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water quenching and case mouth expanding

1244 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Outfitter
I plan to cast some bullets soon. Maybe this weekend. I think I'm going to cast a few bullets from WW alloy mix and let some air cool and water quench some others and see if I can measure a difference in hardness.

My question is... how do you water quench the bullets? I assume you just have a gallon of cold water and knock your hot bullets right out of the mold and into the cold water. Makes me kind of nervous having a bucket of water that close to my lead melt, though. Is this the general technique? Any tips on this process?


Do you always use a case mouth expanding die when loading cast bullets? I have a RanchDog .359-190 mold and a Lee .358 sizing die. I plan to hone the dia. of the sizing die out to .359. The sizing die now is somewhere between .3575 and .3580. I don't know what the bullets will measure as cast but my jacketed bullets are .358 so I don't know why I would need a case mouth expanding die to load a .358 - .359 cast bullet, especially since the bullets will be gas checked. Can I get by with a chamfered case mouth and no expanding die?
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I use a 5 gallon bucket of gives the boolits more time to harden before hitting the bottom (prevent deformed boolits)...the colder the water, the more effective the treatment (colder = harder)

And yes...expand the necks. (at least, thats what I would do)
I use a steel bowl. I put a wash cloth in the bottom.
I put 2-3 ice trays worth of ice cubes in it, then fill with water until the cubes float barely.
The I put a 4x4 across the top of the bowl. I knock the mold open, and roll the hot boolits off the wood into the water.

I take it your rifle has slugged to .358" and that you normally shoot .358" jacketed bullets and now wish to shoot cast bullets? Cast bullets should be one or two or even three thousandths of an inch larger than the slugged bore diameter. Jacketed bullets should be the same as the bore diameter.So therefore you could hone out your .358" bullet sizer to .359" or even .360". Why don't you try .359" and move up if you have to? You don't actually have to expand the necks if the brass is good and thick as it would be in a .358" case. You do have to bell the case mouth however to accept the one or two thou. increase in bullet diameter in a cast bullet. Chamfering the case mouth , as you would for a jacketed bullet, is insufficient and you will shave the bullet or split the case mouth. If you don't want the expense of a combined neck expanding die with the belling feature built in the Lee sell an inexpensive and adjustable (for many calibres) belling die just for this function. It does not expand the neck. If cartridge necks are very thin ( .32-20, .44-40 etc etc) then they must be both expanded as well as belled or they'll collapse and buckle when you seat the bullet.

As for water quenching cast bullets I fill a 4 litre ice cream plastic container with cold water and float chunks of sponge cut up on the surface to prevent splashing. I keep this bucket very low by my shin at which level I knock the sprue open and tip the bullet(s) out into the water. In one calibre, .32-20 I leave the bullets unsized as I don't have a bullet sizer the correct size and I'm too cheap to get one. The unsized bullets are usually very uniform and two thou. overbore and work just fine. I don't believe the old timers ever sized bullets. All cast bullets have to be lubricated but not all have to be sized.
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WQ - 5 gal bucket. I just use room temp water. Not wanting ice water/REAL hard. I put a towel in the bucket for the bullets to drop onto to help against banging together and deforming bullets.

Regarding cases, I def always expand the case mouth for cast. I only expand to where the bullet base just starts to set into the case mouth straight. Also - check your bullet size after casting, but before sizing. May not need to size, depending on what size they drop and what your bbl slugs.

Check out Cast Boolits... Ton of great info here.
My bore slugs at .3572. A .359 + bullet should be a good starting point, I think

I plan to use my sizing die to install gas checks so the bullets will be no bigger than my sizing die.

Casting bullets is one issue.

Loading cast bullets is another issue.

I kind of wish now I had split them up and purchased some cast bullets and learned the loading of cast bullets first, then moved on to the casting part. Learning is faster for me if I can compartmentalize and focus on one thing at a time. But... I'll sort through it all. There is alot to learn. I like learning. Funny I never liked school, though.

Thanks all.
Don't sweat it. Loading cast is not much different than jacketed, and imo somewhat easier at times... I really prefer cast. An advantage is that a lot of the cast bullet designs have a crimp groove. Right now I am loading cast in my handguns and having great success. Starting rifles on cast soon...
Get the missus to give you and old bath towel and right in the middle cut a 6 inch slit in it and drape it over the 5 gallon water bucket .Drop your bullets through this slit and don't spread towel tight just drape it over bucket . You also can put a layer of styrofoam packing peanuts on top the water if you want .
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