OK, casting


April 24, 2007, 10:26 AM
I've been reloading/handloading for about 3-4 years now, and I think I have the basics about down. But the rising cost of lead and copper is making the bullets more and more expensive. Nobody carries bulk 9mm around here, so I am stuck either using the expensive stuff, or ordering in from Midway. Fortunately Sportsmans Warehouse DOES carry bulk 38...
So, is it time to cast? What would be needed, basics, and any tips/tricks/ideas? There are a couple of tire shops close by, maybe a source of lead.

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April 24, 2007, 11:31 AM
you need to verify that you have a source of cheap/free lead before you get started. If you end up buying lead for about $2/lb from Midway then you'll end up paying about the same for bullets as buying them from other online retailers.

If you're shooting in your backyard and have an appropriate backstop, you can catch the lead, remelt and cast the bullets again and again.

bigger jon
April 24, 2007, 12:06 PM
Your in deep now,,,
You need to take a look at ebay reloading compoments there you`ll find everything you`ll need, don`t go cheep on a lubasizer get a seko they all work fine but my lyman hasn`t lasted and leaks bullet lube? also stay away from the lee molds they just don`t last or work as good as the steel ones. I have bought neerly all my molds on ebay now and have had great buys to boot. I have a cheep lee pot that works great I`ve had it for almost 20 years now. once you get the hang of it you can cast with a 2 bullet mold abought 300 a hour. You can find lead on ebay too of old tire weights from a local tire shop will do but you will need to do some cleaning. Don`t forget to but a book too. it will help if you decide to really get into it..good luck

April 24, 2007, 12:54 PM

Here's a forum that focuses completely on casting. The largest knowledge base I know of about casting. I suggest going there and ask about getting going in casting.




April 24, 2007, 01:22 PM
It can be as simple,(inexpensive), as this;


That's a lee melter, it is for using a dipper/ladle, not a bottom pour pot.


Both of those molds are lee. One makes the lee key slug, the other makes the lee R.E.A.L. bullet for black powder rifles. Used carefully, lee molds will last a long time. They will NOT rust, so you'll never have to throw one out for that reason. Other high end mold companies make their molds out of aluminum also.

Those four ingots are 99.97/100% pure lead from midway. I wanted to be sure it was the purest lead, expensive to buy and have shipped, but you know what you're getting.


My main casting pot is a lee pro 20 bottom pour. It has some improvements over my older 8 pound lee production pot. Mainly it doesn't LEAK/DRIBBLE! I have around 40 molds of various calibers, more than half are lee. The 4, 6 cavity lee molds are for my handguns, 9mm, 2 44 SWC and 45 auto. Making a bunch of bullets quickly is a breeze with a 6 cavity.

As for lubing boolits, I have a lyman 450, but lately I've been using the lee push-through dies and the lee liquid alox lube.

cracked butt
April 24, 2007, 01:32 PM
Ask 20 different casters and you'll get 25 different opinions. :D

For pistol boolits, I would reccommend a Lee 6-cavity mould. I have 3 custom Lee 6-cavity rifle moulds and now casting with a single cavity mould feels like a waste of time to me, unless its a bullet that I can't get in a 6-cavity mould. I did cast up a few thousand .45 SWCs a few years ago with a Lee 2-cavity mould, it worked well, but if I were to do it again, I would get the 'hi-cap' mould.

I like the Lee Pro-Pot IV, I'm soon to get a Pro-Pot 20 though, When I have time for casting, its usually a 3-hour stint where I want to make 500-1000 bullets at a time, refilling the 10lb pot just isn't very efficient for me.

Like another poster mentioned, go to the castboolits website and spend a few (dozen) hours reading the material there, its good stuff.

April 24, 2007, 03:38 PM
Might as well ask this here as any of the other 1,000 casting posts...why are store bought LRN bullets like Speer's a dark gray but everyone's home cast bullets are a super shiny silver? Is it just the different lead content? I have one and a half 5 gallon buckets of wheel weights but I'm not sure about casting just yet. Figured I would get the raw materials just in case. I suppose in the ultimate SHTF scenario as long as you have primers and powder and can cast your own you would be good to go for longer than those relying on store bought bullets but I don't see that happening and I'm not into those sort of scenario role play posts. I just figure if I can get a 5 gallon bucket for $10 buck it will be much cheaper. If I get 100 lbs of raw usable lead from a bucket that would be 700,000 grains right? At 124gr per 9mm bullet I would get about 5,645 bullets for $10 plus the lube. Sounds like a good deal to me. Eventually it would pay for the equipment as well. Unless my math is off.

Sharps Shooter
April 24, 2007, 04:36 PM
Your math's pretty darn close. But does the weight of those 5 gallon bucket of wheel weights include the steel clips that were used to attach them to the wheels? You'll also loose some of the weight when you skim off the dirt and other garbage once you've melted down the wheel weights.
The lead bullets from Speer aren't cast - they're swaged. They're almost pure lead and they're very soft compared to bullets cast from wheel weights or linotype. However, I have no idea why they're dark grey rather than silver like most cast bullets, because I'll bet if you melt them down and cast them into bullets, the bullets will be silver. I don't think it's just because of the color of the dry lube Speer (and Hornady) uses on their swaged lead bullets, but it might be. It's a good question. Maybe someone who knows chemistry can explain why swaged bullets are grey while cast bullets are silver.

April 24, 2007, 04:55 PM
my set up
master caster 40 lb pot.I have this set up since 94.

blower cools the molds pretty quick.

imho the star lube sizer is the best period.bullets are sized and lubed then drop straight down into my container.

took just a couple of minutes to do these.:)

I also hand cast for my rifles with a 10 pound lee bottom pour pot.drip,drip,drip:)

bigger jon
April 24, 2007, 05:18 PM
SWEET I got to get me one of those!!!!:what:

April 24, 2007, 05:53 PM
Most of the swaged bullets from Speer and Hornady that I've loaded have been tumble lubed, then dusted with powder similar to talcum powder, so they won't stick together. Since talcum powder is ground soapstone, or Mg3Si4O10(OH)2, my guess is that's probably what it is. The combination of the dark wax lubricant and the powder gives the bullets the dull gray appearance.

Freshly cast lead is usually pretty shiny, until it oxidizes.

Hope this helps.


April 24, 2007, 06:11 PM
Ok i wanna play. i dont have pictures but i can make them too.

i go the cheap way. Old two burner propane stove, a pot and lee molds. Using this method on two mold i can cast out a lot of bullets in an hour. For sure ebay is the way to go to buy lead and molds (if you can find them). other wise you can also buy from midway or take a look at the clearance items at. www.leeprecision.com. they always have some good molds on clearance. Best part about ordering from lee is your shipping is around 4.00. That beats everyone. IF you do not have a book on casting the lee modern reloading has a good section on casting. The guys at www. hanloads.com are great too they can give you a lot of advice on starting up. total cost when i started was around 40.00. Thats it.

April 24, 2007, 07:04 PM
Ok, lemme see if I have this straight, here. I can start using a cheap camp stove, a pot with a pour spout, a good Lee, (I like Lee) mould, and a spot to dump the fresh bullets, plus some lube to put on them? Something tells me I am missing a whole bunch.
I gotta see if anyone local is getting out of casting.

April 25, 2007, 02:10 AM
let me try again.

i take out the stove. put on the pot then place the lead in the pots. while the lead is heating up. i check my mold make sure its clean then lube the v grooves. then pour a bucket of water. get out a hammer. once the lead gets hot to almost a boil i lower the heat. then place the ladel in the lead. to get it hot. then i pour the lead to make sure it pours freely from the ladel. if it sticks then i have to raise the heat a little. then make sure the ladle gets hotter. then try it again in a minute or two. then i place the corner of the mold in the lead and wait about 30 seconds. then lift the mold if no lead sticks to it. im good to go. hold the mold at an angle over the pot. then pour some lead above the hole not in the hole. letting it fill the mold. then wait about 10 seconds. use the wooden part of the hammer. tap the sprue plate. then move to the bucket of water. tap around the mold a few times around the mold. then open the handles and let the bullets drop in the bucket. then i close the mold. dip the corner of the mold in the lead for about 3-5 seconds. then fill it up again. and repeat.

Dont stop. keep going until you almost run out of lead. here are some of the things you will come into.

the lead sticks to the sprue plate and does not fill up the mold.

heat up the mold some more.

or the lead takes to long to harden up. lower the heat a little or wait about 40 seconds before each pour. this will let it cool a little.

these are the most common ones. so yes you can cast out of a pot. you dont pour from the pot. you spoon it out. do a little more reading.

here is a good link on a good video.


April 25, 2007, 02:12 AM
Ok, lemme see if I have this straight, here. I can start using a cheap camp stove, a pot with a pour spout, a good Lee, (I like Lee) mould, and a spot to dump the fresh bullets, plus some lube to put on them? Something tells me I am missing a whole bunch.
I gotta see if anyone local is getting out of casting.

Well, kinda. It's hard to see in my pic, but there's a dipper sitting on top of the melter. The pot that goes on a camp stove or other heat source, does NOT have a spout that could be used to pour the lead from, into a mold. You do need a dipper. Mine is a bottom pour version, much better to take the molten lead from the bottom, it avoids floating debris from getting included into the bullet.

As for lubing on the cheap, lee's liquid alox and one of their push though sizers gets you sized and lubed bullets.


That's the one for .357 boolits. It simply screws into your reloading press, like a die, the pusher pin takes the place of a shell holder. The lubed boolit sits on top of the pusher pin, is pushed up through the die, then emerges from the top of the die,( after you size a few more boolits). This all comes in a round red tube, which can then be placed over the die to catch the boolits. Each sizer come WITH a bottle of liquid alox.




For $57.96, you could have the four items above to cast some boolits. The mold I have listed is a gas check design, so they would have to be bought also.


I just picked .357 as an example. It would be about the same for any caliber, and you could get a plain base bullet, to avoid having to buy gas checks.

April 25, 2007, 02:12 AM
woops forgot about size and lubing. i bought a lee sizer. you screw in the sizer then place the catcher on top. then place the holder in the bottom then just press the bullets through they are quickly sized. As for lubing. put them in a 2 litter bottle pour in some lee alox. shake it up. make sure they are really coated. then dump them on a wax paper. let them dry over night.

April 25, 2007, 11:11 AM

I started casting when I was very young, even before I started reloading I think. My uncle's taught me to cast their fishing sinkers (probably because they were lazy as hell), then after they saw I could handle the hot pot and everything, they moved me on to casting their .38 and .45 bullets. I was probably still in my single digits back then.

Almost 40yrs. ago, come to think of it. Where most would've probably dropped it by the wayside at one point or another, I kept it up, and to date I have a specific ventilated part of my shop to do just that.
The amount of equipment I've accumulated over the years is staggering, and storage is always a problem.
It's a sickness.....for real.
(That Master Caster (Magma) that AH-1 has is very, very nice.......always wanted to get one of those...... see what I mean ?)

Even though I can swage jacketed bullets on my own, I shoot cast bullets in all my handguns 99.9% of the time. Even in hunting loads. There's tips & tricks you'll learn to make even those wheel weights you referred to, work in all but the most demanding situations. My full magnum hunting loads are just water quenched WW's that are hollowpoint gaschecked rounds.

You can start as cheaply as a camp stove, a used mould and sizer, or you can jack it up a bit and buy a Lee pot for about $60+, one of their aluminum gang moulds ( as was mentioned by cracked butt) and a sizer, etc.

Going full tilt right off isn't recommended anyway until you get the feel for what you really need I'd think.

Look for used stuff if you can. Don't buy moulds sight unseen. Used are fine, but inspect them first. Check for cavity imperfections, clean and sharp is what you're looking for (including vent lines). If you find one that's so-so, you can dicker, knowing full well that you can buy the mould rebuild kits later pretty cheaply.
New moulds need a break in time, so don't get discouraged with them right off. It might take a little time to get them casting right. Usually within the first session, they'll come around.

My suggestions (other than the purchase of equipment) would be;

Premelt, clean, and cast those raw WW's into ingots. Find a bulk cast iron pot somewhere that'll hold a good amount, and either with a cast stove (I use an old plumber's furnace), or some other good heat source, melt the WW's down.
Once all the majority of the WW's are liquidous, if you see one lone wheelweight that refuses to melt, skim it off. It's zinc. The normal generic brand of WW will melt in, or around the high 600, to low 700 degree mark. Zinc requires temperatures somewhat above that.....up over 800 or so.
Straight linotype melts at relatively low temps. of around 450-500 degrees due to it's higher antimony content (also why it's harder).

Go the super market and buy yourself a box of canning wax (any type will do). You can use this as a fluxing agent once the WW's are melted. I mix my wax with Vaseline, 1 lb. 50/50. It seems to work better, but you'll get a little burst of flame......nothing big, but comically, it kinda gives you that feeling like your some goofy wizard brewing up something evil :evil: .

Toss a chunk of the wax fluxing agent onto the melt, and as you start to stir it, it'll flame on you. Keep stirring it vigorously, scraping the sides, and using a motion that scoops air to the bottom, and back to the top. What you're trying to do is get the dirt/scum to the surface so that the flux will trap & hold it in suspension.

Never skim anything off of the melt until you have fluxed it first, because, even though the dirt sits there in full view looking like it should be skimmed off, the other beneficial ingredients like tin & antimony are on the surface as well, and they need to be recombined with the mix.

Fluxing does both.......recombines those ingredients back into the mix, and cleans the dirt & scum out of it. Doing it in a separate (preliminary) step, like this, you'll keep the crap out of your casting pot, which will prevent it jamming up a spout (if you have a bottom pour), keep your bullets free from slag & inclusions, and it leaves 99% of all the scum & WW clips outside.

Another tip when you start up your casting pot and dump in those pre-cleaned ingots, use Marvelux, or Frankford Arsenal (sp?) (same stuff), powder flux. For a 20lb. pot, all it takes is a rounded tablespoon full sprinkled over the surface, and again, stirred like before. Yes, you'll get even more dirt to surface, but the flux turns into this black bubbly, gooey foam that traps it. Once it does, you'll see that mirrored surface (just like chrome). Skim it off, and you're ready to go.

Personally, I will degrease my moulds using good old generic automotive brake cleaner (spray away from heat). It's cheap, and it works beautifully. Let the mould air dry (which happens in seconds) an then rest the mould on top of the pot when you go through the process of fluxing it.
After the mould sits for a few minutes, I start in casting. Usually, if the mould has been broken in, it'll start throwing good bullets within a dozen or so casts.

Moulds are like people though, and some are more stubborn than others. With iron moulds, if the mould fails to start filling out after a given amount of casts, I'll do a quick check for blocked vent lines I've missed, then, if it passes that, I'll dip a corner into the melt bringing it's heat up quickly.......this works everytime for me.

You'll see warnings against this by some mould manufacturers, in that it will "warp" the mould blocks. The truth is this warning is for dipping "stone cold" moulds into
molten hot lead. Naturally somethings gonna happen there. Pre-heating your moulds will prevent this. Sometimes their operating temp. takes awhile to reach through normal casting, and rather than going through that pot of lead you just cleaned & prepared, just to heat the mould up, this expedites things by a lot.

To get good "consistent" cast bullets, the mould temperature has to be maintained at a given level. The 3 contributing factors in doing that are;
-Pot temperature
-Casting rate
-Pot Alloy level

By varying one, or more of these, you can maintain a given mould temp. and drop some very nice bullets.
Bullets that are too shiny, with rounded edges.......mould not up to temp., alloy temp. too low, or casting rate too slow.
Bullets that are not too shiny (kind of satin looking), edges sharp & square......usually good casting zone.

Bullets that are visually frosted over their full surface means you're running too hot....slow down your casting rate, or turn down the pot temp, or add more alloy (flux & clean again)

Slight frosting is fine.

Sizing is a whole other area....and I feel I've written a novel already (sorry so long).......if I can be of any help, don't hesitate to ask......

Take care & good luck........fun hobby !.....fer sure.


April 25, 2007, 11:44 AM
armoredman, sportsmans warehouse will ship to you or to the store anything carried by another store, ask for the 9mm's as short term fix.

April 25, 2007, 11:46 AM
Nicely written Handgunr. I just started casting a few months ago. I love it. One thing to consider, If your having trouble sourcing wheel weights, start calling your local scrap yards/recyling centers. I was able to buy about 300 pounds of clean wheel weights (2 FULL 5 gal buckets) for .40c per lb. I know that's a lot more than alot of guys are paying but I had really bad luck getting WW's from any tire shops (I only tried the small independant shops). You'll lose about 15% of that with the smelting but that's still Lot's O'bullets. That netted me about 250-260 lbs of ingots. thats approx 1.8 million grains of lead!!!

April 25, 2007, 12:16 PM
handgunr well written..your the man.:)
I also shoot cast in just about all my handguns and rifles.it is just something special when you take game with your handcrafted bullets.with my 375 win BB94 I have taken several nice deer with the lyman 264 gr lfn gc (280 gr my alloy).never had one go more than a few yards before they piled up.
true happiness is controling your own bullet supply:) :) .
last time out with the 375 win (cast load)
5 rd group shot at 50 meters


April 25, 2007, 12:22 PM
Thanks Bula....

Always exciting to see someone getting started in the same hobby......almost like revisting the time when you started yourself.

You're right about the tire shops and stuff. I usually bribe them.....I know it sounds evil, but there are many more casters and fishing sinker casters out there than you know, so you gotta jockey for position the best you can I guess.

Another good idea, (although a little time consuming) is to grab a 5 gal. pail and head to your local auto scrap yard like you mentioned, to pick them yourself. Many times they'll just smirk at you like your nuts and tell you to go ahead and pick what you want.....small peanuts to them. Many times, since you do all the work, they'll charge you next to nothing, or, in some cases, they'll give them to you for nothing. Since they probably think you're nuts, and the fact that you worked to get those (worthless to most) little items, I think they feel sorry for you....really.

With a pair of pliers (WW pliers work very well), and my 5gal pail, I had it full in about 2 or 3 hrs. I'd grab a bunch of loose one's off of the ground, whatever I could find. One of the trucks in the back of this one yard I was in, had several piles of lead WW's laying bunched up in the back of the box.......about a full bucket's worth.

Right now, I've got over 3 tons of WW's processed into ingots, and probably another 2 that needs to be done. Maybe 300-500lbs of straight linotype, and another 500-600 pounds of pure lead for shotgun slugs, muzzleloader balls/minie's, or jacketed bullet cores.
I layed off for awhile, as I've got thousands of bullets all cast, and enough ingots processed to last me for sometime.

One reason they refer to me as "The Packrat".....

WW's can, and will, cover 99% of all the different types of shooting you'll ever do with a handgun if you prepare them right. From the soft, light loads, to the very heavy magnum ones.

Take care & happy casting.....

April 25, 2007, 12:36 PM

Excellent................nice group.

You've got it all figured out pretty damn well from the looks of it.
What's the (your) alloy are you using ?

Many times I can take an alloy that's a little softer, and modify it slightly, or add a gascheck, and use it in an entirely different way.

Where jacketed bullets use hollowpoints, or softer lead cores to provide quicker expansion once they enter the animal, cast loads do a lot of their killing when they impact with those nice flat meplats, and deep penetration. I got several in handgun moulds, and a few rare collector moulds (EBay), that are hollowpoint Elmer Keith/Lyman versions from long, long ago.

Man, deer drop like they were "postmalled" when they're hit with them. After they hit, the penetration is unbelievable. Especially during shots where the bullet can travel inside them for a ways.

Again, Great pic............


April 25, 2007, 12:53 PM
bob with my 375 and 45/70 bullets I use 9 lb's ww to 1 lb of linotype.I had a friend test it and he got 14 bhn air-cooled.
I use hornady gas checks and again magma lube then a coat of lee tl over that.
with this alloy and the RD 350 lfn gc bullet my bud has done 1800 fps in his marlin 1895SS with out leading.its his pig load:) .
I have never recovered a cast bullet yet from a deer.
the RD 350 gr lfn gc bullet.

April 25, 2007, 01:19 PM
Very nice......

Good looking loads.....

The 9 to 1 alloy (aka-Lyman #2) produces a beautiful medium hardness alloy for most usages. Especially if you enhance the upper velocities by using a gascheck.

If you run low on that alloy (or it's components), just use your WW's and instead of them dropping out onto a towel for air cooling, drop them directly into a bucket of cool/cold water.
I use a 5 gal pail half full of water, and a smaller one inside that, that has holes drilled all over it to drain off the water.
When I knock the hot bullets loose from the mould, they drop straight into the smaller inside bucket (usually submerged) and when I'm done casting, I lift the inside bucket out rather than fish the bullets out of the water by hand.

Anyway.......the bottom line is that these water quenched WW's will harden to 14-15 BHN after a day or two, and if left for a longer period of time (month or so) they'll get even harder. I've got some now that have been store since last fall. They're almost 17 BHN.

Not that you want to, or would, but you can even harden your current alloy by doing the same thing. Usually, water quenching hardens a given alloy by just below double of it's air cooled rate, maybe 80, to sometimes 90% if aged well.

After a long period of time, they'll actually revert back to their original hardness, but this takes many years.

Heat treating is another method, and I've tried it, but it's more in depth or involved, and its a last resort for trying to reach a very high hardness level with a softer alloy like WW's, or Lyman's #2.

I've got the old (1982 version) LBT lead hardness tester myself. It's very accurate with known alloys that I've tested over the years. Right now, they're pretty pricey. I think back then they were about $100 or so.

....Oh, by the way.....I got the RCBS 405 gr. .45-70 mould that wears a gascheck. I'm using that WW/water quenched alloy in that.......I bought the mould because my hunting partner has a high wall Browning in that caliber. I can't remember the load weight exactly, but I was using some IMR3031 in it, and they (using a scope) stitched in nice & tight at 100yds. I used my chronograph when I built the loads for it, but I can't remember the velocity exactly. I'm thinking the max. velocity was around 1640, and I settled for an accuracy load somewhere around 1475.

Take care,

Matt Dillon
April 25, 2007, 07:10 PM
That was a great explanation of the steps of bullet casting. I have often considered this, but currently don't have much room in my garage, and so haven't, but I am considering so. Thanks so much, Handgunr, for explaining this so well for us non-casters.

April 25, 2007, 07:59 PM

Thank you.....you're very welcome.......anytime...

A friend of mine keeps all of his casting stuff in a large wooden box in his garage, and hauls it out when he needs bullets, and packs it up when he is done. Very compact.
He's got a burner from Harbor Freight with a cast pot, ingots he did at one time prior, and a sizer with a C-clamp that he tightens down on the edge of an old high chair.

He's also short on room, but I always rib him that he's whipped, and his wife boots him out of the house because of it.
He'll cast 500 bullets or so at a sitting, and he does it either under his car port, or out in his back yard.
As long as he re-oils things when they cool down, they won't rust at all.
His bullets are of very good quality regardless of how much he's spent......really.

Spending money where it gains you the highest return is the key. Buy gang moulds (4, or 6 cavity moulds) of the bullets that you'll use the most, and single or double cavity moulds for the lesser used types.

I currently have 3 pots (1 being rebuilt as it finally died after 24 yrs.), but like I said, you can start as cheaply or as expensive as you like. There are perks to spending more, I won't lie to you, but most don't have to go there just starting out.

To be honest, over the years, it's hard to decide what I like to do the best.....reload, or cast bullets.......I think I really lean towards casting more sometimes.

Take care,

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