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Have been reloading for years but now I would like to cast my own bullets. Want to cast .45 ACP 200 gr. SWC's. How do I get started? Any good resources?
 

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Lead supplies are difficult in some areas. Personally I have better things to do than drive all over looking for wheel weights. Most big tire stores have agreements in place and in general are not too receptive. By the time you add in the cost of $3 gallon gas and your time.... So a lead supply is really key. That said I did come across a guy selling lead bars for a reasonable price and I picked up 600lbs from him. Buying it this way brought my bullets down to 2.5 cents each for 200gr SWC. Plus I don't have to spend alot of time cleaning clips and crap out of wheel weights.

That said, then you need moulds, get the Lee 6 cavity ones. Don't fool around with single or two cavity moulds unless you have a lot of time to waste. I prefer a bottom pour smelter, no laddles are needed to pour the molten lead. They can drip, but if you work the valve back a forth you can get the drip to stop.

You'll need to lube your bullets. Get a Star lubrisizer from Magma Engineering. Google them.

Do your casting in a well ventilated area and wash your hands. Wear face and or eye protection and gloves. Old clothes, long sleve shirt.

I made back my investment the first year. But if you invest in the tools and can't get a source of lead then... So get that figured out first. I see folks buying lead on ebay. But that is so expensive with shipping that you don't save enought to make it worth while.
 

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Casting can be fun or a chore. I enjoy the time i spend casting so it's relaxing to me. simply put all you need is a mold, a pot (bottom pour is best and fast) and a lubrisizer but you can even get away without that if you hand lube.

Like mentioned-get the Star sizer right off the bat and you will never regret it. I use the heater and the air pressure piston and lubed about 1500 or more on saturday in an hour or so. I did smash my finger with the punch but that's another story.

Join the site castboolits.gunloads.com. You will get all the information you will ever need and if you have a problem someone there can help you out right away. these are a great bunch of guys (and maybe a few girls but the don't say anything it seems.

As to lead, it is getting very hard to get. If you have to buy it at much price it would seem to make little sense to cast. I belong to a private club where most everyone shoot lead bullets. I mine the bank and get all I want for free. I now have about 2300 pounds and still collecting it. It's called compulsive disorder I think.

From what i read, getting wheel weights even at a cost is getting difficult. If you have to pay $1 per pound for lead from a scrap dealer then you are looking at almost 3 cents per bullet for that 200 grain bullet. Still cheaper than buying them however.

Also, get the Lyman book on casting. It is a really good primer to learn from.

John
 

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johnrh said:
...If you have to pay $1 per pound for lead from a scrap dealer then you are looking at almost 3 cents per bullet for that 200 grain bullet. Still cheaper than buying them however...
But not by much. Careful shopping can get you 200 gr SWC's for just a hair over 5 cents each. Once you factor in all the time you will spend casting and lubing, it may be cheaper AND EASIER to just buy the bullets. If you can't get good quantities of lead for almost free or definitely under 50 cents per pound, it almost isn't worth it.

But, casting is another hobby in and of itself though. If you don't mind spending the time, then go for it.
 

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I have done bullet casting many many years ago, but it is more convenient and I can argue that is cheaper to buy than cast it if I have to price the time spent on it. Do not forget to add to the cost the gas spend finding the lead, the energy needed to melt it, the casting equipment, the sizing equipment and the bullet lube.
 

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My experience with bullet casting has apparently been much different from most of these guys. The first tire shop I checked with here in Anchorage gave me several 5 gallon buckets full of wheel weights and even loaded them in my truck for me! If you can get the lead for free, and you don't count your time, bullet casting can be FAR, FAR cheaper than buying bullets, especially if you shoot quite a bit.

The way that I look at the time I spend on bullet casting is that I figure if I wasn't doing that, I'd be sitting in front of the TV or something else. Might as well do something productive that I also enjoy. I definitely agree that it's a hobby in and of itself, but that's certainly not a bad thing! I also wholeheartedly agree with the recommendation to check out the forums on castboolits.gunloads.com. The Castboolits site is a truly awesome reasource for the beginning caster.

If you're just starting out, I would recommend a Lee pot, probably the 20 lb. model. I picked up the 10 lb. pot, but only because I couldn't find a 20 lb. pot locally. For bullet moulds, you might post a message in the "Swappin & Sellin" forum on the Castboolits site that you're looking to buy some moulds--you might be able to pick up a good one for less than new. If you'd rather buy new, I've had good luck with my 2 cavity RCBS moulds. I would stay away from the Lee 1 and 2 cavity moulds, although the 6 cavity ones are good. Sourcing the wheel weights first before you buy the equipment is a good recommendation--I hear a lot more stories about how difficult it is to find good lead than about how easy it is.

Hope that helps, and good luck!
Mike
 

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1Blue pretty much covered it. I use the Lee 10# bottom pour pot with great success. Yeah, it leaks but you can stop that if it bothers you.

Safety issues.

1. have adequate ventilation. I have a full house fan sucking out the window with a small fan right at the pot pulling from it and a fan across the room supplying clean air. I have had a problem with lead levels in the past and don't want to go there.

2. Safety glasses. You will cast your lead from about 650 to 800 degrees. It will not even slow down if it hits your eye.

3. heavy work gloves. For the same reason listed above.

4 also long pants and a long sleeved shirt. Once again for the temperature.


If you are sweating do not get over the pot. A single drop of water can cause a pot of lead to unload on you. Bad business. The same with primers. Occasionally we drop a live one. be sure there are none around your pot.


Now that I've tried to state all the bad things ( I hope I didn't miss any) I'll tell you it is one of the most single minded processes you can put your mind to. Don't be daydreaming.

It's a ball. I cast a little over 300 rounds this afternoon.:)

I'll be back at it tonight.

FWIW

dj
 
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