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Discussion Starter #1
I've been curious about the Brinell Hardness of my various lead alloys I use for casting bullets. While I do have an alloy calculator spreadsheet that gives me a fairly decent idea, I've always wanted to get a more accurate reading (especially when water-quenching) - but have been turned off by both the inexpensive and very expensive options.

I finally found something in the middle, mentioned with good reviews on CastBoolits - at around $135 shipped, the Carbine Tree tester:



I'm looking forward to playing with it.
 

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It is a good one, I got one of those 4 years ago after decades of guessing. It is easy to use, and seems to be pretty spot on based on the results I got in my alloys since getting it. Congrats, no more guessing now.
 
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Nice! I like toys like that......I dont cast, so I guess I'll have to start doing that too!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Heresy! shocked face ;)

I've been piddling around with it a little this evening - seems the metals I bought years ago on eBay sold as Linotype (4% tin, 12% antimony) is actually Electrotype (2.5% tin, 2.5% antimony), based on the hardness results - only 11 Bhn instead of 19.

Not that I blame the seller - hell, everyone seems to sell printing-press letters as "Linotype" as a generic term and I'm sure they genuinely don't know the difference - but it plays merry hell with bullets when you're trying to reach a certain hardness in your alloy eg. for magnum or rifle velocities and assume that what you have is one alloy and it's actually a much softer one.
 

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Well, it is a nice toy, but has no bearing on shooting. What matters is fit and lubrication/coating performance.
However, could you do me a favor. Cast some bullets and measure BHN on the bearing surface. Next, water-quench some bullets and measure BHN on the bearing surface. Size those quenched bullets and come back in about 24 hours and measure BHN on the bearing surface.
If chemistry is the same as it was in the 1970s, the bearing surface of the quenched bullets will be back down to what the as-cast/no quench bullets were. Just like to see the test results today.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
"What matters is fit and lubrication/coating performance." - I'm aware, thanks. Where it matters is when I'm trying to develop alloys to cast harder bullets for magnum or rifle velocities, as I said. My 1-thou' over bore size will be irrelevant if I try to shoot an 8 Bhn bullet at 1,800 fps.

As for the rest, already planning on it.
 

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Well, I shoot ~11-13 BHN in everything. For over 1500-1700 fps, I use gas checks. Works great for .223, 7mm T/CU, .30-30, and .30-06. Still see no reason, even if I found a need for HARD alloy, to need to know the BHN. Hard alloy--use straight type metal (how else are you going to get it hard?). Can your thumbnail scratch it? If not, it is more than hard enough.
However, buy the toy if it makes you feel better. It's your money and your shooting.
 

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AndyC, that’s a great tool you have there. I had one when I used to cast, seems there is always free lead that you come across that needs to be verified. I’m sure you are aware that lead will “age” harden depending on alloy. You will be able to track the hardness as it ages, different alloys do different things.
Enjoy.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
However, buy the toy if it makes you feel better. It's your money and your shooting.
Thanks for your permission, I think.

I do a lot of alloy tinkering and I've always wanted a more quantitative way to measure the results, but you're right - I have all these various alloys of unknown composition sitting here; I should just chuck them all together and hope for the best. Maybe I'll just Neanderthal it with my thumbnail "Hard... soft... soft... hardish..." and get consistent, reproduceable results that way.

I find it mind-boggling that you're scathing of my enjoyment yet in your very first post have the gall to ask me to test BHns for you. I'd suggest you buy your own tester if you're so curious, but I'm sure your thumbnail works just as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
However if I was going to do that. I would just as soon start out with known alloy ingots that can be procured quite reasonably from https://www.rotometals.com/
That would be the easiest way to get into it with great results - but convenience comes at a price (obviously). I've recovered and smelted a lot of range-scrap into ingots and it's fun (for me) to experiment and get as close as I can to commercial alloys using home-brew methods. Also, that smelting actually made me a little extra money which I used to buy gas, propane, primers and virgin metals (Lyman #2 in my case).

That way I can have a good stash on-hand of known quality for far less money - which is pretty much the same philosophy as handloading...
 

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That would be the easiest way to get into it with great results - but convenience comes at a price (obviously). I've recovered and smelted a lot of range-scrap into ingots and it's fun (for me) to experiment and get as close as I can to commercial alloys using home-brew methods. Also, that smelting actually made me a little extra money which I used to buy gas, propane, primers and virgin metals (Lyman #2 in my case).

That way I can have a good stash on-hand of known quality for far less money - which is pretty much the same philosophy as handloading...
If you are into it and enjoy it, then by all means go for it. I was just giving you my take on it.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Totally legit, man - no worries. I did it that way too decades ago before I started scrounging, which pulled me down a rabbit-hole ;)
 

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I find it mind-boggling that you're scathing of my enjoyment yet in your very first post have the gall to ask me to test BHns for you
Ahh, unable to recognize that I was simply trying to get you to do something for yourself with sarcasm. After all, people today believe that they have discovered a new chemistry that somehow puts all the old knowledge of water quenching as dead science. Point was, if you size your bullets, you'll lose the small hardness gain from water quenching. Just thought you might want to find that out for yourself. Hardness, if it counts for anything, only matters at the bearing surface.
Personally, I did quite a bit of testing back in the '70s, if I haven't said this before, and found that shooting as-cast unsized bullets produced smaller groups than sized bullets. I then went through water quenching and found ZIP benefits to it. Still needed to have bullets larger than groove diameter and still needed a very good lubricant and gained no accuracy increase or any "protection" from leading. Leading was prevented with size of bullet and quality of lubricant for all pistol calibers up through .44 Rem Mag.
No really, WHAT do you expect to gain by quantizing your lead alloys? For black powder, you want pure lead. For shooting anything up to 1700 fps, 10-13 BHN will handle it all, but you can go harder if you want to (NOT need to). For shooting higher speeds, you can go to a straight hard alloy (any of the "type" alloys) and NEVER even care about the BHN or you can go to gas checks.
So, as I said, it is your money and your time.
Just have fun and stay safe. After all, I've only been casting and shooting my own for just under 50 years, so I don't know crap. It's just "OK Boomer" and I'll toddle off to die.
 

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Thanks for your permission, I think.

I do a lot of alloy tinkering and I've always wanted a more quantitative way to measure the results, but you're right - I have all these various alloys of unknown composition sitting here; I should just chuck them all together and hope for the best. Maybe I'll just Neanderthal it with my thumbnail "Hard... soft... soft... hardish..." and get consistent, reproduceable results that way.

I find it mind-boggling that you're scathing of my enjoyment yet in your very first post have the gall to ask me to test BHns for you. I'd suggest you buy your own tester if you're so curious, but I'm sure your thumbnail works just as well.
It would make sense to even the playing field....right?
Melt it all together and see where you are? Add a little this or that and have one consistent batch that ages the same. I know nothing about it, that’s why I ask. I would much rather have one nice consistent supply to work from as opposed to screwing with it every time and still not getting the same as the previous small load. Unless that is an easy thing to do. If that’s the case, just eject this post into the dumbass pile!🙂
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Nitro said:
have one consistent batch that ages the same. I know nothing about it, that’s why I ask. I would much rather have one nice consistent supply to work from as opposed to screwing with it every time and still not getting the same as the previous small load.
Yep, you're on the right track. I want to know what's in my present metals now before melting them all together so I can reproduce it when I get fresh metals such as alleged Linotype (and test them too).

noylj said:
Ahh, unable to recognize that I was simply trying to get you to do something for yourself with sarcasm. After all, people today believe that they have discovered a new chemistry that somehow puts all the old knowledge of water quenching as dead science. Point was, if you size your bullets, you'll lose the small hardness gain from water quenching. Just thought you might want to find that out for yourself. Hardness, if it counts for anything, only matters at the bearing surface.
I've been casting since I was 14, so that's a little over 40 years; I'm well-aware of the chemistry and physics involved, so your "wisdom" is nothing new to me and I'm not "people of today" - you might get better responses to your posts if you'd stop treating people as if they're new to this and you're the Wise Old Man of the Mountain. I'm simply wanting to quantify and identify the metals I have. As for water-quenching, the presence of a small amount of arsenic gives a huge hardness gain, not a small one.

noylj said:
No really, WHAT do you expect to gain by quantizing your lead alloys? For black powder, you want pure lead. For shooting anything up to 1700 fps, 10-13 BHN will handle it all, but you can go harder if you want to (NOT need to). For shooting higher speeds, you can go to a straight hard alloy (any of the "type" alloys) and NEVER even care about the BHN or you can go to gas checks.
See above answer to Nitro. It's less about the resulting bullets than about determining what's IN the various metals before I make a batch of alloy by mixing and being able to reproduce it in the future with scrap metal. If you don't think that's relevant, I don't care - I find it interesting.
 

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I've been curious about the Brinell Hardness of my various lead alloys I use for casting bullets. While I do have an alloy calculator spreadsheet that gives me a fairly decent idea, I've always wanted to get a more accurate reading (especially when water-quenching) - but have been turned off by both the inexpensive and very expensive options.

I finally found something in the middle, mentioned with good reviews on CastBoolits - at around $135 shipped, the Carbine Tree tester:



I'm looking forward to playing with it.
CabineTree
 

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Andy once you have a chance to play around with it please report back. As a caster and scrounger I have often times secured lead that was no where near as it was represented.

The method I learned from a old time caster was to first cast your ingots then drop them onto concrete sidewalk from a height of 12 inches and listen to the sound they made. The old cogger swore by his method but your new gadget seems more scientific LOL
 
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