Casting your own bullets


January 23, 2006, 09:39 PM
I've been thinking about casting my own handgun bullets for 357/38 and 45LC. I have a decent source for used wheel weights but don't know if it is worth persuing.

My questions are:
1. is it worth casting your own or can you buy them cheaper?

2. Where do I start (books, etc.)?

Thanks for all the help

Sorry don' know why it posted so many times

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January 23, 2006, 10:33 PM
I have deleted the other two dupe posts! Our server has been a shade fickle and so that might have been a factor.

I think it is worth casting your own but - depends how you look at it. You'll need something like a Lee melting pot, then you need moulds, then you need some form of gear for sizing and lubing. The investment is significant.

Much will depend too on your shooting frequency - rounds fired in other words. I have cast for years but did weaken and got some 38 SWC's, 2,000 IIRC from somewhere like Midway - and darn it forget cost right now! Thing is tho - if you sit down and do the math - it is not always cheaper, in particular if you cost your time. Admittedly you can use a 6 cavity mould and get going pretty fast but - as said - you need to finish prep'ing those bullets too. Rainier plated bullets for 9mm, even with shipping will not cost much over $100 or so I think.

I prefer these days to do casting on more ''exotic'' bullets - fewer in number but special purpose compared with the run of mill 38's and 45's etc - stuff like 405's for 45-70, and heavy 45's for Casull.

I cannot think of a book title right now - been too long since I started it all but yes - a good book will help a lot - someone will probably drop by and mention something for you.

January 23, 2006, 11:48 PM
As pointed out, the initial investment can be quite large, and it depends on your needs. In the long run, it's cheaper to just buy your bullets, but if you're loading for something that isn't run of the mill, then casting may be the only way to go.

I have more bullet molds than I care to admit, and 7 lubrisizers, which is excessive. I also have two casting pots, a 10 pound and a 20 pound. Some bullets can only be obtained by casting, such as some of the obsolete rounds. My 45-120 Sharps is a good example. I also like to shoot 180 grain bullets from my .357 Marlin, but they aren't readily available, so I cast them. I also cast for a friend's .577 Snider, and that bullet isn't available anywhere that I know of.

If you're just looking for plinking bullets, then I would buy Berry's plated bullets, or some of their cast lead bullets. Some of us, though, just enjoy making things, and that's where bullet casting can be quite satisfying.

As for a manual, you can't go wrong with the Lyman Cast Bullet Manual. It has plenty of information on the casting process, alloying metals and the equipment involved. There is also lots of load data. It's a very good source of information and I would suggest reading it before investing in equipment.

Hope this helps.


January 24, 2006, 12:02 AM
the Lyman Cast Bullet Manual.That's the one Fred - heaven knows why it would not come to mind earlier :)

January 24, 2006, 09:45 AM
Thanks for your help. I don't know that I shoot enough to justify the cost of the equipment to get started yet. I have just started shooting Cowboy Action Shooting and only shoot the 38/357 and 45LC during these meets which is sometimes (but usually only once) twice a month at about 150 rounds per meet and practice is about 100 rounds in between.

Thanks for enlighting me on this.

Chuck R.
January 24, 2006, 10:42 AM
I used to cast my own pistol bullets, but now buy them. When I was shooting CAS, I just couldnít keep up between matches and practice. For my .45ACPs Iíve got a 4 cavity HG #68, and itís still hard to keep ahead. Iíve got a bunch of molds and 3 electric pots and a propane fish cooker for melting/blending alloys. For Pistol, by the time you figure in your time (casting and lubing), alloy cost, and equipment, $40-$50 per 1000 shipped isnít such a bad deal. There is a lot to be said for the independence of casting your own though.

I now cast match bullets only for my BPCRs, mostly because thereís just no way to get the quality required by buying bullets.

IF you really want to get into it, do not try to save money on molds, a good mold really makes a big difference in your casting session and your end product. Iíve had really good luck with SAECOs and very, very good luck with NEIs.


January 24, 2006, 10:50 AM
I agree with the cost issue for 38 & 45 bullets. IMHO, half the fun of shooting is reloading, and if I can add another "hands on" step to the process, so much the better! I don't cast all the bullets or balls I shoot, but do enjoy shooting the ones I cast.

Startup cost can be (almost) as little or much as you want to spend. The first thing I'd do is buy the Lyman manual that Fred and P95 suggested. You can get a new Lee pot, mold, and sizing die for about $60; they may not last a lifetime, but you can get the feel of casting with them.

When considering casting, think about your location, too. You need a place with good airflow (or a fan), away from water, and away from the kids. Also be sure to use a face shield and leather gloves (I like the insulated welder's gloves).

Finally, maybe the best way to learn is to ask around at the shoots- somebody is bound to be a caster, and will probably invite you to join them during their next session.

Most of all, HAVE FUN!


January 24, 2006, 12:05 PM
do a search there is a lot of good info in here

Vern Humphrey
January 24, 2006, 03:41 PM
I've cast a lot of .45 ACP, .38 Special/.357 Magnum, .45 Colt and .30 caliber (for use in .30-30 and .30-06) using Lee moulds and Lee Liquid Alox. I've never had to size them, although I seat a gas check on the .30 caliber bullets. While there are some exceptions, casting bullets ain't rocket science.

January 24, 2006, 05:17 PM
dtalley, sir;

We have a very active website devoted to bullet casting in all its various permutations.

Come over to

and ask your questions. There will be a friendly reply, I assure you....just like here on THR.

Father Knows Best
January 24, 2006, 07:21 PM
1. is it worth casting your own or can you buy them cheaper?

Depends on how much you have to pay for them locally. Shipping is usually what kills you, though the USPS flat rate boxes have made buying bullets mail order somewhat more affordable. The bottom line is that if you shoot cast bullets a LOT, and have a source for free wheel weights or other free lead, you can recoup the cost of the tools and equipment over time. If you have to pay for your lead, though, you won't save any money.

I can buy .44 and .45 caliber wax-lubed hardcast bullets for as cheap as $29/1,000 when I place bulk orders through my local gun club. The supplier delivers several times a year, and I just pick them up at the club. That works out to about $1/pound, and I can't cast them myself any cheaper than that as I don't have a free source of wheel weights.

There are reasons to cast your own regardless of expense, though. Some people just find it rewarding. Some want certain kinds of bullets they can't buy. I cast my own for black powder cartridges using 20:1 certified alloy, but I buy wax-lubed commercial hardcast for my smokeless loads.

2. Where do I start (books, etc.)?

This site has an excellent overview of the casting process, complete with great step-by-step pictures. If you're loading for black powder cartridges, he also has some other excellent pages on pan lubing. I don't pan lube, though. Instead, I use a Magma Star Lube-Sizer, which I can't recommend enough. It swages the cast bullets to the precise diameter you want, and injects lube at the same time. It works far better than the other lube-sizers out there, and is money well spent if you are doing a lot of casting.

January 24, 2006, 07:58 PM
Put it this way, if you have a source of cheap lead, say $.50 a lb, you can load a box of .38 wadcutters for about 3 bucks last time I calculated. I think I remember that right and it was a few years ago, but things haven't gone up that much. Free lead, better deal. I load .45ACP, .45 Colt, .357., .380., 9mm, 7mm TCU, and a slew of rifle calibers. I cast for all handguns but the TCU. I've taken to just buying 9mm 'cause it's so danged cheap it ain't worth reloading. But, you definitely save money casting and loading for .45s, .38s, and .357s!

My friggin' Dillon progressive only has 9mm dies for it. I need to get another caliber for it. I'm tossing around whether to get .45 ACP or .38/.357. I have one basic .45ACP load involving a cast 200 grain SWC and a half dozen .38/.357s with various cast and jacketed bullets that I load that would require set up for each, so I'm thinking .45 ACP will be my next die set for the Dillon.

I can say if you shoot a LOT, yes, the casting is the slowest part of the deal. I was shooting IDPA pretty heavy for a few years and was using cheap Winchester 115 gr JHPs I got from Midway or a local gun shop rather than casting for it. The JHPs were accurate and I was simply shooting too much to keep up with the loads. Having to buy those bullets, cheap as they are, it still cost me about 5 bucks a box. Heck, $5.90 gets me a box of 115 Win USA or Remington UMC ball at Walmart. Why bother? I ain't even gonna reload CAST bullets considering the price of the factory stuff.:rolleyes:

I have started carrying a +P+ 9mm load I handload with a Hornady XTP bullet that works quite well in my little compact 9. Other than that, 9 don't get reloaded anymore.

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