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Old 04-22-2018, 09:55 AM
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Best way to get into lead bullet casting? (148 grain WC's)



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I am toying with the idea of producing my own 148 gr. .38 Special WC's. Just thinking through the problem at this point.

Any hints on the best place to look for used casting gear? Anything that absolutely must be bought new?

Also a general newbie question for you bullet casters: is this a similar time/money vs. quality tradeoff to just buying lubed bullets or just a cost control measure?

What I mean by that is that when I started reloading for rifles, I noticed an immediate improvement in my 100 yard groups. This was on the order of half the group size I was getting with factory ammo -- even the good stuff. The "cost" of this is the time and care that it takes to load up a series of well-made, precisely measured rounds (and the testing to get you there).

Would those of you who cast your own bullets say that you've had a comparable experience casting pistol bullets, or is this purely a cost move? I am looking at 1-inch group I shot last week off-hand at 15 yards with 148 grain Hornady HBWC's over 2.7 grains of Shooter's World Clean Shot out of a S&W Model 19 with factory sights. That may be the limit of what I can shoot at 15 yards and that kind of aiming system. Just interested in, anecdotally, what your experience with bullet casting has been at the target end of things.
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Old 04-22-2018, 10:51 AM
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I'm getting back into bullet casting after a long break.

New equipment isn't that expensive if you buy Lee. Do you really need a $300 pot?

The bullets you buy are perfect and many of yours won't be. Yours won't be any better than what you can buy.

Are you only planning to cast 148g wadcutters? Those are cheap and probably not worth the time and effort to cast.
How much do you spend on bullets per month now?

Do you have a source for lead? What will it cost?
Figure out how much you will save per bullet. Decide how much your time is worth.

Watch some videos to learn about powder coating.
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Old 04-22-2018, 11:16 AM
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At the moment the choices from my battery would be .38 Special Wadcutters, .357, 9mm LRN, 45 ACP, and 455mm balls . . .but you raise all the right points. I probably shoot 200 rounds of centerfire handgun of all calibers in a good month. (Gotta shoot those rimfires too).

I like the idea of having some control over the chain of production. But perhaps with the common calibers I shoot, it doesn't make a ton of sense. Still, it is interesting to see what is involved.
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Old 04-22-2018, 11:26 AM
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I second Flangster's idea of going with Lee casting equipment.. I like their simple bullet sizers and their tumble lube.


You might want to wander over to Castboolits...
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Old 04-22-2018, 11:58 AM
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I used to cast many moons ago. After I got back into reloading for my 357, and 44 special, I decided I wanted to spend my time shooting instead of casting. I shoot about 2,000 rounds a year. For a handgun, casting your own gives you no accuracy gain over the cast bullets that you can buy.
I get all of mine from here. http://www.missouribullet.com/

If you want to get into cast here are two good sources for information.
http://www.castpics.net/dpl/
http://www.lasc.us/ArticleIndex.htm

Last edited by Hawkeye57; 04-22-2018 at 02:11 PM.
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Old 04-22-2018, 01:40 PM
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Store bought vs cast your own

Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy99CL View Post
I'm getting back into bullet casting after a long break.

New equipment isn't that expensive if you buy Lee. Do you really need a $300 pot?

The bullets you buy are perfect and many of yours won't be. Yours won't be any better than what you can buy.
Are you only planning to cast 148g wadcutters? Those are cheap and probably not worth the time and effort to cast.
How much do you spend on bullets per month now?

Do you have a source for lead? What will it cost?
Figure out how much you will save per bullet. Decide how much your time is worth.

Watch some videos to learn about powder coating.
Don't want to get into a long post or start any debates but IMO and IME if you are referencing pistol bullets used for short range, you can't tell if yours are "better" vs "theirs" unless you are on the level of say Jerry Miculek.

Once one starts to get "out there" though like in IHMSA where the rams are at 200 meters you can and I shot that discipline for 30 years and used cast bullets in the firearms I used both in pistol and rifle calibers and not only because they were less expensive but they could be made to "fit" any gun I was shooting. Just like handloading.

I also have formally competed in a variety of rifle matches, not benchrest though, from a minimum of 100 yards to 1,000 where cast bullets were plenty good enough to win and in many cases equaled jacket ones from an accuracy standpoint.

I shot PPC as well as IDPA, Bowling Pin matches, cowboy action, 50 yard bullseye and others and I can state categorically that I never lost a match because of my cast bullets.

And that "fit" produced better accuracy then either store bought ones including jacketed. Again just like handloading.

"Make your own" stuff like handloading and bullet casting is like any other hobby. You get the best you can find within the parameters on how often and how involved you are going to get into the make your own shooting hobby.

Only the hobbyist can determine the Return on Investment (ROI) time relative to additional equipment vs store bought stuff. I am going to disagree that time spent casting should be costed out. You don't cost out hobbies....that's why they are hobbies.

I handload and use my own cast bullets about 90% of the time. Not because they are cheaper but I can get equal to or better accuracy....again because I can custom make the bullet fit to the chamber.

With with my level of experience and expertise and I consider myself an excellent rifleman and using the weapons I choose to use to compete with I cannot tell the difference. Which is my second point but IMO important to remember.

As far as the OP goes.....keep asking questions, decide for yourself if casting fits your needs all things considered then decide.

noremf(George)
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Old 04-22-2018, 01:46 PM
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Flangster sir I used to cast my onw pistol bullets... it was fun back then but the time you spend getting all the stuff together is going to cost you. Collecting the wheel weights which are not that good any more, the luber/sizer, bullet molds, a small wood block for knocking out the bullets. I used a small computer fan plugged it next to a window to get the lead fumes out of my reloading bench. I was making 265 gr bullets for my 44 mag pistols back then and some for my 357 mag also can't remember bullet weight. It was a trial and error thing but finally got things together. My only real concern was to get the lead mixture correct not too hard or soft.

I used Lee melting pot, molds, luber/sizer and bullet lube. I took a hammer handle like for a 5 lb hammer that broke (12" long) and put a small nail on one side so I could use it to knock out any bullets that did not come out of the mold with a small smack, a small metal tray too keep hot bullets from rolling off table, made a stir stick and small ladle out of drill rod and a small freeze plug to skim out impurities worked great.



Good Luck and be safe and don't burn your fingers...let stuff cool and wash your hands...lead is fun but can hurt you down the road. I reloaded until I found Sierra Bullet Co was selling factory seconds and that pretty much made me stop bullet casting. They sold them by the pound which made my reloading so much easier. I still have every thing...if that time comes where I need to make my own again.

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Old 04-22-2018, 03:07 PM
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My response was addressing the info we were given; only casting .38 wadcutters. I reloaded for .357 in the '80s and those .38 wadcutters were amazingly cheap in quantity.

I'm getting back into bullet casting myself for economy and mostly for rifles. Powder coating has made cast bullets usable at 2500fps without leading the barrel.

Bullets for the 6.5 Grendel are at least 20c each and those most shoot are 30c and up. There are a couple of molds for .264" bullets in the 120g range that would drop the cost to a penny or two per bullet. Huge $$$ savings and they will be good for killing feral hogs. I look at it like every 3 shots will save me a dollar and that will add up quickly.
Even .223 bulk bullets are 8c each. Once I'm setup for casting the Lee mold is cheap and plinking/practice bullets will be less than 1c.

I'll also cast 9mm and 40 cal for pistols I haven't purchased yet.

And BTW, I'm retired with lots of free time and shooting and reloading are my main hobbies.

Last edited by Randy99CL; 04-22-2018 at 03:14 PM.
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Old 04-22-2018, 05:23 PM
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Hmmm. Hornady 148 grain HBWC's seem to run around 10 cents, a 5 lb ingot of certified hardball lead runs about $16, but delivery charges must be a killer. At 7000 grains per pound, 5 lbs is 35,000 grains divided by 148 grains = almost 7 cents. Pretty close. I guess it could be less if you could find lower cost lead locally. For those of you who are casting, what are you using (or what did you use) as lead for your process?
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Old 04-22-2018, 06:00 PM
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If you are looking for a return on your investment, then you should be buying Bayou Bullets cast bullets, or some other such.

If you have to buy the equipment, and the lead, you're never going to break even.

If you want to do it for the self reliance, or you have a good supply of alloyed lead, then by all means, dive in.

What you're going to need are supplies to alloy lead. I use:
  • A propane burner designed for seafood boils, or frying turkeys.
  • A large cast iron pot
  • A heavy duty ladel.
  • Ingot molds. You can get creative with cornbread molds, but the ingots gotta fit into your casting pot.
  • Flux. Old candles, Store bought flux, even sawdust.

Then you need casting supplies. I use:
  • A Lee 'Leak-O-Matic' electric bottom pour pot. 10#
  • A flat head screwdriver to turn the spigot plug to stop it from leaking
  • Bullet molds. Don't skimp here. Lyman are suggested. Good molds are worth the money.
  • A Lyman thermometer. This is worth every penny you'll spend on it.
  • A large Oak dowel
  • A five gallon bucket half full of water

I alloy my own lead, using 'Hard Cast' I purchase from Roto Metals. My lead supply is mostly pure lead from roof jacks.
I alloy to 93%Pb (lead) 4%Sn (Tin) 3% Sb (Antimony)
This is a bit harder than I really require, but it flows nicely.

I cast in a small 10 Lee bottom pour. I own molds from about every manufacturer. The Lyman molds are the best. For the 148gr double ended wad cutters you're discussing, I use a Lee six cavity mold.

I powder coat my cast bullets. For a long time I struggled with using the Lee Alox method, with unsatisfactory results.

I use Harbor Freight Powder Coat in a plastic tin, (Folgers 1# coffee container), shake and bake. Two light coats works great for me.

I've found by mixing red and white powder coats, I get excellent results, and my bullets are pink.

I can cast and powder coat ~1K bullets in a day. You might earn enough in an hour to buy 1K bullets from Bayou Bullets.

I do it because I have the time. I like doing it. Self reliance. And then, there's being the only one at the range with:

Pink Bullets

They go nicely with a Pink Revolver


Real men give a chuckle when they've been bested on the plate rack by a guy shooting pink bullets out of a pink revolver. Lesser men react differently.
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Old 04-22-2018, 06:12 PM
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Just to add:

You discussed Hollow Based Wadcutters, HBWC, and I talked about Double Ended Wadcutters, DEWC.

That was no accident.

Fooling with pins to make Hollow Points and HBWCs is an advanced skill IMHO. I thought you'd be better served casting DEWCs, or as I do, Semi Wad Cutters, SWCs.

For .38 spl I mostly cast 158gr SWCs from a Lee six grain Tumble Lube mold.


Also note: The bullets pictured were .45 Colt from a Lyman mold. I simply didn't have any pictures of .38's handy.
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Old 04-22-2018, 11:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbmjr1 View Post
If you are looking for a return on your investment, then you should be buying Bayou Bullets cast bullets, or some other such.

If you have to buy the equipment, and the lead, you're never going to break even.

If you want to do it for the self reliance, or you have a good supply of alloyed lead, then by all means, dive in.

What you're going to need are supplies to alloy lead. I use:
  • A propane burner designed for seafood boils, or frying turkeys.
  • A large cast iron pot
  • A heavy duty ladel.
  • Ingot molds. You can get creative with cornbread molds, but the ingots gotta fit into your casting pot.
  • Flux. Old candles, Store bought flux, even sawdust.

Then you need casting supplies. I use:
  • A Lee 'Leak-O-Matic' electric bottom pour pot. 10#
  • A flat head screwdriver to turn the spigot plug to stop it from leaking
  • Bullet molds. Don't skimp here. Lyman are suggested. Good molds are worth the money.
  • A Lyman thermometer. This is worth every penny you'll spend on it.
  • A large Oak dowel
  • A five gallon bucket half full of water

I alloy my own lead, using 'Hard Cast' I purchase from Roto Metals. My lead supply is mostly pure lead from roof jacks.
I alloy to 93%Pb (lead) 4%Sn (Tin) 3% Sb (Antimony)
This is a bit harder than I really require, but it flows nicely.

I cast in a small 10 Lee bottom pour. I own molds from about every manufacturer. The Lyman molds are the best. For the 148gr double ended wad cutters you're discussing, I use a Lee six cavity mold.

I powder coat my cast bullets. For a long time I struggled with using the Lee Alox method, with unsatisfactory results.

I use Harbor Freight Powder Coat in a plastic tin, (Folgers 1# coffee container), shake and bake. Two light coats works great for me.

I've found by mixing red and white powder coats, I get excellent results, and my bullets are pink.

I can cast and powder coat ~1K bullets in a day. You might earn enough in an hour to buy 1K bullets from Bayou Bullets.

I do it because I have the time. I like doing it. Self reliance. And then, there's being the only one at the range with:

Pink Bullets

They go nicely with a Pink Revolver


Real men give a chuckle when they've been bested on the plate rack by a guy shooting pink bullets out of a pink revolver. Lesser men react differently.
Like the revolver, a few questions.

1. are those regular hello kitty stickers, or did you go with a vynil stick on system, or lithograph type?

2. why haven't you found a hello kitty shifter knob cover or pez head and made a nice hello kitty cover for the sight?
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Old 04-23-2018, 08:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbmjr1 View Post
Just to add:

You discussed Hollow Based Wadcutters, HBWC, and I talked about Double Ended Wadcutters, DEWC.

That was no accident.

Fooling with pins to make Hollow Points and HBWCs is an advanced skill IMHO. I thought you'd be better served casting DEWCs, or as I do, Semi Wad Cutters, SWCs.

For .38 spl I mostly cast 158gr SWCs from a Lee six grain Tumble Lube mold.


Also note: The bullets pictured were .45 Colt from a Lyman mold. I simply didn't have any pictures of .38's handy.
Thanks! I am actually loading up some DEWC's now to see how my revolvers like them. I understand that they can be loaded hotter (no skirt to blow apart), but my main goal at the moment is plinking accuracy. My club is a bit odd in this respect. They have an indoor range at 15 yards for winter shooting. But they also set up the outdoor pistol range for 15 yards so that they could have their Tuesday night shoots at the same distance, whether they were indoors or out. There is another berm at 50 yards. You can, if there are no other shooters at the range, pace off 25 yards at the 50 yard target, but opportunities for that depend largely on who else showed up to shoot that day.

I do have a S&W Model 14 that I can keep in a 10-inch bull at 50 yards with HBWC's. But for the most part, the path of least resistance is to stick to 15. So this week, we will see about the DEWC's. I have 500 of them and that should be plenty to figure out what works and what doesn't. I do love that I am shooting the centerfire handloads at more or less the cost of low/premium rimfire.

The more you shoot, the more you save . . er. . . no, that's not right.
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Old 04-23-2018, 09:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minuteshaver View Post
Like the revolver, a few questions.

1. are those regular hello kitty stickers, or did you go with a vynil stick on system, or lithograph type?

2. why haven't you found a hello kitty shifter knob cover or pez head and made a nice hello kitty cover for the sight?
Those are regular stickers with clear coat over them.

What you don't see in that photo is Jerry Miculek's signature inside the right grip panel.

On the second question, . . . I don't know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by flangster View Post
Thanks! I am actually loading up some DEWC's now to see how my revolvers like them. I understand that they can be loaded hotter (no skirt to blow apart), but my main goal at the moment is plinking accuracy. My club is a bit odd in this respect. They have an indoor range at 15 yards for winter shooting. But they also set up the outdoor pistol range for 15 yards so that they could have their Tuesday night shoots at the same distance, whether they were indoors or out. There is another berm at 50 yards. You can, if there are no other shooters at the range, pace off 25 yards at the 50 yard target, but opportunities for that depend largely on who else showed up to shoot that day.

I do have a S&W Model 14 that I can keep in a 10-inch bull at 50 yards with HBWC's. But for the most part, the path of least resistance is to stick to 15. So this week, we will see about the DEWC's. I have 500 of them and that should be plenty to figure out what works and what doesn't. I do love that I am shooting the centerfire handloads at more or less the cost of low/premium rimfire.

The more you shoot, the more you save . . er. . . no, that's not right.
OK. You've got it bad. You'll need to start casting asap.

Go to Cast Boolits forum, http://castboolits.gunloads.com/ , and do some researching on powder coating, vs Lubrasizing. Once you decide which way you want to go, choose a quality die set.

The rest will come easily.
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Old 04-23-2018, 10:19 AM
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I have been casting bullets for many years because it was the cheapest way to shoot my handguns. The days of free wheel weights and 50 cents a pound or less lead from the scrap metal dealers are gone. Casting bullets is easy after you learn how but I always, and still do, hated lubing them. PC coating does away with that step though and seems to be a better method.

Considering the cost of equipment and lead alloy today, if I were starting to shoot lead I would just purchase my bullets from one of the many sources that offer good bullets at reasonable prices.

dbmjr1, cool gun and cooler bullets. I have a 10/22 that I polished including the barrel so it appears stainless, added a silver finish scope, and built a wild looking stock for and painted it. Pale blue base coat with purple, black, red, blue, and a little white random shaped spots. It gets some looks and I've even been told it's pretty.

Last edited by Arrowhead; 04-23-2018 at 10:32 AM.
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