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Introduction to Bullet Casting

Educational Zone #102  Casting Lead Bullets  pt. 1

I have had some friends ask me about how to go about casting lead bullets. So, today I cast some and took some pictures and thought I’d show you how it’s done.

First, you might wonder why a person would want to go to the trouble to cast lead bullets.

Some folks do it to save a little money, as cast bullets, if made from low-cost or free lead, are really cheap. But the main reason I do it is that I simply cannot buy exactly the bullets I want to shoot, so I cast my own. Besides, like most things gun-related, it’s fun to do.

There is some expense to get started, as you need some basic equipment, but the more bullets you cast and shoot, the more profitable it becomes.

Now, before we start, let me emphasize that this is the way I do it. There are many other ways to do it, but this is the way I have done it for about 40 years. And, I have sent a lot of bullets down range in that time.

The first thing we need to be aware of is that molten lead at 700+ degrees F, can be dangerous.

So, I always wear safety glasses, and leather gloves.

I also wear a shop apron that I bought at Harbor Freight, in case any lead splatters on me. 

One experience with molten lead will make you a believer. 

My old buddy Tman was once casting bullets with shoes and no socks on, and had a sprue fall into his shoe.

He always said that the experience was “memorable.”

I also would warn you that lead fumes can be harmful, so I always work in a well-ventilated place.

I usually cast bullets in my workshop.

It has a door and window right next to the work table.

And it also has a big door at the other end of the shop, with a floor fan that can help draw a breeze through the shop if no wind is blowing.

The first piece of equipment I use is my electric Lyman Casting Pot. 

You can use many types of equipment to melt the lead, but this system is one of the easiest to use.

It has a dial on the front that allows easy regulation of the temperature of the lead, and has a draw at the bottom of the pot that allows easy mold filling.

More on that later.

You also need some lead. 

If mine looks like lead corn pones, well, that’s what they are.

We started out with wheel weights and melted them down, and removed the clips. 

We then added some tin and antimony to harden the mixture.

I also had a friend whose Dad was a printer in the old days, and he gave me some linotype, which was used in the printing process years ago.

It is high in tin and antimony and is excellent to mix into the lead to harden the resulting mixture. 

We then fluxed the mixture. This is the process of adding flux, which can be beeswax, or grease, of candle wax, or many other things to the mixture.

This causes the undesirable elements to float to the top of the lead where they can be removed.

We then poured the lead into the corn pone molds for ease of storage and use.

You will also need bullet molds. Here are some of mine that I have collected over many years.

It is important to prevent them from rusting and I do this by storing them in an ammo can with a good rubber gasket.

I put a jar of desiccant in with them and this keeps them dry and rust free.

You can oil them to prevent rust, but then you must clean them very carefully, as any oil will ruin the cast bullets.

I prefer to just keep them clean and dry.

Today I will be casting some 510 grain, gas checked .45-70 bullets from a Lyman mold.

For a flux, I use something called Marvelux.

As you can see from the can, it lasts many years.

Any time I add lead to the pot, I flux the mixture.

More later.


Posted by George Freund on January 1, 2015 at 9:58 PM 2161 Views