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Thread: Lyman #2 alloy

  1. #1
    Boolit Master

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    Lyman #2 alloy

    I read and read about all these alloys. What's wrong (or right) with the Lyman #2 alloy? I cast mostly for hunting bullets in 30cal and 44cal and they seem to do well. Am I missing something here or is just about experimenting with new and different alloys?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master



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    "Back in the day" people thought WW's would introduce abrasives into the gun barrel. Even Elmer Keith warned against using WW's. Keep in mind that lead in the form of plumber's lead ingots was sold at the local hardware store very cheaply. Tin was cheap. Most people used lead/tin alloys.

    Then, WW's were discovered to be just fine in bullet casting (all of the abraisives picked up when driving were skimmed off the top of the mix when smelting). WW's had/have the advantage of the hardening of antimony and were widely available for little money. The addition of a small amount of tin (I use 2%) makes for a FINE bullet alloy for most uses. Magnum loads will often benefit from somewhat harder alloys as will high velocity rifle loads.

    The only thing wrong with Lyman #2 alloy is that it is expensive and harder than need be for most pistol loads. Rifle loads can benefit from its hardness.

    Glen Fryxell's "Comments on Cast Bullet Alloys" is a good read on the question:

    http://www.lasc.us/FryxellCommentsCBAlloys.htm

    Dale53

  3. #3
    Boolit Master Slow Elk 45/70's Avatar
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    This is no B.S. , hasent changed since old Elmer and friends figured it out. Not to mention all the others..... just depends on what you want to do.... you don't need to revent the wheel

    Read the threads and shoot....Have fun...
    Slow Elk 45/70

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  4. #4
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    #2 is my most used and mosted liked alloy for most of my casting. It does good anywhere from low velocity handgun to high velocity rifle if everything else ( gun spec, lube, bullet size ect) are correct. Its hard enough to break big bone but maluable enough that bullets dont fracture. My rule of thumb is I use it if an animal is 800 lbs or less and bigger and I go to 5050 ww/lyno. I dont know if its needed or not as i shot the biggest buffalo ive shot with a #2 bullet and it weighted 1300 lbs and the bullet blew threw both shoulders.

  5. #5
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    I agree with everything said here. I've tried and used to use "TaraCorp Magnum" which is the 92% Pb, 2%Sn and 6%Sb that many use. I've found that there is a lot more fooling around with it to get it to fill out sharp bases. You have to be much more careful about pot temp, mold cooling time between drops, etc. That is because the Tin is what really makes good fill out and forgives much of the problems you might have. 2% is the bare minimum to get reasonable fill out. Not saying others haven't figured out ways to cast pure lead with great success, but there is a lot more "tinkering" to get low reject rates.

    Lyman #2 is VERY forgiving. I don't want to make it sound like you just have to melt it and go, but if you can't cast great bullets with it after just a little trial and error, there is something else wrong.

    As others have stated, you can use it for everything, but don't necessarily have to use it for everything. If you are just getting started, it's a great way to get going without getting discouraged.

    Pete
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  6. #6
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    I'd love to have access to #2 but making it up in the quantity I'd need would be very expensive. So I learned to make WW work. Tin sometimes helps get better fillout but running the mould a bit hotter works too.

  7. #7
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    Bret4207;
    I normally run WW's + 2% tin for most of my pistol and revolver loads (magnums I harden up a bit). At any rate, I ran some bullets from a "new to me" mould the other day and I had a piece of tin (left from a previous casting session) that amounted to 1% (not 2%) of the alloy. I just decided to see how that worked. Well, it worked and pretty good. However, note I say PRETTY good, NOT excellent. The bullets were less malleable (noticed when cutting the sprue) the mould was more temperature sensitive and the results, while good, were not as good as typical. The mould was a dandy (a Lyman 429244 four cavity). It worked very well but the alloy was just not quite up to snuff (by my calculations, just short of about 1% in needed tin for a BEST casting alloy).

    I, along with my bride of 51 years have been cleaning my garage. I have hauled over two pick up truck loads out of here (I know, I know, but that is just how it is). I HATE to clean and straighten up and re-organize, and etc, but I do enjoy the results. Well, tomorrow I am taking off (at least in the A.M.) and trying out my new MiHec H&G #503 Six Cavity clone tomorrow. I just received it this afternoon. I have scrubbed it TWICE diligently and it is READY to run!

    I WILL be using WW's + 2% tin for that "Treat instead of a treatment"...

    Then the following day I will be running some "magnum" alloy for my .44 Magnums (that'll probably be half WW's and half 92% lead/8% Antimony with an added 2% tin to the total).

    Dale53

    Just a thought or two...

  8. #8
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    I have no doubt you're right Dale. But tin is darned expensive by the time it gets here. I've also mentioned my rather large WW collection is a good 30 years old and WW may have had more tin back then so maybe that's part of why my stuff works for me. I've added tin in the past an didn;t notice much difference. To each their own I guess.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by kelbro View Post
    I read and read about all these alloys. What's wrong (or right) with the Lyman #2 alloy? I cast mostly for hunting bullets in 30cal and 44cal and they seem to do well. Am I missing something here or is just about experimenting with new and different alloys?
    The short answers:

    Wrong - Lyman #2 is expensive to make. You either need to have a source of Linotype (all of which has been expensive in my experience and reading here), or you need a source of tin, which is undoubtedly expensive.

    In a corallary to that, #2 wastes costly tin. Depending on what "expert" you talk to, a lead alloy, whether binary (two elements) or tertiary (three or more elements) used for boolits cannot utilize more than 4% tin for hardening purposes, and except for high-velocity rifle boolits, 2% does all the hardening that is needed.

    In addition, in a tertiary alloy (which Lyman #2 is), the tin and antimony combine to form a compound, but they can only mix up to 4% again - so any extra is wasted.

    Another problem is that if you have a tertiary alloy that has tin and antimony, if the tin portion gets higher in proportion than the antimony portion, you run the risk of lumpy metal that does not pour well. Since Lyman #2 is 90-5-5, if you don't mix it just right, you're running that risk as well.

    Lastly, I find it is too hard for low-velocity loads. It's just not going to obturate, unless you're shooting fairly heavy loads. (In most handguns around 1000fps, although that will vary depending on caliber and working pressures.)

    Right - Lyman #2 is definitely hard enough, with air-cooled boolits, to work with any handgun load you come up with, and a great deal of rifle loads.

    Lyman #2 casts PRETTY boolits. I think this is the #1 consideration of many casters. It works "well enough" but it gives you pride in your craftsmanship, which is more important than effectiveness-to-cost ratio. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this, it's just a reality, and I would probably add myself into this group on occasion.


    Personally, after studying the matter, I choose to use WW+2% tin, because that gives me an alloy of around 3% antimony, 2-2.5% tin, some trace elements (in case I want to water drop or heat treat) and the remainder lead. Why is this better than Lyman #2? Because I can get the materials relatively cheaply - WWs are free to $20/bucket (~100lbs after cleaning) & tin is around $5/lb - for at or less than $.30/lb, I have bullet alloy... At 3% antimony and 2-2.5% tin, I don't have to worry about lumpiness, and at that ratio, I get bullets hard enough to shoot to 1300fps without gas checks, and higher with GCs and water dropping, but they're soft enough to obturate at those same pressures/velocities. 2-2.5% tin gives me well-fulled out boolits, but they're not quite as shiny as with the 5% tin of #2 alloy. That means I'm getting just as good to slightly better performance and I'm saving quite a bit of cost at the same time... Also, if I want a softer alloy, say for HPs or buckshot/slugs, I just have to cut that standard alloy by adding in 50% pure lead...
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  10. #10
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    The ww's that I manage to buy or find in my area need some tin added to make bullets that pass my inspection for shooting. I read one post above that stated ww's are around 12bhn. Well that is not true in South Louisiana. The ww's here are in the 9-10 range at best. Tested with Cabin Tree tester.
    Shooter of the "HOLY BLACK" SASS 81802 AKA FAIRSHAKE; NRA ; BOLD; WARTHOG;Deadwood Marshal;Bayou Bounty Hunter; So That his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat; 44 WCF filled to the top, 210 gr. bullet

  11. #11
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    Makemine,

    There is a thread I started in the GB discussion area about just this sort of topic. For those who don't have the time and resource to mix alloy, what alloys would people like. One was a 94:3:3 mix which should be economical as well as replicate general use WW alloy.

    I cast yesterday with the Lyman #2 we had professionally prepared, and it's the most trouble free stuff to use imaginable. Just drop it in the pot, melt it and go.

    I'd welcome your comments and thought in the thread running over there. Some day WWs will be no more...I'd like to have 3-4 stock alloys that guys can count on when that day comes (already has for some).

    Regards,

    Pete
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    Thanks everybody. I have plenty of WW and 50/50 solder so there isn't a cost issue. It is easy casting so i have never experimented with anything else. Who knows, I may try some different alloys in the future but right now, I don't see anything that makes me want to change.

  13. #13
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    I'm exclusively a rifle shooter, so not on the same page as some of you here. I use a lot of Lyman #2 because it happens to be the hardness I want and it fills beautifully. The cost isn't an issue since I shoot boolits by the hundreds, not the thousands. It's my understanding that #2 isn't subject to nearly as much age hardening or softening. I don't want to cast boolits that age harden for a while and then start into the age softening process. I cast boolits that may get shot years from now and I don't want to have to worry about what hardness they are. I can use them to work up a load, then they can sit on the bench until called into service some time in the future without worrying about how hard they are at that time. Ron.D
    Last edited by Ron.D; 09-15-2009 at 08:52 AM.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master Char-Gar's Avatar
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    I started using No. 2 about 45 years ago as an all purpose rifle alloy. It is too hard for hollow points, but other than that it works well for all of my needs. It is also a fine magnum pistol alloy.

    For run of the mill pistol bullets I go with WW +2% tin. This also work fine for most rifle applications as well, but I still use No. 2

    I shoot on a regular basis, but pretty low volumn about 20 to 40 rounds well aimed shoots per session. Some folks consider firearms to be noisemakers they way they blast away.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master in Heavens Range.
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    I have been casting using around 18lbs. [an almost pot full on my RCBS.] of wheel weights and a half stick of 50/50 solder for years and it works fine for all but the hot stuff. A 50/50 mix of linotype and pure lead will give you the equivilant of Lyman #2. I use pure lino for high velocity, 9mm, and 357 loads.

  16. #16
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    My #2 alloy

    Very simple - 5 lbs ww to 1 lb linotype. Works for me.
    If this isn't equal to #2 I am willing to be corrected.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    I use the Lyman formula, 9# WW + 1# of 50/50 solder.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    HI guys, this is my first post. I really the information available here.

    My Lyman No.2 formula is 5# linotype, 5# clip-on weights, 4# stick-on weights, 1# 50/50 solder

    This has always worked well for me in my 20# pot.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master

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    There's another one in the Lyman manual: 5# pure lead + 4# linotype + 1# 50/50 solder

  20. #20
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    Every time I have a casting problem I come back to this board and search and read. Every time my question has already been answered and the problem already solved. I thank modern technology for the Internet and I thank God for this board. If you cast boolits, this place is the best place to come to for knowledge about the silver stream.
    Gondwana

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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