Bullet casting

Hey folks, I’m not an expert at casting bullets and I don’t want to pass myself off at all as being one, matter of fact I can give you an accurate counting of every bullet I’ve ever casted – zero. It’s something I never got into but in the last couple of years I’ve thought it’s something I need to get into, not only for the economy but for the necessity if you get my drift. Anyways, I don’t want to give you the impression I’m knowledgeable on something that I’m not, but I figure the video below is something that all of us, as shooters and Patriots, might benefit from.
If anybody that’s skilled in bullet casting would like to give their thoughts, I’d be most obliged.

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25 Responses to Bullet casting

  1. TonyL says:

    Some good info, some dufus.
    He says “remove the slag” many times.
    The “slag” is Lead-Oxide. Lead at that temperature will oxidize quickly on exposure to air.
    Solution: Pour ingots, make bullets, quick, but not hasty.
    When the “slag” builds up, toss in flux, and carry on. The flux turns the lead oxide back to lead metal, good to use. That is what flux does. The guy had a 5-gallon pail which he tosses the “slag”, all that good lead in the trash.
    If you collect “slag” like this guy, heat to the melting point of lead, and toss in some paraffin wax as flux, the lead metal flows to the bottom, remaining slag floats, and dirt from wheelweights (you did wash them?) are unchanged.
    PRO TIPS: Use a consistent lead formula-Changing the metal ratio changes the bullet weight enough to through off the point of impact as close as 50 yds.
    For the rifle shooters: Always use a gas-check seated on your bullet. The book says 1200-1500 fps. are OK without, but you do not need to take chances. Always use, never worry about lead fouling a barrel.

    Question: Trolls shot with cast or jacketed bullets? Or just shot at? Did you use a gas-check? Maybe that is why you missed.

    • Wirecutter says:

      I’ve never cast my own bullets but the heavyweights I’ve shot all were gas checked. Is that just because of the slow burning powders used? Inquiring minds need to know. Seriously.

      • Thomas says:

        There are different theories about that, but short answer is yes slow burning powders and heavy boolits- gas check is better per most people.I definitely 2nd the recommendation to go to castoolits.com
        There are guys there who’ve forgotten more about cast bullets than I’ll ever know.When you get settled in TN, get a basic set of equipment (melting pot, molds for tumble lube bullets for starters) and give it a shot.45ACP is actually easy to cast for due to low bullet speeds and pressures. You can actually cast pure lead 45 bullets and they’ll work ok, if you had to (I did it as an experiment once).
        I cackle when I think of making my own 45 blasting ammo for about 4 cents a round (powder and primer) vs whatever store-bought 45 goes for.A couple hours casting with a 6 cavity mold equals all the 45 you can shoot for a while.

      • JSW says:

        The gas check is more to prevent the powder heat and bullet flight from melting the bullet base. If the base is melted, you’re throwing off accuracy, bullet weight, messing with your barrel (though one or two jacketed bullets will clean that mess quickly enough). Slow burning powders don’t create so much a problem as fast burners, especially in rifles. So safest way is to gas-check the base.
        Castboolitsdotcom is highly recommended site (though heavy into cowboy action loading), as is purchasing a reloader’s manual with a section on casting your own, such as a Hornady Reloader’s Manual.

      • TonyL says:

        Gas checks are to protect the base of the bullet from the hot gasses of the burning powder. The hot gasses erode the bullet base and the lead ends up all over the inside of your barrel. The effect is said to be minimal at lower pressures and velocities, but rapidly becomes a problem at useful working pressures.
        Consider this:
        One of the hottest powders around is Red Dot. A standard load is (was) 7 gr. Red Dot with a 220 gr. bullet (30 cal.), velocity ~1800 fps. That fast powder will produce it’s pressure very quickly, and so temperatures will be high. You gas check, for sure, when using hot powders like Red Dot.
        Back At The Ranch:
        I was messing around at the range with a 22 LR. and a guy shows up with an 03-A3 Springfield and cast bullets. After talking a bit he says, for any 30 cal or so. large cartridge, with a 200-220 gr. bullet, use 12 gr. Blue Dot. Gives a more accurate load, and burns cooler than Red Dot. Works for all large case 30 cals., 300 Savage, across 308 and 30-06 through 8mm Mauser (What I used to shoot), he said. We were shooting 3 – 5 in. groups at 100 yds. with the original iron sights on the 03-A3, a fun day at the range.
        A slower burning powder, cooler, more accurate, but you use almost twice as much. (7 gr. vs. 12 gr.) That is why people use Red Dot, to keep the cost down. They understand that to economize, they go to the hairy edge of pressure/temperature and act accordingly. This is not the load to go screwing around with.
        Even with the Blue Dot, you use gas checks, because you are running at 1800+ fps., fast and hot enough to cause base erosion leading anyway.
        The guy turned out to be a real live USMC Gunnery Sgt., with a love of old guns.
        An overlooked source of lead is worn out car batteries. Stick a garden hose in one fill hole, and let it run for a while, flush out the acid. Then hit it with something heavy, you know the rest.
        The lead is pure Pb, and is too soft for bullets, so you need to add tin and antimony. This is what wheelweights are for. In the video, the guy casts from wheelweights, which we thought a waste. Adding wheelweights to harden battery lead and plumbers lead is a much better use. You can find mixes for common lead sources in the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook, and no doubt, on the interwebs.
        In short, best practice is use gas checks across the board, and be done with it.

  2. Greg B says:

    Heh.
    I’m about to attempt casting myself. The wife gave me all the lkit I need as Christmas gifts.
    Going to try my hand at casting 12ga slugs this weekend.

  3. Mac says:

    Got to Castboolits website, will answer any questions you have. After 2 years the learning curve is flattening out for me, becomes an addiction.

  4. Jimmie says:

    Something else to look in to is powder coati,g the bullets. It’s stupid easy, no need for lube, no need for gas checks on pistol and the slower rifle bullets. A pound is like $4 at harbor freight, a small zip lock container, nonstick tinfoil, and a cheap toaster oven is all you need. I 2nd the cast boolits website. Casting is almost as addictive as reloading.

  5. The castboolits site Mac mentioned is wonderful and there is a PDF book about it you can download for free linked from there that is invaluable. Even with gas checks you are going to get some lead fouling depending on the round and powder used there is really no way around it especially when using lead wheel weights. The real problem for me and I even live very close to the lead capital of the world, is getting the %^##@ lead. Most places won’t sell em to individuals anymore and it’s getting hard for even businesses to buy actual lead these days and what they get is often of dubious alloy mixtures. The old linotype lead is almost impossible to find and getting high zinc mixtures is becoming more of an issue.

    Generally I only cast pistol rounds myself these days although I have the molds for many rifle rounds. I do about 1200 or so rounds every Winter. I use pure bees wax from my own hives and saw dust for a flux whenever I add in new metal to the pot as it helps it bind together. I also let my bullets harden in the cold for a good month of more before actually pressing em to a case. As I said these days finding a source for lead that gives you a consistent hardness value of 15 or above is sometimes a problem and I work in the auto industry. If you have to order and ship lead the savings drops fast.

    About molds. Don’t bother with the RCBS or other companies molds go for the LEE 2 cavity ones they are the cheapest and work fine. Six cavity ones are more expensive but you can cast em quicker. I use candle soot for the mold release but it has to be a synthetic candle as pure bees wax candles don’t put off enough soot.

    I could go on for hours but I got to go to work today. If you ever have any questions send me an email or leave a comment at my site I will help if I can.

  6. PawPaw says:

    I’ve been casting for two decades, everything from big ol’ blackpowder bullets to .30 cal, to pistol in many calibers. It ain’t rocket science, in fact, it’s 15th century technology. Until the latter part of the 19th century, all bullets were cast bullets. We didn’t start copper-coating them till the late 1800s.

    Sometimes alloy is important. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes gas checks are important. Sometimes it isn’t. I get concerned about alloy for bullets that will fly over 1500 fps. I also gas-check those. Anything under 1500 fps doesn’t need or deserve a gas check.

    I use liquid Alox exclusively. Anything under 1500 fps gets one coat. Anything over 1500fps gets two coats.

    If you are thinking about reloading, before you do anything, buy Lee’s Modern Reloading. Read the chapter on bullet casting. Twice. The two most important things that you can remember is that bullet sizing is important. And that lube is important. Some bullets can be shot un-sized if the mold drops them properly. I don’t size (for example) pistol ammo because I’ve measured my ores and my dropped bulets and they’re okay. I size my .30 cal bullets because I’m going to gas-check them and they need a trip thru the sizer to install the gas check.

    I could write for hours on this topic, but this venue doesn’t lend itself to that process. Buy the book and do your homework, and go to the Cast Boolits forum if you need help. Dig around in the stickys before you start asking questions.

    But, remember this: It ain’t rocket science. Every bullet shot before about 1882 was a cast bullet. Hundreds of wars were fought with noting but cast, and every game animal killed before then was shot with cast. It’s 13th century technology, and it renders all the gun-banners ammo schemes moot. Every patriot should know how to cast bullets and have a goodly supply of scrap lead laying around. If it’s plumbous, it will make bullets.

  7. Tsquared says:

    I helped my dad cast when I was a kid. I have been thinking about getting back into it for pistol calibers and doing the poly powder coat instead of the gas check. I have been shooting the poly coated in my 45 and 9mm for a couple of years with good results.

  8. Sam F. Youte says:

    Ken ,

    what mac said , here’s the link ….http://castboolits.gunloads.com/

    Everything under the sun in regards to ” cast boolits ” .

    ” bullets ” in casting terminology are ” fmj ‘s ”

    ” Boolits ” are divine providence’ great creation , providence gave man a kick in the ass for the obsession of creating the ” perfect boolit ” . Yes you will obsess over this shit , it’s like getting laid for the first time & wanting moore !

    I highly recommend rcbs products / casting equipment , their customer service is top notch .Plus right next door is a outdoorsman store with a decent firearm selection . Rcbs is located in Oroville , ca .

    Check the ” swappin ‘ & sellin ” on the website for ingot ‘s , you’ll need those . Don’t pay more than a buck / buck fifty a pound for pistol ingot’s or a buck eighty / two bucks a pound for rifle excluding shipping .

    Rifle cost a bit more because ” lineotype ” is included with ingot processing . You’ll learn the ” cast boolit ” terminology as you do your research .

    Depending on what you want to cast , you’ll need gas check’s found here ….

    http://gaschecks.castpics.net/

    For ” boolit lube ” http://lsstuff.com/store/ . This is a small business that is vet owned , i only do business with this outfit for my lube needs .

    If you haven’t already , get some load books that deal with cast boolits . I recommend load books u.s.a. or the latest lyman reloading manual . One can never have enough books , let alone for reloading .

    Last but not least , here’s a site worth looking at … http://www.rotometals.com/Default.asp . They are pricey , however once in awile they will have a sale on ” lyman # 2 ingots” .This ingot will work for both rifle & pistol casting .

    Before i forget , here’s another site that sells ingots & other reloading needs ….

    http://www.shop.rmrbullets.com/

    rmr sells ingot’s also , however are a bit pricey . Shop around for the best deal ….

  9. Elmo says:

    I’m sure you’ll get many suggestions, but here’s my two cents:

    Wear eye protection and gloves. Long sleeves wouldn’t hurt either. You’re not young and dumb like this fellow is, bless his heart.
    And being older like me, I’d suggest setting up your casting table outside against a south facing wall, where the sunshine can help old eyeballs see what they’re doing easier. It helps quality control.

    It’s good thing that you’re heading for Tennessee, as cast bullets will be illegal in California in 3 years, seeing as how they contain lead. :-O

    Have I mentioned lately that California sucks?

  10. RHT447 says:

    Have been casting my own bullets since 1978. Back then, you could pick up five gallon buckets of wheel weights at service stations for the asking. Very little sorting if any then. Really chapped my hide when Kali banned lead weights. Just one more reason I now live in Texas. Yeah, I brought my stash with me.

    As remarked above, some good, some dufus. Always wear glasses of some kind. Wear a hat, preferably with a bill. Wear long sleeves—I wear light weight coveralls. Wear gloves—the el cheapo work gloves with leather palms and gauntlets work fine. Yeah, I got distracted once and dropped a damp ingot into my pot. Water boils at around 212 F. Lead melt is about 700 F. Do the math. It’s called a steam explosion. Sounds like a wet fart. Molten lead sticks to everything, even you. I still have a small scar on my wrist where a bit got through the button cuff.

    Flux your melt early and often. Any hydrocarbon will do. I use paraffin (I’m a cheap bastid). In my 10lb. Lee pot, a chunk the size of a frozen pea is enough. Fumes and smoke? Yes. Stink? No more than Hoppes No. 9 (get my drift?) Don’t like the smoke? Toss in a lit match to ignite the fumes a let them burn off. Or if your melt is up to temp, they will likely ignite anyway. The effects of fluxing are immediate and profound. Your melt will look like liquid mercury. The little bit of dross to be skimmed off will look like burnt ashes. For bulk melting of weights to make ingots, I use a two burner Coleman propane camp stove. Obviously, can set up anywhere, no extension cord needed.

    The guy’s remarks in the video about alloy is a mostly on the mark. I have never bothered casting pure lead. It is mostly for the muzzle loading world, and I just buy whatever diameter Hornaday round ball I need. I am also fortunate to also have a stash of linotype. I mix (roughly) 10% linotype (by weight) into my wheel weight mix to make my casting alloy. This makes a very “castable” mix that fills the mold very well, as well as adding some hardness to the bullets. If I press really hard on one of my bullets with my thumb nail, I can leave a mark. This mix does everything I ask of it. I cast for a variety of handguns, semi-auto and revolver, and for 45-70 (five of ’em) in rifle.

    A feature of clip-on wheel weights is that they contain traces of arsenic (ventilation!). The good news is that this aids in quenching the bullets by dropping them out of the hot mold into water. This adds a bit more hardness to the surface of the bullet.

    Out of time for now. Probably watch the rest of the video next year and post more comments.

    Happy New Year to all. (Heh. Blow your mind—smoke FFFg).

  11. RHT447 says:

    Have been casting my own bullets since 1978. Back then, you could pick up five gallon buckets of wheel weights at service stations for the asking. Very little sorting if any then. Really chapped my hide when Kali banned lead weights. Just one more reason I now live in Texas. Yeah, I brought my stash with me.

    As remarked above, some good, some dufus. Always wear glasses of some kind. Wear a hat, preferably with a bill. Wear long sleeves—I wear light weight coveralls. Wear gloves—the el cheapo work gloves with leather palms and gauntlets work fine. Yeah, I got distracted once and dropped a damp ingot into my pot. Water boils at around 212 F. Lead melt is about 700 F. Do the math. It’s called a steam explosion. Sounds like a wet fart. Molten lead sticks to everything, even you. I still have a small scar on my wrist where a bit got through the button cuff.

    Flux your melt early and often. Any hydrocarbon will do. I use paraffin (I’m a cheap bastid). In my 10lb. Lee pot, a chunk the size of a frozen pea is enough. Fumes and smoke? Yes. Stink? No more than Hoppes No. 9 (get my drift?) Don’t like the smoke? Toss in a lit match to ignite the fumes a let them burn off. Or if your melt is up to temp, they will likely ignite anyway. The effects of fluxing are immediate and profound. Your melt will look like liquid mercury. The little bit of dross to be skimmed off will look like burnt ashes. For bulk melting of weights to make ingots, I use a two burner Coleman propane camp stove. Obviously, can set up anywhere, no extension cord needed.

    The guy’s remarks in the video about alloy is a mostly on the mark. I have never bothered casting pure lead. It is mostly for the muzzle loading world, and I just buy whatever diameter Hornaday round ball I need. I am also fortunate to also have a stash of linotype. I mix (roughly) 10% linotype (by weight) into my wheel weight mix to make my casting alloy. This makes a very “castable” mix that fills the mold very well, as well as adding some hardness to the bullets. If I press really hard on one of my bullets with my thumb nail, I can leave a mark. This mix does everything I ask of it. I cast for a variety of handguns, semi-auto and revolver, and for 45-70 (five of ’em) in rifle.

    A feature of clip-on wheel weights is that they contain traces of arsenic (ventilation!). The good news is that this aids in quenching the bullets by dropping them out of the hot mold into water. This adds a bit more hardness to the surface of the bullet.

    Out of time for now. Probably watch the rest of the video next year and post more comments.

    Happy New Year to all. (Heh. Blow your mind—smoke FFFg).

  12. Mac45 says:

    As mentioned above, Castboolits should be your first stop.
    Second stop is here http://www.lasc.us/Fryxell_Book_Contents.htm
    It’s a free download, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

  13. SemperFi, 0321 says:

    Second the warning on long sleeves, glasses, gloves and WATER! Just think of yourself in a chemistry lab.
    Had a lead/water explosion ONCE, never again. I use wheel weights, pour mold full, then turn around, rap the mold with my mallet and dump the hot bullets from the mold into a 5 gal. bucket 2/3 full of cool water from a height of about 3 feet. Water drops do splash up, but hot mold just sizzles the water off immediately. Do not allow any drops to land anywhere near the melting pot, you will have trouble.
    Learned about the cold water from Cast Performance Bullet Co. when they were still in Riverton, WY. They filled a yellow mop bucket on wheels full of water, then rolled it under the gang mold machines. Bullets fell out of mold straight down into water and soon the bucket was full of hardened lead bullets, pretty slick trick.
    Make your own bullet lube too. Stuff is getting way too expensive in the stores for a little tube. Made several quarts myself last yr, beeswax and vaseline mainly. I know a beekeeper and get the generic vaseline from Walmart, etc. There are many recipes online.

  14. Sam F. Youte says:

    Ken ,

    your welcome ! You feel the need to get out of ” motown / ceres ” for the day head up to oroville & take miss lisa with you. Rcbs in oroville doe’s not sell to the public btw , they only do equipment exchanges their etc… However , the staff will be more than happy to answere any questions you may have that any of us here can’t answere . Be sure to check out the outdoors store ! next to rcbs They have a hunting museum in the back also ..

    Save your money for a good melt pot , you’ll be happy you did . I recommend the rcbs ” pro melt ” .love mine ! Also no fuckin around with the on/off switch { they wear out } if you choose the pro melt , i simply unplug it when i’m finished . It’s safe to leave lead in the pot if you choose, make a note of what type if your using seperate rifle / pistol ingots .

    Because this pot draws alot of power when turned on , it will trip the ” GFI ” , find a plug that is not wired for “GFI ” . I speak from experience !

    Clothing , wear britches & a good pair of leather boots while casting . I use leather gloves when pouring & welders gloves when adding ingots . The ” tensil fairy ” will ruin your day if your not paying attention . Safety glasses also , you only have one set of eye’s ..protect them . I wear a denim long sleeve button up to protect my upper body from the ‘ tensil fairy ” .

    ” Flux ” … i use tea cup candles cut in quarters , i add a thumb nail size each time i add a ingot & my pour is spot on . Sawdust will work also , make sure no moisture is present THIS IS CRITICAL . Moisture get’s in the melt & there is a potential of KABOOM . Use a mould mallet with your moulds , http://www.amazon.com/RCBS-80007-Mould-Mallet/dp/B002SF6RDE , don’t worry about the wood chips / flakes getting mixed with the ” silver kisses ” these are hershey kiss ” looking lead { silver color } that is knocked from the top of the mould.

    Once you get a good pile , GENTLY put them back into the melt with any wood shavings .The wood shavings will act as a flux . Leave the dros alone ! It’s antimony rich , stir the pot on occasion if need be . Dros is the shit that floats around on top of the melt …

    Want to pimp out your cast pot ? Check this out ….. http://www.my2ndright.com/ Scroll down to the rcbs promelt & you’ll see what i’m talking about . I have both the shelf & the lid . The lid is great for setting your mold on top while the pot is getting hot . Cast moulds will retain heat so you can work at a decent pace. If you purchase the “kit ” it comes with 1 mould guide bar , that’s all you need .

    If you gotta get up & away from the bench , simply place the mould on top of the lid & the heat will keep the mould hot. When i got into casting just recently , i purchased the less expensive tools first then saved up for the more costly items i needed . Check swappin & sellin ” on “castboolits” periodically for great casting deals if you don’t want to purchase all new equipment. Patience will pay off for you in the long run .

    Oroville , it’s located in ” the state of jefferson ” lot’sa good like minded folks up their . Paradise is northeast of their & there are sportsman’s stores in town . I highly recommend ” CW ENTERPRISES ” Paradise Ca , 95969 phone # 530 – 877-7907 cell 530 -518 -3844
    saturdays are by appt only. email is cwenterprises@att.net I don’t have an address , call & ax fo it .

    My pop’s & i call “cw ” duck dynasty ” , i bout jizzed myself when i walked through the door. Folks from TFBA go up their to get their reloading supplies. Looking for powder ?? Chances are he may it . Call ahead ..

    Want to browse miltary surplus in paradise ? Swiss link Inc 5365 clark rd paradise , small shop , however they have decent prices on ammo can’s . Surplus city in Oroville ,not far from rcbs has a massive collection of different size ammo can’s .However , last time i was in their ,it appeared their cans went for a swim in the euphrates river !

    When hand loading , resist the temptation of double loads & hot loads … Those are for pornstars !

    When loading cast boolits for rifle , look into the lyman ” m die ” or lee universal expanding die . This die[s] will expand the case mouth to allow the rifle boolit w/ gas check to clear the case mouth & not ” shave the boolit ” .

    Elmo ,

    yep ca sucks , however that is not going to deter me or others in this state to continue to exercise our natural right to self defense . Ban all they want , there will always be ways around shit ….Btw…How’s the war on drugs going ? Frankly , the asswipes in charge & who want to impose their will on us can kiss my white ass …

    Human nature never changes , only the technology ..

    All here at knuckledraggin, happy new yrs to you & yours …

    Regards ,

    from beneath the iron fist of the caliban , where it’s either illegal or mandatory .

    S.F.Y. Out

  15. Jim Dlouhy says:

    I seem to recall one of my Lyman manuals specifically stating to NOT use lead from batteries, due to something in the composition…..

  16. Sam F. Youte says:

    Ken ,

    I’m bout done beating this dead horse . However always glad to help a fellow patriot when i can , especially when it comes to the subject of the 2A , u.s. constitution , bill of rights & man’s rights …. Gotta have some philosophical shit in your life right !

    Here’s a link that is a 3 part series for casting bullets & what tools are needed & how to use them .

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmDO-baflp0

    I recommend a ” lubesizer ” , this tool will resize the cast boolit , lube , seat & crimp the gas check all in one pull of the lever . The link above , he’ll show you how it’s all done . I’ve never ” tumble lubed ” so i can’t say what is all involved in that process . Go with what works for you & your budget .

    fortunecookie45LC on youtube is another great source of diy boolit casting. Read ,read , read & watch all the youtube vids you can stand for this hobby, ask questions & lot’s of them . It’s a whole new ballgame from just reloading “fmj ‘ s ” especially for rifle calibers .

    If your wanting to cast in .223 for the ar paltform & or bolt action , look up larry gibson ‘s post’s on the cast boolits website. He’s got a plethora of info for the subject matter. Barrel twist is another science when casting for .223 either bolt or the ar platform .

    1/12 twist is gtg for the .55 grainers , any twist lower than that it’s better to go with a heavier boolit. Ymmv …. Perhaps others here can chime in …

    Read ” why grown men cry ” on cast boolits website. The article deals with cast .223 & load recipes for the bolt action ,but gives a good perspective in what all entails to push a cast .223 boolit down the barrel .

    Typically , pistol powder recipes are gtg for bolt action & rifle powders for the ar platform . Pistol powders don’t have enough poop to cycle the bolt on the ar platform so i’ve read. Haven’t tried it because i don’t want to waste resources .

    AA2230 is a outstanding powder for .223 { cast or fmj’s } & meters very well . I know handloaders have their pet powders & that’s fine . Do your research & conclude what’s going to work best for you .

    As ayn rand has said in the past ” Man must use his mind if he is to survive ” ..

    S.F.Y. OUT ….

  17. JeremyR says:

    Found a mold in Grandpa’s stuff back in 77 or 78. Got given a .50 cal rifle kit about the same time. Got a bucket of lead from the local tire shop. Folks had a gas kitchen stove, and I started molding bullets on it using a tin can for my crucible. Made about 200 bullets the first trip, then had to locate black powder. Right after that I discovered that my mold was a .56 cal. I still have the mold and a can of the round balls on a shelf. They make good slugs for a 20ga, but you need to make sure you trim the sprue as it has an impact on flight characteristics.

  18. Evan Price says:

    I can’t overstate the importance of even minimal safety gear. You don’t need a fire suit, but from personal experience, having safety glasses, long sleeves and pants, welding gloves, and cotton clothing is a really really good idea. Water expands 1500 times when it flashes to steam. I’ve had burps and visits from the Tinsel Fairy. I nearly lost an eye a couple years ago, and that was WITH safety gear and a mask. One drop of lead in the wrong place will ruin your life- I have the scars to prove it. Treat molten metal with respect.

    I also use a hazardous dust respirator when melting scrap, because I get it from all sorts of sources- plumbing pipe and shower pans, cable sheath, roof boots, X-ray room shielding, diving weights, you name it, everywhere. Some of it is coated in nasty stuff like cyanoacrylate paints and resins or tar. The smoke sets off my asthma. The respirator mask was cheap and it works. I also use a face shield when pouring ingots due to a mold exploding once from not being preheated long enough and water had infiltrated the rust layer in the bottom of the cavities.

    I kept seeing that guy dump the skimmed clips and junk into a PLASTIC bucket. From personal experience, bad idea, the bottoms melt out! I have some old galvanized steel pails I use for that purpose. Also pre-heat your tools before plunging them into the pot of molten lead to prevent boiling and burping.

    Flux is necessary to reduce the oxides back into your melt and keep it clean. Tin oxidizes off quickly and is the most expensive part of the melt. You want it to not leave!
    I use a 3-gallon stainless-steel stockpot rescued from a junk heap to melt scrap lead and make ingots. I can get 250 pounds in a pot easy. I use drained motor oil as flux. It’s free and easy to pour in the pot. About a soup ladle of old motor oil does a pot of lead.

    There are two purposes for flux-
    1: To trap dirt and non-reduceable oxides allowing them to be skimmed off. These are DROSS-FORMING fluxes. They make a hard crust that traps impurities and is skimmed off.
    2. To reduce the oxides of metals back into their base metals. This is done through high temperature in the absence of oxygen. Basically you want a high-Carbon flux to recombine the Oxygen out of the oxides forming CO2 and leaving the metal pure. You put a flammable carbon flux material (Can be sawdust, paraffin, beeswax, oil, whatever) and the material ignites, which consumes the oxygen at the surface of the melt. Due to the high heat, the oxygen in the oxides releases to combine with the carbon in the flux and the metal purifies. Called an OXIDIZING FLUX.

    If you keep your melt temperature under 700 degrees the zinc and iron weights will float on the liquid lead. I still dump buckets of weights out to remove obvious junk and wash away the worst of the dirt, and I pick out the iron and zinc when I see them, and the tire stickers, valve stems, razor blades, cig butts, Copenhagen chaws, misc. hardware and other junk that winds up in buckets.

    You must start your melt with weights you know are lead. This way no zinc gets in the melt. Starting at full blast from cold, the bottom of the pot will be hotter than the top and you might melt zinc in the bottom. I pick out a handful of 100% lead weights, big ones, to start a cold pot. Start the fire full blast, and put a scoop or used oil in there with ’em. Put a metal lid on the pot (I use an old stainless-steel wheel cover from an Oldsmobile) and wait a half hour or so. Once you see smoke, start reducing the fire until the melt stabilizes. Skim the clips then start adding dry weights to make a pile on one side. Dribble some oil on them. Lid on, let melt. Then just keep skimming and adding until the pot is full.

    For heat I use a propane turkey fryer burner with a nice angle-iron stand that is strong enough to use as a jackstand if I needed to. You don’t want 250# of molten lead suddenly dumping over because the cheap stand broke! I stack cement bricks and blocks around the stand as a windblock and to trap the heat inside, and it’s a great place to set molds when pouring.

    I skim the clips and junk with a wire mesh strainer I got at Walmart for frying food. It works great, I just tap it on the side of the pot to let the liquid lead dribble out. I also melt down gun range scrap for lead, and the copper jackets will trap lead if you don’t tap & jiggle to get it out. I stir with an old slotted spoon from the thrift store. I pour ingots in old cast iron Griswold-clone cornbread molds.

    Lube- I use White Label XLOX from LSSTUFF. The new thing about powder coating is nice and purty but totally un-necessary for pistol velocity, if your lead hardness is right- not too hard and not too soft- and your bullets are sized to match your bore. You can honestly get away with a lot softer lead than you think if you size your bullet large enough for the gun.

    A good rule of thumb is 10 BHN of hardness per thousand FPS of velocity, assuming a good lube and right size. I size .0015″ over bore in most cases and run lead in the 8-10 BHN range with XLOX tumble lubing, on bullets that are not a tumble-lube mold design, with no leading in nearly any caliber under 1000 fps.

    Most commercially cast bullets have leading problems because they cast from a very hard lead- so the bullets don’t deform in shipping, and because customers expect hard lead because they don’t know any better. Also they undersize the bullets, that way they work in anything including a tight bore without blowing anything up. Also they use a hard high-melting-point crayon-type lube that stays on the bullets better in shipping and doesn’t make a mess in your dies or fingers when you load them.
    So too hard alloy, too small sized, too high temperature lube = leading.

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