Author Topic: Shooting hard balls  (Read 6900 times)

Offline 54Bucks

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Shooting hard balls
« on: October 16, 2012, 01:11:28 AM »
 Using the harder (than pure lead) wheel weight balls is something I've never tried. Mainly because whitetails here in Pa. don't require it.
 But I'de still like to know how using these harder balls affects loading. Particularly compared to a pure lead ball from the same rifle.
 I'm guessing the hardness of different wheelweights probably varies. Do those who use them(for up to elk size critters) mix them in the melting pot with some pure soft lead, or all wheel weights?

Offline Maven

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Re: Shooting hard balls
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2012, 01:16:47 AM »
54Bucks, You may find [some of] this thread interesting:  http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?t=167096
Paul W. Brasky

Offline smylee grouch

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Re: Shooting hard balls
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2012, 01:19:56 AM »
Good question and I will be interested in knowing others opinions on what I think is lineotype "lead" as I have over a thousand pounds of the stuff.  Smylee

Offline Stormrider51

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Re: Shooting hard balls
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2012, 04:58:33 AM »
One advantage of dead soft pure lead is that it permits the use of a tighter patch/ball combination which often leads to better accuracy.  The soft lead will deform on loading and "make room" so to speak for the patch and therefore grip the rifling better.

Some people think wheel weight metal is all over the board on content but it's really pretty consistent.  The older clip-on type generally contain lead with about 2% antimony and 0.5% tin.  The newer adhesive stick-on type are nearly pure lead.  That last is good news for those of us who prefer pure lead.  I've never liked the harder wheel weight metal in a rifle but it does work in a smoothbore.  Others report good results in a rifle as well.

Linotype metal is another story.  Lino was made with lead plus 13% antimony and 2% tin.  The stuff is HARD!  I used it sparingly to harden wheel weight alloy when casting paper patched bullets for a Sharps in .45-70.  It certainly did away with barrel leading.  You could try it but I think it would be a waste in a muzzleloader.  Save it for addition to alloys for smokeless loads.

Offline Herb

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Re: Shooting hard balls
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2012, 07:42:35 AM »
Ned Robert's book "The Muzzle-loading Caplock Rifle" on page 99 has excerpts from gunmaker N. Lewis of 1876 "Directions for Managing a Rifle to Do Good Shooting".  Lewis wrote "For balls for a target gun, I prefer mixed lead, to make it harder, as it does not upset as much and shoots beter.  I use it as follows: Take four pounds of soft lead and one ounce of block tin, melt and mix them well together, and you will find they shoot better than soft lead.  I prefer soft lead for a sporting gun (hunting rifle)".  I just cast about 180 pure lead .562 balls for my .58 flintlock, and then another 75 of wheel weights I got at a yard sale.  These had the steel clips.  I have not yet miked nor weighed them, but expect they will need a thinner patch than the .021/.014 (crush) linen I now use, which needs a mallet to start.  Will post on this with photos eventually.
Herb

snowdragon

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Re: Shooting hard balls
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2012, 09:18:52 AM »
I can't comment on loading hard lead balls, or anything about them, as I have never used them. But I can state that they are not needed for taking large animals, such as elk.  I've killed plenty of elk with roundballs, and so have my kids, and we've always used pure soft lead. Most broadside shots go completely through the animal, and that includes big bulls.

I offer this experience because I hear a lot of hunters ask about penetration.  Usually it goes something like this, "I'm going elk hunting this fall for the first time, so I assume I need to add tin to my pot to make harder balls for proper penetration". One cow elk I killed was quartering away, I hit her just in front of the rear leg and the .54 ball ended up in her chest.  That's like 30+ inches of penetration with a pure lead ball.

Just throwing it out there, in case your question pertains to hunting large animals. Bill

Offline ottawa

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Re: Shooting hard balls
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2012, 03:01:55 PM »
if using ww lead look for a Z on the weight if it has one throw it out it has Zinc and will contaminate your pot and ruin your mix that's the info I have gotten here and they haven't steered me wrong yet. as far as shooting in a rifle diffrent results form different ppl try it for yourself
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Offline Dphariss

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Re: Shooting hard balls
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2012, 03:51:52 PM »
Ned Robert's book "The Muzzle-loading Caplock Rifle" on page 99 has excerpts from gunmaker N. Lewis of 1876 "Directions for Managing a Rifle to Do Good Shooting".  Lewis wrote "For balls for a target gun, I prefer mixed lead, to make it harder, as it does not upset as much and shoots beter.  I use it as follows: Take four pounds of soft lead and one ounce of block tin, melt and mix them well together, and you will find they shoot better than soft lead.  I prefer soft lead for a sporting gun (hunting rifle)".  I just cast about 180 pure lead .562 balls for my .58 flintlock, and then another 75 of wheel weights I got at a yard sale.  These had the steel clips.  I have not yet miked nor weighed them, but expect they will need a thinner patch than the .021/.014 (crush) linen I now use, which needs a mallet to start.  Will post on this with photos eventually.
Lewis was likely speaking of picket bullets. At Lewis's time targets were being shot at 220 to 1000 yards in the east. Using either picket or cylindrical bullets identical to the long range bullets for suppository guns.
Hard lead, unheat-treated WW, seems to shoot as well as pure lead in RB rifles.
I would not mix with pure lead, waste of pure lead. Be careful of modern WW they are making them of zinc now and one in a pot full will ruin the whole melt. They the pot needs to be detail cleaned to get it all out.

Dan
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Offline Stormrider51

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Re: Shooting hard balls
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2012, 04:54:39 PM »
Thanks, Dphariss.  I forgot about the zinc some manufacturers are using nowadays.  Goes to show how long it has been since I used anything but pure lead.  There's a fairly easy way to avoid the zinc problem.  Zinc melts at about 787 degrees F so if you use a lead thermometer and stay down around 700 F any zinc weights will float on the surface.  Scoop 'em out.

Storm

Offline Roger Fisher

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Re: Shooting hard balls
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2012, 05:44:09 PM »
In a r ball rifle, soft lead ok hard lead not, unless you like to tear up your patches. Use it in your smoothie..

Offline Maven

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Re: Shooting hard balls
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2012, 06:40:13 PM »
"In a r ball rifle, soft lead ok hard lead not, unless you like to tear up your patches. Use it in your smoothie...."   Roger Fisher

Roger, Under "there's a precedent for everything," my experience with WW RB's has been just the reverse.  Two of my rifles shot well with them (never a torn or mutilated patch, btw), but not my smoothie.
Paul W. Brasky

Offline Rootsy

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Re: Shooting hard balls
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2012, 06:49:38 PM »
95% of the round balls I've sent down barrel in my lifetime have been cast from WW material.  Mostly because pure lead and pure lead balls are expensive and I have had about 1800 lbs of wheel weights in buckets (cost me $20) for decades that I slowly whittle away at.  At one point in my life my cousins and I would put hundreds of rounds a night down range, all WW from old T/C and CVA Hawken guns... We'd spend a Friday night around the fire casting and shoot them all up on Saturday and Sunday... Buying balls wasn't economical for poor teenagers. 

I use the stuff for sinkers, round balls, and bullets for my 357 Mag.  For bullets in general I use them as is with a dab of extra tin to help fill molds, especially in pistol bullets.  For round balls I drop em hot and let them air cool, for the pistol I water drop them to get a bit of extra hardness.

I have never been able to discern the difference between a pure lead ball and a WW ball.  I have to short start both and accuracy between the two has never been an issue.  Every patch issue I've ever had has been the result of sharp land corners.  Rice's round bottom rifling has never presented a problem at all with cut or torn patching and WW balls. 

YMMV but for me it's about economy and I use what I have an abundance of.  Never had anything get away that's been plugged with one either.   Competition may be another story though and I cannot speak on that topic, I only challenge my aging eyesight.

Offline hanshi

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Re: Shooting hard balls
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2012, 09:03:10 PM »
Since I use to cast handgun bullets by the thousand, I accumulated lots and lots of WW.  Pure lead is my choice for rifles, especially in the deer class calibers.  WW ball works great in my smoothbore.  Being that a 330 grain ball takes a LOT of lead, it made since to me to use WW instead.  I'm in the process of testing WW ball in my small bore rifles as expansion is not needed on squirrel; deer is another story. 

A .600" ball cast from WW in my Lee mold measures around .004 to .005 larger than a .600 cast from lead.  Weight also drops around 5 grains.  The WW ball is very accurate in my smoothbore and just a slight bit harder to seat.  On the other hand these same balls shoot very well when loaded bare ball. 

I traded linotype for lead to a fellow a few years ago at a ratio of 1-2 by weight; I no longer needed anything that hard though I still have a few pounds laid by.  Linotype is costly stuff compared with lead.

Smylee, You can trade all that linotype for at least a ton of pure lead.  Better yet, if you sell it you should get enough to pay for a custom rifle and that would be my choice.
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NAF#123

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Re: Shooting hard balls
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2012, 10:28:07 AM »
Hey there Roundball where did you find them brass balls? I would like to try some in my fuzee.

Offline smylee grouch

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Re: Shooting hard balls
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2012, 02:17:55 PM »
Thanks for that info Hanshi. I used some linotype many years ago and found it hard(no pun intended) to cut the spru off when casting so abandoned it at that time. I have bought the 9/16  .562 brass balls at Fastenall but other like firms should be able to get them also.

Offline Herb

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Re: Shooting hard balls
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2012, 05:56:27 PM »
Nelson Lewis wrote about using linen patching for round balls, and said that the round ball does not require more than two-thirds as much powder as the slug ball.  It seems he is talking about round balls, but maybe not.  He did say that he tested every rifle he ever made, shooting from 25 to 200 yards, and that he had shot away over fifteen tons of lead!
Herb

Offline Jerry V Lape

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Re: Shooting hard balls
« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2012, 06:56:34 PM »
You keep using those brass balls the Feds will hear about it and put the  brass monkey on the endangered species list!
« Last Edit: October 17, 2012, 06:57:55 PM by Jerry V Lape »

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Shooting hard balls
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2012, 09:18:40 PM »
Nelson Lewis wrote about using linen patching for round balls, and said that the round ball does not require more than two-thirds as much powder as the slug ball.  It seems he is talking about round balls, but maybe not.  He did say that he tested every rifle he ever made, shooting from 25 to 200 yards, and that he had shot away over fifteen tons of lead!

ALL makers accuracy tested their rifles. If a rifle went out that did not shoot it could permanently damage the makers reputation. If shooting 200 its unlikely he was using a spherical projectile. But we will never know for sure and I have not read the passage being quoted so I am really guessing.
The picket, for example, does seem to take almost twice the powder that a ball does. I have a 40 that so far shoots a picket best with 80 gr of FF Swiss.

Dan
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Offline Ken Prather

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Re: Shooting hard balls
« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2012, 10:55:41 PM »
I need to try those brass balls in my .58!!! I wonder how the penetration is in deer sized game?

When I have to use non-lead projectiles for local hunting (due to the 2008 CA condor lead ban) be it roundball or shot, I use ITX in my .50 cal rifle, and my .62 smoothie.

ITX has a successful reputation for bagging game from whitetail, turkeys and waterfowl.

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flintlock

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Re: Shooting hard balls
« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2012, 03:19:36 AM »
The "cast boolits" thread referenced above has a lot of good info. I started casting and shooting wheel weight balls when I started preparing for an elk hunt. I was concerned that pure lead balls were too soft to give adequate penetration.

The founder of Cast Performance Bullet Company put me on to using WW lead. He claims the adage about shooting only pure lead arose during the renewed interest in muzzleloading that accompanied the 1976 bicentennial. In an email he wrote, "If you read the writings of Southerland, Forsyth, Clifton, Cody, and Ashley you'll see ALL of them recommended hardening the balls. I once shot 4 balls into 1 1/4" at 100 yards with a 54 cal FLINTLOCK over a rest, and I did it with WW balls."

Personally, I've never been mistaken for a real marksman but I'm happy with my WW ball performance. I fired 10 shots of my hunting loads at the target below, though only 9 are clearly distinguishable.


For target shooting, I've always shot 0.495 lead balls with a 0.018" pillow ticking patch. That's a pretty tight load. For hunting I would drop down to a 0.490" ball with the same patch. For my WW balls I've gone to a 0.015" patch. I'm ready to shoot nothing but WW balls from now on. BTW, I've learned that they will put the hurt on a bull elk!