Any casters out there?

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Any casters out there?

Post by USSR on 5/7/2018, 6:56 am

Last Saturday being a really nice day, I spent much of the day on the porch smelting down lead from my local scrap yard.   One of my really great finds was a bunch of brand new, never used lead wheel weights that must have come from a truck garage.   A lot of these wheel weights were 4 to 5 inches long and heavy.   Since NY hasn't allowed lead wheel weights to be installed for many years, I figure they sat on the shelf for a long time before the garage finally took them to the scrap yard.   Being new and clean was a big bonus, but the biggest bonus was the lead to steel clip ratio; I got 82% of the pre-smelting weight in lead. Smile

Don
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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by Tim:H11 on 5/7/2018, 7:33 am

Nice! I was chasing my tail with cheap molds for a while now, casting 45’s and 38’s from wheel weights. But before I could upgrade my molds I got weighed down with life. Currently, between taking care of the yard now with warmer wether, and a toddler, and everything else that’s needs my attention in the home and around the property I don’t have as much time to make Bullets right now. So I still try to make 38’s because I don’t shoot them often. Just DR stuff. And I buy my 45’s. And I too use wheel weights. They shoot fine. Maybe not the best Bullets. But they work. I made master on wheel weights. Broke 2600 on wheel weights. They’re alright. Enjoy!
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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by WillH on 5/8/2018, 3:50 pm

I also like to cast bullets and have molds in a variety of pistol calibers.   Since I started BE shooting casting 45 slugs has saved quite a bit of money.  Practice with timed and rapid fire can run through some bullets in a hurry that's for sure.  I've not used wheel weights but read they are just fine to use and approximate what's considered Lyman #2.  The casting alloy I use is composed of scrap yard commercial pure lead (or found scrap) ideally in block form.  My brother and I smelt this alloy using the pure Pb and then add "monotype".  My uncle ran an old style printing press and donated to us that monotype and linotype after he got out of the hobby.   That provides the tin and antimony needed for hardness and fill out and to achieve desired hardness.  I think the WW already have what's needed and can be used as is.

I've used all sorts of molds but prefer NOE and Accurate.  Although more expensive I find they are more true to desired diameter (1-2 thousands over) so that when swaged and lubed with Lyman 450 sizer/luber they come our super concentric.  I'm old school with lube grooves but may try a tumble lube bullet mold one day since that's time consuming.

Just watch out for the zinc WW.  Those can be ID'd by hitting with hammer as they will be hard and clink.  Casting is a great extension to the hobby I think.

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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by USSR on 5/8/2018, 6:29 pm

Hi Will,

Yes, casting your own bullets definitely does save money.   Actually, wheel weights are nowhere's near as hard as Lyman #2, but you don't really need that hard of a bullet with a low pressure .45 ACP anyways.   In fact, I normally use 50/50 lead and wheel weights for my MP clone of the H&G 68 bullet.   Regarding zinc WW's, I use a pair of pliers with side cutters on them.   If the cutters dent the wheel weight, it's lead, zinc will not dent.   Agree with you that casting is a great extension to the hobby.

Don
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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by WillH on 5/8/2018, 7:21 pm

Hi Don-  You're probably right that we don't need bullet hardness of Lyman #2 for BE loads. On my next batch of ingots I might back off on the monotype to save on it (hardest component to come by) for a BE batch.  What I have is about 16 BHI and seems to shoot well off the rest. I also shoot a bit of single action revolvers (357, 45 Colt, and 44M) and that composition seems good for upper end loads as well - but gas checks on the 44M.  That reminds me I need to shoot some of those hot loads to remind me how soft the BE loads are!  Good technique on the Zn - I've heard getting those in the pot can be bad deal so glad you've got a handle on that. 

Regarding tumble lube bullets do you cast them and if so do you find they hold their own with sized / lubed for BE?  My lubricizer has been giving me quite a bit of workout lately and would not mind skipping that.

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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by Wobbley on 5/8/2018, 9:20 pm

Peruse this article on how to create desired hardness of casting alloys.

http://www.lasc.us/SuperHard.htm


About the hardness desired for Bullseye is between 10 and 12. Much lower and there is a risk of leading.
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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by john bickar on 5/8/2018, 11:31 pm

I can get 2,000 cast bullets, lubed, shipped to my door for $140 plus the cost of a USPS large flat rate box. ($17?)

How much time does it take you to cast and lube 2,000 bullets?

I’ll grant that casting is an extension of the hobby if you’re into it, but I’m having trouble figuring out the “saves money” part.
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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by STEVE SAMELAK on 5/9/2018, 5:52 am

Casting "saves money" in much the same way reloading saves money.
If I didn't "have " to practices so much to maintain my (low) classification I wouldn't need to reload.  Needing & saving are terms written in the sand at low tide.  I just do it because I like to do it.
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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by Tim:H11 on 5/9/2018, 8:12 am

I was gifted a large amount of wheel weights that eventually will all become ingots and then bullets. But for $150 or so - like Jon Bickar mentioned above - I can have 2,000 shipped to my door ready to go. So when I literally didn’t have the money to order the bullets I was  making them. But right now I’m finding less and less free time. The time I have needs to be spent on the guns more so than ammo and not the other way around. So currently (and fortunately now I can afford to) I’m buying bullets. And consider how much 45 I shoot, I doubt I’ll go back to casting for 45. Too much ammo to make, too much work. Time is better spent on the line not in the shop. 

If you’re tumble lubing bullets: I cast for my DR gun. I can get away with casting for this gun because I don’t shoot it much. I use the Lee 2 cavity mold for a 158gr Round Nose. It has the micro lube groves for tumble lubing. If I don’t size first without lubing the bullet, over time the sizing die leads up. Not good. A whole mess of problems. So you need to tumble lube first. I don’t bother standing them all up on their bases. I tumble lube them and dump em out into a tray and just spread them out. Give 24 hours or so to dry. Come back the next day and run them trough the sizer. The instructions say to lightly lube before and after but I only lube before. Shoots great. Been getting leg points with mid to high 270’s and in practice occasionally break 280. I’ve only shot three DR matches and got a leg each time. The records with NRA aren’t correct (and they won’t call me back to settle it) but I know I only need one more leg. 

Casting is fun but time consuming. And when you’re trying to get better with the guns you need to consider where your time spent is more valued.
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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by USSR on 5/9/2018, 8:49 am

WillH wrote:Hi Don-  You're probably right that we don't need bullet hardness of Lyman #2 for BE loads. On my next batch of ingots I might back off on the monotype to save on it (hardest component to come by) for a BE batch.  What I have is about 16 BHI and seems to shoot well off the rest. I also shoot a bit of single action revolvers (357, 45 Colt, and 44M) and that composition seems good for upper end loads as well - but gas checks on the 44M.  That reminds me I need to shoot some of those hot loads to remind me how soft the BE loads are!  Good technique on the Zn - I've heard getting those in the pot can be bad deal so glad you've got a handle on that. 

Regarding tumble lube bullets do you cast them and if so do you find they hold their own with sized / lubed for BE?  My lubricizer has been giving me quite a bit of workout lately and would not mind skipping that.

Will,

I don't tumble lube, so can't help you there.   All my cast bullets have a lube groove and I fill it with White Label's BAC lube.   Size and a good lube is much more important than bullet hardness, unless you're talking about a magnum cartridge.   I figure my H&G #68 clone from MP Molds is casting at about 8 BHN without a lick of leading.

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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by chopper on 5/9/2018, 10:31 am

john bickar wrote:I can get 2,000 cast bullets, lubed, shipped to my door for $140 plus the cost of a USPS large flat rate box. ($17?)

How much time does it take you to cast and lube 2,000 bullets?

I’ll grant that casting is an extension of the hobby if you’re into it, but I’m having trouble figuring out the “saves money” part.
  John, where do you buy your bullets?
Stan

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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by Toz35m on 5/9/2018, 10:37 am

john bickar wrote:I can get 2,000 cast bullets, lubed, shipped to my door for $140 plus the cost of a USPS large flat rate box. ($17?)

How much time does it take you to cast and lube 2,000 bullets?

I’ll grant that casting is an extension of the hobby if you’re into it, but I’m having trouble figuring out the “saves money” part.

The ROI depends on how much you shoot and how much you invest.  If you can get lead free then your cost of a bullet drops from $0.07 to zero (not counting your labor).  If you have 2 -4 cavity molds you can make 500-700 an hour I think.  I only have one mold and have not really counted how much output I can get in an hour.
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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by john bickar on 5/9/2018, 10:51 am

chopper wrote:  John, where do you buy your bullets?
Stan

From Bob, https://bobsbullets.net.
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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by john bickar on 5/9/2018, 10:52 am

Toz35m wrote:(not counting your labor). 

Aye, there's the rub.
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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by USSR on 5/9/2018, 11:02 am

john bickar wrote:
Toz35m wrote:(not counting your labor). 

Aye, there's the rub.

Sorry, but, most guys don't add a labor cost to any reloading related activity.   Kind of like adding a labor cost to courting a lady. Laughing

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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by fc60 on 5/9/2018, 11:17 am

Greetings,

I cast my own as I cannot get the quality I desire from the mass produced commercial casters. Also, I get to blend my alloys to match the ammunition desired.

Time is a great constraint. I will spend an afternoon casting about 1,000 bullets. After culling, I have rejected 400 of them. Also, my ancient back hurts for a day or two.

An alternative is to contact the Vendors and ask for bullets "as cast" unsized unlubed. Dardas is one Vendor that offers this option.

Last, I believe Mr. Bickar uses Jacketed bullets for the 50 yard events. A wise choice as Jacketed bullets are exceptionally uniform in shape and weight.

For the truly dedicated reloaders, swaging is a much better way to go. Lots more work involved.

Cheers,

Dave
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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by USSR on 5/9/2018, 12:28 pm

fc60 wrote:I cast my own as I cannot get the quality I desire from the mass produced commercial casters. Also, I get to blend my alloys to match the ammunition desired.

Yeah, Dave, most of the time you simply get the choice of either 12 or 18 BHN.   Some choice.

Don
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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by john bickar on 5/9/2018, 10:57 pm

USSR wrote:
john bickar wrote:
Toz35m wrote:(not counting your labor). 

Aye, there's the rub.

Sorry, but, most guys don't add a labor cost to any reloading related activity.   Kind of like adding a labor cost to courting a lady. Laughing

Don

Most guys? Maybe. I don’t know, and I’m too lazy to run a survey to find out. 

(USSR, I know that you do reloading clinics in your area, and that is a valuable and appreciated service. Thank you. I’m speaking generally here, not directly at you.) 

Yet many shooters should.

If you like to shoot, and you want to improve, and you want to maximize your results:effort ratio, you damn well better consider your labor cost on things like casting and reloading. 

If you’re paying yourself less than minimum wage to cast and/or reload, it’s time to consider whether your time is really “free”.

I will admit, I am biased: I do not like reloading, and you couldn’t find me anywhere near a lead pot. 

I have a finite number of hours on this planet. I really enjoy shooting, so I try to maximize my time doing that, and/or trying to get better at doing that. 

No denigrating people who like the science/art of reloading and casting. But those are tangential hobbies to bullseye shooting, and it’s important to call out the difference.
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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by john bickar on 5/9/2018, 11:21 pm

fc60 wrote:Greetings,

I cast my own as I cannot get the quality I desire from the mass produced commercial casters. Also, I get to blend my alloys to match the ammunition desired.

You’re also a freak of nature. I would like to see you sitting on 9 figures as the sole proprietor of Dave Wilson’s Precision Shooting Emporium of Fine Custom .32 Barrels and Hand-Crafted Lead Bullets, yet skill like yours is - by definition - not scalable. 

.
.
.

Geez, sorry to be such a Debbie Downer on this thread. I’ll go sit in the corner.
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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by Wobbley on 5/9/2018, 11:25 pm

You’re not a downer. Casting your own is a way to improve the quality of your bullets. But you can buy bullets from one of the casting houses for not a lot more than the price of the lead. I cast, but only to get bullets I can’t buy.
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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by Bullseye_Stan on 5/10/2018, 6:27 am

I've only cast bullets for black powder revolvers.  The first was for a Ruger Old Army (don't know where they got that name) with a (IIRC) 234 gr .454 conical bullet.  At the time scrap lead was available in the now obsolete telephone line copper wire lead sheathing.  It seemed like the thing to do and the revolver was extremely accurate with 30 gr FFFg under that 234 gr cast bullet.
 
The Pedersoli 1861 36 navy is now why I cast 80 grain .36 round balls.  It's not nearly as accurate or well built as the old Ruger, but I'm sure Wild Bill Hickok would have been pleased with the revolver.  My casting technique hasn't changed much since then but I should probably use more modern equipment.

If I ever get a Sharps paper cartridge black powder rifle, I'll cast lead bullets for that also.  Right now, I feel like my plate is full dealing with the various types of cast bullets, powders, primers, loads, and reloading techniques to throw in casting bullets.  But, that's just me.  I am always interested in inexpensive sources of pure lead.

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Post by USSR on 5/10/2018, 6:41 am

Bullseye_Stan wrote:I am always interested in inexpensive sources of pure lead.

Yeah, I hear ya Stan.   I am hearing more and more about areas in the country that do not allow for scrap yards to sell lead.   While I am blessed to have a local scrap yard that sells lead for reasonable prices ($.40 # for WW's and $.80 # for pure), in recent weeks I have stepped up my purchases as I know it won't last.

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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by Keyholed on 5/10/2018, 7:21 am

Casting for cartridges such as we use--.32 S&W Long, .38 Special, and .45 ACP being the principle lead-spewers--honestly doesn't make a lot of sense on its own. Especially when a click or a phone call can get high-quality cast or swaged bullets delivered for not much more than the price of lead itself. All are pretty common, even the little .32, and "common" means there's enough volume to keep pricing down.

Where you start to realize major savings is when you get into the truly odd and the supersized. Namely, when you get into bullets of 300 grains and over, starting at .44 Magnum, and stretching into .454 Casull, and .460 and .500 S&W Mag. For instance, MBC sells coated 400-grain .500s for $137.50/500. Their 200-grain .45 ACP LSWCs, coated, are $48.50/500. What this means is that 200,000 grains of .500 costs $137.50, while 200,000 grains of .45 costs $97.

That's a $40.50 premium for buying about 28.6 pounds of lead in bigger lumps.

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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by USSR on 5/10/2018, 9:44 am

Keyholed wrote:Casting for cartridges such as we use--.32 S&W Long, .38 Special, and .45 ACP being the principle lead-spewers--honestly doesn't make a lot of sense on its own. Especially when a click or a phone call can get high-quality cast or swaged bullets delivered for not much more than the price of lead itself. All are pretty common, even the little .32, and "common" means there's enough volume to keep pricing down.

Ah, but you're missing some big points.   First, I cannot get a bullet consisting of the alloy I want in the size I want from the commercial casters.   Most of them buy high antimony content lead alloy from their suppliers, and then offer you bullets with a BHN of either 12 or 18.   I limit the antimony content and add a lot of tin, and therefor produce a much better alloy for low pressure rounds like the .38 Special and .45 ACP.   Also, I produce some cast bullets that are for the most part unavailable from the commercial casters.   And lastly, casting is just plain fun. Smile

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Re: Any casters out there?

Post by Toz35m on 5/10/2018, 12:11 pm

john bickar wrote:
USSR wrote:
john bickar wrote:
Toz35m wrote:(not counting your labor). 

Aye, there's the rub.

Sorry, but, most guys don't add a labor cost to any reloading related activity.   Kind of like adding a labor cost to courting a lady. Laughing

Don

Most guys? Maybe. I don’t know, and I’m too lazy to run a survey to find out. 

(USSR, I know that you do reloading clinics in your area, and that is a valuable and appreciated service. Thank you. I’m speaking generally here, not directly at you.) 

Yet many shooters should.

If you like to shoot, and you want to improve, and you want to maximize your results:effort ratio, you damn well better consider your labor cost on things like casting and reloading. 

If you’re paying yourself less than minimum wage to cast and/or reload, it’s time to consider whether your time is really “free”.

I will admit, I am biased: I do not like reloading, and you couldn’t find me anywhere near a lead pot. 

I have a finite number of hours on this planet. I really enjoy shooting, so I try to maximize my time doing that, and/or trying to get better at doing that. 

No denigrating people who like the science/art of reloading and casting. But those are tangential hobbies to bullseye shooting, and it’s important to call out the difference.

In part this is what I was suggesting in consider your labor is about your time.
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