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Lead Works

I like to shoot lead. It makes for more accurate and flatter trajectory shots than steel and I feel it's safer because it doesn't rebound/ricochet with such force. On the downside, it tends to deform on impact and is toxic. We've discussed that before; mods feel free to merge this thread if it's not worthy of independence.

Lead Toxicity

Here's a list of symptoms of lead poisoning as a refresher:
  • Messing with your head: Insomnia, delirium, cognitive deficits, hallucinations, memory loss
  • Messing with your nerves: tremor, and convulsions,
  • Giving you pain: headache, abdominal pain,
  • Making you weak: weakness, male reproductive problems*
  • And eventually lots of even more serious stuff, like: kidney failure, etc. and death (see links to Wikipedia and WebMD)
So remember to wash your hands after shooting and if any of these symptoms come up (*or fail to come up when called upon) you'd best get yourself checked out.

I've been considering alternatives.

Other Materials

The first approach is to look for spheres in another metal:
  • Steel 0.28 lbs/cu.in. - classic bearings, but they seem to come back off my anvil as fast as they left the pouch. Duck! Relatively lowdensity.
  • Brass/Copper 0.30 lbs/cu.in. - hard to obtain. Lighter than lead.
  • Lead 0.41 lbs/cu.in. - soft, heavy, but toxic. Oxidises.
  • Tungsten 0.71 lbs/cu.in. - ideal, but expensive as heck, even in rough sintered alloy spheres rather than pure tungsten bearings. Low toxicity.
What other ways could we get a hard hitting, low drag coefficient shot?

Aerodynamics

We could make aerodynamic steel bullets, but the jury's out as to whether that'll work.

Jacketing

We could encapsulate the lead in a jacket of an inert material.

I've just learned that Haendler & Natermann Sport GmbH make excellent match-grade plastic and copper jacketed lead ball from .307 to .690 cal. As long as this doesn't make it too expensive, that's lovely.

Cost is a big issue for me. I'll soon be getting my lead moulds which will save me money compared to sinkers. I have cast lead on a cottage-industry scale before and I know to reduce exposure during the process. But how could I reduce exposure later? I know copper jacketed bullets are made by filling the jacket with lead and then swaging the tip or tail in a forming die. I don't have the tooling for that and I can't find the jackets.

Coating

Maybe I can coat the lead shot by spraying it. Here are some alternatives:
  • Spray paint or spray lacquer - seems very easy. Remelting used ammo would cast this off as a scum, but fumes may be an issue.
  • Gun-kote - applied much like spray paint and then oven cured. The melting point of lead is comforably higher than the sintering temperature of the coating. The coating is hard wearing and thinner than paint.
  • Plastic coating - I'm not too comfortable with heat dipping or powdercoating lead and the jacket may be too thick. Like 'Nyclad" bullets
  • Electroplating - lead is conductive so a heavy electroplate of copper could be applied. I already have the high current DC supply and I have some Copper Sulfate powder in the workshop. Like "copper washed" bullets
It's a nice thought that if cast metal finned or spin-stabilised ammo is made then the resulting shot can be coated in its entirity.

Has anyone tried any of these techniques before or bought H&N jacketed roundball?
 

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Doing all that stuff is way too time consuming and dangerous for me. melting and casting lead can be hard work and potentially more hazardous than buying sinkers. I just remember to wash my hands after handling them, I also keep in mind not to eat them
. Lead packs a punch, cheers to lead. Im Lovin Lead
 

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I've been thinking about this lately, as I have the same problem with airgun pellets...
A thick (mutiple dips?) coating of tin might do the trick, it is around 40% lighter than lead, but we could keep lead as a core, has the same malleability and is non toxic.Its melting point is lower so it would be possible to use a simple "dipping" process.
 

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If you buy the lead balls from a black powder supplier, keep them always in a shot bag and wear light, soft leather gloves when shooting or handling the lead I think you'd be good to go. That's all I do, but I only use lead to hunt.
 

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Speer offers a variety of TMJ (total metal jacket) bullets for reloading/handloading purposes. These are lead cores completely encased by copper jackets.
 

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For the life of me i don't understand why you need lead except for trying to kill something. You mean to tell me slingshot shooting can't be fun or accurate without using lead?????

I will buy lead for hunting only. Or killing tough varmints like raccoons or ground hogs.

For fun, however, no lead for me. In fact, I am gonna roll my own clay balls for target shooting. Very eco-friendly. It may not be tournament accurate, but I don't care. Bet I will still have mucho fun shooting it as long as I match my bands to the weight. Maybe I can even find a way to make them tournament accurate?

My point: lead for killing only.
 

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For the life of me i don't understand why you need lead except for trying to kill something. You mean to tell me slingshot shooting can't be fun or accurate without using lead?????

I will buy lead for hunting only. Or killing tough varmints like raccoons or ground hogs.

For fun, however, no lead for me. In fact, I am gonna roll my own clay balls for target shooting. Very eco-friendly. It may not be tournament accurate, but I don't care. Bet I will still have mucho fun shooting it as long as I match my bands to the weight. Maybe I can even find a way to make them tournament accurate?

My point: lead for killing only.
Get a melon baller they come in various sizes and should give you nice uniform clay shot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Get a melon baller they come in various sizes and should give you nice uniform clay shot.
That's a clever idea. Jou just need a baller of the exact desired size.

When I did some pottery at school, we were supposed to make some beads or something. The way to get consistent sized lumps was to roll out a sheet with a spacer under the rollers so the thickness was uniform, then measure, mark and divide the slab into even squares. Each piece will be more or less exactly the same weight as the others. These tiles can then be rolled into balls.
 

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For the life of me i don't understand why you need lead except for trying to kill something. You mean to tell me slingshot shooting can't be fun or accurate without using lead?????
I don't think that was ZDP's intent. He's merely wondering about and experimenting with different alternatives. As he said, "Each to his own according to the circumstances." I have tried steel and lead in several sizes, as well as marbles of various types and even some loose Hornady 10mm XTP 180 grain hollow points that I had on hand. I shoot 3/8" steel 90% of the time and am perfectly happy with it. My lead (.454" ball) ammo (except a small amount I practice with) is reserved for hunting purposes. So, I guess we sorta agree.
But there's nothing wrong with experimenting with alternatives.
 

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Excellent idea about the melon baller Harp! My feeling is that if some like lead so be it,me,I'll stick with steel most times,marbles some times (very short range) M&M's,gum balls,Jellybeans,chick peas when I'm feeling ecologically friendly! Now if I was to go back to hunting as I once did with my slingshot, the .44 cal lead would be in the pocket once more. I did read once on one of these forums of a guy who painted his lead balls orange,so he would be insulated from the dangers and also he could see them better in flight and on the ground for pick up. I think it was Roger Henrie. Wonderful craftsman from Nevada. Flatband
 

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I guess I'm weird...I like to shoot mostly marbles at tin cans. They are big enough to feel right in the pouch, but don't cost as much as 1/2" steel. I'd really like to get a killer deal on the 1/2" steel, but I haven't got a tree in my yard that will grow money for fruit. It is easier for me to come up with $8.00 from time to time than to put together larger sums. Even if I could I would be looking at buying some slingshots from forum members.
 

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I would only use lead if it was the only option (I'm a bit short of braincells as it is) do you know what kind of calibre difference is needed to gain equivalent weight, lead/steel? And what about a wax coating? easy and cheap to apply, no dangers unless the balls are handled a lot *ACHEM* it should hold nicely in the pouch and have a smooth release, plus any inconsistencies can be smoothed out with a little heat?
 

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EZ solution to lead problems. Dip ball into Plastic Coat. Dries in minutes. It is what you coat metal or wood hand tools with.
 

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Bright red Plasti-dip makes em safe and easy to find, so far haven't had any wear through. Available at Home Depot.
 

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How do you dip the balls to get an even coating? tongs?

Then how do you hold them or where do you set them so they dont have marks or flat spots on them when they cure???

Is red really faster than the other colors?? LOL
 

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Just a thought. A thin coating of parafin wax. Or even better, melted candles. Candle wax has lots of stearic-acid (a hard wax extracted from beef fat) this would make for durability and melt resistance. We wouldn't want the coating to "wilt" on a hot day.
 
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