Bullet casting the stuff needed part I
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Thread: Bullet casting the stuff needed part I

  1. #1
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    Bullet casting the stuff needed part I

    I don't like commercial cast bullets for several reasons, the first is they never seem to have the bullet I really want to shoot, secondly, they cast them way too hard in my opinion, third, they usually come in one size, (well what if I have a larger bore dia. or over size throats in my revolver?) fourth, I don't like the "Crayola" lube most commercial casters use, and finally, most all commercial cast bullets are bevel base bullets, (I like a nice perfectly flat base on mine unless gas checked, but that's a whole different game mainly for rifles). There, that's why I don't like them, and why pay for jacketed bullets to plink with or punch holes in paper? The other alternative is factory swaged bullets. I like those, but availability is often spotty to say the least at times. This is why I cast.

    I suppose it takes a certain self-reliant individual to be a bullet caster, and one who can be picky as to the final product. I started back in the early 70's simply because I couldn't buy, (or afford) bullets to shoot in an original 1863 Springfield riflemusket. An order to Dixie Gun Works fixed that. I bought a 20lb. Lyman cast iron pot to melt my lead on a Coleman stove, a Lyman 575213 Mold, a Lyman dipper, and a sizing die that clamped into a vice and shoved the lubed bullets through with a dowel. Sounds like a simple set-up, and it was. I made thousands of "Minnie" bullets for that Springfield with just that simple set-up. Later I decided to shoot cast bullets in a .30-06 and found my simple set-up probably wasn't up to the task.

    Let's fast forward to the present and see what I would need, (and how much it would cost) to begin casting good bullets for a center fire rifle or handgun. We'll use Midway USA as a guide. One bullet, .45 Colt for a pre-war SAA.

    First the bullet, which will determine the mold we use. The first bullet I would choose for .45 Colt would be the Lyman 454190, a conical flat nose bullet closely patterned after the original 255gr. design. Midway has the mold, (2 cavity) in stock at $84.99. I'll need handles for it as they do not come with the mold. Handles are pretty much universal as to fit between makers, I'll choose the LEE handles at $13.49, (on sale) opposed to Lyman, RCBS, or Saeco priced in the $40.00 + range. So, just under $100.00 for mold and handles.

    I'll take a moment here to discuss LEE molds, (which come with handles) and are priced right around $25.00. I own quite a few LEE molds and have nothing against them other than they do not make a mold for a nice original type .45 Colt bullet. In fact the reason I've never bought LEE molds in some cases is because I just want a certain design...period. Their molds are pretty good for the money and I do check them out when buying. I went with LEE molds for my .38 Super and 10mm truncated cone bullets.

    Any new mold needs to be, "de-greased". That can be done by boiling it in water and left to dry or using a solvent. Next step is to, "season" it just like cast iron cookware. I use, "KROIL" and wipe it on with a "Q-Tip" this usually does the trick, no smoking, no commercial release needed. Attach the handles and it's ready to cast.


    Now I'll need a method of melting my lead. You can use a cast iron pot on a stove like I started out with, but let's look at what Midway has in the line of electric furnaces. First decide what method you'll want to cast. Either ladle casting, or bottom drop casting from the furnace. A ladle casting furnace will be open all around the top for your ladle to dip into, a bottom drop furnace will have a handle and linkage obstructing the top making ladle dipping difficult at best, they have a shelf where the mold slides into and molten lead drops directly into the mold with a handle control. My first electric furnace was a LEE 10lb. production pot, bottom drop. I decided I didn't like bottom drop. removed the plug and linkage and stuck a roofing nail in the spout to block it. That pot is over 30 years old and still in use for my soft lead. I use a Rapine 20lb. pot for regular alloys. I'll just say this, "Get a 20lb. pot!" And LEE makes a good pot. Bottom drop at Midway, $62.99 on sale, open top ladle dip pot, $55.79 on sale. Lyman and RCBS electric furnaces are in the $300.00 range, they're nice, but kinda pricy. If you were to go with a ladle pour method, a decent ladle will run around $25.00. So, for around $70.00-$90.00 you can melt and pour your lead. (We can now make unlimited bullets for our .45 Colt and we're right around $200.00 with shipping added for "on sale'' items at midway, with any luck they'll have a promo code for free shipping yet!)
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    I've started casting balls for my revolvers, right now an original Pocket that uses .327 inch roundballs. A while ago I 'upgraded' to the 10lb LEE melter, but the pouring mechanism is always in the way when skimming off the crap from the top.

    A hobby on its own and very fun to do. What do you think about the potential health risk?

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    Health risk? I have a blood test done at least once a year and my lead levels aren't high at all, even when I shot N-SSA competition and would bite the bullets off the cartridges during a match. I do use a well ventilated area to cast in though, often with a small fan going mainly to cool the mold more rapidly, but it does circulate the air around me gently also.

    As I stated above, the LEE pots are good for the money spent. I have one from the 1980's that still works like new. I just took the linkage and stopper off and plugged the hole with a roofing nail as I don't like a bottom pour pot. Ladle pouring isn't for some, and it does require some practice to get right, but I prefer it for myself. BTW, I do like LEE round ball molds best of any make, they turn out a nice ball!
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    I guess I'm different, but I rarely buy new casting equipment. Iron molds by RCBS and Lyman are all but indestructible, and in fact I bought a used 2-cavity 454190 off ebay for a song and it casts splendidly accurate bullets.

    Cholla
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    That 454190 mold sized to .454 works wonderfully in all my Colts including 3rd generation SAAs. I had 452424 Keith but in my limited testing, it never shot near as well as 454190, so it was sold to a buddy with a Smith 25 45 Colt and it’s wonderful in his gun. I have since added a single cavity 454424 from eBay for cheap but have not had time to see of it will hold its own to the classic 454190. The Keith bullet sure makes nice holes in paper but most of my paper shooting is just to sight in the gun then most of my outdoor shooting now is steel or empty V8 cans.
    Oh, and while 454190, doesn’t have a crimp groove and it’s suggested to crimp on the ogive of the bullet, I find that when it’s kept at its .454 diameter, it fits so tight in WW cases, that it doesn’t push further into the case when fired in a lever rifle. All is good.
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    My experience has been that RN and RNFP bullets are generally more accurate, especially in revolvers whose forcing cone isn't a smooth 11°. It would seem RN bullets are more forgiving when entering "bad" forcing cones. But those revolvers with properly dimensioned cylinder throats and forcing cones seem to shot RN and SWC bullets equally well.

    Cholla
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cholla View Post
    I guess I'm different, but I rarely buy new casting equipment. Iron molds by RCBS and Lyman are all but indestructible, and in fact I bought a used 2-cavity 454190 off ebay for a song and it casts splendidly accurate bullets.

    Cholla
    There's nothing wrong with buying quality used stuff! At a guns how once I bought a box containing 7 molds with handles for the princely sum of $40.00. I've bought used mold on line, no problem. The only problem is finding what you want when you want it.

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    I am getting back into casting after retiring and finally getting the garage organized to the point it is useful for something other than a store room.

    I recently got a 38-40 mold from here:
    Accurate Molds: Custom Bullet Molds

    If you are having trouble finding a bullet profile you want or you have an idea for a new profile, check them out. They offer iron, brass or aluminum, 1 thru 5 cavity and 2 different bullet styles in a single block.
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    This mold may sell worth the money and would fill the bill for you.

    Cholla


 

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