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Old August 2, 2009, 10:16 PM   #1
brantleyallen
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Casting Bullets for .45 ACP

maybe this is too general. maybe I haven't read everything I can find, yet, on cast lead bullets.

What are some guidelines you guys use when casting lead bullets? I'm interesting primarily in .45 ACP.
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Old August 2, 2009, 10:50 PM   #2
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What is it exactly that you are wanting to know. Yes your OP is way to generic.
Are you wanting to know source for lead. Info about molds and melting pots. What is it you want to know. I'm willing to share what I know, but I need to know where/what to start with.
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Old August 3, 2009, 12:59 AM   #3
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Agreed. Your post is very vague. If you're like me, I want to ask about stuff I don't know very much about but don't know the right words to use.

Is your meaning of guidelines in relation to loading? Are you asking what equipment we use or the process of making them?
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Old August 3, 2009, 07:04 AM   #4
brantleyallen
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I guess I first need to learn about lead alloys. What's the "right" recipe? How do you decide that? I've read a bit here: http://www.lasc.us/FryxellCommentsCBAlloys.htm There are other articles there that are more technical than, "Melt your lead, pour it in the mold, pop it out and let it cool."

How hard. How soft. Air cooled or water cooled. How do you test the hardness/softness. Does the alloy mix affect the bullet weight? How much.

I appreciate your help.

Brantley
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Old August 3, 2009, 07:21 AM   #5
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Look up the thread entitled "Bullet Casting 101". This will give you a quick idea of what casting is all about.
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Old August 3, 2009, 07:24 AM   #6
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45 acp is a lower pressure round and a softer alloy can be used. If you use too hard and alloy, the boolit will not abturate to seal the bore proeprly which can lead to leading. What kind of lead do you have access to? Wheelweights? If so, WWs work fine, air-cooled. A better alloy would be 50/50 WWs/stick on WWs. The stick on WWs are close to pure lead, therefore much softer. Generally, the more lead there is in an alloy, the heavier it will be. Alloys with higher antimony and/or tin content will drop a lighter boolit. You can buy a hardness tester from Lee....they are like 50 bucks. The lyman manual is a must for beginning casters. Good luck!
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Old August 3, 2009, 07:56 AM   #7
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A good way of seeing if the lead you have is pure or an alloy, is to either scratch the ingot (hard) with a screwdriver or pocket knife..... if it is shiny and soft (you can gouge a deep track down it) it is pure lead (or not much alloy) if it is dull & grainy (not shiny) it is an alloy.... this is very general.

If the lead is molten.... run a trail of hot lead on a piece of steel or aluminium.... let it cool. Pick it up and bend it.... if it snaps clean in half, it is alloy. If it bends without snapping, it is mostly lead.

If you are molding from alloy, stir the pot frequently or else the lead will sink to the bottom and the tin (or other) will be at the surface.

DON'T BREATHE THE FUMES.... lead fumes = BAD

Always, when melting lead, Wear long sleve shirt & pants & goggles & gloves.... wash your hands well when finished.... especially before eating. I always keep a bucket of cold water nearby, in case I get a splash of lead.
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Old August 3, 2009, 09:21 AM   #8
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I presume that you want to cast for 45ACP.
This is where I'm at with casting. I have a reliable source for WW. I melt em down into ingots and then use a Lee Production pot to cast from. I'm using a 2 cavity tumble lube Lee mold. I have no issue with bullet hardness(to hard/to soft) using straight wheelweights. No issue for me with leading in the barrel. When I drop my hot slugs from the mold I drop on a wet cotton towel. (Make damn sure its cotton) I did try water dropping into a bucket of water. I didnot like this method as I was getting very ugly bullets.
I hope this helps. Need more info please ask. I love to share what works for me.
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Old August 3, 2009, 08:43 PM   #9
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No need to water drop for 45acp. I use a dry cotton towel to drop them on so that the boolit cools evenly. With a wet towel, one side of the boolit may become harder from cooling faster. This is purely my opinion and may not be true at all. I am just anal about my boolits and strive for pure accuracy. Just my 2 cents. Good luck, and like Qball said, feel free to ask all the questions...we all love to share knowledge!
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Old August 3, 2009, 08:59 PM   #10
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I use whatever lead I can find. I'm not picky. (pistol range scrap is good.) I need to check with the local scrap dealer and see if he has any lead pipe...
  • If you use wheel weights (they are getting hard to find) watch out for zinc weights. Just a few will ruin a whole big batch of lead. They are usually marked "Zn" or "Honda". I've never actually seen one that said Honda. Just a year ago, there were almost no zinc weight here. But I bought a bucket of wheel weights from a scap metal dealer a few months ago and about half of the stick-on weights were zinc (and most of the other half were steel)
  • Lee's 230 grain truncated cone "tumble lube" bullet is a good one. Try shooting them as cast (without sizing) and lubed with Lee Liquid Alox. If the Alox is too messy for you, next try a liquid lube called "Rooster Jacket".
  • I like Lee 6-cavity molds, but start out with a 2-cavity mold because they are a lot cheaper and easier to get the hang of. I also use a Lee 20 pound bottom-pour lead pot. Like most (not all) Lee equipment, it is a bargain. There's also a 10# pot that costs a little less.
  • Don't melt scrap lead in your casting pot. Use an old cast iron or stainless steel pot and a camp stove or hotplate or turkey fryer for that.
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Old August 3, 2009, 09:11 PM   #11
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Short of buying PURE lead from a supplier or foundry, there is no real reliable way to know what is in your mix. I use wheelweights all the time, I have no idea of what is in them nor do I expect there is a standard mix used by all the manufacturers of WW's. I just am not that anal about ww makeup, If I were, I would buy 100% pure lead , add 100% pure tin and 100% pure whatever else I wanted in the mix. At least that way I would have some control of the true hardness.
All that aside, I have never been all that disappointed with any WW's I have gotten form either side of the Country.
I know I am gonna [sic] off the purists, but, we are talking about a bullet, not the crown jewels. I have never found any lead mix that wasn't able to place a bullet where it needed to be. I suppose I can blame the mould, the lead mix, the lube, the gun, the time of day and the fact that my gun had left hand twist as opposed to the more accurate right hand twist. NO WAY would I ever blame myself for a simply a "bad shot"

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Old August 11, 2009, 12:36 PM   #12
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I have a lee 6-cavity 230 gr RN bullet (tumble lube type) mold.. i'm using the 20lb Lee bottom pour melter... i don't yet have any ALOX, but have successfully seated an un-lubed bullet into a case...

Questions
1. is this cartridge with un-lubed lead safe to shoot (using standard lee 45acp LRN loads)? Will it hurt my pistol?

2. I used to only have the pure lead roof flashing sheets... now i have gotten a hookup on WW's (Wheel Weights)... I have some WW's with "Zn" stamped into them, are these pure Zinc, or some alloy? Zn is the atomic symbol for zinc.

3. Do i Have to use a bullet sizer? like the Lyman 4500? If so, what are the particulars about this mechanical animal? Benefits? Pros/cons?

4. Does anybody have a single-stage press for sale for cheap? I need a die station for my Lee hardness tester.

why do we lube the bullets in the first place? for the barrel? or to more easily fit the ball into a brass case? or both?

other than chemist supplie companies, what is a source of pure (or close to pure) tin (Sn=atomic symbol)

zxcvBOB, help me out, please.... what am i doin wrong here? I got a 6-cav Lee 45acp 230 gr RN tumble lube mold... my bullets come out with what looks like cracks in the side of them... one person told me im not letting my mold heat up enough... is there anything else that could cause this problem? What does it take to "get the hang of" a 6-cavity mold?

Is Zinc completely and always harmful to lead casting bullets? Or can it be successfully used to increase hardness to a healthy medium for Higher-Velocity (1100fps+) loads, of course to reduce lead fouling due to HV?

One more thing, I get the cracks whether i drop the newly-cast bullets from the mold into a 5-gallon bucket of water that is half full, or when i drop them straight onto a dry towel.... so i know it isn't heat change stress causing the cracks... about 60% of the bullets turn out cracked, by my count

could a hot-pot cause cracks?

Last edited by Al Norris; August 11, 2009 at 01:45 PM. Reason: 7 posts made over a 35 min period, merged
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Old August 11, 2009, 01:08 PM   #13
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Your mold is contaminated with grease or oil (easy to fix, just wash it with brake cleaner, or if you don't have that use soap and a toothbrush) or the mold isn't hot enough (dip the corner in the melted lead until it's hot), or the lead isn't hot enough (turn up the furnace a little.)

Take care of those three problems first. If they bullets still don't look right, stir a small amount of solder into the lead pot to supply some additional tin.

If the base of the bullet looks good, and the nose isn't bad, don't worry about about the sides being perfect, especially on those tumble lube bullets.
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Old August 11, 2009, 01:47 PM   #14
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Thread moved to the new Casting Forum.
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Old August 14, 2009, 03:01 AM   #15
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Quote:
If you are molding from alloy, stir the pot frequently or else the lead will sink to the bottom and the tin (or other) will be at the surface.

DON'T BREATHE THE FUMES.... lead fumes = BAD
A couple of things I disagree with. An often repeated myth about lead, tin and antimony separating while in a molten state. IT DON'T! Lead alloy is a solution, not a mixture. Theory has it the lighter metals will "float out" if the metal is not stirred. It's not possible to de-alloy lead alloys. Once mixed, always mixed.

Now some say the tin floats on the surface, lookit you can see it! What you're seeing is the hot lead reacting with the oxygen in the atmosphere, causing lead oxide to form. It appears as a scum. Now tin is more reactive with oxygen, so you DO loose a little more tin than lead or antimony,(if it's present). Fluxing with any carbon based flux will reduce most of the oxide to the metallic state. Leaving only dirt to be skimmed off.

Lead must be AT LEAST 1200 degrees to form much vapor. Even then, it hugs the surface of the lead tightly, it's very heavy. No electric pots we now use can reach 1200 degrees. Some may make it to 900. Playing a high temp gas flame directly on lead WILL cause lead vapor. It's volatile as well, so be careful with weed burners or direct flame on lead. Don't confuse the smoke produced by molten lead to be lead fumes, While the smoke isn't especially good for you, it's not going to poison you.
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Old August 14, 2009, 04:49 AM   #16
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casting

Quote:
I use whatever lead I can find. I'm not picky. (pistol range scrap is good.) I need to check with the local scrap dealer and see if he has any lead pipe...

.........
* Lee's 230 grain truncated cone "tumble lube" bullet is a good one. Try shooting them as cast (without sizing) and lubed with Lee Liquid Alox. If the Alox is too messy for you, next try a liquid lube called "Rooster Jacket".
* I like Lee 6-cavity molds, but start out with a 2-cavity mold because they are a lot cheaper and easier to get the hang of. I also use a Lee 20 pound bottom-pour lead pot. Like most (not all) Lee equipment, it is a bargain. There's also a 10# pot that costs a little less.
* Don't melt scrap lead in your casting pot. Use an old cast iron or stainless steel pot and a camp stove or hotplate or turkey fryer for that.
+1. Exactly my set up.
I was just able to clear about 300 lbs. of range lead; it'll get turned back into bullets. And then....I'll do it over again.
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