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biogenic
07-10-2012, 10:39 AM
Any savings casting your own boolits ? it seems the process is pretty straight forward.

Bill Steele
07-10-2012, 10:50 AM
Major savings.

Castboolits is a great place to learn all about it.

Dark Mod
07-10-2012, 11:05 AM
Yeah, tons of savings. CSACanoneer says he can reload for like $40 per 1000 or something like that. Basically for the cost of powder, primers, and lube since he scrounges lead and brass.

If i could come to terms with shooting lead projectiles i would have started casting a long time ago

Cowboy T
07-10-2012, 11:15 AM
How's this for an example?

Suppose you buy your lead for $1.00/lb and cast your own. Doing some calculations vs. purchased cast bullets of various calibers and masses, you're saving just over half on average.

My .45 Colt load, which uses one of my 200gr LRNFP "boolits" and a SAA-friendly charge of Titegroup, costs me $5.00/box of 50 to make. This is with that cost of lead, listed above. Now, if you can scrounge up some free lead, that cost naturally goes down.

Now let's look at .38 Special. Again using the above figures, a box of 50 costs me $3.25 to make. This is with a 105gr LSWC out of a Lee 6-cavity mould; the boolit looks just like a Crayola tip. It'd be closer to $5.00/box if I had to buy projectiles, and that light boolit traveling at 850 fps makes a great little marksmanship practice load for featherweight .38's like the S&W Airweight J-frame.

Yeah, it's worth it.

OldShooter32
07-10-2012, 11:38 AM
Even rifle shooting can benefit from casting. Just remember that you have to hold loads to less than about 1600 fps -- even if you use gas checks -- or you'll have leading and accuracy issues. When I was a starving college kid I'd shoot reduced range NMC with a bolt gun and lead bullets. Used a lot less powder too!

biogenic
07-10-2012, 12:01 PM
I have to do more reading and research on the subject. They have so many molds out there... :confused: i would like to cast for 9mm/38spcl/44mag/45acp.

I spend an average of $75.00 per 1K bullets when I purchase from commercial vendors... Any good places to scrounge for lead in the east bay ?

bigdawg86
07-10-2012, 12:19 PM
My question is how long much time is required to cast 1000 bullets an have them ready to load? I enjoy the reloading process, so time doesn't bother me per se... But it would be a decision factor.

huckberry668
07-10-2012, 12:23 PM
now I'm interested... what tools would you need? is there a preferred mold maker or model #s for match grade accuracy bullets?

bigdawg86
07-10-2012, 12:26 PM
I am interested too... My wife seems to think I spend too much time in the garage as it is... But I like the feeling of awesomeness of doing things start to finish.

EDIT: What about scrounging at places like Big 'O Tires for discarded lead tire weights? Melt em ang go?

biogenic
07-10-2012, 12:31 PM
My wife seems to think I spend too much time in the garage as it is...So I am not the only one ?;)

"Cowboy T" has some cool videos on the subject. They can be seen here...


http://www.sanfranciscoliberalwithagun.com/

Cowboy T
07-10-2012, 12:54 PM
The time requirement depends on the type of mould you purchase. If you use a typical 2-cavity-style mould (Lyman, RCBS, Lee, MiHec, etc.), it's not hard at all to knock out 100 boolits in an hour. On the other hand, if you use a Lee 6-cavity mould, depending on the mass of the boolits, you can cast on average about 400-500 per hour. With my 105gr mould, I've done 6,000 in about 5 hours of casting effort. Yes, the sizer die got quite a workout afterwards. Rejection rate was well under 1%. That mould is approaching the 40,000 count, BTW, and it's still goin' strong. Yes, forty thousand.

There are two things about Lee's 6-banger moulds that allow this rate of production. The first and most obvious is the 6 cavities. The second is their design for the sprue plate. It's a cam-action type that actually has its own handle, which makes breaking the sprue really easy and efficient.

Casting "match grade" boolits is more a function of your technique than anything else, because any major mould maker's products are so capable. If you're looking for match-type stuff, I assume you mean rifle and are shooting at 100+ yards. What you're going for is consistency, like always with anything "match". Lee 2-cavity moulds will certainly do the job, as Ammosmith has shown. So will NOE's, MiHec's, RCBS's, and several others.

Getting wheel weight lead is very difficult now in California, given that lead wheel weights have been banned in this State for several years. I would suggest going on eBay and buying wheel weight alloy. Should be about a buck/lb, shipped. Also, there are several vendors on the CastBoolits forum that sell range lead melted down into ingots. This is great stuff for just about any handgun job, up to and including .357M and .44M pressures (I speak from experience on this). It's also good for non-max-load rifle applications, including Ed Harris's Universal Load for most .30-cal rifle cartridges.

CSACANNONEER
07-10-2012, 1:00 PM
Without factoring in a value for time or equipment, yea, it'll save a lot of cash. My pistol rounds from .25acp to .45acp/.44mag/..45LC all end up costing about what it costs me to buy .22lr rounds. I use a 20lb RCBS bottom pour lead pot, molds from no-name single cavity to 10 cav. H&G, a Star lube sizer with a midway universal heater and an old Lyman 45 with a midway universal heater.

Watch out, collecting molds is expensive and addicting. I have molds for .177 pellets to .69 cal round balls and 12g slugs.

huckberry668
07-10-2012, 2:05 PM
Besides 'lead' what other metal components do you need to determine the alloy and hardness you want? If you use the range lead ingots wouldn't the hardness of the bullets be different from batch to batch?

biogenic
07-10-2012, 2:53 PM
Besides 'lead' what other metal components do you need to determine the alloy and hardness you want? If you use the range lead ingots wouldn't the hardness of the bullets be different from batch to batch?


Good question. Wondering about that myself...

CalTeacher
07-10-2012, 3:04 PM
You'd want some tin to help with mold fill out, and maybe Linotype lead if you already have pure, or "dead soft" lead. I use tin with clip on wheel weights and yes it does save a hell of a lot of money to cast your own. As CSA said, once you start buying molds you tend to acquire a lot of them.

For melting lead I use a turkey fryer that I got on sale plus a large stainless pot. I can melt and cast large quantities in a hurry with this setup.

bohoki
07-10-2012, 3:11 PM
i do it every bullet i make is like i made a dime

i use a coleman stove and a skilletbIiygaJI1mg

cowboy777
07-10-2012, 5:54 PM
EDIT: What about scrounging at places like Big 'O Tires for discarded lead tire weights? Melt em ang go?[/QUOTE]

Most franchise tire shops won't give you wheel weights. You have to go to the mom & pop shops. Also you have to sort the lead from the zinc weights and with California lead ban on wheel weights its getting harder to get lead weights.

If your interested I have an almost unlimited supply of lead. It's 95% lead and 5% antimony. It fills out well in the molds and are very accurate with no leading. I use it for my .45 & .357. I'm in the inland empire so pm me I'll give you a great deal on it even help you get started.

XDRoX
07-10-2012, 6:24 PM
Every tire shop I've ever asked has given me weights. Even Sam's Club.

Casting is fun. But it's a lot more involved than some make it sound. It's just as complicated as reloading, if not more so.

Molds can get very expensive very fast. Lee makes cheap ones but they don't work as well as more expensive ones. You have to baby them and you have to know what you're doing. You could easily drop $200 on a nice mold.

And then hardness comes into play. Mixing metals and testing can take considerable time.

And then there's lubing. A Star lube-sizer is very expensive. Most the guys around here probably tumble lube. But a lube-sizer is really where it's at.

And then there's the fact that lead is getting harder to come by day after day. With all of our f'ed up laws in CA, you can't even put lead on your tires anymore.

I have all the stuff needed to cast, and have enjoyed learning how to do it. But for now it's much easier to put an order in to Missouri Bullet and buy cast bullets without all the hassle of doing it myself. I love shooting lead and the savings that come with it, but casting takes more time than I have right now.

And without a Star Lube-Sizer which costs $300 minimum I always felt that my boolits were sub par to factory bought ones.

bigdawg86
07-10-2012, 6:43 PM
Most franchise tire shops won't give you wheel weights. You have to go to the mom & pop shops. Also you have to sort the lead from the zinc weights and with California lead ban on wheel weights its getting harder to get lead weights.

If your interested I have an almost unlimited supply of lead. It's 95% lead and 5% antimony. It fills out well in the molds and are very accurate with no leading. I use it for my .45 & .357. I'm in the inland empire so pm me I'll give you a great deal on it even help you get started.[/QUOTE]

Thanks for the offer... I am quite interested! Of course the only reserve is the other supplies I would need to buy... which I have no clue about yet lol

meaty-btz
07-10-2012, 6:44 PM
Tin almost always produces better results than antimony, just costs more. The antimony can be used to raise the alloy BN above what you can get with tin. But IMO you want to minimize antimony because it forms long brittle crystal structures. When you size them, they BREAK. The malleability of the lead goes down with antimony so you bullet will not form as well to the barrel (obduration) BN for BN with an antimony/lead alloy vs a tin/lead bullet. That is what I recall from my metallurgy book. In other words you get more velocity, less leading with a lead/tin alloy up to a point then you start to add your antimony if you need hardness in excess of what tin allows.

CalTeacher
07-10-2012, 6:45 PM
While those star lube sizers are nice, tumble lubing works just as well, at least for every application I've ever tried. Plus it's faster and much cheaper. 50/50 alox and Johnson's paste wax is my lube formula.

YMMV

huckberry668
07-10-2012, 9:57 PM
so just melting wheel weight or range lead and cast doesn't mean you'll get the right hardness.... what's the process to ensure hardness you want? and what's the alloy recipe you guys use?

CGT80
07-10-2012, 10:34 PM
I caught the cast boolits disease a while back. I started casting as a teen. Recently, I got back into it, in order to feed my revolver. My 45LC load costs me $8.80 with a 270 cast hollow point, win 231 powder, reused brass, and Tula primers. That is with lead figured at $1 per pound. I have a stash that I didn't have to pay for, so it is actually less. It would take $43 worth of lead and lube to make 1000 bullets. I use a mold that was custom made in Europe. It is brass, 4 cavity, with two types of hollow points, and will do flat points-It is a copy of the RCBS 270 SAA .452.

If you have some time to burn, it is worth casting.

I can shoot 45LC rounds in my 460 Smith cheaper than I can shoot my competition gun in 9mm (Montana Gold jhp 124 and win 231 $12.50 per 100 loaded rounds). I can load up medium velocity 460 with my cast bullets for $25 per 100. Low power trail boss loads cost me $13.64 per 100. Midway wants
$25 for 20 rounds of factory hornady jacketed ammo, and the LGS wants $65 for 20 rounds of hornady. My hand load with hornady bullets costs $14.14 per 20.

I regret not getting into guns more before 1999 and now not getting into casting more seriously before all of the lead bans. My dad and grandfather got their lead for free and could buy standard cap mags.

Whiterabbit
07-10-2012, 11:05 PM
My only warning is carefully budget your time into the equation. Casting requires a huge time investment. Like reloading, I consider the financial investment, snowball or not, a drop in the bucket. The cash savings are there.

However, unlike reloading, casting takes way more time.

When I was single and even married, my time was the cheapest commodity. Now that I have a 9mo son, my time became enormously precious. I don't even mean that with respect to the time I want to give him. I mean the time he demands with respect to constant attention and supervision. Reloading? cake to keep up. Casting? Much harder.

As a result, though I could cast for 45 and 357, the plans are really only to keep up full throttle 45 cal casting, as the cost for 425 grain bullets is extreme, and the cost for ANY gas checked bullet is extreme. But 357 lead cast plain base are so cheap by comparison, it's hard for me to justify casting. The cost savings would be absolutely there, but the only way the time could be justified is by making sure the bullets are plain base and tumble lubed only, and loaded as-cast with no sizing. That requires a pretty fine knowledge of what the gun likes and even better quality control over my lead supply.

My lead supply is if it melts, it gets shot! So I am married to bullet sizers and gas checks. No time to dedicate for all cals because of that.

Thank god my son came around before I bought a gas check maker! I can't imagine spending one full day prepping gas check material, one day stamping out 1000 gas checks, one day casting, one day lubing, one day sizing and crimping gas checks, one day brass prepping, and one day charging and seating. That's 7 days from wheel weight to loaded ammo! Not much time left to cook and clean, finish yard work, maintain the house, etc etc etc.

Still a no brainer for my 45 cal! But I think twice about making gas checks, casting cheap projectiles, etc.




Maybe when my son is a little older.....

Whiterabbit
07-10-2012, 11:08 PM
BTW I'm not discouraging at all. I love casting! Money can't buy a 500 grain bullet to load in a 460 S&W cartridge. But pennies buy 9mm projectiles, even if half as many are spent when casting them.

Lemme post some "porn" to help motivate:

http://castboolits.gunloads.com/imagehosting/200824f6c1c9f7c8c6.jpg
a 500 grain 45 cal next to a loaded 45 acp

http://castboolits.gunloads.com/imagehosting/200824f1b9ab5af024.jpg
MO bullet for 45 acp, a 300 grain LEE mold, a PB 370 grain "hammer", 425 Ranch Dog (my favorite), 500 grain lee, a 30 cal, and a loaded 357.

http://castboolits.gunloads.com/imagehosting/200824f1b9ab528fb7.jpg
Some loaded rounds. 300 LEE< couple 370 grain hammers, and a few ranch dogs and 500 grainers.

Whiterabbit
07-10-2012, 11:17 PM
And the way I deal with my alloy is to segregate ammo from one casting session to another. If the alloy/hardness changes, at least it'll be uniform. No mixing bullets from different casting sessions. Makes no difference at 15 yards, but I shoot pistol to 100.

sharxbyte
07-10-2012, 11:59 PM
I've read about jacketing your bullets in spent .22 brass by re-shaping them. Anyone tried this?

I may get into moulding and reloading some time :)

meaty-btz
07-11-2012, 5:15 AM
I've read about jacketing your bullets in spent .22 brass by re-shaping them. Anyone tried this?

I may get into moulding and reloading some time :)

You need a swaging system for this and it works well but it is even more $$$$, usually about 1K for the swaging press and the jacket dies and bonding dies.

CSACANNONEER
07-11-2012, 6:07 AM
Figured I should add the real reasons I started casting. While I can be a cheap SOB, I really started casting back in '86 when I built my first frontstuffer. It was easier to cast roundballs than buy them. Then, years later, when I started casting for modern cartridges, even though I had lead pots, it wasn't about saving money. It was about having a constant source of the same bullet. I would buy 500-5000 bullets at a time but, every time I needed more, I'd end up getting stuck with a different manufacturer and/or profile. I just found that it was easier to invest in some good molds and not worry about hunting for good deals on plinking bullets.

BTW, I'm still looking for a .38 S&W round nosed, hollow based mold and a mold for my 7.5 Nagant revolver in case anyone has one of these rare molds hanging around.

msand951
07-11-2012, 6:50 AM
If you can get a hold of lead . Then I would recommend casting. I like using clip on wheel weights. I cast for my 9mm, 38 super, 357/ 38 special, and 45. Im cheap so I ended up buying Lee molds . I really like the 6 cavity molds and use their little melting pot . And I tumble lube. So far it works great . There is a lot of tumble lube recipes in Cast boolits forum like the recluse recipe . Ive been casting for a couple of years it not hard . I actually learned by watching some youtube videos. Check out ammosmith's channel
http://www.youtube.com/user/ammosmith/videos

Cowboy T
07-11-2012, 9:29 AM
Molds can get very expensive very fast. Lee makes cheap ones but they don't work as well as more expensive ones. You have to baby them and you have to know what you're doing. You could easily drop $200 on a nice mold.


My results with Lee moulds are different. I've got one mould with close to 40,000 boolits on its clock, and it's still goin' strong. Of course, mine are the 6-cavity models, which I believe are better made than the 2-cavity ones.


And without a Star Lube-Sizer which costs $300 minimum I always felt that my boolits were sub par to factory bought ones.

I find that this mostly depends on one's casting technique. With my 358-158-RF (RNFP, that is) mould, the boolits drop at the perfect size for the gun, so no sizing is required, but the mould definitely prefers a certain temperature (in this case, 800 deg. F.). The boolits turn out just as good quality as store-bought ones. Additionally, the hardness and sizing of mine are typically more correct for the specific application (softer and fatter is what my Security-Six prefers). I do have to size with the 358-105-SWC mould; with those boolits, I a Lee 0.3595" bullet sizing die with very good results. For my cameralady's Taurus 65, I use the 0.358" die due to that gun's chamber size, again with very good results.

This may depend some on the specific alloy being used, and whether one remembers to lightly tumble-lube the boolits beforehand. One time I tried the Lee sizer without lube, and it worked fine, but it took more effort to pull the handle.

While those star lube sizers are nice, tumble lubing works just as well, at least for every application I've ever tried. Plus it's faster and much cheaper. 50/50 alox and Johnson's paste wax is my lube formula.

YMMV

Gotta agree there. Nothing bad about Star/Lyman/RCBS lube-sizers. But tumble-lubing really does do a good job, too, and I think it's faster. I have a video showing how to tumble-lube 1,000 cast boolits in less than five minutes. My typical formula is straight liquid Alox, though I've used 50/50 before which also works well.

Whiterabbit
07-11-2012, 9:58 AM
my bullets LOOK sub par to factory bought, but I can duplicate jacketed groups easily at 50 yards with iron sights. That's being really really lazy with the alloy, too.

I expect to surpass jacketed performance at 100 yards when I get my ultradot back.

meaty-btz
07-11-2012, 10:27 AM
Properly done lead should outperform the jacketed... in most barrels. It is just that said peak accuracy comes from a different charge (and even powder type on occasion) vs a jacketed bullet.

For sayings:
Reloading Good Ammunition is a Skill
Manufacturing Quality Bullets is an Art Form.

I get strange looks recently when I mention red-dot in 8x57 over a lead bullet. WAT?!

Most people think of guns in term of puff puff bang bang make holes in things.

Bullet Casters... is like a whole nother universe. One that I am just now entering. Still need a good source of lead/tin (I am still an anti-antimony guy).

CalTeacher
07-11-2012, 10:55 AM
Properly done lead should outperform the jacketed... in most barrels. It is just that said peak accuracy comes from a different charge (and even powder type on occasion) vs a jacketed bullet.

For sayings:
Reloading Good Ammunition is a Skill
Manufacturing Quality Bullets is an Art Form.

I get strange looks recently when I mention red-dot in 8x57 over a lead bullet. WAT?!

Most people think of guns in term of puff puff bang bang make holes in things.

Bullet Casters... is like a whole nother universe. One that I am just now entering. Still need a good source of lead/tin (I am still an anti-antimony guy).

You must use THE load for 8x57. You know, 10ish grains of red dot. I've yet o try that out in my 1888 Turkish commission rifle.

meaty-btz
07-11-2012, 11:39 AM
I am still collecting all the gear I need for casting. I had some donated 8mm lead slugs that I tried "THE LOAD" on. You know what, accurate, no leading, a fraction of the powder cost of H4895 (what I always use), color me surprised.

If you are shooting lead out of your 1888, doooo it. Just make sure your 1888 is in good condition and NO FILLER. Filler will lead to overpressure.

biogenic
07-11-2012, 12:11 PM
My results with Lee moulds are different. I've got one mould with close to 40,000 boolits on its clock, and it's still goin' strong. Of course, mine are the 6-cavity models, which I believe are better made than the 2-cavity ones.

if you get that kind of mileage out of those the mold paid for it's self many times over ;)

Do you have any tips on the alloy mixing ? How can we get that "perfect" mix of 92% lead, 6# antimony and 2% tin ?

CSACANNONEER
07-11-2012, 12:35 PM
I use 6.9gn of red dot under a 150gn cast boolit for a fun little 30-30 plinking load.

Cowboy T
07-12-2012, 9:45 AM
if you get that kind of mileage out of those the mold paid for it's self many times over ;)

Do you have any tips on the alloy mixing ? How can we get that "perfect" mix of 92% lead, 6# antimony and 2% tin ?

You're talking about a 50/50 Linotype/pure lead mix. This replicates the hardness of Lyman's #2 alloy with less tin. This is what I use for BHN 15-16.

HOWEVER....

Depending on your application, a different mix might be "perfect". For example, with .38 Special and especially standard .45 Colt loads, I prefer a 40:1 mix. This is pretty soft stuff, around BHN 8. Even for Magnum-style loads (30,000 PSI and such), for which I previously used the 92/2/6 referenced above, I now prefer straight wheel weights (BHN 12). That BHN 15-16 is really not necessary for anything short of full-house .454 Casull...or maybe Elmer Keith's original 45,000 CUP load for .357 Magnum.

Yep, seriously. My tests have shown this. They've also shown that proper sizing for your gun, and proper lube, are more important than the alloy's hardness.

Those "hard-cast" bullets you see sold by a lot of vendors? Way too hard for most applications, and generally sub-optimal lube.

And yes, you're right, with that mould, I've definitely gotten my money's worth...and then some! :D

Fishslayer
07-12-2012, 12:33 PM
I am interested too... My wife seems to think I spend too much time in the garage as it is... But I like the feeling of awesomeness of doing things start to finish.

EDIT: What about scrounging at places like Big 'O Tires for discarded lead tire weights? Melt em ang go?

Well, there ya go then. Generally a good idea to cast outdoors so you won't be in the garage! :D

Lead wheel weights are getting harder to find in Kalifornistan. The shops are required to dispose of them a certain way & they're not putting any more on.

You can buy recycled lead on Castboolits.com for around $1/lb shipped. 65 pounds generally fills a medium flat rate box. You'll be your postal person's favorite delivery! :D

Bill Steele
07-12-2012, 12:47 PM
. You'll be your postal person's favorite delivery! :D

Yeah, well, I tried lightening the mood with my postal carrier when he was complaining about the weight of the package, I said, "if it fits, it ships, right?"

He was not amused. :o

Whiterabbit
07-12-2012, 1:30 PM
ha ha!

bandook
07-12-2012, 4:05 PM
Yeah, well, I tried lightening the mood with my postal carrier when he was complaining about the weight of the package, I said, "if it fits, it ships, right?"

He was not amused. :o

I see a lot of 'Sorry we missed you. Your package can be picked up at the post Office tomorrow' notes in your future :)

bumpo628
07-12-2012, 4:47 PM
Do you have any tips on the alloy mixing ? How can we get that "perfect" mix of 92% lead, 6# antimony and 2% tin ?

I made an alloy calculator that I keep updated over on castboolits. You'll be able to play around with whatever you have on hand to get the mix you need for the situation.
http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?t=105952

biogenic
07-13-2012, 9:07 AM
I made an alloy calculator that I keep updated over on castboolits. You'll be able to play around with whatever you have on hand to get the mix you need for the situation.
http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?t=105952

nice calculator. Thanks !

Whiterabbit
07-13-2012, 9:17 AM
Any of you guys paper patch? I'm thinking about trying that as a cheap alternatve to gas checks.

meaty-btz
07-13-2012, 10:43 AM
Any of you guys paper patch? I'm thinking about trying that as a cheap alternatve to gas checks.

I think the best solution is that home gas-check maker that works on soda cans.