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Thread: Hardness tester

  1. #1

    Hardness tester

    I have a couple of questions.
    1. I am in the market for a hardness tester but I don’t know what to look for.
    2. Is there a go to place where I should look when deciding what BH a particular load should be set at? Such as general recommendations for hunting with specific calibers? Obviously I would think that personal/hands on observation would be beneficial once your going at it, but a starting point would be helpful. I have looked here on the site but with such a large site, I’m either using the wrong keywords or there isn’t a specified place where this data has been sat aside. A sticky with this general starting point info would be great.
    I’d appreciate a recommendation.
    Blackhorse Scout

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    There is a thread below on The Pencil test. It shows how to use drafting pencils to test for hardness. I would think that is the most economical.

    I have one I got from Buffalo Arms https://www.buffaloarms.com/bullet-m...pplies?cat=803 I used to be the Cabine Tree tester
    but the guy sold the business. It is simple enough to use but might be a bit pricey.

  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master


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    The pencils are a good idea and I tried them after seeing a thread by Mary maybe? I bought a Lee and it works pretty decent I think. No way of knowing how accurate it is but 1 or 2 BHN either side works for what I need
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  4. #4
    AKA: GRMPS Conditor22's Avatar
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    This works well enough for me for under $15
    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...-testing-trick

  5. #5
    Boolit Mold
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    it is my opinion (OPINION) that all the hoop la about testing the hardness of lead for bullets is bull ****!!! Now here we go.. someone is going to be offended by me saying Bull ****. But seriously.. think about it.. pure soft lead will lead a barrel.. no doubt about.. so harden it a little.. what is the recipe? who knows for sure unless you are a chemist with a degree in physics. your melting of lead will always change from batch to batch in some way or another leading to different hardness. So here is the thing and there is no getting around it.. Cast your bullets. sort them out if you feel the need to have bullets of the same weight. use loading data to fit each of your bullet weights. Now put a gas check on the back of each bullet and your are done. Period. End of story. Vuwala.. Fineeto.l. Every time you shoot your bullets regardless of hardness, the gas check is going to sweep the barrel and clean out any lead that may be in the barrel. Oh and another thing to help stop leading of the barrel.. there are products designed to fill the pours of metal. I use Tetra gun lubricant. Mop it into the barrel and let it dry over night. It fills the metal pours so that carbon and lead will not get into the pours and stick to the barrel.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    The instructions for the Lee hardness testing kit have have a chart for BHN for different pressure loads that gives you a starting place for what you asked for.
    The only hardness tester I have used is the Lee so I have nothing to compare it to but my thumbnail that I tested with for 40 years The Lee takes a bit of practice to use but the results it gives seem to be very repeatable. But it is not your only option there are several hardness testers available.
    Here is a link to the instructions with the chart Lee provides with the testing kit.
    https://leeprecision.com/files/instruct/LT2140.pdf

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    Years ago I bought a CabineTree hardness tester and never regretted it.
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I use an LBT (Lead Bullet Technologies). Good piece of equipment, but if I was going to buy another tester, I would go with the Cabin Tree, based on the glowing reports here.
    R.D.M.

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master
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    The Cabine-style tester is the only way to go. Have had one for years. Fast, easy to use, portable, and very accurate (put a digital dial indicator on it!) I referenced it to an NIST traceable hardness tester and it is amazingly accurate and repeatable.

    I would never go back to that silly little Lee tester I gave away a few years ago. And pencils are great - - for writing and drawing.

    Spend the money............you will NOT be sorry.

    I like to know what I am working with on hardness. Some do not care. Yes, today hardness is a ballpark, but I use it as a reference when mixing. And it can test odd shapes and ingots! Not just boolits like the others. Being portable and not tied to your press in your shop, you can haul it to the scrap yards for quick checks B4 buying anything.
    Last edited by bangerjim; 01-08-2021 at 03:31 PM.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    A bit tedious to read but good info and a well done compilation of data.

    http://www.lasc.us/Shay-BHN-Tester-Experiment.htm

    PS I don't own one. For pistol I don't care how hard the bullet is as long as it casts ok. For rifle I use Lyman #2 or hardball alloys.

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy quail4jake's Avatar
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    I use a SAECO tester. It's OK but I've found that you have to be diligent in calibrating and repeat testing. Also I only use one boolit to test any alloy, that seems to increase accuracy and I can weigh a series of that one boolit (SAECO 015) and get a relative density to compare to standard known alloys. I keep some of those SAECO 015s on hand cast in lead and proven linotype to calibrate and recheck standards often. Sounds like alot of rig-o-morolle but I think it works. That being said, I'd like to try a Cabine Tree...

  12. #12
    Thanks to everyone for your comments and information.
    Blackhorse Scout

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy
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    I recently got a Lee tester and it is easy to use and gives me a good idea what some of my various mystery metal will work for. It may but not be very accurate but at least it gives a relative relationship between the alloys

  14. #14
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by bangerjim View Post
    The Cabine-style tester is the only way to go. Have had one for years. Fast, easy to use, portable, and very accurate (put a digital dial indicator on it!)
    I bought a Cabine Tree recently - which digital indicator would you recommend?
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  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master








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    Quote Originally Posted by stubshaft View Post
    Years ago I bought a CabineTree hardness tester and never regretted it.
    yup cabin tree. End of discussion. theres none better.
    Soldier of God, sixgun junky, Retired electrical lineman. My office was a 100 feet in the air, closer to God the better

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    The Cabin Tree is now made and sold here. https://cowboybullets.3dcartstores.c...ster_p_57.html

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have a Saeco hardness tester and actually one of the contributors to the LASC BHN test. It is easy to use other than you need to translate the readings via a paper graph to determine the BHN. I do find it very repeatable in the range I work with which makes it quite useful to me. I also believe it is fairly accurate on the lower end based upon some tests I ran using a known alloy.

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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