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Old 03-25-2013, 06:14 PM
BearBio BearBio is offline
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Default Bullet casting question

OK, I've reloaded for over 40 years but I have never cast bullets, so this may be a totally idiotic question:

The Feds want to eliminate the penny. Bullets are getting harder to find. California has "no lead" rules in certain areas.

Could you make bullets from pennies?
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Old 03-25-2013, 06:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BearBio View Post
OK, I've reloaded for over 40 years but I have never cast bullets, so this may be a totally idiotic question:

The Feds want to eliminate the penny. Bullets are getting harder to find. California has "no lead" rules in certain areas.

Could you make bullets from pennies?
This is just my unqualified opinion here, but I don't think the bullet you'd get from a penny would be worth one red cent.
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Old 03-25-2013, 06:22 PM
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95% copper before '82. 97% zinc since then.
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Old 03-25-2013, 07:54 PM
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You can make a bullet out of anything you want as long as you have a fire hot enough to melt it. Pennies since 1982 have been a copper washed zinc, so you will need a pot/crucible capable of at least 787*F to melt them. Lead melts at 622*F, so a lead melting pot "might" melt pennies. The problem is weight. Lead is 11.34 gm/cm3 where zinc is 7.13 g/cm3, or much lighter. You might make a bullet out of it, but you will have to use/make a mold heavier than one designed for lead, and hope the twist will stabilize the bullet, because it will be longer for the same weight.

Edited to add Melting coins is now a Federal offense with big penalties both financial and "loss of life" in the Fed BF House. Don't get caught should you decide to proceed.
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Old 03-25-2013, 08:04 PM
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And don't shoot any of those hard zinc bullets in your old Smith and Wesson guns, or any other guns that are not a Saturday night special. I think the super hard bullets will not be the kindest thing you have run down the bore. Can we request new powder for the burn rate needed on these super hard, super light weight bullets?
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Old 03-25-2013, 08:06 PM
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I thought it was '84 and before that were still copper?
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Old 03-25-2013, 08:18 PM
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I think a copper bullet would be an interesting experiment.Only if its legal of course 😬
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Old 03-25-2013, 08:53 PM
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Quote:
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I thought it was '84 and before that were still copper?
Nope. 1982.
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Old 03-25-2013, 09:22 PM
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Copper pennies are getting hard to find and are actually worth about 3 each for copper content. Of course some high power bullets have copper jackets. I think a better choice would be a modern plumbing solder. These have no lead and only melt slightly higher than lead. I doubt that you'd be able to cast good bullets in molds designed for lead allow if you used copper or zinc.

If you mix copper pennies and zinc pennies you will actually get brass.

Automotive wheel weights work best for most pistol applications, but they are 90% lead, 10% antimony.
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Old 03-26-2013, 12:20 AM
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Default I'm finding

I'm finding it cheaper to use rolled-up dollar bills for bullets.
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Old 03-26-2013, 12:51 AM
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I'm finding it cheaper to use rolled-up dollar bills for bullets.
Probably more bang for your buck?
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Old 03-26-2013, 10:05 AM
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Humor aside (in some cases, "humor" is generously applied)-lol

Thanks. It was only a "what if" question.
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Old 03-26-2013, 11:33 AM
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Yes, you can cast zinc bullets. A search on the Castboolits Forum will show some guys that have fooled around with doing this already but from other sources of zinc than having to smelt pennies.

There are already solid copper bullets by several makers and I want to say Barnes started this as mainstream but I may be wrong.

You can order lead ingots from all sorts of sources that sell various alloys and degrees of being clean of stuff you don't want in the lead. You can also have lead shipped to you from places like Rotometals.

Some of the answers in this thread scare me unless they are jokes.
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Old 03-26-2013, 11:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike7.62 View Post
Nope. 1982.
1982 was a "transitional" year(just like with guns), there is a slight difference in weight between the two pennies, the heavier being mostly copper.
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Old 03-26-2013, 07:32 PM
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Default Not quite

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Probably more bang for your buck?
More buck for my bang.

=======

So that this space is not used entirely for 'levity', you should be able to order copper ingots from metals suppliers. It wouldn't be cheap, but it would be a neat experiment. Also I don't know how copper would alloy with lead or other low melting point metals. hmmmmm.
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Old 03-26-2013, 09:39 PM
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If I remember correctly one of the things you want to do in casting bullets is to keep the copper out of there. I seem to remember a little copper in the mix raises the melting temperature a lot.
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Old 03-26-2013, 09:53 PM
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It is illegal to deface money but that is generally meant as counterfitting. It is legal to put 50 cents + a penny in a machine that turns out a flattened souveniour from a penny. IMO, it might be legal to flatten a penny swedge it into a cylinder and use it for a jacketed case but that is a lot cheaper to do with 22 cases for swedgers. If I were going to do this I would use Canadian coins to get around the legalities.
I think if the penny is no longer produced they would be worth more as collectables for your grandchildren than as a metal product.
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Old 03-27-2013, 11:43 AM
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IIRC, the Mint passed a regulation a few years ago that made it a Federal felony to melt US coins. It seems that many were buying up nickles for their copper/nickle content and pennies for zinc, and then getting more than their face in melt value. See here:

Why it's now illegal to melt down US coins - MoneyWeek
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