April 29, 2014 at 1:28 am #11525
Hell I am saving all my copper wiring! And if there is a SHTF we hit the houses that people leave behind and take the wiring. Also the plumbing that is copper and brass!April 29, 2014 at 1:36 am #11531
Guys if you need bullets and have pennies use the zinc as well. It is a little softer than copper and has lower density so you need to make longer bullets. Do not breath the fumes.
Nosler is making solids form copper or bronze and makes them longer to achive the same weights as lead jacketed bullets.April 29, 2014 at 12:30 pm #11654
1974, good to know this.May 8, 2014 at 1:17 am #12820
Just don’t use the same casting equipment for both lead and anything that contains zinc, very low levels of zinc contamination will really mess up the casting qualities of lead. Same goes for making sure that any wheel weights you melt down for casting are lead and not zinc, although apparently a lot of the people who shoot the muzzle loading cannons and mortars prefer to use zinc projectiles.
RobMay 8, 2014 at 1:32 am #12822
Good to know about the contamination issue.
The canon guys probably like the harder material. Or maybe just because it’s lighter to move around.May 8, 2014 at 2:18 am #12823
If the bullets were made longer it seems it would screw up the loading or extraction.May 8, 2014 at 11:11 am #12906
The case and bullet determine the length of the cartridge, or what is called COL (cartridge overall length).
You are thinking of the whole cartridge, as many people do. The cartridge is formed with 4 components.
Using a longer bullet requires a deeper seating depth into the cartridge to maintain the designed COL. This could mean a smaller powder charge or a compressed charge. Either option can change the internal ballistics of the load and increase pressure inside the case. A lot depends on the cartridge being used and the powder charge. With so many different calibers, cartridges and powders the variables are unlimited in number.
When reloading there are other factors as well that affect whether the cartridge will fit into the chamber and or function properly. A case that is to long protrudes into the throat of the bore will not expand. This condition can cause increased pressures in the case and may burst the primer or the case allowing high pressure gas to escape back into the gun.May 9, 2014 at 4:05 am #13078
We’re still getting plenty of wheel weights for bullets. There is more steel, plastic and zinc mixed in than there used to be and they manufacturers are actually phasing out lead for wheel weights, so in time this will no longer be an option. But for now it is with a bit more sorting than in the past. Another trick which can be used to harden the lead bullets is to drop them directly into a bucket of water from the mold. This tempers the lead and makes it harder than just allowing it to cool. You can also add just a little linotype to the molten lead from wheel weights and this will help. Everyone I know that shoots 50,000 handgun rounds or more a year molds their own lead bullets and reloads the cases for money savings. Guys who shoot tens of thousands of rounds a year are either rich or reload or both (most are not rich). My brother is in the wheel business so I have him collect the wheel weights for me and I trade him loaded ammo for his time and effort. I shoot mostly all copper bullets these days for hunting or copper-lead bonded. I am not interested in spending the time and effort needed to make these bullets myself. For practice & for matches I still use copper core lead bullets. The only guys I know who actually make their own copper bullets do so to have specific bullets for a specific rifle for long range precision (sniper & match) work. They are not shooting thousands of these each year but are shooting targets a long range and want specific performance and accuracy for their specific needs. Each of these guys also has built their own precision rifle also so they have specific abilities that most people do not have.May 9, 2014 at 4:14 am #13082
Here’s a link to a ballistics calculator that some of you might find helpful. You must enter your bullet weight, ballistic coefficient, velocity and some environmental conditions (temp, elevation, wind speed etc.) and a few other pieces of information and it will list for you your bullet drop or aim needed to hit a target at various ranges. I keep this information handy for specific loads and it makes it mich easier to hit targets a various and distant ranges, also it helps estimate the lead into the wind to hit targets when there is wind present.May 9, 2014 at 4:20 am #13083
If you have a smart phone Strelok is a good ballistics app.May 9, 2014 at 11:48 am #13107
How will these sources be affected after a shtf event. If the normal sources for lead and antimony dry up, what or where will you turn to for bullet making materials?May 9, 2014 at 1:24 pm #13110
Depending upon what the event will be there may still be lead available through recycling centers (we have a large one here) junk yards and tire places provided there is still safe access there. However, this is one reason why in the past couple of years I have increased my collection of lead from wheel weights and have been melting them down into ingots. The ingots are about 5 pounds each and stack nicely for storage. They also are grooved so they can be broken into approx 1-2 lb ingots. As I need to make bullets I melt down only what it required. I have been trading some loaded cartridges for more lead. After SHTF this may also prove to be an even better bartering item – either lead or loaded – but i think loaded cartridges will be more desirable (and immediately useful). Honestly with the recent (and on going) ammo shortage and increase in prices my source is extremely happy when I give him 50 loaded cartridges for more than a hundred pounds of lead. Lead is not immediately useful, but the cartridges are. So it has been a good deal for both since I have the capacity to turn scrap lead into bullets and bullets into loaded cartridges. After SHTF I think people may even give more lead for fewer cartridges for the same reason.May 9, 2014 at 4:27 pm #13116
A question for all of our bullet casters.
Are you casting rifle bullets?
What cartridge do you cast bullets for? Bullet weight? Velocity?
What is the hardness of you bullets?
Do you use a gas check?
Problems with leading?
Other problems like feeding? Accuracy?May 12, 2014 at 12:44 am #13454
I was hoping someone with more experience than me would answer your questions and I hope some one still will, but in the mean time I will comment.
I mold bullets primarily for hand guns. I have bullet molds for a few rifle calibers. I shoot a lot of the bullets for practice and am happy to have the means to mold bullets in a SHTF scenario, but for actual use other than practice I would prefer jacketed hollow point bullets – so I have plenty of them stored up (there are some hunting scenarios that are an exception to this). In fact I have plenty of primers and powder as well (and .22 ammo) as I started purchasing these items little by little when they go on sale – beginning when Bill Clinton was president (thanks Bill) . Even as a financial investment this has been a good decision.
As far as rifle bullets go they must be kept to a much lower velocity than I like, but again I like having a back up plan. You should be able to get 2000 fps and some people get much more. I do use gas checks for rifle bullets. I also use Lee Precision Inc. molds as most bullets from Lee molds can be used as cast without sizing and can be lubed easily with Lee liquid alox.
The .30 cal. bullets I have loaded are 150 gr. Flat nose. If I had to do over I think I would go a bit heavier, but that’s what I have. I have not tested the hardness so can not comment.
On a note to those who think maybe they can substitute black powder for smokeless powder there are a lot of things to consider. For one thing, most of those cartridges that are currently in use that were originally loaded with black powder have much faster rifling twists rates in the barrels than in the old black powder days. The 30-30 was the first American rifle cartridge released to the public shooting bullets with the then-new smokeless powder. It had a 1:12 rifled twist rate (one complete turn for 12 inches of distance traveled). This was too fast for black powder and caused the bore to foul excessively (black powder its self fowls a barrel quickly in the best of scenarios). A few years later Winchester released the .32 Win. Special with was based on the same case as the 30-30 but with a 1:16 inch twist specifically for those who still wanted to load their own with black powder. I believe the 45-70 is an exception in that it was originally offered with a 1:20 twist and still is today with modern rifles.May 12, 2014 at 1:45 am #13458
Thank you for your answers. I pose the questions so we can have a discussion and provide information to anyone unfamiliar with bullet making. As you have noted some folks you know are swaging copper bullets for benchrest competition. I know someone that does this as well because he can make a better bullet then he can buy. The bullets he makes are uniformly concentric where bullet manufactures sell bullets with slight imperfections.
Because lead will strip out of the lands at high velocities for myself I figure copper bullets cast & swaged for rifles will be better performing than lead. Copper can be located nearly everywhere while lead can only be found in various collection centers.
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