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Thread: Lead alloy for pistol bullets that will be PC'd

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    Lead alloy for pistol bullets that will be PC'd

    I tried the search and did not find my answer, and went back 10 pages and still did not find what I'm looking for.
    For many years I have cast WWM + 1% tin for all my pistol bullets. I have been happy with that. only in 357 mag and 38 Super do I even water drop them. But now I want to try powder coating .

    I have a good supply of both soft lead and WWM. With the PC coating can I mix the two and extend my supply of WWM? Or should I stick with the WWM and when its gone start mixing Roto Metals "Chips" to duplicate the WWM?

    I'm shooting 45 acp, 45 colt, 357, 38 super, 38 spl, and 9mm,. I would like to use the same alloy for all of them. What do you all think?
    Only the 357 and 38 Super get pushed over 1200 fps.

    Will a softer alloy get the job done with PC? or stick to what I know works and PC them? Thanks DR

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    id mix half WW half soft with some tin, cast, air cool, apply powder, bake, then higher speed ones drop the baking tray into a 5 gallon bucket of cold water immediately from the oven. dont really think theres such a thing as a right hardness. some guys like well i shoot pure lead PC'd at full rifle speeds with perfect results. then i have guns where soft PC works fine as far as leading but i have to go over recommended hardness for better accuracy. so id just mix like that then use water dropped from the oven if it works better.

  3. #3
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    Like bmortell said, I don't believe there's a thing as the "right" hardness. That said, I do prefer softer to harder alloys. I tend to use 75/25 WW to pure more often than not. The only reason I don't use 50/50 of the above is I have more 12ish BHN alloy than the pure. Whatever my alloy ends up being BHN wise, works for the accuracy I seek (one hole is my preference!). Most of my molds are GC designs so BHN isn't terribly important, but the PB molds still shoot great. Leading is rare enough that if I see any, I did something wrong or different than usual.

    PC is enjoyable to do and the end product makes me wonder why I have so many jacketed revolver bullets.

  4. #4
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    PC is very forgiving. It forms the harder shell around the softer Pb. I don't worry about hardness anymore for all the cal's you listed. I just mix (by the seat of my pants) an alloy soup that ends up somewhere between 10 and 12 hardness + 1-2% Sn for perfect mold fill-outs every time.. The PC takes care of the rest.

    I get no leading, no grease smoke, no sticky boolits in the summer, excellent accuracy, and perfectly clean barrels in all my guns. And lots of OOHS and AAHS at the ranges over the rainbow of colors I use.

    I now ESPC everything. Started out working with many others on here back in ~2014 developing PC techniques which at that time was only BBDT. But after discovering the perfect repeatable coatings I get with a corona discharge spray gun, I threw all the #5 tubs away!

    Cast away.....................and don't sweat the hardness thing with PC.


    bangerjim

  5. #5
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    Thank you all! I tried PC'd bullets because I live where its very hot. The wax lubes are always sticky. They tend to catch and hold grit. I'm also always cleaning lube out of my seating dies. With the PC bullets it is so much cleaner. I'm gearing up for my first batch. DR

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master popper's Avatar
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    9 is probable only one needing COWW
    Whatever!

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    My 'pistol alloy' for handgun boolits consists of 1 part COWW and 2 parts range scrap plus 2% Sn (by actual weight). Air-cooled and PC'd, these work just dandy for .38/.357, .44/.44 Mag, 9mm, and .45 ACP at velocities under 1200 fps. Over 1200 fps...like for my 1894 Marlin .44 or Rossi 92 .357...I go 50/50 COWW/RS plus 2% SN.

    Bill
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  9. #9
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    That chart isnt or wasnt used with powder coatings considerations. Its for a conventional lubed bullet.

    You can absolutely go softer than the lowest recomendetions in that chart with properly applied powder coating.

    Many of us do it all the time. Just yesterday I was shooting good groups from my Maxi carbine with a 358429 powdercoated about 11/12 bhn @ 2200 fps. ZERO FOULING from the bullet.

    CW
    NRA Life member REMEMBER, FREEDOM IS NOT FREE its being paid for in BLOOD.

  10. #10
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    Yes.....................forget all the on-line "LA reference" charts of years/decades past. PC rewrote the "book of hardness". Like I said above, I cast EVERYTHING at pretty much the same hardness and then PC it. NO problems in any cal's/sizes/loads/guns. It just removes one more worry about rolling your own ammo!

    banger

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Banger--When you heat your powder coated boolits to 400 deg F. do you then quench them in cold water?
    It's all chicken, even the beak!

  12. #12
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    My understanding of COWW is that one of its advantages is the arsenic content, which is a grain refiner allowing effective heat treatment for additional hardening. You can duplicate the antimony and tin content of old COWW with metals bought from Rotometals, but I don't think you can, and maybe you wouldn't want to, buy pure arsenic to mix your own. You'd need to add another source of arsenic, like magnum shot, or another grain refiner, like sulfur, to get the same benefit. That being said, most pistol velocity loadings seem to do fine with coated cast of softer alloy, so the arsenic is not needed, the antimony and tin providing enough hardness, with good fit and the coating doing the rest.

    So if you really need to heat treat for very hard boolits in, say rifle velocity applications, it'd argue for saving the real COWW alloy for that, and using alloys with AC COWW hardness, coated, for pistol velocity applications.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master

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    I've run powdercoated 49/49/2 WW/Pure/tin (8-10 BHN) with a gas check at 2300 fps with 1.5-2 MOA accuracy. As long as the case doesn't swage down the boolit, you should be fine.

  14. #14
    I have had success with coww/2%tin up to 2700fps(gas checked) with no leading. However accuracy in the 308 dropped off around 2500fps. For pistol i have used 50/50 coww/range scrap for loads 1000fps and up. And for 45 colt 45 acp under 1000fps just range scrap. All bullets powdercoated.

  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shuz View Post
    Banger--When you heat your powder coated boolits to 400 deg F. do you then quench them in cold water?
    No. I NEVER rely on the alchemy of water quenching to gain hardness. I always mix my alloy for the hardness I want when only air cooled. And water dropping at 400F, you will gain very little hardness. Your Pb needs to be upwards of full casting temp, just below the liquidus temp, as when you drop them from the mold.

    And remember it is the Sb content that hardens.

  16. #16
    Boolit Grand Master fredj338's Avatar
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    I shoot pretty much range scrap in all my handguns, 9mm up thru midrange magnums & 45-70. Bullets don't lead PC, even at 1500fps in the 45-70. Accuracy is as good as I can shoot jacketed.
    EVERY GOOD SHOOTER NEEDS TO BE A HANDLOADER.
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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