I have been reloading for 50+ years and until recently have always purchased all the components needed for producing cartridges in completed form. Now, due to the shortage of ready made bullets I've decided to start casting my own. After reading and studying I've decided on the following formula for casting media. 20 lbs. clean pure lead, 6.4 ozs tin, 19.2 ozs antimony, one quarter of 1% arsenic which works out to be .8 ounce. I have assembled all the components except the arsenic. Where is a source of this component ? I have 500 lbs. of lead so if you do the math that's 25 batches in total that I will be making. This works out to be exactly 2 lbs of arsenic needed. Looking for an economical source without having to give my life's history to purchase the amount I need. Thanks in advance, Phillip
Formula for casting
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- Last Post 07 February 2021
The formula I posted should give 28-32 BHN. I would be content with anything over 24. My ammo doesn't stay on the shelf over 6 months so deterioration is not a concern I have. But having done further reading since my earlier post I think I'm going to abandon the idea of using arsenic. The temperature you have to attain for arsenic to be of any benefit as a catalyst is too high and presents too much danger and risk to be practical. There appear to be at least 3 safer alternatives to reach 24 BHN or better. The use of Sulphur is one alternative, the addition of WW's is another, and finally adding certain brands of shot will produce the desired results.
You only need arsenic if you are going to water drop harden your bullets. You should never attempt to add pure arsenic to a melt. You are correct, chilled shot is a good source.
What is the procedure you plan to use for alloying the antimony? Search for "alloying antimony" in the posts for information.
The article by Dennis Marshal in the Lyman Handbook of Cast Bullets is excellent.
"chilled" shot is the softer shot. mostly found today in the larger sizes #5 and bigger. "hard shot" is found in almost all brands of of shot for reloading target shotshells. most all new target shotshells have antimony. the better target brands; win.AA, fed. premium and rem sts. have the most antimony. new bagged shot that is hard will cay magnum or hard on the bag. hard to find "chilled" shot today.
"After reading and studying I've decided on the following formula for casting media. 20 lbs. clean pure lead, 6.4 ozs tin, 19.2 ozs antimony,"
For 99.9% of cast bullet use/shooting that is an awfully hard alloy. I suggest you adjust the tin and antimony content to 5% each. That mixed with lead [90/5/5 alloy] will give you Lyman #2 alloy which is an excellent alloy for cast bullets. You can also then mix the #2 alloy with 50% additional lead giving a 95/2.5/2.5 alloy which is excellent for probably 90 % of cast bullets.
Concealment is not cover.........
As others have noted, you are making an extremely hard alloy that is much too hard for many uses. I use an alloy of 2% tins, 4% antimony and 94% lead for many types of casting. I have only used the very hard alloys for 6mm BR loads trying to get over 2,000 feet-per-second.
Getting antimony into solution with lead can be a daunting task. Especially with small batches. I'd recommend you find a way to melt at least a hundred pound sample to assure continuity of alloy for a large number of bullets. This is he URL for a discussion of alloying antimony into lead. thread/10275-melting-pure-antimony/
Farm boy from Illinois, living in the magical Pacific Northwest
What are you shooting that makes you want to use 28 bnh bullets? If you really do need that hardness start scrounging older WWs if you can find them. 12 bnh as cast, 20 bnh mould quenched, and 30 bnh oven treated. And theres no mixing alloys involved. All these numbers are approximate but will be close enough for government work.
As Larry, Bud, and Pat have said more politely -- trying to start casting with the hardness you mention is a really BAD idea. You will have earlier and more success following their suggestions.
If you want to eventually shoot CBs at high velocity you can to try hard alloys after having some early success.
Good luck. i'm sure the folks on this forum will be a help as you go along.
Thank you one and all for the excellent suggestions and sound advice. I would like to clarify my thoughts as to why I chose the formula posted above. I made the decision to use this formula more to avoid shrinkage after casting than for hardness. I considered the hardness level as icing on the cake. I'm going to start casting for just one calibre in the beginning until I'm more proficient and have gained the knowledge needed to expand for all calibre's I shoot, which are numerous by the way. I plan to run my pot between 650 and 675 degrees F. The first calibre I'm going to do will be 45 for use in several auto pistols and revolvers. The mold I'm starting with is a Lee in 452. I do not intend to lube after casting as I've decided to coat the finished bullet with Hi-Tech from J&M specialized products from Australia. I picked this product over powder coating because of the information contained in the MSD's regarding use of powder coating from Eastwood. I do intend to lube the coated bullet before sizing with Alox in a .452 sizing die. If all goes according to plan this my intended procedure. Let me also tell you that after coating I intend to cure the bullets in a toaster oven on 400 degrees for 20 minutes. The oven is equipped with a fan to circulate air during baking, this was stated to be important in the product's instructions guide. This is all brand new to me so I expect many surprises as I undertake this new venture in reloading. But, knowledge is power and I intend to learn as much as I can to be successful at this. No one plans to fail, they do however fail to plan sometimes. I will consider my shortcomings as lessons learned. I really believe I have found the perfect support group to guide me through this exciting new side to reloading. Thanks to all the knowledgeable folks on here who took the time to offer me helpful insight, I appreciate it a great deal. This is fun and I'm excited !
To me it sounds like you're making this a whole lot more complicated than it has to be. Especially for .45 bullets that more than likely wont be going over 900 fps in a revolver and less in an autoloader. I'd really suggest a lot more reading and questions before you start casting. I think you're making it to be a lot more complicated than it is. I cast and loaded up some 45 Colt rounds for a friend yesterday. A 230 gr. tumble lube bullet out of a 6 cavity Lee mould using WWs, Lee alox lube, and 8 grs. of Unique in Starline brass with a WLP primer.
Pat, you may right but the more I read and study and investigate the more things I find that I had no idea about and must be taken into consideration. I don't think it's simply a matter of turning on my pot and dropping in the lead and casting the bullets. If that were the case there wouldn't be so many different subjects on youtube videos and here in this forum as well. I'm really not trying to make this difficult, I just want to be on top of things before I begin. I want to hear from as many experienced bullet makers as possible so as to make as few mistakes as possible.
As Tex Johnston said, "One test flight beats a thousand expert opinions." (Tex is the pilot who did two barrel rolls at the August 1955 Seattle Sea Fair to introduce the new Boeing 707.)
Farm boy from Illinois, living in the magical Pacific Northwest
Has any of your reading included this site?
Actually it pretty much is just a matter of "turning on your pot, dropping in the lead and casting bullets." There very few things you have to get right. A clean mold and high enough temperature is about it. The sizing, if used at all, lubing, and loading also aren't complicated. For your 45, a proven bullet design, soft enough alloy, and the right size about covers it. Even your bullets with rounded edges and wrinkles will shoot better than your 45 can.
There is lots of stuff in print and on the Internet that won't help you a bit.
I agree with Bud and Tex, test flights are a good idea.
I will chime in and say that in a 45 caliber pistol, softer is better, and except for very high velocity (jacketed equivalent) Lyman #2 hardness or lower is going to work out better for any pistol. Remember Tex was a trained test pilot who had probably done thousands of barrel rolls in other aircraft, he did not read a book or watch a few movies on flying a plane, then jump into the -80 and roll it. However, a simple set up, with a soft alloy and tumble lube will let you know which way you want to go. Richard Lee has plenty to say on the subject in his book, and while breaking the bank and technical challenges are out there, cast and jacketed are still different animals. Less so in pistols, more so in rifles. Have fun and welcome!
The mix you gave (without arsenic) will be 1.9% tin and 5.6% antimony. This will be ~18 BHN air cooled, very good for the 45 auto, magnum revolver and light rifle loads. Mixing it 50/60 with lead will give you BHN12 -14 which is good for standard revolver.
I would coat with LEE Liquid Alox, then size the bullets. This is all you need to do.
Lets say I use 2% tin, 6% antimony 94% clean lead and I cast at 650 - 675 degrees and I do not water quench. My biggest question is what do I do if my bullets end up too small. I'm using a Lee .452 mold. My plan was to coat with Hi-TEK then lube the coated bullet with Alox and size in a Lee .452 sizing die. I figured by coating with Hi-Tek I would pick up .002 in diameter and then after sizing I would be back at the desired .452. The reason I want to coat with Hi-Tek is two fold. Primarily it's to avoid leading, secondly it's to gain diameter. Is my whole premise wrong headed ?
I would powder coat the bullets to eliminate leading. Eastwood Ford Light Blue covers the best or you could use Eastwoods clear powder coat. Here is a very good video.
I intend to coat the bullets with Hi-Tek bulllet coating from J&M specialized coatings from Australia rather than powder coating. I made this decision after reading the MSD's on Eastwood and Harbor Freight powder coat products. http://hi-performancebulletcoatings.com/
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