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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Looking for the best mix of lead to solder for making bullets. Would 9 lb of lead to 1 lb of 95/5 solder be good?
I don't use gas checks and I keep pressures very moderate. thanks for any help
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Assuming your 95/5 is 95% lead and 5% tin, adding another 9 pounds of lead to the one pound of solder gets the tin down to around to half of a percent.... which may help out a little with the bullet filling out the mold. Whether it is enough tin to harden the bullet for your needs is something you can only find by experimentation.... but you'd best be at the top of your game, as far as bullet fit, lube quality, and so on. It really will depend on how hard you push those bullets.
 

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95:5 solder is lead-free. 95% tin and 5% silver. The proposed 10:1 dilution should make something close to the RCBS 10% tin formula, which will do for most cast bullets that are not heat treated. The silver will improve the mold fill and hardness a little.

Fay, if you want to heat treat your bullets to make them really hard, you need some arsenic them. It is in magnum lead shot. If you melt the shot with 5% of your 95:5 solder, the result may not cast as pretty as your first suggestion, but you will be able to heat and quench them to over BHN 20.
 
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Elk Whisperer (Super Moderator)
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Rotometals also has tin "wire" that can be added to your melt, stirred in and fluxed. I add 2.5% to my wheel weights.

Tin doesn't make "harder" bullets per say, but they sure are pretty. Dad's "mix" was 85% lead, 10% tin and 5% antimony. (same as Lyman linotype I think) Somehow this kid I know 🙄 could still lead the barrel of his Dad's Security Six with little effort.

Too much antimony makes bullets brittle and the bullet won't obturate to the rifling which strips lead instead of forming to the riflings. That same kid found that out the hard way too.

Bullets cast from my mix will run 1350 fps from my 357's (358439's on top of 2400) with no noticeable leading.

RJ
 

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That's brittleness. The same, by the way, happens with wheel weights and linotype if you shoot them in very cold weather. I remember Veral Smith commenting that he always liked wheel weights for everything until he moved to Idaho where he found, in the cold of winter, they would shatter on bone.
 

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Lead alloy calculator, works with use MS Office, Apache OpenOffice, or LibreOffice to view the spreadsheet.

Your 9 lbs. of pure and 1 lb. of 95/5 will get you an estimated BHN or around 8.6. Beside the Lee and other lead hardness testers there is a much simpler and cheaper way to test your lead hardness by using drawing pencils, I use THESE. You will also need a pencil sharpener and a piece of sandpaper to flatten the point, there are numerous videos on YT that show how to do the lead pencil test.

This is how the point of your pencil should look when you use it, to see if it cuts into the lead.
Writing implement Office supplies Wood Writing instrument accessory Font

Conversion chart, Pencil Hardness / BHN / Alloy
Font Number Parallel Pattern
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
95:5 solder is lead-free. 95% tin and 5% silver. The proposed 10:1 dilution should make something close to the RCBS 10% tin formula, which will do for most cast bullets that are not heat treated. The silver will improve the mold fill and hardness a little.

Fay, if you want to heat treat your bullets to make them really hard, you need some arsenic them. It is in magnum lead shot. If you melt the shot with 5% of your 95:5 solder, the result may not cast as pretty as your first suggestion, but you will be able to heat and quench them to over BHN 20.
Nick, the 95 is tin and I always drop from the mold to cool water. That has to help some I guess. Looks like this mix will work for punching holes in paper. thanks Fay
 

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Without antimony, which hardens pure lead in your alloy mix, water quenching really does nothing to harden your bullets, a trace amount of arsenic about 1/2% which is a grain refiner i.e. it compacts the grain and hardens the alloy even further when water quench or heat treated using time and temperature is also a bonus. Both of these are found in clip on wheel weights, lino or monotype and a variety of other lead based alloys.

Tin will harden lead to a point, but any more than 2% is pretty much a waste of good tin, it's also aids in mold fill out. Lead/Tin based alloy bullets don't need or want respond to water quenching or heat treating, so it's an unnecessary step.
 

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Exceeding 2% is only a waste if you have some antimony in excess of that same percentage to work with. If you don't, going to a higher tin percentage still helps. Elmer Keith moved from 5% (20:1 pb:sn) to 6.25% (16:1) to reduce leading in the 44 Mag and his hot 44 Special loads and found it helpful.
 

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Looking for the best mix of lead to solder for making bullets. Would 9 lb of lead to 1 lb of 95/5 solder be good?
I don't use gas checks and I keep pressures very moderate. thanks for any help
What are you using for lead ? Wheelweights or pure lead ? If wheelweights, don't add more than 3% tin to the mix, you don't want a higher tin content than antimony, the excess tin forms nodules of tin in the bullet, potentially unbalancing it. If pure lead, I use about a 16 to 1 mix. The tin lowers the surface tension of the melt letting it fill out the fine details of the mold better.
 

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Looking for the best mix of lead to solder for making bullets. Would 9 lb of lead to 1 lb of 95/5 solder be good?
I don't use gas checks and I keep pressures very moderate. thanks for any help
I always stay true to the old Lyman #2 lead mix of:

5-1/2 lbs - Wheel weights
1 lb - 50/50 Bar solder
3-1/2 lbs - Pure lead

or

4 lbs - Linotype
1 lb - 50/50 Bar solder
5 lbs - pure lead

I am 64 years old and have been shooting Lyman #2 lead cast bullets since I was 9 and this formula has never failed me. Bullets cast clean and perfect every time!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Looking like I may not need 10% tin. I can't get wheel weights any more sadly. That is what I have used for years. Does anyone have a Brinell hardness numbers for pure lead to tin at 20 or 25 to 1 ? I read
somewhere that that would be BHN 9 or 10 which I think is hard enough. thanks
 

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Lyman's Handbook had a table of alloys and hardness last time I looked, but the LASC also has one about 40% of the way down through the scroll range, here. It says 20:1 is BHN_10 and 30:1 is BHN_9. So you can guess 25:1 will be about BHN_9.5.
 
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