Author Topic: primitive bullet casting in lead pot  (Read 22236 times)

Offline Smurf Hunter

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primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« on: December 06, 2012, 03:51:42 PM »
As part of 13skills, I've added bullet casting as a kill I want to learn.  I've been reloading cast lead for revolvers and think this would be a natural extension.
Up to now, I've talked myself out of casting due to economics.  Today I can order 1000x 158gr SWC from Missouri Bullet for around $75 shipped.  It did seem worth buying all the equipment when it would take thousands of rounds to break even.

An area I thought I might save some bucks and offer some redundancy was on the furnace.  Instead I was thinking of a cast iron pot which I could heat using a gas burner or potentially with natural fuels.
Example:  http://www.amazon.com/Lyman-Reloading-Cast-Iron-10-Pounds/dp/B003DWFCDC/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1354833536&sr=8-3&keywords=lyman+cast

pros:
cheaper than an electric melting pot
probably would last forever
does not require electricity

cons:

tough to control temperature
less ergonomic

Here's my shopping list:

mould: http://www.midwayusa.com/product/164178/lee-2-cavity-bullet-mold-tl358-158-swc-38-special-357-magnum-38-colt-new-police-38-s-and-w-358-diameter-158-grain-tumble-lube-semi-wadcutter?cm_vc=OBv1161177
sizing die: http://www.midwayusa.com/product/685087?cm_vc=S014
dipper: http://www.midwayusa.com/product/161177/lee-lead-dipper?cm_vc=sugv1685087
iron pot: http://www.midwayusa.com/product/610780/lyman-lead-pot-cast-iron

Basically I can get all of the above for ~$60.

Any suggestions?

Offline res45

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2012, 06:47:02 AM »
Check the local salvage stores,I've found several cast iron pot for a couple buck there.

http://castbullet.com/reload/campcast.htm

Offline Bradbn4

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2012, 08:40:15 AM »
You will need lead from a good source.   http://www.rotometals.com/Bullet-Casting-Alloys-s/5.htm

If you mix your own setup - you might want to obtain a hardness tester.

http://www.midwayusa.com/product/731364/lee-lead-hardness-testing-kit

The mold is a tumble lube - so your setup will work. 

You are missing a temp sensor - easier to verify that the lead is at the right temp and ready to go.

http://noebulletmolds.com/orders/catalog/index.php?cPath=22&osCsid=qjblnkmof89ui7j64pefl78714

One note of danger on the noe bullet molds website - it's way to easy to get the "I got to have" bug and blow your budget. 

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2012, 09:42:42 AM »
No suggestions, but my father used a pot like that to make lead sinkers for many years.  The work great and last forever.

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2012, 10:24:41 AM »
I did this very thing for years and used a pot, which I still have, on a Coleman Stove.  Problem is that the weight of the pot full of lead bends and ruins the top of the stove.

I also rigged up a propane torch to use for the heat and used that for a long while until I finally sprung for the electric pot and use that now exclusively.
z

Offline res45

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2012, 03:17:35 PM »
Quote
One note of danger on the noe bullet molds website - it's way to easy to get the "I got to have" bug and blow your budget. 

Accurate Molds is another good custom mold maker,you can choose you block alloy,number of cavities,sprue plate type,and if you want to use traditional grease groove for lube or have the bullet cut in tumble lube design.

http://www.accuratemolds.com/

Offline SlimJim

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2013, 08:10:30 PM »
"Primative" you say?

I've been casting my own since 2000 and here's what I do (not necessarily the best/right/only way, just my way)

I use wheelweights, melted in a cast iron pot (thrift store) over a propane camp stove (thrift store) and skim with an old fork, use an old soup ladle to fill a set of Lee tumble-lube 2-cavity molds (I have 3 of them) I drop the still-hot bullets into a bucket or pan of water to quench. Be careful with water near your pot of hot lead. If you get a wet tool into the pot, you will get a steam explosion, sending little bits of molten metal onto you. It's not fun, but you probably won't have to go to the doctor.

These are NOT target-quality bullets, just some quickly made-in-volume cast boolits that I can plink with.

YMMV.
by the way, this article shows my casting setup. http://www.alpharubicon.com/leo/bulletcastingslimjim.htm

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: primative bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2013, 10:24:01 PM »
spelling...

A few of my bullets had wrinkles, but that's most likely due to the mold temperature.  I also quenched into water.  I took an old tupperware, filled with water and laid a towel in it.  So far I'm pretty happy with the results.

Offline cohutt

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2013, 05:58:30 AM »
Preheat your mold on a $7 walmart single eye electric burner and you will likely have far less wrinkle issues, especially with smaller (under 200g) bullets.  Otherwise it takes a long time for mold to heat up to adequate temp, that is if it ever does.

Offline Jeremy Downing

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2013, 06:53:57 AM »
Forgive me for the hijack, but if you cast your own bullets, won't they foul your barrel without copper jacketing?

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: primative bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2013, 08:41:36 AM »
Forgive me for the hijack, but if you cast your own bullets, won't they foul your barrel without copper jacketing?

I assume you are asking an honest question and not trolling.  :)

There are 2 basic reasons that cast lead could foul (lead) your barrel:

1) diameter of bullet is too small for the bore.  In this case, cases blow past the bullet, "cutting" it, leaving streaks of lead.  This also hurts accurately/power

2) bullet is too hard.  A lead bullet needs to obturate, or swell to make a tight seal inside the bore (else #1 happens).  A too hard bullet may have difficulty doing this, unless propelled by a powerful magnum load.

There's tons of articles on the topic if you search the web.  Basically if you use the appropriate size for your bore, and use appropriate hardness for the charge, you'll have an extremely accurate load for pennies.

Much higher velocities are possible with copper jackets, and that's a motivation for using them in modern military rifles.    For self defense handguns, copper jackets are generally preferred for the same reason.  The higher velocity, the more force applied to the target.

For me, it's a quantity/quality thing.  I could buy a box of 100 Hornady XTP bullets for $17, or for that same cost cast about 800 lead bullets. The casting is more labor intensive of course, but it only takes me a few hours to make that many. 

Offline ag2

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2013, 09:10:34 AM »
Some folks seem to poo poo cast lead and think it is old fashioned.

I am not an expert yet, but hope to get there when it becomes my grumpy old man hobby in my retirement years.  But I have read that guys can actually achieve higher marksmanship by casting and loading their own lead, than they can with manufactured bullets.  I found that suprising, but I have read this in  several sources.  It surprised me so much that I never forgot it.

And of course, you just can't beat the economics of it.  I purchase cast lead from a guy who does it on the side.  I have not spoken to him lately, but I would imagine his business is picking up.

Can someone describe what "leading" looks like when it occurs?  What does it look like?  How can I identify it?  I'm only shooting lead in pistol these days.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2013, 09:19:34 AM »
You typically would see dark streaks just after the forcing cone (for revolvers) at the start of the bore. 
From google image search:







At the club I shoot at, the old guys shoot 100+ yard silhouette competitions with handguns using cast lead.  Part of that is to reduce wear on the steel target, but they have their alloy dialed in for the purpose.

My most accurate load (at 25 yards) in .38spl is still a 148gr hollow base wadcutter cast from soft (BHN 12) lead with a few grains of IMR trail boss.

Offline armymars

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2013, 09:53:19 AM »
The right lube is important to. My best groups come from using the old NRA formula. Half bees wax, half Alox. The newer ones use parafin to make the lube less sticky. For revolvers size to the cylinder mouth dia. not the grove dia. this will also cut down on leading. My best bullets for the 38 special used zinc washers, but they cost more then gas checks now.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2013, 12:58:24 PM »
The right lube is important to. My best groups come from using the old NRA formula. Half bees wax, half Alox. The newer ones use parafin to make the lube less sticky. For revolvers size to the cylinder mouth dia. not the grove dia. this will also cut down on leading. My best bullets for the 38 special used zinc washers, but they cost more then gas checks now.

So far my only mold is a 158gr tumble lube.  I'm simply using x-lox (alox) cut slightly with mineral spirits to liquify it.
The bullets cast to .358, so I haven't considered sizing yet.

Offline armymars

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2013, 03:44:36 PM »
Tumble lube bullets don't need to be sized as a rule as long as you can seat them into the case without trouble. Let me know how long it takes your lube to dry. I'm using Lee's right now for tumble lube bullets and it can take weeks.
I set the bullets on wax paper base down to dry.

Offline cohutt

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2013, 05:22:20 PM »
Sized tumble lube 200g 45s are my most accurate out of my favorite 1911.  This is vs two traditional groove lube bullets and any commercial jacketed.

Copper jacketed bullets wear barrels eventually if you shoot enough rounds.  Lead bullets - forget about it. 

I cast for all my hand guns and two rifles.

My 45-70 has not and will never taste a jacketed round:





Offline armymars

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2013, 11:09:44 AM »
  Whats your favorite cast bullet load in your 45/70? I haven't found one my 1895 Marlin Guide gun likes yet. Come to think about it, I haven't tried a cast bullet in my 45/70 Ruger number one ether.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: primative bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2013, 01:08:34 PM »
I've twice talked myself out of .45-70 lever guns I found used.

Why do you love them?

Is it purely nostalgic, or is there a practical redeeming feature?

The criticism I hear, is it's ballistically inferior given the recoil, cartridge size and weight.

Offline cohutt

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #19 on: February 12, 2013, 10:02:47 PM »
Mine is a single shot nef buffalo classic. Not a lever. 
I just like to shoot it out a couple hundred yards with peep sights and break things.
440g loaded to about 1300 fps.  Big arch. Shoots though tornadoes without windage adjustment. ;)


In brush at close range a L.A. 45-70 has few ballistic equals imho.

Offline cohutt

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #20 on: February 12, 2013, 10:06:08 PM »
  Whats your favorite cast bullet load in your 45/70? I haven't found one my 1895 Marlin Guide gun likes yet. Come to think about it, I haven't tried a cast bullet in my 45/70 Ruger number one ether.
15g of unique with 400-440g lead gives me the 1300 fps black powder type velocity I like

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2013, 10:35:17 PM »
Perhaps it'd be prudent to own a gun in a caliber capable of destroying an engine block?  It's all about the preps - right?

Offline Jeremy Downing

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Re: primative bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #22 on: February 13, 2013, 04:32:06 AM »
I assume you are asking an honest question and not trolling.  :)

No, not at all. I'm quite curious. I think the preparedness possibility of making your own bullets is profound and I'm interested in learning more about it.

Offline cohutt

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #23 on: February 13, 2013, 10:42:12 AM »
Perhaps it'd be prudent to own a gun in a caliber capable of destroying an engine block?  It's all about the preps - right?

Lol I think I've purchased guns before using much weaker justification logic.

Offline idelphic

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #24 on: February 13, 2013, 10:57:05 AM »
You will need lead from a good source.   http://www.rotometals.com/Bullet-Casting-Alloys-s/5.htm

If you mix your own setup - you might want to obtain a hardness tester.


http://www.midwayusa.com/product/731364/lee-lead-hardness-testing-kit

The mold is a tumble lube - so your setup will work. 

You are missing a temp sensor - easier to verify that the lead is at the right temp and ready to go.

http://noebulletmolds.com/orders/catalog/index.php?cPath=22&osCsid=qjblnkmof89ui7j64pefl78714

One note of danger on the noe bullet molds website - it's way to easy to get the "I got to have" bug and blow your budget.
Seems a bit high on the cost..  You can generally find wheel weights much cheaper,..  well.. if you can find it stock up.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #25 on: February 13, 2013, 11:15:21 AM »
Seems a bit high on the cost..  You can generally find wheel weights much cheaper,..  well.. if you can find it stock up.

So far I've been buying range lead ingots off eBay for ~$1.75/lbs.  I've hit up 3 local tire shops, 2 I personally know folks at - none had lead wheel weights.
Said they don't use lead on new installs, and they've all but phased out.

While $1.75 is a lot more expensive than "free", a pound will make 40+ 158gr bullets.   If we round up and add in the cost of lube, let's call it $0.05/bullet.
That's still a considerable savings compared with the value priced cast lead bullets you might find.

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #26 on: February 13, 2013, 11:52:11 AM »
I just e-mailed a local scrap metals recycling place (deals in copper wire and plumbing recovery, aluminum, and battery recycling) and they're buying lead wheel weights at $0.43/pound.  I asked if they sell to the public.  I'll let you know what I hear back, but it might be something to try elsewhere.  I just googled 'scrap metal recycling' with the name of my city to find it.

Offline idelphic

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #27 on: February 13, 2013, 12:16:51 PM »
I just e-mailed a local scrap metals recycling place (deals in copper wire and plumbing recovery, aluminum, and battery recycling) and they're buying lead wheel weights at $0.43/pound.  I asked if they sell to the public.  I'll let you know what I hear back, but it might be something to try elsewhere.  I just googled 'scrap metal recycling' with the name of my city to find it.
I stopped by the place here close to the office.  A few years ago CountyRootsCityJob and I stopped by with some rims he had, and didn't want.  Swapped pound for pound to wheel weights.  Thought I had a good source.

But now, due to EPA crack down, they won't sell / exchange, so I've lost that source.  There maybe another place - I hadn't given it much thought since that sad news.

I have some stock..  but not enough to make me feel good about it.  Components are getting more and more difficult to locate, or they are seriously over priced.

Offline armymars

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #28 on: February 13, 2013, 02:52:52 PM »
   OK one of my secrets. If you help at the indoor pistol range and put in a good days work cleaning out the traps some clubs will let you buy the lead at the same price as what they sell it for. I melt the lead, skim off the copper jackets and set them aside. Adjust the lead  by adding wheel weights to where I want it for that batch, then cast.
I then take  the jackets back to the club to toss into the 22 RF brass bucket. Everybody is happy. Some day I'll run out of wheel weights, till then I cast.

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Re: primitive bullet casting in lead pot
« Reply #29 on: February 13, 2013, 07:35:41 PM »
I put an add on craigslist a year or so back, traded him 15lb or so of WW for a 24pack of Budlight... I suppose it wasn't a horrible deal.  Idelphic, I owe you one for that source!  I hope you were able to get some before the EPA stopped up the pipeline!
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