Bullet Casting

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by Seacowboys, Dec 24, 2016.

  1. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    I shoot a lot of USPSA competition with .45 acp, .38 super, and .40 S&W, bullet costs for practice is pretty expensive. I cast 200 gr. semi-wadcutters for my .45 and load with Winchester 235 for a very accurate, low-recoi round. Someone will no doubt say the Winchester powder is a little dirty but I have had good luck with it and like it so I really don't care what your expert opinion is.
    Everybody has their go-to formulas, this is mine that I got to by trial and error. I use a mixture of linotype, tire weights and 50/50 solder; the linotype, I recovered from a print shop that was destroyed during Kartina. I got nearly a ton of it. I get the tire weights in 20 gallon barrels from a local tire shop that saves them for me and I bring them fishing weights and bullets once in a while. The Solder comes from a friend that does heating and air conditioning repair, usually traded for diving weights that I cast from salvaged lead boat keels.
    I like the 6 cavity Lee molds for pistol rounds and keep a couple in each caliber and bullet type so that I can alternate them while pouring.
    Melting lead has its dangers, even a little moisture or dirty tire weight dropped into a pot of molten lead will create quite a steam explosion and more than likely burn the hell out of you. You can safely feed the pot by slowly lowering individual pieces though, letting them melt as you lower them into the pot. For those that don't know, steel floats on lead. The little steel clips float right to the top, I keep a bucket of water beside me to spoon out the debris and get rid of. I use bee's wax or paraffin wax as a flux. This will bring a scum of ash and other debris to the top so you can rake it to the side and spoon it out.
    I recommend warming your molds beside the pot as you melt your stock. A warm mold will release better and it insures the mold is dry so you don't get a steam explosion while casting. It is also a good idea to have a towel to soften the drop of hot bullets when released from the mold. I like to swing the spue plate and drop the buttons back into the pot, as soon as the last button solidifies but before it cools to harden. Cast bullets need to be sized and lubed before using, you will be amazed at the diameter variances that can occur, either fro a film of lead accumulating on the inside surfaces of the mold, or heat expansion.

    20161223_165541. 20161223_165525. 20161224_094035. 20161224_094326(0). 20161224_094343. 20161224_161458. 20161224_172627.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2016
    duane, Oltymer, Tully Mars and 11 others like this.
  2. stg58

    stg58 Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Nice job, Lee molds have worked well for me also.

    Clean up after casting, lead in the body by any means is not good.

  3. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Random thoughts on the subject - (because it's too early to think)

    I used to cast bullets commercially for a gun shop back in the late 70s. The shop used a Magma machine that rotated eight 2-cavity molds and had a 100 lb bottom pour solenoid operated lead pot. It could do 2500 bullets an hour.

    I had my own hand casting equipment also. Somewhere along the way it disappeared. About a year ago a coworker had a couple of dual cavity molds, handles, a small furnace and sizer / luber for .38 caliber and I picked it all up for a decent price. A few months ago I dug out an embankment on my property into which I'd been shooting for the last couple years and salvaged the bullets. I then re-cast them into .38 SWC, reloaded them and again fired them into the embankment. That should be able to be done over and over.

    You're quite fortunate to have run across that much linotype. Don't believe anyone has used it in decades so it's got to be scarce. Also, our EPA, in its never-ending "wisdom", shut down the country's last lead smelter about three years ago. (If I were paranoid I'd say it was just another attempt at back door gun control). So unless imported or left over from pre-leftist administrations, salvaged lead is all that's available.

    Lead has been eliminated from most solder used for plumbing purposes, and as a long time worker in the electronics industry, I can tell you that it is being eliminated in solder for that purpose also. Lead containing solder for electronics use is running around $35 / pound. My company does not use lead free stuff, because it's too difficult to work with.

    At any rate, I've always enjoyed casting. Did a lot of it when I was younger. Didn't do it for years and just a couple months ago picked it up again in a limited way after my wife purchased a little S&W Airweight.
  4. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    Side note, I used to flux with the old wax candle, I've since switched to saw dust primarily pine. Seems to clean up the mix much better
  5. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Metal weldin' monkey

    Great post @Seacowboys. My fav powder for the 200 grn was 5.7 grains of Win 452AA. Folks said the same stuff about it but it was a great load and worked for me. As another monkey mentioned, great luck scoring the lino-stuff is hard to find. Nowadays I just buy commercial alloy since all the wheel weights in my AO are already spoken for by the fishermen, and it works better for me in the long run. I mine the backstop from time to time, but most of mine is from new alloy. Again, I agree with your choice and size of molds. I use sawdust(pine) and or beeswax for flux. Thanks for sharing and the pics.
    AxesAreBetter likes this.
  6. Oltymer

    Oltymer Monkey++

    Currently casting for Britt .303, .308, 30/30, 8mm Mauser, 45 ACP, .44 Army BP, and .36 round balls for slingshot ammo. I use a Coleman stove, iron pot, hand made ladle, along with multiple mold designs for each cartridge I am casting for. I mix my own bullet lubes, and save and scrounge brass.

    CHEAP shooting, all I buy are powder and primers. !!! Develops a new skill, as it takes skill to cast good bullets, plus the self reliance factor, but it's not for everybody. Lots of time involved and can be dangerous since it involves molten lead.

    All the commercial cast bullets I've tried tended to lead my barrels, but my own cast bullets cause very little if any leading.
  7. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Interesting note on the pine saw dust Gator. Never heard of that one. Looks like something new to try. I've always used Beeswax or bullet lube.
  8. Oltymer

    Oltymer Monkey++

    Pine sawdust works great!
  9. duane

    duane Monkey+++

    Worked at a plastic factory years ago and hired a new man to mix colors for the plastic. At that time most were heavy metals. Six months later he is in hospital with serious case of heavy metal poisoning. Had another man who was training him and had been doing it for close to 20 years with no problem. Difference was one smoked, other didn't. He got lead, chromium, etc on his fingers and then on the smokes, heat vaporized it and he breathed it in. Lead etc is ok if you melt it, vaporize it in any way, over heating etc, or ingest it in any way, it is a whole different ball game. Let all get to be old wise monkeys and be safe. Seen people with painters colic, severe joint problems, lung problems etc 60 years ago and all were caused by lead or heavy metal poisoning. We can complain about the nanny state, but very few people know how to do it safely any more.
  10. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey+++

    Been diein to get into this, but every time I get the coins together, life happens. Still, filing this away until the the DAY...
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