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Thread: zinc/aluminum bullets

  1. #1
    Boolit Master Thompsoncustom's Avatar
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    zinc/aluminum bullets

    Well got out and cast some more pure zinc bullets today and 80% of them turn out which is pretty good but it's still a slow process for me at this point as I only use one cavity in my two cavity mold. Well later in the day I went back out and added some aluminum to the molten zinc that I had left just to see if I could get it to melt using the extra heat from the hand torch. Funny thing is I didn't need to at around 7-800 degree the aluminum melted in with the zinc just fine so I cast some bullets out of them and they turned out pretty good as well not sure on the percent but they looks close to the same as the pure zinc ones. Is there any plus to mixing aluminum in? just found it odd that the aluminum would melt in at such a low temp I'm going to play around with it some more maybe tomm and see how much aluminum can be added.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    are you sure that you were melting aluminum? aluminum melts at 1220 or so F and zinc at 700. i have been known to be wrong or completely bad at mind reading or predicting what others will do but may you have been using lead ww that are marked for AL> usage? but regardless please post some picts of the bullets tell us what mold you were using and im really interested in what the lead weight would have been and what you came up with after the zinc was crafted. thankyou for trying the zinc out

  3. #3
    Boolit Master Thompsoncustom's Avatar
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    ya i'll get some pics up tomm and the aluminum I dissolved in was a cut up pop can so I'm pretty sure it wasn't lead. Why I say dissolved instead of melted is because your right the melting point is that high and why is melts/dissolves into zinc I don't know but it does. I'm using a lee aluminum mold 124gr round nose and the pure zinc bullets weight in at 81 grains I haven't weighted any of the ones with aluminum but I would think they would be about the same as I didn't add a ton of aluminum.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master Thompsoncustom's Avatar
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    well here's some pics of the bullets I cast out of zn/alum the other night.





    and here's some pure zinc from a couple days earlier


  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    wow those look really really good. i heard these things are so hard they prob will not even do a "leading" like situation. with a bullet that weight i can push one with .5 cc of bullseye and this will save lots of resources of "bucket filler" to actually good use.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master bslim's Avatar
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    anybody have an idea of what this will do to barrel wear over a period of time?

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Those boolits are looking pretty good.
    I'll be watching this thread for more updates.
    Ronald Reagan once said that the most terrifying words in the English language are: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help".
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    The following is from Phil Sharpe's "Complete Guide To Handloading, Third Edition, copyright 1953.

    Page 63 of Addendum:



    I may be guilty of interpreting, but it sounds to me like zinc is not user friendly toward shooting in handguns and it must be done very carefully in rifles.

  9. #9
    Boolit Mold
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    im interested to see how this works out. we get a few jobs a year at the shop i work at that are made of that zinc-aluminum alloy. its called kirksite. normally the chips dumped in scrap bin... have you been able to check hardness.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Funny you should mention that, Mike.

    From the same page as above:



  11. #11
    Boolit Mold
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    how about that.. what HASNT been tried yet? next time that job comes thru im gonna bring a bucketfull home and see what happens.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master camaro1st's Avatar
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    have you shot any? if so have you reclaimed any yet? i would like to see how they expand.
    man who pees uphill gets feet wet with experience

  13. #13
    Boolit Master Thompsoncustom's Avatar
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    Well I'm brand new to reloading and I mean brand new I haven't loaded a lead bullet yet let alone these, just got powder and primer for the first time yesterday. Just been experimenting in the casting department I see a lot of worry about zinc on the forums here and was wondering if it was possible to make into bullets.

    Sizing, lube choice, powder choice, charge weight, firearm used for testing, accuracy results, etc...

    Also would like to hear more details on casting procedure. Did you use a separate pot? Fluxing requirements(if any), elapsed time on sprue cooling, difficulty in cutting sprues, etc...
    Sizing..... Don't have any sizing equipment at this time I figured I could run lead straight from the mold.

    Lube..... I read somewhere that zinc bullets don't require lube but I will probably ran lee alox and johns pasta wax mixture.

    Gonna be using unique and federal primers and that's all I have at this time. I do have the prefect test weapon as I don't want to mess up my CZ I'll be using a Hi point C9 when I get around to testing these. Anyone reload 9mm with unique and recommend a load for these bullets I'm guessing they weight about the same as the pure zinc which is around 80 grains.

    As Far as the process goes I just use that side burner on my grill and melt the pure zinc sometimes I'll speed it up with my hand torch but the side burner will get the job done. I flux it using borax that I found at the local walmart thanks to a member on here recommending it seems to work just fine. I have my lee mold also sitting on the side burner trying to get it up to the melting point of zinc because the sprue cools pretty fast and if it cools all the way you'll have to use the hand torch to get it off. after the zinc is clean I run the hand torch over it for about secs evenly just to heat it up a little more and than pour it straight from the pot into the mold and as fast as I can grab the hammer and knock the sprue. Than I drop them in an ice bath, not sure if they need this but why not? Also I have no way to test that hardness but I would gladly send out what I have to a few people for testing I can always make more. Another thing is I am getting a whitish flim build up on the inside of my mold which does want to come off I'm guessing I'm going to need the acid from the article above to clean it.

  14. #14
    Boolit Bub mdr8088's Avatar
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    Have you seen Iraqveteran8888 on youtube. They torchured a poor hipoint, 9mm over the corse of several vids, trying to destroy it. After seeing that, and how they fired it with bulges in the barrel, it might do as a test weapon. lol I use Unique in my 9mm, I cast for it also. I'm not sure of a load for an 80gr. bullet, you can always start light and see how it feels. I'll try to find some data. Lee makes a sizer die that run around $14.00 with a bottle of alox. It's stood up to my copper plated bullets well. Or at least better than the bullets stood up to it.
    Bring the smoke!

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    I would cut those sprues soft and figure out a way to deal with smears. If you can't get bullplate then 2 cycle engine oil works OK.

    Seems like the real guess work is in load data. Do you use data for the bullet weight or the bullet size?

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

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    I have been thinking about this some as well, as I am sure a lot of people have since lead is becoming harder to find at least in the form of wheelweights and other scrap that is often now considered "toxic". It wouldn't surprise me to find even more "no lead" hunting/shooting regulations too.

    What I had been wondering about but not checked was the zinc bearing materials which are readily available and should have good castability. Anyway, after reading your post I got to looking a bit and came up with some info that may be of help if you haven't seen it.

    http://www.nshoremfg.com/ZINC_CASTING_ALLOYS.pdf

    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Zamak

    What may be an issue casting zinc is mould life. I am actually surprised that your Lee aluminum mould has survived especially since you have seen that adding aluminum is not hard.

    I know that cast iron moulds do experience high "wear" when used for casting zinc as I work for one of the largest zinc smelters in the world. Even though the moulds are just warm when zinc is poured in, the hot zinc attacks the surface of the mould so mould life is fairly short.

    Also, when they cast "jumbos" which weigh a metric ton, there are two steel pins that run through the jumbo and those pins show high erosion rates and short life so are now coated to protect them from the zinc.

    It will be interesting to see how long your mould lasts. Not sure if a protective coating would be suitable for a small cavity producing high tolerance boolits though. Possibly a fine spray of zirconium oxide or maybe even graphite would be thin enough and provide some protection.

    Nice looking boolits by the way! What size do they cast compared to lead from the same mould? Are they shootable as cast or do you have to size them (bearing in mind that they should not be larger than groove diameter)?

    Interesting thread. I will be watching for future development.

    Longbow

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    Zn boolits do not carry the terminal energy of lead since they are about 60% lighter. Their only practical purpose is within about 30 yards. Their light weight also means they will lose energy quickly in a target. This pretty much rules out rifles and leaves close range extreme velocity pistol work. They can be driven to extreme velocities and could be great in defensive pistol use, but if your target moves outside 30-40 yards (depending on boolit weight and velocity) they will be ineffective as compared to lead. Zn boolits need to be sized to exact bore diameter and NO more otherwise excessive pressures will occur. Pistol cases that are not made to withstand 20K PSI should not be used. This will preclude the use of most non magnum brass.

    Casting zinc requires very high temperatures as opposed to Lead/Tin alloys. Since it is so much lighter than lead it does not fall into the mold and fill the void unless it is held at a high temperature and the caster maintains a very fast casting ryhthm. They cannot be shot oversize without excess pressure and barrel wear. If there is any misalignment during seating they will ruin cases since they are so hard. Since Zn is so hard multi cavity molds are impractical because the sprues are so hard to cut and this places undue stress on a mold. Zinc and lead are contaminates to each other and if you do both, extreme caution must be made to not mix the two. This will require two pots, two molds, two ladles, etc. If you shoot into a berm you intend to mine for lead later you also need to keep that in mind.

    Zn loads produce much less recoil than lead or jacketed loads and will require the sights of a gun to be altered to higher rear sights and lower front sights.

    I think that Zn does have some limited practicality in the high velocity close range magnum defensive pistol use.

    This is what I know about zinc and it is purely academic and I plan on keeping it that way. There are just to many things yet to discover and tweak with lead. I have been at shooting lead boolits for several years now and have so much yet to learn it is not funny. So I ask myself why bother with something like zinc where its only practical purpose is so small, the wear on equipment and extra equipment just to experiment with things that have already been done are another needless and time consuming frivolity for me at this point.

    But I understand your need to experiment!

    Zinc is much more expensive to buy than lead. You can scrap zinc and pay for lead. Last I checked the scrapper was buying zinc for almost a buck a pound. He was buying lead for 25 cents. My guess is that you could go to the scrapper and trade your zinc weights at least 1:1 for lead. I think you could make yourself a steel mold and sell sacrificial anodes to some marine centers for much more than that.
    Last edited by Suo Gan; 12-19-2011 at 01:19 PM.
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  18. #18
    Boolit Master Thompsoncustom's Avatar
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    ya if hi points are one thing it's there built like a tank everything else is well ok but I think it will make the perfect test weapon. I use a hammer on my mold but it's a two headed rubber hammer so I don't see that hurting anything. I do worry about the heat a little but I try to keep it around 800-900 degrees so the zinc/alum flows but the mold doesn't start to melt. I'll haven't had time to get calipers on them yet and see where they come in at but I know my lead one's are .358 in this mold.

    Also if I trash this mold I might upgrade to a cast iron mold as I would never have to worry about melting that but than again I would probably try to start melting things like copper and how knows what into the mix

  19. #19
    Boolit Master


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    First off welcome to our happy home.

    I would NEVER start ANY one in either reloading or casting by jumping in and trying to out think the folks that have published all of the fine books on the subjects.

    Changing from a recommended lube while trying to learn the proper way to cast will only confuse you more.

    Again trying to cast with a different metal before you learn the correct way with PB is leaving you with no one to help you progress.

    Get some experience under your belt and take advantage of the THOUSANDS of years of experience members here have in casting PBs to help you.

    There are many folks here that experiment every day but most have 20-40 years casting and in many cases also hold a PHD in one of the subjects.
    WE WON. WE BEAT THE MACHINE. WE HAVE CCW NOW.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master R.M.'s Avatar
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    I've just scanned over the relies on this, so if I'm repeating another poster. I apologize, but anyway, I sure hope you never shoot them things on my range, and I hope nobody else that does shoot at my range tries this, as interesting as it is.
    R.M.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check