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Author Topic: Bullet Casting  (Read 3954 times)

eskimo jim

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Bullet Casting
« on: February 22, 2009, 07:57:50 am »
Can anyone suggest a good book and a list of equipment needed to take up bullet casting?

Thank you.

Jim
Obama-nomics:  Trickle up poverty.

What have you done for Liberty today?

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    xsquidgator

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    Re: Bullet Casting
    « Reply #1 on: February 22, 2009, 08:49:57 am »
    The Lyman cast bullet handbook (http://www.amazon.com/Lyman-Cast-Bullet-Handbook/dp/B000N8QS46/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=sporting-goods&qid=1235308287&sr=8-1)
    is a good reference to have with all the tech details.

    I also highly recommend the Cast Boolits board (http://www.castboolits.gunloads.com/), lots of good info and friendly people.  I really would suggest using the search function first since there are multitudes of "how do I get started" threads over there already.   But, no one will get snitty with you if you ask something that's already been asked.

    I've been casting for a little over a year and reloading for two years.  My suggestion is to simply "go for it", just like reloading you are not likely to make one big order from a supply place and get every single item you need, you will be ordering more stuff later so don't sweat it.

    At the simplest level, all you need is
    -a pot (I recommend a 20# pot, probably the Lee bottom pour one.)  I have a Lee "magnum melter" which I discovered only after I got it was not a bottom pour, I have to use a ladle.  No biggie, I've cast many thousands of bullets with it anyway.
    -moulds.  For most manufacturers you also need to buy handles for the moulds too.  For a hobbyist getting started I highly recommend the Lee aluminum 2 cavity moulds, since each of those comes with its own handles.

    You could get by with as little as that, theoretically.  For just a little bit more $ though you can make the process a lot more convenient and make it easier to get good and consistent casting results.

    I would also suggest (I got this stuff with my getting started equipment buy):
    -a sizing die for the caliber you're casting, and some way to lube the boolits.  For hobbyists wanting to get into it on the cheap, I think the Lee sizing/lubing setup is great.  Each sizing die is only about $10 or so.  Tumble lube the cast bullets and let the lube dry. 
    -If you tumble lube the bullets, I would highly recommend getting the Rooster Jacket tumble lube and use that rather than the Lee Liquid Alox lube that comes with the Lee sizing kits.  The Lee alox works fine and prevents leading, but I'm not crazy about it because it dries to a sticky brown waxy kind of coat.  Rooster Jacket is at least as effective in my experience at preventing leading, and it dries to a hard clear coat that doesn't stick to my fingers when I handle loaded ammo.  You could of course wipe off the exposed bullet surface but I gave up on that pretty quickly, it just makes a LOT of extra work that isn't needed.
    -a casting ladle (you don't want to use a soup ladle except for filling ingot moulds- the casting ladles let you pour much more precisely and only hold maybe 600-800 grains of molten lead)
    -a lead thermometer.  not necessary but nice to have, and helps to get consistent melt temps which makes your casting more consistent.  $40 or so.
    -a hardness tester.  useful for telling what kind of alloy you're casting.  I used mine some when I started but haven't in a while, but I'm glad I did.  Lee makes a hobbyist grade one for about $30-$40 most places.
    -an ingot mould (optional).  Some people use cast iron muffin pans instead.
    -a can of some flux, I recommend Brownell's flux (white powder in a can).

    One or two other tips I've tried and liked, and these are free, you don't have to buy anything or much:
    -I recommend dropping your cast bullets out of the mould and into water to quench harden them.  These bullets are significantly harder than the ones you drop onto a towel and let air cool.  I use an old coffee can filled 3/4 full of water, and then float a couple chunks of wood in the water.  That way they don't splash water out of the can.
    -WEAR SAFETY GOGGLES!!!  There is a lot of energy contained in a 20# pot of lead heated up to 700F, and splashes or accidentally introducing even a tiny bit of water to the pot (like stuck on a mixing spoon for instance) will rile it up and may spray it around.  Read and understand all the lead safety precautions before you start.
    -In the vein of safety, I recommend buying a lead dust respirator.  ($20)  Get your blood work check for "lead level" whenever you get a checkup at the doctor's or you have a blood test done.  It's not expensive but it is unusual, and you have to ask for it.
    -you may or may not need to size the cast bullets.  For my 40 cal semi-auto pistol, I have to size the cast bullets to 0.402" or they get stuck and jam while chambering.  But my 9mm and 45ACP pistols seem to accomodate my unsized cast bullets ok.  The bullets come out of the mould maybe 0.001" or so oversized, which actually helps prevent leading.  So, I size my 40 cal cast bullets but not my 9mm, 45, or 357 bullets.  Not sizing them saves a fair amount of time and makes it convenient to just cast, tumble lube, let dry and then they're ready to go.
    - if you buy Lee moulds, read the "Lee-menting" preparation you can do to your Lee Al moulds to make them work better before you use them for the first time.

    Go ahead and just get in there and try it!  There is an awful lot to learn to master casting, but it's easy to make bullets for plinking right off the bat.  Worst case, you make some bad bullets and just throw them back in the pot to be remelted.  I started casting just to try and get some use out of a bunch of scrap lead I got from work, and i was cheap.  However, casting turns out to be a satisfying hobby in its own right, just like reloading is.  You will probably enjoy it quite a bit.



    THE NORSEMAN

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    Re: Bullet Casting
    « Reply #2 on: February 22, 2009, 08:54:18 pm »
    Looks like I'm a bit late on this one.  You've been given excellent info.  In fact, read that book cover to cover before you buy anything else.  When you do start, RESPECT that molten lead.  I've gotten a bit careless a time or two, and both times cuased me a lot of pain.
    This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty. . . . The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction- St. George Tucker, Blackstone's Commentaries

    eskimo jim

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    Re: Bullet Casting
    « Reply #3 on: February 23, 2009, 06:04:29 pm »
    Xsquidgator,
    Thank you for your input.  Right now I'd like to get a book about casting and read up on it before I start assembling equipment.

    Thanks Norseman, I'll definitely be careful around lead.  I got a couple of burns during chemistry class in college.  Given the choice between a bad cut and a burn, I'll take the cut.

    Jim
    Obama-nomics:  Trickle up poverty.

    What have you done for Liberty today?

    red44spl

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    Re: Bullet Casting
    « Reply #4 on: February 23, 2009, 07:08:38 pm »
    Look up Vernal Smith's book. He created LBT, I think and the book is an advanced degree in casting.

    xsquidgator

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    Re: Bullet Casting
    « Reply #5 on: April 23, 2009, 08:00:16 pm »
    I have one more little recommendation to consider, based on some new experiences I've had... boy, with a 6 cavity mold and a bottom pour pot, you can really crank out some bullets in a hurry!  I've been doing ladle casting with some Lee 2 cavity moulds since I got started about a year and a half ago in casting.  Recently a shooting buddy loaned me his 6 cavity mould (for 45 cal 230LRNs) and his 10 pound bottom pour pot.  Wow!  Much faster to make bullets than I was doing with the ladle and 2-cav molds.

    If you have the coin, get two melting pots, one a largish like 20# ladle pot, and another pot that's bottom pour.  Heat them both up, and use a big soup ladle to put molten alloy into the bottom pour pot.  Be melting your ingots in the ladle casting pot while you pour bullets with the bottom pour.  By the time you empty the bottom pour pot, the other pot will be full of molten alloy that you can stir, flux, and then ladle into your bottom pout pot.  Repeat until your arms are falling off.

    Between the 6-cavity mould, pouring the bullets into the mold with the bottom pour (faster and more consistent that my ladle casting), and not having to stop ever to wait for ingots to melt in the pot I'm casting out of, wow I could crank out 2-3 times more bullets an hour than before.  Good stuff, I'll be buying some more casting stuff like this for myself since my bud will need his back sometime.

    RandySBreth

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    Re: Bullet Casting
    « Reply #6 on: April 26, 2009, 06:42:25 pm »
    Great advice so far. Like was said, you probably need to learn on a smaller 2 bullet or so mould, but after you get it down go for it with a couple of 6 bullet models. You can crank them out for sure!  The Lyman books are gold, but really just a starting point.
    Castboolits.com is another good tip, too. Great folks there, very helpful.
    My website: http://ozarkoutdoorjournal.blogspot.com/


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