I have heard for 50 years you can't cast good
bullets without tin. Never cared to try it 'til now. One
test does not make a "Law of Nature", but one fall out of a
tree convinced me of the law of gravity. I am convinced.
I melted 5 pounds of reclaimed bullet cores from an indoor range (
No cast bullets ) This stuff is very soft. Bullets measure about 8
BNH ( Lee scale ). I assume they have very little tin because they
were swaged, not cast and the melt when stirred and scraped looks
like pure lead.
I would not normally use this for casting without the addition of
some linotype to get the BNH up to around 12.
I took a mold, known to be good, and started casting. I tried every
trick known to me and every suggestion mentioned on several web
sites and I never managed to get good bullets. They were 98% either
wrinkled or unfilled driving bands or badly frosted. Maybe 2 in 100
came out smooth and well shaped.
This was not a quickie test. I poured five
pounds of bullet metal three times. That estimates to about 43x15 =
645 bullets. I tried temperatures from 600 to 750 degrees.
Note that it was the same 5 pounds of lead melted and re-melted
three times. Nothing was varied except casting methods and
I tried Bottom pour with mold in contact with
the spout, 1/2" drop, 3/4" drop, 1" drop. Straight in the hole.
Around the sides of the sprue hole. Tilting the mold. Casting hot
and dropping the mold on the pad before the melt had hardened.
I tried the same variations with the ladle.
At this point I accepted that that alloy was never going to cast
good bullets so I added two ounces of tin ( to the exact same metal
). That makes it 2oz / 82oz = 2.4% tin in addition to whatever
tin may or may not have already been there.
Immediately, first filling, ( The mold was already hot. ) the
bullets came our perfectly smooth, and perfectly filled with nice
flat driving bands with perfect square edges.
Bullet core bullets average weight:
No tin in alloy
162.9 gr with a +/- 3 grain variance
163.1 grains with a .5 grain variance
With tin in alloy ( 2.5% )
Average 161.2 gr with .5 gr variance.
Lee Brinell Hardness Readings
ctrl+mouse wheel zooms photos.
Cast with no tin. Worst examples. Approximately 40% of total.
(Not including the really bad 50% that went immediately back into
Cast with no tin. Best possible examples. ( Less than 10% of
Cast with 2.5% tin. About 80% keepers.