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how is bullet casting saving you money?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by JBrady555, Jan 13, 2013.

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  1. BruceB

    BruceB Member

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    Been casting now since 1966. Over that term I ROUGHLY estimate that I've cast over 1/2 million bullets.... I KNOW that over 1/4 million .38 Special bullets were cast to serve two active Bullseye competition shooters.

    Yes, my cost per bullet is far below buying commercial components. Most of my alloy is free or very inexpensive, and a box (50) of 9mm/.38 ammo costs less than three bucks. out-of-pocket... maybe MUCH less.

    The great benefits of casting, to my mind, are

    -independence (with a stock of inexpensive components, I do NOT have to depend on outside sources to keep me shooting), and

    -the ability to create what *I* want at any particular time.

    By buying tooling and supplies a bit at a time, one soon amasses an astounding amount of "stuff". I now own over 100 moulds, 60,000 primers, THOUSANDS of cases, forty different powder types, over a ton of lead alloys.... you get the idea. I do believe I am one of them there "nuts" we hear about.

    On top of all the above, casting is enjoyable and relaxing to boot.
     
  2. 41 Mag

    41 Mag Member

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    Location:
    Texas - Born and Raised
    Well my introduction into casting came about shortly after getting a 454. It is simply a creature of a different color when you go to find bullets for it.l While there are a few brands which have one or two jacketed bullets rated up to the pressures it creates, there are only a couple of production casting companies, which have the gas checked designs in the weights I wanted to shoot.

    That said either of the above mentioned bullets don't come cheap nor in quantities of much more than 100 per box. I simply could not afford to shoot the thing had I not gotten into casting my own. Initially, I had one partial bucket of wheel weights from which I garnered around 80# of alloy. I already had the Lee 4-20 pot used for other things, as well as the fish cooker and propane sitting around for smelting the alloy with. I purchased the Lee 6 cavity mold, sizing dies, and a couple of other items for an added $150. I also picked up 2K of .452 gas checks off ebay for less than one box at full price.

    I can easily pour up several hundred 300gr bullets, lube, size and seat a GC for WAY less than I can even order 100 of the Cast Performance 300's I was shooting. I can also customize the alloy to get the end result I want.

    This said I added several other molds for other handguns, and also started to purchase other allow since there are no reasonable WW's to be found in my area. The going price for the alloy I got was $65 for 65# delivered to my door. Even that price is hard to pass up a great pouring alloy. So for less than the price of 2 boxes of the Cast Performance 300's delivered, I can now pour up roughly 1500 of my own. Even with the added GC's and lube, I am still many dollars ahead of the game. Ad for the lighter weight bullets I cast, I'm even more ahead since they are in caliber, or weights, not readily available.
     
  3. evan price

    evan price Member

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    Wow, I dug over 800 pounds of spent bullets from the berm of my club range. Smelted down into ingots. Sold the copper jackets for scrap and recovered all the money I spent on fuel to smelt, lube to lube the cast boolits, and a couple of adult beverages. So my lead is free. There's your savings. Who pays $30 a pound for lead??????
     
  4. JBrady555

    JBrady555 Member

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    Well thanks for all the responses. I lost a little respect for midwayusa after seeing how cheap lead really is outside of their website. Had I not created this thread then midway would have scared me away from doing anymore research on whether or not I would like to cast my own bullets.
     
  5. Bush Pilot

    Bush Pilot Member

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    I've been told auto batteries were a no-no for casting due to toxic chemicals. Never tried it personally.
     
  6. Bush Pilot

    Bush Pilot Member

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    When I saw lead wheel weights going away a few years ago I bought and scrounged every one I could find, have almost 2 tons in my warehouse. Now, all I have to do is find the time to cast.
     
  7. Ifishsum

    Ifishsum Member

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    No reason to lose respect for them just because there are high precision benchrest casters willing to buy clean alloy certified in exact blends. That's who they are catering to with that product - granted they probably don't sell much volume at that but someone somewhere is buying it.
     
  8. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

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    Midway's lead is not $30 per pound, it is $30 per 7.5+ pound ingot. (that's still too expensive, but it's not ridiculous)

    I get most of my lead "free" from cleaning out the indoor range bullet trap. I used to get cheap wheel weights, but those have pretty much dried up.

    Also check the scrap yard and see if they have any old lead pipe or lead telephone cable sheathing.
     
  9. JBrady555

    JBrady555 Member

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    I didn't realize that they were 7 pound ingots, i retract my statement about losing respect for midwayusa.
     
  10. Bongo Boy

    Bongo Boy Member

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    Location:
    Colorado
    SO, this thread is a bit old and the Midway Math has already been dealt with. But, someone above cited $0.10 per bullet casting, and my math shows it's much closer to $0.03/bullet, assuming $1.25/lb lead purchased off eBay, shipped.

    I'm ignoring the one-time cost of the burner, pot, ladle, ignoring the cost of the molds, the lube-sizer, heater, electronic controller, recurring cost of lube. I ignore these costs because they all amortize across the vast numbers of bullets they create, and rather quickly (well, except for lube but that's dirt cheap). Even if you figure $300 or more in equipment costs, that's less than 3,000 cast bullets from any supplier I'm aware of, and you can product 3,000 cast bullets in a few lazy evenings of casting, sizing and lube. You can break even easily in a couple months of shooting for an avid shooter.

    Buying lead on eBay is not the cheapest way to go--it is by far the easiest for me. I've developed about 3 suppliers, they always deliver what I find to be fine lead of reliable hardness and content, and all I have to do is push a button and collect it from the mailbox. Everything I've purchased this way, with one exception early on, has gone from shipping box to bullet, no ditzing fussing measuring monitoring mixing fluxing or any other horseplay. Pot-to-projectile. Maybe I throw some sawdust in the pot for grins.

    My math indicates 45ACP, 40SW and 10mm Auto for an average of $0.12 a round, finished ammo, or less. Can't buy most bullets for that. What with the purchase of about 40 lbs of powder in 8 lb jugs, the fact that the brass is reusable indefinitely--the cost of 40SW is closer to $0.09-0.10 a round. That makes shooting fun again.
     
  11. mcdonl

    mcdonl Member

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    I accidentally posted this in a wrong thread....

    I will try to finish this thread this weekend and it will tell me how many 230RN's I can g from a measured amount of wheel weights.

    http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=690623
    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
     
  12. boommer

    boommer Member

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    BRUCE B I'm with you on what you are saying,DOING THIS A LONG TIME ! have at least ton and half of pure lead to lino never paid a dime for it and keep collecting as I as I send it down range.Casting owes ME nothing even with all the molds furnaces and smelter and such.But were we differ is casting and sizing has seem to become a job to me, but I shoot a lot.LEAD is much harder come by now and anybody getting into this game, it's not going to fall into their lap as easy. Lubes if you make your own you save there too.
     
  13. 45lcshooter

    45lcshooter Member

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    Got the goodies to start casting for Christmas. So my upfront cost is 0.00 but my dad bought the stuff, so he will tell you a different story. Plus I have over 50lbs of lead that I accumulated over the years going to auctions.
     
  14. hueyville

    hueyville Member

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    One poster mentioned using batteries and another said he believed that was a no-no. One of the companies I own installs an average of 7,000 to 11,000 pounds of batteries per week. First, you have to consider the chemistry of your batteries. I have unlimited access, cast bullets at least one to two days a week and never once, cracked one open and put it in the pot. You can be sure your batteries have some type of acid. Some do not react well to heating and the fumes can actually be harmful. 20 years from now do you want to discover your liver is poisoned from filtering garbage from batteries or your lungs are covered with pollups. In just the past three years I have seen the deep storage batteries we use in server rooms, Telecom industry, medical equipment and other mission critical areas change from lead/acid to nickel/cadmium in 30% of our applications. Their are no special markings. Unless you have a bar code scanner with industry software to tell you what exactly is in a particular battery melting batteries is a bad risk. I take my batteries to an EPA approved scrap yard and trade them for wheel weights and linotype. Do you want to poison the environment where.you live and your family lives. This is serious business. I do batteries as my living thus have to receive continuing education every year. The chemicals in batteries is gettin more and more dangerous every year. We have one type that if more than 8 ounces of electrolyte leaks the hazmat team must be notified. I take all my batteries to a professional scrap yard and trade them for lead that is safe for casting and a better alloy. For every 100 pounds of batteries, they give me back 70 pounds of wheel weights. I get.better bullets, don't violate EPA rules, don't poison my neighborhood and everyone is happy.
     
  15. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    I have personally melted down some battery plates. This would barely be worth it if someone handed you a bucket of them. It is totally not worth the effort of decontructing the batteries to get at the "lead." And I'm a pretty cheap SOB.

    I put "lead" in quotes because all you get when smelting them is 90% toxic crud oxides, a filthy pot and a lot of cleaning to do, and an itty bit of lead per plate. This is a highly disappointing experience. You will do a lot better selling the batteries at the scrapyard and buying wheelweights.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
  16. 209jones

    209jones Member

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    Mar 19, 2011
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    Location:
    calgary ab
    The most dangerous, and expensive thing, about casting your own, is the next gun show or visiting a gun shop. You will invariably look at a gun and then it goes something like this;
    Niiiice gun, hmmmm, I have a mould for that caliber ( or, mould is $xx.xx ). I have sizers (add $xx.xx), I have gaschecks,(add $xx.xx, or don't need them for it). Brass & dies is right over there...... Yup, let's buy that gun!!!

    On my 32-40, I figured it at 4.20/100 rounds, bullets, primers and powder.
    Try to find factory 32-40 ammo.
    On my 450-400NE, the lead and powder price go up a bit, but it's still a good deal cheaper, than the factory rounds, at 90.00/20 up here.
    Approx 20 320gr/lb @ $1.00/lb, 70 rds @ 50gr powder @ 30.00, Primers are $4.00/100 or so. About 70.00/100 rds vs 450.00 for factory?

    Doesn't take long to pay for moulds, furnace, accessories even if you buy lead at market prices.
     
  17. RugerBob

    RugerBob Member

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    Location:
    southern maine
    There are other sources for lead also. If you see a roof being done, some chimney's are done in lead to prevent leakage. The old lead will have tar on it. Set it in freezer a few hours and the tar will break off. If you have a friend who does commercial construction they re do many lead wall x-ray rooms and then if you have a buddy that works on sial boats they have lead in the keels. Thats pertty much where I get mine from.
    You melt it down and clean it and out into 1 lb ingots you get a fair amount.
     
  18. Clinton

    Clinton Member

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    Jan 1, 2013
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    Location:
    Troy, IL
    I go to public fishing areas along the mississippi. Wait for the river to drop and ill easily find 5 to 10# of lead a weekend. Lots of hooks and lurers too this weekend not so much.
    ja7u9u2u.jpg
    Clinton
     
  19. grubbylabs

    grubbylabs Member

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    That's a good idea, I had not thought about that.
     
  20. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    I'm loading .38 Specials for $60.00/1k and that's not even buying components in bulk. I'm buying primers by the 1k and powder by the pound. If you could place a large order online you could do even better.
     
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