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Old October 22, 2012, 12:48 PM   #1
akinswi
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New to Bullet Casting

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

thanks.
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Old October 22, 2012, 01:37 PM   #2
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I'll move your thread to the bullet casting sub-forum (click on top of page). You can read the Bullet Casting 101 sticky there to get some answers.
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Old October 22, 2012, 01:59 PM   #3
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My experience right now is that all sources of cheap lead that I used to have are gone.
You can see if you can buy scrap lead, but I think that they can't sell such toxic materials to "civilians." If you buy any, the current price is running about $0.47/lb., and I doubt it will come in ingots.
If you want to buy ingots already alloyed, you will be buying 1# ingots. These ingots are going for about $2. 1# is 7000 grains, so 1# will produce about 35 200-grain bullets. Thus, the alloy cost alone is $1/17.5 bullets, or $29/500 bullets (I think).
I can order excellent 200 gn .45 L-SWCs from mastercastbullets.com for $55.71/1000, or about $28/500.
Thus, I see casting as being much less interesting without a source of very inexpensive lead, and buying commercial bullets and melting them down may actually be cost effective.
I will be very interested if any one can give us a cheap source of lead.
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Old October 22, 2012, 04:03 PM   #4
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I still get my lead in the form of tire weights. It's not certified alloy, but considering I'm certifiable myself, it balances since the weights no longer do...

Depending on where you are, there is still lead to be had cheaply--my local tire shop still parts with them for the price of a pizza and a 12-pack. The nice part is once you have it, if you shoot where you can recover it, you can recycle your own bullets over and over again. as for being poisonous---the lead fumes aren't an issue till 1200F, well above what you should be melting at (650F is about right). And unless you are ingesting it, it's not going to get into your system by simple handling. I cast simply to expand what I've already done. My cast bullets perform better than jacketed in my handguns, my AK is frightening with a 170gr. cast bullet, and my 32Win Spl has never run so well before paper-patching lead to feed it. Just like anything else, it is what you make of it. For me, jacketed is almost a forgotten word.
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Old October 22, 2012, 05:15 PM   #5
David Bachelder
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Lead? Go to a Plumbing supply house. It less than a buck a pound, and it comes in 5 lb Ingots.

5 Lbs X 7000 = 35000 grains
35000 grains/200 = 175 200 grain bullets.

You will also need to buy tin and possibly antimony, depending on the alloy you choose. Tin is expensive, but you will only be using a bit of it (normally 2 to 5%). Antimony is the same, and usually bought premixed as a 70/30 lead alloy. The alloy makes the antimony a bit easier to work with. Generating the temperature to melt pure antimony would be problematic. Buy the alloy.

You can not generate lead fumes at the temperatures we use, normally less than 800 degrees F. Lead must be ingested in order to poison you. Wash your hands after doing your casting and you'll be OK. Proper hygene is the key.

You can knock out a hundred bullets within an hour, once you get things going your way. A 6 cavity mold is much faster than a 2 or 4 of course.


Casting bullets is just another notch on the handle of reloading. It's a hobby, take your time and enjoy it.
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Old October 22, 2012, 06:12 PM   #6
Mike / Tx
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Quote:
akinswi
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

thanks.
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.
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Old October 22, 2012, 07:03 PM   #7
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I don't know if it was mentioned, but you need to spend some time over at
http://castboolits.gunloads.com/
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Old October 22, 2012, 07:58 PM   #8
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2800 pieces of 9m for 50 bucks isnt bad. cast them yourself.
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Old October 22, 2012, 08:37 PM   #9
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Hi Ak,

I will answer your questions in the order that you have asked them.

1. If you are referring to commercial alloy....the size of the ingots can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. I typically specify 8 pound so that it is easy for me to load into the casting machine. You will need to specify (or purchase) small enough bricks to load into your pot.
2. The number can be calculated by dividing the mass of the brick by the mass of the bullets. For instance, let's assume an 8 lb brick. We have to convert 8 lbs. into grains. There are 7000 grains in 1 pound. Therefore, 8 x 7000 = 56,000 grains. Let's assume that you are going to make 200 grain bullets. 56,000/200 = 280. You will be able to make two hundred and eighty 200 grain bullets with 8 lbs of alloy. Simple calculations that you will need to remember to understand how much alloy you will need.
3. Yes, Lead can be a problem if it is handled in a wrong way. Keep your casting temperature below 850 degrees F. That is the temperature at which Lead fumes. Wear gloves and keep a wash basin nearby. Wash your hands often. Stay with these guidelines and you will be ok.
4. I assume that you are talking about manually casting bullets. The answer to this lies with the mass of the bullet. 'Heavy' bullets will require more interval time between pours. 'Ligher' bullets will be able to be cycled faster. I must suggest that you keep very meticulous temperature records. You will need to track the temperature for each mould that you have. The time interval can be reduced by adding additional moulds to cycle.

I trust that this information will help you.
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Last edited by Unclenick; October 24, 2012 at 09:19 AM. Reason: Corrected number typo
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Old October 22, 2012, 08:41 PM   #10
beex215
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7000 grains to a pound.

{Mod edit: I think Matt just typo'd the 2000. He had it correct in the next sentence, so I used my moderator super powers to correct the typo.}
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Old October 22, 2012, 09:52 PM   #11
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Start scrounging lead NOW!!! watch out for zinc Wheel Weights , zinc is bad & will render lead impossible to get a good bullets.Plenty of info around on the subject .

Alot of casters has started with lee molds & still do , but as you grow into your abilitys in the cast bullet world you`ll venture into different wants/needs.

Just like the kitchen in your house you can spend as much as ya want in the appliances, but it won`t make ya cook better !!

I cast for a long time with a pot over a turkey fryer burner , a Stainless steel pot ,a Lyman ladle & Lee 2 holers. As needs increased I stepped up to bigger better, faster methods .

Now the question is, have I saved coins casting my own ???

Probably less than I want to believe ,BUT I can taylor MY bullet to MY need in MY firearm.

At ANYTIME I want or need to !!!

Casting & handlin lead is fairly safe , it has to be in a microscopic form to be absorbed ,so that leaves thru the skin out . Just follow common sense precautions such as washing your hands & not inhaling stinky fumes .

If ya gonna go the ingot way check out Rotometals they have casting alloys ready to go at fair prices & as usual the more ya buy the cheaper it gets .
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Old October 24, 2012, 04:01 AM   #12
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I’m also new to casting what hasn’t been brought up is how enjoyable and addictive it is
Even buying the lead it shouldn’t take long to recoup the cost of getting started
I also buy isotope but as ingots around 65lb for $70
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Old October 24, 2012, 09:21 AM   #13
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I cannot stress this enough SLUG YOUR BORE BEFORE buying any or getting molds and sizers. Some molds will not drop big enough for your barrel and you will have to go with custom molds to get bigger.
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Old October 24, 2012, 09:41 AM   #14
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Quote:
1. What is a typical size of a lead ingot and usually how much do they cost?
An ingot of lead has no standard size. My ingot molds are home-made, produce many different sizes. Cost depends on many factors. From free to outrageous.
Quote:
2. How many 44mag, 45acp bullets, 9mm bullets could I get out of an ingot?
7000 grains to the ounce. You have to do the math.
Quote:
3. Lead is pretty posionous any saftey measures you recommend.
Do not smoke or eat when handling lead. Almost all problems with lead come from children eating lead based paint.
Quote:
4. last question how long would you say would it take to make 100 bullets
Using two identical Lee six-cavity molds, I can cast 100 bullets in just a few minutes. However, if I used one of my early single cavity Lyman iron molds, about an hour.
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Old October 24, 2012, 10:57 PM   #15
akinswi
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alloy

why do you have to mix tin with the lead... why cant you just make the bullets out of pure lead. I know they would be softer... whats the downside of that just shooting paper..
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Old October 24, 2012, 11:06 PM   #16
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Again, would recommend spending a few days/weeks over at Cast Boolits. You can shoot "pure" lead but alloying will fill out your mold better.
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Old October 25, 2012, 02:22 AM   #17
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why do you have to mix tin with the lead... why cant you just make the bullets out of pure lead. I know they would be softer... whats the downside of that just shooting paper..
There are a LOT of factors in the question you are asking. Lead and lead alloys have attributes that you need to understand fully. Lead maintains integrity up to certain pressures. Once you exceed those pressures, it starts coming apart. Tin strengthens it to a degree. Antimony helps. That's the radio version. Go to the top and spend some serious time reading "Bullet Casting 101", then spent some time over at castboolits.gunloads.com for additional follow-up. Read--read--read some more on both sites.
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Old October 25, 2012, 04:40 AM   #18
Mike / Tx
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why do you have to mix tin with the lead... why cant you just make the bullets out of pure lead. I know they would be softer... whats the downside of that just shooting paper..
If you will take the time to look and read through the links I posted above, you will find plenty on what tin does in the alloy. But for now here is a very cut and dried explanation.

Tin in the lead will for the most beneficial part allow the lead to flow more freely and fill out your mold better, and give the lead a touch of hardness and malleability. Pure lead, or lead with some antimony in it, (Wheel Weights) will work just fine for loads running in the 700'ish fps range up to around 1200fps. However this will also depend on the condition of your barrel, the fit of the bullet, the lube your using, and the powders your lighting off under them. The softer the lead the slower you usually have to go.

When folks recommend adding tin, it is usually for better fill out as mentioned above. That said it doesn't have to be pure tin, it can simply be several inches of 50/50 up to 95/5 solder. The trick is to add a little bit at a time to your pot, noting how much tin your adding to how many pounds of your alloy. Once you have it mixed in really well and fluxed, you pour a few bullets and check how they have filled out the small corners and ridges in your mold. Once everything is sharp and detailed that is all you need to add.

Tin will also help bring a high antimony content into a much less brittle and more malleable alloy. This will give you a stronger bullet which upon impact instead of shattering or fracturing, will flow back resulting in more of a controlled expansion. For instance, the Isotope core alloy is 1/3/96, (tin, antimony, lead) While in this form it pours wonderful bullets, but they are a bit brittle with regards to expansion. With the RFN designs it works great, with the SWC designs you start to get a few shedding their noses, with a HP you get the nose blown off and just the remaining base is about all that is left.

Add in enough tin, and a little more pure lead, to bring the percentage up to equal the antimony, (in this case I brought it up to a 1.5/1.5/97,) and it will change the whole deal. Now the RFN's will roll back a bit giving some show of expansion mainly around the very end of the noses, the SWC's will now more or less roll back to give a nice flattened nose back to the shoulder of the first driving band, the HP's will now roll back and hold together into the fine mushroomed shape they are supposed to be in.

(similar to these,)


The links above go into much more detail on what to use for what, and how to blend in whatever is needed to get the overall desired results with your alloy.
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Old October 25, 2012, 09:24 AM   #19
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why do you have to mix tin with the lead... why cant you just make the bullets out of pure lead. I know they would be softer... whats the downside of that just shooting paper..
If you use "pure" lead for bullets, except for muzzle loaders, you will be limited to very light loads that produce very low velocity. If you try to push them faster, they will deform when fired and produce leading in your barrel. There are some .357 diameter, hollow base wad-cutters (that are swagged, not cast), available from various manufacturers that demonstrate pure lead can be used albeit, with low velocity target loads.
Mike TX gives a very good explanation above concerning the benefits of alloying Lead for bullets.
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Old October 25, 2012, 04:43 PM   #20
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Tin breaks the surface tension of lead for good mold fillout. Like how wax on your car makes water bead up and run off, tin does the opposite for lead.
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