View Full Version : Lead Alloy-Hard but not brittle

05-05-2005, 06:11 PM
At the request of some folks on another thread and Buckshot's suggestion I am posting a brew I use here.

The alloy I use is a concoction myself and two other guys at the Bureau of Standards came up with for a project and thought it would also be good for bullets. It has a Brinnell of 25 but is not brittle like linotype. Slabs 1/8" in thickness can be bent in a complete "U" shape without breaking. It has a very fine grain structure unlike linotype's course grain structure. Using Lyman MolyLube, I have never had any leading with this alloy. I have shot this stuff up to 2500fps (chronographed and gas checked) and no lead. If anyone wants the brew I am posting it here. It is really easy to do at home. It doesn't have anything exotic in it.

The "brew" is easy to make in 5# increments. You will need a semi-accurate scale. Perfection is not needed as you keep each batch separated and then homogenize it all by taking one ingot from each pile to make a 10# pot for casting. I have even gone as far as casting the pots into ingots 5 times for great consistency. See what happens when there is 20 ft. of snow up here in the winter, way too much time on my hands.

The ingredients are:
1. 3# of wheel weights that have been made into ingots- no clips or dirt
2. 2# of linotype- cleaned and melted into ingots- no ink, etc.
3. 1/8# (2 oz.) of 50/50 lead solder
4. 1/4# of copper containing pewter-it has a yellowish tint not silvery

The secret is the copper. I could go into a long spiel about what it does for the alloy in terms of structure, but who cares. As you can see a few pounds of this pewter will cast one big batch of bullets. The pewter you need contains:
Tin = 88-89%
Copper = 4.03 (4 to 5 is good-no more)
Antimony = 7.19 (7 to 7 1/2- no more)
Arsenic = 0.026 (don't worry, its there)

You can make this brew too using pewter with no copper in it, which is more common. Melt some copper wire or clean pipe and add the pewter to it. Copper takes oxy-acetylene to melt it. Propane torches don't quite have enough ooomph. 1/4# of copper for each 5# of 92% tin and 8% antimony pewter gets you there. This is the pewter used in plates and such that you see at garage sales and the flee market. 6 or so large dinner plates and you are set for life. The arsenic is incidental. It will be there so don't even sweat how much. 5# of this pewter will be enough for 200# of bullet brew. I don't know about you, but at 105 to 160 grains per bullet that I shoot, that is a lot of bullets.

It works in everthing I, my sons and daughter and 3 friends have shot it through, handguns and rifles. We have used it for plain base as well as gas checked bullets with the same great accuracy. For plain base bullets we all have found 1500-1600 is about the upper limit. Depending on your gun, that may or may not hold true.

We even tried adding silver at one time, but found it didn't really do anything we hadn't already figured out. Silver is present in all lead alloys to some degree and really doesn't do anything that adding any more of this expensive stuff warrants. This is the stuff and the percentage that most "pure" lead has in it because that is the way it is found in the ground. These guys all stick together is mother nature's kitchen. Unless you have the super expensive reagent grade lead, 99.9999% pure, these guys are in it.

Bismuth = 0.009
Zinc = 0.001
Silver = 0.002
Nickel = <0.001
Aluminum = <0.001
Gold = <0.001
Phosphorous = <0.001
Indium = 0.009

Not one of the above really adds or detracts from good bullets in these percentages. We tried up to 5% silver and it just made the brew expensive, no better or worse. Now 5% gold on the other hand did make the alloy more malleable, but very expensive. We could actually bend 1/8" slabs back and forth several times before they work hardened and broke. So, if you have any extra gold laying around that your wife or whoever hasn't claimed........

Anyway enjoy and great shooting.

05-05-2005, 10:12 PM
Wow Fish-bait, thanks! This sounds really interesting. I'm gonna have to give this a try.

05-05-2005, 10:19 PM
I think I have this alloy hacked into a spreadsheet.

for some reason I cannot post it here, the webpage hates me I guess

PM me and I will send it to you (excel spreadsheet)


05-05-2005, 11:13 PM
PM sent, thank you

05-06-2005, 12:21 AM

Could you translate this mix into its constituent elemental percentages, or into something I could mix up from metals / alloys from Bill Ferguson? (He sells a couple of varieties of pewter alloy, one of them lead-free.)


05-06-2005, 08:35 AM

Could you translate this mix into its constituent elemental percentages, or into something I could mix up from metals / alloys from Bill Ferguson? (He sells a couple of varieties of pewter alloy, one of them lead-free.)


Could you please give the contact information for Bill Ferguson?


05-06-2005, 08:36 AM
fish bait,
That sounds simple enough that even I could make it! Have you had an opportunity to check expansion properities? -JDL

05-06-2005, 08:37 AM
Could you please give the contact information for Bill Ferguson?



05-06-2005, 12:58 PM

This stuff is hard enough, Brinell of 25, I kind of doubt it will expand much unless it hits something real hard, like steel or rock. The bullets I have dug out of the hill behind the barn are a little scuffed up and maybe a rock has taken a chunk out of the nose, but that is it. I don't hunt anymore, so I have no clue what they might do on a critter, but I doubt it will be much in the way of mushrooming, if any.

05-06-2005, 01:06 PM
Good post. Guess I need to watch for some of that pewter.

Sounds like Felix's babbit mix. The copper adds strength to the alloy that is not obtainable through the commponents of lino.

With his mix, I've shot .223s at 2600 FPS with 1 1/2 accuracy at 100 yards.

Been planning to get back to that project but I've put it off./beagle

05-06-2005, 01:20 PM

Somewhere in the few notes I brought home after I retired, I have the percentage of each. I just make mine from the recipe I posted. I have found it doesn't have to be a smelted alloy to work. At work we didn't even get that critical for the project we had to do. If you are in a hurry have the Antimony Man figure it out for you, 'cause I have no idea which of the boxes my notes on this are. Maybe this summer when it gets too hot to fish I will dig around for the info.

Here are the figures for each material we used and the amount. The numbers are in the order of lead, tin and antimony. Each is from an analysis of the components of the original batch we made.

Wheel Weights---95.25-.5-4 and .25 arsenic---3#
Copper containing pewter---Tin = 88.754-Copper = 4.03-Antimony = 7.19
Arsenic = 0.026---!/4# or 4 oz.
50/50 lead solder---1/8# or 2 oz.

Have fun with a calculator. I am off to chase fish.

05-06-2005, 01:27 PM
No need to search explicitly for the pewter, Beagle! Need more Babbit? A phone call will get you another brick of the very same stuff. I probably have 5 bricks left, and maybe go through a brick every 10 years. Use it only for small diameter boolits, and/or a gun having a too fast of a twist for another 200 fps or so. A waste otherwise. ... felix

05-06-2005, 04:40 PM
What I came up with a spreadsheet is

7.1 tin
7.9 ant.
84.9 lead
.8 copper

anybody that would like this may email me and I will send it to you, it has entries for WW, Lino, Lead, and now Pewter, it then gives you the final alloy constitution.


Tom Myers
05-07-2005, 10:33 AM
I dunno if this is going to work or not, but I broke the data down and placed into a table of sorts and attatched it to this message:

Tom Myers

05-07-2005, 11:37 AM
Very informative, Tom and Bill, and thanks! ... felix

05-07-2005, 03:04 PM
I found my notes from work in the first box I looked in this morning, pure luck. Tom Myers hit the numbers so close as to be irrelavent. We assayed the original batch.

I also found notes on a batch we made that had a full 1% of copper and it was the toughest of the bunch. I took a small amount home and cast some bullets, 10, from it and found they shot great but were a bear to size. I put a "slug" we cast at work in the vise and literally beat the thing to death before it broke from work hardening. I didn't keep any notes on the formula because, as I remember, it did not work well for our project at the time.

My congrats to Tom for his work.

mike in co
05-07-2005, 09:04 PM
has anyone asked antimony man if he can provide the copper/pewter ??
it looks like all else is common.
sounds like real potental if the cost is still low....the prime goal of most casters...

45 2.1
05-07-2005, 10:08 PM
Looks like a good alloy for the 6.5mm bullets.

05-08-2005, 12:29 PM
As good as my little "brew" shoots in my 7mm's, it should shoot real well in a 6.5mm. Two of my friends shoot my brew in their 6mm's and 25's and I have heard nothing but good. Antimony Man probably has the pewter with copper, I'm just to cheap to pay shipping on heavy stuff like lead and such. Cooper containing pewter is also sometimes used as babbit for bearings in old(1950's and back engines) and sometimes is laying around car and truck repair places that have been there forever. A buddy found some at the local engine machine shop in Delta or Paonia, CO. It is not hard to find.

05-08-2005, 01:55 PM
Ahem, McMaster Carr sells a Tin based babbit with 3.5% copper in it... Not cheap though, my 2002 catalog lists 4.5lbs at $48....


05-08-2005, 10:32 PM
This looks like another "Sweed" test in in order. Sure glad I aint got one.

mike in co
05-08-2005, 11:17 PM
fish bait...where are you ???you can use a private message...

05-08-2005, 11:49 PM
This looks like another "Sweed" test in in order. Sure glad I aint got one.

Nothing like beating a dead horse.

Now, when you find an alloy of about 100 Br., you'll also find success with a cast bullet in the 6.5. Like I told Joe, it ain't the size of the hole in the barrel, it's the twist rate.

Give it a rest. Jesus ain't come back yet, the Soviet Union is dead, Michael Jackson isn't white and the Pope's not a Jew. Likewise, the 6.5 ain't going to shoot cast bullets, but keep praying.

05-08-2005, 11:53 PM



05-10-2005, 06:36 PM
fish bait...where are you ???you can use a private message...
mike in co

PM on the way as requested


The Nyack Kid
10-08-2005, 11:55 PM
I have been looking ALL OVER THE NET FOR THIS DANG THREAD i guess old age (25) is starting to catch up with me . ive got to try this out . has anyone done anything with this over the summer ?

45 2.1
10-09-2005, 07:54 AM
Likewise, the 6.5 ain't going to shoot cast bullets, but keep praying.

Another myth spawned on the net.

Bass Ackward
10-09-2005, 08:43 AM
I would have to agree and maybe disagree a little. We built a 6.5 X 55 last year that got out the door before I could get my hands on it because of hunting season. But this spring we built a heavy 6.5-06 with an 8" twist that I got to play with a small bit and although conditions weren't exactly right on bullet fit because I sized down .270 bullets that didn't have enough lube space, I got a 105 grainer to 2600 fps at 3/4". Load was dippered RL15 at @ 45 grains.

While this sounds OK, the guy keeps sending in targets that are below 1/4 at 200 yards. My standard for lead is that it at least shoot as well as copper from any gun. So I guess everyone else might be technically correct or I need better fitting bullets.

My mix is about .002% copper. More than that and you can run into messes with fillout, spout or laddle gum up, brittleness and have to run much higher pot temps. This is why my ACWW usually performs so well at HV. In fact, for me, there is no accuracy advantage to using hard mixes unless it is to need more powder choices in the faster burning ranges. (pressure)

porkchop bob
10-30-2005, 01:10 PM
I asked a friend who has a foundry to make up a small batch and do some testing. His report arrived today and is provided for information.

Hi Bob!
I did make up a small amount of the alloy. The melting temperature was VERY high ( 1115'F ) which is very hard on the molds. Also the shot bullet had picked up a LOT of steel from the gun barrel. That is a sign of excessive wear. The Birnell was at 27. For the cost, I would have to charge $2.50 per pound, not a good price for bullet metal.
Oh Well!