Wanting to start casting....couple of questions


W Turner
December 5, 2007, 03:07 PM
I have been reloading for a few years now and would really like to get started casting by own bullets as well. This is just as much an extension of my reloading as it is to save money. I tried to go to castboolits.com, but I was unable to get to their site.

I am trying to get into this with a little cash outlay as possible while still buying decent equipment. I use and have been pleased with all of the Lee equipment I have used so far so I was looking at using their furnace, molds, etc. for most of this. When it comes to sizing and lubing, I do have a few questions though.

1- Is there a clear advantage to traditional lubing over tumble lubing? In other words do I really have to buy a $100 luber/sizer or will the $30 Lee sizer work if I just tumble lube?

2-Lee says that with their dies, sizing is not necessary, has this been ya'lls experience?

3-I want to use Keith-style wadcutters as much as possible. This seems to be the best multi-purpose bullet style available. Can these be tumble lubed?


If you enjoyed reading about "Wanting to start casting....couple of questions" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
December 5, 2007, 03:22 PM
I have a Lee furnace which has been fine.

I only have one Lee mold, and it has worked well also.

I was already set up with a Lyman lube/sizer years before Lee invented tumble lube, so have never tried that. I have used the same sizing principal with hot lubed conventional bullets and a Lyman 310 push-through sizer. That worked just fine also, so I assume the Lee sizer would do as well.

The only thing I can see I don't like about the tumble lube is it gets all over the bullets and makes them look like hell. But I understand it isn't messy like bullet lube, so I suppose that's a small price to pay.

I just like to keep my carefully cast & lubed Keith SWC hard-cast bullets nice & shiny like Elmer wanted them to be!

But if I had to start over buying equipment today, at todays prices, it would probably all be Lee, except for the molds they don't make, like the true Keith SWC's.
Those molds would have to be conventional Lyman or RCBS because Lee doesn't make them.


December 5, 2007, 03:27 PM
I've been reloading for a couple of years, and casting my own bullets for just a few months. I started out with a couple of Lee tumble-lube bullet molds and their 20# bottom-pour pot. The tumble lube is messy and obnoxious, but it works great. I cast .452 and .358 bullets using scrounged lead, and tumble them without sizing. Then I put them on an old jellyroll pan (cookie sheet with sides) to dry for a day or two. I store the lubed bullets in old peanut butter jars. If you want to cast 50 or 100 bullets and load them immediately, you will hate the tumble-lube system.

I shot some of the .452 bullets last night in my Ruger .45 blackhawk, loaded pretty hot, and got no leading at all even though I was pushing them hard and it was a soft alloy. I was surprised and impressed.

I finally got a good deal on a Lyman lubrisizer and I'm going to start using that on some bullets. Not sure which system I will ultimately like better. (the loaded ammo looks a lot prettier using the lubrisizer) BTW if you just need to size your bullets, like maybe swaging a .311 cast bullet down to .309, or .358 down to .356, the Lee bullet sizing dies work well and they are cheap.

It looks like Lee makes at least one SWC mold with microgrooves (for tumble lube) for each caliber. I haven't tried tumble-lubing any bullets with conventional lube grooves.

December 5, 2007, 04:11 PM
My experience has been that TL works fine for lower pressure and lower velocity bullets. They work great for .45 acp, but not so hot for .357. I use far more conventionally lubed bullets than Lee LLA lubed, and I do so because the Star lube press is so much faster than anything else.

My biggest problem with TL is in seating dies: the lube on the nose builds up in the seating die, giving progressively deeper seating. My fix is to use LLA thinned with 20% mineral spirits and do one or more of the following: using tweezers dip the bullet up to the top of the driving bands, use a Dillon seating die (which allows disassembly for cleaning without losing adjustment), or rub off the lube with a paper towel after tumbling.

I occasionally find a LLA lubed bullet that is a little larger in diameter than it should be, but only after seating. I seat the bullet with a Dillon Seater, then use a Lee Factory Crimp die to crimp (it also has a carbide sizer to reduce cartridge outside diameter to maximum allowable, and what I notice is a little more effort in running the cartridge up into that die.

I believe the increase in diameter is due to Lead spatters on one face or the other of the mold, holding the two halves very slightly apart, yielding a slightly larger bullet.

Vern Humphrey
December 5, 2007, 06:31 PM
I have been casting bullets for many years. I have probably 20 or more moulds.

1- Is there a clear advantage to traditional lubing over tumble lubing? In other words do I really have to buy a $100 luber/sizer or will the $30 Lee sizer work if I just tumble lube?

The primary advantage is the ability to use "inside lubricated" bullets. If only the lube grooves are filled, you can seat them below the case mouth, which makes for better handling in rough conditions.

But if you're not going to stick your cartridges in your belt loops and drive cattle up the Chisholm Trail, it really doesn't matter.

And you can use traditional lubes without sizing -- put the bullets base down in a level pan and pour in melted lube until the lube grooves are covered, let harden and cut them out like biscuits with a cut-off cartridge case or something similar.
2-Lee says that with their dies, sizing is not necessary, has this been ya'lls experience?
Yes -- assuming your bore is of standard dimensions.

3-I want to use Keith-style wadcutters as much as possible. This seems to be the best multi-purpose bullet style available. Can these be tumble lubed?
Any bullet can be tumble lubed.

December 5, 2007, 07:12 PM
If you are going the tumble lube route (which works quite well as stated above), you may want to try Rooster Jacket. www.roosterlabs.com
RJ works quite well and not as messy and less smokey as well.

W Turner
December 6, 2007, 09:40 AM
Thanks for the replies everybody. Looks like I will start off tumble lubing than later on I may go ahead and go the traditional lube route.

Thanks again,


December 6, 2007, 11:36 AM
W Turner- thats exactly what i did. tumble lubing works well- but i admit i only did it for pistol rounds.

Some tumble lube molds drop bullets that need to be sized for certain guns- its the nature of the beast, but 10 dollar push through sizers won't usually break the bank.

you can find some great deals on used lube sizers too. I see lyman 450s go for 50-70 dollars routinely and they come with sizers and top punches. keep an eye out for casting gear (i'd stay away from ebay, the stuff on their gets inflated a lot lately)

swing over to castboolits and post a bit. You'll learn a lot about the hobby, and if you watch the classifieds you'll get some great gear at a fair price.

Glock Talk Reloading section has a some casters too, but you'll find most all roads lead back to cast boolits on this topic- watch the handles and thats where they all keep popping up.

December 6, 2007, 01:32 PM
If you have trouble with the lube on the nose of the bullet, either for sizing, or just for looks, get a rag or some paper towels and wet them with paint thinner. Wipes the goop off of the exposed portion of the bullet with loaded ammo, or with a little more care, you can wipe off the nose only before putting it into the seating die to prevent that nose buildup. Works like a charm.

Vern Humphrey
December 6, 2007, 01:52 PM
Good point -- one disasdvantage of using tumble-lubes is lube buildup in the seating die. You must wipe the nose clean to prevent that.

shooting on a shoestring
December 6, 2007, 09:54 PM
I've cast since the 70's. I do use an old Lyman lubrisizer b/c its convienient, and I bought it used for about $35 in the 80's. It also seats some of my gas checks. I have shot .38s and .357s as cast, no sizing, lubing by smearing the lube on my hands and rolling the bullets back and forth between them, doing a half dozen or so at time. It works fine, a little messy, but cheap. I also make my own lube, mostly beeswax with some castor oil, mineral oil, lanolin and soap (known as Felix lube). Visit the Cast Boolit forum. They are the "pros".

Also consider the wadcutter instead of the SWC. It is the ultimate revolver bullet shape for under 50 yards. Hollow pointed it expands better than SWC or RN. Shot w/o hp it has the biggest meplat, cuts the biggest hole. Shortest lenght for bullet weight, stabilizes the best in slow twists (18" - 20":1). Generally carries one more lube groove, means it can be driven faster without leading. Used moulds are generally cheaper in wadcutter than anything else.

December 7, 2007, 10:12 AM
A good way to get into casting is with a used Lee Pot. I bought mine for $20 and a set of mold on ebay for $10. I use wheel weights from the local tire shop, as is, and they shoot great. Most tire shops will give you their old wheel weights for nothing.
As for size and lube. I have used tumble lube. Works great. But it is messy and a hassle. Thinning the Lee Lube with mineral spirits is a great idea. Then wipe the nose off while wet as the lube will definitely build up on the seating die plug.

I just bought a RCBS Lube a Matic on ebay for $40. Can't wait to try it. Seems like it will be quicker and less mess. I also bought the sizer dies and top punches for it. A little more cost, but the mess is gone.

As a side note, I have had good luck with Lee Lube on pistol bullets at all velocities. From 9mm to 454 loaded very warm. No leading at all, regardless of the velocities.

December 7, 2007, 11:31 AM
Have them both i have a rcbs lubrisizer and i also use the tl lla. I have never had any leading when using the Lee liquid alox. I have learned a few things.

1. never trust the (you dont have to size it)
When i first bought a lee mold i put a caliper to the bullet and it showed it a little big. so i thought well this is lead. So i tried to seat the bullet. IT bulged the case. Same time you could not chamber the round what so ever. Ever since then i size after casting.

2. The rcbs works great if your ok with about 200 bullets an hour. I can blast out 700 bullets easy with my 6 cavity molds. If i spend 2 hours doing it. There is no way i can use the rcbs. Its just too slow.

3. If you want the bullets right now after casting. Well i can lube around 400 bullets and put them on wax paper on a cookie sheet. THEN WHEN THE WIFE IS NOT HOME. i put them in the oven at 200 degrees for 30 minutes. Then pull them out let them cool and im in business. Now for the house. open up every window and door and fan it out.

4. i have also had the guarantee no lead in the barrel.
Tumble lube and size
BAKE Them 200 degrees 30 minutes
Lube them with another tumble lube or Lube them with my rcbs.

Now you have double lube and sized bullets.

December 7, 2007, 12:02 PM
I use lee liquid alox and their push through sizer dies for most of the casting I do. I own a lube-a-matic, but it can be a major pain, and the dies and top punches get expensive after a while.

My procedure is to put the bullets in a plastic sandwich bag and squirt some LLA into the bag. Roll the bullets around a bit and then run them still wet through the sizer die. After they are all sized, I roll them in LLA again, and then set them on wax paper to dry. After I load them into a cartridge, I wipe the bullet ahead of the case with a paper towel that is moist with mineral spirits.

I usually size everything, even a tumble lube design. Bullet diameter varies, based on alloy composition. That is where a good caliper or micrometer comes in handy.

I was loading for a 9mm semi-auto, and found that bullets sized to
.357 were more accurate that .356. They were dropping from my lee mold at .358. Had they dropped at .357, I could have skipped sizing them.

Of course, your results will probably be different. Good luck and enjoy casting! It is a fun, and addictive facet of reloading.

December 7, 2007, 02:27 PM
I cast a lot of different bullets and lube them all with Alox tumble lube. I shoot Keith SWC in .358 and .41 and tumble lube them, they work great at up to 1400 fps or so, the fastest I drive them.

I think you should size your bullets, I've tried skipping it and found a certain percentage that won't fit the chamber. It only takes a few minutes with the Lee push-through sizer.

BTW, most people use way too much Alox, it should just be a very thin film. If you do it lightly it gets drier and less sticy, thick coats tend to remain tacky forever.

If you enjoyed reading about "Wanting to start casting....couple of questions" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!