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Thread: Longtime reloader needs help getting started casting bullets

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy Gunners Mate's Avatar
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    Longtime reloader needs help getting started casting bullets

    Ok so I have been rolling my own since the early 80's and have never cast anything other than fishing weights. I am tired of the high cost of jacketed bullets and want to start casting bullets. I would rather sink my money into equipment for casting than shooting jacketed bullets down range anymore. I already have the Lyman casting books 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th editions and one mold its an RCBS 35-200 HP, I bought it for casting bullets for my 350 Rem Mag.
    So I would like to reload for the following calibers

    Pistols
    9mm
    38 spl
    357 mag
    40 cal
    44 mag
    45 Long Colt
    45 acp

    Rifles
    30/30
    350 Rem Mag
    44 Mag
    45/70
    50 Cal Black Powder
    12 Ga Slugs

    and I might be interested in 308 and 30/06

    So what advice do you all have and what materials and tools of the trade do you recommend. I'd would rather spend more for better equipment upfront than buy cheap and replace it with better equipment down the road.

    Thanks for all your comments good bad or ugly.

  2. #2
    Boolit Mold
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    There are a good many people that could give you better advice from experience than me. But I think a good starting point is a 20lb lee pot. They are the most affordable pot on the market and easy to get parts for. That being said you need to have a thermometer to keep your temp in the correct range. The thermostat on the pot doesn't hold a temp. Lee also makes some good dies for your .45. Round flat 255. 6 cavity. I have experience with the 357 rf 158 six cavity. And know it shoots well at long range. That would cover 357/38/and I know a guy that shoots them in 9. I haven't yet. Noe makes some good 44 molds that I don't own. I don't think you have to spend top dollor to make thousands of bullets

  3. #3
    Boolit Master kens's Avatar
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    I been casting for quite awhile, and looking at your caliber list, I think in terms of diameter, rather than bullet weight.
    your 9mm, .38/.357 is all a very common diameter. sizing and lubing are within .001" of 9mm and .357. very similar.
    Likewise .44 mag and .44mag rifle, diameter is similar.
    .45acp and .45colt, similar diameter.
    .30/30, 308 & 30-06, all similar diameter.
    .50 black powder is a plethora of diameters if you use Sabots.
    I been having good luck with Lee electric pots. I got the so-called "drip-o-matic" that serves me well. I cannot justify 4x the cost for a better pot.
    The Lee 6-cavity molds are a better quality than their 2-cavity molds.
    for the quality difference, I buy Lee 6-cavity over their 2-cavity offerings.
    the Lee lead dipper is junk, forget that one. get something else for a lead ladle.
    sizing & lubing bullets is the real pain-in-the-back-side of casting bullets.
    A Star sizer may be your best answer for sizing/lubng

  4. #4
    Boolit Master kens's Avatar
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    In casting, a revolver may shoot a auto pistol bullet, but maybe not the other way around
    it's all about the bullet shape, feed ramp, and crimping.
    revolvers are a lot easier to cast for than auto pistols
    auto pistols are more sensitive to feed ramps, bullet shapes, length, and crimping.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
    runfiverun's Avatar
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    I use 358 in my 9mm's so you only need that one sizer.
    I would however wait to get to the 9mm you can buy bulk bullets about cheap.
    I would start with the 38/357 and 44 mag.
    a 158gr rnfp and a 44 rnfp a 358 size die and a 430 size die will get you up and running.
    from there the 45 colt is a shoe in, and the 45 acp is gonna also use the same 452 size die so that would be my next step.

    from there things get much easier, the learning curve of operating the mold etc.
    it's all an educated guess,,,, till the trigger is pulled.

    this opinion brought to you by mister low-tech solution..

  6. #6
    Boolit Mold
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    If you are going to get into any large amount of shooting I would have to agree with kens. If you want to buy good quality spend it on the star sizer

  7. #7
    Boolit Master CASTER OF LEAD's Avatar
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    Just to throw my .02 in here. I suggest starting with the pistol calibers first. Reason being they are way more forgiving to cast for the most part. Once you get adept with the way your equipment works ,and your casting cadence and such , then move into the rifle calibers. some Rifle molds can be stubborn to operate and get good results as a starter. As far as equipment to start with ? Buy what you can afford, and dont let anyone tell ya that ya cant make decent shootable boolits with the "cheaper" molds, pots, and such. I have some "expensive" molds ,as well as some "cheaper" molds. Both can make excellent boolits, if i do my part.
    Alot of sound advice in this forum. Some great folks in here with a lifetime of knowledge. Lots to learn and most will point you in the right direction. Welcome to the addiction! Oh one more thing may i suggest......... Read , Read, Read and ask questions. - CASTER
    In regards to shooting safety.Until you are ready to fire, keep your booger hook off the bang switch.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I to suggest that you start out with the 38-357, easy to load and cast compared to auto's and rifles. A Lee pot, a couple moulds, a push through sizer and Lee bullet lube will get you started. You can spent a lot of money on high quality equipment and it is nice but find out what you need first, grow into it. A little experience will help you make better choices for new toys.

    This a great place to start, these guys are great and help you get started.

    Dave

  9. #9
    Boolit Master MOA's Avatar
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    How much time do you have to cast, and how much cast ammo do you intend to shoot. My question is centered on whether you want to cast using hand held moulds, which can be very quick once you are practiced and adept at it as opposed to a semiautomatic method which takes less experience on the learning curve abet it is more expensive. I went the semiautomatic route for most but not all of my calibers. I still do shotgun slugs and some hollowpoint calibers with hand held moulds along with my fishing weights too, but for my handgun and rifle calibers I opted for a Master Caster from Magma Engineering out of San Tan Valley AZ. They make a variety of casting machines. I also opted to use both RCBS and Lyman moulds for my caliber requirements, I just sent them to Eric at Magma and had them modified to function on their machine. They also make large casting pots that are bottom pour which will challenge anyone in the industry as to capacity of molten material. I've had my unit since 2012, no problems, seventeen moulds, of which 13 are for semiautomatic use and four for hand pouring. They also make a pot base that will hold the pot off my master caster so it is easy to switch the pot from one stand to the other depending on what I am casting. Check out their website, talk to Eric the owner, I've always found hin to be frank, candid and helpful. Just my nickels worth.

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy Gunners Mate's Avatar
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    Ready to load brass right now
    5000 40 cals
    2500 45 ACP
    1000 9mm
    1200 44 mags
    600 357 mags
    400 38 spl
    300 45 LC
    300 30/30
    100 45/70
    That is all wet tumbled deprimed resized ready to go, I am not selling ammo, I have extended reloading sessions in the winter, Shoot in the spring summer and fall. The above list is just whats ready right now. There is still several thousand various bottle neck calibers in: 22, 6mm, 6.5mm, 270, 30 cal, 338, and 350 ( Rem Mag) yes I shoot a lot.
    Last edited by Gunners Mate; 10-12-2017 at 08:24 AM.

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy Gunners Mate's Avatar
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    Is the Star sizer better or have more going for it than say a Lyman or RCBS

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    Welcome to the madness of casting, acquiring lead alloys and all the other stuff that goes with it.

    As stated above work with the pistol pistol calibers first. I have jumped in to the rifle end of casting and it is a challenge. I have a new mold on the way
    from NOE and am hoping this bullet will do better than the first try at rifle casting.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I would slowdown take a breath and start with just one caliber (pistol which is easier to load) and get some exp. Then expand if you are still interested.
    If you were located near me I would be glad to show you how "I" do it. Or put out a request for anyone in your area for some help learning what is what.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master daloper's Avatar
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    Welcome. Much can be learned here. Many will give good advice. You are in for a lot of reading. First thing I will suggest is that you put your location in. Maybe if some one is close by they will offer to mentor if you think that would help. This is a fun but deep rabbit hole you are falling into.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master Rcmaveric's Avatar
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    I actually found my rifle easier to reload for. What to use really depends on the size of your budget. A bottom pour pot from lee, gas checks, couple lee molds, and lee push through sizers and you have the basics. You will need a case mouth expander die by either lyman or lee. Hit the dollar store or thrift shop for a smelting pot, pans for lubing, and an metal container for ingot molds. After that whip a batch of lube. You can reload very accurate ammo that way with startup costs being only a few hundred if that even. Thats how i still do it. Pan lubing can be tedius but it is still just as high volume with perfectly lubed bullets. I didnt get different molds till i started watching the sell section of this forum. Any thing beyond the basics is just extras to help stream line or insure consistency. Once you start experimenting you will quuckly learn what you need, dont need, and what is just to help.
    "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far."
    ~Theodore Roosevelt~

  16. #16
    Boolit Master


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    Some calibers are dead simple. .38 .45 ACP. Others (9mm. .40 SW) can be more troublesome.

    MOA gave some good advice. I also recently acquired a Master Caster and it is an option to consider. Hand pouring with 4-6 cavity molds is faster but more tiring. If you want to cast for longer periods, the Master Caster is less work. Down the road it can be automated if you wish.

    The Star luber/sizer is very fast but that only is an advantage if you do a lot of bullets of one size. It is a bit more trouble to set up and the dies are more expensive. If you want to play with different lubes, having more than one sizer is helpful. Some people use a Star for pistol bullets (where the volume is) and Lyman or RCBS for rifle bullets. If you shoot a lot, the Star is the way to go IMHO. I have a Star and two Lyman's. I had two Stars and regret selling the one.

    Volume and time you want to invest factor into your choice and also into the recommendations others will give you. If you shoot 20k rounds a year, and work for a living, you are in a different place than a retiree and/or a low volume shooter.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  17. #17
    Boolit Man
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    first order of business would be to have a sit down with your financel institution and draw up the appropriate paper work for mortgage on your soul, ( this will be required when the mould /equip jones's start) second would be, seek out mental crisis centre and pre book (this will help in future when others start to question your sanity and motives) get a new coffee maker/small refrigerator for load room you'll probably need it you will spend lots more time in there when fellow shooters realize how much more gratifying it is to cast and roll your own. third let the good times roll get ready for a whole new adventure on the range trail. have a great time.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
    georgerkahn's Avatar
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    Welcome! I read you want to cease spending dollars on jacketed bullets, which is great! That you shoot a lot is also great. My only two cents to add is in retrospect I have been (perhaps ) quite foolish on several of my casting "investments". As but one example is a .30-40 Krag acquired with a "sewer pipe" barrel. I HAD to buy a mould, top punch, H&I sizing dies for one of my Lyman lubers, and gas checks. I already have pots, most all tools, et cetera. Oh -- did I mention the die set I needed purchase to reload, and the brass (from a great fellow on the site) I needed purchase.
    I'm pretty confident you know where I'm going... but I probably have $250.00 or so total divested in stuff so I may shoot my Krag. Buuut, I've had this rifle for twenty or so years, and - to date -- probably put no more than thirty or so rounds through it.
    On the other hand, vis .38 S&W Special and .45ACP -- I've MORE than recouped my outlay for gear.
    Hence, I'd list my wants by calibers in descending order from MOST-shot, down, and get gear for the most-shot first. MY, and perhaps only MY neurosis here is the old adage "you get what you pay for". Hence, I'd seek and purchase moulds made by TOP manufacturers: my favourites are MP, NOE, Lyman/Ideal, RCBS, and Saeco/Redding. I like Brass and ferrous moulds, too.
    Regardless, with all the manuals you list, might I suggest another "bible" on casting, surely (imho) worth your time -- 'specially since the price is right -- free -- too -- being Glen Fryxell's, book, From Ingot to Target. You may read/download it at http://www.lasc.us/fryxell_book_contents.htm
    BEST!
    geo

  19. #19
    Boolit Mold
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    The savings will Surely begin at some point!! I agree. Start with your molds that cross over to multiple calibers and your most fired guns. Your .40 looks like you must shoot a lot.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    get lead free solder from plumber supply as its mainly tin helps lead flow better

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check