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Thread: Slug alloys

  1. #1
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Slug alloys

    I've got a fairly good handle on casting boolits for handguns and rifles; alloy, hardness, fit, methods, etc., but I just received a Lyman 525 Sabot Slug mold and am wondering about alloy/BHN. My first guess is relatively soft alloy, mebbe 9-10 (or my "mystery metal" alloy running 10-13 BHN depending on batch), but being a rookie shotshell caster, I dunno fer sure. Any thoughts?
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    Boolit Master

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    my groups tightened considerably using soft lead.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    Slugs you normal cast of pure or almost pure. You want expansion at low velocities. It can be a real trouble to get the slugs to drop of the center pins if the alloy isnt almost pure. I had trouble even with range scraps dropping from the center pins.

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  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Definitely soft. Especially a wad slug like the lyman sabot slug, I am a firm believer that the best accuracy is going to be had with a looser fit (so the petals do not get mangled), and then the slug bumps up in the bore.

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    Boolit Master gpidaho's Avatar
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    Most of my mystery lead runs to the soft side but I most likely run a little harder lead that the guys above. 10-12 Bhn would be my guess. Gp

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    You will want an alloy with 3-5% antimony like a factory slug is. It will still be soft but it will bump up like Megasuper is talking about. The Lymann sabots will shrink almost in half as the skirt collapses when fired. Hardest part to get that slug to shoot well is to make the skirt collapse the same every time. To do that the regular wads everyone uses don't work the greatest. You need to stack hard cards and hard wads like the factory fosters use.

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master

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    How "hard" an under slug wad? Material and thickness? I'm really new at shot gun shooting/reloading so my questions will sound dirt simple to some, but only so much knowledge transfer from 30+ years of reloading centerfire happens... Thanks

    Mold came yesterday and I'm searching my stash for "pure" or x-soft alloy...
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    You don't have to find any pure lead if you don't have it. Your you state you have alloy 10-13 bhn. That should be soft enough. I wouldn't bother casting with hardball, lyman #2, linotype, etc. But clip on wheel weight or softer is just fine. A hard card wad is usually sold as a "nitro card". A 20 gauge wad fits pretty good in a 12 gauge shotcup, although an 18 gauge is usually perfect. A 16 gauge is usually too tight. Along with nitro cards, you are going to want a hot glue gun to fill the slug hollow base.

    As tomme boy says, regular plastic shot cups are less than ideal, but they can work. I've seen some very impressive groups from the Lyman sabot slug and just a wad. The factors that determine the best wad are going to be the hull you use, and your bore diameter. If you use a straight wall hull like a Federal gold medal, a Federal 12S4 might be a good wad. If you use a tapered hull like a Winchester AA, a Winchester AA12 wad might be a good choice. Remington hulls run a little tight for slugs.

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    Boolit Master gpidaho's Avatar
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    mdi: First step is to find out what I.D is on your barrel if it's a fixed choke. Shotguns are all over the place. I have 12ga. barrels marked cylinder that are as small as .725. (Mossberg Maverick O U) This is Skeet to my way of thinking. My Mossberg 930, also a cylinder bore measures .732. Use Ajay's method of pushing your wad and projectile through the barrel and feel for proper fit. The fit should be firm but you should be able to push it through, not hammer it through. Glad you've joined in the fun. Be sure to post your results. Gp

  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    overfill the cavity with hot glue. trim off flush with warm knife after it cools and no card needed.
    "My main ambition in life is to be on the devil's most wanted list."
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  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Thanks, guys. I'm beginning to get "the picture"...
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  12. #12
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    I you are wondering what we are talking about with the skirt collapsing, take one of the lymann slugs and stand it up. Then take a hammer and hit it hard on the top flat of the slug. That is why they are telling you to fill the bottom with the glue. To prevent this from happening.

    When I was loading these at the time I did not have a computer yet. All I had was magazines and a bunch of really old timers that got every shirt from the things they did. We would pick up the smashed slugs we shot all the time when cleaning the berms at our private range. We always thought they got flattened from the impact. It wasn't till I talked to a few smart guys on here that are not on this forum anymore that I was let in on the cause.

    Just a little helpful info for you. And don't be too concerned with roll crimping. I have seen some really awesome groups fired at 100yds with a plain fold crimp.

    Another little bit of info you will need. Your cases. Lots of people pick up their cases at the local gun range. Usually you can get about 3 good firings out of a case. Then you will start to have problems with the crimp pressure. Once you find a really good load, shoot a few cases that have been reloaded about 5-6 times and see what your groups will do. I found this as I have 10's of thousands of 1x fired AA and Rem Premiere and STS hulls. So I just kept loading 1x fired cases and set them aside till a got around to them again. Well I did. And I grabbed the wrong box of hulls one day. They were from trap loads that had 6 firings. I could not keep a 3" group load to stay inside 12" at 100 yds. I know 12" group most people would still be fine with that. But not when the load normally shoots at 3" or a little under. I went back to my 1x fired cases and the groups went right back like they were before.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomme boy View Post
    I you are wondering what we are talking about with the skirt collapsing, take one of the lymann slugs and stand it up. Then take a hammer and hit it hard on the top flat of the slug. That is why they are telling you to fill the bottom with the glue. To prevent this from happening.
    A harder alloy prevents this from happening too,doesn't it?

  14. #14
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    Look at the alloy Dixie Slus uses in their dangerous game slugs
    Really hard, just for that reason
    Soft Foster slugs disintegrate
    Last edited by jmort; 08-09-2019 at 08:06 AM.

  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Great info! I have two manuals; Lyman #5 and BPI "Advances Manual", and neither gives much info on slug reloading. I don't want to be a pest, but so far this is the most, the clearest info I've found yet. Thanks.

    I sold my last shotgun, an Ithaca M 37 in the mid '70s, and just a couple months ago walked past an Armscor/RIA M5 that was on sale, so I just had to buy it. I have an aversion against factory ammo, just me, no real reason, but I prefer reloading my own and have been doing so since 1969. I regard youtube reloading videos as a waste of time (I've seen too many really questionable videos) and prefer manuals and texts. So, I'll probably ask a bunch of bottom line simple questions. Bear with me...
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    Boolit Master gpidaho's Avatar
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    When filling the slugs with hot glue, I use a small rectangle of aluminum step flashing sprayed with Pam cooking oil. I just slightly overfill the slug and push the slugs hollow base down tight to the flashing, wiggling it side to side a bit. When the glue sets it's easy to scrape the excess off the edge with your thumbnail. I think it was Longbow that posted this before but it may have been another member, I forget. Works for me. Gp

  17. #17
    Boolit Grand Master
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    when I was casting full bore slugs I made them out of Lyman #2
    casting hard for penetration but using a cup or sabot I would use
    a way softer alloy
    Hit em'hard
    hit em'often

  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master

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    My experience even using ACWW and thick skirted slugs is that generally skirts collapse or "bell". A filler in the HB stops that and also keeps wads from being pushed into the HB cavity.

    I can say positively that Lyman Foster slug cast from pure lead swell up to bore diameter from 0.705". I found that out when shooting into deep soft snow then retrieving slugs. It was also obvious that they were tipped as they obturated because the noses were all at different angles as were the trailing edges of the skirts. That jump through the forcing cone doesn't do slugs any favours!

    I can also say that I have made several slug moulds that cast slugs with very thick skirts and every time I have recovered slugs that are not filled the skirts are collapsed or belled out. The belling out issue seems to be due to nitro card wads being pushed part way into the cavity and pressing outwards on the skirt. These were all ACWW slugs.

    I did find that heat treating WW slugs stopped the collapse and belling with normal to thick skirts. I'm lazy though so heat treating is not something I want to do for every slug plus sometimes you want expansion... or I do anyway.

    Also, pretty much every factory Foster slug I have recovered from our berm is short and fat with rifling ribs smeared/flattened and wad impressions in the base. Makes me wonder how factory slugs can be so accurate but there you go! All the Lyman sabot slugs I have recovered also show collapsed skirts.

    Now just because a skirt collapses doesn't mean the slug can't be accurate. If the collapse is the same every time there shouldn't be any issue kinda like the guys that shoot bore diameter PP boolits in BP cartridges ~ they obturate to fill the groove diameter. However, with slugs there are more variables and a jump to the forcing cone if using 2 3/4" hulls in 3" chamber (I'm guilty here!) and through the forcing cone. There is a chance for the slug to tip before it is in the bore. Wad column and crimp quality likely have a significant effect here.

    I think a solid wad column is one of the most important aspects of slug loading. Recently Ranch Dog posted his successful loading procedure using no plastic gas seal and just nitro card wad over the powder then hard card wad column under a shotcup with no cushion leg with Lee slug inside. He did not fill the slug but the drive key helps keep wads out anyway and with all that hard card wad column there is likely less chance of the top card distorting and getting into the cavity.

    So, I guess the short story is that slugs certainly do collapse/obturate in the bore. Filling HB cavities in soft slugs can stop the collapse and keep wads out. Hard slugs may not collapse but wads can still get jammed into cavity with no filler. If you use a hard card wad column with nitro card wad on top and a hard slug with no filler you may be okay. I'll carry on using filler because I don't believe it can hurt and I know it can help. I use hot melt glue as gp describes ~ overfill the cavity then invert the slug on a piece of greased steel and push down to squeeze excess glue out and leave a flat base. Hogtamer overfills then slices the extra glue off. That works too.

    Longbow

  19. #19
    Boolit Master


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    I had one problem with water dropped WW. I shot my chrono. The skirt collapsed and fractured. The piece that cracked off went right through my chrono. It may have been a bad slug to begin with???? But I think it was the too hard and brittle lead.

  20. #20
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I've had heat treated slugs break up but that was on impact. However, it is possible that the skirt cracked on yours when dropped off the pin if the alloy was still a bit hot. I've had boolits and slugs crack if I get casting a bit too fast. Mould heats up and alloy is still a bit soft and brittle when I open the mould. Generally the boolit or slug has an obvious crack or is bent (yes, bent!) when examined.

    Can't say I've had one break up when shooting but... I have had an occasional flyer which could be a faulty slug.

    Soft alloy slugs usually aren't a problem but wheelweights and range scrap can be.

    Longbow

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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