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Are fired bullets a good source for casting lead?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by NC-Mike, Nov 13, 2008.

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  1. NC-Mike

    NC-Mike Member

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    I have access to a indoor range and can get the fired bullets from the backstop trap. Is this a good source for casting lead?

    I don't cast yet but I have a mind too in the near future. I would imagine you could throw all the fired bullets in a pot and smelt out the lead.
     
  2. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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  3. Ditchtiger

    Ditchtiger Member

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    Many indoor ranges require jacketed bullets. The lead in these is usually softer than cast bullets. With lead getting expensive and harder to get, take what you can get ahold of.
    My son tried to get the lead from a National Guard indoor range, they said no. Only someone in a protective suit with a filter mask is aloud to remove the lead and they have a contract with a private company to clean the range.
     
  4. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    http://www.policeandsecuritynews.com/janfeb01/frangibleammunition.htm
     
  5. NC-Mike

    NC-Mike Member

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    I figured lead cores would be softer but as far as I know you can put some additive in the lead and even test it for hardness.

    I wonder what melting down a bunch of fired rounds, maybe including some lead-free rounds would produce...
     
  6. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Ask the indoor range owner if they sell and use lead free ammo there. Handloaders would shoot more than buyers of ammo. So i would guess the alloy from the range would make a great bullet. Some Plated Bullets are pure lead inside. Thats not good for the alloy. You are going to have to start casting and let us know how it goes.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2008
  7. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I have melted down many a cast bullet from dirt backstops. After a rain they are abundent. Any open ended jacketed bullet will work fine as the lead will melt out. Plated bullets need to be "broken" to let the lead melt out. (Hit it with a hammer etc. Use your imagination)

    If you think you have a lot of pure lead from your salvaging, just mix it with wheelweights and or a bit of 95/5 solder to strengthen it. Most hand gun shooting does not need a really hard bullet anyway.
     
  8. jfh

    jfh Member

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    It probably is--while I am not involved in the "project", a couple of handgunners in our club harvest the lead behind the targets each year--just dig it out of the berm.

    Jim H.
     
  9. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    As noted, the preponderance of lead cores, commercial swaged lead bullets, and .22 bullets will be pretty soft lead. You might have to add some tin to get good casting qualities.

    It is unknown to me what might be in the makeup of some of the new "lead-free" and "frangible" bullets, but I would be very cautious about adding them to a smelting pot of known good quality bullet alloy.

    Some of the sintered metal and other stuff might contaminate the whole batch with zinc or other nasty stuff.
     
  10. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Back when range scrap was mostly hardcast and .22s, with a few jacketed bullets whose cores would melt out through the base or nose, it was a good source. Nowadays, I don't know. There are zinc bullets and some of the lead free bullets are sintered copper and tin.

    I read a recent thread, mostly concerned with zinc tire weights. One school of thought was to melt the lead at the minimum possible temperature and the zinc would float out along with the steel clips to be skimmed off before going hot enough for fluxing and casting. The other position was that some zinc would dissolve in the lead and cause poor casting anyhow.

    Copper is also undesirable in bullet metal but if not overheated the thin plating and sintered particles should also float off along with the jackets. Should. Maybe.

    Repeat - plating or full coverage jackets must be pierced before melting out the cores. Else they will generate enough pressure to splash molten lead around.

    Try a small batch and see if that particular range scrap is usable. If not, clean your gear and go elsewhere for lead.
     
  11. TEDDY

    TEDDY Member

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    ?????????????????????

    where do you get this b***t.indore range lead is fine I have used it for
    my lord!! 40 yrs.used it in 45 and 38.zinc wont melt at lead temp unless you go real high,just skim it.outdoor lead is good too.if your making rifle bullets at high speed its different.I use WW on rifle at under 2000fps. :uhoh::confused:
     
  12. Hairballusmaximus

    Hairballusmaximus Member

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    You only need to worry about "soft"lead if you are going to push it over 950-1000 fps. Before I started to cast my own I always ran swaged lead bullets which are "pure" lead and are soft and unless pushed hard never gave any trouble.

    Side note: WW can be heat treated to extreme hardness where velocities exceeding 2000+ fps with out leading are supposed to be possible. I have not tried it yet though so cant comment if it really works.
     
  13. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Thats only true to a point.

    If the "soft lead" is pure lead, you will have a heck of a time getting good wrinkle-free bullets out of a mold.

    You always need a certain tin content to get good casting qualities, and swaged lead bullets often don't have any tin at all in them.


    .
     
  14. Hairballusmaximus

    Hairballusmaximus Member

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    I have never tried casting pure lead but I have read that you need Tin to properly cast good bullets. I use wheel weights and my own scrap bullet frags we recover at the range. The few other jacketed bullets and factory leadbullets recovered probly didnt 'thin' the mix enough to make a diff.

    Good catch rcmodel, I sit corrected.

    Swaging they basically just run lead wire through a press and mold the bullet with out melting it.
     
  15. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    I've cast 1,000 of muzzleloader balls, .320 cal, .450 cal., and .500 cal. without wrinkles. To the best of my knowledge I was using pure lead, at least that what it was sold as from the company in St. Louis. I do remember I ran a very hot melt & mold though. I will add I havent done any muzzleloading casting in 20 yeara tho.
     
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