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Question for the Castors

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Rich22, Aug 16, 2012.

  1. Rich22

    Rich22

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    So here is my question. I currently reload and am considering getting into casting to lower the only component cost I can, the bullets. For now the only caliber I have is 9mm but this will likely change soon. When comparing prices on what I could make by casting and what I could buy cheapest I can find is about 54.00/1K bullets. It seems that factoring in equipment cost which I assume to be 400-500 since I have nothing that would work and factoring in a decent amount for my time I would have to make in excess of 300 bullets an hour to make it worthwhile to me. Considering the little I know of casting, with all the prep, ingot making etc etc making a bullet every 12 seconds or less is quite unlikely and that is even assuming my consumable costs at 0. In short, is my logic correct or flawed?

    Appreciate the advise

    Richard
     
  2. Three-Five-Seven

    Three-Five-Seven Señor Mombo Millennium Member

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    The only reason I cast is that some of the bullets I need are not available otherwise.

    For long range, the exact alloy ratios are very important. To control that I have to cast my own.

    For action shooting with black powder, certain bullets have a significant advantage. Those are not readily available so casting is necessary.

    For all-round shooting with smokeless powder, my time is much more valuable than the cost of commercially available bullets. Besides, if I had time to cast, I'd be better off going to the range and using that time to practice.

    Don't forget, casting them is just one part of the chore. You also have to size them and lubricate them (and make the lube, etc. etc.).

    Casting is not worth the time unless you shoot very low volume, have special alloy requirements, or want to use the latest modern designs that are not available from any other source (i.e. NASA Money Bullet).
     

  3. fredj338

    fredj338

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    I used to cast, then my time got short & I started buying commercial. I still cast quite a bit, since commercial went up so much, my time is worth less. The other real issue is cheap or free alloy. If you have to buy alloy for more than $1/#, it's not realyl worth casting IMO. That would be $30/K for alloy, then time & lube, not worth it.
    Like reloading, better gear will get you faster results. You don't have to spend $400 to get 600 bullets an hour. A Lee 6cav mold & 20# bottom pour pot will set you back $150. You can tumble lube any bullet & shoot as cast or buy a cheap Lee sizing die kit for $25 & go that route. I do prefer a luber/sizer, the Star/Magma is hands down the best. Yes it's expensive @ $275 but can lube & size 1200-1500/hr. So high production can be done for right around the $400 mark total for one caliber. I can cast, lube & size 1000 bullets in less than 3hrs total time. At $80/k for 45, I would have to make $40/hr to break even using free alloy. Free is getting almost impossible to get & cheap is tough too.
    Casting your own can certainly be worth your time, even for a working guy, if you buy the right gear.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2012
  4. PhantomF4E

    PhantomF4E

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    I can afford to shoot corbon dpx at the range to practice with if I really wanted to . I cast and reload as a hobby, as much as being a cheap s.o.b . I like the flexibility and just being able to do it. A cheaper day out shooting is a plus, but rolling your own sub moa ammo can get pretty rewarding . IF self reliance ever becomes the rule of the day . also a plus !!!!
     
  5. Rich22

    Rich22

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    I guess before I consider this any more I need to look for sources of material. I have no idea where to get it from around here. Tire places I have checked with won't keep the wheel weights and I cannot find a scrap dealer anywhere near me.
     
  6. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm 10mm Advocate

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    I cast. It's my preference over jacketed both due to cost and control. I'm making the bullets. Scrap lead here sells for 55 cents a pound, so 1,000 230gr me $18 in alloy, an hour to cast, an hour to size/lube and maybe a dollar in lube. Figure $20 per thousand bullets and two hours of my time enjoying a hobby. It's a hobby, so my time is free.

    Reloading and casting are as expensive as you want to make it. What you pay for is speed and convenience, with minor variations in quality.

    The only jacketed bullets I have are in my carry ammunition. Everything else is cast bullets only.
     
  7. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm 10mm Advocate

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    Look to marine outfitters and marinas. Many sailboats have lead attached to the keel to keep them balanced in the water. This is pure lead. You'll have to harden it up yourself by adding antimony. There are also a few places that sell bullet casting alloy like Roto Metals.
     
  8. Rich22

    Rich22

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    Two Hours for 1000 bullets wow even assuming what has to be a very high skill level I assumed it would take much longer than that.
     
  9. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm 10mm Advocate

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    Nope. Not much skill involved, just a good setup.

    I run 2 Lee Pro 4-20 pots. I am casting from one while the other is melting the next ingot.

    I run 2 six cavity moulds, some Lee, some custom. I fill one and set it aside to cool, fill the other one and set it aside to cool. Pick up the first one and dump the bullets, then fill it. Grab the second mould, dump the bullets, refill. You're basically dumping the bullets and refilling one mould while the other one cools a bit.

    The key is to have a constant supply of melted casting alloy in the pot, using more than one mould so you're always either filling or dropping, and setting things up in the workspace to utilize economy of motion.

    Can be sped up by laying a wet hand towel on the table and setting the moulds on there to cool faster.

    For sizing, Star sizer all the way. It's just fast. Here's a short clip I made a few years ago of me sizing on the Star sizer.

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCtLi8i7tMg"]Star sizer - YouTube[/ame]
     
  10. country85

    country85

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    I guess it all depends on the type and caliber of bullet you want to cast. I cast for my 38 special, and keep even pretty much on what I can buy lead ammo for. But for my 44 magnum, I cast a lee 310 gr FP and save a butt load. I work in a tire shop so I get wheel weights for free, so where I could be spending 40 bucks per hundred of these:

    http://www.midwayusa.com/product/19...meter-300-grain-lead-wide-flat-nose-gas-check

    All I'm out is a little time and sweat, It's more of a hobby, kinda like reloading can be, you can do it in a way that save's you alot of money, or it can become an obsession and it can cost you alot of money,
     
  11. fredj338

    fredj338

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    Exactly. If you can't find cheap/free alloy, casting isn't going to save you money. The lead ww will be extinct in 2-3 yrs. There are other sources, keels can be lead or zinc now days, so be careful there. Berm mining @ the local shooting hole is always going to be there. Stain glass shops, contractors that do remodel work can find roofing lead or plumbing lead. If yo uhave a contact @ a hospital, Isotope lead from radiology is perfect for casting. I asked mny dentist a few months ago if he had any lead foils from his old xray setup. That got me 30# of dead soft lead foil.:supergrin: I have also traded lead for bullets @ 2-1 for guys that have a little alloy but don't want to cast.
    Again, if you can't find cheap or free alloy, casting will just be a hobby that sucks out your $$$. I enjoy casting & some bullets I make I just can't buy cheaply. You can even make a quality hunting or SD bullet.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2012
  12. norton

    norton

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    I cast using range scrap I dig out of our pistol berms at the club where I shoot.
    I enjoy the whole process. From finding bullets in the dirt, to melting them down into "biscuits" , to melting them in a Lee pot and pouring the lead into both Lee or Lyman molds. Then sizing and lubing. Then reloading. For me its a hobby and a $ saver.
     
  13. Beware Owner

    Beware Owner NOT a victim.

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    I like to cast as a hobby, a very entertaining one at that. I also believe in the security of having several hundred pounds of lead to back up the other stashed components in case of a SHTF scenario. Something like a backup to the backup.
     
  14. vafish

    vafish

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    I get soft pure lead for free, I cast lee tumble lube bullets that do not required sizing. For low velocity rounds like the .38 special and .45 acp they work great.

    If I don't include my time in the calculation I can load those 2 calibers for about the same cost as buying .22lr.

    I also cast bullets for my muzzle loaders and slugs for my shotguns. I can load slugs for about 13 cents each instead of buying them for over $1 each.

    Outdoor Hub mobile, the outdoor information engine
     
  15. RustyFN

    RustyFN

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    If you have to factor in your time to do it then you would be better off not doing it. If it's not going to be a hobby you probably won't stick with it long.
     
  16. fredj338

    fredj338

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    If your time is valuable, but more expensive gear. A 6cav mold will do 600-700/hr, rotate two & you might get to 1000, but it's tiresome. The Magma Mastercaster will do 600-700/hr all day, just pull the handle. It's $1000 though, as usual, saving time costs more money. The Star/Magma sizer is easily 1500rds/hr, again, twice a Lyman or RCBSm but oh so much faster.:supergrin:
    Hey Freak, anytime you want to sell some of your scrap lead, let me know. 65# flat rate ships for $16.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2012
  17. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm 10mm Advocate

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    I'll check with the scrap yard. I've been on day shift this week but will be back on 2nd shift next week so I can go during the day. Do you want ingots or just raw "as it comes" lead? I've still got some tin balls if you need some too. I think I have 14 left.
     
  18. fredj338

    fredj338

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    Well if the scrap is known, I have no issues with good scrap lead. Let me know, I'll shoot you some money.:wavey: It's almost impossible to find lead sources around Kalif anymore. I have quite a bit, but it isn't going to get any easier to find so I am willing to buy it for a good price.
     
  19. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm 10mm Advocate

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    I've also got about 565 pounds of foundry 92/6/2 alloy in ingots. I casted a run of bullets and found out during sizing that the mould wasn't cut properly so it is back at the mould machinist for a new one. Took the rejected lot of bullets and made them back into ingots again.
     
  20. fredj338

    fredj338

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    Best part of casting, you can recycle your mistakes.:supergrin: