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Thread: Has powder coating removed the need for bullet hardness?

  1. #1

    Has powder coating removed the need for bullet hardness?

    Iíve read a lot here and other forums about hardening bullets for reloading. I think most will agree that Wheel Weights will be an ever decreasing commodity soon. I live in Ireland and they have been eliminated from tyre shops almost completely. I believe that many States( USA) have done the same, but perhaps not all yet, so that is one source of lead/antimony alloy gone. I read many guys are using Linotype to harden their alloy but that source must surely have gone also because who uses Linotype to print today? I use range lead and Iím glad to get it. Adding antimony, well maybe, but suppliers here tend to want industrial orders not small amounts. Solder is my only addition but that doesnít harden my alloy. Powder Coating has brought me back to casting pistol calibres and has removed all the problems I once experienced of sticky bullets, soft alloy making dirty barrels, keyholing and smoke.

    So, has Powder Coating removed the need for hardening bullet alloy by the addition of rare or disappearing metals?

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy
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    I don’t think that it has removed the need for antimony in higher pressure rifle and pistol loads, but it has diminished the amount of antimony needed. Many people are powder coating and quenching at the end of the baking cycle. They are achieving good success and relatively high velocities.

    JM

  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master
    white eagle's Avatar
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    I say to some extent yes it has
    when you pc your adding a jacket (relative)to the boolit
    the only way I see to avoiding high bhn's totally is by using a gas check
    my hunting boolits,and more so even target boolits are just a binary alloy
    somewhere between 16-1 on the hard side to 25-1 on the softer end of things
    Hit em'hard
    hit em'often

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    I have found that you can get away with softer alloys, with no leading issues. I have not pushed the envelope, to see how far you can go, but at sane velocities, yes you can.

  5. #5
    AKA: GRMPS Conditor22's Avatar
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    first: MANY [not all ] people shoot boolits much harder than they need to be. So when they are saying PC helps you use softer lead they are still staying in the parameters of cast boolit BHN for that caliber and velocity

    PC helps a lot but is not a cure all. It has limits you go too soft/push it too hard/cast too small for the barrel even PC'd boolits will strip lead off between the lands.

    I believe that if You push/spin a soft PC'd boolit too fast the lead will deform and/or the boolit will come apart.

  6. #6
    I can run softer lead in some of my pistols.
    but a couple have feeding problems if it is to soft.
    Must be the feed angle.
    I just keep my hardness at 10.

  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by JM7.7x58 View Post
    Many people are powder coating and quenching at the end of the baking cycle. They are achieving good success and relatively high velocities.
    This ^

    For my 357 Iím approaching mid to high(er) end FMJ loads. For my gas checked 357 Iím really stretching them out.

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have had this same question.

    I use a lot of range lead that is probably 8-11 BHN, maybe a little harder at times. I also add some WW's to harden it a bit more.

    However, I got to the point where I don't concern myself about it anymore. My mind is admittedly small, but it seems the lead has to be soft enough to be moved in shape during the firing process or the PC would have to come off and expose the lead. What does the bullet change shape to? The rifling? If the bullet is close in size and fit, there shouldn't be a problem. Its not like the barrel is out of round and the rifling deep.

    So, if there is a problem with too soft of lead, what is the definition in a pistol? How soft is too soft? Where is the breaking point?

  9. #9
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by JM7.7x58 View Post
    I don’t think that it has removed the need for antimony in higher pressure rifle and pistol loads, but it has diminished the amount of antimony needed. Many people are powder coating and quenching at the end of the baking cycle. They are achieving good success and relatively high velocities.

    JM
    The quenching only helps when antimony is present.

    Expanding the pistol brass so it does not swage down the size of the cast bullet helps more than hardness or PC. I regularily shoot quite soft alloy from my pistols without problem because the loaded bullet size is correct because I don't size down the brass too much and also expand appropriately.
    Liberalism is the triumph of emotion over intellect, but masquerading as the reverse.

    I don't know how we ever shot maximum loads before P/C come along and saved us all. R5R

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  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
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    Yep! Got to have some antimony. That’s why I said diminish and not to eliminate the good stuff. A little arsenic helps that quench also.

    Fit is King! Always has been.

    PC sure makes dealing with high pressure calibers that have tight chambers, and oversized barrels a whole lot easier. Situations that would have required Lyman #2, can be solved with COWW and PC.

    Or a chamber reamer.

    JM
    Last edited by JM7.7x58; 07-27-2020 at 01:17 AM.

  11. #11
    Boolit Bub
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    I agree that "fit is king" but will add "Final Fit" to the equation as an experiment I did with 250 grain PC'd .452 slugs in a 45-70, something that started out as a "lets see what will happen" lark ended up with spectacular results.
    I started out with a hand full of commercial hard cast (25 bn or thereabouts) with hard wax lube. I boiled the wax lube off, swished in a methyl hydrate wash to finish clean & then PC's up to .459 dia. (3 coats). I shot these in a Marlin Cowboy that pretty much shoots every cast slug I have tried in it to a 2" group...man was I surprised when those slugs shot into a cloverleaf group every shot...turned that pumpkin slug gun into a "varminter".

    After the first success and having a bunch of pure lead & a couple of different old .452 molds ( 200 gr RNFP & 250 gr Keith style SWC) laying around, I cast some up and give them the same test. The results were exactly the same.

    So, in answer to the thread question, my experience is that PC'ing will almost eliminate the "hardness" issues that plagued us before the development.

  12. #12
    When I first discovered casting, a number of years ago, I thought that this is the only way. But I soon discovered that while casting is fun, it’s only the start. My sticky bullets were unpleasant to handle and they keyholes. I tried the factory crimp die getting more and more crimp until the bullet was moving in its brass. The smoke was the worst though. On an indoor range the smoke was let’s say, remarkable. The end came while shooting an outdoor IPSC stage. It was a sunny still day and I had to stop shooting the targets as the smoke generated obliterated my view. So all my moulds were put away and I was asking guys did they want to buy them off me. It was the Covid lockdown that had me return to casting and trying this thing called Powder Coating. I have the time to do it and it’s a creative hobby so I’m glad I never sold my moulds.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master Dapaki's Avatar
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    I pay zero attention to hardness, I cast, size, coat or lube, load and shoot.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master dbosman's Avatar
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    Elmer Keith, father of the .44 magnum, used 20-1, then 16-1 with no antimony or wheel weights. I find it works well for my needs. What are you shooting that you need more penetration or speed for?

  15. #15
    Boolit Master

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    Pistols i run whatever lead I have laying around. It don't matter much for the speeds they run. And the noses are not sticking way out there like most rifle bullets do. Then that is when just any old lead is not fine. The noses wil slump and there went any chance of hitting right where you aimed

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

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    PC does not replace hardness... it is another tool in the toolbox. I cast and load for the 22 TCM and other odd semi's. Often if you get the lead to soft, the feeding process will hang up as the guns are designed for jacketed or semi-jacketed rounds. Proper loading with the lead bullets will help minimize this affect, things like OAL and seating depth will play a big part in your results. If you plan to load cast in an AR, they can be rough on the bullet as well, unless great care is taken to find the exact profile and length that is required to make it perfect.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    Short answer.
    I have discovered that in the same batch of bullets powder coated bullets can be driven somewhat faster than grease coated bullets. With a 200 grain cast Gas check grease coated wheel weight alloy accuracy starts to fall off at about 1900 fps. Powder coat the same bullets and accuracy starts to fall off between 2250 and 2300 fps. A 200 grain jacketed bullet in the same gun will give good groups at 2450 fps (9.3x57).
    This is just early observations. I intend to do a ladder test with Dominion 5744 with powder coated bullets and work up until accuracy falls off, measuring each series of shots with a chrono graph. One batch of powder coated and a control batch of grease lubed 0.368" 200 grain gas check bullets.
    Go now and pour yourself a hot one...

  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master fredj338's Avatar
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    For pistol I would so no. For rifle pressures, you still need an alloy to stand up to the pressures & vel.
    EVERY GOOD SHOOTER NEEDS TO BE A HANDLOADER.
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  19. #19
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    Reviving this thread
    I'm not into powder coating much, but I want it in my tool box..One big question was hardness? 400 Deg F for 20 min or so is definitely
    mess up the hardness, even if you water drop.
    Has anyone watched Elvis Ammo on Utube
    He was experimenting a couple years ago with the low temp PC..Just under 150 Deg F for 13-15 Minutes. Just curious
    if anyone is still testing this and if it cures the PC enough to keep it stable.

    I agree; PC does not replace hardness completely

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    but why cook at not normal temps? if your worried about hardness, baking at normal temps then air cooling is gonna be very similar to a air cooling from the mold and similar with comparing water drop to water drop from oven.

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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