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Old April 4, 2006, 06:57 PM   #1
brasszz
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copper vs. lead

I've recently been thinking about starting to cast lead bullets. What do you guy's think are the main pro's and con's between lead bullets and copper jacketed bullets?
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Old April 4, 2006, 07:28 PM   #2
SDLAW
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What are you going to shoot them in and for what purposes?
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Old April 4, 2006, 07:45 PM   #3
renaissance7697
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Not for me !

You have to respect the commitment of those who cast their own bullets.
But
Too much hassle for me!

Heat - smoke - fumes - danger - equipment expense- safe place to do it - finding and blending the raw material ( there isn't that much linotype around anymore and Just how many wheels can you balance )....etc etc

I seriously doubt that you can do it yourself and get superior bullets to those you can buy.
The cost of doing it yourself HAS to come close to buying "tailor cast"
That's my take for casting your own!

Now.....Hard Cast Lead vs Jacketed
That is another story.

What you have to consider is the possibility of leading your barrel
Good Hard Cast Lead. (HCL).. in all but the hottest (fastest) loadings is near leading free.
HCL is considerably cheaper than jacketed.
( I don't think it is possible [practical at least] to make your own jacketed)
There is the bit of air borne lead particles and health, ( but we all have to die of something).

I personally use HCL in .45acp ( at 800 odd there is slim to none leading, and the difference in cost between HCL and Jacketed is LARGE in 45)

In my .44 and .357 MAG I use Jacketed because I hate to clean Heavy leading

In 9mm I use jacketed because the difference in cost is minimal.

.32acp and .380 > I use HCL because that's what it mostly comes in

BTW
FORGETT "Swaged" ....It is terrible !

My 2 cents
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Old April 4, 2006, 08:33 PM   #4
Edward429451
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The only problem I see with the store boughts are uh, that they are store boughts! Jacketed store boughts are generally more accurate, but not always!


Main pros of store bought jacketed:
Easier to buy than to cast.
More accurate than cast. (For the average reloader)
Easier to clean up after. (again, for the avg reloader)
Makes prettier cartridges.

Pros of cast:
Cheaper than jacketed.
Casting bullets that are otherwise not found for sale.
Cheaper than jacketed.
Tailored slugs for the gun. (size, alloy, lube.)
Longer barrel life.
Satisfaction.
Cheaper than jacketed.
Knowing that you will still be shooting after they 'outlaw' ammo sales.
Having even more ammo on hand than if you bought jacketed.
Moulds never lose value.
Did I mention cast is cheaper than jacketed?

Cons of Jacketed:
Expensive.
Shorter barrel life.
Copper fouling.

Cons of cast:
You have to (gasp) handle lead! (Pffft.)
You probably wont get then to shoot as accuratly as the jacketed until you tinker around with em a little bit. (But thats half the fun!)

OTOH, Every single jacketed bullet that I've ever swaged has put store bought jacketed bullets to shame in the accuracy dept., immediately. (Edited to add; Swaged lead IS terrible, but swaged jacketed is a horse of a different color!)

YMMV.
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Old April 4, 2006, 08:37 PM   #5
Leftoverdj
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Once you are set up to cast your own, you need never run out and you need never depend on anyone else again. While you can spend as much as you like for casting, you can also get started for less than $100 and cast more than $100 worth of bullets the first weekend. My cost per bullet is well under one cent since all my equipment has long since paid for itself.

I usta buy cast bullets, but the supply was not dependable. Just when I got all the bugs worked out, something would get changed on me. I've never had difficulty getting alloy. When my reserve gets down to a thousand pounds, I start looking again.

Cast bullets do have their limits, but getting good results with most pistol cartridges is quite easy. It gets a bit more expensive and tricky when you get into full magnums, but the .32s, .38s, and ,45s shoot quite well with plain base bullets of wheelweight.
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Old April 4, 2006, 08:37 PM   #6
cobra81
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You don't mention what caliber and firearm(s) you're considering casting for. If accuracy is your primary goal, I agree with renaissance that you're probably better off with jacketed. Personally, I cast for .30-06 and .30/30. Why? Because I've got a stash of linotype I can cast hard bullets from and not lead my barrels too badly. Plus, at the reduced loads I'm using with them, I can shoot my .30 cal rifles all day and not punish my shoulder. I bought my rifles to shoot, not to sit in the rack! I'm sure I coud get better accuracy from a match-quality jacketed bullet, but that's not always my primary motivation. Actually, with a little tinkering, I'm starting to tighten my cast groups. Not bragging yet, but they are getting better.
If my needs dictate, I can always load up some jacketed rounds with full-house loads. Best of both worlds. Initial investment for melter, moulds, sizer die, etc. will set you back some, but I've never worried much about how long or even if I'll ever break even, because again, my primary motivation has never been the money. It's the satisfaction of shooting what you made! Go for it.
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Old April 4, 2006, 08:51 PM   #7
Leftoverdj
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Cobra, I cast for rifle, too, but it ain't something I encourage beginners to do. They can get great results immediately casting for stuff like the .38 Special and the .45 ACP, but it takes much greater commitment and learning to get good results in rifles.
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Old April 4, 2006, 08:57 PM   #8
Edward429451
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I just started casting for rifle and so far...I'll have to agree with Leftoverdj.

Let the fun and learning curve begin.
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Old April 4, 2006, 10:08 PM   #9
cobra81
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I don't know.....I started with casting for rifle and have done alright. Maybe part of the enjoyment is in the learning. A little common sense goes a long way, too. I don't recall that he ever stated what caliber he was interested in casting.
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Old April 5, 2006, 09:06 AM   #10
Edward429451
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I've cast up two batches of the 311291's and haven't got a good bullet yet from them. They wont fill out the mould. I cleaned it & degreased it, played with the temp..and all the driving bands come out all rounded. I've never had this problem to this degree with anything else. All my pistol rounds come out great and even the 45/70's are easy to cast. I thought it might be my pour technique with the small diameter bullet but my 148g bnwc come out good with little effort.

I haven't even got to try shooting any of them yet! I'm going to try again this weekend. The good thing about cast is that at least you can melt them down and try again.
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Old April 5, 2006, 12:14 PM   #11
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Edward, moulds take more degreasing than you would think, particularly the Lee group buy moulds. I boil mine at least half an hour in soapy water and sometimes have to repeat the treatment. I've completely given up on the solvent and toothbrush method.

You did not specify your alloy, but WW often needs a little tin for complete fillout. I know many people use straight WW, but I routinely add 1-2% tin during cleanup and ingot making. It's worth the added expense to me not to have to wonder about my alloy.
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Old April 5, 2006, 12:43 PM   #12
Edward429451
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I used alchohol & a toothbrush. Boiled in Dawn eh? Maybe I'll just try that too.

My alloy is WW's and 1 lb roll of 50/50 per 20 lbs WW's. I've been advised that this is too much tin and will cut it back but I'm going to do that on future batches after I use up my ingot supply.
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Old April 5, 2006, 01:52 PM   #13
Leftoverdj
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That's not too much tin, just a bit more than the minimum. It should be a fine alloy.
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Old April 5, 2006, 06:05 PM   #14
brasszz
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I thought about casting for my 45, 9mm, and 38 special. I am a union carpenter and hang lead backed drywall in hospitals every once in a while. I always save the scrap lead so I've got quite abit. I also thought I would enjoy the process and would enjoy making my own bullets. Thanks for all the replys.
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Old April 5, 2006, 06:39 PM   #15
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as far as the alloying goes

as far as the alloying goes you can pick up a pound of antimony already in granulated form, which will harden 10 to 15 pounds of soft lead for about $10-$15. as far as safety concerns go when its warm i do it on the back deck;when its cold i use a dryer exhaust hose with a bathroom exhaust fan to draw the fumes outside. casting bullets is not that big a deal for me. and i think the overall cost of cast bullets is less than purchased brass bullets. one additional plus is if you want to try different bullet types buy a two cavity mold...they are pretty cheap you already will have the rest of the equipment.
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Old April 5, 2006, 09:40 PM   #16
Leftoverdj
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Brass, you are shooting the right stuff to start casting for. The .45 ACP and the .38 Special are about the easiest to cast for. The 9mm is a little trickier, but still doable. I am very fond of the Lee six cavity moulds and they are only about $35 a set. You will need handles at $15 but you can change blocks so that's a one time expense.

You can even use the same mould for both the 9mm and the .38 Special. I use the discontinued 356-153-2R, but 358-125-RF or 358-150-1R should work in both. Just size the bullets to .357 for the 9mm.

Your hospital lead is a bit soft, but you can mix it 50/50 with wheel weights for the .45 and the .38. That might work in the 9mm, or you might need to harden it a bit.
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Old April 6, 2006, 09:37 PM   #17
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I agree with the posted advantages and positive things about casting your own bullets and believe me, they outway the disadvantages if you do a lot of shooting (or want to). I can cast bullets that are far superior to bullets put out by commercial casters.

Many tire shops will give you used wheel weights or sell them for a reasonable price. Usually you will want to alloy a hardening metal such as linotype. I get my linotype off of eBay for about $1.00/lb including shipping.

I cast for several pistol, revolver, and rifle calibers with very good results.

An example is my .44 Magnum loads. I have never been able to buy a bullet (cast or jacketed) that is as accurate at long range as my 250 grain SWC with a gas check on it.
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