Production Rate: Roll yer Own..how fast??


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Gary H
August 30, 2003, 02:55 AM
What does your production timeline look like? I've been considering fabricating my own .38 and .45 bullets, but from what I can see, it looks like a rather time consuming task.

1. Find a good source of lead.. ie wheel-weights.
2. Melt weights and skim impurities.
3. If desired, add solder...or linotype..etc.
4. Store alloy

5. Melt..and cast bullets.
6. Size, lube and possible gas check bullet

I assume that steps one through four are done in bulk.

Once the alloy is melted, what is your production rate..cast..size..lube. per hour..??

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HSMITH
August 30, 2003, 10:25 AM
I cast about 400 an hour from 1 two cavity mold, 600 an hour from 2 two cavity molds. That is FLYING for me, no fooling around just casting. The key here is consistency. The same pace keeps temps of the molds and alloy closer during the run, and drops more consistent bullets.

My molds throw bullets .002-.004" over bore size with actual diameter depending on several factors, and with my soft alloy I do not feel the need to size them. They are accurate, really accurate as long as they are kept in "lots" of similar alloy, casting temp, day, etc. Keeping them in as cast lots keeps the batch consistency high when not making alloy in 100 pound + runs and not sizing.

I lube with Lee liquid alox, I put 200 bullets in a cereal bowl and squirt a little on before mixing with my hands in latex gloves. I spread them out to dry on sheets of aluminum foil and then run a second coat after they dry. I have found that 2 LIGHT coats work better than one heavier coat. I can lube 1000 bullets in 20 minutes total time. With some of the faster powders I get a little leading, but can easily shoot lead free with a little care in the selection of powders. I typically shoot the lead out with a half box of Meister bullets if leading is present.

I started casting with a total investment of $20 for a used mold and scraped the rest up around the house. I have experimented and tried different things, and found that a lot of the stuff out there is fluff. It doesn't make it easier or faster or turn out better bullets. Get a minimal kit together and see if casting is for you before you spend a bunch of money on something you may not like.

LAH
August 30, 2003, 10:29 PM
If you cast properly with one two cavity mould you can dump the mould about every 10-15 seconds when casting 38 bullets and from 20-30 seconds with the 45 bullets depending on weight.

Lubing and sizing is done at the same time, so is gas checks if your bullet design requires them. I suggest you buy a Star luber/sizer from Magma if possible. They are very quick and for what your getting, cheap at 175.00. I have 4 of them and I'm mostly happy.

My Stars have bullet feeds and an air cylinder to feed the lube. They are very fast set up this way and will size and lube bullets as fast as I can pull the handle. Hope this helps.

labgrade
September 1, 2003, 01:56 AM
Takes about an hour for my stove to heat the lead up to casting temperatures. After that, with a Lyman 2-cavity mold, a pour every 10-15 seconds for .357 - 1.5X that for .30 cal (.30s seem twitchy for me somehow & require a much higher temp to fill out w/same alloy). From the .38 versus .30 timing, I'd bet .45s would go quicker - just a guess though.

Lube/sizing is same-same for every caliber = about one every coupla seconds - it's all purely mechanical at this stage & not caliber dependent.

Casting IS time dependent.

Nifty thing is you get to make bullets from stolen tire weights (screw driver & dead of night) when the balloon goes up! ;)

Lots of great cast bullets available store-bought.

Casting avails yourself of a humougous "out-sourcing" for very adequate bullets.

In any event, it's worth your while to at least work up at least one good home-cast load, file it away & shoot store-bought.

Never know when you might have to reallt role yer own.

Pays to be prepared - better now than never, huh? ;)

David Wile
September 1, 2003, 11:18 PM
Hey folks,

If you are talking about the production rate of casting bullets by hand, you are missing the barn by about 12 yards. If you are concerned about speed, you probably are not making good bullets, and you really ought to stick to buying jacketed bullets. Casting quality bullets is not about speed; it is about enjoying the process and the results. I suppose there are a lot of folks who just don't get it. They are probably the same folks who start out loading ammo is on a progressive machine and have no understanding of why someone would have use for a single stage machine. Those folks are ammo blasters and will never appreciate the "art" of reloading quality ammunition. In my lifetime, I have spent far more time at the loading bench than I have at the shooting bench, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the time spent at both places.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

HSMITH
September 2, 2003, 07:58 AM
The best ammo in the world is worth squat if you don't practice. The more you practice the better, practice takes AMMO in quantity. As long as the ammunition is more accurate than you are practice is meaningful. Casting bullets at speed produces bullets of good quality that will still shoot well, at least it does for me. Progressive presses turn out the quality that a single stage does if used properly, and oftentimes better as the operator is not involved to inhibit CONSISTENCY, and after all consistency is the only thing we really need for great ammunition.

I just don't get it I suppose.

PDshooter
September 2, 2003, 09:44 AM
Way too much time!!!!!
Get the lead(W/W) free from a tire shop:)
Melt down the scrap, into workable ingot. Add a little tin.
Use H&G 68 mold 6 cavity. About 350 in 2hrs.
Then size and lube= time
45 ACP Cost about $1.50 per #50..Loaded That's the "BEST" part!

Have 2 5Gal. buckets full of scrap W/W:D Should last me!a few yrs?

labgrade
September 2, 2003, 11:50 AM
David W makes a great point.

Through my casting process, I also do the quality control bit & likely cull perhaps 1/4-1/3 of my casts - part of the process & does matter depending on caliber.

I've still in The Pan, at least 100 .30 cal slugs that just weren't up to snuff - baseed on cold checks, etc. - they'll never go into the pot for sizing, etc. - visually, they just don't make the grade.

BTW, I have never weighed a cast bullet to cull out those that may have voids, etc. & likely, my lack of QC. Never considered it "necessary" for "plinkers," althugh I've turned ina few 1/2"ers at 100 yards with rifle loads. Could likely o better if I'd pay attention.

No question that a proper cast bullet will do "all but" what a modern jacketed will. I personally haven't taken the opprtunity to make certain of that.

Nonetheless, a decent home-brewed cast will do anything you could ask of it - pistol, or rifle - in any application.

HankB
September 2, 2003, 03:48 PM
When I was in school, and had more time than money, I cast my own bullets for .32 ACP, .38/.357, .44, and .45 ACP. So I know what it takes to turn out quality bullets . . . especially if loading gascheck designs, like I did for .357 and .44.

The last time I bought commercially cast, sized, and lubed 230 grain LRN bullets, 500 cost me about $18. That's $1.80 a box for the bullets. Now, if I got free metal, cast it into ingots to remove the schmutz, then cast, lubed, and sized the bullets, I doubt that I'd be "making" half of minimum wage by casting my own.

As for loading, I use an ancient RockChucker press to load rifle ammo, but a progressive for handgun. My Dillon Square Deal "B" will allow me to load a 50 round box of .45s in about six minutes - and I can keep an eye on things at this rate. BUT . . . factor in things like reloading the primer feed, periodically verifying powder drop weight, etc., and I'm probably down to about five boxes an hour sustained rate.

labgrade
September 3, 2003, 12:25 AM
Never think that you'll be saving any money - far fromit if you consider your time.

What you will have, depending upon how good you are, is the best cast bullets money can't buy.

;)

Watchman
September 6, 2003, 12:16 PM
Using a 4 cavity Lyman die for a SWC 245 gainer I can do as many as 8 bullets per minute. That comes out to 480 bullets per hour.

Realistcly though, by the time I throw more lead in the pot, drop my bullets in a 5 gallon bucket of water, skim the crud off of the top, add in a little parrafin every now and then the small little things that one does like culling bullets that are less than perfect, the rate is probably closer to around 300 bullets an hour.

Generally, I'' make around 1000 at a time so that I dont have to mess with them for awhile, and I usaully do it on a rainy day when I cant do something outside.

Now factor in the sizing and the lubing, it basically takes me all day to cast, size and lube. Now considering the time...

Using the same wage scale that I make at work, lets says that

8 hours x 26.30 = 210.40 per thousand.

Thats just the time, and not the lube or the actual cost of machines to do it.

I can buy the same bullets at a local gunshop here for 23.00 per 500 or 40.00 per thousand.

I have two five gallon buckets full of wheel weights given to me by a friend that owns a tire shop, so the lead is free.

I use hot lube,as I beleive that it is superior (in my expeireinces anyway) to anything else out there. It takes about as long to do that as it does to cast, but they look great and work great.

So, to go from cast to lube my rate is probably around 125 bullets per hour, start to finish. Thats the slow part.

Loading them on the Dillion I've gone as fast as 650 rounds per hour. This was with press already set up, several primer tubes filled and all of my bullets in one tray.

Mikul
September 10, 2003, 07:41 PM
Pre-melted and skimmed lead will net 1,000 158gr SWC in one hour with a four cavity and a six cavity mould, but that is moving.

JPM70535
September 10, 2003, 11:52 PM
First off, the majority opinion is correct, you do not save money by casting your own bullets if you count the value of your time. Fortunately, I am retired so my time is cheap.

Wheel weights are usually free and batch melting them into one pound ingots is a task I put off until winter when I can be outdoors without breaking a sweat. Usually have about 500 lbs. at a time. lasts all summer'

Casting I do wit a Lee bottom drop 10 lb. pot, and 2 four cavity molds of the same or different calibers. I can produce approx. 250 bullets in an hour and a half session. Culling the rejects lowers the output to around 200.

When my production count gets around 1000, I use a lyman 450 with a heater and Thompsons Blue Angel lube. Production rate varies but usually I average 10-12 bullets per minute.

With all the work that goes in to casting, it would definitely be cheaper and faster to buy commercially. Will I? HELL NO!

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