Does anyone here cast their own bullets?

Discussion in 'Ammo & Reloading' started by SavageGuy, May 19, 2016.

  1. SavageGuy

    SavageGuy Active Member

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    I was wondering if someone could explain the basics of casting to me. What equipment would I need? How much would the total cost of the necessary equipment be? Is it worth it?
     
  2. greg_r

    greg_r Well-Known Member

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    You can start casting very frugally. Go to the goodwill store and find you a cast iron pot. Dosent need to be very big. Pick up some stainless spoons. A propane stove. You can find lead ingots on line for a dollar or so if you look around. Lee molds are cheap, but they cast good bullets and they come with handles unless you get the 6 bangers.

    You can save a bit. My brother and I went through about 750 9mm Luger rounds not too long ago. Cost us about $35 for primers and powder. We scrounged the cases and lead.
     

  3. phideaux

    phideaux Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporter

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    Unless you got a source ...Lead is gonna be a big cost factor.

    Here is what In originally got started with. The Lee furnace was inexpensive, a ladle.
    That's all you need other than the bullet molds. The only bullets I cast are .30 carbine, and add a gas check.

    $60 for the pot
    $18 for mold
    $18 for sizing die
    $5 for ladle

    Ingot mold $10

    I cast 1 lb and 1/2 lb ingots so I know how much tin and antimony to add to get the hardness I need.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Jim
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2016
  4. VThillman

    VThillman Active Member

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    I made my own bullets back in the 70s, but nearly all of that data is useless now. Linotype from a printer that went out of business - wheel weights - lead hammers from the factory where I worked - good luck finding any of that.
     
  5. SavageGuy

    SavageGuy Active Member

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    Do do you just pour the lead into the mold?
    What are the steps from lead to bullet?

    Thanks guys!
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2016
  6. SavageGuy

    SavageGuy Active Member

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    How many bullets can you typically make from a 1/2 lb ingot?
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2016
  7. phideaux

    phideaux Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporter

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    The furnace has a faucet on bottom, you lift the handle on the furnace to open that faucet to fill the ingot mold, or the bullet mold., then release the handle to shut off the faucet.



    It will depend on the size of bullet.

    Sorry I never figured out how many .30 carbine bullets I can get from a 1/2 lb or 1 lb ingot.

    just remelt the ingots and add 2-3 % tin to the 1 lb ingots.( for my .30 bullets). I'm not too concerned about the hardness of my bullets because I use gas checks.

    Then fill my bullet mold, till it gets low in the furnace then add another ingot and let it heat up again.


    TONS and TONS of info on casting here...

    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/forumdisplay.php?11-Casting-Equipment

    Jim
     
  8. SavageGuy

    SavageGuy Active Member

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    Thanks Jim! Where do you get your lead, if you don't mind my asking?
     
  9. VThillman

    VThillman Active Member

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    Hah! Well, you're far enough away so he might tell you.

    :D
     
  10. phideaux

    phideaux Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporter

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    It aint easy,
    I have a friend that has a contact at a salvage yard.

    He buys it really cheap, then sells it to me.
    He don't use it, so I get all he can get.
    Its PURE soft lead torn from old hospital Xray room walls.
    Its in sheets about 1/8" thick and he cuts it into 2 ft x 4ft pieces for me.

    NONE of the tire places use lead wheel weights anymore, its mostly zinc now.

    You will need to contact a junkyard and see if you can buy it from them.

    Buying it off the internet, by the ingo,t is too expensive, IF you cast a lot.


    Jim
     
  11. SavageGuy

    SavageGuy Active Member

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    Thanks Jim, I'll call around and see what I can find.
     
  12. Pancho_Villa

    Pancho_Villa Well-Known Member

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    I did alot of casting in the 70s & 80s. All I cast was for revolvers. The .38//357 and .44. Mostly wheelweights, which are hard to find now. I have alot of lead in ingots, but I have never made my own mix.....yet. Still go out and dig up olc backstops and cast a few hundred bullets for .38s mostly now.

    I have a 40 year old Lee bottompour furnace, a few double cavity Lee & Lyman molds. I broke the handles for my Lyman molds a few years ago and only use the Lee molds right now, mostly cause I don't cast much. Got into the habit of using jacketed bullets for the magnums and only use lead for plinking lower velocity bullets, like in the 800-1000 F.P.S. range.

    Also have a Lyman 450 sizer & luber with .357 & .429 dies for the .38 spl. .357 mag, and .44 mags. The sizers can be had in slightly different diameters, .001 or .002 etc. depending on your bore diameter if ya really wanna get critical for accuracy. I never did. I got by with just those 2, but not all bores are exactly the same. If your sizer is a bit small for hte bore, your accuracy will suffer. For exact bore diameter, you will have to "slug" the bore. That requires melting lead into it, which is a mess in itself. Another way would be to fire a lead bullet into water deep enough to get an undamaged bullet and run a micrometer over it to measure it. Most people don't wanna go to thatamount of trouble to bet the exact bore diameter.

    I don't cast auto pistol bullets. Only reloaded .45 acp and I did not cast them. I just don't shoot enough in my old age to cast much now. So, I stick to casting mostly .38 cal for low to medium velocity plinkers. I use less powder that way too.
     
  13. Tommycourt

    Tommycourt Tommycourt

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    When my neighbor sold all of his reloading stuff I ended up buying it all. He had over 50lbs. of wheel weights and 200 cast ingots along with the molds. I was going to try to cast my own but my brother from Ca. came over and I gave it all to him. He and his buddy cast bullets. If I remember right, we used to cast our own fishing lure heads with a mold and just put the hooks in, then poured the lead in. The one thing I remember we had to do was to candle the mold so the heads would fall out easier. We just built up soot on the mold until it was entirely black and then poured the lead. I don't know if that is a necessity however it worked for us at the time.

    Tommy
     
  14. SavageGuy

    SavageGuy Active Member

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    Alright, I decided to go for it. I bought a lee pot, ladle, ingot mold, mold, sizing die, and some welding gloves. I have 26 lbs of lead on the way as well. I didn't get a bottom pour pot because I didn't want to spend $60 and I don't mind spooning it into the mold. I'll probably upgrade later.

    Now, one more question:
    I need to find some tin to mix into the lead. Any suggestions for finding sources other than buying an ingot?
     
  15. greg_r

    greg_r Well-Known Member

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    Did you buy pure lead? You may not need to add anything to it. An easy way is to just use a little solder.
     
  16. SavageGuy

    SavageGuy Active Member

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    The lead supposedly already has some tin, not sure how much though. I might try the solder. Thanks!
     
  17. phideaux

    phideaux Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporter

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    I add 3% of solder , per 1 lb of PURE lead.

    Never had a problem.

    16oz lead x 3% tin= .48 oz solder.

    Jim
     
  18. VThillman

    VThillman Active Member

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    I think maybe Lee - or is it Lyman - sells a hardness tester fairly cheap. If the lead you get is really lead + ?, that would be handy. Saeco sells a nice one, but it ain't cheap.
     
  19. greg_r

    greg_r Well-Known Member

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    Get you a set of artist pencils. Push the pencil across the lead ingot. Use progressively harder pencils until one digs in. It's a good and accurate way to test for hardness. The set can be bought for about $10 at any of the big box stores. If anyone is interested in can post up what pencil number equals what brinnel hardness after I get home this weekend.
     
  20. phideaux

    phideaux Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporter

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    Yep,
    I think that info ^^^ would be welcomed.



    Jim