Different qualities of lead?

Armed4defense

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So I am a plumber and for the last few years have been collecting lead from old lead poured joints in cast iron piping I take out with the thought of using it to make bullets in SHTF situation. Is this possible or better used as fishing weights? Thanks for any replies. I do not reload so have no idea just did not want it to go to waste.
 

falconew

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That lead can be used to cast bullets if you plan on powder coating them. But to just cast you will need to add some harder lead to it to bring the hardness up. And fishing weights are always a plus too.
 

cold1

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Pure plumbers lead is too soft for anything other than muzzle loaders. It would have to be alloyed with antimony or tin to make usefull bullets for any modern smokeless loads. Pure lead can be mixed with wheel weights also to make the mix softer.

If your not a reloaded, you may want to sell what you have and take the profits and buy some ammo to add to your stock pile
 

JimB

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Plenty of things to do with it, but if you’re worried about shtf or even economic or political shifts that make if difficult to purchase bullets you really need to learn reloading and casting. If you just want to stash it for now that works too, and if you want to make it a more neat stash you could melt it down and pour it into ingots.

One day, if you do start casting bullets, you’ll want to add some stuff to make it harder. You can scrounge for tin (solder) that helps a little, or linotype that helps a lot, but the easiest thing is to buy some superhard from Roto metals.

Another alternative is to sell it since as a plumber it seems unlikely that you’ll ever have too hard a time finding or buying more.
 

georgel

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While we’re on the subject....how do you know you’ve got the proper hardness to the lead?
Brinell is the number you're looking for. The old way was to see how deeply you could scratch the bullet with your fingernail. You have to know what you're looking at. Kinda like checking alcohol content by shaking the jar and looking at the bubbles. :D
Another way, Lee Hardness Testing Kit...
 
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Beef15

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Mix it with some wheel weights or something, or trade it for wheel weight ingots, not sure the exchange.

Lead does not have to be super hard to make most pistol bullets. Tin does help with mold fill. I have pure, ww, battery posts, radiological, probably something else, I throw it in the pot without a whole lot of thought to ratios. Seems to work just fine, don't recall pushing past 1100fps without coating, probably not a ceiling just the way it's worked out.
 

Ikarus1

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pure lead aka plumbers lead, is BHN ~5 and is easily marked by a #2 pencil (marked as is gouged)

in fact, art pencils are the easiest way to determine relative hardness of soft metals. There's a chart out there off Castboolits that I printed out and use.

But yeah, it would need some alloying with harder metals to be super useful to a lead caster unless you're making lead sinker weights for fishing.

That being said, it should be worth something to someone looking for lead in all the wrong places.
 

Tailhunter

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Brinell is the number you're looking for. The old way was to see how deeply you could scratch the bullet with your fingernail. You have to know what you're looking at. Kinda like checking alcohol content by shaking the jar and looking at the bubbles. :D
Another way, Lee Hardness Testing Kit...
This
 

gunwonk

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So I am a plumber and for the last few years have been collecting lead from old lead poured joints in cast iron piping I take out with the thought of using it to make bullets in SHTF situation. Is this possible or better used as fishing weights? Thanks for any replies. I do not reload so have no idea just did not want it to go to waste.
In a real SHTF situation, bullets cast from soft lead and then paper patched would make good hunting ammo. I'd suggest you save it, and look around for neighbors who both hunt and reload.
 
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