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Bullet casting metal ?

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  • #16
    I've been casting bullets for 30 years. Good advice to just buy pistol bullets already cast and lubed. Cast rifle bullets are another matter. With the velocities generated with rifle bullets, a hard alloy is needed. #2 alloy in the lyman handbook is about the softest I would recommend.

    The amount of tin and antimony affects the way in which the mold fills out when casting, and the temperature the metal needs to be at the time of pouring. Large pure lead bullets (for muzzleloaders) are very difficult to cast without imperfections, visible or internal.

    INMHO, the most important thing when casting and shooting cast rifle bullets is the bullet lube and lubri-sizing.

    I've used alox/beeswax mix for years and found it good up to about 1900fps. This will probably start a war here, as every cast bullet shooter has his own favourite lube, both proprietary and home made.

    I once used Galena(sp?) a bearing lubricant from a railroader friend of mine. I mixed it with a little beeswax and paraffin. Stunk like hell. Used it with pistol bullets. I'd fire a few shots, and other shooters would say, "What stinks?" or "Who died?". Great fun.

    Keep your area well ventilated. Lead vapourizes when heated hot enough. I did so much casting indoors when I was a kid, it's a wonder I float at all when I swim.

    just my .02



    • #17


      • #18
        I use pure linotype but I got lucky a few years back and bought 1000# of linotype still in type for 10 cents a pound.. Print shop went out of business.. Use it in handguns and rifles.. Mike in Louisiana



        • #19
          I cast my first bullets over 60 years ago.I hate to stick a pin in anybody's balloon, but when you buy linotype from a print shop you have no clue what the composition is without having a professional analysis, and if it is in the form of lino slugs, chances are it is low on tin content. Most print shops meltedd the slugs and type down time after time without having it analyzed and just threw in a little tin on occasion. Lead testers that rely on a ball bearing and weight are an indicator of HARDNESS, not composition or analysis. Foundry type is the best source of bullet alloy. Many of the ingots sold as "linotype" or "Ludlow" metal by junk yards is actually stereotype metal with ananalysis that isn't very close to lino. More of this was available when printers went to cold type because newspapers used stereotype metal to make curved plates for their presses. It is too brittle in original form for auto pistol bullets.
          Wheel weights have zinc in the alloy and are ok for plunking, but if you use them and want accuracy, you will have to weigh them individually and sort them by weight.
          Old time (circa 1929) revolver shooters used only lead and tin alloy, claiming that when antimony was added to fill out molds better, accuracy suffered. You can read the whole story in Elmer Keith's book "Sixguns" and "Sixgun Cartridges and Loads" available in reprint.
          Wheel weights often contain large amounts of zinc, which will contribute to variations in weight. When you lube and size, keep your scale close by and weigh a bullet every so often. If you shoot matches, weigh each bullet.
          Indoor ranges will not allow lead alloy bullets to be fired unless they are jacketed or copper plated because of the very real lead poisdoning hazard, airborne and contact.
          If you really must cast bullets, do it under an exhaust hood and wash your hands before eating or drinking.
          Next to mercury, lead takes the greatest heavy metal toll of humans. Look up "lead poisoning" on the internet, observe the listed symptoms and if you are a bullet caster and you have symptoms, not your doctor.
          Lead poisoning is very common and it is no joke.
          One final warning: Never, ever handle lead or lead alloys with your bare hands; wear gloves. This includes soft solder, linotype and lead ingots or plumber's lead. Use a thermometer, do not let the heat run much over melting temperature and do not even trust your exhaust hood if you run high temperatures for any reason (like mixing in pure antimony).
          Always remember that lead...and most other heavy metals...are virulent poisons under the right circumstances.

          [This message has been edited by John Lawson (edited 08-20-2005).]
          Today we carve our own omens Leonidas at Thermopylae


          • #20
            just some cast rambling.....get Lymans book,much info and a great starting point.Buy a Lee aluminum mould cause they're real cheap,heat up quick,cast "OK" and make a few hundred bullets.See if casting is sumthin you want to do.A few very important areas of concern after obvious safety requirements.Hardness/toughness desired.Size or diameter of raw and subsequently finished bullet.Speed at which you'd like to drive them.Internal and more importantly external ballistics.And a few others.The trick is taking above considerations and melding into a workable plan or approach.The fun for me is how quickly can we come up with a bullet meeting whatever criteria put forth for a new gun.IOWs buddy comes over with XYZ firearm and wants/needs cast load worked up for this or that task."I can name that tune in ___ trys".Best of luck,BW