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Old August 25, 2012, 06:35 PM   #1
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Casting lead bullets

Hey gentlemen, im new to this forum. First i will tell a little about currently serving active duty in the US Army as a Staff Sergeant(P) and have been reloading for about 13 yrs. I reload 25-06, 500 S&W, 17 remington, .308, 22-250, 357 mag, 45 acp, 9mm, 50 bmg, 338 lapua, 223, and a few odd ball (wildcat) cartridges. I shoot IDPA and also shoot long range comps. reloading has been a addiction for me and it is very relaxing. anyway, the one thing i have never done is cast my own lead bullets, so my question is can anyone give me some info for getting started in cast bullets...IE the do's and dont's. even what type of equipment i will need. any help would be great thanks!
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Old August 25, 2012, 06:46 PM   #2
Don H
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Try this thread in the Bullet Casting forum for a start:
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Old August 25, 2012, 06:48 PM   #3
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First of all, thank you for your service.


A great deal of information there.
David Bachelder
Trinity, Texas
I load, 9mm Luger, 38 and 40 S&W, 38 Special, 357Magnum, 45ACP, 45 Colt, 223, 300 AAC, 243 and 30-06
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Old August 25, 2012, 06:51 PM   #4
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Very large subject but doable. I have been casting for 40 years now specifically for .38 Special, .357 magnum, 45 Colt, 30-30 Winchester and now the 300 Blackout. A great hobby and once you get set up quite enjoyable. First off do you have a source of reasonably priced lead and what do you plan on casting first? I'd recommend going over to for some specific information. No, it's not a mispelling. Generally, store bought are considered "bullets" and home cast "boolits". The re-spelling helps differenciate one from the other.
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Old August 25, 2012, 07:41 PM   #5
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thanks so much guys for the replys and much needed info. I really like the links you have given me. as far as a supply of lead... i have a free supply of wheel weights. so lead is free. i will start shopping around for equipment and do some price checking. thanks again. Oh one more thing...should i slug my barrels first before buying a molds?? i will be casting 45 acp, 9mm, and 357.
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Old August 25, 2012, 08:29 PM   #6
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It is a good idea to slug your barrel. It will save you time in the long run. Be careful with the wheel weights you get now days. A lot of it is zinc and you don't want that in your lead.
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Old August 25, 2012, 08:45 PM   #7
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Thank you for your service. Another excellent resource can be found here

As far as slugging the bore on the 45 ACP I cast and shoot the Lee tumble lube 230 gr. RN shot as cast seem to work just fine with any 45 ACP I've tried it in with no issues. The 9mm can be tricky in some semi-auto as far as bullet dia. most people have good success with the Lee tumble lube 124 gr. RN or other bullet designs sized to .356 or .357 the Lee mold I had dropped at .357.

On the 357 mag. I size my bullets to the cylinder throat dia. if I'm using bullets with the traditional grease grooves. One of my favorites is the Lee 158 gr. tumble lube SWC as with all the other TL bullets I shoot them as cast and they all shoot very accurately with no leading.
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Old August 26, 2012, 08:33 AM   #8
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Thank You sir for your service !!!!!

First ,as mentioned sort those WW (wheel weights) & get all the zinc ones out!! Zinc above 3% will render lead uncastable , it is salvageable but alot of trouble & expense that`s best avoided to start with !!

Get yaself a pot (NO ALUMINUM) & heat source to melt em down (not really smelting ,but we call it that) as they start melting (around 575-600f) stay with em & stir the metal clips to the top, if ya missed any zinc this is when they`ll float to the top (careful with temp go slow at first as zinc will melt at 750 or so .

Flux , I use pariffin wax , it smokes & will flash ignite but does a good job & leaves little mess behind , some use saw dust (pine for the tar) some use concoctions of there own making .The biggest thing is to use something that makes alot of carbon .

Outside ,down wind from neighbors is good also .

Here`s a pic of a few of the zinc 1s I`ve removed , it is in no way a complete compilation of weights.

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Old August 27, 2012, 08:57 PM   #9
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You think reloading is addicting Just wait till you start casting your own Boolits. Go Back before it's too late ; ) PS Nothing like the feeling you get making your own boolits, Pride & Indapendence ; ) OHH WELCOME To the Forum !
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Old September 25, 2012, 01:09 AM   #10
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Just got some lead given to me. WW, some plumbing lead and some ingots already poured.

How do I sort out the zinc WW. And the lead that is already melted, is there a way to make sure there is no zinc.

These came from a scrapper.

He also gave me a large ladle.
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Old September 25, 2012, 09:46 AM   #11
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...And the lead that is already melted, is there a way to make sure there is no zinc...
Empty your pot, melt some of the suspect lead and cast a couple of bullets. If the bullets shrink away from the side of the bullet mold, resulting in misshapen bullets, you have zinc in the lead.

As to sorting out the zinc wheel weights from lead alloy wheel weights, they will float on the top of the lead as it melts before the melt gets hot enough to melt zinc, and may be skimmed off. Some have a "Z" ro Zn" on them.
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Old September 25, 2012, 05:15 PM   #12
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Just got some lead given to me. WW, some plumbing lead and some ingots already poured.

How do I sort out the zinc WW.

Go have a look over at this link, Guide to Hand Sorting Wheel Weights It has plenty of info on sorting them out and what to expect when you do.

And the lead that is already melted, is there a way to make sure there is no zinc.

If you have some you suspect "MIGHT" be contaminated with zinc, here is an excellent post on testing for it,
2 Attachment(s) Zinc testing- with pictures

These came from a scrapper.

He also gave me a large ladle.
Keep your base alloys separated from the start and you will be ahead in the game. If for some reason you DO find something that is contaminated you can render it out before messing up a large batch.

Try and pick up a thermometer if you can. There is a great one sold by NOE Bullet Molds located here, Lead Pot Thermometer

While a ton of folks feel there is no need for one while casting, it will come in handy while blending alloys or when smelting up unknown lead as you can keep the temps down in the 650 degree range and this will pretty much not allow the zinc to melt. It in wheel weight form they will float to the top with the steel clips.

Hope this helps.
Mike / TX
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Old September 25, 2012, 06:51 PM   #13
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The thermometer is a must in my opinion for smelting ww.I never get my pot above 650Fish. As stated, it makes sure you will never get zinc in your lead.
A few drops of muriatic acid will tell you if there is zinc present. And "the Works" bathroom cleaner.(didn't think of that one)
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Old September 25, 2012, 06:57 PM   #14
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Sidewinder speaks with great wisdom. Get the thermometer.
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Old September 25, 2012, 07:09 PM   #15
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Zinc melts at 787 degrees. If you're melting the stick-ons, they might not melt at 650 degrees, since they're nearly pure lead. I keep my melt/pot temp @ 750 to make sure everything melts fast, AND the melt/alloy is hot enough to flux properly. 650 is not hot enough for the flux to return the lead oxides to be returned to the metallic state.
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Old September 25, 2012, 08:17 PM   #16
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Unless my old thermometer is off, 750 degrees is way too hot for my use. It makes my lead turn pretty colors real quick - blue, gold, etc., and oxidize like crazy. I keep my pot when doing the wheel weights just under the melting point of lead. I want to scoop out any stick-ons that I might have missed, which means that I'm WAY under the danger point of melting any missed zinc into my melt. I've never worried about sorting zinc out.

I bring the temperature up fairly slowly (turkey fryer), and throw in a couple handfuls of sawdust. Then once the clips reach the surface, I add the candle wax (paraffin) and let it melt while stirring it among the clips. If it doesn't ignite, I ignite it with a BBQ lighter. I continue to stir and pile up the clips, and then later scoop them out bone dry without a hint of lead on them. At the end after finishing removing the last bit of carbon from the sawdust, I add a bit more paraffin and close the pot after igniting it to give it a reducing atmosphere. There is maybe a spoon-tip of black carbon to remove after. I don't remove dross from my pot. I've never seen it at my low temperature melts.

High temperatures will make dross due to your tin and other alloy additives oxidizing (way before lead does). The trick is not to worry about returning anything to the metallic state by keeping your temperatures low in my opinion, below the melting point of pure lead.
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Old September 25, 2012, 09:20 PM   #17
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^^^^yep,no need to go any hotter than needed.
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