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Hardness Testing

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by LubeckTech, Mar 1, 2010.

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  1. LubeckTech

    LubeckTech Member

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    I'm just getting into casting and am interested in testing bullet hardness. Are there ways to do it without spending $51.00 on the Lee Hardness Test Kit? I realize it is probably a good investment but sometimes there are relatively simple (and better) ways to do things that don't involve special equipment.
     
  2. RippinSVT

    RippinSVT Member

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    Get a 5/32" steel ball and press it into a flat spot on the bullet at exactly 60psi for 30 seconds, preferably not the base due to porosity. Then use a machinist's microscope and to measure the exact diameter of the indentation and either compare that data to Lee's scale or do the formula which can be found online.

    This measures the compressive strength of the lead in PSI, dividing this number by 1422 gives you the BHN.


    Frankly, I think the kit is a bargain versus doing it the old-fashioned way and getting mixed results.
     
  3. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Member

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    I use the SAECO Lead Hardness Tester, but it cost about twice as much as the Lee, but the results are consistant. I know of no other way to reliably test alloy hardness, other than the LBT, SAECO or Lee kits.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
     
  4. kelbro

    kelbro Member

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    The first question is 'why' do you need to know the hardness? It's really relative and if your sizing is correct, all that you need to know is 'does it need to be harder or softer'. Then you adjust your alloy and make a large batch of alloy for that bullet or a large batch of bullets. The actual BHN number that any of the testers output is close enough for bullet work.

    I use the Lee hardness tester and it provides pretty good info.
     
  5. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    I use a very scientific method that is also very cheap.
    Free in fact.

    If I can scratch it with my thumbnail, it is Soft.
    If I can't scratch it with my thumbnail, it is Hard.
    If it breaks instead of bends, it is Linotype.

    Soft is for standard calibers & velocity's.
    Hard is for Magnums & Glocks.
    Linotype is for rifles.

    rc
     
  6. RippinSVT

    RippinSVT Member

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    I like RC's thinking.
     
  7. scrat

    scrat Member

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    I think RC needs to write a book some day
     
  8. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Member

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    But as you get older, your fingernails get softer....... At least mine have.

    Fred
     
  9. GP100man

    GP100man Member

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    I`m with rc also !!

    I have a hardness tester but things were`nt so technical when I used my thumbnail !!

    Just remember boolits don`t have to be as hard as people let on , but the harder ya push em the harder they "need" to be!!

    I cringe at the thought of how much alloy I`ve wasted shootin 3.2 grs BE & 3.5grs. of clays !! when all i needed was stik-on wheel weights
     
  10. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Well I don't know about that.
    I used to be able to trim my toenails with nail-clippers.

    Now as I get older, the Skill saw & belt sander works better!

    rc
     
  11. jfh

    jfh Member

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    pruning shears, rc, pruning shears.

    Jim H.
     
  12. snuffy

    snuffy Member

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    The older ya get, the further the toenails get away from your hands! Just like your arms need to get longer to see the newspaper!:rolleyes:

    Bullet hardness is nice to know, but not that important. Tool addicts, like me, like to get stuff just to know what different alloys test out at. So I bought the lee tester. It works! No surprise, lee just made it cheaper that the rest. Now, lee has a pressure-to-hardness graph in his reloading book. It too works IF you know 2 things, the BHN of you bullet, and the pressure of the load.

    Ignorance is bliss. You can stumble around blindly, or know to the enth degree what you're doing.
     
  13. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    i use the RC method for many years. Plus i check bullet diameter as soon as a few bullets cool. If undersize , linotype gets added to the pot.
     
  14. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    You can test lead hardness with a sharpened pencil you've picked up off the desk. I've tested it myself with various lead alloys and can say it works.

    http://www.castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?t=75455

    You're typical #2 pencil has a hardness slightly higher than Bnd 10. If your alloy is hard enough not to be scratched by a pencil lead, it's hard enough for most shooting applications.

    By the way, I think a lot more importance should be put on proper bullet sizing then bullet hardness. I routinely shoot relatively soft Lyman #2 alloy up to 1800 fps with good results as long as the bullet diameter is about a thousandths above groove diameter.
     
  15. GP100man

    GP100man Member

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    UH-ohh here we go , the fit over hardness thing!!!!
     
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