Best alloy to use?


Well-Known Member
Been doing a lot of reading about different alloy and it's usage.
What do you all consider to be the best...for my 38/357 in revolver and rifle. It's pretty much all I shoot anymore. One topic I read mentioned hard ball for target and or hunting.. thanks,johnny


At the casting bench in the sky. RIP Bret.
Something like Jon mentioned. Not "hardball" or "hardcast". That stuff exists mainly to keep the commercial bullets being produced from getting beat up in shipment. Something pretty close to the old clip on wheel weights will work fine for anything you'll ever do with a 38/357 revolver or rifle. The only caveat is that if some batches of COWW benefit from a little more tin, but usually it'll be fine once you get the mould up to heat. Tin just makes them prettier.


Springfield, Oregon
I have 400lbs of 90/3 (Pb/Sb) in large pigs from Rotometals. I have not used any yet, and I’m curious how well it will work without the addition of any Sn
Should be a good base alloy.


Halcyon member
Why did I post that. You asked for the best.
Lead ternary alloys with balanced SB and SN are tougher. Tougher is better (please note that I didn't say harder).
Can the SB and SN numbers be higher? and does that make them better? When is it too hard?
Those are the things I was thinking when I said 94-3-3
I'll be honest, in the recent past mostly I cast with straight COWW, but since my purchase of Kevin's alloy (COWW +1% pewter), I'll be casting with that, for the bullets that use to have been cast with straight COWW. Kevin's alloy cast so nice. But I do use 94-3-3 (that I bought from a fellow who mixed it and had batches tested) for Rifle and Magnum pistol bullets for full house loads. I've done heat treating tests with 94-3-3 and am happy with results, hardness numbers were taken out a few years.


Active Member
I have 400lbs of 90/3 (Pb/Sb) in large pigs from Rotometals. I have not used any yet, and I’m curious how well it will work without the addition of any Sn
Should be a good base alloy.
More than 2% Tin is a waste. For years, I've targeted 92% Lead, 6% Antimony, 2% Lead for handgun and lower velocity rifle loads.


Well-Known Member
I am new to the game but I have basically came to the conclusion that by using various powders and lube types.
I only need 3 alloys. And of course a stash of tin.

I could basically get by with
30-1, clip-on wheel weights or equivalent, and Lyman number 2 or equivalent.

My current main alloy for pistols, is a blend. A pound of Range scrap. A pound of clip on wheel weights. Plus two pound of 30-1.
Tested recently at
96.8 lead, 1.1 antimony, 2 tin,
and .1 arsenic by %wt.
Powder Coat that, and I am good from anything plane base 650fps to 1150fps.
Ye,,,so for pistol anything around. 97/1/2 to 96/2/ long as it is consistent.
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358156 hp

At large, whereabouts unknown.
Johnny, are you looking for a premade alloy to buy, or are you planning on mixing your own? One suggestion is to keep any tin & antimony balanced, you shouldn't have more tin than antimony or your alloy can get difficult to work with. I had that problem early on when I mistakenly believed that if some tin is good, then more tin must be better. I was having fillout issues and trying to adjust the alloy to cast at lower temps, when all I really needed to do for better fillout was raise my pot temps a bit and cast faster to keep the mould temp up as well. I'm now casting at 720* and preheating my moulds better. Some times this is all that is necessary for fillout issues. I didn't need anywhere near that much tin.

I too, use a lot of scrap for casting, and between that and powder coating get away with a lot less alloy development & testing than I was with conventional lubing. I can't recall the last time I added tin (pewter) to my alloy. If you have a specific purpose in mind beyond basic target work and stress relief then you could be fine with minor tweaks to what you're already using.What are you using now, and how would you like your bullets to perform differently? You can get pure lead and tin (alone) to perform at about the same level as Lyman #2 if needed. I used to favor harder alloys for target work, especially with 357 magnums, but my range scrap runs around bhn 12 or so (LBT tester), and that works fine for me with powder coat, if I were using conventional lube I would bump that up a mite.

In either case I would be really picky about my bullet sizing. My fussiness here is pretty simply, using clean chamber throats (revolver) my bullets must not drop through freely but must require a slight to moderate push through the throats with a suitable wooden dowel, or even an unsharpened (nonsharpened?) pencil.. Also not acceptable is having to pound the bullets through, even with the palm of my hand and the stick.


Well-Known Member
A synapsis of pistol lead, pertaining to the original post. According to my experience.
And a take on the valued opinions given here and on this sight.

If mixing your own. Formulas by %wt.
are in Keith's writings and the Lyman cast book. Good sources for formulas.

96/2/2 seams to be the pistol holy Grail. For handgun only bullets.
Approximate +- .5% on tin and antimony....good enough.
.1 +-.1% on arsenic OK, if it got involved because of old school wheel wts or shot.

As long as all the bullets you make are consistently chemically the same.
I went for 96/2/2 on the last batch I made.
I ended up with 96.8 / 1.1 / 2 / .1
....Shoots and casts with negligible difference, exactly the same, as some true 96/2/2 I had. At least in pistol.
Last batch of pistol lead I made was 200lbs.

Main thing for handgun bullets is.. keep the Antimony under 3%.
Best keep that tin Under 2%, for pistol alloy. No more then 3% really ever needed.
Oh ,and consistency is the key in all things casting.

If I am wrong on this someone please correct me....but please explain why, so I can learn.
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Well-Known Member
Here is a link for a company that sells certified 96-2-2 lead for casting.

Good solid company that sells as little as 5lb.
If you prefer pre mixed commercial lead.

My boss gave me the link.
It gets its lead and testing done from one of our sister foundry's in Virginia. Of course if you have a business license, and an ammo manufacturers license. If you could order 100,000 lb, at the current wholesale price, of $2 a pound. We could have Virginia send you some. LOL.
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High Steppes of Eastern Washington
Chemically, the magic ratio is 3 parts antimony and 1 part tin. HOWEVER, the tin oxidizes off so easily that a little extra is good at the bottom of the pot. I shoot for 2%+ from a cold pot.


Alaska Land of the Midnight Sun
Been using sheet lead/scrap with some tin to about 30 to 1 comes out about 9 BHN.
20 to 1 for more velocity or Powder Coating.
COWW for faster stuff.
Years ago I was instructed that the harder the better. So for my 44 mag hot loads I used COWW water dropped and sized .429. Total mess. Scrubbing lead from my Ruger Red Hawk.
I like soft it bumps up and fills what you need.