Bullet Casting Pro's and Con's

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by 76Highboy, Aug 2, 2012.

  1. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Could be. Ten years or so back, when my daughter brought her boyfriend home to meet the family, the poor boy had never shot a gun. So we went shooting.

    They took pictures.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    That's nowhere near ALL. That was just to give him a representative sample of what shooting is like.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2012
  2. dammitman

    dammitman Member

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    this is actually really simple. get the items you need to be able to cast and learn how, in fact get good at it. if you are lucky you will enjoy doing it and it doesnt then seem like a job, more like fun. now that you get it(how to make bullets) just start to stockpile all the cleaned lead you can. someday lead might just become very hard to come by as that the way the winds are blowing. saveit, all of it. buy cheaply made cast bullets for target shooting from online sources like missouri bullet company as they are cheap and plentyful for now. someday when they go out of sight or lead becomes regulated by our goverment, you will have all that stored up that you saved and wont care cause you figured all this out and now how to cast your own. done!
  3. 76Highboy

    76Highboy Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Dammitman, your right. Missouri Bullets are well priced. Good info.
  4. dammitman

    dammitman Member

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    i do what i can for the masses, sometimes i am right and they listen, sometimes i am wrong and they listen, and vice versa,,,and all the way around, mostly, just wrong!!
  5. aa1911

    aa1911 Active Member

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    After the price of lead and lead products jumped in the last few years, I think stockpiling a bit of lead is a good idea. Shot used to be $8/25lb bag when I started skeet, now pushing $50. I don't see it ever getting any better!
  6. myfriendis410

    myfriendis410 New Member

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    I also wanted to mention a bit about molds and related equipment.

    I've used Lyman, RCBS, Lee, Hensley and Gibbs, and Saeco. Generally, like anything else, you get what you pay for. I tend to go back to the cast iron mold blocks for a couple of reasons. First; for me they last longer. I have yet to wear one out (assuming you keep 'em rust free) and they keep puking out good bullets. They do require maintenance and upkeep. However; they also hold more heat than an aluminum mold so you tend to get more casting cycles before cooling them. I keep a wet sponge (safer than water) next to my casting furnace and when the mold gets too hot I rest it on the sponge to cool it. This allows me to cast more quickly. Another (maybe better) technique is to use 2 molds. When one gets too hot to cast with you set it aside and cast with the other, then repeat.

    For pistol bullets I like gang molds. A four cavity is great, and a six cavity is even better. They do get heavy after a while; that's one area aluminum is easier to use. For my rifle molds I tend toward single cavity simply because the finished bullets are going to be more uniform (at least that's the idea).

    I use the Lee Production Pot. I have two of them and I keep one for range lead and tin (pistol) and the other for WW (rifle). They heat up fast and generally deliver a pretty consistent temperature and rate of flow. Others like dippers. I'm not saying they're better; it's just what I'm used to.

    Fluxing the melt is accomplished with the best flux available: sawdust. You leave it on the melt and rouse the liquid with a dipper or old spoon and leave on the top. It turns to activated charcoal and traps impurities and metals you don't want in your finished bullets like zinc and aluminum and copper. I cast in my garage with the doors open for ventilation.

    One piece of equipment I absolutely love is my luber-sizer. It's a Star; without a doubt one of the best labor-saving devices you can own. They aren't cheap but boy do they work fast. Mine has a heater that I can adjust, allowing me to use higher temperature lubes that tend to be less sticky. You might consider buying one someday.

    If you are just casting for pistol, you can purchase lubes that will do the job very well. Interestingly; what the bullet lube does is still something of a mystery. There are a number of theories, but nothing has been definitively proven as to what it really is supposed to do. All I know is; different lubes perform differently in different guns. Case in point. My Sharps load is a 518 gr. cast, sized to .4580" and lubed with my own recipe. When I first started casting that bullet I used a couple of commercial lubes. At 1,300 fps those loads started to keyhole and I had indifferent accuracy below that velocity. With my home made lube I am shooting above 1,300 fps and getting sub m.o.a. accuracy. That's IMO spectacular accuracy, especially considering that's with a tang sight.

    Hopefully this didn't confuse you and gives you more to consider when starting to piece out your casting setup. A great resource is the lasc website (Los Angeles Sillhouette Club). You'll find a wealth of information there.
  7. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I have been called names for bringing up this sad subject, but if you are going to cast bullets PLEASE make sure you do it in a well ventilated area and where your home HVAC system won't pick up the fumes. Also, protect your hands when handling lead and wash your hands well before eating.

    There are plenty of jokes about "lead poison", but lead really is a poison, and too many of us forget that.

    So unless you want to find out that enough lead to last the rest of your life isn't as much as you thought, take precautions around the stuff.

    Jim
  8. 76Highboy

    76Highboy Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Thanks Jim.

    In support of what you just stated, my plan is to install a double exhaust fan in my garage above where I will be casting. The two benefits will be exhausting the lead fumes, and I can leave one on during the day in the summer time so when I come home from work the garage will be cooler so I can go out and do the gun related things that I enjoy. Our garage is very well insulated and I will have a seperate A/C-heat duct running into it. So winter or summer I can function in comfort, and I can cast bullets safely. Also, I enjoy home projects so I am looking forward to installing the exhaust system.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2012
  9. howlnmad

    howlnmad Well-Known Member

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    I'm gonna stir the pot a little (pun intended). If you're getting fumes..................... your lead is to damn HOT.
  10. myfriendis410

    myfriendis410 New Member

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    I agree. The primary means of ingesting lead is by transfer to your mouth. Bullet casting is not smelting. You are not reducing the alloy. You will never get it hot enough to cause lead fumes. There is an argument for other contaminants coming off of the melt, so good ventilation and frequent hand washing is a really good idea. I open the garage door and the side door which provides me with plenty of airflow.

    What appears to be a worse poison is zinc. If you do get the melt hot enough and you have zinc contamination (all too common) you can poison yourself with it. Again; keeping the melt temperature at a reasonable level will eliminate any chance of receiving a dose of something nasty.

    Do some research. There is a wealth of information out there. Then make your own decisions.
  11. 76Highboy

    76Highboy Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Well, now I am going to stir the pot a little too. The wife says I get gas from eating Spam and eggs, and drinking soda pop. Does that warrant the exhaust fans? I just need to know.
  12. soundguy

    soundguy Well-Known Member

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    a little safe handling practice goes a long way.

    i handle led a bit doing electronics repair. there are days I'm soldering 8hrs at a time.

    things like washing your hands, not putting lead into your mouth.. not handling it while eating.. not working around it near food / water.. etc.. etc.

    common sense good handling practices and good ventilation are your friends.

    I did a heavy metals test a while back as a 'check' while chasing a few other problems to see if I was having a lead problem ( i restore antique tractors and have to remove 50-070 yr old paint from them thru a variety of methods.. most that make dust.. older paint could have lead in it.. etc.. ) in any case.. i was relieved to find that simple good handling practices 9 respirator.. washing.. etc.. ) has kept my lead level at normal, even though I am actually around it in the environment quite a bit.

    practice some common sense and you will be fine.
  13. aa1911

    aa1911 Active Member

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    a lead thermometer is a nice tool to have also at least until you find out where to set your lead pot for optimum casting temperature. They're around $30 I believe, maybe more now. Looks just like a candy thermometer except it goes up to 1000' F.

    I open my garage doors and set up my stuff right on the edge of the doorway and usually add a box fan to help pull the fumes away. The flux is about the only thing you can even detect or any contaminents that get in the pot. I always do it on a clear day, I don't want any chance of a raindrop coming in!

    Most indoor ranges will have signs stating no food/drink allowed and no tobbacco use whatsoever while inside. Not a bad idea.
  14. RustyFN

    RustyFN New Member

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    I couldn't agree more. I never melt lead without my thermometer.
  15. howlnmad

    howlnmad Well-Known Member

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    :fart: YES IT DOES
  16. musketshooter

    musketshooter New Member

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    I believe I saw a thread recently that the last lead smelter in the US has closed. I had a feeling that lead would a little difficult to come by eventually so I accumulated about a ton and a half. About 50% wheel weights and 50% pure lead. Now I need to sell some since it's a little more than a life-time supply for me. I use a 40 lb gas fired pot to cast. I eventually decided that it was not very effective to cast for modern rifle loads. I only cast for pistol and black powder rifle loads as well a musket balls and round balls for the ML guns.
  17. 76Highboy

    76Highboy Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Very interesting.
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