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  #1  
Old 03-20-2013, 10:09 AM
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William.c.leach William.c.leach is offline
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Default .40 S&W - Bullet casting, Worth my time?

I recently got into reloading about 6 or so months back, I know great time for it huh.... Right now I only reload my .40 S&W, but at some point I want to start reloading my 30-30. I have a very good supply of primers, cases, and powder, the only thing I dont have a great supply of is bullets. Its been hard for me to find many bullets at a reasonable price so I have been toying with the idea of casting my own lead bullets. My initial figures are that it will cost me around $300 to get into casting, initially. Then I will over time spend a couple hundred dollars each year to update and get new stuff or just add something cool. When I go shooting, I usually shoot between 150 and 300 rounds on average. It depends if anyone is with me, if I'm shooting a paper target or practical, which guns I brought, if I'm hungry, and so on.

What my question is, for those of you that cast your own, would it be worth my investment and time to cast my own bullets? I know it would be cool and very worth while to learn this as a new skill, but I am looking at it from a practicality stand point for right now.
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  #2  
Old 03-20-2013, 10:45 AM
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Casting is fun but cost effective only in bulk. Also consider your time and chemicals cleaning the barrel plus lead exposure.

I have run lead only bullets before but now use moly coated lead.

Cleaning the barrel is a snap. No lead fouling and no lead vapor or contact with my skin.

Ill pay for moly bullets and save my time and health for a little extra cash.

Just my .02
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  #3  
Old 03-20-2013, 10:53 AM
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If you have a source for Lead, then you can calculate your costs.

1 Lb of Lead (7000 grains) would make est. 40-175gr bullets, about 2 cents per bullet if you buy wheel weight ignots for a buck a pound. Add some lube cost in there.. +/- 3 cents per.

There is a local guy next to me that sells his cast bullets for $40 bucks per 500, approx 7.5 cents per bullet. So only you can answer if casting is for you.

If you haven't checked it out, read up over at http://castboolits.gunloads.com/forum.php.
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Old 03-20-2013, 10:59 AM
Whiterabbit Whiterabbit is offline
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Casting is fun and ALWAYS cost effective financially, bulk or not bulk.

Period.

but you have to value your time. Casting is not cost effective for me in bulk because my time is too valuable these days with a baby. But 100-300 rounds here and there its a no brainer.

What really makes it valuable is being insulated from the market for rounds that will only get shot at 100 yards anyways.

I'm frequently in the shop casting 50-100 bullets. Trying a new technique I read about online, making fodder for a new lube or gas check, trying out a new sizer.

------

I don't know about 40 S&W but I know that money can't buy the bullets I am using in my 460 S&W. Casting my own is almost the only way I can shoot the loads I want.

Not to mention that bullet selection sucks if you want to shoot cast from a rifle like 22, 7mm, 6.5mm, etc. But expand selection to include molds and you have a WIDE selection of projectiles.

------


I shoot less than you do. But already due to casting I have stopped shooting jacketed projectiles entirely. For ALL of my guns. I only shoot cast lead and copper solids. That's it!

That insulation from the market is really nice!
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  #5  
Old 03-20-2013, 12:03 PM
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Wait, how do you get $300 for casting setup?

Lee 20 lb melting pot about $60
Lee 6 cavity mold in .40 S&W $40
Lee handle for mold $15

that's $115 to start casting lead .40 S&W.

if you want to get even cheaper, use the 2 cavity mold and that means $20 for the mold (with handles) which is $80 for melter and mold.

Lube? that's like $5 for some liquid alox.

Time and to some extent electricity is the intanglible. Lead, figure a bit more than $1/lb.
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Old 03-20-2013, 12:05 PM
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OP, I see your topic question was "Worth my time?".

I guess that's up to you.
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  #7  
Old 03-20-2013, 12:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lead Waster View Post
Wait, how do you get $300 for casting setup?

Lee 20 lb melting pot about $60
Lee 6 cavity mold in .40 S&W $40
Lee handle for mold $15

that's $115 to start casting lead .40 S&W.

if you want to get even cheaper, use the 2 cavity mold and that means $20 for the mold (with handles) which is $80 for melter and mold.

Lube? that's like $5 for some liquid alox.

Time and to some extent electricity is the intanglible. Lead, figure a bit more than $1/lb.
And a book or two about casting, then the sizing die, then another ammo can to store the lead and jacketed apart, build a small bench for outside.
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Old 03-20-2013, 12:46 PM
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it all adds up. There are always incidentals. $300 is a good budget to work with, intending to spend $115 to start with.
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  #9  
Old 03-20-2013, 12:52 PM
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Sizing die is $20
No need for a book. This is free. The castboolits.com site is priceless. Lots of other resources for free (well, not free if your time is too valuable, but I consider this a hobby, so taking the time to learn things is valuable to me).

I use a folding card table with a plywood board for the top and on old computer sidewall to catch any lead splashes or if there is a major leak.

Set up time out in the backyard is about 20 minutes and the lead is heating up during most of that time. Casting sessions are typically 1-2 hours and clean up is another 10 minutes. In that time I easily cast 500-1000 bullets with my 6 cavity Lee mold. I do 9mm, 357, 40 and 45 usually just one caliber at a session. I cast about 5000 .401 bullets last year and shot 'em all through my M&P 40. That lead cost me about $100 so each round was about $0.05 each which is not a whole lot more than 22LR.

I would definitely say casting is worth it. But if you have no time for it, you can always shoot less, pay more and sometimes have to go without shooting because you ran out of ammo.



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Old 03-20-2013, 1:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lead Waster View Post
Lee handle for mold $15
I'd for some Lee Handles in Stock!
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  #11  
Old 03-20-2013, 1:23 PM
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Cant find any?
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  #12  
Old 03-20-2013, 1:34 PM
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The biggest advantage to casting your own is supply. I have molds for most of my rifles and all my handguns. During the current shortage I have not had any problem getting bullets to shoot. Another advantage is you will often use rifle powders that most people dont use for jacketed loads so you can get powder. If you take simple precautions you will get no more lead exposure than you do at the range. Cost wise if you shoot handgun you may not need gas checks so casting is cheap. I load for my 44 mag and figure each bullet to shoot is 6 cents plus powder and primer. I cant really tell you if its worth it to you but it is too me. I get a lot of satisfaction out of shooting bullets that I have cast. You can also tailor the bullets to your weapon, hardness dia of finished round.
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Old 03-20-2013, 1:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rsrocket1 View Post
Sizing die is $20
No need for a book. This is free. The castboolits.com site is priceless. Lots of other resources for free (well, not free if your time is too valuable, but I consider this a hobby, so taking the time to learn things is valuable to me).

I use a folding card table with a plywood board for the top and on old computer sidewall to catch any lead splashes or if there is a major leak.

Set up time out in the backyard is about 20 minutes and the lead is heating up during most of that time. Casting sessions are typically 1-2 hours and clean up is another 10 minutes. In that time I easily cast 500-1000 bullets with my 6 cavity Lee mold. I do 9mm, 357, 40 and 45 usually just one caliber at a session. I cast about 5000 .401 bullets last year and shot 'em all through my M&P 40. That lead cost me about $100 so each round was about $0.05 each which is not a whole lot more than 22LR.

I would definitely say casting is worth it. But if you have no time for it, you can always shoot less, pay more and sometimes have to go without shooting because you ran out of ammo.



What alloy/hardness are using for the .40?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gemoose23 View Post
I'd for some Lee Handles in Stock!
Me too. I had them on back order since the beginning of Feb. I just had everything on the back order for lead casting released from back order and shipped monday. I had expected the handles to ship April which I got an email today saying it got pushed to June....... http://www.mp-molds.com does have the handles shipped for 32 bucks, but it's coming across the Atlantic.
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Old 03-20-2013, 1:45 PM
koehn,jim koehn,jim is offline
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Rsrocket1 those are some pretty bullets what mold are you using.
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Old 03-20-2013, 2:01 PM
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Wheel weights will be fine for 40s&w
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Old 03-20-2013, 4:42 PM
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I'm using the 6 cavity Lee 401-175-TC standard lube molds. I have 2 handles for the 4 molds (I don't have 4 hands so I don't need a handle for every mold).
I tumble lube them in Recluse's 45/45/10 formula of Lee Liquid Alox/Johnson's Paste Wax/Oderless Mineral Spirits. This works like Alox, but it is more like a hard wax than a thick grease.

I started using 10:1 Wheel weights to Linotype that a fellow Calgunner sold me. He said the BHN tested at 18. It was about $1/pound. After using up about 100 pounds of the stuff, I wanted to stretch the supply out, so I started mixing in reclaimed shotgun shot which I can get for less than $1/pound. That stuff is nearly pure lead with some Antimony mixed in. I was mixing that with the other ingots 1:1. I also picked up some dead soft pure lead scrap and mixed that in anywhere from 1:1 to 2:1 and the all shoot just fine.

40 S&W is not a high speed rifle round and even at 1100 fps and 33,000 psi, the bullets shoot fine with no leading. Fit is king and you must ensure the bullet is fat enough for whatever barrel you shoot it in. That's why slugging your barrel is important. You might be able to shoot the bullets without even sizing them if the fit is correct and the bullets will chamber in your pistol.

It also helps to ensure your pressures are up there so if you want to shoot low recoil (800 fps or less) loads, use a very fast powder like Red Dot or Clays to get that pressure up.

Last edited by rsrocket1; 03-20-2013 at 5:18 PM..
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Old 03-20-2013, 5:11 PM
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I cast for 45-70 and .45 Auto religiously. For .40, I'll only cast if i can get the lead for free. Otherwise, the cost of tin, lube, and propane make casting .40 more hassle than its worth compared to simply putting in an order with Bear Creek, which I use exclusively for competition ammo. I use the same lee mold as the gentleman above for .40 and it really does produce some great shooting bullets.

If cost isn't your concern, then having a huge stockpile of lead will provide you with a steady supply of bullets that isn't affected by supply shocks as we're experiencing now.
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Old 03-20-2013, 5:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lead Waster View Post
Wait, how do you get $300 for casting setup?

Lee 20 lb melting pot about $60
Lee 6 cavity mold in .40 S&W $40
Lee handle for mold $15

that's $115 to start casting lead .40 S&W.

if you want to get even cheaper, use the 2 cavity mold and that means $20 for the mold (with handles) which is $80 for melter and mold.

Lube? that's like $5 for some liquid alox.

Time and to some extent electricity is the intanglible. Lead, figure a bit more than $1/lb.





Correctamundo even if youi add $100 for a lyman 4500 sizer still way under $300 Also yeah go to the cast booliots site and read the sticky things.

But the way casting at $1lb lead for a 45 acp I load for about $5 per box not bad but for your time, a 40 about same.

Last edited by bruce381; 03-20-2013 at 5:33 PM.. Reason: added stuff
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Old 03-20-2013, 5:46 PM
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http://castboolits.gunloads.com/forum.php
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Old 03-20-2013, 6:25 PM
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Casting is time consuming and lead that is suitable for shooting is getting difficult to come by.
I collect the lead after shooting recast it and plate the bullets so I don't have to mess with the lube.
Plating is not cost effective but it is interesting to see what you can do with just what you have around the shop.
Here is some of my 45's

http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/a...8&d=1363828607
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 168.jpg (98.5 KB, 29 views)

Last edited by welldriller; 03-20-2013 at 9:36 PM..
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  #21  
Old 03-20-2013, 7:35 PM
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Well.... I think I have been convinced to try it. Thanks everyone for their comments. Even if I don't end up shooting only cast bullets it will sure be great to have this skill, just in case it is NEEDED some day.
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Old 03-20-2013, 7:44 PM
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It is really fun to melt metal, turn it into a tool, and see your results. Go for it.
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