The bullets come out of the mould
because the metal shrinks as it solidifies and cools a little. They pour out
in about 10 seconds. That is where the magic came from. The bullets act as if
they are stuck forever and then gently float out onto the bench.
The actual dimensions of the mould
are not critical, regarding the total size of the main body, or the inserts. However, the
relationship between the insert and carrier is very important. Each insert must go in the
carrier so its top is perfectly level with the top of the carrier and the bottom of the
sprue plate. Thus the thickness of the flange on top of the inserts is the most critical
dimension and must match its recess in the main body.
The mould body is aluminum and
inserts are either aluminum or brass. Both work equally well, but the brass is much
heavier. The sprue plate is 5/16-inch mild steel.
* * *
Hardened Bullets from the Old Days
Q: I am positive I read somewhere a
statement by an old hunter, like Gordon Cumming, that he either hardened his roundballs
with zinc, or used zinc roundballs on elephant. Are you aware of any of the old hunters
who used this metal?
A: I would have said yes to your
question, as I also thought I recalled the use of zinc. However, I cannot, nor can the
best African-hunting historian I know, turn up any specific reference to zinc. Where I
think I was confused is the reference to using pewter, which I may have thought contained
zinc. Actually it is about 90 percent tin, with a little copper and the rest antimony. The
old hunters used this to harden lead, and it would have worked quite well but would not
have produced hard bullets as we know them today.
There were other and even more
bizarre metals used. Tin was the most common and was employed up to 10 percent. This may
be one of the reasons the old-timers had difficulty making the brain shot on African
elephants. Their hard bullets were not very hard and were likely to be
defeated by bones. The wildest metal alloy I know was made with mercury. Yes, mercury, the
liquid metal. There are many references to this, and apparently it made a hard end result.
It does work in tooth-fillings (without lead). However, I have not tried it. One day, just
in the interest of science, I will make a 10-percent mercury alloy to see what happens.
Yes, I know mercury is very poisonous and will use correct safety procedures.
* * *