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Old August 3, 2000, 12:49 AM   #1
Red Bull
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I am looking at the billet of lead in the Dillon catalog and thinking that casting my own bullets would be very cost effective.

Anyone have any experience with this? Is it worth the trouble? Is it easy?

Also, I see the lead billets for sale, but where are the dyes? You know, after you melt the lead alloy, what do you pour it in to make it into the bullet shape?

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Old August 3, 2000, 10:50 AM   #2
Paul B.
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Red Bull. Hike yourself down to your nearest gun dealer and buy a copy of Lymans CAST BULLET HANDBOOK. This will give you a good idea of what is involved. Is it easy? Yes and no. Casting bullets is easy, but casting good bullets is a bit harder. But that comes with experience. About the least expensive way to go would be with a cast iron pot, Lyman sells a 10 pound capacity pot, Lyman dipper, Lee bullet molds are the least expensive, and work fairly well, although I find them a bit more fragile than other brands. They're a good learner tool, and the least expensive, so that if you decied you don't like casting, you won't be out as much money.
Buying metal for casting is another thing. Prepared metal that has to be shipped is expensive. If you can find a tire shop or new car dealer who will either give or sell you some wheel weights, then you can clean them and use that. I've used wheel weights for over 40 years, and they shoot fine. Add a bit of tin bearing solder to the metal and it casts even better.
But above all, get the book I mentioned and study it thoroughly. With that under your belt, you will be better prepared to enter into the world of bullet casting. You can always contact me with questions. I won't guarantee I'll have the answer, but I'll have a fairly good idea where to look.
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Old August 3, 2000, 11:26 AM   #3
El Lobo
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Red Bull,

You should check out the Cast Bullet Association <http://www.castbulletassoc.org/>
and their listserv for folks who want to get into casting.

Lobo Lohr
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Old August 3, 2000, 05:54 PM   #4
Red Bull
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One reason I want to learn how is that it would be easy to keep the components on hand, and cheaper, if I need ammo. I don't want to have to rely on finding pre-made bullets (sometimes there are shortages, and also, such as in LA, reloading becomes outlawed...so then where do you get components? It would be best to know how to make them from scratch)

So, I do not need to make super-quality accurate bullets, I just want to be able to plink for really cheap (.45 would be a good start) and have the knowledge and materials to cast my own bullets if there becomes a shortage of components.


Of course, cost is a factor. I can't get good FMJ bullets for less than about $70 per thousand for .45.
If I am going to shoot lead....why not just make my own and probably be able to reload a box of ammo for, maybe a couple bucks total? Bullets being the most expensive component in reloading, if I can cut the cost down, it will make a big difference.

Thakns for the advice, I am going to go pick up that manual when I get a chance.

Anyone else, feel free to give more opinions. I have no idea what I am getting into, or if it is worth the effort.
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Old August 3, 2000, 06:03 PM   #5
Gipperdog
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I bought commercial cast bullets for years but had leading problems in all my handguns regardless of caliber or velocity. I started casting my own this year & those problems went completely away. I use wheelweights purchased from a junkyard. I started with about 100 lbs of raw wheelweights that cost me $17. I then bought most of my equipment at some gunshows, including the Lyman book on casting. It's relatively easy & satisfying since anything you may hunt is taken with a bullet you made. You could probably get all the equipment for less than $100. I prefer molds that cast a bullet requiring a gascheck. They seem to shoot cleaner. My favorite right now is the LEE .429 mold casting at 310 grs. I'm loading 20grs. of H110 & a Winchester primer to get around 1200 fps. No leading at all.

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Old August 4, 2000, 12:01 AM   #6
alan
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Red Bull:

Casting bullets can be interesting and rewarding. On the other hand, working with hot metal has certain hazards, and then these is the cost of equipment, molds, casting furnace or pot of some sort, sizeing and lubing equipment and so forth. then you have to get the metal to cast. Where I live, I cxan buy first class cast bullets, 200 grain, semi-wadcutter 45 caliber bullets for $30/1000, thats pretty cheap, especially as I do not have a proper place to cast bullets in.

You might try the following, though if you will, go into casting, but go carefully. You might find, in your area, someone who does a good job, using proper metals, of bullet casting. There are also companies who do it commercially, check this out. You might find that buying good quality cast bullets is less expensive than buying the necessary equipment to cast your own.

[This message has been edited by alan (edited August 04, 2000).]
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Old August 4, 2000, 08:48 AM   #7
Jack Straw
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I'll second what Paul and El Lobo suggested.

I started with Lee equipment which is a good inexpensive way to get started. Looking in a Midway catalog, you can get a 2-cavity mold for $19, Lube and size kit for $15, and electric Production Pot for $45. There are a few other things you will need that you probably already have in the house: some sort of wood mallet(an old hammer handle), fluxing agent (I use paraffin wax), something soft to drop bullets onto (a towel and an old ironing board cover for me), and don't forget gloves and safety glasses. If you have a heat source like a single burner propane stove or Coleman stove, you could skip the electric pot and just get a cast iron pot and lead dipper. This will save about $15 on your start up costs, but personally I prefer the convenience of an electric pot.

Basically for the price of 1000 jacketed bullets you can start making your own. That price doesn't include your lead, but if you ask around and do a little scrounging you can come up with plenty of wheel weights cheaply. It is a bit of work, but you'll probably find that the satisfaction from shooting your own homemade stuff makes it worth it.

Keep us informed and feel free to email or post any questions.

Jack
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Old August 4, 2000, 11:50 AM   #8
Turk
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Something else you may want to consider is bullet swagging the making of jacketed bullets. www.corbins.com


Turk

[This message has been edited by Turk (edited August 04, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by Turk (edited August 04, 2000).]
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Old August 5, 2000, 08:51 AM   #9
Andrew Bornman
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How are gas checks made? and of what material?
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Old August 5, 2000, 11:24 AM   #10
Paul B.
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Andrew. Gas checks are little copper cups that go on the base of bullets designed to take them. (Most rifle, and some handgun bullets.) Most well stocked gun shops that cater to reloaders should have them, or will order them for you. I'm not sure about Midway, but Huntington's has them. The only bad thing about them is as cast lead bullet shooting gets more popular, the higher the price goes. For example, in the Huntington catalog, they run from $15.95 to $22.95 a thousand. I still have some unopened boxes marked $7.95 a thousand, and it wasn't that long ago that I bought them. Still makes for cheap shooting though.
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Old August 5, 2000, 12:55 PM   #11
Southla1
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Paul not only does it make for cheap shooting it is so rewarding. Knowing that you did all the work to make that round except for making the original brass case and pwoder and primer. If you cast you can stock up on powder and primers and be set for years of shooting.

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Old August 5, 2000, 03:46 PM   #12
Hutch
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After casting a few hundred bullets, I decided that the commercial cast bullets were waaaaaaay to cheap to keep having all that fun. The only use I get from my 100 lbs of linotype and electric furnace is to help kids bring their pinewood derby cars up to 5 ounces.
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Old August 5, 2000, 07:00 PM   #13
Contender
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Excellent suggestions by all.

Probably one of the biggest factors in casting bullets is the added time it takes to do it.

That has to be considered above all because it does take a considerable amount of it.

Obtaining alloy conveniently,clean it/melt it down into usable ingots, then cast bullets, size and lube them.

After that, they have to be loaded into cartridges with the time involved that takes.

If you are willing to invest the time, it's a fun and rewarding hobby. If not, consider buying store bought hardcast bullets.


Just my .02
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Old August 5, 2000, 10:56 PM   #14
Bill in NM
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I'm glad to see this subject brought up here. Having watched my father cast his own for many years when I was growing up, I was always curious about it. When he passed away a few years ago, I inherited all of his casting equipment. Just started playing with it a few months ago, and really enjoy it. There are a number of things to consider. The first being, how much do you plan to shoot? The second is, how much available time do you have? The third is if it's cheaper to shoot, will you shoot more?
While there is a learning curve to casting, it's a pretty steep curve, you'll get the hang of it quickly. I would strongly recommend the manual that Paul suggested. I also found the article that Hank Williams Jr. wrote in the Lyman Pistol/Revolver Reloading manual very interesting.
Just for a bit of information, basing Powder at $20.00 per Lb, and primers at $18.00 per 1000, I can load a box of 50 .45ACP for $1.79 using 6.2 grains of powder.
It is a very rewarding part of reloading for me (plus it brings back fond memories of my father). I haven't had to buy a single bullet in about 6 to 8 months since I started casting, and I figure that even if I'd had to buy all the casting equipment new, it would have already paid for itself. Although it does help that I work in the automotive field, and have had several hundred pounds of wheel weights given to me.
Good luck and please don't hesitate to ask any questions here.

Bill
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Old August 6, 2000, 11:20 PM   #15
Paul B.
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Hutch. I can't believe you'd waste hard to get linotype on race cars. You could probably sell it to bullet casters for a fairly good price. I know of someone in the St. Louis are who's looking for some. If you're interested, I'll pass it on to them, and you can work it out between you.
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Old August 7, 2000, 11:57 AM   #16
Hutch
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Paul, I've got about a hundred pounds in a 5-gallon metal bucket. It's as heavy as guilt. If anyone in the Birmingham AL area wants to come by and pick it up for their own use (not for resale), they're welcome to it. Dunno what it's worth, but I figure I owe the TFL community much, much more than that. I have enough culled commercial cast bullets to last my lifetime of car-ballasting. Email me. Not to put too fine a point on it, I ain't gonna fool with that damned bucket. Got some ingot moulds and whatnot too.
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Old August 8, 2000, 12:55 PM   #17
Paul B.
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Hutch. I have a friend in the St. Louis area that has not been able to find any linotype. If you want, I'll hook you up and you can make any arrangements you like. E-mail Me and I'll give you their E-mail address. I'll bet they'd just love to get it.
Paul B.
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Old August 9, 2000, 01:39 PM   #18
Hutch
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Paul, I have yet to puzzle out how to get your email address. Mine is hutchfmf@msn.com

Feel free to email me. Note my message above. I DON'T want to try to haul that bucket ANYWHERE, not even to a freight terminal. No hard feelings or bad vibes intended.
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