Monday, August 17, 2009

Praxis: A liberty litter of brand new bouncing baby bullets.

"Ain't they just precious?"

This just in from Threeper SJ:

Made my first batch today. 200 grainers for the .44.

Definitely a learning experience. If you haven't scolded the IIIpers to be learning it before you might admonish them to spend the time now before times really get lean if they intend to use casting to enhance their ammo supply.

The whole process took up most of this afternoon with two hours spent actually casting (setup, prep and teardown was a large chunk).

Got 200 loadable bullets for my efforts.

Not much invested either.

$20 for the mold. $5 for the ladle. $15 for a .429 sizer. I didn't need on this batch (but the lube needed came with it). The cast iron pot was free, used the burner for my turkey fryer as a heat source. I paid $25 several moths ago for a 5 gallon bucket filled to overflowing with wheel weights (good for thousands of bullets).


Crustyrusty said...

Re: the wheel weight thing. I presume one goes to a tire shop or other car repair facility to get wheel weights. Wondering why one could buy them anyway. Can they not be reused after they've been on a wheel?

Sorry, don't know squat about car repair. I'll build you a computer, I'll fix your body, but don't get me near a vehicle.

ScottJ said...

Used to be that tire shops would just give you the weights.

They reuse what they can but eventually they're too beat up.

But the scrap metal business took off in recent years so you usually have to pay roughly what they get from the recycler.

carguym14 said...

Stock up on lead now-California has a ban on lead wheel weights starting within a few years and the EPA is talking about the same thing at the national level.

Crustytrusty-I run a reapir shop;wheel weights can be reused,but I always install new ones.

Anonymous said...

After melting the wheel weights down & removing the steel clips: Can you pour the lead as is for bullets, or do you have to add something as an alloy to adjust the hardness?

B Woodman

Anonymous said...

As a long-time reloader and bullet caster let me leave a couple of tips.

1. Beware of zinc wheel weights, they will mess up your alloy.

2. Buy a real lead furnace/pot with a heat control. Cheap at MidwayUSA.

3. Wheel weights are a hard alloy. You don't need to add anything else.

4. At my local metals recycler I bought wheel weights for $.45/lb and new linotype for $.50/lb. Linotype is clean,very hard and makes very nice bullets.

5. A tire store near me offered to sell me a couple of hundred pounds of weights for about 20 cents per pound.

6. Read all you can on bullet casting. It is part science and part art.

ScottJ said...


I've always read/heard over the years that WW are the ideal alloy for plain base up to around 1400 fps and around 2100 fps with a gas check.

My information sources read many times prior to getting started was the section in the front of the Lee reloading manual and this website:

After melting and getting the clips out you have to flux to burn out the stuff you don't want and to make sure your alloy holds together.

Fluxing is described in the link above but it isn't clear enough about what will happen when you flux. Mine went full flambe with a loud poof every time. I was using some Gulf Wax for fluxing.

My experience with cast stuff is limited to a box of 200 grain .44s I bought at a gun show years ago. I've shot about half of them and had no leading issues.

Hoping these match the same performance.

milkorder said...

go to

Great web site. Start stocking up up on the lead now. The lead wheel weight will not be around much longer.

drjim said...

I keep telling myself I've got to get into reloading. I guess casting my own bullets is vital to learn, too. Now that I've got the girlfriend's garage cleaned up and a good, sturdy workbench, I guess it's time to start looking for all the stuff I need to get started.

ScottJ said...

BTW, anon: 2. Buy a real lead furnace/pot with a heat control. Cheap at MidwayUSA.

My 41st birthday is October 6th and I showed the wife the Lee pot I want last night :)

She was gung ho on the new aspect of the hobby when she understood that what was lying on the towel would cost about $40 to duplicate ordered from Midway.

Anonymous said...

Here is THE site related to casting bullets:

pdxr13 said...

Practice extreme cleanliness in your boolit casting process. Lead builds up in your body over time and makes horrible disease-like effects (heavy metal poisoning).

If you have children, they should not play around your casting area. Children are many times more sensitive to lead than adults. Lead in infants/children can cut 10's of IQ points from the adult they may become. The difference between a 105 IQ and a 115 IQ is huge.

Change your clothes and wash before re-entering the family area or eating. Wear disposable gloves and a respirator. Wash your hands and face before eating or smoking.

Casting laundry should be separate from family laundry.

Work outside for maximum ventilation. At least, work next to a big opening door like a double garage door that is up.

This seems like a lot of fuss about what seem like nothing, but lead sneaks up on you. It doesn't hurt or make a noise, but it binds to your tissue. A threshold is passed at around 2.5grams then you are in deep medical trouble.

drjim said...

Excellent advice. Once it's in your body, it's hard to get it flushed out.

Anonymous said...

You definitely can make hardened lead bullets. I don't know the recipe or heat treat schedule, but I've seen the results from a black powder enthusiast who dialed that process in.

pdxr13 said...

"hardened lead boolits"

Absolutely, after your alloy is perfect for flow & fill.

With a dialed-in process, chilled bullets can be much harder than "as-cast" boolits. Temp hardening is cheap.

Surface hardening by cold-working is well known, but it might be so process intensive that it's cheaper (anyone who is successful at casting must consider their time valuable) to use a surplus copper/steel jacketed bullet, even if the jacketed bullet needs resizing, or a nylon discarding-sabot.

We still have UPS/DHL/FedEx, and money goes a long way toward a rapid acquisition of thousands of factory-made jacketed bullets.

Surplus and blem's even more so.

Knowledge of how, and a little practice doing, are a good thing, but we can still order high-tech perfection in thousand lots. The price is modest and the quality is near-perfection when compared to our little garage and backyard foundries. Carry on.


Anonymous said...

I second the stock up now, in the EU we are seeing steel and zinc wheel weights replacing the lead. The church roof is still good for lead sheet though ;-)

ps, good ventilation, shower and wash clothes after, and do it away from food. After that, lead exposure only does long term damage to kids who eat it regularly, chronic poisoning is not going to cause lasting damage to an adult, di calcium EDTA injections will remove it from your system if you were to get worried.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a great idea. I also like the turkey fryer burner and cast iron pot. When the time comes, we may not have electricity to run a fancy store-bought pot. Propane and natural gas may eventually be in short supply also. You can put a cast iron pot on an any-fuel fire. It's good to be prepared for that eventuality.


Anonymous said...

Strongly recommend buying the Lyman "Cast Bullet Handbook". And be REALLY sure there is no moisture in your bullet mould, or dripping from your forehead into your melted lead/alloy. NASTY steam explosions spray hot lead everywhere. Wear eye protection/gloves. "Just because it's solid, doesn't mean it's cold.

drjim said...

Oh, yeah! My high-school Chemistry teacher made a big point of that when he was teaching us the basics of making glassware.
"HOT glass looks exactly the same as COLD glass. The first time you forget this will be the last!".

Anonymous said...

When casting, I keep a coffee can of cold water near by. When you cut the sprue, drop the bullets from your mold into the cold water, instant tempering.

Dakota said...

I have done some bullet casting and I have a good supply of lead. I was told that wheel weights are a bit hard and should be blended with soft lead. Supposedly easier on the lands and grooves. This from a guy that casts 1000s of them. Somewhere I have some cast 44 bullets that are 330 Gr. w/gas checks. If I run across them I will send them ... I traded my Model 29 off years ago. They shot good and I saw a bullet that had killed an elk and it was a little deformed but intact.

Anonymous said...

Commercial casting fluxes work better than the "field expedient" versions, and are easy to get today for ok pricing. Brownells among others sells a version (MARVELUX® BULLET CASTING FLUX).

Lee also sells factory seconds which are functionally fine but cosmetically imperfect. Given what casting gear goes thru, you won't know the difference after a bit of use.

Lyman has some wonderful books on casting for bullets, have a read.