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Thread: Bismuth alloy info: Lead-free projectile alloys

  1. #1

    Bismuth alloy info: Lead-free projectile alloys

    No it's not LEAD, But I would like to begin a spot some where on the forum where I, and other shooters can post up all the useful info possible concerning BI. and Tin Alloys??

    Not sure it is just shotgun specific so would it makes sense to have a section HERE? in the 'alloys' sub-forum??

    Seen allot of questions lately and taken more than just a few calls over the past 6 months on just this topic.

    PURE Bi. does not work for our ( shooter's) purposes AT ALL.

    SHOT: needs %5 tin alloy with Bismuth
    Buck and slug: needs %30 tin alloyed into the mix in order to hold together in the barrel upon ignition and not frag upon impact.

    More tin drives the cost up and drives the melt point down, that could be a real bad thing if that melt point gets too low.

    Just think : the barrel will be HOT while the FIRE is pushing 'slug' out...does that come out as a chunk or a big squirt, a mix of the two??
    I don't want to find out the hard way>>> Neither should you.

    MODS please move if you feel the need, but we do need a spot for this info and make it a resource for every one interested in a NON-Tox. projectile alternative . Thanks
    Last edited by JonB_in_Glencoe; 02-22-2018 at 04:11 PM. Reason: edited title only

  2. #2
    Boolit Bub
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Coalinga, Ca
    I think I have accidentally added some bismuth to my lead mix if I remember right the boolets seemed to shrink a lot once cooled and the spure didn’t cut very cleanly almost like chunked off. It was a while ago that this happened when I first got into casting my own I got a score on 1200lbs of scrap lead and there was about a half 5 gal bucket of these ingots that sounded different than the other ingots when dropped on a concrete floor. More of a ting than a thud I though it must have more tin in it until I tried to cast with it now those ingots are in a corner in the shop figure if I ever run out of lead I will try to make them work somehow lol.

  3. #3
    Pure Bismuth expands as it cools…it does NOT expand evenly . Lead shrinks as it cools , it cools the same on all side - and is predictable-
    Bi expands at an uneven amount. it looks like rough and grows slighlty ( like water-and ice) so the %5 tin crontrols that to some degree and also helps will the flow out of the drippers and for sure the %30 tin alloy will help when you are trying to get in the molds-

    Casting is a PITA- if opening the molds too late you take out a chunk from the sprue side and too early and it leaves a smears real bad

    All the same issues as lead but X50- temps are super critical here-

    Too hot an alloy and you fail- too cool and you won't get it to pour at all…….

    Let me review my notes and find out what we had the Master Caster set at when we did the last run of .36 cal. ball we did…and I will post those here.

    I was told "too much TIN will shrink" a bullet bad and it does have that PEEEEEN sound .

    Never tired to use more than 10%tin - 90 lead max. in rifle rounds and 7-6% in pistol bullets…

    the Bi was a PEEN sound compared to lead or tin and the lead was just THUMP sound followed by an "ouch!" when it hit your toes

  4. #4
    Moderator Emeritus

    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Land of 10,000 Lakes
    I edited the title and made this a sticky.
    “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.”
    ― The Dalai Lama, Seattle Times, May 2001

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

    TCLouis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Middle TN
    I have some "tin" I bought years ago that has 2% bismuth, when I use it to bring lead up to 2% tin is the bismuth even going to be an issue?
    Nothing is impossible for the person that does not have to do it.

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    CSRA of Ga/SC
    l have a funny story of ''BI''. 40+YRS ago l got some stick ingots marked BI. They were heavy, soft, and shiny. l stuck some in my pot and the poured into my Lee swc 44 mold. Out came shiny 44 boolits. l sized, lubed and loaded up some empty 44Mag cases with 9gr of Unique, setting them aside. A few weeks later a friend and l went to my pond after work for some shooting. l had my Smith 44 magnum revolver and George had his 44 Lever gun. l think it was a Browning. We set up a target at maybe 40yds. l fired a cylinder full. The target looked like a shotgun pattern instead of a group. George's attempt was even WORSE. His bullet holes seemed to have splatter around them. What was going on?? The blame quickly zoomed on MY ammo We shot across the pond lengthwise with his rifle noticing a spray pattern on the water. My Smith was not as bad. We finally figured out the boolits were melting inside the 24'' barrel of George's 44 rifle. Lesson learned: Pure Bismuth makes sorry cast boolits

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

    GregLaROCHE's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Southern France by way of Interior Bush Alaska
    I’ve been following the forced move for many to non lead projectiles. Luckily, I don’t yet have the problem. If or when I need to change my metal, I plan on trying zinc.

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master popper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Roto has a bismuth alloy, has been cast and shot OK (223). Not cheap so use as last resort.

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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