

I prefer all my bullets to be very hard, and I cast my bullets a thousandth or two larger than the groove diameter. Other persons like their bullets a bit soft, with the expectation that the powder gasses will cause the bullet to upset and seal the bore. What works for you, you will have to determine.

As with Ferrous alloys, hardness is not solely determined by the metal content. Many of us who like hard bullets will drop them from the mold into a bucket of water. As the mold is hot, there's no problem from the water splashing on it. The quick cooling keeps alloying element atoms where they can do the most good re hardness. The same end can be achieved by taking an air cooled bullet, heating it to just short of the melting point, then dumping it into water.

I also find material handling is easier with water quenching from the mold: I'm not having to constantly stop and rearrainge the padding in my drop box, and my bullets have few dings.

Some alloying elements seem to cause bullets to grow a bit after casting. Antimony seems to have this effect. If your mold is smaller than you like, in addition to varying casting temperature, you can play with this.

Nowhere Man
May 2, 2008, 08:25 AM
Everyones information has been very helpful. Thanks.


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