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Hard lead vs soft

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by DMShag514, Jan 13, 2020.

  1. DMShag514

    DMShag514 Member

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    Got about 50# of lead ingots. Some from a lee mold others from a muffin tin. All ~ 1# each. These are rescues from a local metal salvager. No idea of the alloy of these ingots. When struck with the blunt side of a butter knife, some go “thud” and some do “dink”. Those are scientific terms, in case you were wondering. Anyway, I had planned to cast this into .454 round balls but am worried that the harder alloyed lead, aka the ones that went “dink” will be too hard for my repro NMA. Thoughts.
     
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  2. DocRock

    DocRock Member

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    If it is a lead alloy, it won't "hurt" your NMA. I would not recommend using anything harder than 8-10 BHN as roundball in a cap and ball pistol because it will be unlikely to obturate properly and will likely lead your barrel pretty significantly, especially up at linotype levels.

    Lee sells a BHN testing kit, available on Amazon, but it's not cheap - $69 May be worth trying a few batches to see how the RB does with "dink" vs "thud"? It won't do any real harm to the pistol, but you mY need to de-lead aggressively.
     
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  3. rodwha

    rodwha Member

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    With the scientific dink and thud, maybe you’d use one of each in the melt?
     
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  4. DocRock

    DocRock Member

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    Much more eloquent in your brevity!
     
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  5. evan price

    evan price Member

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    You can bet a close measurement of hardness using a set of artist's pencils of various hardness. It's an accepted industry practice actually.
    Generally, the ingots that thud instead of clink will be soft lead which is what you want for round balls.
     
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  6. dave951

    dave951 Member

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  7. dave951

    dave951 Member

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    But yes, harder ingots will "ring" when tapped. Most BP guns will shoot better with softer lead.
     
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  8. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

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    Well the alloy will not only be harder, but when you cast it in your .454 mold, it will not shrink as much when cooling as the pure or softer lead, so may not only be more difficult to swage into the revolver cylinders, but may also require you to "shave" off more lead due to being larger. Thus you'd be fighting hardness and friction when loading them. In a Ruger, it might be just aggravational, but in lower quality revolvers, you might have a "bending" problem with the loading arm. :confused:

    So take the ingots that "tink"...and offer them in an ad, to trade for pure lead ingots or simply for pure lead roundball. Even if they are not the right sized round ball, you were going to recast the ingots so you can simply recast the round ball if they are not the right size. :thumbup:

    LD
     
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  9. LaneP

    LaneP Member

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    I will only shoot dead soft lead bullets through any of the Italian repro's.

    The reason why was back in the early 90's, myself and a friend went to the range and shot some round balls I had cast from the same pot of lead that had been alloyed for shooting smokeless autos. I can't remember the mix but there was a decent amount of tin and some small amount of antimony.

    We were using Pyrodex P. I shot one cylinder through my Lyman .44 NMA. I reloaded and suddenly my pistol failed to lock and I could spin the cylinder while at full cock. I took a closer look and the frame of the pistol had stretched forward a good 1/8". You could drive a truck through the b/c gap.

    My friend was shooting a .44 Rogers and Spencer. His frame wasn't stretched but his forcing cone was cracked very obviously. I stopped right there and realized what had happened.

    You may get different perspectives from different shooters based on their experience but that's mine. The steel in those repros is mild and very soft. I will only ever recommend pure lead.
     
  10. TheOutlawKid

    TheOutlawKid Member

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    I agree...
    Dead soft pure lead is the way to go. If you are questioning or know for a fact its not pure then do a trade with a cartridge shooter who uses harder lead, trade for pure or roofing sheet lead. You should be able to get roofing lead at most scrap yards/recyclers...thats pure lead. Using pure lead is the safest bet for the safety of your gun and for accuracy. U want ur balls/bullets to obturate and not leave leading in the barrel and also not damage the gun while loading. Ive seen the lever arm screw/bolt break from someone trying to load too hard of a lead ball into their cylinder.
     
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  11. 45 Dragoon

    45 Dragoon Member

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    Got to agree with LD, LaneP and TOK.
    Lane's experience is pretty close to mine! I knew before I read it that he was shooting a Remington pattern. My Remie did the same thing!! I'm pretty sure most (if not all) of the frame bending happened while loading the REM. I'm sure firing it didn't help and may have been the "final" step as far as how much damage was done. This is the very example that I've been using when folks spout about the superior strength of the Remington . . . it isn't superior . . . in fact it's weaker than the Colt pattern open top design.
    I'm not saying the REM isn't a good revolver, it is and I am a fan!! I wouldn't have spent so much time and aggravation figuring out how to make coil springs work in them!! The "fly in the ointment" is I only shoot cartridge conversions in my revolvers and have never had any problems with "frame bending" or forcing cone cracks or leading problems in my guns. I load with "store bought" 250 gr lead bullets.
    So, mainly, soft lead balls/bullets makes loading easy. Loading with hard lead . . . will bend your Remy !!!

    Mike
     
  12. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    What LaneP said. Use only pure soft lead. The fact some people may have gotten away with using some unknown alloy isn't good enough for me and ought not be good enough for anyone. I've made my own balls (and conicals) as well as purchased commercial balls. Only pure lead. If I cannot get pure soft lead ingots I buy commercial Hornady balls.
    I don't consider myself any type of precision shooter; I shoot BP recreationally. But I care about safety, and avoid doing things to my guns that could damage them .... or me .... or a nearby person.
     
  13. Rebel Dave

    Rebel Dave Member

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    Soft Lead.........Only way to cast, and shoot with black powder firearms. I like my revolvers, and at my ole age I can't replace them if they are damaged.
    Shoot only soft lead, and your pistolas will remain happy.

    Rebel Dave
     
  14. Michiganmuzzy

    Michiganmuzzy Member

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    I shoot just slightly harder than pure at 40:1. It keeps my bullets seated during recoil but is still plenty soft for ROAs.
     
  15. JeffG

    JeffG Member

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    I had a revelation lately. In search of harder ball, (on purpose) my .530 mould threw a ball that was very tight, with wheel weights. As the lead is alloyed with, say tin, the finished ball will be larger.
     
  16. Zarthab

    Zarthab Member

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  17. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    You can get a pretty good idea of ingot hardness with your thumbnail.
    If you can make a significant mark, its soft enough for BP. If not, it goes in the centerfire bucket.
    That may be a little too 'farmer' for some, but it works for me on my scrap lead.
     
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  18. Buddy

    Buddy Member

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    My first revolver was a Navy Arms NMA in 1982. I was dumb and tried using wheel weights in it when I first started casting my own about 2 years later. I bent the link on my loading lever but was able to straighten it. I've only used pure lead since then in any of my replicas since then.
     
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  19. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    Dunk is better.
     
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  20. Old Stumpy

    Old Stumpy Member

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    A good source of pure lead is to salvage roof jacks from galvanized furnace vent pipes.

    I managed to accumulate a pretty good supply before I was caught and arrested......;):D

    Better to buy them used from roofers who save them up over the summer and sell them for beer money.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
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  21. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    I have had terrible luck finding "scrap" pure lead over the past decade or so. I have gotten all sorts of metals labeled as "lead" but which weren't, or at least not close enough. There is an outfit advertising in Blackpowder Cartridge News that offers 99/1 lead/tin for just under $2/lb shipped, which is good enough for me.
     
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  22. TheOutlawKid

    TheOutlawKid Member

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    Mr. 38 special, would you mind letting us fine folks ...and not so fine folks..of this forum know about where to get the 99:1 lead/tin for $2 shipped? Thats a good deal for those who cant get lead locally or just dont have the time to search etc. Thanks in advance
     
  23. woodnbow
    • Contributing Member

    woodnbow Contributing Member

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    Thanks for including me, @TheOutlawKid !!
     
  24. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    Be happy to. I just didn't want to be seen as offering unsolicited advertising here - I have no relationship to the advertiser. When I get home today I will go through the magazine and put up the info.

    Update: Action Bullets & Alloy, inc. Box 189 Quinter, KS, 67752. 785-754-3609. [email protected]. 40 pounds for $78 delivered. Page 66 of the current issue of Black Powder Cartridge news.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
  25. TheOutlawKid

    TheOutlawKid Member

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    Lol it was my attempt at humor and including everyone , the good and the bad and all us uglies.
     
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