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Thread: New to boolit casting, having trouble!!! Help please!!!!

  1. #1

    Thumbs down New to boolit casting, having trouble!!! Help please!!!!

    Hello, I'm new to bullet casting. I cast for 9mm Luger and powder coat the boolits.

    I did my first batch, and everything with the casting, PC and sizing went great, but when loading, in the seating station, the bullet (sized to .356) gets swaged by the case to .352-.353 (which is the internal case diameter the powder funnel gives to the case) obviously creating extreme accuracy and leading issues. In 100 rounds, literally everyone keyholed

    I'm positive the swaging is caused in the seating station by the case itself, and not in the crimp station.

    I really don't get why the bullets would be this soft....

    I'll leave pictures and details below. Thanks!!!

    Bullet alloy: Cast from recovered bullets from the range backstops. Cleaned and made into ingots.
    Casting pot: Lee Pro 4 20lb
    Casting temperature: Unknown since I don't have a termometer. The setting on the Lee pot was between 4 and 5. (Perhaps this is the culprit? Should I cast at a higher temperature?)
    Bullet mold: Lee 6 cavity 125gn .356 2R
    Bullet sizing: .356 (previously I loaded with PC coated bullets of this diameter sold by a local manufacturer and had absolutely no accuracy or leading issues with them)
    Boolit hardness: Unknown, but obviously way soft
    Powder coating: Hybrid paint. Pre heated toaster oven to 200º C (400º F) and baked for 12 minutes.
    Water quenching when casting: Yes.
    Water quenching when powder coating: Yes.
    Reloading machine. Dillon 550B
    Dies: Dillon. Except powder funnel, which is a DAA Mr. Bulletfeeder funnel.

    PICS:

    https://imgur.com/a/UjH2S

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    "Casting temperature: Unknown since I don't have a termometer. The setting on the Lee pot was between 4 and 5. (Perhaps this is the culprit? Should I cast at a higher temperature?)"...

    My experience with Lee melt pots, is that each number is 100 degrees. So at 4 to 5 setting, it's a wonder that the lead will even flow. Yes, you want to cast at a higher temp. I do have a thermometer (multiples actually, because I use them in my work). So I did a good test on what temp/what setting? I found them to be quite accurate, and quite on the money for number settings.

    I cast at 7 on my Lee pot. Well, 7 on my RCBS Pro-Melt too, it's accurate also.

    Your case is prolly sizing them down as you suspect. I had this trouble too for a short while. But after I began using "M" dies for case expansion, the problem went away. Yay!

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    Welcome to castboolits and your new home.
    Although I don't coat my boolits I like the way the look.
    Yours look great and I hope the shoot as goo as they look.
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  4. #4
    Boolit Master BNE's Avatar
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    Alloy and casting temp is probably not the cause of your problem.

    Try opening or belling your cases a little more. Hand place the the bullets into the brass. Some folks use a 38 bell die for 9mm. If you don’t have that you should be able to just go a little deeper.

    Then separate the Bullet seating and crimping operations. (This fixed the issue for me.)

    Hope this helps.
    I'm a Happy Clinger.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master OS OK's Avatar
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    Welcome.

    The range Pb is prolly ~ 9 or 10 BHN, no telling without testing...but...PC'd is useable in a 9mm for sure.

    But...they are soft enough to have the brass swage them down further. You need to get that brass expanded to .001" less than the diameter of the cast. With a slight taper crimp you will have sufficient boolit retention by the case to prevent the rounds from being seated further by their trip through the magazine and into battery.

    How are you sizing those boolits in the picture, or...are you shooting them as PC'd like that? What diameter are the ones in the picture?
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  6. #6
    Boolit Man
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    I must say your boolits look good, but looks don't always "Fly". Range scrap in itself is generally too soft in my experience. Sounds to me you need to harden up your alloy somehow. Do you have a hardness tester ? Are you sure you're not putting on too much crimp ? I would recommend you get a thermometer, just for repeatability. Although I don't think that has anything to do with undersized boolits in this instance, since your caliper says 356 after coating.

    Also 9 mm Luger doesn't really tell us anything about your gun. How old is it for one, newer ones will be far more accurate in manufacturing but you may still need to slug the barrel/chamber to find out if your boolits fit right. I went bigger bore and haven't played with my nine for a coupe years, I will be watching for more experience to chime in, I got a very similar mold w/2 cav.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    All the above replies are correct! Your range scrap will be fairly soft, depending on composition. Jacketed and plated bullets are generally nearly pure lead, so if there wasn't much cast in your scrap it will be soft. Soft bullets will be swaged by the 9mm case. So either get a noe or m-die style expander to open the case up further, or harden your alloy so it won't be swaged. Water quenching only helps if the lead has a crystalline alloy such as antimony or arsenic, so you won't gain much by quenching your range scrap. The benefit of quenching after pc is also questionable, I haven't tested it myself, but several respected members here have and found little benefits.
    "In God we trust, in all others, check the manual!"

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    Lyman M die, RCBS expander die, or if you already have the Lee expander die the NOE inserts, any of the above at the right diameter will solve your problem. OS OK gave you your diameter, too.
    Wayne the Shrink

    There is no 'right' that requires me to work for you or you to work for me!

  9. #9
    Whoa! Thank you all for your quick responses!!

    I'll try to answer some of the issues you guys bring up.

    I size after powder coating.

    I have tried these bullets with a Glock 17 and a CZ Shadow. They both gave the same abysmal results, not surprisingly, since the bullets are swaged by the case from .356 to .352. I doubt there's ANY 9mm gun that has that thin of a bore diameter...

    I tried casting at a higher temp. No dice, it still swages the bullet.

    For those that mention insufficient flaring of the case mouth, I have tried adjustin so it flared to .367, where it's notoriously bell/trumpet shaped. No luck either. Still deforms it. By the way, the DAA powder funnel is like the Lyman M die, meaning it has "stepped" expansion, but it is also hollow so that powder goes through it.

    The problem seems to be that after the sizing die does its job, the flaring/powder funnel internally sizes the case to less than .355, and the bullet is so soft that when it enters the case, instead of expanding it, the bullet itself swages! The problem is NOT in the (separate) crimping station, because I've measured a bullet at .356, seated it in the case, NOT crimp it, pull it, measure it again, and it swaged to .353.

    As I write this, I'm running an experiment. I just casted a few bullets (some water quenched, some air cooled), I did not PC them. Just tried loading a few dummies with bare naked lead, to see if the problem is still there. It is.
    So, the experiment is this: I placed them in an oven at 250º C (480º F) for 60 minutes. When they're done, I'll water quench them and see if it gets any better.

    Once again, thank you all for your responses!

    Oh, and by the way.... Do you want a head scratcher....? A friend gave me a sample of boolits he casted (I was there when he casted them). No alloy, just pure lead. I tried loading them with the same setup I mentioned aaaaaaaannnddddd... They DON'T swage when I load them.... What... The... Heck...? As I mentioned, I don't have any means to test hardness, but both my boolits (that swage when loading) and his boolits (that don't swage when loading) take the same amount of effort to crush with a set of pliers. I know, I know, not scientific, but my point is the darn things are also very soft and they do not swage when loading them with the same equipment that swages mine!!!! And they're pure lead from old water pipes... Cast in the same manner I cast mine.... I don't get it....
    Last edited by Pierruiggi; 12-24-2017 at 11:09 AM.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master OS OK's Avatar
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    Soft Pb's need variable expansion with different cases...

    ...some cases are softer than others and don't put enough swage on a harder cast to notice a difference.
    I experimented with soft Pb & Sn blends doing lots of work with HP's and solved the 'case swaging' problems with a set of NOE expanders for the Lee belling die pictured below.


    The 2 'belling inserts' in the top left of the box come with the Lee 'expander die' (it only bells, that's why I call it a belling die) and the rest of the expanders made by NOE fit that die and actually expand the brass deep enough to seat the cast and avoid further swaging.

    There are other dies that do the same thing but in my opinion NOE & Lee combination give more options to the guy running the press.
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    just, "watch your 6" .

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy
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    I’m running the exact same setup as you (same pot, mold, alloy) and I even test from a Gen 1 Glock 17, so maybe I can offer a little insight here. First, I run my pot between the hottest two temp lines. The bullets you’re dropping look good, so casting temp might not be a concern. I water drop after casting, PC the bullets, and water drop again. I use a Lee Universal Expander die to put a tiny bell (barely visible upon close inspection) on the cases before loading. I run the bullets through a .356 Lee sizer and they spec out right at .356 coated when I’m done. Glock throats are super tight, so I seat a little deeper to make the gun happy (1.085, I believe). The gun wouldn’t go into battery if they were seated shallower. I don’t use anything to crimp other than the bullet seating die, and I run them just hard enough to take that flare out of the case.

    You didn’t mention load data, so I can’t comment on that, but that’s where I ran into a problem. 115gr FMJs run straight and accurate out of that gun with 3.6gr of Titegroup, but my cast bullets were keyholing like you wouldn’t believe with that load. I worked all the way up up to 4.3 of Titegroup, which is on the higher end of the acceptable spectrum, and that solved the problem in my Glock. Good clean holes, 2” groups at 15 yards if I try. No signs of over pressure, still subsonic, perfect cycling, and no leading.

    Maybe play with the powder some and see if that changes things for you. It’s what worked for me, and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

    Hope that helps you out.

  12. #12
    Boolit Bub
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    Are you using a lee factory crimp die?

  13. #13
    Update on the experiment: After baking the bare lead cast boolits at 480F for 60 min and water quenching them, I loaded a few and found out they harden a bit, since they now get swaged to .354-.3545... ALMOST usable...

    Here in the pic are 3 boolits. 2 with plier marks and 1 without, for reference. The one with the small plier mark is water quenched when cast and then heat treated as I described earlier, this one when loaded resized from .358 dropped from mold to .3545 when pulled. The one with the big plier mark is water quenched when cast and nothing else; this one when loaded resized from .358 from the mold to .353 when pulled.

    Heat treating does seem to make a difference in hardness.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Pierruiggi; 12-24-2017 at 12:23 PM.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    I'd guess you need an expander with a longer shank so that it opens up the case a little deeper so that it won't swage down the bullet.

    I'm not sure it's possible to have much of a impact water dropping bullets after the initial casting. It's not going to hurt anything but getting a better alloy is the best answer.

    I can't see how casting temperatures would have any effect on the final size of the bullet unless they are dropping from the mold undersized. I usually cast with my Lee pot set around 4, but I cover it with a lid to keep temp warmer.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master

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    A common problem with that caliber, it would seem. Never encountered it until my dad brought home a 9mm 1911 to ease the pounding on his surgery-rebuilt wrists.

    If your metal is rendered from straight jacketed bullets, my testing of that indicates that you've got something very much like 30-1 lead/tin, your BHN will be about 9, and being lead/tin, no amount of water quenching, oven heat-treating, or aging in the world is going to make it harder. You need an addition of antimony, and unless you are getting a significant proportion of other people's cast in your range scrap, it won't be there at the levels you need for this project. I.M.O. you'll want to be above the hardness of air-cooled wheelweights - 12BHN - and being in the land of linotype or water-quenched wheelweights - 22-24BHN - certainly wouldn't hurt.

    Second item is to increase case flare. Solved this for my Dad's gun by hijacking a Lee .38 S&W sizing die.
    WWJMBD?

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  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Perhaps this will help you understand the metals and their characteristics?

    http://www.lasc.us/HeatTreat.htm

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    where are you located? I'm thinking its an alloy issue but without your loading setup in front of me I cant verify its not die setup. if your swaging bullets my common experience is I setup the dies wrong. and its very very easy to do. crimp dies have a fine balance between just right and swaging even coww water dropped bullets. post a location and maybe someone locally could try and help you out.

  18. #18
    SUCCESS!!!!!! Heck yeah!!!!!!!!!!!

    The heat treated boolits have hardened enough to where they don't swage when loading!
    I will definitely buy some antimony for my next melting batch, but at least I seem to have a quick fix or workaround so I don't waste the ones I already have casted.

    Big thanks to everyone, specially Dusty Bannister who sent me a PM explaining the proper heat treatment method!
    Last edited by Pierruiggi; 12-24-2017 at 01:35 PM.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Strtspdlx View Post
    where are you located? I'm thinking its an alloy issue but without your loading setup in front of me I cant verify its not die setup. if your swaging bullets my common experience is I setup the dies wrong. and its very very easy to do. crimp dies have a fine balance between just right and swaging even coww water dropped bullets. post a location and maybe someone locally could try and help you out.
    Argentina! I'd guess is kinda far from most forum members.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master ammohead's Avatar
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    If you can get some hard shot it can add antimony and arsenic for heat treating.9

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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
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GC Gas Check