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How do you determine alloy content ? Is a brinell tester the best method and if so which one ? Or should you use a combination of hardness and weight to make an educated guess ? Much of my "lead" is of an unsure source and I do know that my 340 gr mold casts 346 gr so I assume that there is a high lead content . I use gas checks so leading has not been a problem .

However , I have been wanting to start casting LSWC's for .45 acp so I think it will become an issue then .

Thanks in advance .....
 

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How hot do you plan to load your 45 LSWCs?

For mild target loads, leading usually only becomes an issue if the alloy is too hard.

For hot loads, an alloy that's too soft can cause barrel leading.
 

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Lead hardness and alloy content are two different subjects. There are two very good web sites dedicated to shooting and casting lead bullets. Either subject would be difficult to cover in 200 words or less, Google is your friend.

(I cast and shoot 200 grain LSWC @750-850fps, 8-12 BHN, .452, Red Rooster lube, no leading!)

All the best,
 

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The best, and for that matter only practical method for determining alloy composition, is to have a sample analyzed with an XRF. There may be a scrap yard in your area that would test a sample for you at low or possibly no cost.

Worst case, you could send a sample to Rotometals for testing. They are having a "sale" on testing at the moment, and will perform the test for 49.99.
Expensive, yes. But if you have a lot of this alloy and you really want to know, there it is.

Of course, "composition" and "hardness" are two very different items. You can reach the desired hardness many different ways. XRF analysis will not show the hardness, and a hardness tester does not analyze composition.

However, if you know the composition, there are programs available that can make a hardness estimate for you. There is an alloy calculator on the Castboolts site available for free download.

Lee offers an economical hardness tester, Saeco offers a more expensive tester, but the sample size that can be measured is very limited. You can test a bullet, but not an ingot. LBT offers a tester as well.

Having said that, what we do know about your alloy is that you are using it successfully with gas checks in your .454. I'd hazard a guess that it will be just fine for your 45 ACP without gas checks.
 

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pk,

When I acquired a ton of unknown alloy lead I shipped a sample to Rotometals for analysis (www.rotometals.com). The cost was about $60. If you have a small quantity of lead the cost may not be worth it.

I cast for pistol- .45acp, 9mm, 38 special and 44 special. I also cast for rifle in 30/30, 30-06, .223/556 and 770 grain 12 gauge fullbore shotgun slugs.

For .45acp soft lead without gas checks is fine. Just make sure the diameter of the cast bullet is 0.001-.002" larger than your bore.

Take a look at the castboolits website (www.castboolits.gunloads.com). They have a wealth of cast bullet info. Good luck.

best wishes- oldandslower
 

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i use pencils


sharpen the pencil to a flat sharp end on sand paper
and push the pencil into the sample at about a 45deg angle
and see if it rolls a chip

ohhh a #2 pencil is tha same hardness as HB so you may already have on hand what you need to find out

you can get a decent set of pencils at walmart http://www.walmart.com/ip/Simply-Sketching-Pencils-12pk/23745179

pencil testing is a real way coatings and paints and such get tested in manufacturing
google it
 

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Lead hardness and alloy content are two different subjects.,
Well, yes and no.

Lead, as an element, is self-annealing at room temperature. Hammer pure lead or freeze it's crystal structure by quenching heated lead in water and a hardness test will show that you've made the metal harder than it started. Come back a month later, test it again, and your "hardened" lead will be back to 1.5 on the Mohs scale. That's one of the physical characteristics of elemental lead. The only means of permanently increasing lead's hardness is by alloying it with other metals. And if you work harden or quench most of the tin-lead-antimony alloys used for bullets, you'll discover that they also exhibit lead's self-annealing trait. Over time, the "hardened" bullet will continue to drop back to that of the alloy. So, lead hardness and alloy content are one and the same.

If you need to know how hard any bullets will be after they've sat around for any amount of time, you will need to know the elemental make-up of the alloy.

On the other hand, if the original poster just wants to cast and shoot bullets made out of his unknown alloy without leading up the barrel of his 1911, one way forward would be to adjust his load to the metal he has. If the alloy is soft enough that he can dent it with his thumbnail or cut it with a sharpened pencil, it shouldn't cause any leading problems when shot at light or mid-range velocities. If the mystery alloy seems a little harder, say Brinnell 16 or above, and he gets leading at low velocities, he can bump up the charge until he finds a load that doesn't lead the barrel. At 45 acp pressures, alloys that are too hard more often cause problems than those that are too soft, but there's a lot of leeway.
 

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Way too much discussion and theory for the task at hand. Unless you have some dead soft or extremely hard alloy, it will be NO issue for 45acp at standard velocity. Size and lube to .452 and shoot. I've never once "tested" alloy. Also, molds rarely drop exactly what they are marked and often vary by cavity.
 

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D H Grace:

You said in 3 paragraphs what I said in two sentences. Re-reread post #3 very carefully.

The OP asks a very simple question requiring a series of practical discussions.

"Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and eats for a lifetime"

All the best,
 

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I use a mold. A 230 grain bullet mold in particular. When I have the mix right it drops 230 grain bullets. Too much lead it drops heavy (240 grains with pure lead). On the other end of the spectrum it will drop silver solder bullets at 211 grains and they are hardest I have ever cast.
 

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Way too much discussion and theory for the task at hand. Unless you have some dead soft or extremely hard alloy, it will be NO issue for 45acp at standard velocity. Size and lube to .452 and shoot. I've never once "tested" alloy. Also, molds rarely drop exactly what they are marked and often vary by cavity.
I liked this post. Good job, jupiter7

If I powder coat and size my straight w-w cast bullets for .45Auto it doesn't matter in the least what my exact/precise alloy mix is. :rock:

Add some occasional tin solder for fillout and guess what... the pistol bores and my powder coated bullets still don't care about what the hardness or composition was.

Just like my 9mm Luger and .357-Magnum and .45 Colt cast bullets don't really care much either.
 

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Interesting comments, might as well add a couple more:

Modern ww (wheel weights) since 1980 are 9.1bhn if (AND THAT'S A BIG IF) the smelter doesn't remove any of the tin or antimony while fluxing.

The bhn/hardness of bullets is sssssooooooooo overrated!!!!

The only time a caster should be concerned with a alloy for casting bullets for the 45acp is when the mold casts undersized bullets from too much lead in the alloy for that specific mold.

I've shot 40 to 1 (8bhn) p+ 200gr cast bullets in the 1911/5" bbl'd 45acp for decades without any issues. That same 40 to 1 (8bhn) does extremely well in 38spl p+ loads and hot 44spl loads also. And yes it also works for lite target loads in any of those calibers.

Your only true concern is the final cast diameter of the bullet for your alloy/mold combo.
 

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Lead hardness and alloy content are two different subjects. There are two very good web sites dedicated to shooting and casting lead bullets. Either subject would be difficult to cover in 200 words or less, Google is your friend.

(I cast and shoot 200 grain LSWC @750-850fps, 8-12 BHN, .452, Red Rooster lube, no leading!)

All the best,
Two websites? I'm a member @ castboolits - what's the other one?
 
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