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Thread: Casting with indoor range lead

  1. #1

    Casting with indoor range lead

    I have a source of fairly inexpensive indoor range lead, currently 80 cents a pound here in California. There is literally tons of it in my local metal recycling center. It all looks like jacketed rounds, the split jackets are mixed with the lead. Obviously I知 going to melt it and skim off all the copper ( maybe I値l get my money back when I resell it lol) but in the bins these is a large amount of what I assume to be lead since it痴 been shot indoors against steel backstops. Do you think I知 correct in this assumption? The guy at the recycling center seems to think so. I would hate it to turn out to be zinc or some other mystery metal
    Thanks
    Barry

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    I would definately assume lead, but not pure lead, and not zinc. You can, if found, extract zinc below its melting point when smelting the lead for ingots. No harm no foul.

    You will not know what lead alloy components are being used by swaged and jacketed bullet Mfgs. Neither will you know, whether or not the range prohibits hand loads, the components of any of the cast boolits. They will not likely be pure lead and by the time you melt a bunch it will be some alloy you cannot determine without metallurgy.

    What to do? You've got time. You provide the labor.

    My suggestion is get the pencil set for hardness testing. It is cheap, easy to find, and gives Very Good Bhn hardness results. Your Range Scrap (RS) alloy will probably be in the range of 11 to 14 Bhn (imho). Melt some, pour into your mold, air cool some (softer), water cool some (harder), test the hardness (it will change over the first week or two), do they fill the mold lines well, average the weight of 10 of each cooled type boolits, shoot these. What caliber, what powder, how much powder, how deeply embeded are the boolits in the case, COL, did they lead the barrel, was the barrel slugged, were the boolits lubed and sized, to what size, what lube, etc. Write copious notes.

    Next mix 99 percent by weight of RS with 1 percent by weight new Tin (Sn). This is the start of testing 2 variables. Melt and pour this batch into your boolit mold. How does it fill out the mold lines? Air cool some. Water drop some. Weigh the average of no less than 10 boolits. How do they shoot? Same questions as above. Write everything down.

    Mix 98/2 - RS/Sn. Same testing. Same set of notes.

    Mix 97/3 - RS/Sn. Same testing. Same set of notes.

    I would not drop the weight of RS below 97% nor add any more than 3% tin (a waste imo). After these tests, if none seem adequate. Other components (or at least one) will need to be introduced and testing conducted in THREE VARIABLES. We can write that regime when the time comes.

    Let me know if this helps.
    Last edited by Land Owner; 02-14-2020 at 10:38 PM.
    If it was easy, anybody could do it.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    Grab it when ya can.
    What you see in there now will be headed to a foundry sometime when the scrap yard feels the price is right.
    It wasn't playing the blame game, finding fault, and complaining about every little thing that made America great.
    It was God, guns, and guts.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy Tazlaw's Avatar
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    Landowner, that was an awesome reply.
    Just knowing enough to do it, is not enough to do it right! -Taz

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy
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    I never seem to get enough from jacket bullets and good luck trying to get the plated bullets melted (you have to cut the plating). Too much work. Will 80c be worth the effort when some of that weight is scrap?

  6. #6
    Thanks to all particularly to Landowner with a very detailed reply.
    There are no complete bullets since they have all been shot indoors into a metal backstop. But I’m still curious as to the dark grey powder, I assume it’s lead dust.
    Barry

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    I would not buy too much. If you need lead now then grab some but if you already have a stash then I would keep my eye out on the swapping and selling here as much better deals are to be had from time to time. Or at least to my mind a buck and a quarter a pound for ingots is better than eighty cents a pound for that range scrap. I can hardly bring myself to process my free range scrap, I mostly pick out the cast bullets and leave the jacketed stuff for another day. If maybe the scrap you are looking at all the jacketed stuff is busted up then maybe it will process easier. FMJ's and TMJ's have to be busted up pretty good or the will muck up the process.

    Tim
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by bazzer485 View Post
    Thanks to all particularly to Landowner with a very detailed reply.
    There are no complete bullets since they have all been shot indoors into a metal backstop. But I’m still curious as to the dark grey powder, I assume it’s lead dust.
    Barry
    I got some scrap from an indoor range. It was the floor sweepings and it had a lot of unburned powder mixed in. I threw it in the pot and lit off the powder after the pot was hot but before the lead melted without any problem but I would do that outside, there was a bit of fire.

    Tim
    Words are weapons sharper than knives - INXS

    The pen is mightier than the sword - Edward Bulwer-Lytton

    The tongue is mightier than the blade - Euripides

  9. #9
    Buying lead ingots that have been hardened seems expensive, on the big auction site they are asking up to 20 dollars plus postage for a 5 pound ingot. My range lead was 80 cents a pound. I’m going to melt some down tomorrow and see how it goes, I’ll report back.
    Barry
    Who Dares Wins

  10. #10
    Boolit Master kmw1954's Avatar
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    I recently received about 60# of range scrap from an indoor range to try out. This was all fragmented stuff and very dirty. After rendering it down and cleaning it I netted about 36# of lead. So I don't know it this is being foolish or not but if I had to pay for this I don't think I'd pay much more than 50c per pound for the yield per amount of work involved it took. If I have to pay more than $1.50lb for ingot I'll just buy from ebay, if more than $2.00lb I'll buy plated.

    Back on topic, some of these photos have given me ideas for making an indoor booth for casting.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master



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    I collect a lot of lead from an indoor range. Most jacked bullets are filled with pure lead. Indoor ranges tend to have hard backstops so most jackets are smashed, not like outdoors ranges shooting into dirt berms. If you find some that are still sealed, you can try smashing them with a five pound maul to crack them open. Paper target fragments and wads make good flux. You can melt it all together. Always be sure there is no moisture mixed in. If they were stored outside without a cover, you may have to spread them out to dry in the sun.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregLaROCHE View Post
    ...If they were stored outside without a cover, you may have to spread them out to dry in the sun.
    Or maybe only heat the scrap in an empty pot and never put it into molten alloy? I’d figure bringing up the temperature of the scrap in an empty it would drive out the moisture before any melting.

  13. #13

    Casting with indoor range lead

    Dry in the sun? You must live south of the equator lol

    I today used my lee pot to melt my range lead and it worked very well. I poured it into 1 lb ingots. But since I also melted some scuba weights and lost track on which are which. I need to check the hardness of these ingots. My Lee tester is too slow so I think I will buy a set of testing pencils.

    Baz
    Last edited by bazzer485; 02-16-2020 at 01:14 AM.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Please do your smelting outside with good cross ventilation,mask,goggled and a set welder gloves. Frank

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by samari46 View Post
    Please do your smelting outside with good cross ventilation,mask,goggled and a set welder gloves. Frank
    I use face protection, welders gloves, leather apron and a respirator, but thanks for the advice. The only fumes are from bullet lube ( wax ) and yes I have a large fire extinguisher standing by.
    Cheers
    Barry

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy
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    I cast nothing but range scrap for a couple of decades, it was free. Probably, 70% cast and 22LR/30% jacketed. Most of the dust will flux back into the melt, some of it is dirt. All in all there was a lot of crap in it. Paper, clothes pins, dirt, powder, cardboard. 80 cents per pound seems high to me for all the work and return on each pound purchased. The real cost per pound is probably closer to a buck fifty. I never tried to resell the jackets. It's dirty nasty stuff and I never wanted to sift the junk from the jackets. Tried it once created, too much dust for my comfort level.

  17. #17
    It turns out my range lead is a very good bet from a indoor range. Only crap is some lube wax and then the copper jackets. Really easy to convert to ingots. Where I live my only options for lead are this range scrape for 80 cents per pound, 100% scrape lead at $1.25/pound which needs to have otero materials added to alloy it or buy off eBay at $4.00 a pound. So what would you do?
    Cheers
    Barry


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  18. #18
    Boolit Master Idz's Avatar
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    I've smelted about 5000 lbs of lead from indoor range scrap.Its usually fairly soft, about 8-10BHN, and yields 50-75% lead. I just dump it into my covered propane tank smelter and cook it down. The jackets and trash just float on top of the lead and can be skimmed off. The volatile trash reduces down to carbon and carbon monoxide to act as a flux. The unnoticed stray live round in the pot just goes pfft without any damage. Damp scrap is no problem if you start the melt cold and covered. The ingots work great for powder coated bullets in 9mm and 45acp.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Idz View Post
    I've smelted about 5000 lbs of lead from indoor range scrap.Its usually fairly soft, about 8-10BHN, and yields 50-75% lead. I just dump it into my covered propane tank smelter and cook it down. The jackets and trash just float on top of the lead and can be skimmed off. The volatile trash reduces down to carbon and carbon monoxide to act as a flux. The unnoticed stray live round in the pot just goes pfft without any damage. Damp scrap is no problem if you start the melt cold and covered. The ingots work great for powder coated bullets in 9mm and 45acp.
    Wow, that’s a lot of lead! I’ve done about 50 pounds so far in my lee pot, took a while but I’m in no rush. I’m casting in a NOE HTC 45 acp mould which is giving me plenty of boolits whichi I coat with Hi Tek. Of course I cast the scrape into ingots first
    Cheers
    Barry

  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by djryan13 View Post
    I never seem to get enough from jacket bullets and good luck trying to get the plated bullets melted (you have to cut the plating). Too much work. Will 80c be worth the effort when some of that weight is scrap?
    I wonder why so many of us have zero problem....

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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