View Full Version : Bullet casting question (Blackpowder)

02-20-2010, 08:16 PM
I have seen lots of posts on taking pure lead and making it harder for casting cartridge bullets, but is there any way to take less than pure lead (WW or other) and refining it back to pure for blackpowder?

I'd like to be able to buy scrap lead and if it is too hard purify it.

I'm sure there is some super expensive refining technique, what I'm looking for is something on home-scale.


02-20-2010, 10:52 PM
I've been cooking lead since 1967 (at the age of 10). I'm sure there is a way to seperate the metals but if so its really beyond anything you want to get involved with I'm sure.

If you think you NEED "pure" PB its going to be chaeper and easier to buy it.

The only two alloys I've ever cast are WW and LINOTYPE, and quit linotype years ago when I found out how to heat treat wheelweights.

Just IMHO you'll do okay with WW in the MLs. Its what I've used and never had a problem with them not obturating (which is the real reason that you're told to use "pure" Pb in MLs). WW in my experience are close to a Brinell of 8 which is not hard at all you can easily boost them way up with either cold-water quenching or oven heat treating and use gas checks if you really want to hot rod and penetrate.

In the past 40 years my WW bullets have done everything I have ever asked of them.

FWIW I knew an old guy who had a .40 cal long rifle he built himself, he took many deer with patched linotype round balls in front of 90gr of FFFg.

02-21-2010, 05:09 AM
Thanks for the info, I guess my first step is to get a brinnel hardness tester (looking at the Lee) and go from there. If wheel weights are around eight and pure lead is around six then I'm sure any extra hardness is minor and any reduced accuracy is far below my shooting capacity (LOL).
I enjoy my .54 renegade, .54 bullets though are hard to find (.50 is much more common) so I bought dies to cast my own. I have bought scrap lead from the local metal recycler and while I was able to buy scrap lead pipe (pure I hope) I still keep hoping to buy cheaper lead.


02-21-2010, 02:05 PM
Hi Eric
Welcome to the forum. I have a few suggestions for you. The easiest source of lead you're likely to find is wheelweights, from your local tire garage. Although it's SUPPOSED to be somewhat harder than pure lead, what I've found in practice is that it's soft enough. Here's a pic of some cast lead bullets that I swaged into hollowpoints. Obviously, the wheelweight lead is soft enough to swage, so I believe it is also soft enough for your purposes. I'd say give it a try.
I don't think you need to buy a lead hardness tester. Here's a trick I've tried that works. Regular lead pencils come in different hardnesses that you can use for testing your lead. Take a regular #2 pencil with a freshly sharpened tip and try to scratch your lead alloy. The hardness of a #2 pencil is somewhat harder than 1:20 alloy (muzzleloader alloy consisting of 1 part tin to 20 parts lead). If a #2 pencil leaves a scratch, your lead is soft enough to use.

One way to soften lead a bit is to heat it hot and just leave it undisturbed for 60 minutes or so. The tin and antimony rise to the top over time and will be a golden to blueish gray scum floating on top of the lead. Skim this off with a spoon and you leave behind softer lead. Save your skimmings though, because you might want to make some hard-cast pistol bullets latter in life.
Good luck,

02-24-2010, 02:33 AM
I hope I'm not breaking any rules by posting this link:


Its a great forum dedicated to making your own bullets you can learn far more there than you will probably ever need to know about bullet-making.

03-11-2010, 12:39 AM
Before you flux you can skim the tin off, which will get you a little softer mix.