Casting Lead

This is a discussion on Casting Lead within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; I didn't want to hijack the bullet caster thread, so here is a new one. For those that cast their own bullets, where do you ...

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Thread: Casting Lead

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array farronwolf's Avatar
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    Casting Lead

    I didn't want to hijack the bullet caster thread, so here is a new one.

    For those that cast their own bullets, where do you get your lead? Do you purchase it in blocks from the reloading places or is there some other source.

    What I really want to know is how Tubby gets his down to .3 cents each?

    I know time would be a factor, but at such a low price, hey we all pretty much waste some time during the year. May have to move a tv to the reloading room.
    Just remember that shot placement is much more important with what you carry than how big a bang you get with each trigger pull.
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  3. #2
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    I usually resorted to scrounging! Way back my contacts were such that I'd get lead pipe ripped out of old places and that was melted down and cleaned up and cast into ingots for the future. I still have quite a stock.

    Any time I had wiped joints or anything else soldered - melted that off seperately to make ingots. Often used a simple lead/tin 11:1 mix for average slow bullets - water quenched - they were hard enough. I used to dig in sand at my old range during our lunch break on a shooting day and salvage all the cast bullets for re-use - that was a major source back then.

    Otherwise got some wheel weights where I could - depends on who you ask as to whether they'll give them away or sell. If sources very limited then chances are you'll have to buy some from any source you can find but a scrap merchant might be worth approaching.

    Important to have good ventilation for casting.
    Chris - P95
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    VIP Member Array frankmako's Avatar
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    i use wheel weights. i go to the tire shops and they give it away. it the day is nice i dig up old lead at the range.
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    VIP Member Array Tubby45's Avatar
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    Wheel weights (WW) are free from tire shops. Up here they have to pay to have someone take them away. There is a recycling place south of town where I get large quanties. They have a 55gal drum filled with WW and another with pure lead. I buy lino off eBay. Get it from print shops that used type printing. The linotype alloy is great for high velocity bullets.

    I pay $.10/lb of lead or WW. There is 7000gr in a pound. Divide .10 by 7000 and that is the cost per grain. Now multipy by the bullet weight, say 200gr and you get $.002857142. Kick in a little extra for lube and it's about $.003 per 200gr bullet or 3/10ths of a penny. The 90gr bullets I cast for the .380 cost about half of that or 1.5 tenths of a penny. See the cost savings in shooting small calibers? I can shoot twice as much .380 as my 45 for the same price.

    There is a hardness scale called the Brinell Hardness Number or BHN. Bigger number is harder alloy. Pure lead is 5BHN, WW is about 9-10BHN, the trusty Lyman #2 alloy (great all around alloy) is 15BHN and lino is 22BHN. You can heat treat WW to 32+BHN.

    For lube I use Lar's Red Carnauba. I bought a hundred sticks and it cost me $135 shipped. Best stuff on Earth, but a little sticky.

    The best website for bullet casting is www.lasc.us. The best forum is castboolits.gunloads.com.


    Here is my casting setup:

    Here is the bench. I have a Lee 20# melter and RCBS LAM2 sizer. There are three lamps around here. Two movable and one stationary under cabinet. I have the big black one lowered down to the sizer area so I can see what is going on. Notice it is lower than my eyes and close to where it needs to be. The shorty on the right side is lighting up the melter so I can check levels and keep an eye on quality of melt. The rubber mallet hanging up is my sprue plate smacker.


    Here's the Lee melter with goodies in it and a close up of the unmelted goodies. Lyman thermo.



    LAM2 sizer/luber with thermostatically controlled C&H lube heater.


    Cheap fan above the melter draws up fumes and blows them out the garage door. Works for now and was $2 at a garage sale.


    Supplies, molds, gas checks in a box stored underneath bench.

  6. #5
    VIP Member Array Tubby45's Avatar
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    Pure lead sheet scraps, WW alloy ingots from trades, green box is full of ~400# of raw WW that I have to melt.


    Boolits on the benchtop I cast already. They are 145gr 10mm, 175gr TC 10mm some air cooled and some water quenched, and about 10 45cal 190gr SWC.



    Pure lead sheets from the recycler.




    Best lube in the world. Lar's Red Carnauba. Got 100 sticks in here. Filled to the brim.


  7. #6
    VIP Member Array Tubby45's Avatar
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    As far as quantity goes, the Lee 6 cavity (6-banger) molds are made for production. I can cast about 800 perfect bullets in an hour with these molds. I plan on getting a few more of each and run two molds at once. I can pour in one mold, set it aside, pour in the other mold and pick the first one up, drop the bullets, refill and set down, then pick the other one up and drop bullets, refill and keep going like that. The 20# pot really drains down quick like that but 1500-1600 bullets per hour is not unreasonable.

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    You know? A thread must be open with all the ins-outs, tools and tips for casting bullets.
    You have to make the shot when fire is smoking, people are screaming, dogs are barking, kids are crying and sirens are coming.
    Randy Cain.

    Ego will kill you. Leave it at home.
    Signed: Me!

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    Tubby is quite right, using a 6 banger (which I have plenty of) will drain a pot very quickly. Even the 20 pound pot is not quite up to speed for pouring ingots as the spout is too small to do it efficiently.

    I got tired of waiting for the addition of lead in the pot to melt, so I came up with a different solution and built another pot. This will cast approx. 300 pounds of lead at time and has a 250 opening on the nozzle verses a .060 on the Lee pot.

    Using a Propane fired turkey fryer burner, it works very well and melts the lead surprisingly quick. It has a bottom pour valve arrangement to keep the lead nice and pure and the handle on top fills the ingot trays very nicely.

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    Darned handy pot Bob - certainly ups the ante for large scale casting

    I meant to say earlier - when I melt my ingots for the Lee - I hose them with a propane flame to get a quick melt - saves a bunch of time and the pot is just there to deliver and maintain my temp setting.

    Don't find that too bad for my 158 SWC 6 banger ... and top ups are fast using the propane flame deal.
    Chris - P95
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    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

  11. #10
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    I hose them with a propane flame to get a quick melt - saves a bunch of time and the pot is just there to deliver and maintain my temp setting.
    Dang it...now Im ticked at myself for not ever thinking about that.

    Such a simple soultion that I blew right by it. I've got a propane torch with an electronic trigger too...so its not like it would have been a big deal to fire up.

    oh well....maybe next time...
    The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it...- George Orwell

    AR. CHL Instr. 07/02 FFL
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  12. #11
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    Haha - I usually am learning from HotGuns - but seems for once I have tables turned .

    Probably won't happen again
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

  13. #12
    VIP Member Array Tubby45's Avatar
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    How's this for fluxing?


  14. #13
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    Tubby - you ain't supposed to put the whole candle in - all at once LOL
    Chris - P95
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    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

  15. #14
    VIP Member Array Tubby45's Avatar
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    I made some pretty bullets today. Lyman 378674 375cal 335gr RN for my 375 H&H pistol project. Drops at .378-.3825 ranging from 316-319gr with 50/50 WW/lino.


  16. #15
    VIP Member Array Tubby45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by P95Carry View Post
    Tubby - you ain't supposed to put the whole candle in - all at once LOL
    Ha! I used barely a quarter of a teaspoon of pine bedding from Walmart. Cost $2.22 for a 15# bag. Works well, eh?

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