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Lee vs. Lyman round ball molds

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by BSA1, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. BSA1

    BSA1 Well-Known Member

    I am not sure if this question is better answered on the Blackpowder forum or the Reloading forum but I will try here first.

    I have everything I need to start casting my own lead ball for my Remmie except the mold. Lyman two cavity mold runs $85.00 plus wooden handles vs. $20.00 for the Lee two cavity mold which includes the handles.

    Taking into consideration the material they are constructed of (Lyman is steel) and the hugh price difference how does the Lee compare to the Lyman
    with consistency and durability?

    As long as the bullet does not have voids in it and will shave lead when loaded I would doubt if it makes a difference in a revolver.

    Durability might be more of issue but since I can buy 5 Lee molds for the price of one Lyman even a shorter lifespan of the Lee may still be more cost effective. On the other hand Lyman will probably last a lifetime.

    I would guess I am going to cast around 60 balls a month.
  2. rodwha

    rodwha Well-Known Member

    I've asked myself, and though many feel the durability is much better with the Lyman molds, I've not actually read of anyone having a problem with their Lee. They get praised often.

    The way I see it is being made of aluminum they heat up faster, but cool faster. Give and take...

    For the cost I'd opt for the Lee if/when I get involved. Mostly for the cost as I'd be buying all of the other equipment as well.
  3. frontiergander

    frontiergander Well-Known Member

    Lee molds are good. They are aluminum so you cant heat them as much, but they do cast a better ball IMO than lyman. The spure on the lee is nice and flat with the ball, the lyman sticks out a great deal.

    The lee molds when lubed and taken care of will last a life time.
  4. Ifishsum

    Ifishsum Well-Known Member

    I've got no complaints at all with my Lee RB molds, good value and they do leave a nice flat sprue rather than a tit. Mine cast true-to-size (using pure lead of course, not WW) and shave the same ring as Hornady .454s
  5. 44 Dave

    44 Dave Well-Known Member

    I like my Lee molds, the two I bought this month have new and better alignment pins.
  6. boommer

    boommer Well-Known Member

    Go with the Lee. I have both brands and really for the price diff not worth it .
    The Lymans that I have in 45 /50 cuts the sprue a little more proud.
  7. loose noose

    loose noose Well-Known Member

    Definitely Lee, I also have the mini ball mould (real) in .50 and .54, it make an excellent bullet/ball.
  8. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    I've still using the first Lee mold I ever bought, a .454" 220 conical I bought around 1976. Coming up on 40 years, is that durable enough for ya? All my molds, or most of 'em, are Lee. I don't care for cast iron. You can cool off an over-hot aluminum mold by splashing a bit of water on it or dipping a corner. DON'T try that with iron.

    My reproduction .31 mold is brass. I'd guess that Aluminum is as durable as brass which was used a LOT for molds back in the day.

    I'll take the Lee and save some money, thanks. If it only lasts me 40 years, I'll be dead by then. :D

    The ONE mold I've had to repair was a .358" 158SWCGC Lee mold on which the sprue cutter mount bolt stripped out. I just drilled out the hole and used a small machine screw. Still working and that mold is over 30 years old.
  9. J-Bar

    J-Bar Well-Known Member

    I am pleased with my Lee molds. Aluminum is obviously less durable than steel, but if you take resonable care...

    I run my molds hot enough to cut the sprue with thumb pressure only on the sprue cutter. I wear gloves of course (cheap welder's gloves from Harbor Freight) I hate to see anyone pound on a sprue cutter with a mallet. Not necessary. Run the mold and lead hot, cut the sprue as soon as it solidifies (you can tell when it turns a bit dull), and thumb pressure is all will you need. I can run 3 casts per minute with a 6 cavity mold and a bottom pour furnace when I'm cookin'!

    If I were pounding the mold with something, I would opt for steel.

    But I'm not.
  10. TomADC

    TomADC Well-Known Member

    I haven't cast any RB's with either Lee or Lyman but I do like the Lyman molds much better then the Lee.
    I had several Lee molds at one time but I've since sold or given them away.
  11. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    This thread got me off my duff and I ordered a box of .454 RB and a Lee mold. The .454 RB is backordered, of course. :rolleyes: I can get .457, but apparently .454 stock is low. I'm GUESSING the bullet companies are concentrating on the stock that's short, like .22LR and 9mm, with their production. Bummer when RB is short. Now, I've got the conical mold I've had for 40 years, but my new '58 5.5" really prefers RB.

    I can't buy .22LR at the moment, but by GAWD I can cast RB! :D
  12. TomADC

    TomADC Well-Known Member

  13. rdstrain49

    rdstrain49 Well-Known Member

    I have both Lyman and Lee RB moulds. I like the Lee better simply because they case a "spru-less" ball. No real need to keep the spru up during loading.
  14. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    Tom, I can buy ball, too, but I LIKE casting. Hell, I even make my own percussion caps and am going to get into making my own black powder. Self sufficiency and, well, it's kinda fun and keeps me out of trouble. :D
  15. Rattus58

    Rattus58 Well-Known Member

    I've a bunch of Lee molds, several Lyman molds, some Rapine and a couple of custom molds and a smoked lee is as good as any but they score easily and don't last as long as brass or steel.

    On the other hand, they are cheap easy to heat.

    As a bargain mold I can think of no other that will give you overall service as a lee if it casts a good bullet to start with.

    Aloha... :cool:
  16. BSA1

    BSA1 Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the feedback.
  17. Noz

    Noz Well-Known Member

    My best mold is a MOUNTAIN MOLDS BRASS ONE. All else are Lee's.
    I really like the 454 round ball six holer. I set in a month or so ago and made up 43 pounds of 454s. Six at a time and they pile up fast.
  18. 303tom

    303tom member

    All my molds are Lee Aluminum Molds & I have never had a problem with them. The only thing you have with the Lyman Steel Molds is less money & a heavy azz steel mold..........
  19. xXxplosive

    xXxplosive Well-Known Member

    Rapine Molds.............?
  20. StrawHat

    StrawHat Well-Known Member

    Treated prorperly, either mold will last for several lifetimes. I have Lee, Lyman and a few other molds. Some custom, many stock factory molds, as was stated by J-Bar, cut the sprue while the lead is hot, and you won't need to whack at the sprue plate with a hammer. Most of the damage caused to molds is operator induced. I have a lot of Lee 2 cavity molds I got in the 70s or 80s and they are still pouring good bullets. If you get a problem mold, there are cures but cross that bridge later on, if you have to.

    The only thing I do to all my Lee molds is once I get them, I cast some bullets to use as a lap and polish the cavities. This gets any oil out of the cavities and removes any burrs.

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