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Possible to make your own plated boolits ?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by sonick808, Mar 7, 2010.

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  1. sonick808

    sonick808 Member

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    Another question i've been thinking about since picking reloading back up...

    I really like the cost-effectiveness of the rainier copper-plated bullets.

    I was thinking, to drop price per cartridge even lower, would it be practical to setup a home version of a plating tank, so you could cast your own boolits, and then electroplate them at home ?

    Anyone with any ideas or input on this ? I'd love to be able to plate my boolits into bullets at home. Anything to bring price per cartridge down. Shooting straight lead isn't an option at this range i'm pretty sure since it's indoors. I don't want to deal with the fouling anyway.


    Thoughts ???
    J
     
  2. Gatofeo

    Gatofeo Member

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    I toured the Speer plant years ago, in Lewiston, Idaho.
    They were plating bullets in a large tank that held a solution. I seem to recall that cyanide played a part in the plating, but I could be wrong.
    Anyway, it was quite the process. Far beyond what the hobbyist could do.
    And remember, you have to swage a lead slug to an undersized bullet, then plate it until the plating brings it up to size. It would take a lot of experimentation to determine how long that would take.
    The cost of copper would probably be prohibitive to do it as a hobby. Lead wire, and the swaging equipment required would be expensive.
    You'd do far better to invest in a little bullet casting equipment, to include plenty of tin and antimony to make your bullets hard if that's your goal.
    Properly alloyed, lubricated and sized, lead bullets leave no or very little fouling.
    However, I can understand the prohibition against lead bullets indoors, and why it may not be an option.

    Plate your own bullets?
    Nah, don't see how'd you ever begin to break even.
     
  3. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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  4. medalguy

    medalguy Member

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    Bullet plating can be done at home but it's pretty expensive and technically challenging. It requires a barrel plating setup which consists of a stainless steel barrel that is perforated and drops down into a tank containing the copper plating solution. The bullets must first be made surgically clean with some type of degreaser. The plating is done in a pretty large plating tank to accomodate the barrel and plating equipment. As the barrel rotates slowly the copper is plated onto the bullets pretty much evenly, but getting the right thickness would be difficult without an x-ray machine that tells the plating thickness. You can approximate it by measuring the plating current and time. Copper plating does not require cyanide but gold does.

    All in all, a daunting challenge. I would buy the plated bullets myself.
     
  5. budiceman

    budiceman Member

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  6. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    Question, just how does a thin coating of copper prevent lead exposure in the air when the bullet hits the steel backstop?

    Ever looked at a FMJ bullet after hitting a steel backstop? Its got alot of lead exposed. How do I know? I'm one of the folks who help to clean out our backstop at our local indoor range twice a year.

    Just wondering how plating a lead bullet all of a sudden makes it so safe in regards to lead in the air.
     
  7. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    I don't think anyone every claimed it did make them safe or lead-free.

    Plated bullets like Rainer & Berry are thinly plated only to prevent bore leading and bullet lube smoke. For that, the plating is too thin to hold them together when hitting steel range backstops.

    Totally Encapsulated bullets are another story.
    They have either a thick FMJ with a copper disk sealing the base, or may be plated much thicker then Berry, etc. plinking bullets.

    rc
     
  8. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    This was what I was going by in regards to lead dust/particles in the air. OP's first post.
     
  9. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Well, I agree that thinly plating bullets is not going to have much if any effect on back-stop lead dust.

    Range Rules are Strange Rules sometimes.

    Maybe it's more to hold down smoke on the firing line or something?

    rc
     
  10. Quoheleth

    Quoheleth Member

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    ^
    My guess: makes them APPEAR safer, cleaner & more "green."

    Q
     
  11. ranger335v

    ranger335v Member

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    "would it be practical to setup a home version of a plating tank, so you could cast your own boolits, and then electroplate them at home ?"

    Yes. In fact did some of it in the 60s. Best plating solution would be copper sulfate but a simple brine bath and low voltage DC (think it was about 15V) worked for me. I just did it as a lark, it's not practical at all.

    You do know the single legitimate and original purpose of plating lead bullets was/is to reduce corrosion on ammo stored in policemen's acid tanned leather pistol belt loops?



    "My guess: makes them APPEAR safer, cleaner & more "green."

    Sorta, but I'm sure the makers know better, more likely they know that's in the heads of the purchasers and regulators. If it attacts happy customers, increases profits and statisfies brainless bureaucrats the makers will sure provide them to the market!
     
  12. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    Thats a possible.

    And yes range rules are strange sometimes.

    We have an local outdoor range where one can only load 1 round at a time and fire. Sorta makes the 10/22 useless, I guess but I don't own one.
     
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