MAKING BULLETS

Discussion in 'Black Powder Shooting / Muzzleloaders / Handguns' started by sart1961, Sep 25, 2008.

  1. sart1961

    sart1961 New Member

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    I have been trying to make my own bullets for my 50 caliber ML and 44 caliber cap-n-ball revolver for a while but, can't seem to get it right. Wheel weights were too hard and then I got some old roof plating. This was soft lead but, the bullets keep coming out shiny and bright. Looking like silver bullets and not the dull, dark gray that muzzle loader bullets look like. What am I doing wrong, is this lead too hard also? I am running my SAECO melter at 750 and using a 2 cavity mold.:(
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2008
  2. Bindernut

    Bindernut Well-Known Member

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    I've never cast bullets myself...just a few jigs and bottom bouncers with a friends pot & molds.

    Fresh cast lead will come out nice n shiny, even if it's a "dead-soft" pure lead. Give em a little time to oxidize or roll em around in a bulk bin for a while and they'll darken up a bit.
    The bulk balls for my cap-n-ball that I buy from a local who does bulk casting also are bright when I get a fresh box. They darken up by the time I get to the end of the box.
    I wonder if some of the commercial makers also roll their cast lead in some type of coating (like carnauba wax or something like it) to prevent powdered lead from getting onto everything they touch...this might darken them up a bit too.
  3. carver

    carver Moderator

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    You state that wheel weight lead is to hard? That's what I use. .44 mag, 240gr. bullets @ around 850fps, works for me! Not sure about the roof plating, I have never used it. But like Bindernut said it should all come out shiney once it has been melted and poured, and will darken with age. One thing I did try that gave me some really soft lead (not good in modern weapons) was a bag full of 00Buck that I had laying around. Melted that down and cast it. Way too soft, had to shoot it really solw! You might want to try mixing some of the buckshoot lead into the wheel weights, that should soften up your castings. Remember that the faster your bullet moves, the greater the chance that you will have leading problems with your gun barrell. Add into the misome really soft lead, and you might not like what you get. How fast are pushing your castings? I never try to execcd 900fps.

    Y'all be safe now, ya hear!
  4. armedandsafe

    armedandsafe Guest

    The revolver can take harder bullets than the rifle likes. My experience is that wheel weights are harder than I like for the rifles and only a little hard for the revolvers. (Note that the new stickon wheel weights are softer than the old metal clip ones.)

    I expect my bullets to come out of the mold shiny and bright. That means I've stirred and fluxed my metal properly. Within a few days, they will be getting dull.

    If you can strip a ring of lead off of you revolver bullets without having to put your full weight on the loading ram, they are soft enough.

    Rifle loads are patched or lubed and will not lead as when pushed by smokeless powder. This has to do with the burn curve, I believe, as well as the protective coating offered by the patch or BP lube.

    I use 10% plumber's lead to 90% wheel weights for revolvers. I use straight plumbers lead for rifle. Works for me.

    Lube your bullets and/or patches.

    Pops
  5. knothead

    knothead New Member

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    plumbers lead is about as close to pure lead as your going to get.the roofers lead, at least all that ive got ahold of has the same hardness as pure lead. www.lasc.us or google los angeles shooting club there is excellent info on bullet casting alloys and bullet casting in general.
  6. sart1961

    sart1961 New Member

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    Carver,
    These are for cap and ball guns, the softer stuff is better. I did'nt think of melting bags of shot. Thanks.
  7. Pustic

    Pustic Member

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    You can always use old fishing sinkers. That's what I used to use until I discovered it's easier to buy roundballs from the gun stores.:D
  8. grandmasterbullets

    grandmasterbullets New Member

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    Hey all I am new to TFF and am pleasantly surprised to see so much info in one place. I have been commercially casting bullets for years in both hard cast and soft lead. I have found that round balls normally do come out shiny and then seem to tarnish over time. I was told it was just oxidization also. You do not want to shoot wheel weight alloy out of your muzzle loader. I have seen pics of barrels ruined from this practice. The alloy is just to hard. Wheel weights average out about 3% in antimony which is just to hard for the muzzle loader. You need straight lead for a muzzle loader.
  9. rusty spurr

    rusty spurr New Member

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    I agree with Mr Grandmaster. Keep using the pure soft lead like the roofing stuff you have. Muzzleloaders need soft lead. If they are coming out of the mold bright and shiny you are doing everything right. I would not change a thing. If you cannot easily make a groove in the lead with your fingernail it is too hard.
  10. GMB, how about wheel weight lead for handguns, especially those that tend to throw slugs at 1,000 FPS or better like the 9mm or .357 Sig, or rifles that push bullets well above 1000 FPS? Does the harder lead alloy result in less leading in the barrel, or would you be better off creating your own mixture using soft lead with 3%-5% antimony?
  11. jjmitchell60

    jjmitchell60 Active Member

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    Pistolenschutze, as to using wheel weight for modern hand gun bullets, they are great as long as you use some soldier mixed in with it to get the proper alloy mix. A good friend of mine uses 1/4 pound of Soldier to 5 pounds of wheel weights and his bullets are some of the best I ahve shot. He uses them in competition. NOW with that said, they are changing most wheel weights to take 99% of teh lead out of them! So the newer wheel weights will not do for bullet casting.

    As stated above, IF you bullets are coming out shiny, smoothe, and no holes or dimples in them; then you are doing it exactly right. the dark grey on teh ones you et out of a boughten box is oxidation and that comes over time. Your shiny bullets will turn darker gret with time.
  12. grandmasterbullets

    grandmasterbullets New Member

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    Yes wheel weights can be used. they are especially good for the cowboy action shooters (SASS) the rules for them keep the bullets under 900 FPS I think. With the 3% antimony in them they come out around 13 or 14 BRN which is hard enough to keep them from leading at the low velocity but soft enough to keep them from shattering when they hit the close steel targets ,often 15 feet or closer. Now all that being said about cowboy bullets the cast bullets I make for guys who aren't shooting cowboy action I make them harder than 14 BRN to help keep them from leading. I have a formula I use mixing in antimony and tin which makes the bullets Much harder. 90% of the time I just order a 6% antimony 2% tin mixture from a foundry out in AZ. Getting alloy from the foundry is a bit more expensive but it gives a consistent bullet to the customer. All this talk about leading but I have not heard anyone discuss bore size vs bullet size or lube choice. One thing I did learn from an old bullet maker was that you have to make sure your bore is in good shape. size also matters in this case if your bore is worn to much the gases will not completely obturate behind the bullet. when they escape past the bullet leading is caused and the bullet gets a bad rep. another thing to consider is lube choice. I love Rooster Lube. If you cast your own give it a try the guy who runs the company will give you a free sample if you pick up the shipping. just google the name rooster lube or shoot me a message and I will give you his number.
  13. Pustic

    Pustic Member

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    If you buy the roundballs from the gun stores, then you are getting the correct lead balls.
  14. grandmasterbullets

    grandmasterbullets New Member

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    I agree with you about knowing you are getting good lead from a trustworthy commercial caster. I cast and sell round ball and something I have found that seems to be prevalent in guys who shoot muzzle loaders is a majority of them love to make their own bullets. I think it is a primal hands on mountain man thing.
  15. whirley

    whirley New Member

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    I use a mixture of lead, tin and wheel weights depending on where I'll use the bullets. For flintlocks and other muzzleloaders, I use as pure lead as I can get, especially if I'm making hollow based minie type bullets. The soft lead will expand into the rifling for good accuracy, and they're also a few grains heavier than lead alloys. They're only good to about 1200 f.p.s. loads. For modern rifles with Ballard type rifling, I want a harder bullet, so wheel weights and lead make a good bullet. By adding gas checks to the base, I can push greased bullets to about 1700-1800 FPS without lead problems. They are good mild loads for 30/30 to 30/06. Lead bullets don't work well with micro-groove barrels like the Marlin 336. Lyman has some good lead bullet loads in their manuals.
  16. Buffalochip

    Buffalochip Member

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    You want to use pure lead and the ALWAYS come out shiny--after they sit around a bit, they will tarnish. I've been casting my own from pure lead for years and after the mold gets hot, usually after 2 or 3 bullets, they should come out fine. .
  17. Macmac

    Macmac New Member

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    Edit I missed this was a dated thread... oops

    I am new here, but not to muzzeloaders, so I got a laff out of bright and shiney... I agree pretty much with the others that you want soft lead for the long gun and can use harder wheel weights ok in a 6 shooter.

    One real good tip from me is that never allow one drop of water to enter a hot pot of lead. If that happens the pot of lead with get empty real quick, and you really will have a bad day. I had that happen oncew on a day with not one clould in the sky. I was working in a old barn with a metal roof, and my best guess is a bead of water came to be from temp changes in the weather. Luckily for me I had been called a few steps away when that happened.

    So I didn't see the drop of water, but knew of it. If that occured from some other way i wouldn't know what it is.

    Other tips are you may light the fumes and smoke from fluxing on fire with a match. Doing this reduces stink and smoke. I use a table sppon made of stainless steel I will never eat with to scrap up the carbon and mung from fluxing.

    Since I casr .735 and .600 round ball I use a steel dipper to pour into the moulds. Untill the mold is hot they tend to make squirrley looking ball. I set these aside, and put them back in the pot later.

    I 'smoke' the mold before I use it with a candle, getting it all nice and sooty. This helps release the ball from the mold. And I leave the last ball I make right in the mold, and oil it all well with out opening the mold when it is just warm. Just warm means I can hold it in my hand with out being uncomfortable, but it is warmer than my hand is.

    I use most any lead I can get. Old sinkers, old round ball collected from berms and targets, old plumbing fixtures, and roof flashing used. I will even use old sail boat ballast when I can get any.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2008
  18. sewerman

    sewerman New Member

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    if you know someone who works in the telephone industry they used virtually pure lead to cover cable splices above ground and below. i use to find those sheaths cut length wise just lying near telephone poles where repairs had been done. nowadays the EPA makes them pick it up. ask around you still might beable to get some.
    later,:)
  19. Shooter45

    Shooter45 *Administrator* Staff Member

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    I scanned this topic rather quickly but did anyone mention using a sliver of parafin (wax) to remove impurities ?
  20. plinkman33

    plinkman33 New Member

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    yes, the wax does remove impurities, just skim the lead after adding a chunk of wax and thats really nice lead. i like to use beeswax, its what my dad used...probably a personal thing tho
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