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Discussion Starter #1
I have a question about hardness of bullets.

I have my own wheelweight s, Bull-X, E & E, D & J, and Leadhead bullets to play with. I've tried all of them in the vise placing them base to base to see which resists deformation more than any other.  All of the commercial bullets seem to be very close in hardness and all mash the wheelweights. The last casting I did, I dropped the hot bullets from my mold about 3 feet into cold water. These bullets seem to be much harder than the commercial bullets.

Is this a good thing? Is there any advantage to doing it or am I being bad?

Old Jim
 

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Old Jim,
         Nothing wrong at all water quenching those WW Bullets, unless you're against having a harder, more rounded bullet that will speed up your casting production <!--emo&;)--><img src="http://beartoothbullets.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif" border="0" valign="absmiddle" alt=';)'><!--endemo--> .

         Water quenching will up your BHN to about 19-21, depending on factors such as alloy and mold temp., and the WW alloy itself (antimony content), as this can vary slightly from different WW manufacturers. Bullets cast from WW, without water quenching, are usually 10-12 BHN. Harder bullets can be driven faster without leading your barrel. This is alot easier and faster than oven heat treating your bullets.

          Your bullets will be rounder as they solidify instantly as they hit the water, rather than dropping from the mold onto whatever surface you  choose, to cool.( when casting large bullets, I float a sponge on the water surface of my 5 gallon bucket, to slow the fall of the bullet from hitting the bucket bottom.)

            Water quenched WW will maintain their hardness for approx. 6-12 months, before they age soften to about 17 BHN, where they will stay that hard almost indefinitely.

             Lastly, your production will increase, as you can drop your bullets from the mold once the spru hardens, rather than waiting long enough to drop them, to prevent deformation.

              So Old Jim, keep up the good work ! Water quenching your bullets has many beneficial benefits that you and your guns will enjoy.

                                 Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Cast and blast, I was reading this for about the 10th time. How do you oven temper bullets?
Old Jim
 

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Old Jim,
         I have never oven tempered, or heat treated cast bullets. Never had the need to, when water quenching. The trick to consistent water quenched bullets is stable mold and alloy temperature. This means only using alloy once it has reached desired temp., and not adding to the pot until you are finished. Adding to the pot(discarded sprues) takes energy away from the alloy to re-melt, hence, a cooler, inconsistent alloy temperature.

            I only start water dropping bullets once the mold is nice and hot, and starts dropping slightly frosted bullets. I usually set the thermostat for the RCBS pot for 775 degrees. It usually only takes about 10-15 seconds for sprues to solidify to desired hardness with the aid of a small fan I hold the charged mold in front of. Again, the key is consistency in alloy and mold temp. and casting cycle speed. Using pure WW alloy, my water quenched bullets average between 19-22 BHN. Do not use the stick on type WW, as they are almost pure lead and will dilute the antimony content in the alloy. Antimony is what gives the WW its heat treating ability.

             However, oven heat treating is probably the way to go for the ultimate in consistent heat treating. There is more control to outside variables.Veral Smith's great book,"Jacketed Performance With Cast Bullets" suggests taking your cast bullets and baking them in an oven set at 450 degrees for one hour and then water quenching them in a bucket of cool water. Sound familiar ? This will give a BHN of approx. 35. Baking for 15 minutes yields a BHN of approx. 27. I highly reccomend this book as it goes into great detail on drawing or annealing the bullets to any desired hardness. Neat stuff !

             As I stated, I never found the need  to oven bake my bullets. I'm fully satisfied with the results acquired from mold dropped water quenched bullets. When I hear that oven timer ding, I want to eat, not quench bullets <!--emo&:D--><img src="http://beartoothbullets.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif" border="0" valign="absmiddle" alt=':D'><!--endemo--> .

             Hope this helped you out.

                               Jeff
 

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Ya know I've not found much need to quench my bullets. The only calibers I've found that it paid off were the 375 Whelen and the 243 Winchester. Both of these I was loading to jacketed bullet velocities.
I don't quench any of my pistol bullets and none of my 45-70 bullets. I'm shooting fairly hot loads in the 45-70 and get no leading. I think that with sizing to 1 or 2 thousandths over bore size and a good bullet lube it's just not required.
Jim
 
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