Water Quenching Bullets

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Wm Cook posted this 12 January 2024

What are the primary, secondary reasons for water quenching bullets.  Does the alloy blend enter into this conversation?  Bill C.

My Uncle once told me that you learn something new every day. And when the day comes that you don’t learn anything, well, that’ll be the day after you die.

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Glenn R. Latham posted this 12 January 2024

Primarily it's to harden the bullets, if cast of the proper alloy.  Secondarily, it's so you don't burn your fingers if you can't wait to pick them up.  Alloy has to contain antimony, and a bit of arsenic (wheel weights or chilled shot) helps too.  Too much tin inhibits hardening.

Glenn

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Wm Cook posted this 12 January 2024

Besides preventing leading at high velocities, does anyone harden to prevent the bullet nose from being deformed during the size, lube, check process? 

I’m running a test with a batch coming from #2 Lyman’s to see the bump effect when sized on day 1, 5 and 10.  I was surprised how much it bumped on the first day.  And how much it didn’t change with Linotype.  Bill C.

My Uncle once told me that you learn something new every day. And when the day comes that you don’t learn anything, well, that’ll be the day after you die.

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Duane Mellenbruch posted this 12 January 2024

I find that the push through sizer dies prevent nose deforming if they are processed nose first.  This will work out quiet well if you lube and seat checks with light pressure in an over sized lube size die. 

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Aaron posted this 12 January 2024

Lyman #2 doesn't have the correct alloy to benefit from water quenching. As Glenn pointed out above, ARSENIC must be in the mix to allow for actual hardening with the water quench. It provides the necessary crystalline structure to interlace and harden the alloy.

The clip-on wheel-weights of yesteryear contained it and drop quenching them or heating and quenching them properly increased the BHN of the final bullet.

I hardened to get penetration with the bullet, not expansion.

 

 

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

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Larry Gibson posted this 13 January 2024

I've been blending #2 alloy for years and WQing it to increase the BHN, i.e. hardening the bullet.  I read numerous times that is is the antimony that is the "hardener".  Also read that arsenic is needed.  I've been using linotype or COWWs as the source of antimony in my #2 alloy mixes.  They all have "hardened" to 20 - 21 BHN over the years when WQ'd out of the mould.  Could be there is sufficient arsenic in the linotype or COWWs to begin with but adding arsenic per se not something I give a lot of thought or consideration to.  What I've been doing so far works for me.

LMG

Concealment is not cover.........

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RicinYakima posted this 13 January 2024

I have never bought certified foundry alloy. With that said, there are enough contaminates in used WWs and used linotype pigs to water harden in my experience. 

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Spindrift posted this 13 January 2024

I routinely water quench my bullets, for two reasons 1) It's a gentle way of receiving the soft, vulnerable bullets that prevents damage to the bullets 2) There will be less change in hardness (precipitation hardening) the first weeks after casting. They can be lubed and loaded as soon as they are dry.

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MP1886 posted this 13 January 2024

I routinely water quench my bullets, for two reasons 1) It's a gentle way of receiving the soft, vulnerable bullets that prevents damage to the bullets 2) There will be less change in hardness (precipitation hardening) the first weeks after casting. They can be lubed and loaded as soon as they are dry.
Not they can not be sized and lube as soon as they are dry.  That is the long skinny calibers one will bend if using a luber/sizer such as a Lyman/RCBS and also if they have a fairly pointed nose and you don't have the exact nose punch it will deform the nose. Depending of your alloy mix of lead, antimony, arsnic, and tin they do harden and grow daily.  This has been my experience. One bullet I guarantee you to bend if sized when dry in the afore mentioned manner is the 6.5 Cruise Missile. Another one that will and also swell the nose ogive is that new LEE 140 grain with the flat nose. 

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pat i. posted this 13 January 2024

I cut a mold for a 170 grain 6.5 bullet and if you use a push through sizer and a die a thousandths or 2 over in a lubesizer for lubing you can definitely size and lube as soon as dry. As far as a bullet growing over time, maybe I never have bullets around long enough to notice but I've never seen it. And when you say growing do you mean a tenth or a thousandths? Do they grow indefinitely or is there a cut off date? If I cast 22 caliber bullets today will they grow up be be 30 caliber in 18 years? All I ever use is clip on ww so maybe if you're mixing some concoction up it would change things but I'm a little skeptical.

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MP1886 posted this 13 January 2024

Pat, someone came up with a minimum of two weeks aging for cast bullets. I know Larry likes 10 days. I've measured them everyday through that two week period and depend on the caliber of the bullet (that matters in their growth) is see tenths to thousandths.  I've had some that grew about 2 thousandths. This is with 50/50 alloy (50% lead/50% WW) and also with WW's.  There was a fellow over on the Castboolits forum that loaded some 45 Colts with one of those alloys.  He shot some pretty soon after loading and they fit the chamber well.  The rest had sat a long time before he finally got around to shooting them and NONE of them would fit the chamber!  Sounds like he didn't let his bullets set long enough before he loaded them. Yes if the right alloys they do grow. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Larry Gibson posted this 13 January 2024

I like to let air cooled ternary alloyed bullets "age" for a minimum of 10 days before sizing or lubricating.  I prefer 14 days, however which lets the slower hardening process complete.  

My water quenched  ternary alloyed bullets I usually let the "age" 24 - 48 hours before sizing or lubricating.  That also lets the hardening process complete.

Binary alloyed bullets [lead/tin] I many times water quench to just cool them off as the WQ does not effect any hardening.  Those i can then size, lube and load right away.  

Since I size after the hardening is complete I've not paid any attention to any "growth" prior to that.  I've measured many bullets over time after sizing and haven't found any significant "growth".  

LMG

Concealment is not cover.........

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Eutectic posted this 13 January 2024

When I was heat treating bullets in order to achieve maximum hardness I made the alloy according to directions from Dennis Marshal. This was 1/2 % tin, 4% antimony and 0.1% arsenic. The arsenic came from chilled shot which is about1% arsenic. The lead tin and antimony were from pure metals to avoid any impurities which may be in scrap like wheel weights.  Maximum hardness can be 30 or higher, harder than Linotype alloy. A good batch of old (1960's) WW was very close to this alloy.

This alloy does not cast very well because of the low tin content. Adding tin reduces the liquidus temperature which limits the maximum hardness. Eutectic alloys like Linotype do not precipitation harden.

This alloy expands as it slowly softens over time. This caused me problems with close fit bullets! Because precipitation hardening is a crystal structure process, the expansion on revision to original hardness may be a characteristic of all precipitation hardened lead/antimony/tin/arsenic alloys.

Steve 

 

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res45 posted this 14 January 2024

Any bullets for pistol or rifle loads where expansion is not a requirement I water quench, with the alloy mix I use it does add additional hardness once quenched and allowed to set for a couple of weeks without have to use as much of my antimony lead, thus allowing me to make more bullets. 

As I recall, antimony is the main hardening agent for lead while the presence of arsenic, a grain refiner, is a catalyst which aids in further hardening when heat treating bullets using the time and temperature method.

'Artisan' in Lead, Brass & Powder.

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MP1886 posted this 14 January 2024

Any bullets for pistol or rifle loads where expansion is not a requirement I water quench, with the alloy mix I use it does add additional hardness once quenched and allowed to set for a couple of weeks without have to use as much of my antimony lead, thus allowing me to make more bullets. 

As I recall, antimony is the main hardening agent for lead while the presence of arsenic, a grain refiner, is a catalyst which aids in further hardening when heat treating bullets using the time and temperature method.

 

 

Remember you have to have the PROPER amount of tin for that Antimony to work. Too much IS NOT good. 

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mashburn posted this 15 January 2024

Are you using water quenched bullets, for you powder coated hunting rounds? 

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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Shuz posted this 16 January 2024

In my experience, for soft alloy hunting bullets that are powder coated, they do not get water quenched first.

Powder coating makes any bullet alloy, " harder than the hubs of hell!"

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shootcast posted this 24 January 2024

Diameter growth is new to me. Never gave that a thought. All I can say must not be much with my alloys. The only difference I have noticed is the as cast diameter depending on alloy. I quenched for two reasons. Increased BHN and a pile of bullets in a container. I read and article that quenching from mold was not reliable for hardness. Meaning that slight difference in rhythm, alloy temperature or mold temperature caused variance in hardness. Hardness variations of 2 BHN supposedly caused accuracy differences. Mainly seen in group shooting. This got me to thinking well maybe. I started randomly picking some bullets out of my aged quenched lots and checked BHN. It’s possible that my technique or skill for checking hardness isn’t accurate enough. It’s also possible that yes variations did exist. I stopped quenching went back to air cooled. I still see some variations in BHN. I still see double grouping on targets. Three in one area and two in another area. I haven’t proven yet there is a noticeable difference . Whatever I do wrong I’m good at it.

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