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Aluminum in case lead runs out?

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by Ttuck, Jan 5, 2015.

  1. Ttuck

    Ttuck Hillsboro Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Does anyone know how practical using aluminum would be instead of lead to cast bullets? My thinking is what if there is some kind of SHTF scenario that would be in place for a very long time which would cause supplies of lead to become very valuable or very scarce. I know the weight would be an issue but if you weren't expecting to shoot anything armored would it be worth it? Also would how soft aluminum is affect the bullet in a negative way?

    I got this idea from watching the video on this thread.

    https://www.northwestfirearms.com/threads/clever-post-shtf-forge-possibilities.186460/
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2015
  2. SheepDog223

    SheepDog223 Salem Well-Known Member

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    Aluminium is way to light. Start saving nickels. They are mostly copper and will make a better than lead projectile. They are also the only US coin that is worth its face value in metal.
     
    U201491 and 44mag2ndamend like this.
  3. SheepDog223

    SheepDog223 Salem Well-Known Member

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    Or since you anticipate a lead shortage you could stockpile now while its readily available. Then you can be called an evil hording price gouger when you post it for sale when its not available anywhere else.:cool:
     
    v0lcom13sn0w likes this.
  4. Ttuck

    Ttuck Hillsboro Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I was talking with a couple friends and they came up with the idea of hoarding old car batteries for the lead in them. I don't have space in my apartment but when i get a house i might start doing that. They will be a bit of a hassle dealing with the acid but probably worth it.
     
  5. Rick4070

    Rick4070 Central Oregon coast Active Member

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    Car batteries are a bad idea, IMHO, you can never get all the acid out of the lead, it causes molds to rust, and there are other chemicals/metals that don't really make for a good alloy.
    Just my personal experience with them....
    Old wheelweights would be good to gather, but somewhat hard to find now.
    I used to be able to buy 5 gal. buckets of wheelweights from tire stores, use a crab cooker burner, and a big cast iron pot, and lots of flux, skimming the clips, and being careful of all the dirt that is on them.
    Call around, perhaps some tire stores still have them, (big truck tire stores???)
    Scrap plumbers lead flashing, is a good source of pretty pure lead, and they still sell lead ingots in hardware stores.
    They still use lead for sealing cast iron sewer pipes and such, ask the city what they do with the scrap when they replace sewer lines???
    Aluminum, as has been said, is too light, and the casting temp is at least twice that of lead, so casting bullets into a cast iron mold is going to be hard, other high temp melting metals will be too..
     
    BlindedByScience and lowly monk like this.
  6. lowly monk

    lowly monk Beaverton, Oregon. Just a guy. Bronze Supporter

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    YEP. and fishing weights.
     
    Rick4070 likes this.
  7. Rick4070

    Rick4070 Central Oregon coast Active Member

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    Fishing weights are a great source! I find them at garage sales quite often, and when I was younger, I used to go after crawdads on some of the shallower rivers with a mask and snorkel, especially the upper Alsea, when the water was really low in the summer, I picked up a lot of lead fishing weights, especially pencil type that folks lost.
     
  8. Rick4070

    Rick4070 Central Oregon coast Active Member

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    I found something maybe worth investigating further as to metals for bullet making.
    You know the foil wrappers that are on the top of wine bottle necks?
    I believe some of them are the metal tin, which we can use to alloy with lead to make bullets.
    I just removed a couple and melted them down, and two wrappers worth weigh almost 90 grains.
    If we use a simple 1 to 20 alloy, this would make about 9.5 200 grain bullets.
    I use a 1 to 30 alloy in my Shiloh Sharps, so this interests me a lot.
    The piece I ended up with sure looks like tin, and using the point of my knife scratches to the same depth as some of the 1 pound tin ingots that I purchased some time back.
    I took off several wrappers, but a couple were just foil, maybe aluminum, the ones that melted nicely had a somewhat dull surface, looking very much like an old silver coin.
    I'm going to save up a bunch of them until I get enough for a nice skinny ingot, and try bending it. I have found that tin "creaks" when it is bent, odd, that.
    Then, I'm going to take some of my pretty much pure lead, and make up an alloy...
    Anyway, if others are interested, and if they cast bullets it might be worth a try.
    If it is tin, I have probably thrown away pounds and pounds of it over the years.... All hooked on wine bottles.....
     
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  9. Rick4070

    Rick4070 Central Oregon coast Active Member

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    Well heck, look what I just found out:

    "Rivercap™ tin capsules from Cork Supply are crafted as a nine-stage deep drawn shell from a single-piece of pure high-grade tin to ensure an elegant, flawless finish."

    Which tells me that lots more of them are going to be made of tin also...

    So, folks, let's be asking all our friends to cut off and save their wine bottle foil for us...

    Some are going to be aluminum, and are unusable, but I'm going to ask all my friends to cut 'em off and save 'em for me...
     
    SheepDog223 and Ttuck like this.
  10. Ttuck

    Ttuck Hillsboro Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Learn something new everyday huh. Have you thought about going to a few restaurants and ask if they can save all the wine caps in a jar for you and pick them up once a week.
     
  11. Rick4070

    Rick4070 Central Oregon coast Active Member

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    Yep, especially when I just went online and looked for tin bullet casting metal.

    It runs around $19 a pound plus shipping.

    I'll bet if I asked restaurants, wine bars, etc., to save it for me, or even that I'd come around and remove them myself, before they recycled the bottles, I'd score on tin pretty well.

    Geeze, thinking about how much tin gets thrown away, and into landfills really depresses me.

    I'm going to stop by a few places and ask...

    I also posted this idea on the ammunition and reloading forum, but an admin deleted it because it was a duplicate thread...

    Too bad, because some members that cast bullets might not stop by this forum...
     
    Ttuck likes this.
  12. ma96782

    ma96782 Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    I use to cast my own bullets and I discovered that.......

    My time and efforts were better spent elsewhere. LOL.

    OK.....story time.......

    I use to mine the back stop at my local range for lead. It was FREE lead. I didn't care much about the tin/lead ratio of my mix. I doubt that worrying about it was gonna help my accuracy anyway. Besides, I kept the velocity of my reloads under 1000 fps with my cast lead bullets.

    Then, I cast the used bullets into ingots.

    The ingots were later put into my elec. heated bottom pour pot for casting into bullets.

    The cast bullets were later sized and lubed.

    All of that took a lot of time and effort. Back then, I use to shoot 2700 matches which took alot of bullets. Anyway, I later figured out that IF I just worked OT......I had enough $ to buy my bullets and spend more time with the family. YMWV. ;)

    Aloha, Mark
     
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  13. Steve M

    Steve M Beaverton, OR Well-Known Member

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    Lead and tin have been readily available for several thousand years, but we prepare for the power going out by stockpiling wine bottles and a metal so hard to come by that it was more valuable than gold til 1889?

    You prepare for SHTF by planning to do things the way they were done 100 or 200 years ago because that is the level of technology that you will be reduced to. I don't plan to survive a typical SHTF by having a huge stock of lead as it is a poor performer in my AR. For an extended SHTF I could see the value in a muzzle loader and a stash of lead.
     
  14. ma96782

    ma96782 Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    SHTF senarios will differ. But (speaking anti-firearms laws) ask yourself......

    "What was in short supply after the Newtown shootings?"

    IMHO.....buy it and stack it deep.

    Powder?
    Primers?
    Bullets?
    Brass?
    Firearms/hi-cap magazines/loaded ammo?

    Aloha, Mark
     
  15. ma96782

    ma96782 Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    BTW, there is a way to make jacketed bullets for your AR using lead as a core and spent 22LR cases as jacket material. Now IMHO....that's hard core.
    ++++++++++

    Making .223 bullets from .22LR brass

    http://www.corbins.com/kit-224.htm


    Aloha, Mark
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2015
  16. Rick4070

    Rick4070 Central Oregon coast Active Member

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    I used to shoot 2700 matches too, but the only way I could afford the 3,000 rounds I went through in practice a month for my .45 was to cast bullets and load my own. H&G #68, mostly, and, IIRC, a #130 and with gang molds at that. Star sizer luber, and at first, a straight line progressive loader,(C&H??) and later a Dillon progressive.
    At one time, I also made .22 jackets out of fired .22 rimfire brass, and used a Corbin set up also, to make those and several different calibers of jacketed bullets.
    Just my personal experience with things, of course.
    But hey, if I can get FREE tin that sells for $19 a pound, I'm gonna do it....
     
  17. thorborg

    thorborg portland oregon Well-Known Member 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Speaking from a transitional age of doers to consumers, I'm always amused by the SHTF scenarios offered up. But to try to stick to the subject sort of, why hord stuff like that? It would seem to me a country or earth with dead infrastructure will only have a lawless reign for the short term then the giant thumb of an organized someone/s will come smashing down. severially limiting your activities.
    If you feel the need to horde, for the short term, horde trade items on the basic level food, precious metals etc.
    On the long term, knowledge is how you will survive. No longer do families teach / pass down, survival knowledge like foraging, farming, preserving, those sort of things.
    Think the computer will be available when the power's out to teach you these things or remember the details if read now? makes more sense to horde books and printouts of knowledge on how to do things of a basic nature. trapping, tanning, edible wild plants, how to homestead sort of things.
    I'm sure there will be plenty of dead cars and other things that will be gasless or useless to reclaim material from.
     
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  18. Steve M

    Steve M Beaverton, OR Well-Known Member

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    I have looked at swaging in the past and decided that the cost of equipment would be too great to recoup with my level of shooting. I have read all about using brass for jackets but while I can readily order and stockpile 55gr FMJ by the thousands it seems like 22LR brass is only slightly easier to locate than hen's teeth and costs just the same if I have to buy loaded 22LR.

    Imagine you have no power, water, or gas and the sewer system is backing up into the street. You've got your hands full keeping warm and dry and maintaining a secure supply of food and fresh water. After a dinner of cat stew you're going to slip into the garage for a quiet evening of turning car batteries and 22LR brass into bullets that you could have purchased years ago for under $0.09 each? It never hurts to have the ability to swage bullets or reload in a SHTF situation, but what you really need is a good supply of ammo ready to go so that you can focus on staying alive.
     
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  19. Steve M

    Steve M Beaverton, OR Well-Known Member

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    Bad idea. Personally I don't see a situation where SHTF causes a lead shortage that can be cured by stockpiling used car batteries. If the SHTF in a bad way finding abandoned cars with batteries in them won't be a problem.

    If you don't know how to safely salvage the lead in a car battery now then you won't know how when the internet and phones are down. How will you crack open the plastic case without the use of power tools? If you get burned with acid how many days will it take to get you medical help? I'll take my lead supply without a wrapper of acid and heavy duty plastic.

    And then you have to consider that your heat source will probably be a wood fire. How many bullet casting people out there are skilled and equipped to make bullets over an open fire? All the lead in the world will be useless if you are dependent on your electric lead pot and its pour spout. And that's still assuming you've got the molds, sizer, and lube stockpiled too. You'd be better off using your time and electricity now to turn that lead into bullets and stockpile them rather than leave the most complex part of the job for a SHTF situation.
     
    rdt likes this.
  20. Rick4070

    Rick4070 Central Oregon coast Active Member

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    Well, casting bullets using an open fire doesn't take all that much skill other than not burning yourself.....
    It was pretty much done over some sort of fire for how many years?
    But, I agree that having that lead cast up into bullets, and loaded is a great idea, not too many people will be carrying around molds, and loading tools, or even components.
    It's nice to have the skills and knowledge on how to do it though, along with the other skills thorborg mentioned, among others.