Lead hardness tester

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AndyC
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Lead hardness tester

#1

Post by AndyC » Fri Oct 16, 2020 12:05 pm

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:

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I'm looking forward to playing with it.
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ET-Ret
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Re: Lead hardness tester

#2

Post by ET-Ret » Fri Oct 16, 2020 10:09 pm

The machine in the pict looks good. But that said why is there so much effort put in to the hardness of bullets?
I have cast bullets and shoot them at cans paper target and very little at animals except 22lr factory bullets I have in my youth killed a lot of feral
cats and dogs. Dont' get to excited back then a case of rabise was a very real for the area of my youth. Better the dogs die than one child bitten.
the linotype machine was very picky about the metal and the user was forever sending it to a lab for correction. mix in any thing else and the machine would chock up and not cast a slug.
bullet casting is not that picky.
I have bought plumbing lead .Mixed it with some tin and antimony went on .
I grew up in a type shop where we had some metals off the back of electrotypes .
Linotype, monotype, sterotype and foundry. of these I have cut lino with soft lead and never had trouble making
bullets. I bought lead wire and used Speer half jackets and swaged bullets with a C&H swageamitic. Some times jackets would come off
in flight. that is why the factorys moved on to bonding.
I like copper plated bullets but there are gone for a while. So I get to start casting again but i am not going to worry about how
the bullet is. I saw where a guy broke his sizer and lube handle so I don't want them to be too hard.
ET-ret

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Re: Lead hardness tester

#3

Post by AndyC » Sun Oct 18, 2020 1:31 pm

I'm starting to get bloody tired of justifying things, but ok:

1. Because tin is expensive. If I know what my metals ARE by measuring their hardness, I waste less tin - which results in more casting alloy for me, which means more bullets.
2. When I mix up an alloy I have a way to replicate it reasonably well by knowing what went into it in the first place, and I do that by measuring its hardness.
3. I said nothing about wanting HARD bullets, so I don't know what your point is.
Linotype, monotype, sterotype and foundry. of these I have cut lino with soft lead and never had trouble making bullets.
*golf clap* See point 1 above. You might be happy throwing any old trash together to get bullets of any old kind, but I'm trying to get replicable results by know what is in the alloy short of a lab report - while stretching my money and pile of alloy, if that's all right with you.
Last edited by AndyC on Sun Oct 18, 2020 1:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lead hardness tester

#4

Post by ghostrider » Sun Oct 18, 2020 1:48 pm

Cool toy, Andy.

I'd be interested in any results you're willing to share. eg. for a particular 'lot' of cast bullets: water quenched vs air cooled?

will you be testing any commercial cast bullets as calibration samples?
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Re: Lead hardness tester

#5

Post by AndyC » Sun Oct 18, 2020 1:58 pm

I don't have any commercial cast bullets - and according to others who have this device, it's already more accurate than really needed.
I have calibrated/verified it against an NIST traceable hardness tester with know samples and it is far more accurate that we all need for simple casting purposes around here.
Water quenching really only works if there's a tiny bit of arsenic in the alloy (eg from clip-on wheelweights) - and I don't have any right now but want some to play with - but heck, I'm happy to test any lead alloy I can lay my hands on, yep.

What I have tested so far are some recent 9mm cast bullets (scrap range-lead with added tin - around 9 Bhn) and older .357 bullets (scrap range-lead with some Lyman #2 - 11 Bhn).

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Interestingly, the "linotype" I was sold on eBay turns out to be electrotype, based on its hardness:

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Never mind that I paid for an alloy with 4% tin and 12% antimony - but received a far lower grade alloy of only 2.5% tin and 2.5% antimony... but I'm sure ET-Ret would be just fine with that cuz, y'know "Boolits is boolits, hur-dur".
Last edited by AndyC on Sun Oct 18, 2020 2:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lead hardness tester

#6

Post by ghostrider » Sun Oct 18, 2020 2:13 pm

Water quenching really only works if there's a tiny bit of arsenic in the alloy (eg from clip-on wheelweights)
that's good to know, thanks.
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Re: Lead hardness tester

#7

Post by AndyC » Sun Oct 18, 2020 2:16 pm

From Veral Smith, something of an authority on the subject:
If there is no arsenic final bullet hardness is gained during an aging time of about 2 weeks and is not greatly effected by rate of cooling while casting. With arsenic, and only a trace of arsenic is needed, the tin and antimony change to a heat treatable state and hardness takes a big jump, if bullets are cooled by water quenching, doubling and even tripling the hardness obtained by cooling on a pad. The hardness after quenching takes place in about 24 hours instead of 2 weeks or more.
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Re: Lead hardness tester

#8

Post by WildBill » Sun Oct 18, 2020 3:30 pm

WildBill wrote:
Sun Oct 18, 2020 3:30 pm
AndyC wrote:
Sun Oct 18, 2020 1:58 pm
Never mind that I paid for an alloy with 4% tin and 12% antimony - but received a far lower grade alloy of only 2.5% tin and 2.5% antimony... but I'm sure ET-Ret would be just fine with that cuz, y'know "Boolits is boolits, hur-dur".
Linotype was used to make type for printing processes. I don't think many people use it now. Back in the late 70's our local newspaper changed from linotype to electronic typesetting. My dad and some members of his shooting club bought all of the metal from the newspaper. We had tons of the stuff. We also went to an indoor range and "mined" lead from the pistol range. I cast many bullets back then. I even used them for .222 Rem, .308 Winchester and M1 carbine low velocity rounds. I would use brass gas checks on the base to prevent leading of the barrel.
Last edited by WildBill on Sun Oct 18, 2020 3:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lead hardness tester

#9

Post by ET-Ret » Mon Oct 19, 2020 3:07 pm

Andy must have got up on the wrong side of the bed. Men and boys and the price of their toys.
Just to let you know on the Cast Boolits forum. There is a download of a PDF of a book by Glen Fryxell .If you wand some good info
on Cast bullets . Also if you do a search on the net The second ed of Lee is out there for free. I am going back to bed now.
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Re: Lead hardness tester

#10

Post by AndyC » Mon Oct 19, 2020 11:30 pm

Sorry you have price envy. Had Glen's book for years, been on Castboolits for 10 years, have been casting for about 40 - doubt there's much you can tell me on the subject. I see value in this gadget, but none in your opinions.
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Re: Lead hardness tester

#11

Post by flechero » Tue Oct 20, 2020 7:55 am

Andy, I'm surprised that you're catching flack [on both sites] for this... I had no idea that a lead tester was such a controversial purchase. I though toy cap primer refills might draw some suspicion but not a stinkin' lead tester... Maybe I'm missing out!?!?!? :lol:

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Re: Lead hardness tester

#12

Post by AndyC » Tue Oct 20, 2020 11:56 am

3 sites now. Castboolits is the exception - probably because the guys there understand what it's for.

I was unaware that I have to justify my purchases to anybody, but here we are...
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Re: Lead hardness tester

#13

Post by srothstein » Tue Oct 20, 2020 12:22 pm

AndyC wrote:
Tue Oct 20, 2020 11:56 am
I was unaware that I have to justify my purchases to anybody, but here we are...
You don't ever have to justify your purchases. Well, unless you are married and the spouse is the one questioning it. I guess you might have to explain it to the IRS if you took a deduction for it, but that more of an explanation than a justification.

I remind you of the quote from Robert Heinlein (which I will paraphrase because I don't remember it exactly). He said that when a sentence begins with "It is none of my business but" that the appropriate punctuation is for you to supply the period after the but, using whatever force is necessary. I add to his that if the sentence should have started that way, it is the same.
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Re: Lead hardness tester

#14

Post by AndyC » Tue Oct 20, 2020 12:59 pm

Now that's funny :mrgreen: I thought I knew all of Heinlein's good quotes but don't recall that one at all; I'll tuck that away.
ghostrider wrote:
Sun Oct 18, 2020 1:48 pm
will you be testing any commercial cast bullets as calibration samples?
At your (gentle) prodding I poked around my gear and found a few commercial .45 230gr cast bullets from Bayou bullets left-over from when I took the Active Shooter/Safe Schools course - they test at 6 Bhn. My 1911 ate them like candy and I scored 100% in all 3 tests (LTC, NRA Defensive Pistol and Austin PD cert) - and hitting the plate at 75 yards.
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Re: Lead hardness tester

#15

Post by ddstuder » Tue Oct 20, 2020 1:12 pm

I for one applaud this purchase :hurry: :thumbs2:

I have used the Lee tester but my eyes don't see that chart as good as they used to.

I am anxious to hear how you like it, and will be purchasing one as well (with your approval :lol: )
Guns are like parachutes, if your ever in a situation that you need one and you dont have one, you'll probably never need one again.

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