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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In the bliss of reloading youth I bought several hundred "hard cast" bevel base 30-30 bullets in .309 diameter. At TrailBoss velocities they shoot marginal in my 30-30 as one might expect. They are Suter's Choice and I have been told they are about 18-22 bhn.

I have a new RanchDog 165-311 gas check mold that needs to be fed. I thought since the hardness of the store bought lead bullets is already about where I would want it why not just solve two problems by melting down the store bought bullets and recast them with a good mold of the proper diameter. I already own them so the only waste is my time of recasting them. When you weigh out the cost in time of loading bullets of questionable size, shooting powder (waste), and cleaning lead out of the bore against recasting it seems like a wash.

What say you? Any downside to doing this besides what I have already listed?
 

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18-22 is hard. That would be, right at a two to one mixture ( I like em soft) for me. Hard cast is very expensive and hard to get for me. I just started to recycle some cast bullets I purchased last year, was not happy with the quality. 50% of the gas checks fell off in shipping. They are now ready to be smelted back into ingot form and they only ranged 13 BHN +/-.

I see no down side ( sorry for the dissertation)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Dissertation appreciated. No apology necessary.

I have plenty of range scrap and lino to make my own mid-range velocity 30-30 bullets. For the most part I plan to try to push the RD bullets around 1900-2000fps. For that RD recommended a pretty hard mix. I can avoid quenching if I start with the store bullets. IMHO
 
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Gas check and powder coat and turn 'em to the max:biggrin:.

Just teasing Jeff.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Funny you should say that. I almost included the powder coat in my original post but thought it might narrow down the interest. I have a real hankering to PC them instead of dipping in alox/mineral spirits. Run thru the .310 sizer and then the PC should make them plenty fat enough. There is a Harbor Freight on my daily travels that has the PC and a friend whose son has outgrown airsoft guns. He has some spare ammo that I could grab a handful of for the static electricity to tumble PC them. My toaster oven is dying to swallow some bullets.
 
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I started that way, now I spray with the HF el cheapo gun. Love it 004.JPG was playing Saturday.
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
How does the spray gun work? It is still dry when it hits the bullet right? Spraying creates static for the powder to stick then you bake it like you would if tumbled?

The whole spraying thing seems like a mess or you need to have a wide open place with no breeze to spray. I haven't followed the PC threads until they started talking about tumbling.
 
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You said "In the bliss of reloading youth"... How long ago was that?

I've been told that lead bullets will harden with age. If these are 10-20 years old or such, they might not be as hard after melted down and recast.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
My reloading youth isn't that far back. Maybe 2008 for this box. It wasn't that long ago in years but in price years........ The box of 500 was $36.95.
 

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Lead bullets will age harden, sure, but not to the extent that they will exceed what the metal is capable of. That is, wheelweights are just wheelweights and they max out at about 12 BHN or so. 20 years won''t turn them into 21 BHN. They will still stay 12 BHN whether several months old or 20 years old.

The age hardening mostly refers to going from the freshly cast state, say 8 BHN for wheelweights, to the final state they're capable of in terms of hardness which would be around the mentioned 12 BHN. This doesn't really take years.....more like weeks.

While some say hard or soft is undesirable, or .309 or .311 is more or less desirable, this really isn't the point. What is the point is that nothing can be assumed as what you've got isn't what i've got. I've got a new Marlin .308 that doesn't care that much for Lee C113F whether sized .309 or .311, and it doesn't matter what it's made of, which is one of the oddest things I've run into lately as all my other 30's absolutely love that bullet. For example, my Savage 30-06 absolutely dotes on them......and the "proper" oversize .311" doesn't shoot any better than the smaller .309."

Too much Trailboss could also be a handicap, as high pressure fast powders (and Trailboss can produce pressures on the high side for plainbase bullets) often do poorly if the bullet be hard or soft. With fast powders I'd like to see the pressures in the low double K digits for best accuracy. Certainly when 20,000 psi arrives accuracy is already going by the wayside in a lot of instances. Not all.....but a lot.

I was also shooting some Lee 100-2R's of straight linotype sized .311" through the aforementioned .308 using a mere 3.5 grains of Bullseye. Some say that's too hard to "obturate" the lead bullet and the gun will lead and accuracy will be poor. However, if the bullet fits the throat closely (or whatever makes it shoot) and the gun does well, who is to say what diameter is proper or what hardness is proper? In actual shooting the "too hard" linotype bullets shoot very well.

Not me. I've learned not to be dogmatic or I may make a fool of myself when I set out to prove something I "know." Sometimes all I prove is that I don't know everything.

In terms of variables:

Another powder choice might be better, especially when comparing, say, 2400 to faster powders Red Dot or Unique or some such. Usually.....usually.....slower powders do better as long as they aren't unsuitable, like when trying to run true rifle powders at pressures as low as or lower than shotguns run at, which would be foolish.
Another bullet diameter might be better. Or maybe not.
Another hardness may be better. Or maybe not.
Or maybe that particular bullet design just won't shoot, and you have to figure out why. Does the bore riding section bore ride? Is the bearing surface too short?

One thing "at fault" might really be something else when the issue is examined.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Well 35remington you have my attention. It will be a couple weeks before I have a big chunk of time to melt down those jewels. I also discovered about 175 Sierra 125HPFN jacketed bullets in my stash to use in my wife's rifle in the meantime. What would you do with these .309 cast bullets?

I have used some starting loads of 3031 with limited accuracy. Can't remember the details it has been so long ago. I have used TB which proved to be able to hit a paper target at 25 yards.

Her 1894C is headed to a new home so I also have a couple pounds of 2400 to play with that isn't in high demand for my other cartridges.

A plinking load would be OK but I would prefer to have something with at least 1500fps.
 

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How does the spray gun work? It is still dry when it hits the bullet right? Spraying creates static for the powder to stick then you bake it like you would if tumbled?

The whole spraying thing seems like a mess or you need to have a wide open place with no breeze to spray. I haven't followed the PC threads until they started talking about tumbling.
Spraying is not all that messy, you do need a good compressor tho.
 

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I can avoid quenching if I start with the store bullets. IMHO
Maybe.....maybe not. How was the hardness of these bullets obtained? Being told they were 18-22 BHN doesn't sound like a controlled alloy mix for hardness but rather heat treating after casting. If the latter is true then melting them down will return them to the original alloy hardness, what ever that may be. I would take several of the bullets and melt them down, then test for hardness to see what they are or may have been as to hardness.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
You have a point Gohon. These are Suters Choice bullets. I bought them at Graf's in St Charles, MO and they told me what they thought the BHN was. The guy who made them is allegedly out of business or retired now. The only reference to hardness or alloy I have found that I might trust is from MidwayUSA. Their old online catalog page references the 92-6-2 alloy mix. They don't say air cooled or water quenched. That alloy is referred to as "hardball" by Rotometals and they claim their ingots are about 16bhn.

There we have it. Clear as mud.
 

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Heat treating by quenching would add quite a bit of cost to commercially purchased bullets as they would have to be extensively handled after the casting step. Heat treated bullets would likely have high prices. Probably not routinely done as opposed to using an alloy that is that hard as cast.

But you will find out soon enough.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hard to argue with that 35rem. I probably have some 16bhn bullets. Heating and quenching or powder coating my be necessary for high velocity.
 

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Beartooth and Grizzle cartridge both heat treat their bullets as well as others. Probable far cheaper to heat treat than use a alloy mix that will get into the 20 plus hardness range. A 92-6-2 mix would be somewhere around 14-16 BHN and that is probable what you have.

Recast with the Ranchdog mold and gas checked should give you good results and easily get you into the 2000 fps plus range if properly sized. Probable that .309 size is what didn't give you the results you were looking for.

I've got the same Ranchdog mold you have except I had him cut mine for gas checks and plain base (3/3). I size at .311 to install the gas checks and though accuracy isn't super, around 2-2.5 inches at 100 yards, they work well in the 30-30 and hit with authority.

I once read a article by Ranchdog and if I remember right he said he casts with Lyman #2 and water drops for about 20 BHN. He went on to say the reason he does that is because he pushes everything hard and fast so he needed the extra hardness. My casts for that bullet are wheel weights with a little hard shot thrown in which runs 14 BHN.
 

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You have a point Gohon. These are Suters Choice bullets. I bought them at Graf's in St Charles, MO and they told me what they thought the BHN was. The guy who made them is allegedly out of business or retired now. The only reference to hardness or alloy I have found that I might trust is from MidwayUSA. Their old online catalog page references the 92-6-2 alloy mix. They don't say air cooled or water quenched. That alloy is referred to as "hardball" by Rotometals and they claim their ingots are about 16bhn.

There we have it. Clear as mud.
Jeff,
I was in Graf's this evening. I had read your post about Suter's, so I asked about that while I was checking out. He told me Suter's was doing business as usual. The guy who actually does the casting for Suter's was dealing with a sick family member, but the issue has been resolved and they are back in stride. They had plenty of stock.
 
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks for the update P-bass.

The cost on my 500ct box of .309 cast bullets is the same or less than hardball ingots from Rotometals.

I found a box of 30 or so of those bullets loaded leftover from a previous loading session. Some are 8.0gr of Unique, some are a starting load of IMR3031. We will see how those perform in Annie's 30-30 then make the decision to melt them down or use them further. Then the decision is to oven heat and quench or turn them pretty colors with PC.
 
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