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Old March 13, 2018, 09:29 AM   #1
Wendyj
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I want to cast my own

I have been having a great time with this Henry 45 colt and plan on a 30-30 and a 357 in one when funds allow. I am wanting to start casting my own but Initial set up cost is about the cost of 1000 rounds of 45 colt bullets from Oregon Trail. Thought maybe melting in pot and ladling into mold. Seems slow but would be something to do when free time on hand. Lyman#2 lead and melting pot and molds with a few extra accessories to resize and lube are around $150-$175.00 depending on 3 dealers on line. Any thoughts??
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Old March 13, 2018, 09:50 AM   #2
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Some advice from a 35+ year caster: back away from the ladle and spend about $70 for a Lee bottom pour furnace. If you go the ladle route, it will be so time consuming and tedious that you will give up on casting in no time.

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Old March 13, 2018, 09:53 AM   #3
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Your thread might get more responses in the Casting Forum, and perhaps a Moderator will move it there.

With the sources for cheap lead now gone, casting no longer offers the cost savings it once did. But many people still enjoy casting their own bullets. There does seems to be a lower percentage of shooters casting their own, probably due to the lack of cheap lead.

I started off with a ladle and pot casting kit from Lyman. It is a little bit slower than a bottom pour pot, but you can cast great bullets with a ladle. Lately I have been using a bottom pour pot, but they do tend to have issues with pouring, clogging, or dripping at times. I am about to start using the ladle again when I'm planning on casting less than a hundred bullets.

It might even be easier to make good bullets with a ladle than a bottom pour pot. The biggest challenge with the ladle is learning to tip the mould and ladle as you pour. Once you figure that out, good bullets start dropping out fairly fast.
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Old March 13, 2018, 09:55 AM   #4
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I cast for handguns. Have never cast for rifle bullets. You will need a lead pot, ladle, mold and handles for the mold. Then you may want a sizer/lubricator...... and a heat source. Yes, it takes some money to get set up. The equipment lasts for a long time though.
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Old March 13, 2018, 11:27 AM   #5
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The first tip, NEVER put cold lead in a hot pot!
Moisture in/on a cold slug will cause a steam explosion and it's PAINFUL!
Ask me how I know that...

While casting on small volume is slow, it's remarkably satisfying, and a lead mold never goes bad, always good to have.

Several cavity molds speed things up.

There is the 'Old School's way to do things, and the 'Latest-Greatest' ways,
I still smoke my molds with a candle or match, I tried the fancy mold release, didn't really work any better.
I preheat the mold by laying it across the lead pot, no extra steps needed.
I do buy multi-cavity molds with 3 handles, an extra handle for the sprue cutter. It helps a bunch when doing a larger batch.
Hammering on the mold shouldn't be done with a steel hammer.
I use a brass/bronze hammer (a small one), I see internet videos with guys using steel and it dings the molds up, even bending the sprue cutter on the longer molds.

Once the first cast or two is out of the mold, lubrication isn't required normally.
Smoke or lube the first cast and the mold usually releases bullets with just a tap.

If you find fine lines in your cast, looks like a hair got into the mold, your lead is too hot.
Doesn't really effect the bullet, just isn't pretty.
Seriously overheated lead will try to stick in the mold, but it has to be seriously overheated to really stick tight.

My lead pot gave up three months ago, found one on eBay for about $50.
An actual bullet casting pot isn't required, but it's sure handy!

If you want to lube bullets, install gas checks, swage for size, etc. That will take extra equipment and everyone likes something different...

Last edited by JeepHammer; March 13, 2018 at 11:45 AM.
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Old March 13, 2018, 11:29 AM   #6
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I started casting with a stainless steel pot, a Coleman stove, a Lee mold (44 Cal. 2 cavity), a Lee ladle, a slotted spoon taken from Ma's kitchen. I fluxed with candle wax and sized/lubed with an old style Lee lube/size kit. I had access to wheel weights (I worked in a heavy equipment shop and found a lot of used 6-8 oz. wheel weights). I made a bunch of bullets this way for about 10-12 months and kept 3, 44 Magnums fed. Now when I started I only got about 50% to 75% keepers and had to learn temperature control (I'm now averaging 95%), but the rejects just went into the pot so it was no big deal. I was told "the only way to learn to cast bullets is to cast bullets" and just kept casting. I purchased a Lee bottom pour pot and a few casting tools and I now have 14 molds and use Lee sizing dies. I can cast for every gun I reload lead bullet for (5, 44 Magnums, 38/357, 45 ACP, 3, 30 cal rifles). I would suggest reading to get n idea of what casting is all about; Lyman's Cast Bullet Handbook (3rd Edition if you can find one, it's more new caster friendly, but a 4th will do) and From Ingot to Target by Fryxell, http://www.lasc.us/fryxell_book_contents.htm, and drop in the Castboolits forum. http://castboolits.gunloads.com/

You can get by with minimal equipment like I did to see if casting was for me, or spend as much as you feel necessary (there are electric pots the run over $250 and molds the cost over $100 and dozens of tools and stuff that will run you another $200).
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Old March 13, 2018, 11:42 AM   #7
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Good comments all. My take on ladle casting is that it is no slower than bottom pour. It's personal preference. I've been casting since early 70s.

Take a looksee at this elvis ammo video here.
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Old March 13, 2018, 11:59 AM   #8
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As for 'Cheap Lead'...

You have to smelt and clean, but lead comes from everywhere.
I got with some plumbers since lead was commonly used in plumbing A LOT.
Hundreds of pounds from those guys!

Every car wheel in the salvage yards have tire weights, truck tires have several ounces each.

When I was shooting a crap load of cast bullets, I dug the bullets out of the target backstop.
You wouldn't believe how much lead is in range backstops!

Ask the local tire shop, the local tinker/repair shop, the local plumber to save lead for you.
Some will do it for free, some want a couple bucks.
Point out you are saving them a trip to the salvage yard, and they usually don't get much since the lead usually isn't 'Clean'.
A big smelt, campfire or brush burning & old steel pot melt to remove slag/crap makes clean lead for your bullets, ingots that fit in your bullet pot once or twice a year.

Guys go on endlessly about hard & soft lead bullets, the fact is paper targets & tin cans don't care if the lead is hard or soft.
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Old March 13, 2018, 12:29 PM   #9
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I'd recommended the Lee bottom pour also. The Lee 6 cavity molds are also a great value.

Finding cheap lead can be the difficult part of the whole endeavor.
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Old March 13, 2018, 12:43 PM   #10
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Checking Natchez and Amazon the Lee 4-20 bottom pot not too bad. Molds for the 260 grain I want I haven't been able to find. Found a few 255. Lead is expensive regardless if dipped out with a Ladle or bottom dropped. I've probably watched 24 hours of you tube videos on casting in the last week. Getting warm enough if the rain ever stops to try some. I would probably never cast anything but the 45 colt and probably 357. I'm mainly interested in the 45 colt right now. Midway has everything but the mold I would like. Correct me if I am wrong but a pound is 7000 grains which should give me appr. 137 bullets out of 5 lbs of lead if using 255 grain .452 mold.
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Old March 13, 2018, 01:14 PM   #11
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I started casting by using an old small cast iron skillet that my grandma was gonna throw away.

I grew into a lead pot a couple of years later. I still can get wheel weights and use that mostly.

The mold I use for my hunting loads is here:

http://accuratemolds.com/bullet_deta...=45-260R-D.png

There is a lot of debate on what to flux with. The best I have used is saw dust. I get mine from the pet supply or other retail store and is pine shavings that are used in pet bedding. A large bag can be had for a very reasonable cost and it last a long time.

I leave a complete layer of ash over the alloy and it stays clean and does not oxidize.
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Old March 13, 2018, 01:24 PM   #12
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I have an old 6 quart Dutch Oven no longer in use. It was my first thought if I went with a ladle and a 2 hole bullet mold. Seems there are way more options since I am somewhat Lazy but considering the setup cost it would pay in the long run either way.
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Old March 13, 2018, 02:13 PM   #13
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You'd get 27 bullets per pound with a 255 grain mold so 137 is the correct number for 5 lbs. 255 grain is basically the same as 260 grain. The actual weight of the bullets will vary from whatever the mold is marked anyways. The more antimony and tin used the lighter your bullets will be.

The 6 quart dutch oven will work well for smelting down wheel weights and other various sources of lead. Smelting is used to get rid of impurities and to create ingots the appropriate size for your casting pot. A 6 quart dutch oven is huge for a casting pot. I'd guess the Lee 20 lbs bottom pour is about half a quart.
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Old March 13, 2018, 02:23 PM   #14
BBarn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendyj View Post
Correct me if I am wrong but a pound is 7000 grains which should give me appr. 137 bullets out of 5 lbs of lead if using 255 grain .452 mold.
That's correct. You might be able to find some scrap lead for $1 or so a pound. If so, it will need to be melted/cleaned (preferably using something other than your casting pot). And if it's pure lead, you'll probably want to add a little tin to make it cast better. The makes the bullet cost about $.04 each + cleaning + tin.

Clean alloyed lead is about $15 or so a pound which works out to about $.11 each (which is only a little less than you pay for them complete (cast, sized and lubed)).

Some folks cast because they enjoy it, others because they want to make their own bullets, or make something different than what they can buy. And some don't mind the time it takes to use scrap lead in order to save some $$$.
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Old March 13, 2018, 02:35 PM   #15
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I use a Lee Magnum melter. I tried a lee bottom pour or two but could not get used to them. Started dipping 53 years ago with a single cavity Lyman 492421 hollow point mold. Nowadays, I still dip with a ladle, but use two (yes two), lee six cavity molds at a time for each bullet type I cast. One cooling, one being poured...so I am producing a dozen bullets at a time. I shoot way too much (72 rounds every day (seven days a week) when the outside temperature is 50 or above. Before you get all excited about casting, get access to a supply of lead/lead alloy. The heyday of casting is over...there is not likely going to be a ready/cheap supply of lead ever again.
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Old March 13, 2018, 04:01 PM   #16
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Watch the second hand stores & junk shops for something smaller.
6 quarts is a LOT of pot!
Might be OK for large batch smelting/cleaning off your lead for clean ingots.

If you fire your lead (rather than using an electric melting pot) for bullets, invest in making wooden handle for your Dipper. Don't have to be fancy.
Fired pots & dipping can be awkward and tools that burn you pretty easily...
(Ask me how I know that!)

I have an old, mostly round/deep stainless spoon with home made wooden handle, I hammer/chiseled a pour dent in that spoon. Holds exactly the correct amount for my 6 bullet mold, and the spoon cost me 10 cents at the second hand store.
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Old March 13, 2018, 04:27 PM   #17
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I started out 50+ years ago simply , 1 , 2 and 3 cavity moulds, Lyman ladle and a cast iron pot. I cast good bullets for decades, on top of the stove .
Was lured into the bottom pour casting by the Siren's Song of great production of mass quantities of bullets ....discovered I can make more and better bullets with my open top pot and Lyman ladle. The bottom pour made a lot of flawed bullets that I didn't want....wast of time and energy .
Pressure casting the big 45 cal. bullets resulted in nearly perfect ones every drop.
I did buy a new Lee Magnum Melter and new Lyman dipper and haven't looked back.

Try the simpler dipper casting method first....you can always "upgrade" in the future.

Gary
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Old March 13, 2018, 04:50 PM   #18
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I had a typo on the Dutch oven. It's 4 quart not 6. Used to use it camping a lot to fry chicken. Make biscuits in coals or whatever needed. Just ran across it tucked under the cabinets a few weeks ago. I think lead temperature might throw me off. Maybe not in melting but appears around 450-500 degrees for pouring into the mold if I've done my homework. Wheel weights. Aren't those something else besides lead now. Maybe zinc or a mixture of the 2. I'm guessing this would work hotter on out turkey fryer.
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Old March 13, 2018, 05:50 PM   #19
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Yes, wheel weights are largely made of other materials today. I bought a bucket of used wheel weights several years back and had to sort the lead ones from those made of zinc and iron. Some were marked so I laid them aside, but others I guessed wrong and they ended up in the melting pot.

You don't want to run the melting pot hot enough to melt zinc, because you don't want to cast bullets with a lead alloy containing zinc. If you run the pot at about 500 to 600 degrees F the lead will melt and zinc weights will float to the top along with the metal wheel weight clips.

If you are going the scrap lead route, you'll want to get a thermometer designed for lead so you know what temperature your alloy is. It's best to melt with a pot where you can control the temperature and keep it in the range you want. And if you melt scrap lead in your casting pot, it will get rather gunked up with all the impurities and dirt from the scrap.

The thermometer is also needed to know the temperature you're alloy is at when casting bullets. Casting good bullets is done within a somewhat narrow temperature range. The actual temperature depends on the alloy composition, the mold, and your casting technique. So you'll want to keep track of what temperature works well so you can return to it the next time.
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Old March 14, 2018, 07:40 AM   #20
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Zinc wheel weights are easy enough to find. Just take a pair of pliers with side cutters on them and try cutting the wheel weight. If they're lead, you'll put a dent in them with the side cutters; if they're zinc, you won't.

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Old March 14, 2018, 11:55 AM   #21
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Wendy. Casting is a great hobby and a great supplement to reloading. Ive been casting for about 3 years now so Im new school, but in that time Ive probably cast 10,000 bullets (Im able to cast at work sometimes, for hours). That statement leads me to this one, get multi cavity molds, they crank out bullets fast, and while you may not be worried about speed, casting for an hour and ending up with 40 bullets just sounds annoying to me.

Finding lead may be the biggest deciding factor, if you're a scrounger you can make it work. I once found a 15 pound diving weight.....at the top of a mountain, must have got mixed into the gravel they trucked up for the trail. I grabbed it and took it 3 miles back to the car. Do that and you'll have pert near free bullets, short of your effort put in.

As stated lymans cast bullet book will teach you all you want to know and more if you are so inclined. I've read it, made my eyes cross, I now just cast for good fill out, proper-ish hardnessand good fit. Casting is like so many other things, some folks will tell uou that if you aren't getting down to the microscopic level of intricacies you're doing it wrong, and others will tell you just do whats needed to make it work, Im in the latter group.

Ill also recommend powder coating, it negates alot of hardness issues. And buy in is quite low. $15 used toaster oven, $10 in powder $5 pony beads (optional) some non stick foil and a tuperware snagged from the kitchen and you're cookin.
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Old March 14, 2018, 01:57 PM   #22
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Buy {used} clip-on-wheel weights. Found on Cast Boolits web site in the For Sale Form or from automotive junk yards. The lead material in automotive wheel weights is hardened enough so to not streak itself in a barrels bore yet easy to dip / pour and make bullets of.
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Old March 14, 2018, 03:47 PM   #23
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I recommend this tutorial by Glen Fryxell to everyone that is just starting to cast or to those that are thinking about it.

http://www.lasc.us/fryxell_book_contents.htm

If you select the .pdf link at the top left, you can download the book to your PC, ipad, phone etc and read it whenever you want.
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Old March 14, 2018, 04:55 PM   #24
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"Some advice from a 35+ year caster: back away from the ladle and spend about $70 for a Lee bottom pour furnace. If you go the ladle route, it will be so time consuming and tedious that you will give up on casting in no time."

I'm inclined to disagree with you. Some molds will never cast a good bullet from a bottom pour pot. The only way to get a good cast is do the run with a ladle. It's also a decent learning process. I cast my first bullets with pot and ladle on 8/19/54 on my 16th birthday. The pot, ladle mold and a push through sizing die were birthday presents.
I will agree that it does get slow but it's never been tedious for me. Naturally, YMMV.
A good friend I used to shoot with several times a week only shoots cast bullets He's probably been casting almost as long as I have and to this day it's pot and mold. He shoots his cast bullets in competition against people shooting jacketed bullets usually places in the top three or four.

There are a few guns I shoot cast in more for the nostalgia than anything else, one a 1911 M94 30-30, the other a 1981 issue M94 30-30. Once I get the mold and proper sizing die I'll be doing the same thing with a 1951 M94 in .32 Win. Spl. I'll do all the reloading with the old Lyman 310 tong tools.
Most of my shooting has been with cast and for a while I was probably shooting 90 to 100+ rounds of cast loads for every jacketed. All my handguns get cast bullets exclusively.
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Old March 14, 2018, 05:31 PM   #25
jamaica
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I started reloading back about 1955. Then a few years later got into casting bullets. We used plumbers lead, and wheel weights. Then the local news paper decided to quit using lead in the printing process and they were selling off their printer's lead. I got a truck load of that stuff. Still have some left. Reloading and casting bullets have been good hobbies to go along with the shooting.
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