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101 Casting Questions

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by txpitdog, Jan 1, 2010.

  1. txpitdog


    Aug 18, 2006
    I've been interested in getting into casting for some time, but haven't ever gotten farther than filling up a shopping cart on Midway. As with reloading, I expect that there is a significant initial investment. Here's all my questions. Any info y'all have would certainly be appreciated.

    1. In addition to the Lee casting kit, it appears I need moulds, the Lee lube and sizing press, sizing dies, lead, and gas checks. Is there anything else I need? About what will be my initial cost?

    2. I've seen deals online for Lyman 2 alloy and for linotype. Do these require antimony, tin, arsenic, etc. to harden the bullet, or are they sufficient for magnum handgun velocities as is? I plan to cast for 357mag, 44mag pistol, 44mag Marlin rifle (240gr at 1800fps), and 500mag (400gr at 1600-1700fps).

    3. Has anyone used the Lyman Devastator mould for the 44mag? If I use Lyman 2 or linotype, will the lead be hard enough for 1700-1800fps without leading the barrel, but soft enough to expand?

    4. About how long does it take to cast 50 bullets using a 2-bullet mould?

    5. Anything else I need to know before clicking the "Purchase Now" button?

  2. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO
    I use straight WW's for everything up to around 1100 ft., maybe just a little over. Use to use gas checks for those loads but found out I really didn't need 'em. (They're getting very expensive.

    For your 1700-1800 loads I would think that you'll probably need to water quench your bullets to harden them which will have some adverse effect on expansion.

    Unless you plan on shooting a huge amount of upper velocity rounds you might want to think of casting for softer velocities for practice and loading jacketed for your more serious work... this will certainly alleviate potential leading problems.

    Buying lead can negate the advantages of casting, especially if you're paying a dollar a pound or more. May I suggest that you do a little investigating before you make an equipment investment and see what your chances are of acquiring a good supply of wheel weight locally. You're avatar doesn't state where you are... some places are much easier to find WW's than others. Make friends with owners of independent tire and auto repair shops... the major chains tend to have contracts with recycling companies and are very hesitant to let go of their used metal.

    Hope this helps... good luck.


  3. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    Casting is actually quite a bit cheaper than reloading. You need a bottom pour pot, IMO ladle casting is just way too slow. You can get by w/o sizing but I like the bullets all uniform. The Lee push thru sizer works, but you need to lube first. That means either Alox tumble lube or pan lubing. Make sure the sizing die is at least 0.001" larger than bore size. So 0.358", 0.401", 0.431", etc.
    Later on you can add a luber/sizer if you want. It just makes the lube/size process sooo much easier. IMO, buying pre manuf alloy is just too expensive. For now, you can still get wheel weights, an acceptable bullet alloy as is. Other sources for free or cheap alloy, range scrap from the local shooting spot, lead from construction sites (roof/plumbing) & stain glass window shops or classes. Some sites for you to get more info before ordering:
    Here is a pic of a 44mag Dev "expanded". The design is really for low vel, like 1000fps. I had a cup point HP pin made to allow higher vel & still get some expansion.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2010
  4. dudel


    Dec 10, 2008
    Texas Hill Country
    That's only 5 questions . 96 to go.

    1) Depends on what you are loading for. For 9mm,38 spl, 45acp (and a few others) you can get the Lee tumble lube moulds (TL) then then don't need to be sized and can be lubed in a jar with Lee liquid Alox. Sizing helps most boolits; but the TL style works pretty well as cast if you do your part. Gas checks are only need for boolits shot at a high velocity or if the mould is a gas check design.

    2) If you are new to casting, I'd start out slower. If you aren't doing things just right at that speed, you're just going to lead your barrel and make a mess. As in most things, start slow, work up. If you are getting Lyman #2 (and there's alot of stuff being sold that claims to be; but without an assay, I wouldn't trust it), you generally shoot it as is (that's why most people buy it). You don't start adding other elements until you have an accurate way to judge hardness.

    3) not me.

    4) Depends on the mould type (aluminum vs iron) you use. What kind of cooling you are doing. What kind of pot you are using (ladle vs bottom pour). How quickly you get the moulds up to heat (and keep them there). 50 boolits and 50 keepers are not the same thing. I generally return the first 12-18 cast back in the pot (i use a 6 slug lee). At the speed you are looking for, casting the boolits will take the least of your time. Culling, weighing, sizing, gas checking, lubing, etc will take up more time. If you use a hollow point design, you've added to the complexity. HP moulds are generally single cavity. There is more setup between pours, more to keep clean, aligned, etc.

    5. Before you press the purchase now button, get yourself a book on casting. Lyman makes a good one. I would seriously recommend reading that first before buying anything else. It's one thing to cast a bunch of 9mm TL plinking pills from WW; quite another to cast high velocity, special alloy, gas checked, hollow points. A ver different thing indeed. You are taking a very, very big bite.

    My advice would be to slow down, and get into casting in a sane way.
  5. sig357fan


    Apr 8, 2008
    SW OH

    I'll start out by guessing that the “tx” in your handle means Texas.

    I’ve been casting for a long time and don’t have much invested in equipment. I don’t do “mass production”, usually small lots of 50 to 250 bullet at a time.

    I use a Lee production pot with a bottom pour, Lee sizer and Lee 2 cavity moulds.

    The lead pot is around $60.00, a mould and sizer set for one caliber should be around $40.00. Be sure to compare prices at different web retailers, you might find what your looking for on sale or a little cheaper.

    I save aluminum cans all year and trade them in at a recycling center for lead wheel weights. 50 lbs. of W/W will last quite awhile.

    I don’t shoot max velocity reloads with lead bullets, just plinking/practice rounds using straight W/W. If I’m having trouble getting a mould to fill out well I’ll add a little lead free solder to help fill out the mould. I do use gas checks on lower velocity rifle bullets shot in Milsurp rifles.

    My suggestion for someone starting casting is to get the minimum equipment to get started and keep an eye out for sales or used equipment that you may need if casting larger quantities of bullet is what you want to do.

    As for me the equipment I have is adequate for my needs and keeps me busy casting bullet in the winter to shoot in the summer.

  6. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    Relative I guess, but 50# is only:
    1750 200gr bullets
    2800 124gr bullets
    1029 340gr bullets
    50# is really a small drop in a big bucket to anyone that shoots quite a bit. I still buy lead bullets because the cost is reasonable & I can save my 1200# or so of alloy for specialty bullets like LHP or bullets I can't buy. At the cost of $2/# for commercial alloy, your 200grLSWC for a 45 runs about $60/1K. I can buy them & have them delivered to my porche for about $70/1K & the only thing I have to do is load them.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2010
  7. sig357fan


    Apr 8, 2008
    SW OH
    Fred makes a good point, if ya sit down and figure just the cost of it, you'll eventually recoop your eqipment cost and make bullets cheaper than you can buy them for.

    if you add the amout of time involved, well it can be pretty time consuming. thats why I cast in the colder months to shoot in warmer months.

    and, yes I do tend to cast bullets I can't buy and buy bulk handgun bullets so all that needs to be done is load them.

  8. Patrick Graham

    Patrick Graham Footlong Jr.

    Sep 7, 2001
    Kokomo Indiana
    As previously mentioned, this is a good place for information.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2010