Lead Smelting
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Old 01-14-2010, 03:15 AM   #1
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Default Lead Smelting

Do any of you guys smelt your own lead and cast your own bullets? I have been reloading for about a year now and aside from the usual rookie mistakes (getting in a rush, failing to double check powder weight, case cleaning/trimming etc.), I have not ran into issues that I couldn't resolve or determine where/what I did wrong and I've been pretty successful at reloading... until now. Up to this point I have always bought bullets. However I tried to casting my own bullets and even skimmed off the slag/dirt once it melted. I was disapointed in my first few batches due to imperfections in the bullets(ripples and pits) because of slow pours and/or low temp. mold. After trial and error, I learned to pour what I thought were satisfactory castings and used them. It wasn't until I missed a nice whitetail that I realized there was a problem. They don't shoot straight! At 100 yards they can be as much as an 8 inch variation up to down, left to right. I am pouring 170 gr. .30-30 into a Lee double cavity mold finished off with 25 gr. of reloader 10x powder, using cci 250 primers. Mind you all 50 of the bullets were poured from the same batch of lead. No additional lead was added to the pot during smelting. Any thought or ideas will be greatly appreciated.

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Old 01-14-2010, 03:29 AM   #2
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Whoo boy! LOTS of variables here...

Are you actually FLUXING your melt, or just skimming the stuff that floats to the surface?

What type of alloy are you using?

Are you sizing and lubing your bullets?

Are you using gas checks?

Have you tried weighing a batch of bullets to check for uniform weight?

The list goes on and on.....

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Old 01-14-2010, 03:48 AM   #3
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head over to castboolits.com ifn ya don't get your answer here

you buy bullets u cast boolits

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Old 01-14-2010, 04:14 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpttango30 View Post
you buy bullets u cast boolits


Color me spanked!
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Old 01-14-2010, 11:36 AM   #5
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I am no expert caster. I think ripples mean either your lead is not hot enough or your mold is not hot enough.

Did you flux your lead? Did you put the release agent in the mold?

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Old 01-14-2010, 01:58 PM   #6
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Buy "The Cast Bullet Handbook". It has a wealth of information.

I have been casting bullets for 25 years. With over 100,000 bullets cast and fired down range, I have a little experience. Wheel weights are OK for most handgun bullets but nowhere near hard enough for rifles. For most rifle applications I use a 50/50 blend of wheelweights to Linotype AND a gas check. Properly sized and lubed they will shoot groups about the same size as jacketed bullets, just 15-20% slower.

Wrinkled bullets can be from molds or lead that is too cool and from a lead mix that does not contain any tin. Tin allows the molten metal to flow into the detail areas of the mold. Wheel weights have almost no tin. 50/50 bar solder is a readily available source of tin. Linotype is a good source of tin. Just 2-3% tin makes the bullets cast up much nicer.

I could go on for days.

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Old 01-14-2010, 02:22 PM   #7
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Justen.223,Highpower has a lot of good questions that some answers could help lead to figuring out your problem.

I have a couple questions also,did you slug your bore to get the correct bullet to bore fit? or did you assume the bore size and the mold and bullet you cast for it should work?

What type of rifle and caliber are you shooting your cast bullets in?

Did you mic your finished cast bullet for correct size assuming you sized it?

Did you test you cast bullets loads for accuracy at your shooting ranges before using them for hunting purposes?

All these thing along with Highpower's question will have cause and effect on how you bullet turns out,and preforms in both accuracy,muzzle velocity and effectiveness on targets and live game. I cast and load my own bullets for 38/357,9mm, 7.62 x 39 in two SKS rifles and a Mosin M44 they all preform equally as well or better than jacketed bullet loads,it just take a little more time and experimenting to find what works best. I use all Lee Tumble Lube molds with Gas checks on the rifle bullets I use straight WW alloy and water drop them for hardness when needed.

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Old 01-15-2010, 12:20 AM   #8
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Ohh wow, where do I begin..

Shooting a marlin model 30a, .30-30, yes I mic, i weighed each casting and was within .010-.013 grains,

However I was only using 100% wheel weights, ASSUMED (like a moron) that would be ok, and addmittingly I didn't research as much as I should have obviously. I didn't flux them, just skim off the junk

After seeing there is more to this than I originaly thought I think I'll stick to store boughts...only problem is shtf for sure then i better stock up

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Old 01-15-2010, 02:23 AM   #9
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I cast pure lead .50 Maxiballs for a T/C Hawken, and wheelweights for .38/.357. Not an expert, just been doing it for a while.

Careful with the skimming. Yes, you get the dirt- you may also get any tin that is floating on top. For flux, a bit of wax (I use 50/50 beeswax/ candle wax) about size of pencil eraser. Roll it in a pinch of SMOKELESS powder, becomes self igniting when you drop into pot. Stir after burn off to get tin back into mix. Check your wheelweights- if a thumbnail will not make a bright scratch, may not be lead. Seeing some that I THINK are a zinc alloy.

Get the Cast Bullet Handbook. Wrinkles are- as the man said- low temp and/or low tin. Most want to start casting before melt is ready, or mold is hot. Save those, return to pot when cool- along with your sprues.

Pay attention to sanitation when working with lead- go wash good with soap and water before eat, drink or smoke. Folks worry about inhaling lead, should worry about ingestion.

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Old 01-15-2010, 02:58 AM   #10
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If you keep your temps below 850 degrees you cannot even melt the Zinc alloy weights. They simply float to the top of the pot. Fluxing is easy with bullet lube, just avoid the smoke.

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