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Heat Treating Bullets #16159189 06/10/21
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Rolly Offline OP
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I heat treat some of my wheel-weight alloy rifle bullets. To do it, I stand each of the bullets on their base on a flat metal pan and place them in a 450 F heated oven for an hour. I then remove the hot bullets and immediately dump the pan into a pail filled with water. Regardless of how careful I am, some of the bullets fall over while I am standing them up like solders on the pan, placing them in the oven or removing them from the oven prior to quenching. I am wondering how others heat treat? Can I just put all the bullets in a gob in a metal strainer for the heat treatment or will the heat and pressure from the other bullets deform the others? What do you do?


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Re: Heat Treating Bullets [Re: Rolly] #16159222 06/10/21
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I'm curious why you're heat treating in the first place.


"You can lead a man to logic, but you cannot make him think." Joe Harz
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Re: Heat Treating Bullets [Re: gnoahhh] #16159226 06/10/21
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Rolly Offline OP
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I heat treat some of my rifle bullets so that I can shoot them at higher velocity without leading. I have other rifle bullets that I shoot at lower velocity that I don't heat treat and use straight wheel-weight alloy.


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Re: Heat Treating Bullets [Re: Rolly] #16159413 06/10/21
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Why not drop them into cold water when casting?


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Re: Heat Treating Bullets [Re: Rolly] #16159537 06/10/21
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DigitalDan Offline
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Rolly, you might be barking up the wrong tree. Tell us what cartridge/velocity you speak of please.


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Re: Heat Treating Bullets [Re: Rolly] #16161252 06/11/21
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I recently did my first, “water quench” when casting of my wheel weight bullets. While I’m getting very good accuracy from my handgun and rifle, They tested at 22 to 24 BHN.....I think they may be a little harder that desirable for hunting purposes!
My next batch of cast will be “air cooled”! If they prove to lose the accuracy that I’m seeing presently......I’ll just oven temper them, and be satisfied with the hard bullets! memtb


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Re: Heat Treating Bullets [Re: DigitalDan] #16161958 06/11/21
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Rolly Offline OP
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I am casting these heat treated bullets for a 30-06 for velocities approaching 2000 fps. But, what does that matter? I want to know how others are heat treating their bullets. That's all.

Last edited by Rolly; 06/11/21. Reason: clarification

Rolly
Re: Heat Treating Bullets [Re: Rolly] #16162191 06/11/21
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When heat treating bullets, size first. Sizing afterwards will cause the bullet to soften some due to working the metal.When I heat treat I use old tuna fish cans.I punch a bunch of holes in the bottom with a nail for water to drain. .Then a hole punched in each upper side for a wire bale ( handle ) that goes from one side over to the other side. This allows to you to pick it up with pliers when hot out of the oven. Set up several cans . Place directly into cold water for the quench. Should bring scrape ( real ) wheel weight metal up to about 30 to 32 BHN. To lube use a sizer at least .001" larger than the bullet so as not to rub the bullet side which could reduce hardness. You can off course hand lube.

Re: Heat Treating Bullets [Re: Rolly] #16162895 06/11/21
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DigitalDan Offline
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Originally Posted by Rolly
I am casting these heat treated bullets for a 30-06 for velocities approaching 2000 fps. But, what does that matter? I want to know how others are heat treating their bullets. That's all.


You don’t need to heat treat bullets for that level of performance. In fact it will degrade performance for any purpose. Straight wheel weights are sufficient, assuming you have them sized to proper diameter.

Another option would increase hardness a fair bit by dropping your cast wheel weight bullets directly from the mould into ice water.

The critical points however are fit and alloy for the performance you seek. Do yourself a favor and peruse the following website.
http://www.lasc.us/CastBulletNotes.htm


I am..........disturbed.

Concerning the difference between man and the jackass: some observers hold that there isn't any. But this wrongs the jackass. -Twain


Re: Heat Treating Bullets [Re: Rolly] #16163908 06/12/21
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I routinely operate at the 2000fps level with .30 bullets cast of COWW's at 12-13bhn with match grade accuracy, great expansion for hunting, and zero leading. Thinking that you "need" hard bullets for that is unfounded. What really matters is what Dan said- bullet fit and a decent lube. And if deer hunting is in the cards too then heat treated bullets are a joke as expansion is nil, the best you can hope for is for the bullet to shatter if it hits heavy bone- and that's not very fair to the animal. I learned that lesson the hard way 40+ years ago.

For target shooting below 2000fps or so my alloys get even softer.


"You can lead a man to logic, but you cannot make him think." Joe Harz
"Always certain, often right." Keith McCafferty
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Re: Heat Treating Bullets [Re: Rolly] #16163972 06/12/21
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res45 Offline
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I've heat treated in the past but with the advent of powder coating I havent found it necessary for velocities up to 2400 fps. in the 30-06 using my 50/50 pure / COWW alloy and water quenching after powder coating which is as far as I've pushed it to this point. It's not that I don't think I can go faster, I just haven't had the time to do the experimentation and with the accuracy and performance I'm getting at the ranges I shoot at not much of a need to change anything.

As far as my heat treating process, back when I used to do it pre PC days I never stood the bullets up individually. I post sized the bullet, placed them in a pan or wire basket and heated them at 430 degrees for an hour, water quenched then gas checked if needed using the same sizing die I used previously.

Water quenching vs. heat treating both have their pros and cons. Water quenching is faster but bullet BHN tends to vary more depending on the temperature of the bullet when it drops from the mold into water, whereas heat treated bullets are more consistent bullet to bullet as they all get quench at the same time. Water quenched bullet will also age soften more over time compared to heat treated bullets but I highly doubt most will ever notice the change unless you sit on them for many years.

An excellent article on heat treating vs. water quenched bullets can be found starting on page 118 in the NRA on cast bullets NRA


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