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Casting your own bullets

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Casting your own bullets Empty Casting your own bullets

Post by Rodger Barthlow Sat Mar 23, 2024 8:01 pm

I have a question for those of us that cast their own bullets.
I've been casting my own bullets since I started shooting Bullseye. Started out using lead from the 50 yard berm and then I found a supply of wheel weights and now using commercial foundry lead with a hardness of 16.
With wheel weights my bullets ran a little heavy and with foundry allow it runs a little light to right on. Do you see a big difference in accuracy from bullets that range from a few tenths over or under the mold weight?  Commercially cast bullet seem to be all over the place weight wise and is the main reason I still cast my own but have only been shooting my own bullets for local matches and depend on using swaged bullets for important matches.

Any info would be helpful Thanks.
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Post by inthebeech Sun Mar 24, 2024 8:19 am

I don't cast to obtain any improvement in accuracy Roger.  I only do it because I shoot the 38 Special and there is so much that needs tuning (sizing diameter, lube selection, hardness...)  in order to [b]minimize leading; [/b]features which are often not controllable when you buy your bullets, that I must cast (I've never had a 45 that leaded with anything). When/If I luck out and find an OTS bullet that works just as well, I'll shelve my pot.  But the one time I Ransom Rested my own bullet (Lyman 358311) at fifty yards, it's accuracy equalled both of the other two (Magnus dews and Zero hbwc) commercial 148 grain styles that I tested.  Take it for what it's worth; I think I only fired five groups of six each.
Ed


Last edited by inthebeech on Mon Mar 25, 2024 3:09 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Grammar)
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Casting your own bullets Empty Weigh variance

Post by Al Sun Mar 24, 2024 8:26 am

When I first started casting, i also weight sorted to the tenth of a grain. Very time consuming and as it turned out, unnecessary.
Ed Masake had a post during that era indicating he used a three grain weight variance to maintain a 1 1/2" group at 50 yards. But, the bases needed to be perfect. So I adopted the practice of sorting by perfect bases for 50 yards. Group sizes haven't changed from weight sorting. 
Other than the time involved, you're sure not sacrificing anything by weight sorting, as long as you also keep an eye on the bases.
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Post by Rodger Barthlow Sun Mar 24, 2024 9:21 am

Thanks for the responses.
Inthebeach I also shoot a .38 in some competitions and I use to shoot a 38 Super which got me to high Expert almost breaking into Master classification
When I was very active in shooting. Someone told me I had to shoot just my Learn to shoot just my 45 so I just shoot my 38's for fun any more and still trying to master the 45. Fun thing is both my 38's are built on 1911s so I thought that they would carry over to the 45 which they helped some but not as much as I thought they would.

Al I read lots of things Ed Masake wrote and would search him out when he attended Camp Perry to talk with him. I still have a pair of his hand made sandals somewhere stashed away. 

As you mentioned I do check the bases of my bullets when weighing them and also before I drop them out of the mold.
When I first started casting my own weighing was a must do chore since I would get bullets with air pockets and cold mold or metal defects that affected accuracy. My method for casting has improved over the years but I still have some deformed bullets coming out of the mold which the scale picks up when I weigh them.
I used to use my RCBS 10-10-10 powder scale but have a cheap electronic scale I bought and use during sorting them which is faster and surprisingly accurate. I use the RCBS to check it.
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Post by bruce martindale Sun Mar 24, 2024 1:06 pm

I just shoot them, especially at 25 yards. Ed Masaki used to say you can throw rocks at 25

Perfect bases for 50 yards, yes, but also the correct expander for flat base bullets or dead soft swaged ( see photo escape website for Dillon measures) . 14-16 bhn avoids problems if it’s bevel based and any loader works ok

Anything else for me takes time from other things id rather do.

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Post by fc60 Sun Mar 24, 2024 1:08 pm

Greetings,

I have cast 45 bullets with both 20:1 and LinoType.

There is a weight and diameter difference between the alloys.

I weigh a sample to get the "average" weight.

For Match shooting, I am finding out that culling carefully by sight works quite well.

Any bullet that is not perfectly uniform by sight returns to the melting pot.

At 50 yards, via a barrel tester, the groups are well inside the ten ring. (45 ACP)

I use the 20:1 alloy for revolvers.

LinoType performs well in an autoloader.

Cheers,

Dave
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Post by Rodger Barthlow Sun Mar 24, 2024 1:31 pm

Thanks everyone for your responses.

Dave thanks for the info.
I do have some Lino-Type I can use and was wondering what the weigh difference is between the 20-1 and Lino-Type is weight wise say a 180gr or 185gr swc??
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Post by Rodger Barthlow Sun Mar 24, 2024 1:44 pm

bruce martindale wrote:I just shoot them, especially at 25 yards. Ed Masaki used to say you can throw rocks at 25

Perfect bases for 50 yards, yes, but also the correct expander for flat base bullets or dead soft swaged ( see photo escape website for Dillon measures) . 14-16 bhn avoids problems if it’s bevel based and any loader works ok

Anything else for me takes time from other things id rather do.
Hi Bruce, yeah I have and use one of Photo Escape's Dillon powder funnels and case expander. One of the best aftermarket pieces of kit I have bought for reloading.
I cast flat base bullets and find it is necessary for getting them to load straight and gets rid of the bulge.
I'm casting a 180gr flat base bullet out of a Seaco mold.
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Post by Al Sun Mar 24, 2024 2:09 pm

bruce martindale wrote:I just shoot them, especially at 25 yards. Ed Masaki used to say you can throw rocks at 25

Perfect bases for 50 yards, yes, but also the correct expander for flat base bullets or dead soft swaged ( see photo escape website for Dillon measures) . 14-16 bhn avoids problems if it’s bevel based and any loader works ok

Anything else for me takes time from other things id rather do.
+1 on the Photo escape expander. 
Also I prefer reclaimed range scrap for bullet material for 38, 45 and 41mag. Think about how well the swaged Zero's & Stars shoot. Pretty much pure lead. Until I get over 1100 fps a well fitted bullet & soft lube takes care of any leading. Never anything 2-4 strokes with the chore- boy wrapped brush doesn't clean up.

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Post by fc60 Sun Mar 24, 2024 4:18 pm

Greetings,

With one mould I use...

LinoType 185 grains

20:1  202 grains

Cheers,

Dave
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Post by Rodger Barthlow Tue Mar 26, 2024 10:37 am

I took some pictures of the bullet base of the bullets I cast.
I like a small fill hole on my sprue plates and after casting several bullets with the large hole plate I found my weights were heavier than I like to see as an average and also had lots of defects so I took a sprue plate off a mold I don't use that has small poor holes and swapped it out with the large hole. I found I had to tweak it a little but now it is very consistent and has a very consistent bullet base.
Here's some pictures of the two different plate results. The first picture is of the small poor hole bullet base and the two lower ones are of the larger poor hole. The small poor hole bullets come out of the mold around 179.4grs to 179.0 while the Large hole comes out 180grs to 182grs. Some of the bullets showed a concave base around the sprue on the large hole bullet base untill the sprue plate got to the right temp while the small hole didn't and filled the base out nice and flat.
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Post by fc60 Tue Mar 26, 2024 1:54 pm

Greetings Rodger,

What is the SAECO mold design number?

Sort of looks like the #69; but, the 180 weight suggests another design.

I like the smaller sprue hole design of the SAECO/REDDING moulds. Less energy needed to shear the sprue.

Also, many of the SAECO design moulds have a sprue cutter that hinges in the center of the mould blocks. This applies a balanced cutting force to the sprue. The bottom two shear to the left and the upper two shear to the right.

By the way, your bullets appear to be well cast. The edges look to have filled the mould well.

Do you use a bottom pour method; or, cast with a large open ladle?

Cheers,

Dave
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Post by Rodger Barthlow Tue Mar 26, 2024 3:14 pm

Hello Dave;
The mould is a 066. I have 3 Saeco Smelters and they were of the bottom poor style but the one I'm using I converted to a dipper only and use the rock and roll dipper method. I never could get the hang of the bottom poor and would have lead everywhere. I also couldn't get the sprue cutter plate hot enough to make good quality bullets. I found my smelters in Richmond VA. when I answered a add on a different forum and the owner tossed in a bunch of Moulds, lead and the Smelters for free since I told him I was on my way to see Jerry Keefer who was installing a new barrel bushing in one of my 45s. Seems he was a Richmond police officer who worked with Jerry and just wanted to get rid of the equipment.

The sprue plate on this Mould came off of another Mould, All the new Readding Saeco Moulds come with the larger poor holes. The smaller hole sprue plates make better bullets but everyone is in a hurry and hand casting is a form of relaxation for me. 

I started this thread to figure out why this Mould was producing overweight bullets and the sprue plate fit was what was causing the overweight bullets.
Tweaked the Mould and Sprue plate with a little stoning and tension adjustment. It's the first Reading Saeco Mould I have had to adjust like that.
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Post by bruce martindale Tue Mar 26, 2024 6:21 pm

Casting is its own hobby. I got better with time. Your castings look good but for the suck up from ladle feeding. Glen Fryxel (sp?) has a book on castboolits website From ingot to target. Check it out…good stuff. Were you bottom pouring too fast? I have maple blocks to position the mould close to the nozzle.

I need a generous puddle on top of the sprue plate to avoid suck up in the bases. When the lead goes thru a phase change in cooling, it still draws liquiduous lead from the sprue puddle. I preheat moulds on the stove to 400 degrees. I occasionally pressure cast by holding the mould to the pot nozzle but then pull mould away with lead still running over the plate. This avoids nozzle plugging too.

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Post by Rodger Barthlow Tue Mar 26, 2024 7:18 pm

Hey Bruce and Dave thanks for the responses.

On the Bottom poor style the shut off pin wouldn't seal off the lead and it would make a stalactite.

My smelters have a shelf on the top that I heat the moulds on while the lead is melting, by the time the lead is up to temp for casting so it the mould and I only loose about 5 drops before the sprue plate is up to temp.

Bruce I use to spend a lot of time over on Cast Boolets web page but they were more into rifle bullet casting then pistol. They did teach me a few tricks and how to powder coat bullets but I'm not impressed with shooting powder coated bullets.
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Post by fc60 Tue Mar 26, 2024 8:51 pm

Greetings,

I read the entire post again and find that your 179.0-182.0 grain spread is rather close to the Redding quote of 180 grains.

I am guessing that your Redding 066 mould is a two cavity?

Redding base their numbers on 92% Lead, 6% Antimony, and 2% Tin. They did mention 0.25% Arsenic as part of the alloy. This is very close to the old school wheel weights of yesteryear.

With some moulds, usually two cavity, I get good results holding the mould to the bottom spout and pushing the mould slightly forward to allow the alloy to over fill.

I lift the handle and count to 3 or 5 to ensure a good fill.

You will need to experiment a bit to ensure you have plenty of over pour in the sprue hole. Watch closely as the sprue hardens. The metal/alloy will draw down into the sprue hole as it cools. Providing adequate over pour lessens the tendency to create shrinkage cavities.

Often, when you break the sprue, the metal, being soft, will smear and cover up the hole. The only way to find a hole is by weighing, grrrrrr....

I place a piece of Aluminum plate on the bottom of the furnace to catch the overflow. Lead tends not to stick to Aluminum and after I put the mould down to cool, the spill metal goes back into the pot while it is hot.

I also have a small block of Aluminum with an old Cotton diaper dampened with water on top.

To ensure the sprue is hard, I momentarily touch the sprue to the wet diaper to fully solidify the sprue.

You will find the sprue breaks cleaner and little to no smearing under the sprue plate and top of the blocks from a too soon opening.

My 4, 6, and 10 cavity moulds get a different process. Best discussed another day.

My visual cull rate averages 35% - 45% "Keepers".

When testing at 50 yards, in a barrel tester, I still get the occasional flyer in the Ten Ring. Grrrrrr.....

In closing, keep up the good work. Your bullets will be better than any store bought offering.

Cheers,

Dave
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Post by Rodger Barthlow Tue Mar 26, 2024 9:42 pm

Thanks Dave for the info.

Yes it is a two cavity mould. And my largest mould is only 3 cavity and it is a Saeco 130 the famed 200 grain button nose. 
I'll have to break it back out for my 50yd load since my stash of WW 185gr SWC BULLETS are disappearing faster than I would like and you can't buy them anymore, they were my go to 50yd line bullet, I do have a dozen or so boxes to WW 185 factory target ammo stashed I use to test my pistols with at 50yds. 

Oh and I'm not sure if I could keep a 6 cavity mould pored fast enough to keep it hot and making good bullets.

As for Reading's weight expectations of 179-182grs I expect more consistency than that. I don't like to see .5grs difference and cull anything over or under unless I have a large batch that are and then I will shoot them for practice. The cream of the crop goes to match loads. Smile
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Post by bruce martindale Wed Mar 27, 2024 9:14 am

I preheat my moulds on the stove and start casting by running two at a time. It gives cooling time between pours. I have H&G 4, 6, and 10 cavity moulds. Those typically run 2 at a-time to get and stay hot. I add a 3rd mould when I start to see frosted bullets. Do you have a thermometer ? I don’t dump sprues back in during casting as it drops the pot temperature and changes cast weight. There’s folks on Castboolets that open moulds early by hand, with a welding glove.  I don’t care for that as l know the interstitial fill isn’t completed and that’s when you get base smears. I watch the sprue change color and then open, it’s like a 7 second minimum wait. Perfect bullets are for 50 yard and everything else for 25 or practice. I miss the WW 285 jacket…great stuff.

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Post by Rodger Barthlow Wed Mar 27, 2024 10:07 am

Good morning Bruce.
I did have a thermometer but it broke and I haven't replaced it and is something I need to do.

I do get some base smears when I rush things. This usually happens towards the end of my casting session as I start to tier.
Using the 2-cavity mould I can cut the sprue over the pot and let it fall back in. 
Once the sprue plate comes up to temp I try to leave as little lead as necessary on the plate to keep it from getting too hot. Hand dipping lets me control this by only filing the ladle with just enough lead to create a tear drop sprue and control over flow and suck in.
Next time I fire up the smelter I'll try to get a picture of what I'm talking about.

Thanks for your help.
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