Coating & Sizing

  • Last Post 03 December 2022
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Aaron posted this 30 November 2022

Allow me, if you will, to ask some absolutely ignorant questions about powder coating and sizing.

I have cast and shot my handloads for 45 years now and read with interest about the new fad called powder coating. Last month I ordered some sample PC bullets from Badman just to see what all the fuss is about. After seeing firsthand how well the bullets shot and how clean the bore was after shooting them, I began to read about it in depth. I have read the posts here but truthfully, I discount most other chat board posts due to their absolutely arrogant and self appointed experts blabbing their mouths about things they profess to know about. Such is life.

So, knowing very little about PC bullets and never having done it myself, here are my questions:

  • When sizing a PC bullet 1 or 2 thou down, doesn't this crack or break the polymer coating?
  • Doesn't the coated bullet gall in the sizing die without lubricant?
  • Does the polymer coat become unattached from the lead core if sized?

If one can run a dry PC bullet through a size die, there has to be some limit to the amount of sizing before the polymer coat is adversely affected or the bond to the base metal is disrupted.

Know that I am of the mindset that if I size a coated bullet after coating, seems to me I can skip the coating process and cost and just size and lube. I am well aware of the benefits/drawbacks to powder coating by having read the same material from multiple sources. I understand we are still on the doorstep of alternate coatings for lead bullets and am approaching this with an almost open mind. cheerful

Comments would be appreciated from those of you who cast, coat, and size bullets in that order.


With rifle in hand, I confidently go forth into the darkness.

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hporter posted this 30 November 2022

Aaron, I am no expert, but I have poly-coated handgun and rifle bullets for a couple years now.  I have also played with the Hi-Tek coating, though with mixed results.

I have learned to really enjoy running my poly-coated (PC) bullets through my Lee APP machine to size the bullets.  I have a couple Star lubrisizers, but sizing the PC'd bullets in the Lee APP is so much easier and even faster.  Although the only reason it is faster is that I don't have a bullet feed kit for my Star machines.

I haven't had to size much more than a couple thousandths, and I have never noticed any coating deformation or cracking.  For the Hi-Tek coating system, one of the tests that you are supposed to run after running them through the oven cooking cycle is to smash the bullet on your anvil and see if the coating comes off.  So I also do that to my PC'd bullets - to check the adhesion.  I can't say I have ever had a problem in that regard with the PC'd bullets.  Though I have had some issues with the Hi-tek system (almost 100% certain that it is operator error - not the system).

I don't have the experience to tell you that one method or the other is better for accuracy.  So far the only down side to PC'ing the bullets is that I detect a weird smell after shooting them.  I have never had any residue in my barrels that I have noticed either.

One of the biggest advantages to me, living in the hot climate of Houston TX is that I don't have to worry about the lube melting off  in storage in my garage.  It is also night and day cleaner loading them, versus grease lubed bullets.

I have a couple of the NOE Hi-Tec (HTC) groove-less bullet molds.  I can't detect any difference shooting them, versus the PC'd lube groove designs.  Again - I just don't have enough experience.  I am sure there are others on the forum that have far more to share.

Another thing I like is that I was able to buy the NOE adapter for the Lee APP so that I can use my NOE sizer bushings in the Lee APP.  They are much cheaper to buy than a Star die - or even the Lee push through dies.

Almost all of the powder I have came from Smoke - over on the other cast bullet forum.  I did start off with the Harbor Freight powders - which worked well.  I even still have the Harbor Freight Electrostatic gun that I used the first couple times before I went to using the plastic air soft BB's in the bowl.  The last time I coated I even omitted the BB's and the bullets came out just fine.

My last power purchase was from Columbia Coatings. They have a chrome powder that is as shiny as my old Schwinn Stingray bicycle fenders.  It is a much harder coating.  I used it on .32 caliber SWC's for my revolvers.  I haven't loaded them yet, but I am curious what they will do.  Especially since I PC'd a third of the casting session, lubed and sized a third, and used alox liquid lube on the last third.  I wanted to see if I could detect any meaningful velocity or accuracy differences.

For me - it is very quick to dump a few pounds of bullets into a big plastic bowl with a lid, swirl the powder and dump them into a homemade hardware cloth basket.  Bake them for a short while, and then I am done.  I have gotten to the point I don't even size my bullets until I am ready to load them.  I have had quite a few instances of my grease lubed and sized bullets "growing" in diameter after sitting in the garage for a few years.  So I usually run them through the Lee APP before loading anyway.  So I just leave that to be the last step before loading them now.

Anyway - I just thought I would throw my 2 cents in.

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Aaron posted this 30 November 2022

That’s at least $5 worth Harold.

With rifle in hand, I confidently go forth into the darkness.

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mashburn posted this 30 November 2022

Hello Aaron,

The answer to all three of your questions is NO. No, it will not come off with sizing several thousandths. You can lube a hollow point bullet, load it and fire. If you dig the expanded bullet out and give it an exam you will find that the coating will still be on the expanded inside part of the hollow point caviity.

It will not gauld when sizing with no lube, matter of fact, my bullets are shinier after they come out of the sizing die than they were before they were sized. Occasionally I will put a little lube on the first few bullets that I size but normally I don't. What little lube that i use is the RCBS case lube that is water soluble. I do not lube powder coated bullets before I fire them, the powder coating is the lube. All of my rifle bullets are gas checked and a few of my revolver bullets are gas checked, but not many.

All that I have told you is true, IF THE COATING PROCESS IS DONE PROPERLY. I learned a lot of my techniques from Spindrift and the rest from about 3 years of constant experimenting.

I will be glad to share information with you by PM but not on the regular forum, I don't want to argue.



David a. Cogburn

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Aaron posted this 01 December 2022

Thanks David. Knowing myself, I will end up playing with this process a little bit. I also completely understand your request for a PM with questions to avoid lengthy and adjunct discussions on a forum. I have to say that there are a lot less of those on this forum/venue.

I have gleaned some useful information in my studies so far and it is amazing how many YouTube videos exist on the topic. Most are a real hoot and some are well done and informative. As a collective, useful information may be culled.

Thanks to you and Harold for the informative responses. Hopefully there will be a few more as well. Thanks guys.

With rifle in hand, I confidently go forth into the darkness.

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hporter posted this 01 December 2022

I agree with David,


I have found that putting oven bricks in the bottom of my oven, using my P&ID controller with an armored Thermocouple in the oven itself, helps to get very good consistency with the cook times.

That was from the Chrome powder cook.

Here is the result.



Shiny - very shiny.


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Aaron posted this 02 December 2022

I think something went horribly wrong. surprised

With rifle in hand, I confidently go forth into the darkness.

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harleyrock posted this 02 December 2022

After shaking and swirling bullets in powder, you must shake off the excess powder.  That excess is what you see at the base of those bullets.

With PC you can use softer alloy with velocity since you don’t have to worry about leading.  Good for hunting.

PC is good on checkless bullets with GC shank.  More accurate than using that checkless bullet without PC.

Lifetime NRA since 1956, NRA Benefactor, USN Member, CBA Member

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Buttersdad posted this 03 December 2022

I have been PCing almost since I started casting my own bullets several years ago. I agree with what info you've been given. As for the pic above, other than shaking off the excess powder, try swirling and shaking the tub a little longer to get a better coat. I had to experiment a little to find the right procedure for me. Once I got it down it works very well for me. Incidentally, I too use smokes powder, I used Harbor Freight powder first, smokes covers and coats better in my opinion.

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Aaron posted this 03 December 2022

To provide the details of the mess above, I used Eastwood powder, lime green. I put the clean dry bullets in a #5 plastic container and poured in some powder. There was enough powder to do the job.

After two minutes of swirling and shaking, the powder was simply not sticking to the all. I shook and swirled for several more minutes to no avail. Then once more.

I saw where a youtuber had wet coated his bullets by adding acetone to the powder so I tried that. The paste coating adhered better to the bullets but there were still a lot of bare spots. Having gone this far and preheating the oven I figured "what the heck - let's bake em."

The results are evident.

Any suggestions as to why the powder simply would not adhere to the bullets initially?

With rifle in hand, I confidently go forth into the darkness.

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hporter posted this 03 December 2022

I'll preface my response with the standard, I am no expert but.....

I've never tried acetone - and I think I would skip it next try.  More than likely it is tied to the adhesion problem.

Be careful on using too much powder, shaking the excess off is important.  It is kind of an art, to shake off the excess, but not so vigorously that the coating gets knocked off by the bullets smacking into one another.  I normally shake it off in my cooking basket over the bowl I shook them in - so that I can dump the excess back into my powder coating stash.

Since all the excess powder is gathered at the base, you must be standing them upright on the tray.  That works, but I don't bother with it anymore.  I just dump them in the homemade hardware cloth basket in the photo of my oven above and I haven't had any pooling issues.  I put a layer of the non-stick aluminum foil under the basket, and then both of them on a cookie sheet to provide the rigidity to safely handle the weight.  I want the bullet bases to be fully coated, and I have had better success with that by cooking them on their sides.

And lastly - I believe you live in a very humid environment like I do.  I normally coat and cook in the afternoon when the heat of the day burns off some of the humidity.  I am not sure the troubles humidity can cause, but I had better results with the Hi-Tek coating doing that - so I adopted it for my PC bullet workflow too.

I've not tried the Eastwood powders, but I know a lot of people do use it successfully.  I can send you some of Smokes clear and his copper to try.  They have adhered very well for me.  I've got quite a bit of that chrome powder I could share, but I haven't used it yet and I am curious how well it will work in the bore.

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Aaron posted this 03 December 2022

I'll keep playing with the Eastwood powder for now since I have it in-hand. If someone could send me contact information for Smoke32 something, that would be appreciated. I was asked to leave the "other" board since they didn't feel the need for my subscription funds any longer. Long story but I am glad I left it. I won't log on to that site ever again. Hopefully there is a way to contact him other than the board.

Like Howard pointed out, there may be something to the humidity and temperature of the base metal. I'll keep putzing around for now and suspect I will eventually get some decent bullets. I'll also swirl longer with more powder next time.

With rifle in hand, I confidently go forth into the darkness.

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Paul Pollard posted this 03 December 2022

for smoke 4320

There’s a phone number on the page, also.

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