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Thread: Type of lead alloy for .223

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    Type of lead alloy for .223

    Hi everyone. I'm new here and new to reloading. I was thinking of getting into casting some bullets to save money and it sounds like fun. I currently have a .223 bolt action rifle and eventually I would like to get an ar-15 in .223/.556. I was just wondering if lyman #2 (90% lead ,5% animony, 5%tin) would work for .223 bullets. if not then what should I use? I'm also looking to cast 9mm down the road as well. Thank you

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy
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    Depends on what you're trying to make it do. Gas check or no? Powder coat or no? Barrel twist? Bullet weight?
    I mix coww and range scrap 50/50 and add 1% tin. Powder coat. 62 grain. Plain base, no gas check. Heat treated at 450° (very hard). Sized .2265. 18.7 grains of h335. 1:7 twist.
    You could get a hundred answers and they can all be "right".
    Them little pills are cheap to make.
    Let the experiments begin.

    Edit: short version...I don't see why it wouldn't be fine.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master RogerDat's Avatar
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    I use Lyman #2 in a .223 cast bullet. The bullet is gas checked, and then powder coated. Sized .224 in a Lee push though sizer base first when installing the gas check and again but nose first after powder coating. I use an NOE outside chamfer hand tool after powder coating to remove any PC flashing from the bullet base and to provide a clean bottom edge. The bottom steers the bullet so I figure it is worth cleaning that base up.

    Pushed by around 23 - 24 grains of Varget powder it cycles a Ruger Mini-14 fine without issues. A little less powder and the brass isn't flung as far, a little more and the load gets a touch more zippy.

    Note: difference between this and post #2 is they use less alloy percentages but then heat treat the bullet to get the desired hardness. Like they said more than one way to get-r-done.

    Making .223 is a bit fiddly. They are small and between the tiny gas check application, the PC application, de-burring the base of melted PC and just loading the little buggers it is handling a lot of small bits several times. On the other hand the ones I have made are accurate and much less expensive than most of the store bought. Plus I value knowing the bucket of brass and some lead means I always have a supply available.

    On sale one can sometimes pick up steel case cheap .223 ammo at prices that make them competitive with reloading when you factor in the time and labor BUT that is almost always the same .55 grain SP or spire hollow point bullet where anything of a different weight or profile is always expensive. In a Mini-14 with fast twist rifling (1:7) a heavier bullet is noticeably more accurate so I cast 70 grain slightly more round point profile in an NOE mold. Store bought 70 grain .223 bullets are rather expensive. Your AR may well be very happy with 55 grain but you may find your bolt gun offers the potential to provide a bullet weight and profile that is more accurate than the typical store bought budget ammo. Or even better performance than more expensive store bought ammo by tailoring the weight, powder, and load to your specific firearm.

    Don't forget most .223 / 5.56 brass has a staked primer so prepping the brass the first time removing that stake so new primers will insert properly is an added task. There is also generally a need to trim the stretch out of sized .223 brass at some point. For maximum brass life one also should anneal the case neck but with 223 brass no longer scarce and hard to find for purchase that extra step to extend the life is less important.

    Bottom line I find loading for a semi-auto in .223 works out ok. Some just figure the work and hassle isn't worth it, the working with lots of small bullet components for high volume shooting. I find making 500 round batch is an enjoyable bit of bench time during the winter months. Your bolt gun won't require as much production so it makes even more sense.

    I don't load 9mm but the folks I know that do use less rich alloy than Lyman #2 since 9mm doesn't require the alloy have that much antimony and tin to be effective. Tin and antimony make for an expensive alloy so not using more than needed is generally a good thing. I have also seen postings about some 9mm barrels, Glock I think have some issue with the micro grooves and lead. But that is hearsay. Large batch PC bullets seems popular with the folks that load 9mm. Hopefully someone who casts and reloads 9mm can provide more specifics.

    I will say 9mm brass is cheap and even copper coated store bought "budget" bullets for reloading are pretty inexpensive. I know one person who reloads with store bought components simply because his reloads by having the "right" charge of the "right" powder performs much better than commercial ammo. He does use a Lee progressive press so he can do 9mm reloading in high volume.
    Je suis Charlie
    Scrap.... because all the really pithy and emphatic four letter words were taken and we had to describe this way of getting casting material somehow.
    Feedback page http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...light=RogerDat I do trade a bit from time to time.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
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    Forgot OP mentioned 9mm. (Was being pestered while posting.)
    I load 9mm with same alloy, treated at 425°. Any softer and the brass swages down the bullet. 150 grains over 2.8 of either titegroup or promo. Promo is right at max. My Ruger likes it. Certainly don't start with that load. I burned a lot of rounds VERY CAREFULLY working up to and slightly over for a safety margin.

    You'll get a hundred right answers about 9mm as well.

    Sent from my XT1710-02 using Tapatalk

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vlad View Post
    Hi everyone. I'm new here and new to reloading. I was thinking of getting into casting some bullets to save money and it sounds like fun. I currently have a .223 bolt action rifle and eventually I would like to get an ar-15 in .223/.556. I was just wondering if lyman #2 (90% lead ,5% animony, 5%tin) would work for .223 bullets. if not then what should I use? I'm also looking to cast 9mm down the road as well. Thank you
    Casting and loading for Cast boolits in 223/556 and 9mm calibers is kind of "advanced" reloading, Since you are new to it, I'd strongly suggest starting out with 38 spl or 45 auto in your quest to start reloading/casting.

    But, if you just have to give 223 (in a bolt gun) a try as your first experience in loading Cast boolits, if you start with lower pressure loads, An alloy with a hardness of 12 BHN, like COWW (Clip-On Wheel Weight) alloy would be adequite. I use 94-3-3 for 9mm.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.”
    ― The Dalai Lama, Seattle Times, May 2001

  6. #6
    Boolit Mold
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    Thanks so much for the replies guys. I have a Savage axis II with a 1:9 twist and a Smith and Wesson M&P9. I haven't thought of gas checking the bullets but if it adds accuracy I will gas check. I was going to powder coat and size them as well(although I'm still not entirely sure what the benefit is). I was planning on casting 55 grain round nose bullets with the Lee molds. I don't make my own alloy so I was going to buy it from eBay that's why I was asking the question (let me know if it's a bad idea). I'm just looking to make decent ammo for plinking and may be going 100-200 yards(nothing crazy) and make it cheap. Should I heat treat them? I understand it makes a harder bullet but what's the benefit? Would I be able to do it in the same oven that I would powder coat them in?

  7. #7
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    If you can find a ebay seller that is reputable/knowledgeable about alloys, than ebay is fine.
    BUT, I would purchase from a trusted castboolits seller, or maybe a trusted company like Rotometals.

    There is lots to read about , regarding alloy and heat treating
    http://www.lasc.us/CastBulletNotes.htm

    Be aware, if you heat treat before you PC, you will be annealing the boolit (making it soft again). If you cold quench your PC'd boolits right out of the PC curing oven, you will likely get erradic results, since the temp required for heat treating alloys is higher (and longer time period) than PC curing.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.”
    ― The Dalai Lama, Seattle Times, May 2001

  8. #8
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    Oh, the benefit to heat treating boolits to make them harder, is so you can push them faster.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.”
    ― The Dalai Lama, Seattle Times, May 2001

  9. #9
    AKA: GRMPS Conditor22's Avatar
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    Vlad, Welcome to cast boolits

    Before casting for/loading 9MM search this forum (upper right corner search box) for previous threads on 9MM.

    The 9MM has a tapered case and people have a tendency to over crimp the boolit (boolit = lead bullet) and downsize it causing poor accuracy and leading.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
    toallmy's Avatar
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    I suggest consider your mold and twist rate before starting on the 223 some things work better than others . You are starting out right by doing the research . Welcome and have fun .

  11. #11
    Boolit Mold
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    Thanks guys for the great info. Learning a tonn. What's the benefit of powder coating. I've been watching a lot of YouTube and everyone on there does it but I still don't know what the purpose is.

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vlad View Post
    Thanks guys for the great info. Learning a tonn. What's the benefit of powder coating. I've been watching a lot of YouTube and everyone on there does it but I still don't know what the purpose is.
    Powder coating replaces the traditional lubing. Powder coat is cleaner you wont notice that as much in bolt gun, AR you will. Starting out casting with .223 really adds to the incline of the learning curve.

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy
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  14. #14
    Boolit Mold
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    Yeah I know it's a stricky caliber however my father in law reloads and has done it for years so I have a very good understanding of what's involved. He just never got into bullet casting.

    I read that whole post about the guy with cast .223 bullets and it's making me aware more and more that it's not as easy as I thought it was but it's still doable.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master RogerDat's Avatar
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    Powder coat is a very tough, hard, lubricant between the entire bullet and barrel. As opposed to bands of lube in a lube groove that gets dispersed as the bullet travels down the barrel. Done right you can pound a lead bullet to half size and not have the baked on powder coat come off due to it having a very solid bond with the bullet.

    Gas check protects the base of the bullet. I would say a simple explanation of the benefit is it spreads out the force evenly and prevents hot gas from getting at the bottom edges of the bullet and deforming them. The bottom of the bullet "steers" the bullet so this adds to accuracy and reduces chance of bottom edge getting hot enough to smear lead on the barrel. There is some debate on exactly how much of what a gas check does but they do help high velocity cast bullets work better. Think of it as a short jacket for the most important part.

    You might want to check out NOE case expander or Lyman M die to size inside of brass for lead bullet. Avoids scraping lead shavings off on the mouth of the brass or the swaging down of the lead bullet inside the case that someone mentioned has a real negative impact on accuracy.

    You are lucky to have a bolt gun, that will allow you to focus on accurate and not leading before you have to worry about cycling, ejecting, and feeding properly in the AR. Get to solve one set of issues at a time.
    Je suis Charlie
    Scrap.... because all the really pithy and emphatic four letter words were taken and we had to describe this way of getting casting material somehow.
    Feedback page http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...light=RogerDat I do trade a bit from time to time.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master mattw's Avatar
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    I am casting for the 22TCM, not running the loads that hot but still mid 1700fps in a 1911 platform. I would suggest that if you are going to work with 22's that you use a gas check and PC the bullets for use in an AR. I have been running lead in the 300BO for awhile, works well and has not had any leading issues, again gas checked and PC'ed. This summer I am going to go to work on my 223 AR, but will have to get a heavier mould for it and have not yet. I would look at moulds at least 60 grains for the AR with a fast twist barrel.

    I would suggest that you work with something that does not use a gas system to learn the basics with. The AR adds a lot of complexities to the process. 9mm can also be a bear to load since it is a tapered case. Really must determine your bore diameter and verify that your chamber will allow a properly loaded cast bullet to "plunk". 9's tend to lead badly if they are not the right diameter.

    All this aside, I run 94/3/3 and have had very good results in both calibers. Have only loaded cast 223 for my 40X so far and they have been 44 grain round nose bullets.

  17. #17
    Boolit Mold
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    Thanks again guys. I was going to size them down to .224 using a Lee sizing die and gas check. Then powder coat. I can install the GC with the Lee sizer correct?

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Yes, you can install the GC with the Lee sizer. I recommend going with .225 though, because .224 is likely to be too small for good results.

    Since you are loading for a bolt action, you might want to start out tumble lubing instead of powder coating. For your stated purposes PC is probably unnecessary. Heat treating likewise. I wouldn't use any powder slower than 2400 or 4227. With those or even faster powders like Red Dot, Bullseye, Titegroup etc. you should be able to find a good 1700-2100 fps load that will work fine with your alloy, tumble lubed and gas checked. Or, you could get a plainbase bullet and powder coat if you don't want to bother with gas checks.

  19. #19
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    I was raised that all gas checked rifle bullets are cast of LINOTYPE. Lubed with 50/50, I use White Label Lube - BAC these days. My bullets are quenched, drop 'em right into the 5 gallon bucket between my feet.

    My DAD was doing this in the 1950's-'60's, it worked for him, it works for me. I set gas checks with the attachment on my Lyman Lube-Sizer, then PC. I then pass them through a Lee bullet sizer die. If your die scrapes off the Powder Coat, then add a bit Dawn dish soap, shake up to coat, size and rinse/dry them off after. Rinse off the die too, and oil it up.

    I use the Lyman Gas Check Seater attachment to seat gas checks because I KNOW they will go on straight.

    So I can't personally answer your question about seating gas checks with a Lee bullet sizing die.
    I HATE auto-correct


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  20. #20
    Boolit Mold
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    Why would .224 be too small? It's the size of factory bullets. I found a Lee .225 sizer and also checked that it installs GC. It does .

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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