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Thread: Range Lead - Uses

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub
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    Range Lead - Uses

    I'm about to come into 3,000 lbs of range lead from a friend. My test batch yielded 69% recovery from 109 lbs. I cast some 40 cal bullets to test castability. Which it looks like it will cast bullets if I use a really hot mold. That seemed to be more important than the temperature of the lead, even though the lead needed to be at least 750. The ingots i poured from the range scrap tested 7.4-7.8 48 hours after pouring. I'm know I can mix it with COWW. So that is not my question. My question is what bullets, velocity, pressure would this be good for lead around 7.5 BHN. I load for many calibers in pistol and rifle (over 30). I can either lube or PC the bullets if that might impact an answer. I've PC 200+ 165 grain 40 calibers i would like to test in my 40 S&W pistols. But, can't get a .401 sizing die as everyone is OOS. So I can't try them. In pistol, my low pressure high volume shooting is in 9mm Luger and 45 ACP. To a lesser extent i shoot 38 special and 44 special. Then next is 380 ACP, 9X18. In rifle would 7.5 BHN lead be usable in low velocity rifle such as 45-70 and maybe 30-30 and 35 Remington. If so, what is the velocity or pressure i would try to keep the bullets under? I assume PC might increase the upper velocity or pressure limit? I'm very new at this as I just started casting last November. But, I've got some great mentors in Mississippi and I've read a ton off this sight. Any guidance on what this alloy my be useful for not mixed with other alloy is much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Boolit Bub
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    If your lead is still in the form of recovered bullets you may be able to separate by sight into into what is probably soft and hard or perhaps soft and not so soft. This will increase the range of uses for your acquisition.

    "Probably soft" would include .22 RF, round balls, most jacketed bullets or their cores, swaged bullets, and anything with a hollow base including shotgun slugs and minie balls.

    Good bets for "hard" are obvious auto pistol designs, gas check bullets, and anything that looks "commercial" including coated bullets. FMJ military bullets may also have high antimony cores (hard) e.g. 10%. You might need to do some research on the types you find.

    The third category is "don't know", or "haven't got time to agonise over it", which will usually be intermediate.

    At the very least you can get two or more grades of lead out of your mix just by identifying and taking off certain types of bullet, e.g. .22 RF.
    Last edited by Wilderness; 04-24-2021 at 03:07 AM.

  3. #3
    Boolit Bub
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    It is mostly cores from jacketed bullets. Appears to be very little 22RF. I think that is why there is such a high trash content of 31% with that being copper jackets and lots of dirt/sand. Given the volume and my time separating is not going to be practical.

  4. #4
    Boolit Bub
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    Agree.

    You might be surprised at what those jackets are worth.

    On a much smaller scale, I use a collander type arrangement to take off the jackets so I don't have to skim them. The jackets go to the scrap dealer along with the accumulated skimmings/dross from my bullet making. Specifically I use a tin with perforated bottom that fits inside the lead pot. When all is melted, I raise and shake the tin, now containing more or less clean jackets, and clean the dirt and dross off the melt as a separate operation.

  5. #5
    Boolit Bub Hodagtrapper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilderness View Post
    If your lead is still in the form of recovered bullets you may be able to separate by sight into into what is probably soft and hard or perhaps soft and not so soft. This will increase the range of uses for your acquisition.

    "Probably soft" would include .22 RF, round balls, most jacketed bullets or their cores, swaged bullets, and anything with a hollow base including shotgun slugs and minie balls.

    Good bets for "hard" are obvious auto pistol designs, gas check bullets, and anything that looks "commercial" including coated bullets. FMJ military bullets may also have high antimony cores (hard) e.g. 10%. You might need to do some research on the types you find.

    The third category is "don't know", or "haven't got time to agonise over it", which will usually be intermediate.

    At the very least you can get two or more grades of lead out of your mix just by identifying and taking off certain types of bullet, e.g. .22 RF.
    Thanks for the tutorial on separation of various bullets first before melting.

    Chris

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    if it were me I'd take the copper jackets sell them to scrap yard, prices are up right now, use the $$ to buy foundry type to mix with your range scrap and then use it in 30-30 and 35 rem. ive never tried using real soft alloy in either of those two but 375win ive shot with soft alloy at about 1200fps

  7. #7
    Boolit Bub
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    Chris - you are very welcome.

    I should have added that when the "hard" pile is completing its melt there will be a few diehards floating around on the top still unmelted. These will be the near pure lead ones that should have been in the other pile. Now is the time to fish them out. Pure lead melts at a higher temperature than antimonial lead.

    Bill
    Last edited by Wilderness; 04-24-2021 at 08:58 AM.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I just sold my copper jackets from range scrap for $3.05 per lb, so don't be to quick to call it waste.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
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    I use a lot of indoor range lead. It is pretty broken apart by the time I get it so sorting would not work. Your recovery percentages are on par with what I obtain.

    I too attempt to retrieve my jackets where possible. It can take forever and my scrapper doesn't want yellow and copper together or the price goes down to the cheapest material. I just lump it all together and if I get enough for a tank of propane, I am happy. The easiest way to sort them is dump them in a wheel barrow.

    I am a little surprised that your lead is that soft. I haven't tested mine but it appears harder than that, maybe not.

    If your test is reliable then I would be in the camp of finding some hardball to mix in when it is casting time. That said, I do not make bullets for any rifles and do not push my bullets hard. I do PC everything and never had a leading issue. My barrels are always very clean. Good luck with this, it is a lot of work as you will find out.
    Last edited by Huskerguy; 04-24-2021 at 02:17 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoonerEd View Post
    SNIP>>>
    I've PC 200+ 165 grain 40 calibers i would like to test in my 40 S&W pistols. But, can't get a .401 sizing die as everyone is OOS. So I can't try them.
    Midsouth has the Lee 401 in stock today.


    As to your question, 9mm and 40 are high pressure calibers, so I'd want a harder alloy, but 7 Bhn is fine for 38spl, 44spl, and 45acp. Also, slow loads in 45-70, 30-30, and 35 Rem will be fine as well, I'd keep the speed below 1300fps.

    AND, since this range scrap is mostly jacketed bullet cores, there might be enough antimony in there to heat treat your boolits, it's worth a try anyway.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.”
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  11. #11
    Moderator Emeritus robertbank's Avatar
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    Personally, if you have a good source of WW's I would take your cores from jacketed bullets and mix them 1- 2 with WW alloy and water quench the bullets. They would certainly do well in your 9MM if you size your bullets .357. I shoot about 10K lead alloy bullets per year. Any and all lead bullets I pick up at the range go straight into my casting pot. That would include cores from jacketed bullets. Any plated bullets I pick up I just put aside and take them to the recycler for cash. WW's are getting harder to get now. Canadian Tire locally here switched to zinc WW's. CT was my source of WW's for the past 10 years. I have enough alloy to last me for at least five years which will take to age 81. Mught be a lifetime supply. LOL

    Take Care

    Bob
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    I'd melt it all down & clean it up , getting it in ingot form , then sell the jackets and scrap - purchase some tin for the mix . Then I'd shoot it in everything I shoot cast out of adjusting velocity accordingly .
    When you say it really fast it doesn't sound like it's a lot of work

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoonerEd View Post
    It is mostly cores from jacketed bullets. Appears to be very little 22RF. I think that is why there is such a high trash content of 31% with that being copper jackets and lots of dirt/sand. Given the volume and my time separating is not going to be practical.

    That would indicate it is 2-3% antimony and little or no tin. That was what I found with similar content batch of RL before.

    I suggest you forgo adding COWWs as that will only exacerbate the antimony content. I would simply add 2% tin to the RL alloy. That should balance the antimony out much better with the tin and will form a submetal SnSb which will stay in solution in the lead, cast much better bullets and increase the BHN on AC'd bullets (after 10 days) to 11-12. If WQ or HT'ed the BHN can increase to 16 - 18 +/-. All in all with the addition of 2% tin it will make an excellent alloy for a large % of cast bullet shooting needs.
    Larry Gibson

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  14. #14
    Boolit Bub
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    I rechecked the lead harness after they had seven days to age harden. The BHN tested between 11.0-11.8. So, that should be good for most target pistol loads.

  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoonerEd View Post
    I rechecked the lead harness after they had seven days to age harden. The BHN tested between 11.0-11.8. So, that should be good for most target pistol loads.
    This sounds better and what most people state range lead runs. I thought the first number seemed low. This hardness changing with quenching, air dry, quench after PC and all the options is confusing. Well, at least for this old brain.

  16. #16
    Boolit Bub
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    Folks - a few years back I took my lead dross to the scrap dealer, mainly to avoid contaminating the garbage. I had hoped they would take it and deal with it responsibly. To my surprise they actually bought it, and have continued to do so. Last time they gave me "battery" price.

    When my dross has cooled I accumulate it in a large plastic jar. I am mindful of the dangers of dross derived from low maintenance batteries, and have no sure way of knowing if some of my range pickups and "sinker lead" might be battery contaminated. Hence keeping the dross sealed against moisture.

    An acquaintance built his own yacht, and bought a lot of lead scrap to cast the keel. When it was all over he took the dross to the scrap yard and got more for it that he had paid for all the lead.

  17. #17
    Moderator Emeritus robertbank's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Gibson View Post
    That would indicate it is 2-3% antimony and little or no tin. That was what I found with similar content batch of RL before.

    I suggest you forgo adding COWWs as that will only exacerbate the antimony content. I would simply add 2% tin to the RL alloy. That should balance the antimony out much better with the tin and will form a submetal SnSb which will stay in solution in the lead, cast much better bullets and increase the BHN on AC'd bullets (after 10 days) to 11-12. If WQ or HT'ed the BHN can increase to 16 - 18 +/-. All in all with the addition of 2% tin it will make an excellent alloy for a large % of cast bullet shooting needs.
    Or you can just throw WW alloy ingots into a mix of one lb of RL to 2 lbs if WW alloy and water quench them. Note: I just use similar sized mini block of WW& RL. The resulting allow works in 30.06, .303Br, 30-30, 7.62x39 with GC's and a host of pistols calibers from 9MM to 44mag. I would use your suggestion if I was sure i managed the correct amount of tin to come up with exactly 2% tin and it made a real world difference in shooting. From what I can see you are suggesting a more complex method based upon a number assumptions some of which may or may not be true.

    None of this has to be approached like you might if you were building a rocket ship.

    Take Care

    Bob
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoonerEd View Post
    I rechecked the lead harness after they had seven days to age harden. The BHN tested between 11.0-11.8. So, that should be good for most target pistol loads.
    I have found that boolit alloys where SN and SB are way out of balance, that it does take a couple weeks for hardness to stabilize for consistent measurements. Which does point the where Larry suggests, a alloy with little or no SN and 2 or 3% SB. It will be fine to shoot as is, but adding 2% SN will balance the alloy and make for a better "tougher" alloy.
    that's my 2˘
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “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

  19. #19
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    Range scrap is all you need for most revolver bullets. With gas checks it'll work in other things as long as you don't get crazy with velocity. I don't do it, but I'm sure the powder coaters will come on here and tell you that you can do anything with it as long as it's colored pretty, they seem to think it's teh solution to every problem since original sin.

    I sure wouldn't turn down 3000 lbs of lead regardless of what it was. I have been saving jackets from range salvage, had no idea it was worth that much, but I'll take it to teh scrap yard eventually.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master

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    SoonerEd, skip to the bottom of the first post in my old thread here: https://castboolits.gunloads.com/sho...ed+range+scrap

    You've got some good breakdown of what your raw materials will consist of, and can tweak your alchemy from there. My testing of jacket cores came out to 0.3% antimony, and I was getting 8.5 BHN with it. Basically, a low-pressure pistol alloy if used as-is.

    Somebody check my math, but if you treat that as pure, and mix it at 8 to 1 with Rotometals Foundry Type, you'll get something pretty close to wheelweights.
    WWJMBD?

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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