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Non-lead cast bullets?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Lucky, Jul 12, 2005.

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  1. Lucky

    Lucky Member

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    Hello, I'm wondering if anyone knows of other alloys that can be used for bullets, say when you pour the liquid metal into a mould? For instance, tin or copper? Even if they're mixed with 50% lead or something that would be ok.

    I just read another thread (I'm new but I did search!) where it was said that cast lead bullets don't work well in AR-15's, because they can't handle the velocity.

    So I'm looking for another way.

    BTW as for melting temperatures, yes it might be tricky, but I won't mind. If I get to be different and be the only guy with my own secret recipe for bullets, then I'll gladly spend an hour to make a couple dozen!

    So, to summarize, does anyone know of good recipes for alloys to make bullets?
     
  2. griz

    griz Member

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    Tin is the most commonly used metal to alloy with lead. You could use 50-50 (tin-lead) solder for bullets, and although it would be harder than lead it would be lighter. Copper and silver would be hard to cast. Gold would probably work well. It's very dense. I'm not sure how well it casts. It would also have the advantage of bringing more women into the shooting sports. :D
     
  3. Oldnamvet

    Oldnamvet Member

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    Tin - lead solder

    If you did need a source of tin - lead alloy, stained glass shops sell solder by the pound (or on-line) in both 50/50 and 60/40 percentages (tin/lead). Cost is $6 to $9 for a 1 lb spool.
     
  4. Lucky

    Lucky Member

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    Thanks! I also considering melting down a tin can just to see how easy it is:) If I get new filters for my gasmask I'll let you know how it goes!
     
  5. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Tin actually lowers the melting point in alloy with lead. All tin really does in casting bullets is improve the flow and give better filled out bullets, it does not increase hardness much. A linotype or heat treated wheelweight bullet can be driven over 2000 fps in a good barrel with good lube. I don't know if it will cycle a gas gun, though.

    The only thing I have ever heard of that you can cast in hobby equipment to load to full power is zinc. Zamak "pot metal" zinc alloy works well. It will melt in an ordinary pot and cast in a regular bullet mold. Density is about 64% of lead so if you had a 70 grain mold it would deliver a 45 grain zinc bullet. The equipment must be completely free of lead and it must be completely free of zinc if you want to go back to casting lead in it.

    Or so said the NRA about 50 years ago. I haven't tried it, too much like work.
     
  6. Joejojoba111

    Joejojoba111 Member

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    Excellent, I think I will try some zinc too, why not! Technically I'm going to search around a bit, see if it has bad properties that would be unexpected, and then try. But I've already got a price on the raw stuff, and that's easier than a bunch of reading, so I'll do step #2 first, as usual:)

    Thanks!

    And in probably a month when it all comes together I'll tell how they work.
     
  7. BEARMAN

    BEARMAN Member

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    Lucky: tin cans are not made of tin they are made of steel and used to have a tin coating. They may still have a tin coating on the outside but a large number of cans have a plastic or lacquer coating on the inside to resist deterioration from the cans contents.
     
  8. Lucky

    Lucky Member

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    Good to know! I searched from Howstuffworks.com and the companies that had tin cans looked like paint cans and automobile products. But I bought some scrap evestrough that they said was tin, if I try it. It doesn't seem tin will add much to anything, and it's not as common as the other 3 elements, so most likely I'll figure to hell with it.

    I actually got 300 lbs of lead, and 15 of each copper and zinc, and a couple of tin. I'm going to try and find a mould to make ingots, and see if I can melt copper safely with an oxy-acety torch. If so I might try making a bullets out of each material stand-alone, and in combinations! It'll be a fun long-term project now!

    ...Once I get a chronograph, figure out a target medium to measure penetration, and make the ingots and bullets... :uhoh: Oh well :eek:
     
  9. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Copper's melting point is 1980 F. No doubt you can melt it with an oxy-acetyline torch, but it will destroy an aluminum bullet mold and likely ruin an iron one.
     
  10. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

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    Not to try and dissuade you! But I think you will find copper is way too high an MP to allow you to do much (1083.0 °C (1356.15 °K, 1981.4 °F)) - apart from the hazards of molten metal at high temperatures.

    Sure an Oxy flame will melt it but, you'd have to keep it in a sustained molten state long enough for casting - and that into hot moulds. This really needs proper stuff like ceramic crucible etc.

    I personally would not bother with the Zinc route either, as much as anything due to the contamination of my lead pot - tho some say a Zinc bullet makes a good frangible.

    With std approaches - lead/tin/antimony - just beware the risk of water contacting the molten metal - it vaporizes into steam double quick and can lead to an explosive spray of molten metal out of the pot. Wear eye protection.
     
  11. Lucky

    Lucky Member

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    Thanks for the heads-up. I was actually planning on wearing welding gear, with the dark lens replaced for clear, (and imo thick suede is great for not starting on fire, gauntlets, apron).

    The thing about the copper was that I'd heard if you add tin you lower the melting point. Well, I sort of assumed it worked that way, that if you melt the copper in an iron pot, then add tin to it, then it would have a lower melting temperature after that. Or One could just buy brass! But they had all this copper wire, I couldn't resist.

    BTW I'm looking at this cheap little lyman reloading kit at cabelas for around $100 (includes everything, seems like a good deal) anyone know how much past 700F they can go? If I get crazy and play with copper I'll probably just spend $20 and but an iron pot, though, anyway.

    http://cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templ...ce&noImage=0&returnPage=search-results1.jhtml
     
  12. Lucky

    Lucky Member

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    Sorry to reply to myself, but I checked and the mould is steel, not one of those aluminum jobs. So in that regard it should be able to 'take the heat'. I'm still shopping for handles, though.
     
  13. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    keep in mind if you do manage to score some homemade bullets, that you take care with the initial load. you're not going to find a lot of staring suggetsions for a bullet with the shape of a 70 grainer and the weight of 45 grain. (using hte previous example)

    the shape of the bullet and weight both effect pressure.

    i've got some ballistic software, but not any of the cool ballistic software. anybody reading this know if any of the common programs acommodate non-lead bullets? or if you can change the density and shape somehow?

    i think mine actually has the ability to input custom dimensions and mass, i'm just not sure i trust it :)
     
  14. BEARMAN

    BEARMAN Member

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    I think you are trying to reinvent the wheel here. If you want copper or steel bullets check out SWAGING , this is how modern bullets are made. Do a search of " CORBIN SWAGING EQUIPMENT". You can vary the weight by how much lead you put in the tubing before you form it to a bullet shape.
     
  15. Lucky

    Lucky Member

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    I thought that there was a company making all-copper bullets already, though?
     
  16. mete

    mete Member

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    Molten zinc is very volatile and zinc fumes are toxic !!!!There has already been one death from that this year [ welding galvanized pipe] ......Barnes makes all copper bullets .You can get loaded rounds from Corbon as their DPX . These I assume are swaged , not cast .
     
  17. Lucky

    Lucky Member

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    Yes, and thank-you for the warning about zinc. As I understand it welding galvanized steel creates mustard gas, but a good respirator should handle that, if that even happens. Actually, after 1.5 second consideration, it'll be a good idea to do a lot more research into the results of liquifying metals before heating any of them. enduring mustard gas sounds unreasonable for the task of making a bullet. I think my mother would slap me for taking 1.5 seconds!

    But over the months I see no reason againt slow and cautious experimentation, see if brass-lead alloys can be made, and so-on.
     
  18. pauli

    pauli Member

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    now, far be it from me to rain on anybody's technical parade, but might it not be better to buy bullets for 223, and cast for rounds where lead is more appropriate?

    i mean, playing metalurgist sure is fun, but...
     
  19. vesmcd

    vesmcd Member

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    Lucky, nobody has brought this up yet, but any metal you can cast at home is going to require a gas check( requiring a tool to crimp it on) for use in a gas operated semi auto. Otherwise, metal burning off the base of the bullet will foul the gas system and lock it up. As an aside, why would you want to use cast bullets in an AR ? I can buy .223 ammo for about what it costs me to reload it, and I don't have to spend my time reloading.
     
  20. Carlos

    Carlos Member

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    Personally, I use cast bullets only for pistols and handguns.

    However, it would be good practice for the day when perhaps that was the only way to get bullets for my .... (hmm, which one?) favorite rifle.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2005
  21. Lucky

    Lucky Member

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    Yea, I guess it's not really practical to cast for .223, but I really want to get into making the whole cartridge myself. I've been looking at getting a shotgun, maybe I could cast slugs.

    If a person were going to experiment with the metals for slugs, then they'd need a barrel without choke, right? In case the slug was slightly harder than pure lead and didn't compress easily?
     
  22. griz

    griz Member

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    If your goal is to make the bullet, you could try swaging your own jacketed bullets. I don't think it would be a way to save money, but it can certainly be done. There is a company that sells tooling for the task, but I forgot the name.
     
  23. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

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    IIRC Griz that'd be Corbin.
     
  24. mbartel

    mbartel Member

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    The reason cast bullets will not work in an AR-15, is because they will foul the gas port....this is true of any gas-operated weapon, rifle or handgun. Cast bullets require lube, and mixed with the lead deposits, it will quickly render an AR-15 inoperable. Besides...I don't think you can drive them fast enough to cycle the action, unless they were super hard. Besides, jacked bullets in bulk are a lot less trouble and less expensive, and less risky than the strange alloys that you are considering.
     
  25. Joejojoba111

    Joejojoba111 Member

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    Yea, I'm sold, just going to buy bulk 5.56 bullets. Thanks for all the info!
     
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