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Rev.4. May.28/01

My Moly Coating Process.

My friend John and I decided in 97 that we should be using Moly plated bullets. I phoned the NECO people and got all the information on how to do it and ordered their kit.

John had a small rock tumbler, which we were told would do the job. We did all the work as laid out in their manual and came up with good looking Moly coated bullets.

John's tumbler runs very slow and takes 2 1/2 h to do batch of 4 lbs. of bullets. We did use the steel shot at first and found that the shot would deform the pointed soft point like the Hornady Spire Points. We removed the steel shot and tumbled the bullets by them self, which stopped most of the deformation. We also encountered some adhesion problems because of oily substance on new bullets. Without the shot the bullets did not plate as well and the Wax application would remove the Moly. John said, the wax needs to be warm, but when too warm it makes pimples.

I found when bullets are plated with steel pellets the wax does not remove any Moly, in the two minutes it takes to wax the bullets. Further more the cooler basement temperature does not make pimples with the powdered wax.

There seems to be a notion among some shooters, that Moly can be applied in various thicknesses. A properly Moly plated bullet has a shiny silver gray appearance and the Moly is less than one micron thick. Jacket gilding metal will admit Moly into its microscopic surface porosity. One micron = 1/1000 mm or 39.4/000000". We can't measure it with tools we use.

To do this you need impact, to drive the Moly into the metal surface. Hence the tumbling. Once in the jacket metal no further build up is possible, since Moly powder will not adhere to Moly powder. A bullet is properly plated when no gilding metal shines trough the plating. Look at a BERGER plated bullet.

Also Walt Berger uses a bank of Side Winder Tumblers and uses no steel shot, but places in to the drums a measured amount of bullets depending on size and weight to get a perfect plating job. The regular shooter who does not plate in large quantities should use steel shot. (My opinion.)

Waxing the finished bullets is a do or donít? In a conversation with Walt Berger he said all his bullets are waxed, the wax is important, and that is what I do. The wax I think acts like a bees wax flux in a lead pot, by reducing surface tension and mix with the Moly molecules for more fluid lubricity???? Or maybe the wax prevents powder fouling from sticking to the bore?

Powdered Carnauba wax used for waxing is a hard brittle wax, which melts at a high temperature. It is exuded from the leaves of the carnauba palm, an indigenous plant of semiarid northeastern Brazil. How the thickness of the wax can be measurably increased, is not known to me. However I have noticed uneven build up when the tumbling temperature is more than a cool room temperature and longer than 2 minutes with steel pellets. Again the wax is pounded onto the surface of the Moly but not into the gilding metal.

The process is impact plating whereby the Moly becomes an integral part of the bullet jacket metal. I believe any "COATING" applied to the surface by a spray or paint on system will strip off as soon as the bullet enters the barrel and causes fouling. This can't be good for accurate shooting? (My opinion.)

When bullets were washed with Keton solvent adhesion was restored. One other condition that removed the Moly from the bullets, was nickel plated brass The insides of the necks are really rough. When seating the bullets they completely stripped off the Moly. I had some Nickel brass. I quit using it. This brass is also hard on outside neck reamer cutters.

I have since build my own tumbler from a design featured in the PS Magazine on June 98. The two liter coffee cans I use have a pentagon liner made from very thin 1/8 plywood with a 3/4 inch inverted quarter round over each joint. The plastic lid is held in place with a six inch aluminum plate washer 0.065" thick on both ends of the tin, and a 10-24x 7" threaded rod with wing nuts to hold the tin shut. The bottom plate uses two wing nuts to keep the threaded rod in place while changing the contents of the tin. Seal the bottom joints with silicon caulking. If the top does not seal make a gasket with silicon caulking bead, place a piece of wax paper in the plastic lid and clamp it together with the plates with light pressure. This will make a perfect seal

To close the tin tight, the plastic cover that comes with the coffee tin is first snapped on and then the aluminum plate placed on top of the plastic cover and tightened down with the wing nut.

I have found that the pentagon liner allows for less drop of the steel pellets and bullets, and prevent damage to exposed lead points to some extent, but not completely. The steel pellets 0.156 in diameter could be mixed with some #6 shot, which may help to cushion the heavier shot. I have not tried this for lack of #6 steel shot. Also I have found very little difference in performance of the slightly flattened exposed tips out to 300 yards.

In a 06 class rifle, shells loaded in the magazine will flatten the lead tips from recoil more then the damage done by the plating. The best bullets for plating

 are the hollow points and the plastic tips so far? Since I like the Hornady Spire Points for hunting I find a way to prevent tip damage.

Since I live in Canada and buy goods with a 65 cent dollar I thought the price of a Side winder is out of line for minimal Moly plating. The price for my home made tumbler including an automatic digital timer, the most expensive part at $ 28, is less than $50. If you go with the side winder you need four drums if you clean cases.


1.) Material for a 3 sided box with floor, inside dimension is 14"wide x13"deep x 13" high use any plywood from 1/2 to 3/4 thick glue and screw all joints:

2.) Two shaft supports 1 1/2" X 3" dry spruce or fir. Mounted on top of box, one against the back the second 8 1/2" apart towards the front. Drill two 17/32 shaft holes in the shaft supports 5 1/4 on centers. The holes must line up and square with the supports, or the shafts will bind. From the top drill 4 oil holes to lube the shaft occasionally.

3.) Two 1/2" steel rod shafts 14" long. One 6" shaft pulley, one 1/12" motor pulley, two 2" shaft pulleys, four 1/2" shaft stops, one 1/4 hp 1725 rpm 110v washing machine motor or similar, one 4L170- V-belt, one 4L280 V-belt.

4.) One NOMA 7day 6 event outdoor timer.

5.) Four 6 1/8 Diameter x 7" high coffee tins. Two with pentagon liners and two with four 3/4" x 3/4" x 7" wood blocks mounted on the inside 90 degrees apart. (Fourth one for case cleaning optional) Clearly mark all tins for the purpose of use; do not mix them up.

Note: The pulleys are designed to rotate the tins at 34 RPM at a motor RPM of 1725 with two rubber tires made from 2 layers of 1/2" rubber office bands from Wal-Mart. You need 16 bands for 4 tins. If your motor speed is different you need to adjust the pulley sizes, for a total of a bout 1:51 to 54 reduction.


One bottle of Steel shot. Moly Powder. Carnauba Wax. All from NECO. 4lbs RCBS formula 2 corn cob. 1 quart of methyl Hydrate. Three 9" Wal-Mart Strainers. Three 12" plastics bowls. If you are using the Side Winder you may need more shot?

The Process.

  1. Place halve the shot in one pentagon drum together with a 1/2 tea spoon of Moly, close it tight and tumble for 10 minutes to season the drum. (Clearly mark the drum, plastic lid and aluminum plate washer "MOLY".
  1. 2.) Place the other halve of shot in the other pentagon drum and sprinkle a 1/4 tea spoon of carnauba wax on the shot and tumble for ten minutes to season the drum. (Clearly mark the drum, plastic lid and aluminum plate washer "WAX".
  1. 3. Place bullets in a plastic strainer and submerge them in bowl of boiling water mixed with Cascade dishwasher crystals. Do not use liquid soap. Brush bullets with a plastic brush and swirl them around for a while until clean. Rinse with hot water. Dump them on a towel and rub dry. Do not touch them. You can also wash them with Keton or methyl Hydrate. Note: Keton will dissolve plastic bullet tips and dishes. For the best plating job it is most important to have bullets absolutely clean and free of any lubricant. If they are oxidized they should tumbled in corn cob. No short cuts here. Wear rubber gloves if you use your hands for for washing or Cascade will burn your hands.
  1. Transfer clean bullets to your Moly drum add a 1/4 tea spoon or less of Moly and tumble for 1 3/4 -2 hours. Separate with screen into another clean bowl (Mark bowl and screen "MOLY") dump bullets on paper or dedicated bath towels and rub off loose Moly.
  2. Transfer Moly bullets into your wax drum add a pinch of wax, less is better then more. Tumble for 2-3 Minutes and you are done. The bullets should have a steely shiny dark silvery color and be rub-fast. I carried a loaded round in my pocket for several weeks and nothing rubbed off. Separate the bullets from the shot with clean bowl and screen (Mark bowl and screen "WAX"). You can now touch your bullet and admire them. Any short cuts may result in undesirable results.

Note: I have used the Laboratory Grade Moly by NECO at $42.75 US for 4 oz.(10.68 per oz.) and the Industrial Grade Moly by Jet Lube at $34.00 per lb. Canadian.($1.34 per oz US.) According to "JET LUBE CANADA" this has a particle size that is 99% less than 10 microns and 50% less than 2 microns. The grade is called ULTRA PURE FINE. I think different manufacturers have different specifications they produce to.

When applied to bullets it is impossible to tell the difference between the two. I have seen no ill effects in any of my barrels. There is a bit of coarser Moly left over in each batch of bullets that I simply discard. Molybdenum disulfade comes in all sorts of names, Super fine, technical, industrial, laboratory etc.The grade I use is perhaps not as finly refined as others? It is used in Moly Lubes and Moly oil for mashine use so it can't be that bad. However if there is any doubt about quality, by all means use the laboratory grade by NECO.

Kroil and Shooters Choice will not remove the Moly, nor will Hopps #9. Extensive brushing is needed to take the Moly of the bullets with the above cleaners after the bullets are properly plated. It will however clean barrels and remove any carbon, powder residue and displace moisture present. Copper fouling is another story. Rough barrels are mainly the cause. A mixture of copper and Moly is bad news. Copper build up traps moisture between it and the barrel steel. Corrosion results if not removed. This is why a good penetrating fluid like Kroil is recommended to displace moisture.

Remington Bore Cleaner, J-P Paste and Sweet's 7.62 will remove the Moly coating from bullets with no trouble and I assume it will also from the barrel. I clean the barrel with a few strokes with a patch around a nylon brush soaked in mix of Kroil and Shooters choice or Hopp's #9.

The usefulness of this Moly plating treatment is widely argued, and I am not getting into it. It works fine for me and my shooting friends that is all I can say. If I find any problems I will report on it here on my page.

For more information on Moly see: "Shooter Point of View on Moly"

See also


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Fred The Re-Loader.