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Thread: Any reason NOT to water quench?

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    Any reason NOT to water quench?

    As posted just now in another thread, I have water-quenched almost every bullet I’ve ever cast. Is there any reason not to?

    Thanks,

    8mmFan

  2. #2
    I cast several bullets which shoot more accurately than I can shoot and which leave absolutely no leading. In those cases I don't see what I would gain.

    Having said that, I have read discussion on obturation v. hardness. I hope someone with experience addresses water quenching in the light of that issue.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    I water drop so I can handle quicker. That’s straight COWW and it does make them harder if that’s what you want, also doesn’t leave any marks on the boolit. You just have to dry out if your going to PC them. Now if you want softer for slower speed like 800 FPS you may choose to just air cool, for obturation.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
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    Got it, Hossfly. That makes sense. I am starting to fool around with a lot of “cat’s sneeze” loads in the 30-06, 8x57, and 7x57. Maybe with those I should start thinking about air cooled drops. All of those loads do get a gas check. Thanks for the responses, guys.
    Last edited by 8mmFan; 07-06-2019 at 11:29 AM.

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master


    Larry Gibson's Avatar
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    With true "cat's sneeze" loads (the original name for such loads as "mouse fart") you want a soft alloy as the harder the alloy is the faster (more pressure) required to keep the bullet from sticking in the barrel. You might cut your COWW alloy 50/50 with lead and definitely let the bullets air cool and age (7-10 days) before use.
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy
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    Just to be clear, Larry - re-size them almost immediately, and THEN let them age 7-10 days before shooting? Or let them age 7-10 days, THEN re-size?

    The only reason I’m asking for clarification is that I did see somewhere that boolits expand and get much harder with age. And that’s a whole other subject - I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I’ve got a few hundred loaded cartridges for a couple of calibers from 10 years ago. If they’ve expanded and hardened, I suppose they could theoretically be tougher to chamber.

    Thanks for all the help guys.

    8mmFan

  7. #7
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    For me unquenched ww tend to shoot best up to 1800 fps at most. The transition might be around 1600. A lot depends on your shooting. I see little need to wait to cast on a day that I have to find time to size as well. It's much easier to size a week later without worrying about wiping off hardness.
    [The Montana Gianni] Front sight and squeeze

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master popper's Avatar
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    The alloy can expand and make the dia larger, usually 0.0005 or less. Try some AC and see if target results are OK. You can size whenever - note - soft alloy doesn't spring back much so check the final dia. Just drop on a damp cotton towel vs into water. Slow low pressure loads don't always need a GC. Light load of unique and you might save 3 cents apeice.
    Whatever!

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I handle my just cast bullets within 15 minutes of my last cast. How long does it take for them to dry from water quenching? I tried water quench when I first started casting and didn't like waiting for them to dry or adding another step to the whole process. Harder bullets require more powder to obturate. More pressure means more powder. I've taken up HT coating my 9mm cast bullets. Any contamination of the bullets surface causes problems. I can't imagine water quenching helping that situation. I have no experience with it though.

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    I don't water quench my boolits at all. I use straight COWW if I want a hard boolit and 50/50 coww/lead if I don't. But then the fastest I've ever pushed cast is 2000 fps in .358 Win and 8x57mm. I use LLA and PC depending on my mood and I've avoided leading so far. I size them with Lee push thru dies.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master


    Larry Gibson's Avatar
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    let them age 7-10 days, THEN re-size

    That's my suggestion.
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

  12. #12
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    Theoretically,
    One thing to worry about with water dropping boolits from the mold, would be hardness consistency in a batch, because as you cast, the water warms up, the boolits won't be cooling as fast in warmer water. I've never investigated this, so maybe the potential variation won't be enough to worry about? especially for pistol, but I would think for the best groups when shooting rifle, you would want to most consistent hardness, boolit to boolit, as possible.
    That's my 2˘
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.”
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  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy gnostic's Avatar
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    I'm casting pure range scrap and water quenching, with great results. Years ago it was easier to find WW or linotype. The last bucket of wheel weights I cast, were about 20% lead with lots of steel and I'm guessing zink. For the type of shooting I do, USPSA and steel plates, water dropped range scrap works great. I think it depends on the quality of the alloy you're casting, the days of linotype and wheel weights are long past for me. That said, water quenching is a must...
    Last edited by gnostic; 07-06-2019 at 06:18 PM.

  14. #14
    DOR RED BEAR's Avatar
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    It depends on the gun and bullet i plan to shoot. Some of my guns just shoot better with softer bullets mostly my handguns and lower velocity. Some but not all my rifles shoot better with harder bullets. I try to feed them what they like. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out what that is. Anyway i do both depending.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    I do it because for me, its faster.
    When I first got into casting, the rage was tempering or hardening your boolits..... like powder coating is now.

    Back then, you had to cast them, drop on a dry towel, then heat a oven hot enough for one to 'slump'.
    Back off the temp. so many degrees, then stand them all up on a sheet, and bake them for so long.
    Only then, could you dump them in a pan of water for the correct amount of hardening.

    I figured dropping them out of the mold into a 5 gal. bucket of water on the floor behind me
    would get me to the same place for the correct hardness.
    With the bucket behind me, there was no danger of splashing water getting into the pot.

    As for sizing, I did it when I got around to it a few days later.
    Last edited by Winger Ed.; 07-07-2019 at 02:56 PM.
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  16. #16
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    The only reason I can think of NOT to water drop is if you want soft bullets that will expand on impact.
    All my firearms work perfectly well with water dropped, correctly sized, and lubed boolits.
    I cast range scrap in a confined area on a small table top and drop into a tupperware bowl half full of water that is below the surface of the table. When done casting, I place the boolits on a towel and roll them around a couple of times and put a fan on them for a few minutes. In the mean time, I set up my sizer and then get to work sizing and lubing the boolits. If I wait even a couple of days, the boolits harden enough they become difficult to size with the Lyman 4500. In that case I will run them through my Lee push through first.
    Works fine for me.
    For my uses, which is all currently handgun, water dropped linotype doesn't work any better than the range scrap I use. Occasionally I will get a particularly soft batch of lead and will "sweeten" the mixture with a little linotype.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master brewer12345's Avatar
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    Huh, interesting to see the difference in what we all do. I have never bothered to water drop anything. I run AC COWW up to 1900 FPS without a lot of fuss, although I do see accuracy dropping off as I approach the upper end of speed. For pistol bullets (38, 45 ACP, etc.) I use almost anything (range scrap, shielding, COWW) and get good accuracy without water dropping. I have recently switched to powder coating and I wonder if the baking negates the water drop. If you dropped from the powder coating oven into water would you get water-dropped hardness?

    For someone like me, what would be the advantages of water dropping my boolits?
    "If you see me running something has gone poorly, and you should probably run too." - any beekeeper

  18. #18
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    I only water drop when I want boolits to be harder for particular reasons. Mainly rifle boolits.

    Most of the time I do not water drop. Particularly for revolvers & semi auto pistols.

    I use 50/50 PB/COWW, sometimes 60/40 or even 70/30 PB/COWW air cooled on a damp towel/flannel for most all handguns. I usually go a bit harder for when pushing 44 mag..
    For Rifle like .223/5.56, .308, or 30-06, I usually use COWW water dropped or even add some "type metal" as well.

    I have not had any problems/issues doing things the way I do. YMMV, of course.

    I reckon if someone is not having problems/issues with how ever they are doing things, then do not try to fix something that works for you. Just because everyone else does something different than I do, does not mean I have to change what "works for me".

    I "walk my own path, & not every one else path.", I reckon. That sort of thinking has been working for me, anyway.


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  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy
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    Yes, as someone above said - it’s kind of funny how many people there are that do it all differently.

    I have no idea what the hardness of my bullets is; I wish I did. I have the LEE hardness tester but I don’t know how accurate that is. I couldn’t duplicate any of my alloys for the simple reason that I toss in whatever I have at hand at the time, just adding it to whatever was in the pot before.

    The reason that I have always water quenched is that somewhere way back when I started casting I read that a harder rifle bullet is generally going to perform better. Since then I have learned that there is a lot more to it than that, but the habit of water quenching stuck.

    I keep a rusty old water-filled bread pan on the ground by my feet. It invariably has a cloth on the bottom to absorb a little impact after the bullets have traveled down through the water. I just empty the mold into that.

    It would be great to figure out, sometime, how hard my bullets are. I haven’t observed any “leading”, although I’ve never really actually looked. The one time that I DO know that I had it was when I was shooting a SIG P220 with some of my very first cast bullets way back when. There were “slivers” of lead in the barrel, starting about two thirds of the way up the 5” barrel and occuring all the way to the muzzle.

    I just shot them out with a jacketed bullet. Never observed it since.

    8mmFan

  20. #20
    DOR RED BEAR's Avatar
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    8mmfan if you have a lee tester its pretty easy to figure out. Thats what i use but can't use the microscope that came with it. I scan onto my computer using highest resolution then use a free program like gimp ( i am cheap ) to measure the dent easy to do. If your not sure how to do this just ask a kid thats what i did.
    Now as far as your results not repeating i believe you if you just put what ever in the pot as you need it you are changing the alloy every time. I usually make two alloys one hard one soft. I melt in a good size pot make allows from that when i am through with the pot i do it again. After i have enough of that allow to do me i melt it again mixing up the different pots after about 4 or so times i figure it should be the same. I wish i had a big enough pot to just put everything in at once. Once i have my two different alloys i can tweek them as needed. Any left over in pot after casting goes into old coffee container and labeled so i don't change my alloy.
    I would like to take credit for scanning bullets to measure dent but someone else on site came up with it just wish i dismembered who so i could give him cred it works great.

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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