Cast vs non-cast bullets


June 26, 2012, 11:33 PM
I have thought about casting my own bullets eventually, but I have a few questions:

Can cast bullets handle high velocities that regular bullets can?

What are cheap sources of lead. Wheel weights or what?

Are there spitzer style cast bullet molds available?

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texas chase
June 26, 2012, 11:43 PM
I've started casting in the last few years but only for low velocity pistol bullets so far. You definitely cannot push cast bullets as fast copper jacketed bullets but you can do a lot. Especially with gas checks. I'm sure there will be some experience thrown in here in a bit...

June 26, 2012, 11:49 PM
I totally forgot about those. I am still new to the cast bullet subjects and I forget it has stuff like that.

June 27, 2012, 01:28 AM
First, absolute BEST source of info is Great guys, helped me out a lot.
Second, cast doesn't go as fast as jacketed, no go. However, cast loads can be made to go decent velocities if you want to make hunting loads, other wise load to recommended speeds for paper punching.

Wheel weights are starting to dry up, ecoterrorists have made it a crusade to get rid of them, saying they are ruining the water supply when they fall off a car, and rain takes the lead into the ground. Also, wheel weights come in two types, clip and stick on - the stick on tend to be dead soft lead, really suitable for muzzle loader stuff only. Clips on are harder and better all around. You can still get wheel weight ingots from individuals at CB, which is what I usually do - I don't smelt.
You can also get certified bullet metal, but it can cost if you don't have a supplier close. I do, Seafab Metals, and recently helped a buddy out getting a 61 pound pig of 92/6/2 metal for him for $115. That's a lot of bullets. ;)

June 27, 2012, 01:45 AM
As soon as you ask about spitzer shapes I suspect you're looking at trying to cast for faster cartridges. If so then you'll likely find that it doesn't work. So if the idea was to use cast boolits in something like the .224 Swift rounds then it ain't gonna work out well.

Now if you're looking at casting for cartridges that typically fly at under 2000fps then that's cast boolits sort of territory. The higher end of the 2000 and under spectrum will likely demand gas checked options but if you're at or under around 1500 to 1600 then simple hard cast lead can work well. Or if you're looking at really pumping hard on heavy bullets at lower speeds with lots of pressure then again gas checks can be helpful.

Art Eatman
June 27, 2012, 09:29 AM
By and large, the upper limit for velocity in a rifle with cast bullets is around 1,800 ft/sec, and even this generally demands using the copper gas checks. Otherwise, rapid leading of the barrel occurs. With hard lead and gas checks, maybe 2,000 ft/sec.

But I've used the Lyman 169-grain lead gas check as a mid-range or "plinker" load in my '06 and been pleased with them. Twenty to twenty-five grains of 2400 meant reasonable groups and negligible recoil. Adequate for deer, FWIW, at anything inside 150 yards.

June 27, 2012, 09:55 AM
I am not going to be popular saying this, but casting is for people with lots of time on their hands.

You have to find the lead. I went to local scrap yards and bought lead. Most of the lead I found was dead soft, which is great for Minie balls but too soft for centerfire.

You have to buy the equipment, sizers, lube sticks, casting pots, molds, mold spray, dippers, ingot molds, thermometers, copper gas checks, expansion dies and probably a bunch of other things I canít remember.

After smelting ingots of the proper hardness, (now where do you find antimony and tin now that wheel weights are zinc?) which takes time, you can then use those ingots in your casting pots to start casting.

It takes a lot of time to make decent bullets, there is a learning process and it was not quick for me.

Then you have to size, lube, and seat the gas checks. I had zero accuracy with 30 caliber bullets without gas checks. Gas checks are made from copper and they are not cheap.

Then comes load development and that takes time. Cast bullets are a totally different thing than jacketed.

I recommend, buying already made cast bullets and playing with those. If this is your life, then you are on your way, if it is not your calling, at least you did not buy hundreds of dollars of equipment.

I like AA5744 with cast bullets .

It does not take much work to find vendors who cast rifle bullets, here are a few I found with a couple of clicks:

June 27, 2012, 10:45 AM
Casting your own is really no more time consuming than reloading itself is, and some of moulds available now produce some really nice bullets that are simply not available from commercial casters. As to the gas checking issue, I avoid them altogether. They bring the cost of a bullet up substantially, and I have had no problems using hard cast, plain base bullets in my .30 Carbine, which is my fastest shooting cast load. Like reloading, you look at it as a hobby, and the time spent on a hobby is not wasted time. Just MHO.


June 27, 2012, 12:19 PM
I bought 100 bucks of lee casting equipment, and have made probably 1000 bullets so far. It took me about 30 minutes to start casting good bullets, and now I throw out 1-2% of all I cast.

I find casting relaxing, and it has brought my cost for a .357 mag down to ~5 cents. You can't beat that!

Unfortunately, I've been so busy with other things, I haven't cast or loaded in almost a year.

June 27, 2012, 12:33 PM
Can cast bullets handle high velocities that regular bullets can? 2000fps with gas check, maximum.

What are cheap sources of lead. Wheel weights or what? There is none, thats cheap, for the alloy you will need. Linotype. But you can oven treat, water cool, harden alloy with 2% antimony content.

Are there spitzer style cast bullet molds available? A bore riding bullet is as close as you will get.

max it
June 27, 2012, 12:36 PM
Fox, see other posters, add linotype to other lead and it gets it harder. RotoMetals has it.

also wear good mask Niosh 95 to remove lead from breathing it in. And wash up well, dont eat or drink too.


hang fire
June 27, 2012, 01:13 PM
Can cast bullets handle high velocities that regular bullets can?

Short answer, yes. Long answer, so long as one is willing to invest the time in learning how to correctly paper patch boolits, but it is very satisfying once achieved. Paper patching boolits for high velocity and accuracy with, is almost a subculture of the reloading world.

hang fire
June 27, 2012, 01:18 PM
also wear good mask Niosh 95 to remove lead from breathing it in. And wash up well, dont eat or drink too.

Keep casting temeratures at or below 700 degrees F and lead will not give off harmful fumes.

June 27, 2012, 02:11 PM
Plain base bullets work fine if held under 1400fps. GC bullets do very well up to 1800 fps and a bit over.

Tim the student
June 27, 2012, 02:48 PM
So, for you guys in the know, how much would I realistically expect to spend to set myself up for casting (excluding components)?

June 27, 2012, 11:31 PM
THE most accurate bullet in my 308's and 30-06's (except for one) is the Lyman 311334

GREAT fun on paper and steel.

June 28, 2012, 10:02 AM
Contrary to a lot of what's been stated herein, you CAN push cast bullets to jacketed velocity..........the caveat is that you need to be a relatively experienced handloader and bone up on the technique methodology that enables you to do so.

Overall, what's been stated here about the 2M limitation is true, for gas checked and lubed alloy bullets, what hasn't been touched is the use of paper patching. I have easily achieved 2700 fps and very acceptable accuracy in my M/70 in '06 using Lyman's 311041, patched with stock computer copy paper.......the downside is that it's a somewhat tedious endeavor, but it does work and well at that. I'd suggest that you check out the discussions on If you're still interested then get a copy of Matthews book on the subject.

Big Bad Bob
June 28, 2012, 10:20 AM
Im with Slamfire1 on this one, its alot of fun, but MAN does it take up your time!

Plus by the time you invest in molds, handles, a melting pot, a sizer and luber, lube, gas checks...what else, oh yea different metals other than wheel weights. You really dont save that much money. You could just buy cast bullets, which cost less than copper jacketed or copper solids.

Dont get me wrong, its alot fun, but it is time consuming. I currently only cast for .44 magnum,.45 ACP and just got a mold for .45/70. I did it as joint project with my father in law. There is alot trial and error when you first start off and learn the basic of how to cast, the Lyman book on casting with intro and how tos by Mike Ventrino is a really good start.

Uncle Grinch
June 28, 2012, 04:16 PM
Most reloaders will agree that it rarely saves you money. You keep investing in more equipment and gadgets. It takes time to do it properly and to be safe. Experience is the best teacher along with established procedures since reloading, especially cast boolits (as we call them) sometimes takes a lot of trial and error.

All that said.... It's fun, relaxing and gives you a sense of accomplishment. And best of all, you get to shoot more for the same money!

June 28, 2012, 04:47 PM

"Cast vs non-cast bullets
I have thought about casting my own bullets eventually, but I have a few questions:

Can cast bullets handle high velocities that regular bullets can? Yes.

What are cheap sources of lead. Wheel weights or what? Yes.

Are there spitzer style cast bullet molds available? Yes."

Velocities - hard lead, heat treated, gas checks, properly sized with good lub or paper patched. Unless you make up some of those double alloy bullets (body and butt very hard, nose of soft lead, glue? No I don't and haven't, just saw them listed several years ago), you are in the realm of target/paper puncher's only.

Lead is a natural metal and is everyplace. Recyclers have it, junk yards have it. The problem is getting the alloy correct. That can well get expensive.

Bullet shapes, check the listings from Lyman, RCBS, Lee and others. There are some. Most are designed for hunting and don't have the nice pointy ends you are asking about.

Loading is fun for many. Casting is fun for some. Some don't like either.

As stated above, the guys on the 'cast boolet' Forum know their stuff and can give much better answers than I.

June 28, 2012, 04:55 PM
Doesn't make much sense for < 30 cal due to fps limits. Bottom of the $ scale, ~$60 for basic tools, hot plate, SS pot, ladle, etc. You'll probably have to buy the lead anymore. Timewise, ~ 200 / hr. Should be able to keep the cost < $18/100 for about anything. Check that against WW prices.

June 28, 2012, 05:14 PM
The cost of startup depends on what you want to do. I cast almost exclusively for .357 mag, which is forgiving. I shoot plain base at moderate velocities, and I got into it for less than 200 bucks.

a $60 lee 20lb bottom pour pot, and moulds at $20 a pop.

A few pie plates, a jar of vasoline, two candles and some motor oil and I was in business pan lubing. Maybe 10 bucks. I use a coleman stove to heat the mixture around the bullets.

I'm cheap. It works. It's not going to get you up to 2k fps, though. Maybe 1600 out of a 357 carbine before leading starts to show up big time.

June 29, 2012, 03:10 PM
Well a few guys are giving good info!

Yes you can reach jacketed performance with. Cast bullets.
Yes, its allot of work,time,experimentation, and a small investment in gear/tools.

Paper patched bullets can reach incredible Speeds! But allot of load development to create an accurate load. Once this load is found, the cost of shooting will go WAY down.

I have spent a considerable amount of time developing a high performance/velocity load for my 308win.
After all of my work I have wound up with a load that shoots a 200grain bore riding design (semi-pointed) "Lyman #311299.
this bullet has a COPPER gascheck(Hornady, or my own manufacture).
A high quality Moly Lube(Lyman super moly).
I have sized the bullet to .310".
My powder is either IMR 4831,or IMR4350.
My bullet alloy is simply: 18lbs cleaned wheel weight alloy + 8 feet of 50/50,lead/tin solder.
Air cooled. Thats it.

The bullet is seated firmly into the rifling. The noses of the bullet have a coating of Lee Liquid Allox. I personally believe this lube aids in hydraulicly centering the nose.
I Have reached velocities of 2425 fps. And accuracy around 1-1/2 to 2 MOA out to 200-250yards. I have shot 2MOA groups out to 600 yards with loads that travel at 1600-1750fps. Funnnnn stuffff!!!!!!
Velocities are at full jacketed Performance levels (2425 fps with a 200 grain bullet).

This loads accuracy (at 2425 fps),will last for 8-10 rounds. After this it starts to decay a little.
If I push a few patches through the bore, that restores the accuracy for another 8-10 rounds.
Just so its clear, I have/am experiencing little to no leading.

If I back down my velocities to the 2200 2250fps range, I can shoot more than 20 rounds between accuracy maintaining cleanings.

If I shoot below 2200fps, I have shot upwards of 50-75 rounds without any appreciable leading.

One thing that has shown itself to make a big difference in potential accuracy at different velocity levels with cast bullets, is the rate of rifling twist.
1:10" barrels tend not to reach as high of a velocity (with acceptable accuracy), as a 1:12" or 1:14" twist rate.
There seems to be a limmit to where cast bullets cannot withstand the accelleration,torque applied by the rifling, and pressure of combusting powder gasses. The challenge is to see how far we can go before we experience a load component failure. ( alloy yields and gasses push past the accellerating bullet causing things like leading, inconsistant velocities, bullet damage and therefore gyroscopic instabilities,etc.
The castboolets site helped me learn huge amounts in this regard! I cant say enough about it for. Cast shooting!

June 29, 2012, 03:44 PM

Try looking into the cast boolet site, if you dig deep and research this, you will be astounded by what these guys can do!

I know I was!!!

June 29, 2012, 06:07 PM
It's my understanding that the real limiting factor with lead is not velocity, but the pressure required to generate that velocity. I"m having way more problems with my high pressure low velocity 9mm loads than I ever had with my higher velocity, low pressure 357's and 44's. Both lyman and lee have good information about reloading lead.

June 29, 2012, 07:53 PM
I've been loading cast bullets since about 1959 and have never stopped learning. I load for everything from 222 Rem up to 444 and 45-70 plus everything but 40 in handguns (stopping at the 45 colt but have had and loaded for a casull.
The most impressive things I've learned over the years, and which have worked for me....
A. It isn't always best to size to groove revolvers, cylinder throat size is more often better.
B. The hardest bullet is not always the best in revolvers if you want to avoid leading..see A
C. You can easily heat treat linotype and similar cast bullets and get in the 2000 fps range easily
D. You can't have too much lube (I've had a few rifle moulds with one skinny groove and I guess it was expected to carry enough to go through a 24" barrel. It wouldn't
E. Having been taught to "size everything" I was pleased to learn many years ago that right out of the mould worked for many of my handguns...both with pan lube and kookiekutter lubing as well as tummble lubing.
F. Some guns just don't like cast bullets (or I ran out of patience before I found the load it liked....I'm 67 and want to make the best shooting out of the time I've got left)
G. It seems to work out best if you use a good manual and use the same components as the authors set out.
H. Shotshell loading is easier as you aren't worrying about MOA, drop, and so on. Still have to follow the recipies. I make my own slugs is why I put shotgun in.
I. OLD Gun Digests and American Rifleman mags, from the fifties and sixties often had great cast bullet information, a lot of which is still quite useable.
J. You can adapt cast bullets to odd calibers. I used to love Rolling Blocks and often found I could get good results by paper patching slightly undersize bullets for some of those old BP honeys. (still like them, just don't have any anymore)
I shoot flat point, round nose, spitzer, SWC, RNFP, and have about fifty moulds...mostly Lyman but quite a few RCBS, a few exotics and a few Lees. All work.
Cast bullets are fun, cheap (have you noticed how gas checks have gone from 9 or 10 bucks a thousand to about fiftY?) and can provide great accuracy. I use a 224 diameter cast bullet and tiny gas check in my .222 and .223 for squirrels to eat and ground squirrels in my garden. I've shot deer with the Lyman 454424 and RCBS 45-250KT. Coyote with .308, 30-06, 30-30 with the M1 Carbine bullet..311316.

June 30, 2012, 12:21 AM
GREAT stuff PapaG!

hang fire
June 30, 2012, 02:08 PM
Here is a video of 200 grain paper patched boolits at 2500 fps in a Swiss K-31 at 1,000 yards. (note, it took some tuning by me to get get full screen version)

Here is Site for paper patching boolits in smokeless cartridges.

Thread on paper patched boolits at factory velocities for smokeless powder cartridges.

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