View Full Version : Bullet Casting 101

March 19, 2009, 09:17 PM
First off, I would like to thank CrustyFN for his assistance in helping me put this thread together. I may be posting it, but I am giving credit where credit is due.
This thread is for all those out there that have given bullet casting a thought, but for some reason decided not to take the plunge. It is also for the expert casters out there...it never hurts to see how others cast...you may just learn something!! So here it is...and CrustyFN and I hope that you can use it!

Books to read

There are a couple good reads for learning the art of casting boolits. Lyman has a good casting manual titled Cast Bullet Handbook as does Lee (Modern Reloading by Richard Lee [has 1 chapter on casting]) and the ABC’s of Reloading also has a chapter on casting.

How do I get lead??

Tire shops. This lead is in the form of wheel weights. Wheel weights are used to balance your tires when mounted on the rims. The wheel weights actually clip on the rim….and most tire shops do not reuse them. So, when they change a set of tires, they pull off the old wheel weights and put new ones on. These dirty, grimy, hunks of lead are like gold to casters. They are a great alloy for low to mid range handgun loads. This is the easiest way to acquire lead, in my opinion. Some tire shops will want some money for the used Wws. I have heard of people paying between free and $1 a pound. A dollar is really high and I would never pay it…..but you may have to. Even at a dollar a pound you can still save quite a bit of $$$. Do the math…7000 grains in a pound. (200 grain .45 acp boolit= about 35 boolits per pound….so about $3 for 100 boolits! Chaching!) If you get a good deal or even free wheel weights, remember to take care of the guys. Beer, dougnuts, whatever it takes to keep them happy and generous with their lead!


Lead can be very dangerous. With a few safety measures, casting lead bullets can be very safe and enjoyable. A couple “common sense” safety tips: 1.) Lead is poisonous to humans. Anytime you handle lead, be sure to wash your hands and anything that has come in contact with the lead or lead fumes from casting/smelting. Do not eat while handling lead. 2.) Lead fumes are dangerous. ALWAYS smelt/cast in a well ventilated area. This means outdoors. Most casters also use a fan placed behind them to blow the fumes away. This is advisable. Some wear respirators. 3.) Molten lead is H-O-T. If smelting or casting, be aware of your surroundings and be sure to set up on a STURDY table. Casting can be messy, so your brand new dining room table is not an option. 4.) Casting takes concentration and is usually done best alone. Kids, dogs, wives/husbands running around your casting table = bad. 5.) Water and lead do not mix. If water is introduced to lead in its molten state, you will more than likely get burnt. It is kind of like a little napalm bomb…quite the violent reaction. So if you decide to water drop you bullets, make sure the bucket is away from your casting pot. 6.) Anything you stick in your pot will get hot…and it will get hot FAST. If it does not have a wooden handle, you need to wear hand protection. When smelting, hand protection is must. When you take a tool out of the pot and think it is cool, it probably isn’t (thermometers, ladles, etc.). Stuff stays hot for quite a while…ESPECIALLY molds. 7.) Proper clothing is also important. Long sleeves, long pants, and leather boots is a must. Cover all exposed skin. Some people wear aprons. If you accidentally spill your pot, you will wish you were not wearing those sandals! Following these safety precautions will make casting 100% safe and more enjoyable.


There are many ways you can smelt wheel weights into ingots. Some people will use a Coleman stove, turkey burner or bottom pour pot for a few examples. If you use a bottom pour pot I would suggest buying two, one for smelting and one for casting because the smelting pot will get very dirty. The easiest way I found for myself is to use a turkey burner. I bought a Bayou Classic 185,000 BTU burner for $45 and a six quart cast iron dutch oven at Harbor Freight for $12. I use a RCBS casting thermometer so I can keep the melt around 700 degrees or a little less, that keeps the zinc weights from melting.

I bought a 20” slotted spoon to scoop the clips and a 24” solid spoon to skim the dross, for $3 each at the restaurant supply store. I use old one gallon bean cans to dump the clips and dross into to let cool. I bought a Rowell #3 ladle to pour the ingots, it cost around $30 and will hold four pounds of lead. I use wax to flux with, any old candles will do. You can also use saw dust or old bullet lube, be careful it doesn’t take much. I use an old wooden shovel handle that broke to stir with. As the wooden handle chars it helps to flux the melt.
I made some ingot molds by cutting 3” channel into 6” long pieces and welding angle on the ends. My wife bought me a couple of cast iron muffin pans. The muffins won’t fit into a Lee 10# pot but the bars will if only filled half way. You can also use the heavy aluminum muffin pans from Wal-Mart or another store. Don’t use any pans that are tin coated because the ingots will stick and not come out.

This is my smelting process from start to finish.
1:Fill the pot with WW’s. Put the lid on the pot and turn on the gas to melt them.
2: At 700 degrees scoop out the clips and any zinc or steel weights that will be floating with the clips with the slotted spoon.
3: Fill the pot again, cover and let melt. That will give me a full pot. Doing it this way I can fit almost a full cat litter bucket of WW’s in one six quart pot.
4: At 700 degrees scoop out everything floating again.
5: Now I add around a one inch cube of wax. It will melt and when it starts to smoke it will catch fire. When the fire burns down a little I start to stir with the shovel handle. I will stir scraping the sides and bottom of the pot for a few minutes.
6: After stirring all of the crap starts to float to the top. Now I will take the solid spoon and start skimming the dross. If you want you can flux a second time.
7: Now with clean lead you can pour the ingots. I will fill all of my molds. When they are full I will start to dump them in the order they were filled. Then I fill them again. When you run out of lead the fun starts all over again.
Bullet Casting
Here is a quick list of casting equipment: lead, pot, heat source, boolit mold, wood stick (about 1.5” x9 or 10” long), soft towels, ladle, spoon (for scooping out dross), bucket of water (if you prefer to water drop bullets), coffee can or equivalent (place to put dross), and flux (sawdust, stick bullet lube, commercially available flux, etc).

To begin my casting session, I load my pot with lead ingots, neatly stacking them no higher than the top of the pot. I then turn my Lee pot on full blast. As the original ingots melt, more can be added if necessary. Do this carefully so you don’t splash lead on yourself. Place your mold(s) you will be using on the edge of the pot to preheat them. If you are a beginner, now is the time to put your thermometer into the pot to get your temperature dialed in. For wheel weights, I prefer to cast around 750 degrees. You may find that you have better luck running it a little hotter or even maybe a little cooler.

Once my pot is at my desired temperature, I flux the metal. I use Lee bullet stick lube. Just a small piece, about the size of a pea is good for 5-10 pounds of lead. Once this is added, your pot will smoke and possibly begin to flame. This is natural, and I actually prefer it because if there is a flame, there is no smoke. Try not to breath the smoke (this is where the fan comes in play…). Stir your pot, making sure to scrape the sides. I stir for about a minute, vigorously, but not too fast to splash lead. You will see dross float to the top. This can be scooped out and discarded.

Now you are ready to pour some boolits (at this point I am assuming you have prepared your mold per the manufacturer‘s specifications…ie cleaning, lubing, etc).
There are 2 main types of pots. Pots that require you to use a ladle, and pots that have a spout on the bottom of the pot. The latter are called bottom-pour pots. The bottom pour pots have a handle that you raise to start the flow of lead. When the handle is lowered, the flow stops. They are easier to use, but some people swear by the time-tested ladle technique.
Take your preheated mold and close the mold blocks together making sure they are aligned properly. Then close the sprue plate. If you are using the ladle technique, preheat you ladle for a couple seconds, then take a generous scoop of lead. Quickly pour the lead through the holes in the sprue plate and into the cavity. Be sure to fill the cavity completely and leave a generous pool of lead on top of the sprue plate. This ensures that the cavity is full. Do this step over the pot so your overflow goes back into the pot.You will notice that the lead pool will “frost over” within a couple seconds. Once this happens, take your wooden stick and whack the tip of the sprue plate, which will cut off the sprue. Let the sprue fall on the table.
Do not do this over the pot because you will splash lead on yourself. (I knock mine off into a coffee can so it is easy to pour back in the pot.). Open your mold over a soft towel. If your bullet do not drop out, tap the bolt that connects your molds handles. NEVER tap the mold blocks, as this could throw them out of alignment. That’s all there is to it. Close your mold and sprue plate and keep pouring. You may find that if you prematurely cut the sprue when the lead is not cooled enough, you will gall the bottom of the sprue plate and the top of the mold blocks. This is should be avoided and will requiring some cleaning. As your mold heats up, it will require more time for the sprue to frost over.
As your mold heats up, you may find your boolits coming out and cooling with a frosty look to them. This is due to the mold being to hot. Now would be a good time to flux the pot again and give the mold time to cool (I flux maybe every 10 minutes or so…or whenever I feel it needs it. Anytime you add lead to your pot, it is recommended that you flux). Some people like to have a wet sponge handy to cool their molds as they are casting. Depending on your molds, you may find that you need to touch the bottom of the mold to the damp sponge for 2-3 seconds every couple casts to keep your mold producing non-frosted boolits. When you cool your mold with this technique, make sure you cool it with the boolits in the mold. Frosted boolits shoot just as well as non-frosted….so don’t be so quick to reject them.
Some people prefer to water drop their boolits. Simply put, this is when the boolits are dropped from the mold into a bucket of water. This makes your boolits much harder than those that are air-cooled, AKA air-dropped. Depending on the velocities you intend to push your boolits to will help you determine which technique is best. One other tip…never drop your reject boolits from the mold directly back into the pot. You run the risk of having a splash of lead stick in between your mold blocks, causing them to not close properly, which will produce even worse looking boolits than the ones you just rejected.

Lubing and Sizing

The bullets should be lubed and sized before loading. For the sake of keeping it simple, I will tell you how I size and lube my boolits. There are many techniques out there and you will find the one that suits you best. I use Lee Liquid Alox to tumble lube my boolits. I put about 100 boolits in an old ice cream tub, apply about 12-15 drops of lube and tumble them around in the tub, using a swirling motion. Make sure all the bullets are covered. Once covered, pour them out on a piece of wax paper and let the dry OVER NIGHT. The following day I run them through my sizer to ensure they are all exactly the same diameter. After running them through my sizer, I like to apply another THIN coat of lube and let them dry over night…again. Now they are ready to load. You may need to adjust your flaring die to put a LITTLE more flare on the case for these boolits. You do not want lead shavings when seating the boolits. This pic is of unlubed (top) and lubed boolits (bottom).


Due to the limitations of this forum I can only use 6 images in this post. If you need more pictures for clarification, please let me know. Thanks!

March 19, 2009, 09:30 PM
awsom post.... I dont make my own, but read the entire thing, pretty cool, but why do you make ingots then remelt them to cast, can you just melt the weights, clean all the junk out as normal then poor into the final mold?

March 19, 2009, 10:31 PM
You can do that but smelting wheelweights is a dirty process. These things are pretty grimy and you want to keep that junk out of your casting pot. In my case, I have a bottom pour pot that likes to collect gunk...and then it won't create a good seal and it leaks...not bad, but just enough to be annoying. Also, smelting and then casting ingots gives you an easy, clean way to store your lead. Some people DO cast right out of their smelting pot. I have never done it, but I would think that you would get better quality boolits working out of a clean casting pot. Good luck!

March 25, 2009, 07:03 PM
C'mon...you guys know you wanna give it a try........:D

Yoosta B. Blue
March 25, 2009, 07:30 PM
Thanks for the excellent information. I have a casting friend who got me started. I've melted, dipped out the slag and junk, so as to have 10 ingots that weight about 5 lbs each. I haven't yet bought my 9mm mold, but once I get one, I'll head back to his house and cast a few dozen to see how it goes... Good stuff, this! :D


March 25, 2009, 09:19 PM
Nice post, I am nearly hooked.

March 25, 2009, 09:19 PM
Great post, perfect timeing I have been looking up casting information. Off to the local tire shop this weekend.

Start collecting now so when I get into it I am not searching like I had to for Primers...lol:D

March 25, 2009, 09:58 PM
Good thread. I don't think you missed anything...

March 25, 2009, 10:24 PM
Nice post, I was just outside in my shop casting for the second time, and your post answered one question I had. I will be lubing and sizing my frosted bullets. Second question: I have been rejecting any boolits that the bottom edge was rounded, or not square, assuming they were not filled out enough. Any reason not to use them? I have the next two days off, and they will be filled smelting, casting, and alternating time spent getting our 1974 Triumph TR6 finished up and on the road. Oh, and a few hours at the range trying out my very own cast boolits.


March 25, 2009, 10:25 PM
Excellent post. I've been casting for a couple years, and agree with everything you said. I bought a Dutch Oven at Harbor Freight this winter, and just got it out to smelt a bunch of wheelweights over my turkey-fryer stand a couple weeks ago. Goes a lot faster than smelting in my Lee pot.

Only problem was filling the ingot molds.....I HATE lifting that heavy Dutch Oven off the burner and pouring into the molds. I tried dipping the ingot molds into the Dutch Oven, and that didn't work too well, either. I am just leery of trusting that wire handle on the Dutch Oven when I pick up 30+lbs of molten lead.

Will be adding some linotype to the pure wheelweights and casting some water-quenched boolits for 30-30 and .30 carbine soon. Gotta re-stock my gas-check supply; I suppose they've gone up like everything else copper.

All in all, casting is a great way to reduce the cost of one of the more expensive components of reloading. Plus, it's satisfying to roll your own boolits.

Come on, give it a try! :D

March 25, 2009, 10:33 PM
please forgive my ignorance, but why are lead cast bullets called "boolits"?

March 26, 2009, 03:22 AM
Cobra81: I smelt using the same process as you except i used a rockwell bottom pour ladle, it makes the process much safer than poring from your cast iron pot. I use this one but there are smaller sizes that are cheaper:


MrSardonicus: They are called "boolits" just to distinguish them from "bullets" which are typically jacketed.

March 26, 2009, 06:43 AM
David if the base of the boolit is rounded the mold didnt fill all the way. i guess you could go ahead and shoot them but i wouldnt. it might cause some leading do to the hot gasses working on the sides of the boolit. check your spru plate on the bottom side to make sure they'rs no build up on it.

March 26, 2009, 07:28 AM
Great posting, thanks for the detailed info.

March 26, 2009, 07:29 AM
please forgive my ignorance, but why are lead cast bullets called "boolits"?

Because people cannot spell correctly and they might think it cute. No where but here and other forums do you see bullets called "boolits".

March 26, 2009, 07:40 AM
Because people cannot spell correctly and they might think it cute. No where but here and other forums do you see bullets called "boolits".
They think that it is cute here too:


March 26, 2009, 07:53 AM
sent ya pm I C H... if ya stil on here

March 26, 2009, 08:17 AM
Bullet= something commercially available
Boolit=something that you have crafted with your own hands and can take pride in. :D

They use it to differentiate between home-made and store bought. Trust me, I can spell....8 years of college...I better be able to spell!!! J/K!! :eek::D

March 26, 2009, 05:30 PM
Great post thanks. I'm just getting into it myself. This is helpful.

March 26, 2009, 06:33 PM
Boolits= as God laid it into the soil,,grand old Galena,the Silver Stream graciously hand poured into molds for our consumption.

Bullets= Machine made utilizing Full Length Gas Checks as to provide projectiles for the masses.


March 27, 2009, 01:41 PM
Great thread Il. yote hntr. If you could just make that one pic smaller, the original post would be easier to read. At least on my puter, I have to scroll right and left to see the whole thing, pita.

You pretty much covered the whole aspect of casting. Anybody just starting out should have enough info to get the right equipment.

March 27, 2009, 04:19 PM
Thanks. I am not that good on the 'puter.......I don't know how to make the pics smaller. Took me forever to figure out how to get the darn things on the thread! :o

Shane Tuttle
March 27, 2009, 06:32 PM
You think it's a good idea to get into the details of molds or maybe start a separate thread? It could be a whole 'nuther bag of worms with the details of prepping a Lee mold, suggested techniques of using them, etc.

OTOH, if it's kept here, it would be a "one-stop-shop" for most casting questions.

I'm not the one to usually advocate this, but I recommend this to be a sticky, Staff. This board hasn't had a great share of casting threads in the past. But, IMHO, it has taken off lately as another facet to the reloading process and would answer several basic questions.

March 27, 2009, 08:44 PM
Lee molds are fairly easy to tweak. Some don't even need tweaking. The only thing I do to mine that is not stated in the mold prep directions that comes with the mold is polish the mold cavity with a bullet cast by the mold, a drill bit, a drill, a screw, and some comet. Simply cast 2 bullets from the mold. Then, after the mold and bullets have cooled, place one of the bullets in the mold and close the mold. Chances are it will close most of the way, but not all the way. I then take a drill bit that is one size smaller than the sprue hole. Close the sprue plate completed and CAREFULLY drill a hole about 1/2 way through the bullet towards the nose. DO NOT DRILL THROUGH THE BULLET!! Once you have a hole, remove the bullet and hand tighten a screw into the hole. Then, wet the mold cavity and the bullet. Sprinkle some comet on the bullet and the place it back in the cavity. With the sprue plate open, close the mold. Again, the mold will not fully close. Now put a screw driver bit in your drill and slowly try to drill the screw into the bullet more. It may go a little deeper, but you will find that it bottoms out on the hole and begins to spin the bullet. THis is exactly what you want. Spin the bullet in the cavity until the mold fully closes. Do this for both cavities and your mold should drops the bullets MUCH better and should require less beating to get them to drop from the mold.

As far as fill out issues...well, I haven't had any. I have heard that you can SLIGHTLY widen and deepen your vent lines with a scribe...but I haven't had to.

March 27, 2009, 09:22 PM
If you are having fill out problems I would recommend adding tin. What I did was add some solder, 95% tin 5% antimony. Adding more than 2% is a waste in my opinion. I have a roll of 1/8" round 95/5 solder. I add 24" to a ten pound pot. Here is an example.
These were the first bullets I cast. They are straight wheel weights with no tin addad. See how round the shoulders are? They probably would have shot ok, might have caused a little more leading but I remelted them and didn't shoot them.
These bullets were cast with 24" of 95/5 solder added to a ten pound pot. Now see how sharp the shoulders are? Much better fill out with very little tin added.

April 2, 2009, 07:17 PM
thank you all for putting this all together i have bee tinkering with the thought of bullet casting to save some money at 35 bucks a 500 for lead slugs it wont be long before i am saving money great thread thank you again lots of great info :):):)

April 2, 2009, 07:56 PM
Throw any bullet that has a rounded base back into the pot.Despite the popular belief that the nose is the most important part of the bullet.The base is what makes a bullet accurate.Or at least it is the major factor in a bullet flying true.

April 2, 2009, 08:51 PM
Great Post---Very Informative & Helpful.

Thanks To All.

April 2, 2009, 10:01 PM
Throw any bullet that has a rounded base back into the pot.Despite the popular belief that the nose is the most important part of the bullet.The base is what makes a bullet accurate.Or at least it is the major factor in a bullet flying true.

Agreed. Also run the risk of improper bullet obturation --> gas cutting --> you will be cleaning quite a bit of lead out of your barrel --> :( or :mad:

April 3, 2009, 12:07 PM
Great post, you make me want to start casting my own.

April 3, 2009, 12:40 PM
Now if we could just get the moderators to sticky it.....:D

April 3, 2009, 02:17 PM
I second the sticky part. do we have a third?

Shane Tuttle
April 3, 2009, 08:07 PM
I second the sticky part. do we have a third?

As Hank Hill would say...."Yep".

April 10, 2009, 07:35 PM
Need a fourth?

This was good stuff. Thanks a lot!

April 10, 2009, 07:41 PM
Glad you could use it! Hope it helps or spurs you to start rolling your own!

April 11, 2009, 10:19 AM
If you are having fill out problems I would recommend adding tin. What I did was add some solder, 95% tin 5% antimony. Adding more than 2% is a waste in my opinion. I have a roll of 1/8" round 95/5 solder. I add 24" to a ten pound pot.

CrustyFN - Thanks for the Tin / Antinomy tip!!!!! I buy my lead from a local metal recycling place in northern dallas and have been casting bullets with just the plain old lead. I've always known that it was a good practice to add tin and antinomy, but couldn't really find any to add (the metal recycling place doesn't have this - surprising). I've got probably 10-12 rolls of solder laying around, so as soon as I finish typing this reply, I'm going to do some more casting.

IllinoisCoyoteHunter - great post my friend. I have a nearly identical process that I follow, so it was nice to have my mehtods confirmed by an expert.


SP Shop Foreman
April 11, 2009, 11:17 AM
CrustyFN my Dad uses 95/5 too. My Mother casts some of the finest bullets I've ever seen. She's patient and meticulous. The normal BHN for us here is 19, (we can get to 30) but we're very careful with the sizing process to avoid leading with a too hard bullet. The bullets come out of the mold at about 10 with the mix we use and get to about 19 after case hardening, and the final pass for lube and gas check is using a die that's one thou larger than the first sizing pass. We don't do the quenching if the bullets are going to be stored for much later use. The reason is in the link down below. Dad has read this guy for years. http://www.lasc.us/CastBulletAlloy.htm Its required reading for me. The weather is getting better so we'll be casting again soon. We do it outdoors near the relaoding room.


April 11, 2009, 11:31 AM
I don't water drop either. I'm using straight WW's and with the solder added they are dropping with a BHN of 14.

April 11, 2009, 11:44 AM
Great post! Just finished casting some a little while ago. My first experience with a 6 cavity mold. Once I got the mold up to temp, perfection! Cranked out 850 in 2 hrs.

April 11, 2009, 08:53 PM
I'm going to put this here, it certainly pertains to casting. This is from a private indoor range at my gunclub. It hadn't been mined for at least 15 years.


This is the result of about 30 hours of (S)melting the range lead. We did another 8 hours today.


This is some of it, screened from the sand trap under the deflection plate.


Some more, the stick or log is from the bottom, furthest back of the deflector plate where it meets the sand. Some of the bullets slide down the plate, get jammed into the corner.


Using a skill saw to cut some of the logs so we could get them in the pot.


Here they're getting warmed up.


Final skimming after final fluxing. We were using big no-drip candles for flux. It's ready to start pouring.

We're limited to 6 images per post, so continued next post.

April 11, 2009, 09:10 PM

Pouring some muffin tin ingots. We're using a Rowell #3 bottom pour ladle here. It's the biggest you can handle with one hand. Capacity is 5#, working capacity 4.5 lbs.


Here, my partner is using a Rowell #4 ladle. As can be seen, it takes two hands. Capacity is 6.5 lbs, working capacity is 6#.



Saturn loaded up ready to go home, destination "casting pot"!

The majority of the lead in the first pic in the post above is right around 12 BHN. Today we were melting some lead from the range where ONLY 22 rimfire is fired. That lead is softer, I don't have a BHN reading for it. I'm expecting from 8-10 BHN.

The 12 BHN lead will be fine by itself for 45, 40, 9mm, and 38's. I'll try to water drop some to see if it'll harden without the need to add antimony/tin.

We have well over 1,000 pounds melted, with half the range lead left to do. I'm considering a second turkey fryer and pot, keeping both going should cut the time. BTW, that fryer will melt a full pot like that in about 25 minutes. I leave about 1" of lead in the bottom before putting more cold stuff in there. First melt of the day takes about 35 minutes, it has to warm the whole shebang up.

April 11, 2009, 09:28 PM
Very cool!!! I'm Jealous! :mad::D

April 11, 2009, 09:32 PM
Sweet ... do you want to sell any? That's what I call recycling. You should get an award from your state government. :D

April 11, 2009, 09:32 PM
Good post Snuffy.

May 12, 2009, 12:48 PM
I've been considering casting and this post has helped clear away some of the mystery.


June 15, 2009, 08:09 AM
Wow, lots of great pictures and useful info. Thanks for putting this together guys. :D Now if I just had a primer assembly post. And a how to on casting your own casings...

July 19, 2009, 11:02 PM
TTT for dimebag! Hey Johnny, please make this a sticky!

August 4, 2009, 12:00 PM
TTT (To The Top) for RBF420. Johnny JOHNNY JOHNNY GUEST Please make this a sticky!

August 4, 2009, 04:20 PM
Pretty please Johnny.

August 4, 2009, 05:34 PM
Maybe Johnny doesn't want to make this a sticky. He probably would have done it by now... or maybe he is just a really busy guy...or has something against us casters! :D He must be busy....I like to give GOOD people the benefit of the doubt. I'm sure he will let us know in one way or another if it has a chance at becoming a sticky. Either way, it sure would be nice to know.

Johnny Guest
August 5, 2009, 08:14 AM
I used to do a LOT of it myownself.

This is a fine thread and most informative. I realize that I've been remiss in not making a sticky of this thread before, and for that I apologize. This is now remedied.

Best to all.

August 5, 2009, 01:08 PM
See guys, all it takes is a PM to Johnny to get things done!:D Thanks Johnny, now we can point new casters to this sticky to answer SOME of their questions.:confused:

August 5, 2009, 04:12 PM
Thanks Johnny, sure appreciate it! :D

August 5, 2009, 04:35 PM
thanks to the member above this post.... im currently sitting on over 7,000 rds of casts

Johnny Guest
August 9, 2009, 05:58 PM
Bullet Casting is an official subforum of TFL's Handloading and Reloading forum.


August 9, 2009, 06:16 PM
Thanks Johnny, it's greatly appreciated.


August 10, 2009, 12:36 AM
Hooray! Thanks Johnny, I REALLY didn't think you'd actually create a separate forum when I suggested it. Not that I'm trying to take any credit,,, mind you:p;)

Yotehntr gets the first post huh? Well, only because he saw it first!:D

Now to gather up all my boolits, dust off the camera, get to posting on the pic thread!

August 10, 2009, 12:19 PM
Don't be salty, snuffy! LOL! :D

Johnny Guest
August 10, 2009, 05:43 PM
Yotehntr gets the first post huh? Well, only because he saw it first! :D Yessir, I was trying to locate as many of the "suggestive" PMs and e-mails as possible, so I could do a post acknowledging some of those who advanced the idea. Your name was already in mind.

Anyone else who actually sent a PM or e-mail advocating a bullet casting forum, please either post a reminder to me here or send a PM. I really don't think the new subforum would have happened this soon if Tuttle8 and others hadn't recalled various discussions and suggestions. As a group, we staffers are pretty conservative about changing up the format of TFL (and rightly so. ;)

August 10, 2009, 09:23 PM
I've been researching casting and this helps ! Now I gotta start shopping around for more gun stuff!:D she'll love that

August 22, 2009, 05:14 AM
I used to cast and reload some 35 years ago and now that I'm retired, I'm reviving the hobby. It was a distant memory until I read your post. Everything is coming back now. Thanks for the pictures and all the detailed info. Great job.

September 27, 2009, 08:27 PM
This is a great thread for us newbies to boolit casting, it popped right up when I did a search for "Bullet casting problems". I have been prepping to get some casting done ever since I realized that the shooting sports were going to be a target for elimination by the current administration as soon as they destroyed the rest of our economy.
I collected about 150# of wheelweights from a friend who owns a few tire stores, bought a Lee 20# pot and started melting. But some of my melts turned "frothy" on top and I started asking questions about the composition of the wheelweights. Turns out our state (WA) is in the process of banning lead WW, so I have a mix of lead and other metals in my wheelweights. Steel is not a problem since I can't melt it and it just floats to the top, but apparently several other metals bad for surface tension are being phased in as lead is phased out. I can't find any information on composition vs stamps on the weights and my friend doesn't know of any information source either. I am separating the weights by stamp but there are many stamps by different manufacturers and I can't tell the composition from "MC, Mn (ok, manganese?), Zn (Zinc), T-Type?, P, Al (Aluminum?) and combinations. Even within stamp types there are variations. Al stamped weights appear too heavy to be pure aluminum, most have the look and feel of lead, but I don't want to contaminate any more melts than I already have. I recently bought an appropriate range thermometer from Midway, the posts on this thread helped a lot. Any advice on what WW stamps to avoid and which are OK to add to the mix? Also does anyone know what the composition of diving weights is?
I suspect more and more states are going to put pressure on lead as a hazardous substance so what is the DIY going to turn to when the lead sources dry up?:(
I realize that this is an old thread but I wanted to get the WW question in as the answer may help others in the same position.

September 28, 2009, 10:33 AM
Welcome to the forum.

I would copy your question and start your own thread on the topic to get more participation and answers.

The EPA is causing all lead wheelwights to be phased out nationwide. I think it is by some time in 2011; not sure about that year, but it is coming soon. So WW alloy will cease to be available in wheel weights.

Zinc is the trouble maker as it interferes with mold fill. As long as you keep your melt a good 50 degrees or more too cool to melt zinc (787.1°F (419.5°C)) the zinc weights should float to the surface, too.

Here is a good discussion (http://www.lasc.us/CastBulletAlloy.htm) of alloys and I think it will answer your questions.

February 14, 2010, 05:15 PM
Thanks, guys! I've been loading for a long time but resisted getting into casting until last year. I bought a Sharps replica in .45-70 and bought hundreds of dollars worth of the best cast bullets money could buy. Mostly junk and none would shoot worth a damn! Now I know what I was doing wrong. I'm changing over to boolits! I invested quite a bit in casting equipment over a year ago but it's all still in boxes in my loading room, but not for long. Good info about smelting as well, was going to use the same pot but now I know better.

February 14, 2010, 05:26 PM
R&RGen, the letters on the weights indicate the application, not the composition. MC is motorcycle, AL is for aluminum wheels, etc. It refers to the contour of the wheel rim and the type clip necessary to secure it. Other markings may have the clues you're looking for but they vary by manufacturer.

March 14, 2010, 08:51 PM
Finally cast my own BPCR boolits today! Wonderful day, no major mishaps and about 65 good-looking boolits! Did lots of reading here and elesewhere, asked lots of questions but finally just toted all the stuff outside and went to work. Thanks, guys.

March 14, 2010, 10:19 PM
Glad everything worked out for you and I hope they shoot well for ya! We will be expecting some pictures of targets!

August 8, 2010, 11:11 PM
Noobie question here. If I have a dirt berm I can scoop old bullets out of (they are all lead .22lr's or unplated buckshot), could those bullets be melted down and re-used? I know that the outside of the bullets will be somewhat degraded, but shouldn't the lead be mostly useable?

Johnny Guest
August 9, 2010, 01:26 AM
Six Rounds - -

Reclaimed lead from bullet traps and backstops is a prime source for many bullet casters. If the berm is a clay soil, or if it is often moist or muddy, you may want to wash the bullets and shot. Howevef, you can just melt them and skim off the trash before you flux the metal.

See snuffy's posts #40 and 41 above, for how to do it on a large scale.

Good luck to you.

August 9, 2010, 06:46 AM
Be extremely careful NOT to put wet lead into already molten lead. The water turns into steam very quickly and can cause a mini explosion spewing lead in all directions. We call this....the tinsel fairy. It can be painful if not dressed appropriately. Be sure to wear eye protection, gloves, long sleeves, and long pants. In short, cover all exposed skin. Good luck!

August 9, 2010, 06:50 AM
Yeah ... water in the lead pot can ruin your day.

August 9, 2010, 08:17 AM
The shinny bullets in the post with the pictures indicate too low a casting temperature, not poor fill-out. The frosted bullets below them indicates a higher casting temperature, not necessarily more tin in the melt. Many casters have stated that they get good fill-out with straight WW by casting at a higher temperature without adding any tin.

August 9, 2010, 08:19 AM
I do

August 9, 2010, 10:07 AM
All I have ever used is straight WW with nothing added. Never had a problem.

August 24, 2010, 09:50 PM
Been awhile since I looked at this thread.

Re, my post #63, above, it turned out it was California that was scheduled to eliminate lead in wheel weights sometime next year. The EPA does have some kind of program going to get rid of them everywhere, but last time I looked it was voluntary. So there is a breather here.

October 30, 2010, 12:16 PM
I got a question about remelting lead lubed bullets. About a year ago i bought some lead bullets(300) from i think midwayusa, and my 9mm doesn't like them(jam about every 5-7 bullets). They are the only ones i have ever had problems with in my P95. I recently bought all the stuff to start casting bullets. So i was wondering if i can just toss them in the pot and remelt them down? but i wasn't sure if i needed to something to them first to get out the lube in the groove? or will it just burn off in the pot? Thanks, Jared

Smokey Joe
October 30, 2010, 12:34 PM
or will it just burn off in the pot?

Jared B 03--it sure will! There may be a little junk to skim from the surface of the molten lead when all is melted, but this is true of lead from any source that you smelt for bullets.

The dirtier the lead is when you put it into yr smelting pot, the more stuff there is to skim.

October 30, 2010, 11:31 PM
So i was wondering if i can just toss them in the pot and remelt them down? but i wasn't sure if i needed to something to them first to get out the lube in the groove? or will it just burn off in the pot? Thanks, Jared

Bullet lube is great flux, it's mostly some sort of wax.

But be aware, at some point during the melt down of those bullets, there will be a lot of white smoke generated. To stop most of it, just light it with a match or butane lighter. Be sure to stir the molten lead while some of the wax is still on the surface of the melt. That will flux the lead to re-combine the lead oxides with the metallic lead, and remove dirt.

November 3, 2010, 10:24 AM
I got another noob question. at what point do you know a cast bullet is not good enough to make the cut? Im asking cause i have some that have what look like a little air bubble in them along the side. I can post up some pictures of ones i am questioning if that will help.

November 8, 2010, 12:39 PM
Don't know what you mean by the bubble, so a picture would help. In general, anything that isn't symmetrical will be unstable and print paper all over the map. That said, some very minor defects are ironed out by sizing or by traveling down the bore, so it depends how severe it is. Because some defects can be internal to a bullet (you usually find those by weighing—a bullet that's too light will often have some dross or other waste from the melt pot in it), the only really sure way to know is with a bullet spinner. This spins the bullet to detect vibration indicating it is out of balance. Harold Vaughn describes how to make one in his book, Rifle Accuracy Facts, but you need machine tools and and air compressor and some electronics know-how to do it.

November 8, 2010, 08:26 PM
I like to look for sharp edges. Boolits that pass the visual test go to the digital scale. BPCR shooters like an extreme spread of bullet weight in the neighborhood of 1 grain, I can live with 2. Sometimes I divide the boolits into a heavy group and a light group, extremes go back in the pot.
Bullet spinner sounds like more fun, though.

January 6, 2011, 12:25 PM
How does one "mine" the berm of a shooting range for lead?


January 7, 2011, 01:00 PM
Well, in the first place, it's a lot of work. Or it can be. Second. you'll have to get permission to do it. It usually involves digging into the berm, then sifting the dirt through a sieve of some sort. Lots of people use hardware cloth with around a ¼ inch mesh. This allows the dirt to pass through leaving the lead. But this can leave holes in the berm, unless you're real careful to replace/refill the holes.

Third choice is to simply pick lead from the surface or face of the berm. Especially after a rain, a lot is exposed by wash off of dirt.

Then, when melting the recovered bullets to get the lead out, you have to be real sure they're all real dry. Never toss bullets into melted lead. Mangled jacketed bullets can retain small pockets of water, that would convert to steam in an explosion under the surface of the molten lead. It's nicknamed "a visit from the tinsel fairy". Lead will be thrown everywhere, including on bare skin!:eek:

Best bet is to start with a cold pot,(or let the lead cool til it freezes), then dump all the bullets in at once. As the whole mass heats up, the water will evaporate safely.

January 7, 2011, 01:16 PM
Prudent advice, snuffy, avoiding the tinsel fairy is serious stuff when melting mined bullets.

June 3, 2011, 04:00 PM
I have been around hot pots since I was old enough to get close enough to see what dad and his Navy buddy were up to. I will say it is a very good hobby to begin and a whole lot more satisfying than plunking down $20 for a box of 100 somethings that are headed down range.
I also like being independent of the wims of factories who think they know what I must have to shoot accuratly.
Every game critter I have hunted has been with a home brew Cast boolit minus those popped with a caliber.22 & shotgun. No regrets and the critters did not put up any fuss over the matter.
So I highly recommend you each look into it. I highly recommned the CastBoolits site for a further learning curve where every conceivable aspect of casting is a daily review.
Mike in Peru

July 30, 2011, 07:57 AM
Just about to start my first smelt.

I've read the relevant parts of this thread a dozen times now because. . .

. . .I'm terrified. :D

Well, not so much terrified, I just want to keep reminding myself of what needs to be done. I think I've got it.

Over the past few months, I've been taking my sweet time accumulating "stuff" to get started with some ingots. I have a couple hundred pounds of wheel weights I got from the local recycling/junk yard for $0.85 a pound and the other gear. Bought the Bayou Classic burner recommended in the OP and my brother-in-law, who is completely jazzed about this project, is providing the propane tanks. He will be a beneficiary of this project, to be sure!

I can hardly wait to see the pool of shiny lead in the pot!


July 30, 2011, 08:24 AM
Safety Glasses!

July 30, 2011, 08:41 AM
Go for it.....very carefully. Go over the safety stuff one more time. I'll see dahermit's safety glasses and raise you a heavy long sleeve shirt, heavy gloves, apron, jeans, boots and a hat. Remember to ensure that your scrap is dry as well.
I've only been casting about a year or so and I still get excited about the silver stream. I'll have a hundred or so cast by this time tomorrow, may even smelt a bit when I get done. Been way too hot to do much outside around here, today will be day 29 of triple digits.
Have fun, safely! Let us know how it went.:D

July 30, 2011, 08:42 AM
And long sleeves and long pants and shoes that cover your toes.

July 30, 2011, 08:54 AM
You guys beat me to the post, but at the risk of redundancy, I'll leave it in with some comments on how to dress.

Full face safety shield is better than glasses, but glasses at a minimum. Leather welder's apron. Leather welder's gloves. I believe Harbor Freight has that stuff. Cheap Chinese versions are just fine for this. Leather boots worn with your pants cuffs over the boot so lead can't fall down into the boot and stay there burning you while you try to get it off. Shoes are usually too short to remain under the cuff reliably, but if your pants are long enough, that's your call.

Wear absolutely no flammable polyester clothing. Shirts should be long-sleeved. If you can get your shirt sleeves over the glove cuffs, that's best for the same reason as the pants cuffs going over the boots. I can't get mine to fit, so I put rubber bands over the glove cuffs to close them off originally, and later replaced those with Velcro for convenience.

Keep liquids away from the operation. No drinking beer while casting, despite the temptation. There is hazard from the possibility of making steam in the melt, but there is also likely to be at least a little beer contamination by airborne lead oxide particles.

There now: just relax, don't worry and enjoy the melting metal.

The scrap yards were giving garages $0.25/lb for wheel weights last time I asked, but then metals prices keep climbing. Nonetheless, I would check with the local tire shops and see what they want for it before the scrap guy adds a layer of profit.

July 30, 2011, 09:20 AM
Tire shops here in NY are now required to control their lead. New wheel weights are made of steel. The two local guys who used to give me the scrap wheel weights are no longer allowed to.

July 30, 2011, 09:48 AM
Thanks for the tips on the clothing. I may defer until I have a long-sleeved shirt. I'm going to have to hunt around for the full face shield I have stashed around here somewhere. All else should be good.

The tire shops around here simply aren't giving them up any more. The big chains simply laugh at you and claim that they are no longer allowed to give them to anyone other than a certified recycling center. The little guys reuse them and won't sell them for any amount. I might as well go buy 'em new, assuming they are still available. :D

The wheel weights I managed to scrounge up are very dirty but dry. My only issue is sorting out the zinc stuff. Most of the WW are the massively huge truck weights. I was ecstatic to get those things! I'm expecting a much more consistent alloy out of those.


July 30, 2011, 10:53 AM
I like the face shield idea, Unclenick. Could do double duty when using my high performance string trimmer as well.:) Long sleeves are important, a little splatter is hard to avoid and 3rd degree burns take awhile to heal. A flannel work shirt from Goodwill could work, I don't wear a nice shirt around molten lead.
I work for a car dealer so I get a little lead but another employee sometimes beats me to them.:( More and more Fe, thankfully very little Zn so far. Local tire stores aren't much help. May just give up and buy some scrap. Looks like it could be a good investment.
At least you have good weather for it, Wag.

July 30, 2011, 03:17 PM
The weather is good but it's threatening rain this afternoon. I did my first batch and it wore me out so two good reasons to knock off for the rest of the day. Not to mention, I need another tank of gas, too, so three good reasons! :D

I'll start a new thread with some observations.


September 1, 2011, 09:15 PM
My company has its own indoor pistol range. I would like to start collecting the spent bullets and use them as smelting fodder. Has anyone else used spent lead to cast and if so, are there any nuances I need to know about? Also, there are quite a few copper fragments mixed in with the lead from jacketed rounds. Will this rise to the top when smelting or can it mess up the lead? Thanks for any info.

September 1, 2011, 09:19 PM
Range lead is a great source of "bullet recycling".All the junk will float to the top when smelted. However, sort prior to smelting. FMJ's will need to be split open before going into the pot. A good whack with a hammer on a concrete floor is usually enough to tear the jacket open for the core lead to flow out after melting.

September 1, 2011, 10:59 PM
My company has its own indoor pistol range. I would like to start collecting the spent bullets and use them as smelting fodder. Has anyone else used spent lead to cast and if so, are there any nuances I need to know about? Also, there are quite a few copper fragments mixed in with the lead from jacketed rounds. Will this rise to the top when smelting or can it mess up the lead? Thanks for any info.

Didn't read the whole thread did you? Look for post #40 on the second page. That would be me reclaiming a bunch of lead from an indoor range.:D:eek:

Makes boolits that look like these;


November 11, 2011, 09:13 PM
Hey everybody. I'm new to reloading and found this article very informative. I started casting just last week 11-7-11. I started out with a dutch oven on my grill side burner. After a lot of smoke and just barely enough heat to melt lead, I promptly gave up. I ordered a pot from e-bay and melted my big old slab of lead down and began casting 9mm .356 from my Lee mould, 124 grain-Tumble Lube and then cast a few .452 255 grain from my other Lee mould. I haven't reloaded any rounds yet, 'cause I'm now savin' up for primers and powder. I've cleaned all my brass .45 LC 83 pieces, 63 pieces of .45ACP and 405 pieces of 9mm. I did this with my Lee case length guage and chucked it into my 1/2" drill, used an old pencil and some Brasso (I've still got some left from when I was in the USMC.) and a rag. I sure took a long time to clean each piece by hand. Can't afford a tumbler. I had to sell my 12 guage shot gun so I could buy a press, a couple of moulds and dies. I'm a partiallly disabled Vietnam vet with no job. I spend most of my time wanting to reload those cast bullets I made. I'm starting to get the hang of casting bullets now and I really love it. I didn't know what to do with the dutch oven I tried to use at first, but after reading this post I know I'll use it on my Coleman stove to smelt wheel weights whenever I get some. I guess I'll have to put cast iron muffin pans on the grocery list and try to sneak them in on the wifey. I was wondering what to use for ingot moulds, so now I know. Thanks to all you guys for posting usefull information. Nothin' like being totally informed before you start something new. And happy Veteran's Day to all you other vets out there.

Magnum Wheel Man
April 3, 2013, 07:52 AM
a lot of good info here... I've been collecting molds for over 10 years, along with inheriting my FIL's set up I think I have everything I need including 1000 lbs of ingots in coffee cans I helped him tote around several times...

most of this lead is a combination of wheel weights, lino type, & reclaimed bullets... I have several 5 lb rolls of solder I can alloy with, as well as a bunch of pure lead water pipe...

so short of reading every post, maybe I missed one, do you guys test for hardness, or water quench to harden ???

since this spring will be my 1st time pouring, is there a caliber / bullet style that's easier to learn on ??? I have several ball molds that I could use for a ball load for my 444 Marlin shot loads ( I think like .375" ) if those would be easy... molds range from single cavity 45's to 6 cavity 22 caliber...

was thinking about getting together with another buddy ( another newbie ) to casting & each doing our own bullets & sharing the pot... to slow things down a bit, allowing enough time between mold pours... does this make sense, or would that complicate things too much, or empty the pot too fast ??? ( I think the pot is an RCBS bottom pour ) don't know if they made more than one size or not ???

anyway... getting ready to take the plunge

BTW... I do have a local "old timer" for a mentor... his advice... plan on burning yourself, & be pleasantly surprised if you don't ;)

April 3, 2013, 09:16 PM
Get this (http://www.harborfreight.com/split-leather-welding-apron-45193.html), or one like it.

Get this, too (http://www.harborfreight.com/14-inch-welding-gloves-97033.html) (or equivalent), but modify it by adding some Velcro on the cuffs so you can tighten their fit. Nothing worse that getting molten lead on your skin except getting it down inside a cuff so that it can't fall free free from your skin as the steam is generated.

Get this, too (http://www.harborfreight.com/mesh-face-shield-97010.html), or its equivalent, and wear glasses under it.

The Lee hardness tester is inexpensive. I don't find my readings terribly accurate (mine tend to be about 3-5 BHN high), so I treat them as relative.

The RCBS is a 20 lb pot. I have one I got almost 30 years ago. Works great.

Quenching by dropping from the mold is a common practice. Some find it harder to make it consistent than others. Just float a sponge on a bucket of water and drop the bullets onto the sponge. It turns and lets them fall into the water rather than splashing it, which could get onto your mold, into the melt, etc. Give them a couple of weeks to reach peak hardness.

If you want really hard heat treated bullets, then its easier to use an oven to control the temperature and get it just right.

Start with your .45 bullets. The mold will reach temperature faster and maintain it more easily because of all the heat the large bullets hold. It lets you work more slowly while you get used to the process. The .22's will be the hardest to work with.

April 3, 2013, 10:56 PM
Just curious Nick, how did you find it was 3-5 BHN off?
I wouldnt think 3-5 would really make any difference.

Magnum Wheel Man
April 4, 2013, 05:44 AM
thanks for the info NICK

April 4, 2013, 10:41 AM

I also own the LBT hardness tester, but wanted to try the Lee because it derives the number from the definition of BHN. I was hoping it would be more accurate. Instead, the LBT told me some commercial cast bullets that claimed to be BHN 16 were at right around that hardness, while the Lee told me they were BHN 21. Trying it on other alloys ranging from pure lead to Linotype also got me numbers that were too high.

To be fair, I haven't tried to calibrate the spring force on the ball. Been waiting until I have time to put a strain gage on the press I use it with. I've done the computations from the BHN formula (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brinell_hardness_test), and if the spring is accurate the numbers say it should be working, but it isn't. And if mine isn't, I would assume others may not be, either.

December 11, 2013, 12:22 AM
Is there any printed instructions on installing gas checks on Cast Bullets? I must have a couple thousand that were sold to me prior to me knowing enough to say......Hey, I think these aren't load ready!

December 11, 2013, 05:10 AM
First, you seat them squarely, like this:
If you don't have a couple of seater stems, you perhaps can just snap them on with your fingers and tap the bullet on the desk, or lightly with a small mallet to seat, if it fits the shank really well..... but this is not always the case. Every shank is just a little different, depending on mold size, alloy, temp of casting, etc.

Then run them through a Lee push-thru sizing die to crimp them onto the bullet. That is the simplest way.

If you have a Lyman/RCBS lubrisizer, the technique is a little different. Let us know what equipment you plan to use. :)