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I have just purchased most of the stuff for me to start cating and as such am VERY new. Do water quenching and heat treating accomplish the same purpose with a cast bullet or are they done for different reasons? I think they are both done to harden the bullet but do not know. I will initially be casting for the 38/55 and the 32/20. Both are Marlins with the 38/55 being a JES rebore. I have molds for both gaschecked and plain based bullets now in my possesion. The more that I learn about casting the more I realize I do not know. I hope to develop hunting loads for the 38/55 by deer season this fall with my own bullets. I know it is not necessary but hope to get them in the 1600-1700fps range if I can do so without leading. I would be willing to slow down just a bit if I need to to get a bullet with expansion. I know with the large flat nose it may not be needed but I hunt thick stuff and if the deer doesn't fall right there I want LOTS of blood to follow. Please share with me what I need to know. Thanks
Goat
 

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In your velocity range you will be fine and especially with a GC, I have done water quenching and it works but I have read that it deteriorates after time, as in getting softer. Best thing for you to do at this point is to get started and cast bullets and work out the knots there and worry about dropping bullets in to water later. Learn how to cast nice completly filled out bullets and work things out one at a time.
 

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I've done both water quenching and oven heat treating. Both have their pros and cons. Water quenching is faster but hardness is not easily controlled and can vary a couple points from bullet to bullet. Oven heat treating take longer but when using established temperatures and time the hardness can be controlled to be exact from bullet to bullet. Having said that, when it comes to hunting loads it probable doesn't matter which method you use. I believe Ranch Dog water drops his casts and they sure seem to kill a lot of game. You'll find out soon enough that preventing leading is more related to bullet to bore fit than anything else. I don't water drop or oven heat treat anymore. Straight wheel weights with a little tin added gives me a average of 13 BHN and when gas checked I drive these over 1900 fps in the 357 magnum. Even plain base are run up above 1400 fps and I get no leading what so ever. All of these are sized at .359 or .360 for the two guns I shoot them in.

I've also heard that water dropped bullets soften over time but my understanding is it is a very, very long time. One thing for sure is they will never get softer than if they were simply air cooled. In fact, air cooled bullets will actually harden a little after a few weeks.....sometimes by as much as a full point.
 

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Another point is heat treating takes a fair amount of power to run the oven. Water dropping is free. If the mould is hot enough to make the bullets chirp when they hit the water they will harden up nicely. I messed with heat treating for a while, and could get bullets to be much harder than any other method. But I also killed a nice toaster oven - the heating element melted and sagged. That was an expensive experiment. I went back to water dropping for rifle bullets and air cooled for everything else.
 

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My results have paralleled Richard Lee's in Modern Reloading, the pressure needs to be appropriate for the bullet hardness.
Water quenched wheel weights, with some chilled shot added for the arsenic, work great in my 25-20 and 30-30 when pushed to 1800-2100 fps with no leading. For 45-70 I use air cooled wheel weights, mostly because they hurt my back when pushed hard.
I am considering a JES rebore to 38-55 for a 336 as well, it would be a lead bullet only gun.

Good luck, and have fun expirimenting!
 

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I have to agree with Gohon with this one. I still oven heat and then drop them in the water as I have just about full control over the hardness. With handgun bullets I just use as cast and yes they will harden a little bit over time.
 
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