Need Bullet Casting Advice


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Foto Joe
May 13, 2013, 05:32 PM
Okay, I've pretty much given up on finding lead bullets for 45ACP, 45 Colt & 38 Special without doing serious damage to my wallet. It seems that about the only way to actually have a decent supply of bullets these days is to make your own. The problem I have with casting is that I'm dumber than soup regarding the subject so a couple of questions are in order:

Regarding bullet size, do the molds drop the appropriate diameter i.e. .452 for 45ACP or will I need a sizer. Also if the bullets need to be sized can I use the same mold for .452's & .454's or is that too much to hope for?

Second, Lee has a starter kit of sorts for bullet casting but it's a ladle furnace instead of a bottom tap furnace. Advice please.

As far as lubing is concerned I suppose I could pan lube but if I'm gonna have to size anyway I would assume a lubrisizer would be the way to go.

I know you guys will dump a pile of info on me and I appreciate it.

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45_auto
May 13, 2013, 05:43 PM
Go to http://castboolits.gunloads.com/. All of your questions have been answered many times in the FAQs.

Short answers:

Regarding bullet size, do the molds drop the appropriate diameter i.e. .452 for 45ACP or will I need a sizer.

Some molds are oversize, some are undersize. The lead alloy you use also affects the size. You'll want a lubrisizer, although it's possible to do without, just like it's possible to load ammo without a press.

Also if the bullets need to be sized can I use the same mold for .452's & .454's or is that too much to hope for?

That depends on the bore of your gun in a pistol or rifle. In a revolver it will depend on your cylinder throat. Bullets need to be about .001 or .002 oversize in most cases.

As far as lubing is concerned I suppose I could pan lube but if I'm gonna have to size anyway I would assume a lubrisizer would be the way to go.

You are correct.

MErl
May 13, 2013, 06:00 PM
I use a thrift store cast iron teapot (~2qt size) and a 99c store ladle over a turkey fryer. Total investment in new stuff <$10 Doesn't take a whole lot to get going at low volume. I'm doing round ball so no sizing.

I found this useful
http://www.lasc.us/Fryxell_Book_Contents.htm

GLOOB
May 13, 2013, 07:50 PM
Regarding bullet size, do the molds drop the appropriate diameter i.e. .452 for 45ACP or will I need a sizer. Also if the bullets need to be sized can I use the same mold for .452's & .454's or is that too much to hope for?

Try and see. A cast bullet doesn't always need to be exactly 0.001-0.002" larger than the bore. A cast bullet has to be bigger than the bore. (And that means at the time the bullet enters the bore. So you may need to consider the case and/or cylinder throats, too; they can squeeze the bullet smaller than you reckoned.) On the flip side, the bullet must be small enough to chamber without pinching. If your gun has a super tight chamber (relative to the bore), that might mean you need a sizer to get an exact diameter just barely larger than the bore. OTOH, if your gun is more generous in the chamber (relative to the bore), it might shoot grossly over-bore bullets just fine.

Here's a really interesting post I found on castboolits.

John Traveler
04-28-2011, 10:31 PM
There have been many experiments and developments of the squeeze bore effect.

My favorite story is one written by Frank DeHaas when he was Technical Editor for the American Rifleman.

A reader wrote that his Japanese Arisaka rifle kicked too hard although it was accurate and he had killed a number of deer with it. Frank asked him to ship it to him for evaluation. What he found was a 6.5mm Arisaka that was rechambered to fire .30-06 ammunition in the original bore. He was amazed that the rifle didn't blow up. It had actually fired .308" factory ammunition through a .264" bore, a reduction of some 44 thousands of an inch!

FWIW, I cast bullets for 6 different calibers, and I only have sizers for my 2 rifle calibers. They're for applying gas checks, only. No more, no less.

All my bullet molds drop just a hair bigger than the stated diameter, for me (like half a mic, maybe). That's what I reckon is the norm, though your results may vary. If a mold drops too small, it can be "beagled" to increase the diameter. The casting temp and alloy will also change the final diameter.

If you are keen to try .454" cast bullets in a 45ACP, but they aren't quite a drop fit to the chamber, try R-P brass.

wgaynor
May 13, 2013, 07:54 PM
I started with a cast iron pot from a flea market and a hot plate ( i removed the thermostat). I bought a cheap Lee ladle and used a lee mould. Bullets shot great. Now, as with any hobby, I wanted to try out new stuff. So I got a Lee bottom pour (worth the money, but it does drip) a lubrisizer.

I found that pan lubing is cheap and easy. So is making your own lube. Bullets can drop bigger than the mold (depends on the alloy composition). Lee push through sizers are cheap and awesome. The lubrisizer is pretty cool, but not necessary and is a huge added expense because you need the separate sizer inserts and top punch.

Also, remember to not melt your wheelweights (or whatever source of lead) into the same pot that you cast bullets out of. That pot can get cruddy.

Oh yeah... wear gloves, long sleeves, long pants, shoes, safety glasses, and a hat. The Tinsel Fairy is no joke.

zxcvbob
May 13, 2013, 07:59 PM
The Lee 20 lb bottom-pour furnace is just about perfect for casting pistol bullets, and it doesn't cost much more than the ladle-pour furnace.

Get a Lee 230 grain "tumble lube" truncated cone bullet mold. About $20 for the 2-hole mold. I don't shoot .45 ACP, I use it in .45 Colt and it's one of my favorites. You can probably shoot it *without* sizing in both .45 ACP and .45 Colt, just coat it with Lee Liquid Alox or Rooster Jacket bullet lube, or melted Johnson's Paste Wax, or a mixture of Alox and Johnson's Paste Wax. (the wax cuts the stickiness of the Alox)

A 6-hole mold is more than 3x faster than a 2-hole, but it costs more and is a little trickier to learn with. If you do get the 6-hole mold, don't forget to buy a handle for it. You'll definitely want at least one 6-hole mold for the .38 Special.

Do you have a source of scrap lead? It's getting harder to find.

RugerBob
May 13, 2013, 08:13 PM
First thing I reccomend is getting a decent stock pile of lead. 7000 grains in a pound. if your casting 230grainers.... get the point?

I was lucky there when I started casting 10 years ago and have plenty for the next 10 years already.

You can start with the Lee set stay with a bottom pour and upgrade as needed.

I use a old turkey fryer set up with propane and use a old dutch oven I picked at a garage sale.

Foto Joe
May 13, 2013, 08:31 PM
Okay, this is exactly the input I was looking for. I think there's some confusion though, I won't be shooting .454's out of the 1911. On the other hand I "have" run .452's out of my 12" barrel SAA although I haven't tried 'em out of my other SAA so I haven't got a clue as to whether I could hit a bullet with the broad side of a barn on that one.

Regarding lead, for right now until I figure out what I'm doing I'll probably find a source for pure lead somewhere and tinker with that. I'll also be using this for A LOT of Black Powder both round ball and bullets. Those however don't tend to eat as much as a couple of 1911's.

Thanks for all the info and I'm gonna be getting more involved in the cast boolits forum. I hate being ignorant but I hate paying $100 for 500 230gr LRN bullets even more.

zxcvbob
May 13, 2013, 08:40 PM
How old is your .45 Colt, and why do you think it needs .454 bullets? (if it's old enough you might be right, but that's *really* old)

Foto Joe
May 13, 2013, 08:48 PM
Early 1980's on the old one. The other is a Uberti that's only a year or so.

zxcvbob
May 13, 2013, 08:57 PM
If it was made after WWII, assume it uses a .452 bullet until you have reason to believe otherwise. So you should be able to to use the same bullets @ the same size in both the ACP and the Colt. It won't hurt anything to try even if you're wrong.

BTW, I use a stainless steel pot (1.5 or 2 quart, I'm not sure which) on an $10 electric hotplate to melt lead scrap into ingots. I've melted over 1000 pounds that way, about 10-15 lbs at a time. I don't ever want scrap in my bottom-pour furnace because it'll clog up the spout.

Foto Joe
May 13, 2013, 10:37 PM
Good point on scrap and a bottom pour furnace. As far as the .452's I guess what I need to do is get around to taking a couple of .454 round balls and slug both of the SAA barrels. I know that I've put hundreds of rounds of El Paso Petes Ultra Gamers in .454 through the 12" one over the years but those have been soft lead 140gr RNFP's being pushed by 20-25 grains of 3f Black Powder. Unfortunately I can't even get those anymore. Since discovering TrailBoss I've kind of cut back on my Black Powder cartridge loading.

USSR
May 14, 2013, 07:48 AM
If it was made after WWII, assume it uses a .452 bullet until you have reason to believe otherwise.

The age of a revolver in .45 Colt has nothing to do with what size bullet you should use. Revolver bullets are sized to fit the cylinder throats, not the bore. I have a S&W 25-5 that was made in 1980 with .454" throats, even though it has a bore of .452". I size my bullets to .455" and all is well.

Don

rfwobbly
May 14, 2013, 09:07 AM
Mr 45_Auto had it right in the first post. You really, really, REALLY need to be over at the CastBoolits forum.

dragon813gt
May 14, 2013, 09:45 AM
Before you even go to CastBoolits. Secure a lead source or pony up the cash to buy it. People are under the impression it's easy and cheap to come by. For most this is not the case. If you don't have any lead you can't cast. So start there. The OP mentioned a source of pure lead. This will not work for what you want to cast for. You are going to have to harden it up one way or another.


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RugerBob
May 14, 2013, 09:47 AM
Pure lead is great for black powder. I have used wheel wieght lead for my 1860s and 1851s with no issue.
Once things added to lead, its hard to get it pure again, kinda like trying to remove creamer from a cup of coffee.
Wish ya was closer, got plenty of pure lead from x-ray walls I haven't melted down. Would trade for some good ol wheel wieghts any day.

Foto Joe
May 14, 2013, 09:07 PM
I fully understand that pure lead for smokeless bullets is problematic. One of the reasons I want to start with pure lead is so that I can control the hardness by adding my own (tin?) to it. There's just too much "unknown" in scrap lead for a beginner like me. I have found pure lead for around $11 per five pound ingot. Expensive by some standards until you compare it to actually buying lead bullets. Once I've got some experience under my belt I can experiment.

tyeo098
May 14, 2013, 09:15 PM
I fully understand that pure lead for smokeless bullets is problematic. One of the reasons I want to start with pure lead is so that I can control the hardness by adding my own (tin?) to it. There's just too much "unknown" in scrap lead for a beginner like me. I have found pure lead for around $11 per five pound ingot. Expensive by some standards until you compare it to actually buying lead bullets. Once I've got some experience under my belt I can experiment.
Guys on ebay sell lead by the pound.

Flat rate shipping boxes do little damage.

Thats how I do it.

Now I just need a fricken 9mm mould and a 45 mould. (and a 7.62x39 mould, and and and)

zxcvbob
May 14, 2013, 11:21 PM
There's nothing particularly *wrong* with the way you're going, but it's a really expensive route -- especially since hard lead of questionable composition is about perfect just like it is for smokeless handgun cartridges. Worst case, you'll have to add about 0.5 to 1% tin to get it to fill-out the mold nice and sharp.

dragon813gt
May 15, 2013, 05:51 AM
As a beginner playing w/ alloys is more than you will want to do. And hardening w/ tin is expensive and wasteful. There are better cheaper ways to harden it. Read this a few times until you understand the chemistry: http://www.lasc.us/Fryxell_Book_Contents.htm


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USSR
May 15, 2013, 07:29 AM
Suggest you go to your local scrap metal yard to get lead in it's original state. The composition of commonly found lead products is well known. Good items to search for are clip-on wheel weights, linotype, lead pipe, sheet lead, sinkers, and any solder. Once you have the various types of lead and have poured them into ingots, then email me and I will send you an Excel file that will give you the BHN values of mixtures of the various lead types.

Don

dagger dog
May 15, 2013, 08:01 AM
There is the option of tumble lubing, the Lee line of molds is the most likely way to start and there are several designs that drop from the mold ready to shoot without sizing.

If you stay with sane velocities the straight clip on wheel weight lead can be water hardened to @18 BHN. If you want to push them to magnum velocities you need a gas check type bullet.

Lee's second edition of MODERN RELOADING has a chapter on pressure-velocity vs lead hardness and it's effect on cast bullets, the book is worth the price for this info alone, they have a pressure-velocity-BHN chart that works well with their tester.

Some other popular hardness testers give relative #'s so you need to know the original BHN.

USSR
May 15, 2013, 09:38 AM
There is the option of tumble lubing, the Lee line of molds is the most likely way to start and there are several designs that drop from the mold ready to shoot without sizing.

Totally depends upon the alloy you use, whether they "drop from the mold ready to shoot without sizing". Use an alloy without a lot of antimony in it, and they will come out smaller in diameter than an antimony rich alloy.

If you stay with sane velocities the straight clip on wheel weight lead can be water hardened to @18 BHN. If you want to push them to magnum velocities you need a gas check type bullet.

With the right alloy and correct sizing and lubing, no need for a gas checked bullet at magnum handgun velocities. EK developed the 44 Magnum using non-GC bullets. I use full power .30 Carbine loads approaching 1900fps using non-GC bullets.

Don

dagger dog
May 15, 2013, 03:31 PM
The Lee tumble lube design are made to cast to size with wheel weight alloy.

Most of EK bullets were high antimony and were of known alloy content, plus all that was 50 years ago. Trying to buy pure components to cast with today is cost prohibitive.

If your getting into casting to save $$ and to have a supply your just about going to have to use wheel weights.

dragon813gt
May 15, 2013, 04:07 PM
Since someone mentioned it. Don't get hung up on BHN. The commercial casters have done a great job of making people think they need high BHN bullets. They cast them that hard so they don't damage during transport. I do everything w/ 11BHN isotope lead. And this includes rifle. I keep the velocities down w/ that one. And I shoot plenty of full power 357 magnum loads w/ no gas check. Again, no leading. Concern yourself w/ bullet fit and perfectly formed bullet bases before anything else.


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USSR
May 15, 2013, 07:46 PM
Most of EK bullets were high antimony and were of known alloy content, plus all that was 50 years ago.

Elmer's bullets used ZERO antimony. His favorite .44 Magnum SWC load used a 16:1 (Pb:Sn) alloy.

Don

Hondo 60
May 15, 2013, 09:22 PM
The problem I have with casting is that I'm dumber than soup

Before I started casting I found 2 info sources to be of immeasurable help.

Lyman's Cast Bullet Hnadbook - I have 3rd & 4th edition.
(The 4th edition had MUCH, MUCH, MUCH better editing.)
(The 3rd edition, begins in the Middle Ages - seriously)

As mentioned above http://castboolits.gunloads.com/ has all the experts, who are just waiting for newbies to come calling.

That forum is almost as good as the high road.

Foto Joe
May 19, 2013, 10:41 AM
Update:

Well, yesterday I pulled the trigger and ordered a Lyman Big Dipper Starter Kit from Cablela's (I had plenty of points so it was free), I also ordered molds for .452, .358 and .454RB as well as a Lee Lube and Size for the bullets.

On Friday while driving home from work I stopped at a local tire shop (1 of 2 in town) and low and behold they had two five gallon buckets of wheel weights and they were willing to part with one for .40 per pound. The counter guy told me someone else wanted the second bucket but I should stop by next week and if it was still there it would be mine as well. I don't know if the .40 per pound is good or not but I figure that I scored about 150 pounds for around $60.

Since the molds I ordered were of course backordered, when the furnace shows up I'll have my work cut out for me cleaning and casting ingots, this should be educational.

dragon813gt
May 19, 2013, 01:31 PM
Do yourself a favor. Don't process raw wheel weights in the same pot you plan to cast out of. It's a quick way to have a lot of impurities in your finished bullets. Make sure you separate the wheel weights by type and flux a lot. They take some work to clean up.


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45_auto
May 19, 2013, 01:37 PM
I tried casting some round balls from wheel weights for my blackpowder revolvers once. Almost broke the rammer off.

You want soft lead for a muzzleloader. Some of the stick on weights are supposedly pure lead.

Foto Joe
May 19, 2013, 06:54 PM
I hear ya on not using the same furnace for smelting wheel weights as for casting bullets. Given that the furnaces are inexpensive enough, I'll pick up another for casting. Right now my molds are on backorder so I've got some time to pick one up. The wheel weights I got my hands on are filthy so I'm thinking this is gonna be quite a process to clean 'em up. I'll weigh out my final ingots and make a decision as to whether I keep using them or just buy clean lead on eBay. At this point in time I'm thinking that I might be just as well off to buy ingots instead of trying to clean up garbage.

As far as wheel weights for round balls, I've shot some before and I'm not impressed. Although the stick one are REALLY soft there just isn't a high enough percentage of them. In the five gallon bucket I got I'm guessing that I'll have about 5-8 pounds of raw stick on weights by the time I get these things sorted. I spent about an hour and a half sorting out the zinc and steel weights this morning and I still have a third of the bucket to go, it's slow tedious work. From what I understand, getting zinc in your mix is a no no.

Hopefully by next weekend my furnace will arrive and I can start the process of seeing what I actually have.

RustyFN
May 19, 2013, 10:04 PM
This is a pretty good read for somebody new to casting.

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=346199

Hondo 60
May 19, 2013, 10:33 PM
Do yourself a favor. Don't process raw wheel weights in the same pot you plan to cast out of. It's a quick way to have a lot of impurities in your finished bullets. Make sure you separate the wheel weights by type and flux a lot. They take some work to clean up.


Plus a billion!
I use a cast iron frying pan I found at Good will, over a one burner Coleman stove.
It was $23 for the stove & $3 for the pan.
I use inexpensive broken off tea candle parts to flux the dirty lead.
That helps get the impurities to the top of the lead so they can be skimmed off.

Doing that keeps the impurities out of my clean furnace.

Clark Savage Jr
May 19, 2013, 11:20 PM
While you are at the Goodwill, pick up a couple of muffin tins to use for ingot molds. It doesn't matter if they are Steel or Aluminum. I use a cast Iron dutch oven over a crab cooker to melt the large (dirty) batches. A large slotted spoon works well to strain the wheel clips out of the pot - but don't forget the leather gloves! Use a soup ladle to pour the molten Lead into the muffin tins. Trying to lift and pour out of a 50 pound pot of hot Lead is for those guys who are really into pain - both their backs and their flesh.

I use number/letter stamps to identify the alloy after the ingots are cast - WW or Pb. The metal muffins weigh about 2-3 lbs. each and fit nicely in the Lee furnace.

zombie44
May 20, 2013, 12:45 AM
And avoid teflon coated pots and muffin tins, I heard the coating turns toxic at the temps we deal with when casting.

A Pause for the Coz
May 20, 2013, 12:45 AM
Get-R-Done!! Well worth the investment. There is a learning curve. Mostly to do with mold temp. Once you have cast a few hundred you will figure it out.
I have 600 pounds of lead under the bench.
Thats 18260 230gr 45 acp bullets or any bullet I need.

LEE 20 pound pot is superior to the 10 pound pot.
Buy the 20 1st because you will just end up with it any way.
http://i33.photobucket.com/albums/d66/Kelly2215/100_8336.jpg

Get a hot plate to preheat your molds. I start dropping good bullets on the 2nd drop.

http://i33.photobucket.com/albums/d66/Kelly2215/100_8338.jpg

The Lyman 452374 mold is a top performer for 45acp.

http://i33.photobucket.com/albums/d66/Kelly2215/100_8662.jpg

You can buy a LEE .452 sizer and tumble lube any cast bullet you want. It does not have to be a Tumble lube bullet.

zxcvbob
May 20, 2013, 01:44 AM
While you are at the Goodwill, pick up a couple of muffin tins to use for ingot molds. It doesn't matter if they are Steel or Aluminum.


But don't buy new shiny cheap steel muffin tins; they are coated with tin or bright zinc or something that sticks to the melted lead. You'll have to beat them apart with a hammer to get the ingots out, destroying the molds. BTDT

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