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Looks Like I'm Getting Into Bullet Casting

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  • Looks Like I'm Getting Into Bullet Casting

    I enjoy shooting revolvers, have several .38s and .357s, and I also reload. I've always been interested in trying my hand at casting my own bullets but I have never been able to discover a source for lead that's cheap or free, and if I have to buy lead for casting then it's really not practical - I can just buy already-cast bullets.

    Well it just so happens that I'm going to need a new roof put on the house. I had a roofer that I had been talking to about replacing it come over last evening - we actually had a leak from a storm on Saturday - and he went up and found that one of the plumbing vents had developed a crack and he replaced it at no charge right then and there!

    Anyway, when he showed me the old vent flashing that he replaced, I asked if it was lead. He said that it was, and I asked him if he removed a a bunch of them and what he did with them. He said that he scrapped them, but he used to give them to a guy who was into muzzleloading rifles, but he said the guy told him that he didn't want any more because he had enough saved up to last him the rest of his life!

    I then offered to pay him scrap prices for any of them, but he said that he would be happy to just get rid of them - that if I wanted them he probably had six or seven of them at his shop right now and he'd drop them off for me. He said scrapping them is really just a nuisance for him, as he said that the scrap price he gets isn't worth the time and gas to take them to the recycler's!

    So, it looks like one problem is solved - I now have a source of lead for casting!

    So can anyone recommend a decent and inexpensive (I'm a retired guy on the proverbial fixed income) electric casting set up?
    Last edited by Chief351; August 6th, 2018, 10:12.
    Freedom Of Speech does not include freedom from consequences.

    When riding a horse, remember that you are not in control, but are just another voting member.

  • #2
    I have been using a Lee casting pot for well over 40 years.

    https://ads.midwayusa.com/product/63...content=637732

    Easy to use!
    Ahab

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    • #3
      That's actually the one I was looking at. I like the fact that it's "bottom pour" so you don't have to mess around with pouring from a ladle.

      So presuming I get one of these, I expect I'll have to first cut the lead up into small manageable pieces, then make an initial "melt" of the lead so as to pour it into ingots - I'm thinking muffin pans or something similar. But this scrap lead I'm using will probably have all sorts of surface contamination such as tar, paint, etc. Will this stuff separate out from the melted lead so it can be skimmed off of the top or something?

      Someone mentioned that I should be doing this work outside and wearing some sort of breathing protection. Can you advise on that?
      Last edited by Chief351; August 6th, 2018, 15:00.
      Freedom Of Speech does not include freedom from consequences.

      When riding a horse, remember that you are not in control, but are just another voting member.

      Comment


      • #4
        Pure lead is great for muzzle loaders and black powder revolvers. It's not so great for modern pistols. The barrels would lead up real quick. You need to mix it with wheel weights to make it harder.
        My standard 357 load is a Lee 166gr. bullet made from wheel weights, 5.3 grains of Winchester 231, and any small pistol primer available. It's right about 960fps out of a 4 inch barrel. Even in a lever action it's never leaded the barrel.
        Almost forgot. Muffin pans make a disk too big to fit in the Lee pot. The pour lever blocks the larger items. Either fill them halfway or use something like the old cornbread pans that look like corn on the cob.
        Once you melt a batch, skim off anything floating on top. then stir in about a teaspoon of wax. It will flair up and smoke. Skim it again and repeat once more. This will clean up the lead nicely.

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        • #5
          I've got a brother in roofing, so I get free roof flashing from time to time. It's real soft which is what I use for my muzzleloader bullets( .530 roundballs from a Lee mould for my .54 flintlock longrifle, and smooth sided .566 Pritchett Minies from a N.O.E. mould for my Pedersoli P53 Enfield .577 and my Euroarms J.P. Murray/ Columbus Confederate Carbine .577.....I need to order a .375 roundball mould for my .36 cal. Pietta Griswold and Gunnison Confederate revolver ). I also get some dead soft lead from other local sources, as well as off other forums that deal more with that subject than this one does.

          With that vent flashing, I cut it using scissors. Knock off the dirt and tar as much as possible(if it's BAD, BAD dirty, use a camp stove and a large cast iron pot to melt it down, flux, and skim it before using your bullet pot..or just make sure your pot is scraped out good before you put in clean lead next g round) and make sure there's NO WATER whatsoever in anything you put in a hot pot of molten lead.

          I use reclaimed range lead/wheel weight lead/scuba weight lead for my (more) modern cartridge bullets.

          If we were closer, I'd gladly trade you some harder lead for your soft stuff.

          I load .45 Colt more than anything, since I have four firearms that eat it. I'm using a Lee .452-255-RF for that bullet, with great ease and great results. I've been water dropping them.

          I run them through a .452 sizer from Lee (in my Lee Challenger single stage press) to make sure they're the right size and round. I tumble lube with Lee Liquid Alox for my smokeless loads (I use Hodgdon Universal powder for .45 Colt and .38 Special), and lube with SPG for blackpowder loads....and yes, I do load both calibers with blackpowder from time to time. More cleaning, yes, but also more BOOM and more fun.

          I have been using Hornady .358-158-gr. SWC bullets for .38 Special, but I have a Lee .358-158-RF mould and a Lee .358 sizing die kit on the way right now, so my cost per round is about to get even lower. I have two guns that eat .38 Special. One of them is a snubnosed .357 mag. It remains to be seen if I'll load .357 ( I use Alliant 2400 powder for .357 Mag and .44 mag)from cast, but if I do, it will be hard and water dropped right out of the mould.


          On cost, my total cost for over the counter .45 Colt "Cowboy" (weak) loads was in the neighborhood of $50 per box. Casting and reloading, not only are they more accurate, but I've dialed in a bit more ooomph AND they cost me around $5 per box of 50(!). I don't claim to "save" money this way...but I sure do shoot a whole lot more for the money.


          I'm using a Lee Pro 4-20 bottom pour pot. Been working like new for the 2 years I've owned it, so far. Being a 20-lb. pot, I can fit several cold lead muffins in it at once, and add several, several more to it once they being to melt. I've dabbled with ladel pouring, especially in my big Minies, but I prefer bottom pour without a doubt. The slight hassles of picking out the spout with a paperclip once in awhile and adjust the top screw here and there is well worth the ease of use and speed.

          I bought Frankfort Arsenal's flux, but like Wayne said, candle wax works, too. Just use a spoon to skim off the dross. I keep a soup can handy for that.

          I don't use spray release on moulds. I sightly blacken the cavities with a match or lighter and most will release good with little to no tapping on the mould handle bolt.

          I cast outdoors under my carport top, with a favorable wind carrying the fumes away from me, but often wear a dust mask. I have some cheap, WalMart leather work gloves that insulate my hands from all the heat.

          I used to drop my sprues and first few runs of reject bullets from before the mould gets up to temperature, but I've started leave them out until I'm done, so that I can better regulate the lead temperature by not constantly reintroducing cooler metal back into the pot(not as critical with the smaller bullets like .45's and such, but a BIG issue with 580-grain Minies).



          I've only been casting a couple years, so I'm still learning...but one thing I know, is that it's worth the effort and you do end up saving real money on ammo.
          Last edited by PlowboysGhost; August 11th, 2018, 21:15.
          "I here repeat, & would willingly proclaim, my unmitigated hatred to Yankee rule葉o all political, social and business connections with Yankees, & to the perfidious, malignant, & vile Yankee race." -Edmund Ruffin *[B]
          At a little creek called Bull Run, we took their starry rag...to wipe our horses down with, and I ain't here to brag.[/B]

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          • #6
            If you have a source for lead, GO for it!!! But sounds like a pain in the ass for me, unless you really wish to recreate what was done in "Ye Olde"................?????

            I will just buy them already made!! THANK YOU!!!
            And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgement was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands: and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. Rev. Chap.20 Vs.4)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Led View Post
              If you have a source for lead, GO for it!!! But sounds like a pain in the ass for me, unless you really wish to recreate what was done in "Ye Olde"................?????

              I will just buy them already made!! THANK YOU!!!
              There's nothing wrong with buying it from a store if you can afford it. Some calibers are cheap enough that I don't fool with reloading them anyway. 9mm, .45 acp, etc... Commonly cheap auto-calibers that I can get all WallyWorld for $16 per 50, or so, isn't worth it to me.

              It's the more expensive calibers that got me into reloading...like .454 Casull, .45 Colt and .44 Magnum.

              I reload .38 Special and .38 Long Colt mainly because I reload .357 Magnum and they use the same dies and bullet mould.

              I've had guns that I loved, but didn't really shoot because of the cost of ammo. A few years ago, I bought a brand new Ruger New Vaquero in .45 Colt. I took it home, shot about 12 rounds through it, and didn't shoot it again for 18 months. I love .45 Colt. I had 5 guns in the house at one time chambered in that caliber, but I never really enjoyed them until I started reloading and casting, so that I could afford to shoot them.

              If I get the urge, I can grab one or four of them right now, walk out in the backyard, and sling 300 rounds at water filled jugs or steel plate.....and It won't cost me $275-$300 like it would have in the bad ole days of buying factory ammo. It'll cost me about $30.


              That makes it all worth it to me....plus there is a certain satisfaction in making my ammo myself. I can afford to shoot them much, much more, which means I enjoy them more, and I'm a little better with them. My reloads are also more consistent in velocity and more accurate...that's win-win all the way around in my book.


              Casting bullets takes a good chunk of the cost out of reloading.
              "I here repeat, & would willingly proclaim, my unmitigated hatred to Yankee rule葉o all political, social and business connections with Yankees, & to the perfidious, malignant, & vile Yankee race." -Edmund Ruffin *[B]
              At a little creek called Bull Run, we took their starry rag...to wipe our horses down with, and I ain't here to brag.[/B]

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by PlowboysGhost View Post

                There's nothing wrong with buying it from a store if you can afford it. Some calibers are cheap enough that I don't fool with reloading them anyway. 9mm, .45 acp, etc... Commonly cheap auto-calibers that I can get all WallyWorld for $16 per 50, or so, isn't worth it to me.

                It's the more expensive calibers that got me into reloading...like .454 Casull, .45 Colt and .44 Magnum.

                I reload .38 Special and .38 Long Colt mainly because I reload .357 Magnum and they use the same dies and bullet mould.

                I've had guns that I loved, but didn't really shoot because of the cost of ammo. A few years ago, I bought a brand new Ruger New Vaquero in .45 Colt. I took it home, shot about 12 rounds through it, and didn't shoot it again for 18 months. I love .45 Colt. I had 5 guns in the house at one time chambered in that caliber, but I never really enjoyed them until I started reloading and casting, so that I could afford to shoot them.

                If I get the urge, I can grab one or four of them right now, walk out in the backyard, and sling 300 rounds at water filled jugs or steel plate.....and It won't cost me $275-$300 like it would have in the bad ole days of buying factory ammo. It'll cost me about $30.


                That makes it all worth it to me....plus there is a certain satisfaction in making my ammo myself. I can afford to shoot them much, much more, which means I enjoy them more, and I'm a little better with them. My reloads are also more consistent in velocity and more accurate...that's win-win all the way around in my book.


                Casting bullets takes a good chunk of the cost out of reloading.
                I thought we were talking about bullet casting. I DO reload ammo!!! But do not cast bullets. I purchase those in bulk........FOR RELOADING!!

                Hoping they are not that crappy of a bullet, though!!!
                And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgement was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands: and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. Rev. Chap.20 Vs.4)

                Comment


                • #9
                  I use a few cast bullets for subsonic stuff. I get them from Missouri Bullet Company & usually the powder coated ones (just for the colors and real easy to ID subsonic loads for different calibers). Their prices seem really good to me even compared to inexpensive plated bullets like Berry's. Other than having the equipment skill in the event a day comes when you can't just go online & buy bullets, is it worth the hassle of casting vs just buying good cast bullets from somewhere like MBC?

                  I kicked around the idea yrs ago when I started reloading, but the thought of the time spent scrounging, then the time casting, purchase of even more equipment, space to store it, etc...just seemed like it wasn't worthwhile. But also to note, I enjoy shooting MUCH more than reloading. as it is, sometimes reloading feels more like a chore than recreation or hobby. When it feels like "work" I stop since that means I'm not in the right mindest to be sitting at the reloading bench. But if I had to add another step in the process of "cast the bullets", it would really feel like a chore all the time I'm afraid.
                  They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.<br /><br />-- Benjamin Franklin

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                  • #10
                    To me, casting is well worth the investment and the effort spent doing it. There's also the "shoot what I, myself made", aspect, too. You'll have to decide if it's worth the savings to you.

                    I started out buying cast bullets for .45 Colt and .38 Long Colt/.38 Special and then realized how much cheaper it was to cast those. Bear in mind that I had already bought a Lee Pro-420 bottom pour pot , flux, etc... for casting hollow base Minies for my .577 P53 Enfield rifle-musket and my J.P. Murray Confederate carbine because it is MUCH cheaper to do so than to buy cast 500+ grain Minies from any outlet.

                    I changed my projectile over to a NOE .566-580-grain smooth sided Pritchett bullet that I'm not sure anyone sells pre-cast.

                    Now...I keep a large Pancho's white cheese dip container full of .358-158 RF Lee bullets (about 500 bullets), one full of .452-255 RF Lee bullets lubed with Alox for smokeless (about 250-300 bullets), and a small container of the .452-255 RF lubed with SPG for loading .45 Colt the original way...with a full case of blackpowder. (I sometimes load .38 with blackpowder, too).

                    Ever so often, I'll put the pot on the table in the open carport and replenish my supply of bullets.



                    I started out with Lee Classic Loaders...the tabletop dies that require a mallet and use powder dippers. THAT was a chore. It took forever to make 100 rounds, beating and banging. When I swapped to a Lee Challenger single stage press and a Hornady powder dispenser, I though I was walking in High Cotton. It was so much faster than the Lee Loaders.


                    I just swapped (yesterday) the single stage setup for a new Lee Classic Turret press and a Lee Auto-Drum powder through die setup. I reloaded 25-30 .45 Colts yesterday faster than I ever have.


                    In the worst moments reloading, I remind myself how I can actually afford to shoot whenever I want to now, as opposed to before I reloaded. Now, there are guns and calibers opened up to me that I would have previously passed up because I couldn't afford ammo....or because factory ammunition for some calibers is either too expensive, hard to come by, or discontinued altogether.


                    I could actually shoot some old cool but obsolete cartridge. All I need is brass and a mould.
                    "I here repeat, & would willingly proclaim, my unmitigated hatred to Yankee rule葉o all political, social and business connections with Yankees, & to the perfidious, malignant, & vile Yankee race." -Edmund Ruffin *[B]
                    At a little creek called Bull Run, we took their starry rag...to wipe our horses down with, and I ain't here to brag.[/B]

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Well, my bullet casting project has been put on hold for a little while pending saving up some more funds. I had to put a new alternator and a fuel pump controller in my 2004 Mustang, as well as purge my brake fluid, so I spent around $500 that I hadn't budgeted for. Did all the work myself except for the fuel pump controller - due to the fact that I didn't know how to troubleshoot it! Darned new (-er) cars! Had to have it towed to a repair shop for that one.

                      I expect to be able to buy a melting pot and a thermometer next month.

                      By the way, I really love reloading for .38 Special. I do it really old-school way with a "Tong Tool" - they call it a Lyman 310 these days. I can't think of a more pleasant way to spend a cool fall afternoon than shooting up a few cylinders-full of .38s, then sitting down at a picnic table and running the empties through the ol' tong tool.

                      I use a Lee Powder Dipper that I modified so that I can adjust the load that it throws. I drilled a hole for a #8 or #10 brass screw in the bottom of the dipper, then epoxied a brass nut. I then added another brass nut to the screw to act as a jam nut to lock it down when I have the throw weight set. Works perfectly. You would be amazed at how accurate the charges are that this setup throws.

                      On days like that I feel like old Skeeter Skelton is looking over my shoulder.
                      Last edited by Chief351; October 17th, 2018, 19:41.
                      Freedom Of Speech does not include freedom from consequences.

                      When riding a horse, remember that you are not in control, but are just another voting member.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Chief351 View Post

                        By the way, I really love reloading for .38 Special. I do it really old-school way with a "Tong Tool" - they call it a Lyman 310 these days. I can't think of a more pleasant way to spend a cool fall afternoon than shooting up a few cylinders-full of .38s, then sitting down at a picnic table and running the empties through the ol' tong tool.

                        I use a Lee Powder Dipper that I modified so that I can adjust the load that it throws. I drilled a hole for a #8 or #10 brass screw in the bottom of the dipper, then epoxied a brass nut. I then added another brass nut to the screw to act as a jam nut to lock it down when I have the throw weight set. Works perfectly. You would be amazed at how accurate the charges are that this setup throws.

                        On days like that I feel like old Skeeter Skelton is looking over my shoulder.
                        I'm familiar with the Lyman 310. I studied up on buying one for .44-40, then traded off the 1860 Henry.

                        Having a big ole bucket of home cast 158-gr .38(.358 actually) slugs with a big, flat metplat will make you feel even better....when you get to that point, you'll see what I mean

                        I shoot mine through this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6A2L-ZgpGw&t=1s

                        Cool idea on the adjustable dippers.


                        Better to have Skeeter looking on over your shoulder than to have Elmer Keith wondering what the hell you're doing...like he would if he could see me...lol. I'm easing up to his famous .44 Magnum load for my Super Blackhawk. Got deer season on my mind.
                        "I here repeat, & would willingly proclaim, my unmitigated hatred to Yankee rule葉o all political, social and business connections with Yankees, & to the perfidious, malignant, & vile Yankee race." -Edmund Ruffin *[B]
                        At a little creek called Bull Run, we took their starry rag...to wipe our horses down with, and I ain't here to brag.[/B]

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Well, I ordered my gear today. I bought a Lee bottom pour furnace, a Lyman thermometer, and a set of bullet molds for .454 balls. I think I will start casting for my 1860 revolvers. Probably make up some paper cartridges.

                          If I want to try something from the 20th century, I have a set of Lee molds for .38 Special wadcutters that I was using for fooling around with primer powered .38s using bullets cast with hot melt glue. Got old pretty fast though - like shooting a kid's toy cap gun. But the concept worked.
                          Freedom Of Speech does not include freedom from consequences.

                          When riding a horse, remember that you are not in control, but are just another voting member.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I make cartridges for my .36 cap and ball Griswold, but I'm still using the same (5) boxes of Hornady .375 roundballs I bough a couple years ago. When they're gone, I'll pick up a mould for it, too. I converted my .44 cap and ball to .45 Colt cartridges and I melted down all my .454 Hornady balls to cast .530 roundballs and .566 Pritchetts.

                            Paper catridges are absolutely the way to go for cap and ball and military longarms...both rifled and smoothbore.
                            "I here repeat, & would willingly proclaim, my unmitigated hatred to Yankee rule葉o all political, social and business connections with Yankees, & to the perfidious, malignant, & vile Yankee race." -Edmund Ruffin *[B]
                            At a little creek called Bull Run, we took their starry rag...to wipe our horses down with, and I ain't here to brag.[/B]

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              PlowboysGhost,

                              I don't have a place to permanently set up my casting rig, so I went to Harbor Freight and picked up one of those sheet metal carts, like you see maintenance people use in factories, to set up on. That way I can work outside on nice days, or I can set up in my detached garage and leave the door open with a fan running for ventilation. When I put the cart together I turned the top tray upside down, so instead of a shelf with a tall lip around it I have a flat surface with the lip turned downwards. I plan to bolt the casting pot to the top on the left end and leave most of the top of the cart for a pan to catch the bullets. First, though, I want to make sure the casting pot works, so for safety sake I'll probably just clamp it down with a large c-clamp at first so that I don't do something klutzy and nock the stupid thing with a few pounds of molten lead in it over.

                              Do you see an issue with drilling the bottom plate of the casting pot with a couple of bolt holes and bolting it directly to the top of this metal cart? How hot does that bottom plate get? Do I need to insulate it from the metal cart?

                              My wife had (Note the past tense there!) a mini-muffin pan that should cast "ingots" about 1-1/2" in diameter and about 3/4" deep. Once I pick a few more things up at WalMart Tactical, like a baking pan to catch the bullets in when I drop them from the mold, and a pair of safety goggles to go with my welding gloves, I'll be ready to cast my first ingots from the scrap roofing lead I have.
                              Freedom Of Speech does not include freedom from consequences.

                              When riding a horse, remember that you are not in control, but are just another voting member.

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