Bullet Hardness

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kimberguy2004

Bearcat
Joined
Apr 20, 2004
Messages
23
Is there a chart or something similiar that would indicate what Brinell bullet hardness is suitable for what velocities. I'm wanting to shoot cast lead in a .44 Magnum for economic reasons. I understand a certain amount of leading is going to occur regardless, and I don't have a problem cleaning firearms.
I've been ordering cast bullets that are advertised to have a Brinell hardness of around 17 that I shoot in 9MM, .40, .45Colt, and .45 ACP and the leading is acceptable, but those are low velocity/pressure rounds. Is that hard enough. I've looked at gas check bullets and that gets up around the same price as jacketed bullets..
 

sixshot

Buckeye
Joined
Aug 20, 2006
Messages
1,835
Location
soda springs, idaho
Well Kimberguy I'll give you my experience with cast bullets over the last 45 years. More people lead their guns from hard bullets than from soft bullets, true story! I always shoot them as soft as my guns will allow. So, like I've said many times on many forums, don't shoot a hard bullet slow or a soft bullet fast, thats what causes leading, plus the bullet MUST fit! You can slug the barrel, you can do a number of things but if you have sloppy fit in your cylinder throats you won't get that gun to shoot.
First try dropping one of your cast slugs down each cylinder throat, you want a snug push through fit, this is very important & many of the commerical casters will size them to your cylinder throats. Next you have to figure out what velocity you are going to drive them, if you are plinking you don't want or need a hard bullet, this is what drives many shooters away from cast bullets. Like I said above, shoot them as soft as you can without leading, if you start leading you need them somewhat harder, most times a bullet thats 9-11 BHN will handle 90% of everyone's shooting, if you absolutely need a fast, hot load you very well might need a slug in the 15-20 BHN range. Straight WW alloy, air cooled makes very good handgun bullets, if you need them harder you can water quench & in 24 hrs they will about double in hardness.
With jacketed bullets you get what you buy, you can't change them, with cast you can (if you make your own) size them to any diameter you choose, this way you custom fit them to each of your handguns.
There are other factors involved that will come into play when shooting cast, is your barrel rough, is the forcing cone cut at a steep angle, etc. What you are doing is balancing your cast bullets to your gun, sometimes it takes a little experimenting but the rewards are, low cost, easy shooting loads that are easier on your gun & in many cases more accurate than jacketed ammo.
Others will chime in, good luck.

Dick
 

pps

Single-Sixer
Joined
Feb 19, 2007
Messages
306
Location
PRK
Sixshot summed up in 3 paragraphs what casting books take three chapters. I'd only add that .001 or .002" over bore diameter has worked well for me. YMMV
 

flatgate

Hawkeye
Joined
Jun 18, 2001
Messages
6,784
Location
Star Valley, WY
+1 to Sixshot's reply.

I've been shooting cast bullets for about 20 years and haven't even considered buying those expensive jacketed things......

I'm no "bullet caster", either, but know where to get quality products.

JMHO,

flatgate
 

Rusty W

Single-Sixer
Joined
Nov 29, 2007
Messages
109
Location
Muldrow Oklahoma
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Here's a Lee chart that shows what not to exceed in chamber pressure. I took a picture of it with my camera so it may not come out real clear. If you'll notice, the chamber pressure for 38spl, 44spl, 45 colt, & ACP in target loads are around 13 to 16k psi. The BHN needed for those are around 10 to 11. For the 9mm and the 40 which operate at a little higher pressure, may need a little harder bullet. I use just plain wheelweights for a light load in my 9mm and get a slight wash of leading. About 3 or 4 passes with a brush and it comes right out. No big deal to me.

I've been casting my own for about 3 years for rifles and pistols. When I first started I made it more complicated than it actually is. As SIXSHOT says, get the bullet to fit. I use LLA as a lube and use the tumble lube system. I have some tumble lube style moulds and some are not, I lube both types the same. I use a butter tubb and just roll the bullets around with a few drops of LLA and let dry overnight. Load'em the next day and shoot away.
 

kimberguy2004

Bearcat
Joined
Apr 20, 2004
Messages
23
Guys, I appreciate all of the info and it's all very good, but my question was a simple one. I only asked at what point on the Brinell hardness scale would I be likely to start experience leading to the point that I should be looking for a harder castbullet or a jacketed one.
The gun in reference is a Freedom Arms .44. I buy bullets to reload, I don'tcast, and I have no desire to. I'm not going to slug the barrel and have custom bullets made. i was just hoping for a simple answer. I'm going to shoot off the shelf Hornady and Sierra brand bullets, and possible others based on recommendations, but overall, my needs are really pretty simple. Is it necessary to go to something luke Cast Performance with gas checks orwill something softer suit my needs?
 

contender

Ruger Guru
Joined
Sep 18, 2002
Messages
21,239
Location
Lake Lure NC USA
Well, as noticed by the responses,,, the answer isn't as simple as you hope for. It's all about velocity and hardness and alloy.
Since you are going to use commercially cast bullets,,, I'd suggest you follow the loading charts from the manufacturers of those bullets when loading them. That will most likely keep the leading in the acceptable range.
 

marlin1881

Single-Sixer
Joined
Apr 25, 2002
Messages
124
Location
Colorado Front Range
I shoot bullseye with 45acp and I use a 12BHN 200SWC bullet with 3.7gr Clays, which is rather slow, but accurate. I can shoot an entire bullseye match with no leading.

I also shoot LaserCast 240SWC bullets in my 44mag with close-to-max charges of H110, but that bullet is BHN24 (very hard), and it is one of the cleanest loads I shoot out of that gun.

As is stated many times above, hardness of the bullet and velocity go hand in hand. I also go with fast powders, light charges, low velocities, soft bullets. And, slower powders with higher charges, higher velocities, and hard bullets.
 

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