Hello, I have been reloading for 10 years now and Im intrested in getting into bullet casting. Im getting fed up with paying high prices on manf bullets so was intrested in bullet casting. Im a novice at this so please excuse any ignorance I may have.
1. What is a typical size of a lead ingot and usually how much do they cost?
2. How many 44mag, 45acp bullets, 9mm bullets could I get out of an ingot?
3. Lead is pretty posionous any saftey measures you recommend.
4. last question how long would you say would it take to make 100 bullets
I will give you answers from my actual experiences, so they might vary a bit from the usual.
Starting off, there is still free, and cheap lead out there if you are a scrounger and hustler. That said I guess I am not as fast as I need to be, plus I live in an area that was referred to a caster mecca with most of them being retired. So given that they have their predetermined places and pecking order already established, and I have little to no chance of getting in on the action. I did find enough to get me started, and have purchased plenty since.
The biggest issue you want to be aware of is zinc contamination in any ingots you purchase. There are plenty of folks out there with great lead, but it only takes a pound or less to ruin a good batch of alloy.
That said I have tried to concentrate on known alloys like the Isotope lead. THese are usually sold as either the whole core or what not, or already smelted into ingots form, depending on who and where it comes from. I actually prefer the whole core or whatever and smelting it myself. This way I know for sure and certain just what is there. These usually can be had for around $1 per pound, maybe a bit more or less depending on who and how you get it. The large cores weigh right at 32.5# each and smelt down into great lead for general casting. They are usually shipped two per Mediums Flat Rate box for $70 lately but when I first started they were 65.
As for how many bullets, well that depends on the actual weight your pouring. As was mentioned there are 7000grs in a pound, but figuring it that way is a bit misleading as it will depend on the actual cast bullet weight as to how many as some alloys will throw heavier than others depending on the actual make up of tin, antimony, and lead. The more % of lead the heavier they come out of the mold.
If you were to purchase lead, I would try to find wheel weight ingots. There are several folks who post them up for sale on several forums in the classified areas. Do a look see on a few places and you will start to see their names pop when you do a search. I believe one of them goes by Evan and he is a good fellow to deal with. In fact I believe I just picked up some pure sheet lead ingots from him not long ago. Anyway if you start out with wheel weights you will be able to pour up plenty of bullets which should suffice most of your shooting needs. I also suggest you pick up a roll or two of 95/5 solder as it will help out the wheel weight alloy to better fill out your molds.
Lastly, I HIGHLY recommend you read and download the following free book put up by Glen E. Fryxell & Robert L. Applegate,
From Ingot to Target: A Cast Bullet Guide for Handgunners
Also look up the other articles on casting from here,
An index to all of the articles/authors and handloading pages on lasc.us
It is a tremendous wealth of information and if saved to your hard drive or printed out in a notebook form it will help you over and over again as a quick reference.
Also do not be afraid to search out info on the Castboolits site, or even join up as a member. There are a number of mold makers, lube makers, and several there who sell lead on almost a daily basis depending on just what your looking for.
As for how long does it take to pour a hundred bullets, well like mentioned it depends on how many cavities your mold has, how your pouring whether using a ladle or bottom pour pot. To be honest, I started out with a Lee 4-20 aka - "The Drip-o-Matic. There are however plenty of really easy ways to keep it from dripping on a full time basis. I also started off using the Lee 6 cavity molds as well. In the beginning I was really only interested in pouring up the Lee C452-300Rf for my 454, but like anything else I do it somehow morphed into another full time full blown ordeal. I am now pouring for 4 revolvers, and have over a dozen molds for others including a couple of rifles, and I just started last year around May. Just sayin once you bite into it it gets to be a total hoot and addicting really quick.
Hope this helps.