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Old December 10, 2012, 11:24 PM   #1
tkglazie
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thinking about casting my own .45 bullets, where to start? feasible?

Currently I load for all for all of my handguns and have no problem finding bullets that I am very happy shooting for 6-8 cents a bullet. At this price, I am able to make excellent ammo for $5.75-$6.75/box using range brass. I am fine with this. I shoot a box or two a week each of .380 and 9mm, and maybe a box every few weeks of .38/.357 and have a good supply of bullets for each.

For my very hungry 1911, I use excellent hardcast bullets from reloadsnmore.com (18bhn) that I pickup locally for 10 cents/ea. This puts me at $7.75/box using range brass. I am shooting much more .45 than I expected (just starting out in idpa) and would sorely love to cut my costs down so I can shoot even more.

I would like to determine how feasible it is to start casting my own .45 bullets but I am not sure where to start. Is there a particular thread on this site that I should check out? For the veteran casters that might be reading this, what would you recommend for equipment? Also, what am I realistically getting into from a labor/time standpoint, in terms of production, length of time for each bullet casting session, etc. For lead, I have been checking prices and would be fine paying the going rate on ebay for ingots of whatever composition I settle on. With flat rate USPS shipping it seems like ebay is a pretty good source of lead. I could be wrong, if so, please let me know.

Thanks in advance

Last edited by tkglazie; December 10, 2012 at 11:37 PM.
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Old December 10, 2012, 11:37 PM   #2
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Plenty of info in our casting section or go overload at Castboolits.com

If ya think you`ll like it ,ya probably will !!

START NOW scrounging any lead/alloys NOW !!

Read up on todays wheel weights , there turning to zinc ,no good for bullet makin

Dang liberals think people go around lickin wheel weights

To the liberals: ya don`t get lead poisoning dat way .

Here`s a good read put together by some knowlegable folks .Good Guys also !!!

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=346199
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Old December 10, 2012, 11:42 PM   #3
tkglazie
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Thanks GP100man. Oh my I am an idiot. All this time and I didnt even notice that there was a separate Casting section. I thought it was just rolled in to the reloading section. Now I see it at the top. Sometimes you cant see the forest for the trees!

Mods, feel free to delete or lock this thread. I will be doing some serious perusing of the casting section and I am sure I will find what I need.

Thanks again GP100man
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Old December 11, 2012, 07:25 AM   #4
oldandslow
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tk, 12/11/12

I'll second the reference over to the cast boolits forum at www.castboolits.gunloads.com. Between the "stickies" and subforums you'll find everything you want to know and more. There's a learning curve to casting and loading/shooting lead boolits but once done it's an addicting hobby and makes shooting a lot cheaper (my .45 cast boolits cost me about $0.02 each). Good luck.

Merry Christmas- oldandslow
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Old December 11, 2012, 08:41 AM   #5
tkglazie
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Very nice, thanks
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Old December 11, 2012, 06:20 PM   #6
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ALso while your looking into this you will for sure want to go to the link below and do a bit of downloading from the articles to the notes, and especially the book, "From Ingot to Target"
The Cast Bullet / Hunting Articles Of Glen E. Fryxell

If that don't answer some of your questions and give yo ua notebook full of more to ask about then your not much going to like getting into casting. LOL

Also you didn't mention which bullets in particular your shooting. Are they round nosed, SWC's, or what. THat will hep point you at a decent product ion mold that will allow you to spend more time loading than pouring.

Hope this helps. One last thing, if you thought getting into loading your own bullets was a hoot, you ain't seen nothin yet. Consider yourself warned...
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Old December 11, 2012, 06:32 PM   #7
tkglazie
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Thanks Mike Tx. 200gr SWC is the desired bullet, or thereabouts. I surely would like to load them by the bushel eventually. I never knew a bullet could shoot so straight until I got my first 1911.

As much as I love reloading, I have always considered those who cast their own bullets to be "true" reloaders and have nothing but respect for the craft. I can hardly wait. (I will though, until I have a solid course of action laid out).
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Old December 11, 2012, 06:41 PM   #8
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A Lee 2 cavity mold can be had for just a hair under $20 from Midwayusa.com I have one and use it a lot. It drops bullets just fine I have not had the need to size any of them. I lube with Lee Liquid Allox.

I started out on the super cheap. The bucket of wheel weight were free. I picked up an iron skillet set at a garage sale for a couple of dollars. Though I I purchased two molds first. I still use them over 2 years later. I did upgrade to an electric pot a couple of months ago. Though I was casting for near 2 years with a gas stove, and an old skillet.
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Old December 11, 2012, 06:59 PM   #9
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How much time should I reasonably expect to spend in a typical session? That is, once I have learned the basics, how long does it take to setup the pot outside, warm the pot, get into production mode (get things at the right temp that you arent molding rejects), crank out a few hundred bullets and then cool everything down to the point where you can pack up and go inside for the sizing/lubing etc.

The reason I ask is I am considering doing my casting at my local sportsmans club instead of the duplex I live in. The club is not heavily used, is very close by and I have good access to it. I could easily setup on a portable table with access to electric where no one will bother me.
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Old December 11, 2012, 07:16 PM   #10
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I have a larger roaster pan. (The kind for roasting a turkey in.) It has handles on the ends. I keep my pot, ladle, fluxing spoon, dross can (old bean can), and a pair of gloves. My lead ingots are already melted down so I just turn the pot on, with a couple of bricks in it. I also leave a tiny bit in the bottom when I am done pouring. It seems to keep the crud from building up on the bottom of the pot that way.

I take it out to the front porch with an extension cord. Plug it in. Usual time to be pouring is about 20 minutes for it to melt the lead down, and be up to temp. I put the mold on a stove burner turned on low to preheat while the lead is melting. I oil the pins while it is hot, just before I start casting. I make a few cast that go in the recycle with the sprue pieces just in case. I usualy keep my casting sessions to about an hour or so. Though on nice days when I have the time to myself I may go up to 3 hours with a couple of breaks.
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Old December 11, 2012, 07:30 PM   #11
tkglazie
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Excellent, thanks.
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Old December 11, 2012, 08:02 PM   #12
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If you want to go for it and do so with a little extra input o $$ but get a fast turnaround on your investment, you might look into the following.

Lee 4-20 Production pot around $60

Lee 6 CAV TL452-200-SW around $35'ish

Single burner hot plate from wally world, discount store or garage sale, $20 max.

This one I HIGHLY suggest picking up from the get go,
NOE Bullet Molds Lead Pot Thermometer

You will also want to orund up a face shield, some leather gloves, a fan or two, a ladle, spoon, and go to the Dollar Store and pick up some of the square cake pans to dump your bullets into.

This might sound like a bit more than your looking to spend. It can be, but the pot, mold, and thermometer are pretty much the biggest cost. DOn't let the 6 cavity mold intimidate you either. THey are just as easy to cast with as the two cavity ones, you just add another cavity about every 4th or so pours until your pouring all 6 of them. The bigest issue with them is cutting the sprue off after it gets too hard. This can break the sprue plate handle. I usually cut just afte the last sprue solidifies.

Anyway, that 6 cavity mold, coupled with the 4-20 pot will keep you in plenty of bullets. The hardest thing about it is keeping the alloy up to temp but not too hot. I usually run the alloy for my 6 cavity molds between 650 and 700. This gives me very consistent weights and sizes. If you start out pouring at 630 and let the pot get the alloy up to say 750, the hotter they are when you pour the smaller and lighter they will be. If your watching the thermometer you can add in a few sprues, or another ingot or two, or simply cut the control back. The knob isn't really a thermostat, it's more or less a rheostat that you can use to get things up and running, but after that your going to be twisting and turning or adding in a little at a time to keep it constant.

If you want to use the Lee pot and go first class, read up and build yourself one of these,
Project - PID on Lee Pro 4 20 furnace

That is the Cat's meow in temp control. You set it to where you want to pour, and get everything else ready while it takes over and heats everything up. It will usually maintain the molten alloy within about a 10-15 degree range once it settles in. The nice thing is, it will do this all the way to the bottom of the pot.

So there ya have it, I guess I got a bit carried away, but like I mentioned above, you have been warned.

Seriously though, you can get by with as little as the propane stove and a garage sale pot and spoon. But if you want to get just a bit more refined those items listed above will do you right.
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Old December 11, 2012, 08:11 PM   #13
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The Lee 20-4 pot and a Lee 6-banger mold (don't forget to buy handles) is a great place to start. You can go cheaper, but not much cheaper and anything less will be a *lot* slower. It's at least 4 times faster than using a 2-cavity mold. Take a look at the 230 grain "tumble lube" truncated cone bullet. You may or may not need to size the bullets; try it without and see how it goes.

Do you have a source of scrap lead? That is the biggest hurdle to casting your own.
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Old December 11, 2012, 08:34 PM   #14
tkglazie
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Wow, thanks Mike / Tx and zxcvbob. Relatively speaking, money is not an object. Since I am shooting more, and currently pay 10 cents bullet for hardcast, I am more than fine with spending up to a few hundred bucks for the equipment that will let me tailor the diameter and hardness of my ideal bullet going forward. I will most likely be buying my lead (no one seems to have any luck finding free lead around here) so even if I only end up making bullets for 5-7 cents I wont mind, at least that will get me down to $5-$6/box, and with what I hope to be exceptional results.

Last edited by tkglazie; December 11, 2012 at 08:51 PM.
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Old December 11, 2012, 09:12 PM   #15
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Back in the 80s I was running the AK NG Marksmanship untit. The Army ran out of 45 ammo. (I think they were getting ready for the switch).

To keep my pistol team shooting 45s we bought a lyman 4 cav. 225 grn LRN bullet and cast our own. That bullet worked quite well. We had some good pistol shooters on the team and they were happy with that bullet.

When I left the Guard, my replacement didn't want anything to do with reloading so I ended up with the mold.

It still works great in my guns. I've never seen a need for any other bullets in my 1911s.
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Old December 11, 2012, 09:21 PM   #16
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Quote:
I will most likely be buying my lead (no one seems to have any luck finding free lead around here) so even if I only end up making bullets for 5-7 cents I wont mind, at least that will get me down to $5-$6/box, and with what I hope to be exceptional results.
That's the problem; you're looking for free lead. You should be looking for cheap lead. There's a difference. (There's not much free anymore.)
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Old December 11, 2012, 09:24 PM   #17
tkglazie
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I hear that zxcvbob, but the big problem is that I am behind the wall over here in Mass. Not many places even think to save their lead at all. I must say though, with the flatrate USPS shipping boxes it doesnt seem like buying ingots of whatever lead you like is too expensive. Am I underestimating the amount of waste per pound perhaps?
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Old December 11, 2012, 09:30 PM   #18
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At say $1 a pound for lead, you can get like 30-35 200 grain SWC bullets per dollar. I paid .70 a pound for ingots of wheel weight this Summer. Should have bought some more.
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Old December 11, 2012, 09:37 PM   #19
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Find and indoor range, they often will let you clean up the bullet traps.

That's where I get my lead. The Club is more then happy to have someone keep the bullet traps clean.
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Old December 11, 2012, 09:39 PM   #20
tkglazie
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Thats more than good enough for me Miata. Even at $1.50 a pound I wouldnt mind learning the ropes, and then in the future maybe land that one good score of good lead if I get lucky. If not, I am still way ahead of the game vs 10 cent bullets (considering I wont be counting my time since I want to learn the skill anyway)
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Old December 11, 2012, 09:45 PM   #21
tkglazie
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Quote:
Find and indoor range, they often will let you clean up the bullet traps.

That's where I get my lead. The Club is more then happy to have someone keep the bullet traps clean.
great idea kraigwy. I have access to the indoor range and regularly get my 9mm cases from there, but never thought of getting lead there too. I could easily volunteer for inside cleanup as part of my yearly labor dues. Great idea.

Last edited by tkglazie; December 11, 2012 at 10:09 PM.
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Old December 11, 2012, 10:04 PM   #22
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tk, 12/12/12

You asked about the time needed for a casting session. I have an AccurateMold 5 cavity mold and turn out about 300 rounds an hour.

I've got four different Lee molds, two in .45 and two in 9mm. I've tried their tumble lube and conventional lube boolits but could never get them to work out well. Finally I went to the Accurate Mold website (www.accuratemolds.com) where you can order any design and diameter .45 boolit mold you like in aluminum, brass or steel. Their molds work great, cast at the requested diameter (unlike Lee which can be quite variable) and work without sizing which eliminates a messy and time-consuming step. Take a look at their website and read the info at castboolits.com on slugging a barrel so you order the right diameter mold. Good luck.

best wishes- oldandslow
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Old December 11, 2012, 10:57 PM   #23
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Quote:
great idea kraigwy. I have access to the indoor range and regularly get my 9mm cases from there, but never thought of getting lead there too. I could easily volunteer for inside cleanup as part of my yearly labor dues. Great idea.
I get most of my lead for "free" by cleaning the bullet trap once a year at my indoor range. It's hard and nasty work; you earn the lead, they're not just giving it to you. Wear a good mask (N95 or better), and maybe even goggles, so you don't poison yourself from all the dust.

Bullet trap lead is good stuff. I have no idea what the alloy is, but it has enough tin in it that it doesn't tarnish, and enough antimony that it hardens pretty good. Not as hard as clip-on wheel weights or shotgun shot, but hard enough.
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Old December 12, 2012, 02:11 PM   #24
tkglazie
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Wow, a PID-controlled melting pot project sounds like just the thing to do this winter.
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Old December 13, 2012, 05:15 AM   #25
Mike / Tx
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Quote:
Wow, a PID-controlled melting pot project sounds like just the thing to do this winter.
If your not overly handy with that sort of stuff there is also a fellow who was selling the completed units in the Vendors Section at CB's. Not sure if he still is or not.

Also when/if you do put one together yourself, when you get ready to test it out, don't simply hook up your V meter to the leads and think something isn't working right on the output. Plug in a lamp and then test it out. They control the amps/watts not the voltage so you will always have a volt reading. Just a heads up. Also some recommend getting the 25amp relay verses the 15. I have had the 15 and so far it has held up fine over the past year and a half. Of course when I pour I pour in bulk so it takes me a while to get back to pouring again. The more cycles it does the shorter the life has been what was reported. Anyway just a few tidbits I picked up while researching them and building mine.
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