How hard is casting?

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by joncutt87, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. joncutt87

    joncutt87 Active Member

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    Among the many things that i have whirling about in my head. Pb casting, how hard is it?
  2. jack404

    jack404 Former Guest

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    i do a bit for lead sinkers dont have one of myself casting ball or miniball , better fix that

    here some short videos on casting sinkers

    [​IMG]


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    Last edited: Apr 18, 2012
  3. Hammerslagger

    Hammerslagger New Member

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    Lead (and its common casting alloys) is one of the easiest metals to cast. The process allows one to make excellent bullets for very little money. This is especially true if you are making handgun bullets (projectiles) that are not going to exceed 1200 fps, you have access to a source of free or cheap lead, and you have the time to make your own ammunition.

    There are numerous sources of info that can be found in printed books and leaflets, and on the Internet to get one started and take one into some very technical areas that optimize cast bullet performance.

    There is one caveat. Lead (and its compounds) is a poison. Often, it (like other heavy metals) is a slow cumulative poison that can and will slowly wreck your health. It can be handled and worked with safely, if good safety practices are followed; but good safety practices must be followed in order not to get poisoned.
  4. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    joncutt87:

    Many years ago I helped my friend cast bullets. From that experience alone I would not do it today and here's why:

    Years ago lead scrap lead was everywhere..CHEAP. Not true today. In Calif. today tire store can no longer use lead balancing weights (the weights are now steel) and that was the biggest source of lead in the day.

    Scrap lead can have any combination of constituents, all unknown to the user. The mix of lead and tin is key to the performance of the bullets. So what will you end up with??? Virgin lead known alloys are expensive. Seems the Chinese have a huge need for lead (batteries and??) and have driven the cost of virgin lead sky high.

    Casting lead is dangerous. It must be done in a well ventilated location or inhaling the fumes will eventually lead to lead poisoning. A drop of water that falls into the lead pot will explode and possibly throw molten lead out of the pot onto you. Working safe is the way to avoid any molton lead problems but to me the risk is not worth the reward.

    My experience years ago was that the quality of the cast bullets was not all that uniform. Air bubbles inside which effect the weight and balance of the bullet can go almost undetected by the caster.

    Once cast there is more work to come. They have to be sized and lubed (another machine you have to buy).

    If you have more time that you know what to do with it casting may work for you. I did not enjoy casting years ago and did not see the reward for the effort. Cast bullets are loved by some but even commercially cast bullets always seem to leave lead my guns barrels: Lead that resists easy cleaning and had to be dug out with a pick. Today I use plated bullets for handguns, that don't lead up the bore and have a price point between jacketed and cast bullets and perform like cast bullets.

    This is MY opinion and yours and that of others most certainly will vary. I post here to give an opposing view to home casting (or even using cast bullets at all, plated bullets excluded). Some here love casting and have a list of positive reason to cast bullets. They are NOT wrong.. they just have a different view of the situation than me. You decide for you.

    LDBennett
  5. Clipper

    Clipper Active Member

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    Google Cast Boolits for more info. I cast some times, and do try to avoid wheel weights, lots of them now are made of zinc. If you take proper precautions and work outside or in a well ventilated space, you will be fine. I cast both .45 and .38/.357 loads with Lee equipment purchased in the 80's. Lee also has a simple and easy swage set for most calibers.

    The forum at castboolits is a good place to go for info on casting.
  6. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

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    I have been casting bullets for almost as long as I have been reloading and I have been reloading for close to 40 years. I cast .380, 9mm, .38, .44, .45, and 45/70 bullets.

    LD hit the nail on the head with every word he typed. Wheel weights were the best casting material ever, the mixture was almost perfect for bullets. Wheel weights have almost gone the way of the goony bird - extinct!

    Many years ago, I worked part time at a service station where tires were sold. They did a lot of wheel balancing so I had an arrangement with the owner to dispose of his old wheel weights. I probably still have a couple of hundred pounds of 1 pound ingots that I made from those disposed weights. I have been carrying lead ingots around with me for over 30 years. Every time the Army moved me, they moved a lot of lead!!

    Recently (about a year ago) I bought 50 pounds of Linotype material off eBay, just to see how it worked and it is also very good. The problem is that with everything going "electronic", Linotype is following the way of wheel weights.

    Honestly, it is probably not worth the time, effort, or expense any more to cast your own with all the companies selling cast bullets.
  7. myfriendis410

    myfriendis410 Member

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    I too have been casting for over thirty years. My source of lead is from the backstop of the local pistol range. They are usually more than happy to have someone clean up the backstop as long as you are neat about it.

    If you use modern equipment in a well-ventilated area there are no health risks as long as you wash your hands when done. Lead fumes are only generated when the melt is WAY higher than needed for bullet casting. Of more concern is any residual zinc which is more toxic when inhaled. Again; the temperature has to be higher than the bullet caster needs or even wants.

    You can make bullets that shoot, and shoot pretty well, by casting in quantity. By weight sorting and visually identifying defects, you can produce really high quality bullets. I cast for the 45/70 (Sharps) and regularly shoot sub-1 inch 100 yard groups with my cast bullets. It can be tedious but there is a great satisfaction in crafting your own cartridge from the nose back. It's not for everybody; you have to be pretty meticulous and have good equipment. The more you spend on the tools, the more quickly you can produce good bullets.
  8. Hammerslagger

    Hammerslagger New Member

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  9. Telcotech

    Telcotech Member

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    Joncutt87.....
    It really boils down to (no pun intended) what a guy's time is worth. I casted for more than 20yrs for pistol calibers and and it really is time consuming. I ended up selling all my stuff on Ebay a couple yrs ago, except for my Lyman 460 sizer/libricator, which I still use for several hundred of my cast bullets not yet used. IMO....it's alot less expensive buying cast bullets at gun shows, or sporting goods stores, then making your own.
  10. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    Its easy jon. Just extremely time consuming. But next to free perfect bullets is the reward, and properly cast and lubed bullets will outshoot anything.
  11. 76Highboy

    76Highboy Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Yes. That is mostly what I shoot. My father and brother in law have always been the ones to do my casting. I give them the lead and they cast it all and I get half back and they keep half. They are not casting anymore so I will be casting next spring. Lead is not that difficult to get if you want it. Pawn shops sell fishing weights at give away prices, and guys at gunshows will sell it. Guess where they got it. They picked a bunch of wheel weights up and melted it down into ingots so they are not into it very much so make them an offer they can't refuse. As far as health reasons, My father has casted for 40+ years in his garage and has been to the doc once in his life and is very healthy. My brother in law does it in his basement and is older and healthy. I was always around it as a kid and a teenager and have always been healthy and we never wore gloves. We always opend the garage door, kept the temp as low as possible, and washed our hands when done.

    I say do it.
  12. RustyFN

    RustyFN New Member

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    This ^^^. I have only been casting for around five years. The tire shops in my area are still using lead weights. I get them free from a couple of the small local shops. I don't have as much as a lot of casters, only around 1,600 pounds. Make sure you have a good supply of cheap or free lead first. When I can load 1,000 rounds of 45 auto for $25 it makes it well worth my time.
  13. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    And as to the health risks.. Ill expound a bit on what Highboy was talking about.. Pretty much like this.. As long as you arent gnawing on a lead ingot or huffing the smoke off the pot directly your good. No worries.. Just wash your hands before you eat yer sammage.

    I casted for 4 years. I have since sold all of my equipment to bluesea112, I just lost interest in it. Too lazy i suppose. But I casted every session in the kitchen, on the stove, under the vent-a-hood. And nobody at my house had ever had lead poisoning.
  14. 76Highboy

    76Highboy Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    But I already ate my sammage without washing my hands. Oh no! Who should I will my guns to?
  15. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    Ill keep them safe for you. ;)

    I do still clamp my split shot sinkers with my teeth. Been doin that since I was a kid and I aint dead yet.
  16. DixieLandMan

    DixieLandMan Member

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    If the rain holds off, I'm going to try my hand at casting this weekend. I do have a question though. I've read/heard somewhere about using formica to coat bullets after they have been lubed. Is this correct? Is there any benefit other than the bullets being less sticky?
  17. myfriendis410

    myfriendis410 Member

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    Once you've cast a bunch of bullets they need to be lubed. Depending on the size of the bullet and the gun it's to be shot in, you can either simply tumble-lube using something like Lee Alox or use a luber/sizer that reduces the bullet o.d. to a specific size for loading and shooting. Many casters get good results with the tumble lube but I've found a luber/sizer to provide superior results for me. You can use a lube that is tailored to the particular gun and velocity. I use either Red Rooster or T/C blue which requires heat to allow it to flow through the luber/sizer. My rifle stuff gets lubed with my own recipe.

    Personally I like cast iron molds over aluminum. They will certainly last much longer but are considerably more expensive. If you are just starting out you might use one of the aluminum jobs from Lee; especially if you are loading for pistol. They are also designed to be tumble lubed which is cheaper than acquiring a dedicated machine to lube and size.
  18. gun-nut

    gun-nut Member

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    Go to you tube and look up bullet lubing. lots of stuff there.
  19. mikld

    mikld Active Member

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    Actually, it's pretty darn easy.

    Casting boolits for your particular guns is prolly the most satisfying aspect of home made ammo. I can take a bunch of useless, dirty, greasy wheel weights and smelt them down and produce shiny, clean ingots of boolit alloy. Then I take those ingots, melt them down and cast some raw boolits. Then I customize those raw boolits for each particular gun I plan on shooting them in by size and lubing. Can't buy that feeling of accomplishment.

    Get a Lyman 3rd or 4th Edition Cast Bullet Handbook and read it. Start out simple, don't overthink the process (yes, it is safe), and you can be casting custom bullets in no time (I started with a single burner Coleman stove, a stainless steel pot, a slotted spoon, a Lee ladle, a Lee mold, and a bunch of wheel weights I collected at work. I used alox for lube then grew into pan lubing. Controlling melt temp was the hardest part, but I made thousands of shootable boolits with that set-up). Lead is getting harder to find now, but still plenty out there if you look for it...

    You can find hundreds of years of experience on all aspects of cast lead boolits here: http://castboolits.gunloads.com/index.php
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
  20. mikld

    mikld Active Member

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    Don't worry until yer hair starts falling out...
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