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Casting My Own Bullets, Equipment Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Eagle103, Mar 26, 2007.

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  1. Eagle103

    Eagle103 Member

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    I've been thinking about getting into casting my own bullets (9mm & .38). Maybe a few thousand a year. Please educate me on the equipment first. What do you guys recommend for a melting pot, molds, hardness tester, lead sources, lubes, etc.
     
  2. ReloaderFred

    ReloaderFred Member

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    At the very least, you'll need a way to melt the lead. This can't be done on your kitchen stove. It has to be outdoors, or where there is adaquate ventilation to carry away the smoke and fumes. I suggest a bottom pour electric furnace from Lyman, Lee, RCBS, etc. They're all good.

    Next, you'll need the molds. Since you're just starting out, I'd suggest the Lee molds, since they're not expensive and will cast what you want.

    After you get those critters cast, you'll need to size and lube them. Some people use them as cast, but I like to ensure that mine are round and uniform in diameter. There are several machines that will do this, and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. Again, since you're just starting out, I'd look on ebay and pick up a nice used lubrisizer. You'll get a better price on a used Lyman or RCBS than you will on a Star or Saeco. It's kind of like buying a used Toyota or a used Lincoln. All of them will do the job, but some to it easier than others. The Star is the best, and I've got four of them. The Saeco is second best and I've got two of those. The RCBS is third, and I've got one of those, with the older Lymans last, and I've got the one I started out with many long years ago. I haven't use the new Lyman 4500, but I'm told it's much improved and doesn't leak lube out the bottom when using lube that needs to be heated.

    Speaking of lube, you'll need some of that. I'd suggest the NRA formula of 50-50 beeswax and alox. It will do for the rounds you mentioned just fine. Lee also makes a liquid alox that you don't have to run through the sizer to apply.

    In addition to the above, you'll need the proper sizing dies for the lubrisizer. You should slug your bores and get sizers .001" over the bore size for best results.

    For lead, scrounge wheelweights and cast them just like they are. I've got hundreds of pounds of different bullet alloys and several hundred pounds of linotype, but I've found that plain old wheelweights will do for most pistol bullets, except for certain applications. We won't go into that now.

    And get a bar of good soap and wash your hands anytime you handle lead or shoot any of your firearms.

    This is a very brief overview of what you'll need. I'm sure others will give you more suggestions.

    If you only plan on shooting a few thousand rounds a year, then you may be better off looking for a local bullet caster and buying what you need from him for about $45.00 to $50.00 per thousand.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
     
  3. Ndenway

    Ndenway Member

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    I use a lee bottom pour furnace, and the tumble lube moulds in .358, .401, .411 and .452,

    they work fine for what I need and were cheap to get started, I think the furnace cost around $40 and I paid $16 for each mould with handles,

    read the instructions that come with the moulds and they'll make good bullets,


    I drop them from the mould into a bucket of cold water to harden them a bit, then air dry them over night,

    then put them in an old tupperware bowl, squirt the recommended amount of the lee liquid alox, put the lid on and shake to coat the bullets with lube,

    after coating, I lay them out on wax paper to dry.
     
  4. scrat

    scrat Member

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  5. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    http://thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=158478&highlight=bullet+casting

    The link above shows a machine I built that is an automated version of a magma engineering caster (as close as I could get looking at photos). I never tried casting bullets by hand (fishing weights didn’t turn out so good). If you are only going to do a hundred a month it’s not really worth the effort/expense to set up IMO.
     
  6. joe4702

    joe4702 Member

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    Don't forget a good casting thermometer.
    I have a Lyman.
     
  7. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

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    Lyman melting pot, lead dipper, ingot moulds, bullet moulds of your choice,
    mallet, parafin, wheel weights or scrap plumbers lead, spoon, and plenty
    of time~! :scrutiny: ;) :D
     
  8. Hazzard

    Hazzard Member

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    Well, I got into casting "on the cheap", so I'll describe it from that perspective. To melt lead get a $15.00 single burner electric hot plate from Big Lots or another discount store. Get the highest wattage you can find for a fair price. I got mine (1500 watt) from a flea market for $5.00. Also pick up a small aluminum pan with a thick bottom. About a quart or so. This will do fine to melt lead and any left over in the pan will come out easily after it solidifies because lead does not stick to aluminum well. Always melt outside so you do not get exposed to high levels of lead fumes.

    Lee molds are the way to go if you are just starting out as others have said. They are inexpensive and work very well if you make sure that they are aligned correctly prior to pouring. Make sure that you blacken them correctly or use a good mold release. I blacken mine per instructions and they work fine. Heat them well. It's all in the instructions.

    I have an RCBS lubrisizer (expensive) but have used a Lee sizer die and liquid alox and it worked pretty well for me. Probably the most cost effective to start out.

    I use wheel weights for my smokeless cartridges that I get for free from a local tire shop. They seem to be happy to get rid of them. For black powder, I have some pure lead that I aquired years ago from scap yard that will probably last me a lifetime. You really should only use pure lead in Black powder guns.

    Anyway, I hope this helps as an alternative.
     
  9. GP100man

    GP100man Member

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    boolit casting

    check out castboolits.com
    GP100man:)
     
  10. bfox

    bfox Member

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    Man I think that guy in the video is nuts for
    not wearing long pants , long sleeve shirt and some gloves .
    But hey thats just me . I even put boots on
    so none can go down in my shoe .

    Bill
     
  11. snuffy

    snuffy Member

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    Yeah but the way he does it is NOT the only way to do it. Using a ladle works, but is very slow. He has a bottom pour lee furnace, why don't he use it, as a bottom pour? Also it is NOT necessary to drop the boolits into cold water. Most alloys will air harden over time to the hardness needed for handguns. He needs some photography lessons as well. We cound see him a lot better without the bright backlight he has. Looks like he is casting in his driveway!
     
  12. cracked butt

    cracked butt Member

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    -Lee production pot IV
    -get a lee 6-cavity mould for pistol bullets, they are much betetr made than the lee 1 or 2 holers
    -Lee push through sizing die
    -Lee liquid alox.

    I have a lyman 450 lubrisizer, but I only use it for bullets in sizes that I can't get a lee push through die for.
     
  13. okeybug

    okeybug Member

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    I've poured my own bullets for 9mm to 44 mag. It's pretty labor intensive.
    It's also expensive to get into it. I continue to pour because I have a large amount of lynotype on hand. I think if I were starting over, I wouldn't get in to it. You can buy lead bullets now on the market for a cheap price. When I first got into pouring bullets, you couldn't buy lead bullets at today's prices. It's the one thing in reloading components that is today's good value. Its true you can use wheel weights but you're gonna have to harden them up with lynotype or something with anomony in it. WW metal is not hard enough and will lead up your barrel if used by itself. The cost of a good melt pot just goes up and up. The RCBS or Lyman is close to $300.00 now. You can still get a Lee melt pot for much less money. Your bullets must be sized and lubed. A good sizer will cost you every bit of a $100.00 plus dies, plus molds.
    Your looking at probably $500.00 just to get set up. If you go with all Lee products the cost would be less, but the quality is not that of RCBS, Lyman, or Redding/Saeco. All that said, I will tell you that some of my best pistol loads have been poured not store bought. If you don't mind a little labor in making them, there is a certain amount of satisfaction from knowing you poured that bullet that you shot a great group with.
     
  14. scrat

    scrat Member

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    $500.00 will buy a lot of bullets. unless you go the cheap back yard route. most of us can do no problem. you got to use your imagination. here are some

    i knew a guy who used a propane torch to heat up a pot of lead then would ladel the bullets and was in business. cost about 40.00 for the molds and handels. then the resizer. if you go expensive then you are paying a lot of money. lee has a good inexpensive sizer. you can usually get them off of ebay pretty cheap.

    ok i also know people who use their camping stoves (propane or butane or white gas) in thier back yards to heat up a pot.

    ok then i know some people will spend 20-40$ on a cheap electric single burner

    so when there is a will there is a way. just figure out what works for you. then upgrade as you go.

    remember the KISS method

    keep is simple stupid
     
  15. schmidtbender

    schmidtbender Member

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    Is casting handgun bullets cost effective?

    I've been filling molds for 50 years and have concluded that casting handgun bullets is questionable in terms of money saved. You can buy beautiful lubed cast bullets very cheaply. Unless you get your metal free, it's probably at best breakeven not to mention the health issues. Rifle bullets, especially big ones is a different story and you don't necessarily need $200 molds either. One of my best #1 45-70 loads is from a ratty Lee mold I bought at a garage sale for $5.00. I find that the NEI molds with the driving band option are very accurate and of the highest quality (and expensive). They even make a mold for a 1" Gatling Gun!
     
  16. snuffy

    snuffy Member

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    On the cheap err less-expensive side of things;
    http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=476462
    http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=283142
    http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=368679
    http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=654847

    On the expensive side of casting equip;
    http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=209097
    http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=766375
    http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=655459

    The top 4 items would get you started with ladle casting, a simple melter, tumble lubing bullets, and a functional aluminum bullet mold.

    The next three items would get you some top-of-the-line equipment. You could spend even more money for some of the other companies that make molds, sizers and furnaces.

    Oh yeah you also need handles for that lyman mold;
    http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=698819
    A cuple of these for smelting also;
    http://www.midwayusa.com/eproductpage.exe/showproduct?saleitemid=361222

    What's smelting? Well if you get your lead from wheel ballancing weights, you have to melt them down, removing the steel clip in the process. It simply floats to the surface of the molten lead, to be scooped out,(skimmed), by you. Other sources will be in odd sizes. Getting it all melted down, then cast into 1# ingots makes the casting process much easier.

    As for the smelting pot, stay away from aluminum pots! The temperature CAN get hot enough to melt the aluminum pot. Having a bunch of hot molten lead flowing into your gas burner is no fun, and could be dangerous. Get a cast iron dutch oven or big skillet.
     
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