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Thread: Water Quench or Air Cool

  1. #1
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    Default Water Quench or Air Cool

    Hello everyone, Newbie at casting and a first time poster here. I am planning to attempt my first try at casting today as soon as UPS delivers my brand new Lyman big dipper casting furnace. I believe I have everything ready, but am wondering which is better for cast 44 cal. bullet that will be fired in both my Marlin 1894 and my SBH revlover. I will be casting with straight wheelweights in a Lee 429-255 mold. Give a newbie some good advice please?
    Last edited by OkieOutlaw; 02-01-2012 at 05:28 PM.

  2. #2
    Dogs Like Him versifier's Avatar
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    If you are running your cast bullets through a sizer, water dropping is absolutely USELESS. Lead and its alloys soften when worked. The nose of the bullet stays hard, but not the driving bands, the only part that would benefit from hardening. The only time you can get away with it is if the bullets drop from the mould properly sized and only need to be lubed.

    99% of the time, especially in handguns, harder bullets give you absolutely no advantage, and if they are slightly undersized, they just create more problems. With rifle bullets, you can push harder bullets faster, but you sacrifice expansion, making them just about useless for hunting, but fine for long range target shooting (and if you want them, you ought to use a harder alloy than straight WW's like linotype). Water dropping bullets gets you the exact opposite of what you need for either purpose: a hard nose that won't expand and soft driving bands that won't give you any extra velocity.

    If you actually need hard bullets, size them and then heat treat them before lubing.

    For your intended applications, AC WW's are just fine, and you could even run an alloy of 50%WW/50%pure (or 25%WW/75%pure) with no leading problems to save on ever scarcer WW's providing they are sized correctly.

    I am assuming you have slugged the FC and all cylinder throats of the revolver and the bore of the rifle to determine proper size(s). They may not need or like the same size, and either or both may or may not like that particular bullet design though it is one of good repute that works well for many casters. I have yet to meet the gun that can read, so they often have their own very definite opinions about what they like and will shoot well. Sometimes you get lucky right off the bat, and sometimes you run into a barrel that takes you a dozen different trys to find the right mould.
    "Stand your ground.
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  3. #3
    Wise
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    I have that bullet mold you plan on using. It should work great in the SBH. I once had a Marlin carbine in .44 mag is it would not feed any semi-wadcutter bullet I had including the Lyman #429241 (Elmer's bullet) Lyman 429244, your Lee bullet and a SAECO hollow point SWC along the Keith bullet lines. I could load the gun as a single shot and they shot fine but would absolutely not feed. You can try them but pulling the magazine plug to retrieve the cartridges gets old real quick.
    Granted, results from a single specimen of firearm doesn't prove muchl

    "If you actually need hard bullets, size them and then heat treat them before lubing."

    That's how I handle rifle bullets. For the .308 I size to .310", heat in a calibrated toaster oven, do the water drop and then after they dry I lube them with a .311" die.
    On handgun ammo, I use the bullets without heat treatment. I used to use Elmer's pet load of .22 gr. of HERCULES #2400. Howeevr, the ALLIANT version is faster burning so when I use #2400 these days, I stick with the recommended max of 20.0 gr.
    Your 255 gr. bullt may weigh a tad more than the nominal weight due to current wheel weight metal has a higher lead content that in previous years. Still, current wheel weights properly lubed and sized will do a number on any deer I've ever seen and I wouldn't hesitate to use them on hogs and average sized Black Bears.
    Anyway, I hope that bullet will feed for you. Just because it didn't work in my gun doesn't necessarily mean it's fail in yours. I wish you luck.
    Paul B.
    POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IS AN OXYMORON PROMULGATED BY MORONS.

  4. #4
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    Thank You for your very good answer. My Marlin seems to love to eat everything I throw at it in a cast bullet. It seems to particularly like bullets sized .430 up to about .432. The SBH just loves everything. I will use Unique as my primary powder as I have several pet loads with it for both the Spc and Mag. It has for years been my go to powder for the 44 as well as the 45ACP that I also want to try casting for.

  5. #5
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    In a artical I read in hanloader, lead will continue to harden for about 72 hours to reach close to its maximum hardnes. it will then slowly continue over a long period of time. So if you Quench harden your boolits and size them in the same day they will still harden over the next 2-3 days. Since I started Quench hardening my .45 ACP boolits I have noticed less leading. I use wheel weights and no Gas checks.

  6. #6
    Dogs Like Him versifier's Avatar
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    Don't believe everything you read in a gun rag, even a decent one like Handloader. If only water dropping worked that way in practice, but it is just another fallacy like the famous "You can't shoot cast bullets in a MicroGroove barrel". There is more misinformation about cast bullets spead around by gunwriters who just repeat what they have read somewhere else. When something just doesn't make logical sense, it's usually because it's a load of fertilizer even though it has become "common knowledge".

    If you leave the WD'd bullets untouched, it is true that they will continue to harden some, but as soon as you work the bullet through the sizer you lose all the hardness in the driving bands and you will not regain it by any method except heat treating. Only the untouched NOSES of those bullets will continue to harden up, but that's the opposite of what you want and need. Over time (about a year or so), all artificially hardened bullets will lose that extra hardness anyway and return to what you would have had by air cooling. Do the actual experiments yourself and test the changes in hardness. I have. I didn't accept what I read about it because there were too many conflicting opinions in various sources and I wanted to find out the truth for myself.

    BTW, if you up the size of your .45's by .001-.002" then you can use as little as 1/5WW to 4/5 pure lead without any leading at all. We shoot well over 1500 rounds a month of .45ACP's in a variety of pistols and carbines, all without any leading issues. Using straight WW's for anything but rifle hunting bullets is in my opinion a waste of an ever-dwindling resource. Handgun bullets do not need to be very hard if they are correctly sized - revolvers, pistols, single shots - makes no difference until you are getting into the big magnums with much higher pressures and velocities.

    99% of the time in handguns lead fouling is caused by using a sizer that is too small. Increasing pressure levels will sometimes help obturation a little, but the harder the bullet the more gas cutting occurs with undersized bullets.

    Sometimes you will run into a pistol that has a chamber too tight for you to load a bullet properly sized to the bore (this is common with Siggs especially, and some custom match chambers), and then it is critical to soften the alloy to get proper obturation - the harder you run the alloy, the more leading the barrel will develop with a corresponding drop-off in accuracy.

    IME, the only regular pistol bullets that need to be hard are for .40/10mm Glock barrels with polygonal rifling, but they still need to be correctly sized too. Big GC'd revolver bullets, like rifle bullets, need to be harder because the rotational stress of excellerating in the barrel will strip softer and weaker alloys at those higher pressure and velocity levels, but the plain based bullets for lighter target/practice loads in those same revolvers do not.

    If I need hard bullets, I add antimony (linotype ingots or premium chilled shot) to the alloy. This gives me air cooled bullets of maximum hardness. Yes, heat treating could make them even harder and if I were a long range target shooter I would do it that way, but I don't shoot cast loads beyond 200yds and most of them are for hunting, not target shooting anyway.
    Last edited by versifier; 02-19-2012 at 05:00 PM.
    "Stand your ground.
    Do not fire unless fired upon.
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  7. #7
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    Red face

    Quote Originally Posted by POLISHMAUSER View Post
    In a artical I read in hanloader, lead will continue to harden for about 72 hours to reach close to its maximum hardnes. it will then slowly continue over a long period of time. So if you Quench harden your boolits and size them in the same day they will still harden over the next 2-3 days. Since I started Quench hardening my .45 ACP boolits I have noticed less leading. I use wheel weights and no Gas checks.
    Actually, they will harden over a period of about two weeks and then, very slowly soften back to their original hardness unles the bullets are kept refrigerated. FWIW, I don't bother with the refrigeration as theeeeir softening occurs over a long period of many years. About 10 years ago I did a batch for my .44 Mag. and hardened using my alloy there age hardened to 32 BHN. Some I stuck in a refrigerator and they have not chnged hardness that I can detect. others stored openly in a normal manner have softened to about 29 to 30 on the BHN scale, not enough to worry about. If you want to quench to make hard bullets, add about 1/3 cup of magnum bird shot to your alloy. It contains arsenic which works with the antimony in the mix to really make very hard bullets.
    About the only bullets I heat treat and water quench any more are for my .308 and 30-06 for use in my accurate target loading.
    Paul B.
    POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IS AN OXYMORON PROMULGATED BY MORONS.

  8. #8
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    actually the arsenic is a grain modifier [it makes the lead molecules pack in tighter]
    it does act as a catalyst to quench hardening the antimonial alloy.
    http://www.lasc.us/ArticlesFryxell.htm
    http://www.castpics.net/subsite2/default.html
    look here for good information on quenching and alloy uses.
    this is the best information you can get.

  9. #9
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    I always water quench, works good for me.
    Steve
    The Original Point and Click interface was a Smith & Wesson.

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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        

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