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Old March 29, 2018, 07:15 AM   #1
locknloader
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Quality molds

Total newbie here, know nothing about casting but would like to get my feet wet.

I assume that there are both quality, and crap molds and tools out there for casting as with any other hobby.

Can you guys suggest some good brand for molds in 9/40/45 and buckshot? Can high power rifle rounds like 556/308 be cast or do those always need to be jacketed?(cant ever recall seeing cast rifle bullets except for old cowboy guns)

What makes a good quality mold stand out from a crap one?

I'd rather pay a little more and invest in quality tools that will last me a lifetime than get some cheap stuff that will work but maybe not last or produce good quality bullets.

Any other general advice for a newbie welcome
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Old March 29, 2018, 07:40 AM   #2
jaguarxk120
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I wouldn't say "crap" molds. It's the quality of bullets made, some molds will throw better bullets, some molds take more work on your part to make bullets.
Much of casting is what level of quality you want.
The old timers would cast bullets in order and shoot them in the same order as cast, treating each bullet like a piece of fine crystal
Today some shooters make their bullets then tumble them as if a cement mixer to lube them.
You have to remember that bullet molds are a piece of precision equipment no matter the maker, you have to treat them as such. Even though they are very simple, two block with cavity's cut into them.
It just boil's down to how you use them.

And yes the bottom line is, you get what you pay for.
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Old March 29, 2018, 06:57 PM   #3
gwpercle
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NOE makes some nice moulds.
I started casting in 1967 with Lyman moulds , when Lee came out with $9.99 aluminum single cavity moulds , including handles, I could afford to have several of those. Lee now makes a double cavity aluminum, with handles , for $24.00 which is a bargain but they are short on finishing . A three or four cavity NOE will wipe out most of a $100.00 bill , so comparing them isn't quite fair. The Lee is a Ford , the NOE is a Lexus .
Are the NOE's worth the extra money....Oh Yes , I wish they weren't but they are .
Gary
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Old March 29, 2018, 10:14 PM   #4
reddog81
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Lee molds are the best value. Their selection isn't the best but they have most of the common stuff covered. I'd recommend them for someone starting out. RCBS and Lyman are some of the more traditional makers of iron molds. NOE, Accurate, MP/ Mihec are the other common "custom" molds. NOE has sales or specials and you can pick up quality molds for reasonable prices from them.
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Old March 30, 2018, 06:41 AM   #5
USSR
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I've got more than a dozen moulds, and got 2 more on the way. Now days I restrict myself to buying MP moulds. Love casting hollowpoints with a brass mould.

Don
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Old March 30, 2018, 05:36 PM   #6
FrankenMauser
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What they said. ^^

Mountain Molds are also good quality, if you feel like designing your own bullet.

With Accurate Molds, keep two things in mind:
1. Every one of those designs is custom. Some are 'adaptations' of standard designs, and are fairly universal. But some are absolute one-off designs. I have at least three bullets still in the Accurate catalog that were designed for a very specific purpose, to be used in a single firearm with special chamber dimensions, and intended for a specific application. Using those designs outside of the original intent may add undesirable complications, or simply not work at all.

2. Don't do brass (from Accurate, specifically - other brands are fine). Tom's brass molds are not stress-relieved properly, in my opinion. Tom claims that people over-heat his brass molds, resulting in warpage; but I've had several examples, myself. The last brass mold he cut for me came warped, right out of the box, due to stress in the raw stock. ALL of his brass molds have warped on me before even getting to casting temperature. Aluminum and steel? Go for it. I haven't had issues there. But stay away from the brass.

---

And, as much as it hurts me to say...
Lee works. They're low quality, in my opinion. But they always work.
Half the time, I get good bullets on the first pour with a mold that's barely been pre-heated. Some of my Lee molds (the old style, in particular) may need some finesse to get the blocks aligned correctly for every, single pour. Some have cavities that need a little massaging to drop bullet cleanly. Some blocks drop bullets out of round. But they still work, and have many thousands of pours still left in them.

The last time my brother and I were casting, we fought one particular NOE RG4 mold for probably 2 hours, total. We never got it to run right*. But, as I was standing there, dropping .475" bullets for my .480 Ruger, I realized that the four Lee molds laid out on the table, that were running perfectly for us, cost me a total of $90. The ONE NOE mold giving us trouble, cost me over $130 - plus handles!



*(Disassembly, another full degreasing, possible deburring, and some alloy tweaks to be tested soon; but that's another subject.)
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Old April 1, 2018, 05:42 PM   #7
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There are alot of good molds out there, NOE, Accurate, M&P, the list is pretty long.

I have several Lee molds, only one has given me real issues, I could probably send it back for an exchange but I'm to lazy to mail it back. Thats my fault, not Lee's. I have literal thousands of bullets cast from cheap lee molds. You could say I like em fine.

I also have lyman steel molds, they are good to go, but spendy. A 2 cavity is pishing 80-90 bucks these days.

Rifle bullets and certainly be cast, but they will be less forgiving of incorrect lead hardness and sizing. Powder coating and gas checking helps alot.

If I were to advise, Id say get real proficient at casting for pistols first. It'll teach you alot, and like reloading for pistol is much more forgiving.

Do you have a source for lead?
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Old April 2, 2018, 07:08 AM   #8
locknloader
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No source for lead yet, will have to start looking around. I am guessing the same is true with the lead, higher purity/more expensive = better results.

Thanks for all the advice so far guys.
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Old April 2, 2018, 07:26 AM   #9
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Suggest you start checking out the scrap yards. At my local scrap yard, I get lead for $.80 a pound and lead wheel weights for $.40 a pound. While buying lead from a source like Rotometal will get you a consistent level of purity, you will never see the difference on target with handgun loads and the cost difference is quite high.

Don
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Old April 2, 2018, 12:55 PM   #10
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Ill echo what USSR said. Purity isnt that big of a deal, so long as it casts and doesnt lead the barrel bad. I chopped up a sail boat keel, gave half to a buddy, came home with 900#s. Ive no idea whats in it, but its about a 10 on the b.h.n. scale and needs just a little tin to cast well. Short of zinc it shouldnt matter to much.
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Old April 2, 2018, 07:52 PM   #11
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I am a volume caster. Nowadays I shoot mostly .38 Special at steel bowling pins on my home range. I shoot 72 rounds every day the temperature is above 50 degrees, seven days a week. I see casting as a necessary chore that I want to get over with as soon as possible, so I cast with two Lee six-cavity molds simultaneously (one cooling, the other getting filled) for 12 bullets at a whack. When the two six-cavity molds wear-out, I buy another two.
The Lee molds are inexpensive, are light-weight and do the job...they do not need to be "high quality", just inexpensive and get the job done so I can spend my time shooting and hand loading.
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Old April 16, 2018, 06:42 PM   #12
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I am very happy with Lee molds. For 45 Colt, I don't even size them. If I happen to wear one out, which I think might eventually happen to the one I use the most, I will simply buy an identical one. I also like the Lee .309 sizing die that seats gas checks while sizing for my 30-30 bullets.
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