I am considering taking up casting handgun bullets. I understand what I need to melt and cast the bullets, but what is a reasonably expedient, affordable way to swage/lube/etc. Is it best to set up a SS press up as a swager? Is it a hassle and should I have a press dedicated to swaging? What do you guys recommend?
I am not a bullseye competitor, but reasonable accuracy and consistent weights are what I expect if I undertake the endeavor.
Thanks for any assistance.
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January 5, 2009, 07:20 AM
There are 3 types of lube & size system: Lee Tumble Lube, RCBS/Lyman, and Star.
The Lee is minimum capital investment and works, with some drawbacks. It's messy. Bullet lubricant from bullet noses accumulates on Seat die stems necessitating cleaning or giving progressively deeper seating. It uses a die on your loading press.
The RCBS and Lyman machines are very similar. There is a screw-pressurized chamber for the lube, and the press has a ram which forces the bullet down into a sizing die, where the lube flows around it, then another ram forces the bullet out of the die.
The Star is a straight through sizer/lubricator, which maximizes throughput, but costs the most money. It also has a screw pressurized lube reservoir and a sizing die. Set up time is greatest with the Star. If you are going to shoot a LOT of just a couple types of bullet, the Star may be for you.
January 5, 2009, 10:19 AM
Are you wanting to swage or size. They are different. Swaging is pretty much pushing cold lead into a mold. Usually a Rock Chuker is the minimum for swaging. Sizing is just pushing a cast bullet through a sizer die.
January 5, 2009, 10:38 AM
Thanks for clearing that up. I am interested in sizing/lubing. The less mess the better.
January 5, 2009, 11:05 AM
For quantity cast pistol bullets, a lubrisizer is the standard machine, made by Lyman, RCBS, SAECO, and Star/Magma. Pull the lever and it runs the cast bullet through a die that sizes it to the desired diameter and injects lubricant into the grooves.
Lee does it cheaper. They sell a dip lube and loading press mounted sizing die. Even cheaper yet, their tumble lube bullets are meant to be rolled in liquid lube and shot as is with no sizing necessary.
Suggest you get the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook which goes into the process in great detail. Naturally it emphasizes the use of Lyman moulds and lubrisizer but the procedure remains the same.
There are at least a couple of dedicated bullet casting boards:
January 5, 2009, 11:24 AM
For someone just starting out, I think the Lee push through sizer for around $13.00 is a great place to start. It comes with a die, a ram that fits in your press and a plastic lid that collects the sized bullets. I've used these along with Lee Liquid Alox for thousands of rounds of homecast rounds in 9, 40 and 45.
30-40 years ago I had a Lyman sizer which I sold to a friend who wanted it. After years out of the shooting game, I got back into pistol shooting and went with the Lee sizer which, to me, is a lot simpler, faster and less frustrating than the Lyman was. I size and then use the LLA by filling a "CoolWhip" container half full of bullets, squirting a bit of LLA on them, putting the lid on and rotating them until the bullets are covered. I then roll them out on wax paper and let them dry. Yes, the LLA might be slightly sticky but it hasn't bothered me. Some folks will sprinkle some "motor mica" on the bullets to "un-sticky" them. You will have some build-up in the seating die but it's easily cleaned out every 500 rounds or so.
Anyway, that's what I'd start with. You can always go to a conventional lube/sizer if you don't like the low cost alternative.
January 6, 2009, 12:42 AM
When I first started casting, not too long ago, I just picked up a Lyman 4500 luber/sizer, sizing dies and top punches for the various calibers a load, and a bunch of sticks of Lyman Orange Magic lube.
A this point with as much as I shoot I wish I could afford a Star.