How much money can I make casting bullets?


fireman 9731
April 26, 2009, 11:02 PM
So I'm looking for a summer job...

And I had a crazy idea about casting bullets, selling them, and making a decent profit...

Is it possible to make a few hundred bucks a week?

I have a few hundred pounds of wheel weights, plus a steady source. I would have to buy a melting pot and molds, and possibly a sizer... maybe around 200 bucks to get started...

I'm pretty sure that there is a decent local market for them... I was thinking around 10 bucks per hundred, depending on size... Is that a fair price? Could I make money?

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April 26, 2009, 11:17 PM
Pretty sure you have to be licensed to manufacture and sell cast bullets. Otherwise a huge fine and maybe jail time.

Read this...

a fellow THR member tried the same thing and ended up refunding all the money he made so he could not be prosecuted.


April 26, 2009, 11:20 PM
You could probably clear about $1.50 an hour at that rate. Casting, sizing, lubing, packaging, marketing is extremely labor intensive. If you count your time as valuable, than you will definitely go in the hole on every sale. If you don't count your time then you should break even unless you shoot your own product, then you loose one way and gain another. But it is rewarding in other ways, I do it for myself and I like it.

fireman 9731
April 26, 2009, 11:40 PM
So I need a license to sell just cast bullets??? not loaded ammo... just bullets?

April 26, 2009, 11:51 PM
So I need a license to sell just cast bullets??? not loaded ammo... just bullets?
Think that's bad wait till we need a license to wipe our hind end with.:rolleyes:

April 27, 2009, 12:05 AM
No, there is no firearms license to cast bullets. You may need a local business license, that's up to you.

My humble little advice: Expectations are high. Read hundreds of threads on this Forum about buyers who are pissed at their bullet suppliers. When a shooter pays good money for commercial bullets, he expects high quality resulting from experience and expertise. Not garbage crap, pitifully poured by some crank amateur who will be gone by the end of summer.

$10 per hundred is nearly twice the going rate, depending upon caliber and weight. Commercial casters make money by cranking out thousands per hour. And even then they get themselves into deep, deep trouble by not being able to produce fast enough.

So to stay out of trouble, you might want a plan to cast, lube and size ten or twenty thousand bullets in several common sizes and styles, and then offer them for sale face-to-face to local guys who have modest expectations. Once those are sold, go cast some more and sell those. Don't get over your head.

The recent run on reloading equipment has made molds hard to get. Most are out of stock right now. And you need a mold for each different bullet type, caliber and weight. Better do some more research and find out what you can sell quickly and easily, and try to find those molds.

April 27, 2009, 12:35 AM
Wait till the EPA shows up.

April 27, 2009, 12:40 AM
plus one to the above. they suck.

April 27, 2009, 01:03 AM
I buy bullets from a guy in Phoenix that makes them as a sideline, but he uses either three or four Magma bullet casting machines, and he still has trouble meeting the demand.

April 27, 2009, 02:02 AM
IMO you will have an easier time of it if you melt the wheel weights down and form them into ingots. You can sell the ingots and not have to worry about the quality of your casting. You could probably make some money that way.

Larry Burchfield
April 27, 2009, 08:38 AM
Unless you have one of the electric casting machines and one of the big automatic lube/sizers you can't make any money to speak of. And you wil need more than just wheelweights to cast with. You will need some tin in the mixture and sometimes some antimony to harden it with.
Larry Burchfield

April 27, 2009, 08:43 AM
Go to the Magma Engineering website and look, also go to the Cast Boolit website and read and ask questions.

April 27, 2009, 09:43 AM
You will need ...

1. Type 6 FFL... which isn't really that expensive, but you're local PD will have to sign off on your application. This will keep you out of Federal prison (which is a good thing). But if your thinking about doing this in your basement and you live in an area zoned residential use only, your not going to be able to do it on the sly. You'll have to go "legit" meaning, approval from you local zoning board and a business permit.

2. Possible ITAR registration (~$2,000/year). Some say you don't need it. I wrote to the State Dept. to see whether it was required for non-exporting ammo. components mfg. and they never replied.

3. The only "right" way to do this level of production is with a Magma Engineering casting machine.... (~$10,000)

4. If you have any assets at all (i.e. you own your own house) you better get liability coverage and have a relationship with a lawyer who has experience in this area. As some dope is going to double charge his 38 splc. re-load (using your bullet), give it to his 5 year old to shoot and then sue you after Jr. is blinded by the kaboom.

5. I would very strongly suggest setting up an LLC, which can be done for ~$200 where I live (skip the accountant/lawyer types and prep. and file all papers yourself). If you want someone else to do it for you it will likely cost ~$1K. Annual required LLC filings run $80 for me and you'll have to file 1120S and 1120 K1 forms when you do you taxes. You will want to segregate you business monies with a business checking account and keep good records so the IRS doesn't declare you a "hobby" or say your just dodging FICA taxes and should file sched. A.

As far as small businesses go, these start up costs are pretty low and you should be able to turn profits in short order (market on the net, get a good rep. and people on the boards will talk you up).

But it aint quite as easy as putting a shingle out for bicycle repairs.

OBTW, I buy certain jacketed bullets (.224" 55 gr. FMJ (Win or Rem) or .357" 158 gr. JFN (Roze Dist.) and Berrys DS CU plated .(356 124gr RN) for less than 10 cents a bullet.

Jim Watson
April 27, 2009, 09:49 AM
I know a guy in this area who set up a shoestring bullet business like that. He is a nice fellow but I would not want to have had to depend on his products while he was learning to cast.

I think you should learn to be a proficient caster for your own use before you think about selling bullets.

April 27, 2009, 10:22 AM
No, there is no firearms license to cast bullets. You may need a local business license, that's up to you.
Yes there is and it's called the Type 06 FFL manufacturer of ammunition for firearms other than destructive devices. Ammunition is defined by the GCA of 1968 as inclusive of components. Read the link in this thread that links to my post in another thread that spells out the federal law in plain English. Casting and selling bullets is manufacturing ammunition components and you need a 06 or 07 FFL period.

My advice from a guy who used to cast bullets commercially (myself) is get your equipment, supplies, and logistics squared away. Cry once, do it right, or don't do it at all.

You will need a casting machine. Hand casting will not cut it, even for specialty bullets. I was hand casting making 8,000 bullets one day and sizing them the next. My weekly output was about 28-30,000 bullets. I was a longshot from keeping up with demand. I got so far behind I got out of it.

You will need a sizing machine. Sizing even with Star sizers isn't fast enough and I could size about 1200 bullets per hour myself. Ballisticast makes a good one.

You need a reliable lead source. You will need to figure out if you are going to buy foundry alloy at $2-3 per pound or hit the scrap yards, X-ray machine companies, etc to source lead, tin, antimony, and mix your alloy yourself. Consistency is probably better in foundry alloy than scrap yard mixes.

You need secure boxes. Shipping in the USPS flat rate boxes isn't enough. You need Tyvek envelopes and small 4x4x4 boxes to put bullets in the FRBs. Put the bullets in the Tyvek envelopes, then put the envelope in the 4x4x4 boxes then put the boxes in the flat rate box (FRB). Now super glue the box shut. Then use the clear tape with string inside to seal the edges. Do not skimp on packaging. Boxes will get damaged, especially when the gorillas toss around 65lb boxes of bullets. If they open up in transit, kiss your bullets good bye. Insure your shipments.

Put a flat rate shipping cost up to X amount of bullets/caliber. Include postage and insurance in your figure. Also factor in the small boxes, envelopes, tape, hot glue, etc. Toss a few dollars on top of it for your time. Shipping charges are a way to make extra profit. It doesn't have to be much, say $15 or $17.50 for up to 3,000 bullets per box.

Don't piss around with small orders. They aren't worth your time. Minimum order is 500 bullets. Price beaks are up to you. I don't do them for any quantity. It takes the same amount of time per bullet to make 500 or 5,000. Your costs are per unit, you sell bullets, price and factor per bullet, then run the math for the quantity.

Figure your target market. Are you going to sell locally, online, dealers only? If you make to sell just and only at gun shows, no FFL is required. That will eliminate the need for the FFL and the ITAR saving you a few thousand dollars a year. If you hit the shows on the weekends and just work the shows, you can probably get away with hand casting for a while.

You can figure out whether to do everything yourself or hire some people to do the little things like packing and shipping, mixing the alloy, getting the stuff from the scrap yards. If you do it all yourself, it's a PITA.

Good luck if you go this route. You won't get rich, but you can generate some extra money every month doing it.

April 27, 2009, 10:27 AM
If I were contemplating a small casting business I would focus on odd/unique calibers and weights to get premium prices on small lots. Get magmas book, a magma master caster and a custom 600 grain .458 mold and send me a pm when you get it running.

April 27, 2009, 10:30 AM
oops double tap.

April 27, 2009, 12:50 PM
You will also need to File & Pay Federal & State income tax, plus State & Local Sales Tax on your sales.


April 27, 2009, 01:35 PM
Nice post, freakshow10mm. Reads like a good business plan. Sorry your go at it didn't work, though it looks like you've learned a lot and are better for it.

April 27, 2009, 01:42 PM
Most ideas like this are great, but suffer from poor planning. I agree with the post about getting many multiple thousands ready before selling any. Otherwise people will get pissed at the length of time to receive their order, you will continually get behind, and it'll go downhill from there.

Consider the semi auto FG42 rifles that were supposed to be $5k several years ago. They are now $11k and not even close to being ready.


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