Wanting to Start Casting

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by zaitsev44, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. zaitsev44

    zaitsev44 Active Member

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    I was browsing online and I saw how cheap casting your own bullets can be. Roughly $.08/round versus $.30-.45/round with FMJ bullets from the factory. I primarily want to cast for 7.62x39, .303 British, and 7.62x25 (I have heard that casting the x25 Tokarev round isn't the best choice due to the high velocity of the round). Start up costs can be generally low if you really look hard for components. I've seen a few videos on casting and it looks simple enough. I've seen the Lee 10 pound pot is probably the best one for beginners, and Lee bullet molds are east to find, gas checks are plentiful too. I can get lead for free from my dads friend who owns a tire shop and get the lead wheel weights, but I'd have to add tin and antimony and I know to keep an eye out for zinc weights cause they'll ruin the batch. I've read the casting section in Richard Lee's Reloading Manual (aka the reloading Bible) and I have a pretty good understand and the "do's and don'ts". Will this be the more economical choice? I haven't made a single round yet because I want to figure out if I should cast from the start or wait until I gain some experience? Any and all feedback is appreciated!
     
  2. trip286

    trip286 New Member

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    Texaswoodworker is getting around to casting the Tokorev rounds. I'll send him a PM with a link to this thread, I seem to recall he started a thread on it and it looked like he was learning quite a bit. Y'all can compare notes.
     

  3. gunny91

    gunny91 New Member

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    Im a gun smith working on getting my ffl and my mentor casts his own bullets but he referred me to not start out casting my own bullets until I got some experience under my belt and he has been doin gunsmithing for 25 plus years so I take what he says faithfully but that's my opinion if u feel ur confident in casting then don't let no one make u second guess ur self

    Sent from my SCH-R530U using Firearms Talk mobile app
     
  4. trip286

    trip286 New Member

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    The only way to get experience, in my experience, is to DO.

    I cast my own for a while, .36 conicals, for a pair of old BP double barrel pistols. Yes, there's a learning curve. Many of mine split when I shot them. I learned that you have to keep your mold pretty warm, and pour steady. Otherwise, the bullet won't cool evenly, and can leave a seam of sorts.
     
  5. John_Deer

    John_Deer New Member

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    I would start out casting pistol bullets. Rifle bullets require a gas check and you have to cast a very hard bullet not to foul the barrel. I have heard people say they could cast accurate rifle bullets (internet). But what I have seen is about the speed of my 91/30 (about 4")
     
  6. texaswoodworker

    texaswoodworker New Member

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    7.62 Tokarev.

    I have not started casing for this round yet, but here is what I learned about it.

    Velocity plus soft lead equals a really fouled barrel. What you want to do is cast your lead so that it is pretty hard. You also don't want to have that bullet screaming out of the barrel at 1600-2000 FPS. So what you want to do is try to keep them under a certain velocity. I have read that anything over 1000 FPS might need a gas check. If your bullets are hard enough, you should be able to push it a little faster. I shoot hard cast lead out of my 357 Mag at a touch over 1000 FPS, and have not had a problem with leading. I would consider the gas checks for HARD cast bullets if they are going to be hitting anything over 1300-1400 FPS. Though, you might have to do a little testing to see what causes leading or not.

    Good luck. :)
     
  7. Rick1967

    Rick1967 Active Member

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    I have cast .309 gas checked bullets from pure wheel weights. I add nothing to the mix. I use those bullets for 7.62x39, 30-30 win, 7.62x54R, 308 win and 30-06. I push them fast. I can shoot full powered loads. They hold nice groups too. I do not have leading problems with any of my rifles.
     
  8. John_Deer

    John_Deer New Member

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    He wants to cast 7.62x39 which is going to require a full load to make the rifle function. 303 british is about the same as a 308. Nothing he wants to cast is a slow load. It's not like you can load a 1,000 fps round for anything the OP mentioned. If one doesn't put enough powder in the case you will have detonation. He might get away with playing mad scientist using powders that are designed for low recoil shotgun shells (green dot) for the bolt action rifles. That is on him...
     
  9. JonM

    JonM Moderator

    My casting experience before I started was zero. I did a lot of reading and vid watching first.

    Couple of major things:

    Ventilation. Extremely important. Do it outside or you will need a fume hood to extract vapour outside. I used an old dry exhaust vent hooked up some duct work with an inline duct fan and built a hood out of scrap and plywood lined the floor with sheet metal to prevent fires from splatter.

    Safety gear. Minimum wraparound safety glasses face shield preferred, welders gloves and cotton or leather long sleeve outerwear.

    Reason for safety gear is the silver dragon lurks in every smelting pot. Liquid lead erupting in a violent explosion from a drop of sweat is no joke. Smelting and pouring lead is extremely dangerous and doing it indoors without a fume hood is beyound stupid. At some point the dragon will visit you and nothing says trip to the burn ward like unrestrained molten lead explosions. You may have a house to come home to if your lucky.

    Bullet casting can be safe and enjoyable if you follow safety procedures with the correct gear.

    If your interested in my setup I'll be happy to take pics
     
  10. trip286

    trip286 New Member

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    Please do. I'm interested. I'm somewhat in the market for the right .45LC revolver and I'll definitely get into casting my own if I get one. It's a bit of a longer term/indefinite goal though.
     
  11. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member

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    The 7.62 X 39 is pretty forgiving with cast bullets. I use wheel weights with about 3-4% tin added. Sized to .310" and loaded just fast enough to reliably function the AK and SKS.

    Understand, not all wheel weights are created equal. Stick on weights are pure lead and are a poor choice for rifle bullets. Clip on weights can be lead/antimony, steel or zinc. The lead/antimony is generally 96% lead and 4% antimony. This is a decent alloy but not ideal. Add the tin and drop directly from the mold to cool water and you have a pretty good alloy. Add a gas check and it will work fine for about 2200-2500 fps.

    Check with Rotometals for 50/50 lead/tin metal and Linotype for adding additional antimony for better results.
     
  12. texaswoodworker

    texaswoodworker New Member

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    The OP also mentioned 7.62x25mm Tokarev, which is a pistol round. That was the ONLY round I was referring to in my post. There is plenty of data out there for 1000-1200 FPS loads for that round.

    For example (this is straight out of my Lyman reloading manual)

    Starting loads.

    75gr LRN - AA #2 IMP - 4.5gr - 1268 FPS

    85gr LRN - Unique - 4.6gr - 1123 FPS

    85gr LRN - Bullseye - 4.0gr - 1184 FPS

    93gr FMJ - Unique - 5.0 gr - 1062 FPS
     
  13. texaswoodworker

    texaswoodworker New Member

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    I'd like to see some pics. :)
     
  14. Rick1967

    Rick1967 Active Member

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    I usually do my casting in the back yard. But I have worked in my garage with the big door and the door to the back yard both open. I put a fan in the doorway ventilating the garage.

    I like to use a couple of folding saw horses and a countertop that was leftover from remodeling my kitchen. It makes a really solid platform. And it is portable. I use the 20LB melting pot with the bottom pour. It is much faster that the old pouring ladle method. I use mostly Lee molds. I cast about 15 different bullets in different calibers.

    I have heard of guys using an old sauce pan and a coleman stove. I have never tried it that way. But I guess it would probably work.
     
  15. John_Deer

    John_Deer New Member

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    I am really confused here. Winchester is beginning production of 22 LR bullets made of tin. Even the hottest 22 LR load is slower than a load that will make a SKS function. After 500 rounds the tin fouled the barrel so badly that accuracy deteriorated. I have shot so many lead 22 LR bullets without cleaning my gun I lost count. I don't know what was in the barrel. I brushed the barrel then flushed it with hot water. The water was black for several seconds.
     
  16. JonM

    JonM Moderator

    [​IMG]

    I built it with hvac ducting and the inline fan is attached right at the top after the 90degree turn

    [​IMG]

    I sealed every edge with caulk used a LOT of screws to make sure there were no gaps or leaks each screw hole pre-drilled to prevent cracking. The bottom is sheet metal on top of plywood I also made sheet metal trays for slag from fluxing, holding hot sprue lead and one for holding bullets while they cool.

    [​IMG]

    Duct comes out the back and to a dryer vent that was previously unused. Tested with smoke detector testing spray to ensure no leaks and it was drawing outside. Fire extinguisher is on the floor next to bench. I keep water and other liquids off the bench when in use.
     
  17. zaitsev44

    zaitsev44 Active Member

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    Thanks for all the feedback. Jon, that's a pretty cool setup you got there. I'll probably make a contraption in the garage with a vent with a fan blowing the fumes down a tube outside. I forgot about one caliber, 8mm Mauser. But I've checked and all molds are readily available. I'm gonna has check everything regardless of caliber to make cleaning easier. I got all the material I needed to slug the bore today and I'm planning on doing that sometime this week. Another question, what's the ideal ratio of lead,tin, and antimony? I've heard 98/1/1 is go-to ratio, I'm gonna be using the casts for plinking.
     
  18. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member

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    98/1/1 is WAY too soft for rifles, even with gas checks.

    Unless you are going to shoot powder puff loads less than 1500 fps, I like 94/4/2 or a little harder.