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Casting with Zinc?
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  hawcer

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Posted: September 27 2010 at 11:55am | IP Logged Quote hawcer

I know zinc isn't really a high quality metal to be casting with...but it does melt at the low temp. of 786 deg. F.

It is also a bit heavy when compared to other metals.

Sorting through my wheel weights I use for casting bullets, I'll come across plenty of worthless zinc weights and it's only going to get worse since the epa is going to ban the use of lead wheel weights.

Could these be put to good use? At least for one-off pre-production or pre-fab parts? Stuff like grip frames and receivers could easily be cast out of zinc to use as a template to work off of, couldn't they?

Zinc can easily be melted down in a cast iron pot over a high heat source like a turkey fryer burner or hot coals.

I actually think there are some low quality guns out there manufactured from zinc...and some higher quality ones too....like my Walter P22.

Just a thought...
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  blurrededge

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Posted: September 27 2010 at 12:16pm | IP Logged Quote blurrededge

You could always use it for practice and prototypes to see how things will line up, it probably cuts more like aluminum than steel, which would make things go alittle faster / easier. Orions_Hammer cast a blowback bolt out of zinc, and did a damn fine job too.
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  midmichigun

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Posted: September 27 2010 at 2:40pm | IP Logged Quote midmichigun

Hawcer,

zinc and Al alloy is my interest in cheap/ casting gun manufacture.

As indicated by OH and his bolt experiment, the material is worthwhile. Imagine casting your own AR type upper and lower (of course with some tweaks) using a zinc alloy. Beef up where needed to take up for the lower strength of the alloy.

Anyway, I see a common interest in the casting of this material.

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  Snuffer

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Posted: April 30 2011 at 10:00pm | IP Logged Quote Snuffer

Some of the better RTV silicone rubbers can be used with zinc and/or Zamak for making parts, this from personal experience in a prototype machine shop.

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  Chris42

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Posted: January 02 2012 at 12:12pm | IP Logged Quote Chris42

A friend of mine didn't make guns, but he did cast zinc on his gas kitchen stove. He used some kind of steel tube around the pot (also steel I would presume) to help hold the heat.

Might not be highly recommended due to the fumes in the house. It does show that it can be done though without expensive equipment.
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  joewy

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Posted: February 05 2012 at 12:50am | IP Logged Quote joewy

I made some AR  upper castings from ZA27. I wouldn't recommend pure zinc. But you can get the ZA27 for $3.50 a pound or so for low quantities. It is strong, is an anti-friction material and holds up well.
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  cottonmouth

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Posted: February 09 2012 at 2:09am | IP Logged Quote cottonmouth

hey can you use a receiver made out of zinc???
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  OldCoot

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Posted: February 24 2013 at 11:43am | IP Logged Quote OldCoot

RG used revolver frames made out of the stuff for decades.  I haven't used my wheelweights for firearms parts, but the fact that it is self-lubing with steel makes it pretty handy for a lot of shop tools, and I cast a base for a dividing head for the bench mill out of a few hundred wheel weights about two years back.  It is still going like gangbusters, and it shows no shake or wear yet...
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  thebair

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Posted: February 25 2013 at 7:43pm | IP Logged Quote thebair

OldCoot wrote:
RG used revolver frames made out of the stuff for decades.  I haven't used my wheelweights for firearms parts, but the fact that it is self-lubing with steel makes it pretty handy for a lot of shop tools, and I cast a base for a dividing head for the bench mill out of a few hundred wheel weights about two years back.  It is still going like gangbusters, and it shows no shake or wear yet...

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...and RG also made guns that blew up on people. Ok, I admit I owned one and a Jennings, but still not the best high stress metal. Or so I think, I'm no expert in the field of metal so correct me if I'm wrong.
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  OldCoot

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Posted: March 03 2013 at 12:14pm | IP Logged Quote OldCoot

I gunsmithed for my frijoles until my eyes went, Bearfeller.  Most of the RGs I saw in the shop were there because they'd gone out of time due to frame stretching, and almost all of 'em were .38s.  Used with standard ammo, they worked okay for a nightstand gun, but used with +P, they went out of service pretty quick.

That said, it  makes  a pretty good bearing metal, and I've even cast a few bullets out of it in years past.
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  OldCoot

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Posted: July 07 2013 at 10:30am | IP Logged Quote OldCoot

Bair, the path to expertise is lined with busted tools and worn out equipment.  I've left my share over the decades I've been monkeying with firearms, and one of the things I figured out a long time ago is that if the stress levels are going to be repeated, as with an autoloading firearm, I want something that is going to handle repeated stress levels with the best creep deformation characteristics I can find.  Any metal is going to crystallize and fracture if you hit it hard enough, and enough times.  Zinc is going to bust a long time before brass or bronze will.  Brass or bronze will bust long before a well-chosen and carefully hardened and tempered steel....
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  Toad

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Posted: February 24 2014 at 9:25pm | IP Logged Quote Toad

I wonder If you could cast zinc bullets with out damaging your bullet die's, I'm afraid it might not release like lead bullets. I don't want to experiment and ruin a set of dies.  
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  OldCoot

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Posted: March 08 2015 at 12:53pm | IP Logged Quote OldCoot

Toad, if you use iron mold blocks to cast with, Zinc works just fine. Don't try this with the Lee aluminum blocks at all, at all!!!
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  UKBiker

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Posted: March 08 2015 at 2:00pm | IP Logged Quote UKBiker

Don't forget the Hi Point pistols are made out of zinc alloy, and if you want to see how much buse they will take before eventually failing have a look on youtube at the Iraqveteran8888 channel when they did their Hi Point torture test, it took one hell of a beating and far more than it would ever see in usual service before the barrel failed, the slide and frame held up remarkably well.
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  OldCoot

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Posted: March 08 2015 at 2:48pm | IP Logged Quote OldCoot

Yep. And the Jimenez 9mm guns bust at the rear of the slide in less than 500 rounds. Properly used, it will work a while, but zinc just doesn't handle repeated stress all that well unless you use a considerable lump of it,
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  UKBiker

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Posted: March 08 2015 at 3:23pm | IP Logged Quote UKBiker

The Hi point slides could certainly be described as a considerable lump alright
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  UKBiker

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Posted: March 08 2015 at 4:34pm | IP Logged Quote UKBiker

On another note given the weight of zinc alloy compared to steel, it would be possible to cast a zinc bolt with a steel insert for the breech face for blowback firearms like the DIY MAC etc where the bolt needs to be heavier.
Strength should be ok as the bolt is acting against the spring in compression rather than tension like a conventional slide would do on a semi auto pistol.
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  northumbrian

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Posted: March 08 2015 at 5:39pm | IP Logged Quote northumbrian

Zinc has only two uses, an alloying element in something useful or a sacrificial anode in marine applications.

Making guns from it is the sign of cheap 5h1te mass production get rich quick, bodge it and scarper company.

I don't care about who uses it to make a gun, it's cutting corners in order to make a fast buck.

Oh, I forgot, it's good for galvanising too, so that's three uses. 
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  OldCoot

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Posted: March 08 2015 at 7:13pm | IP Logged Quote OldCoot

You left out the use of powdered zinc with sulfur as a propellant and smoke generator, North. It still works for me for low-speed self-lubricating bearings for small work. Outlasts babbit for a lot of my shop stuff.
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  UKBiker

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Posted: March 08 2015 at 8:34pm | IP Logged Quote UKBiker

I agree North, but for expedient home manufacture of a weapon that is primarily intended to be used in defence with the intention to procure a better weapon from the individual you have just defended yourself from, it would make sense.
I see the Holmes, Luty and Metral designs as well as the Pitbull Scrap metal stuff in this category being used once maybe twice in order to get your hands on a better weapon, like the Liberator .45ACP was intended to do.
A tube capable of emitting a projectile or several in quick succession really. Many of the homemade Stens etc were used for this purpose before being passed to someone else who didn't have a firearm.

Quick and easy to produce and possibly more importantly quick and easy to replace if discovered.
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