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Old September 29, 2012, 01:12 AM   #1
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Sizing always needed?

I have a good bit of pure lead that I saved years ago for casting muzzleloader RB's and conicals. I am seriously considering casting for 9mm after I figure out how to properly alloy this pure lead. I haven't decided on what weight bullet or what brand mold yet.

From what I see online and read, most casters use Lubisizers of some sort. I'd like to know if this is always neccessary. I've seen a few videos where folks pan lube bullets. Is there a mold that casts bullets that do not need resizing?
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Old September 29, 2012, 01:41 AM   #2
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Hello, FlySubCompact. You will just have to cast some & measure..might get lucky! Custom makers have been turning out moulds producing as-cast fit for single-shot match rifles since the days of H.M. Pope.
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Old September 29, 2012, 07:36 AM   #3
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If you concerned about sizing then simply pick up the Lee push thru type. They are cheap and very effective. You would still need to wither pan or tumble lube, but neither is a huge issue.

The biggest thing about NOT sizing is having a properly dimensioned mold and then pouring an alloy that will fill out properly to the size you need. The thing is if you don't cast at the same temp, your alloy can either cause you to have larger or smaller sized bullets, which also applies to your molds. The hotter they are the bigger they cast.

All this said however, you can get by depending on what your bores slug to, and depending on what your bullets final size is. Most mold makers use either WW or Lyman 2 as a basis for determining their mold appropriately. Which simply means that by using which ever one is specified your going to come out with darned close to what the diameter is supposed to be. This doesn't mean that other alloys won't come out close as well, but that you would simply need to try them out to see where they fall. IF they are within say .001" bigger you could probably get by not sizing, however if they come out smaller you would have to adjust something.

Me personally, I am using several Lyman molds, several Lee's, and several made by MP. They were all set up to pour Lyman 2 or there abouts, and all throw just a touch bigger with the alloy and temp I pour at. There are some like the 452 230 RN that I simply pour and shoot in my 45 ACP, but others like the 41 caliber I pour form my MP molds I have to size to .411 to fit my revolver.

There is one other thing I will throw out here, don't get overly excited about going to a hard alloy as usually the softest you can use without leading is the best. In the world of cast bullets fit is King and Lube is Queen, and if you have those matched to your velocity and barrels bore your going to do well. THere are however a couple of calibers like the 9mm and 6.5x55 which seem to cause folks headaches, but I have gotten to either of them yet so I cannot say from personal experiences, however there are many post on them across the net to read about.
Mike / TX
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Old September 29, 2012, 09:13 AM   #4
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You did not say what cartridge you were casting for. In some instances you may not need to size at all. For instance, in revolver cartridges you may find that even oversize bullets will shoot well...revovers tolerate oversize very well if they are not so big that they keep the round from dropping into the chambers (or so tight in the chamber that the bullet will not release easily and raise pressures when fired). However, auto rounds (9MM, .45 ACP, etc.) may not want to enter the chamber if oversize.

Lee Precision has stated for years that, "...little or no sizing is required...", before shooting the bullets cast in their molds. Traditionally, Lyman molds dropped bullets that were larger.
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Old September 29, 2012, 10:43 AM   #5
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If you go with Lee molds you could get one that casts right on , another that is -.002, and the next will be +.003,it kind of a guess til you use it. I have mostly all custum molds(MP.NOE,Accurate,and Balisti-Cast) to end all guessing and get what I need.
For 9mm, your going to want an alloy the age hardens to around 12-13bhn, harder(18bhn) does work in the 9,but it isn't needed and sizes then have to be perfect. Softer than that (10bhn) will most likely cause leading, but can be made to work by running mild loads.
For your pure lead a mixture of 50%ww and 50%pure will be about right,even 25%ww/75%pure will work.
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Old September 29, 2012, 11:48 AM   #6
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No need to size if you measure 20 random bullets and they all measure within .0001" of what you want them to be. For my 9mm guns, that means a diameter between .357" and .358". Much bigger than that, and I begin to have chambering problems in some thicker walled cases with some of my picky guns.

I've found that the steel molds give me more consistent size results than the aluminum molds. But I shoot many bullets from aluminum molds without sizing as well, such as Lee's TL452-230-2R. Pistols are easy.

I always size rifle hunting bullets, those that need gas checks, and when I need extreme accuracy.
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Old September 29, 2012, 10:47 PM   #7
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Whoa....bunch of replies. Thanks all.

Forgot to mention that I will be starting out with 9mm. .38 sp. later. I haven't shot any 147grain bullets in my 9mm, yet, so I've not settled on what I want for range use with these future castings.

I don't have a proper temp controlled casting furnace. When I used cast RB's and conicals I just smelted outside with a small pot over a gas burner. Had no idea that lead temp at casting time with affect final size. Will investigate that Lee sizer. Especially if it is inexpensive.
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Old September 30, 2012, 12:17 PM   #8
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No need to size if you measure 20 random bullets and they all measure within .0001" of what you want them to be. For my 9mm guns, that means a diameter between .357" and .358". Much bigger than that, and I begin to have chambering problems in some thicker walled cases with some of my picky guns.
I'm sure you meant .001 in the above post. One thousandths, is like the difference between .356 and .357. Your .0001 is one TEN thousandths a very small measurement.

FSC, there's a ton of variables that result in what the final size is for a cast boolit. The main criteria is the size of the mold cavity. It it is too big, or too small, there's little you can do. Lee makes conical boolit molds using a lathe to spin the whole mold, while a cutter shapes the cavity. How that lathe is set-up has everything to do with the final diameter of the cavity. Cutters do wear, EVEN when cutting aluminum, so the cavity can get progressively smaller.

As for the alloy makeup affecting final boolit diameter, it does. The harder the alloy, the bigger/fatter the boolit-----usually. Or should I say IF the mold and alloy are at the proper temperature.

Then there's the tin content. Tin increases the flow-ability of the alloy. Lyman #2 alloy is high in tin content, around 5%. Most old casters agree over 2% tin is wasted, and it's high cost and difficulty finding it make the 2% better. Tin increases the fluidity of the alloy, allowing it to fill every nook and cranny of complex molds. It also lowers the melting temp for the alloy.

Then there's the casting technique. All wrapped up in that heading is; do you bottom pour, or ladle cast? What's your heat source? Do you air cool, or water quench? A lot depends on what you're shooting the final product in, be it a rifle, revolver, semi-auto pistol. Is it a solid boolit, or a hollow point?

Electric furnaces come in 2 basic models, simple melters for ladle casting, and bottom pour for filling molds held underneath a spout. All have thermostats except some very old melters, which go full bore up to about 900 degrees. I have one old saeco that is just such a pot, I use it for pouring pure lead for slugs and black powder conicals and round balls. The thermostats on most pots are NOT all that consistent. They will hold temp to about a 50-75 degree swing. The numbers on the dials is simply a reference point. Setting a lee pot on 7 does NOT mean 700 degrees. To KNOW what it actually is requires a thermometer.

Shotguns is another subject, lee makes 2- 12 gauge slug molds, 4 different buckshot molds, and Lyman makes 2 also.
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Old September 30, 2012, 03:53 PM   #9
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I'm sure you meant .001 in the above post.
Oops, yes that's exactly what I meant.
I don't even have a way to accurately measure .0001" here at home...

I also heard that water dropping versus air cooled affects size, as does aging. But I don't know if it would make as much as a .001" difference or not. I haven't noticed much variation, and I do measure my bullets fairly regularly for the ones I load as-cast without sizing.
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Old October 19, 2012, 09:50 AM   #10
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If your bullets drop out of the cast at a good diameter and you're using them for light plinking loads just tumble them with some Alox.

If you don't want to spend a bunch on a lubrisizer, don't want to tumble lube, and don't want the mess of pan lubing there is another way.

This only works for soft lubes like 50/50 beeswax. I simply put a little lube on my finger and smear it into the lube grooves, then run the bullet through a Lee push-through sizer. It's a little slow, but it works great! It's also a good way to seat gas checks and lube all in one step.

Last edited by Axelwik; October 19, 2012 at 10:00 AM.
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Old October 19, 2012, 03:39 PM   #11
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If the mold drops bullets that are round, at the proper diameter, with the alloy you are using, then there's no need to size.

But, it rarely happens.
It's even more rare for a Lee mold to drop bullets of the proper size. (And forget about them being round.)

The only mold I own, that drops bullets that can be shot as-cast, was a very expensive beast to develop. I went through three different molds ($145 / pop), and about 5 different revisions that never got cut, before the final single-cavity mold gave me a bullet close enough to the goal. It's a bore-rider design for a single shot rifle, using a hard (high antimony) alloy, because I'm pushing the bullets to 1,900-2,200 fps. All I have to do is gas-check, lube, and load. However, seating the gas checks is easier if I just run the lubed bullets through a Lee sizer. So, I still perform the extra step, even though it's just crimping the gas check, and taking a couple ten thousandths off the body diameter as a minor byproduct.

My other molds don't afford that luxury.
The Lee molds are all over the place. Some of the cavities drop bullets that are as much as 0.006" over the target diameter; while other cavities drop bullets only 0.001" over the target diameter. Pretty close to ZERO are actually round; some are even out-of-round by 0.004" to 0.006".
Lee molds are a roll of the dice. You never know what will turn up.
They work, but you should always expect to have to size the bullets.

Even my NOE molds (known for fairly tight tolerances) have cavities that drop different diameters.
For example:
I have three different versions of the NOE 314316 115 gr FN 2-cavity molds. They're all from the same production run, and each cavity in each mold drops a different size bullet. I can't shoot anything over .314" in my revolvers (due to chamber size), but most of the cavities at drop .315" or .3155" with the alloy I use (with one outlier at just a hair over .316"). So... everything for the revolvers gets sized in a Lee push-through sizer.
On the other hand, a slight tweak to the alloy gives me a few tenths more diameter, so I can shoot unsized .3155" to .316+" bullets in my Mosin-Nagant.

For all of my bullets, I dip-lube or pan-lube. The deciding factor, is the size of the bullet. If I can hold it securely in my fingers, and dip all of the lube grooves without getting lube on my fingers, they get dipped. (Examples: the bore-rider, Lee 430-310-RF)
Otherwise, they get poured (pan-lubed). (Examples: Lee 429-200-RF, NOE 314316)
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Old October 19, 2012, 04:31 PM   #12
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Some where I saw an accuracy test on as cast bullets and being out of round, They could get up to .005 -.006 with no real ill effects on accuracy .As long as it would chamber.

This was pistol I believe and I don't know the standard for how good of groupings were concidered acceptable. It would be a nice little test some day, but all my molds are MP, NOE, and Accurate so .001-.0015 is about the worst out of round I could test.

If you think about it, the bullets get swaged to the bore when shot, as long as the "average" diameter of the out-of-round bullet is a bit bigger than the bore diameter it should "size" round going down the barrel. Have no real proof, but would like to play with it.

Frankenmauser's bore rider wouldn't work out very well with that I wouldn't think.
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Old October 19, 2012, 07:18 PM   #13
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I have 3 Lee molds. 2 of them are tumble lube molds. All 3 shoot the bullets as cast with simple tumble lubing, and no gas checks. I have never had a problem with leading in any of the guns I have shot them out of. My .38 spcl Mod 67-1 the bore is mirror clean when I get done shooting. The only cleaning it needs most of the time is to clean the carbon from the burned lube off.
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Old October 19, 2012, 08:14 PM   #14
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fsc, 10/20/12

There are two ways to pick a mold. First the "I feel lucky" mold where you order a generic mold that is supposed to fit your barrel. It's great if it works out but often you're stuck with a mold which works poorly and gives a lot of frustration.

Then there is the more scientific mold process which involves slugging your barrel (taking a just-oversized round lead ball, lubing it and pounding it through your barrel with a brass rod) to find out its true diameter and then ordering a mold which is 0.001-0.002 inches (1-2 thousandths of an inch) oversize. This gives you a bullet which usually does not need to be resized and saves considerable time. I have four Lee six cavity molds, two tumble-lube type and two conventional lube-groove type. None of the four molds worked optimally so I ordered a mold from He makes his molds based on your data and which type of lead alloy you are using. I have four of the AccuarateMolds molds (9mm- 135 grain, .45 230 grain, 44sp. 250 grain, and a 12 gauge 770 grain slug mold) and all work great without sizing. I just pan-lube and load them in the brass

Another great website for lead casting is It has a wealth of info and very friendly folks. Good luck.

best wishes- oldandslow
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Old October 21, 2012, 11:32 PM   #15
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Just when I finally think I'm getting reloading figured out you guys show me I have a ton more to study. Had no idea that casting bullets had so many twists and turns (and additional expense). Thanks.
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