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Casting question.

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Reagan40, Oct 29, 2010.

  1. Reagan40

    Reagan40

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    May 6, 2007
    Indiana
    I tried the search feature without any luck. I am sure this has been asked before, but I am thinking about starting to cast my own bullets. I have been reloading successfully for a couple of years. First, I would want to start casting for my S&W.357 magnum revolver. I am sure it would be fine. Then I thought about casting .45acp and 9mm since that is what I shoot the most. The problem is I just have this fear that shooting lead bullets out of my HK USP .45 and my S&W M&P 9 will hurt the guns. Is this fear justified? Should I worry about using cast lead bullets with an auto loader?
     
  2. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    10,016
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    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO
    The only concern with shooting lead, (given reasonable velocity limitations) is the Glock OEM barrel controversy.

    In truth God invented lead specifically to be formed into bullets and shot out of guns... all other uses are simply byproducts of it's intended use.

    Get a copy of Lyman's book on casting, it will answer a great majority of your questions... and start scrounging wheel weights. Good luck.


    Jack
     


  3. Reagan40

    Reagan40

    900
    0
    May 6, 2007
    Indiana
    Thanks Jack. I will get the Lyman book and begin studying. The next question is, should I really add one more time consuming activity to this hobby? My wife is going to dump hot lead on me when she realizes that I will be spending more time on the shooting hobby.:supergrin:
     
  4. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    10,016
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    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO
    Well, let me put it to you this way, I've been casting and loading for over 45 years... and I have three ex-wives.

    You're gonna have to make up your own mind... for me it's been worth it. :supergrin:

    Depending on your casting set up, the location of your equipment etc., a casting session can be as short as 2 hours to produce a week or two worth of bullets, (depending on how much you shoot), or it can last a whole day and knock out a month or two worth.

    For me casting is much more relaxing than shooting or loading. Most casters on the forum have somewhat similar attitudes although there are a few who look at it as a necessary evil. Either way, after you amortize the cost of your equipment you'll save a huge amount of money. I load 100 .45's for under $5.00.


    Jack
     
  5. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    11,682
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    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    I keep all of my casting equipment in a 5 gallon pail and cast on the tailgate of my pickup truck. If you hide the bucket and only do it when she's not home, she'll never know.
     
  6. fredj338

    fredj338

    21,704
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    Dec 22, 2004
    so.cal.
    Casting is a great extension of your shooting hobby, BUT, unless you have a source for cheap or free alloy, it can be a losing proposition money wise. At $1/#, your 230gr 45acp bullets are going to run you about $35 for alloy, then you have to lube them, say another $1 & then throw in $1 for elec or propane/1K. So $37/1K is about half of buying them, BUT, it will take you some 2-3hrs just for casting & lubing & sizing. Then throw in cost of gear. Now if you pay more for good alloy, you can see the "savings" shrinks quickly. It is a labor of love though, some guys enjoy casting more than reloading (me).
    Lead bullets won't hurt a gun, but are not their best in polygon rifling. I think the USP45 is polygon, so while you can shoot lead bullets in them, cleaning has to be more frequent to avoid leading issues. Not trying to turn you off to the idea, just know what the potential pitfalls are before buying all the stuff. Cost of alloy is #1 & cheap/free is getting harder every day w/ lead ww going bye, bye.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2010
  7. shotgunred

    shotgunred local trouble maker

    8,731
    955
    Mar 1, 2008
    Washington (the state)
    I took Fred's point to heart and went to the local scrap yard and checked out lead availability. They have tons on hand and want 60 cents a pound. they cautioned me though when they get enough on hand they load up a rail road car and ship it out. So buy it when it was there as they could not guarantee it would be available when I wanted it.

    so 7000 grains in a pound.
    9mm 124 gr will cost around $10.80 Per K
    40sw 180gr will cost around $16.20 Per K
    45ACP 220gr will cost around $18.75 Per K
    Plus the cost of necessary alloy.

    Looking at my current cost 9mm will save me $60 a K and 40 will save me $83 a K. Probably less than that but still a good savings.
     
  8. fredj338

    fredj338

    21,704
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    Dec 22, 2004
    so.cal.
    SR, hedge your cost calculations a bit for loss in wt do to dross & misc like ww clips. As much as 15% loss, so your 60c/# alloy is closer to 70c. Also, pure lead isn't really suitable for anything but sub 900fps vel & is diff to cast w/ for bullets (not so much for smooth RB like Jack uses. Maybe that's why he has women problems, smooth balls?). Adding 1% tin helps castability greatly, but also adds cost. Straight ww or 50/50 lead/ww mix works well for higher vel but may still need some tin to cast well, epsecially for bullets like the Lee TL style or smaller caliber bullets. Just more things to keep in mind.:wavey: Still cheap shooting if you can keep your alloy cost around $1/#. Now when the govt starts making you get a permit to handle lead as a biohazard, well, things will change then for sure.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2010
  9. shotgunred

    shotgunred local trouble maker

    8,731
    955
    Mar 1, 2008
    Washington (the state)
    Most of my lead is pure lead so I knew I was going to have to add tin. I am going to start with some ww lead I have. I don't need any bullets eight now so even if it took till spring to figure it all out I ok with that.
     
  10. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    11,682
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    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    One good thing about buying lead from a scrap yard is you don't have to do any running around. For $120.00 you can get one ton of lead in your pickup truck and be done with it. I bet I've spent half that much on dicking around trying to get wheel weights before I wised up and started using free range scrap from my club.
     
  11. MajorD

    MajorD

    2,383
    105
    Aug 16, 2010
    you can safely shoot lead in any gun really even glocks- hardcast bullets and use of a bore brush every couple hundred rounds or so is all that is to it. remember lead is much softer than a copper jacket so no you are not going to hurt a gun with lead.
    just consider(and this comment comes from me being a long time caster)
    cost of supples molds sizers etc.
    casting then sizing bullets is very labor intensive- considering I shoot about 20k in handgun a year in order to cast size and box up enough bullets for a year I would have to cast/size etc for about 5 straight days- back when I was a poor college student and I spent my "spring break" bullet casting it made sense- now that I have a good paying job and can get bullets for 60 bucks a thousand not so much any more.
    And unlike reloading setting up and rolling on bullet casting is just to much hassle to do just to cast a thousand or so bullets.
     
  12. fredj338

    fredj338

    21,704
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    Dec 22, 2004
    so.cal.
    Very true, most scrap yards around here don;t even sell lead. So scrounging is about it. I could probably seriously mine the berm at my club & pull out a ton of useable metal. Pretty soon, that's all that will be available here.:crying:
     
  13. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    11,682
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    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    I never tried to buy it. I just thought about it at one point. Our indoor range has a trough that all the lead falls into. You just scoop it up with a hand trowl into a bucket and bring it home. You end up with a surprising amount of jackets, but they float on top easily enough.

    One thought about buy scrap lead from a yard, I wonder if it includes battery plates. Depending on who you believe, they can be bad juju.
     
  14. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    10,016
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    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO



    As the young'uns like to say, 'been there, done that'... not anymore.

    You can hermetically seal yourself in a clear plastic bubble and you'll still end up getting burned by that insidious acid. Plus breaking through the cases of batteries is a whole lot tougher than it looks. It's just flat not worth it.


    Jack
     
  15. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    11,682
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    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    Oh yeah, definatley not worth cutting open a battery, even if the lead is safe to use. I meant that the scrap lead might have battery lead mixed in with it. I've read that battery lead has all kinds of compounds on it that can be real bad when it gets melted down.
     
  16. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    10,016
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    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO

    I haven't done it in over 30 years, as far as I know it was pretty much pure lead back then. Certainly didn't have any problems melting or casting with it... mixed it with range lead which was pretty much all I used back then. (Got an unlimited supply from the air base indoor range where they shot .38 wadcutters or from our two department ranges.)

    Have no idea what battery plates are made out of now but why wouldn't unwanted metals flux out? :dunno:


    Jack
     
  17. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    11,682
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    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    They have these newfangled batteries these days. They call them "maintneance free" and I hear you don't have to add water to them. Supposedly they have some kind of oxides, or sulfides, or peptides or whatever and they can be real bad, as in poisonous, as in chemical warfare agent poisenous, if you get a whiff or two when they get melted.
     
  18. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    10,016
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    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO
    Interesting to know... I'm going to buy three, send them to the ex-wives and ask them to melt 'em down.

    Watch the newspapers, we should have our answer in a few weeks.


    Jack
     
  19. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    11,682
    1
    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    Have them do it indoors for the full effect.
     
  20. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    10,016
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    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO

    I didn't know there was anyway else to cast. :dunno:

    That reminds me, I'll have to take a picture of the new range hood I had the SIL install over my furnace in the gunroom. Works great.


    Jack