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Thread: If you could start all over again

  1. #21
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by bullitt View Post
    Thank you all. I will definitely start with the 20 lbs Lee pot, quality moulds and good quality alloy. Lyman #2 almost $20 for 5 lbs at Rotometals though... ouch... It is immensely helpful to hear your experiences and opinions though.

    I see a lot of recommendations for Lyman 450. Would Lee APP + Alox do the job? I suppose the latter wont seat gas checks though?
    Lee push-through sizers are $20. Better yet, get the NOE sizing kit that takes different bushings for different sizes.

    As for 'good quality alloy'...I have been casting for 8 years (practically a beginner by the standards of many here) and have never once needed an alloy as hard as Lyman #2. I have a 5# ingot I ordered when I first started casting. I've never used it.

    If you want to start with a quality alloy for general purpose use, buy some isotope cores. Shouldn't cost more than $1.50 per pound for clean, smelted, ready to melt isotope core ingots.

  2. #22
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum by the way!

    The lee push through sizers and alox works well. I use them for pistol bullets. The alox I mix with paste wax, to make it dry faster and not be tacky when dry. But I've used it straight and it works fine. Push through sizers will seat gas checks as long as they aren't too small on the shank. I never will go without a lubesizer again, even though I use tumble lube for some things.


    For alloy, yes wheel weights works, but do not scrimp on tin. Buy some tin and add 2% by weight minimum. If you try to just use straight wheel weight alloy, it can be made to work but only in a narrow window of optimum mould temperature. Sometimes you can't get it to work without adding tin. I learned this way, scrimping for tin. It's frustrating and you don't realize how easy bullets cast until you add enough tin or use a known alloy.

  3. #23
    Boolit Master Bazoo's Avatar
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    Here is the Lyman 3rd edition cast bullet handbook. http://marvinstuart.com/firearm/Manu...-%20Reduce.pdf

    Here is a book written by a member here. http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...or-Handgunners

    You'll learn a lot reading those if you haven't already.

  4. #24
    Boolit Buddy
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    Get a lube sizer. I just picked up an as new rcbs lube a matic. Pan lubing was too laborious, even for the few hundred I did that way.
    Nothing else I would change. 4-20 lee pot and PID, RCBS molds, Hornady or gator gas checks. Lee mold handles should be fixed immediately.

  5. #25
    Boolit Grand Master



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    The point of starting with 5 or 10 pounds of an alloy like Lyman #2 is not for the bullet requirements it's sole to learn how much or how little effort it should take to cast quality bullets. Cast my first bullet in 1968 and since than I personally have cast about 400K. More importantly I have helped lots of folk start or restart after they gave up. Having an experienced mentor is highly beneficial. If you don't have that you have a much harder path. Low quality molds and hard to cast alloys get to be very frustrating. Most of the folks that gave up when they used an easy casting alloy and a good mold they were surprised by how easy casting actually is.

    I have a couple of hundred pounds of an alloy that no matter what it will not cast a quality bullet. Works well enough for sinkers, jig and decoy anchors. Not so much for bullet. Got it and some equipment from a guy the gave up casting due to the issues from the alloy.
    Last edited by M-Tecs; 03-26-2020 at 09:52 PM.
    2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    "Before you argue with someone, ask yourself, is that person even mentally mature enough to grasp the concept of different perspectives? Because if not, there’s absolutely no point."

    – Amber Veal

  6. #26
    Boolit Master
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    I might be odd, but I personally find the Lee 2 cavity molds to be some of the easiest casting molds out there.

    Lee alox lube works great, and push through sizers are the best sizers there are. Do not buy the original push through sizers. Buy the Lee breech lock bushing style sizing kit, and the bushings are dirt cheap. If you don't already have it, you will also need the breech lock adapter for your press.

  7. #27
    Boolit Master
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    When I consider how much I've spent on everything associated the hobby of bullet casting/shooting. I think I should have just bought a nice S&W K-38, about ten million ready made swaged HBWC bullets and a keg of Bullseye powder. I'd have punched the same holes in the paper and had enough money left over to live on for decades if properly invested when I started this mess.. (-:}

  8. #28
    Lubing would be the one thing I would change I would go straight to power coating with smokes powder. I have pan lubed and used lee alox. I can tell the these two methods tend to leave lube in your seating die, they are messy. I have yet to use a lube sizer. To size I would go with NOE's sizing bushings, I would get the lee deluxe app press and the lee APP adapter for using NOE bushings. So far this has been the best for me. The powder coated bullets are so much nicer to handle just like jacketed bullets.

  9. #29
    Boolit Master
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    I use a traditional Lyman lube sizer , the Lee sizers and aloe mix , and Hi-tek coated , they all work in my hand guns and have advantages and disadvantages nice to have the choices we have.

  10. #30
    Boolit Master
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    Started with a Lyman 10# bottom pour, a Lyman 450, and Lee DC molds for 38 and 44. Been through several furnaces over the years as well as molds and currently use a Lee 20#, Lyman 450s/RCBS LAM II, Lee 6 cavity molds for 38, 40, 44, 45 LC and 45 ACP, and NOE 5 cavity for 243, several 30's and a 45 ACP. Hotplate, thermometer and misc spoons, skimmers etc complete the outfit. Starting now would be a Lee 20#, a Lyman/RCBS sizer, Lee/NOE multi cavity molds, hotplate and thermometer. Smelt now with a turkey fryer and a cut off propane tank, starting now would look at a turkey fryer or some similar heat source and a sturdy 5-6 qt stainless sauce pan or something similar from a thrift store. Old muffin tins, corn molds etc all make good ingot molds. Use muffin tins now and if starting again would still use them.

  11. #31
    Boolit Grand Master

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    About the only thing I would change in my casting set-up is that I would start with a Star sizer rather than buying one 40 years later. I also recommend starting with a 20 pound pot. I've made a few improvements over the years as technology advanced (like a PID) and as knowledge spread (like a hot plate) but overall I started out ok.

    My smelting set-up is probably where I would make most of my changes. Not that there is anything wrong with it now. As it is, I can process 1200 to 1600# of scrap in a day, with help. But I would put legs on my smelting pot and incorporate the burner so that its one unit vs having a loose pot on top of the burner. I would also have made several ingot molds from either channel or angle. I worked at a few places over the years where scrap stainless or scrap aluminum was available for the asking and they had a professional welder that would have helped me. Oh well, my 8 Lyman style ingot molds work fine.

  12. #32
    Boolit Grand Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    I started with a 7inch cast iron fry pan and a lyman ladle. Heat source was whatever was handy. Mostly kitchen stove burner.

    I would not change much. I might buy a magnum melter some years sooner. Other than that I have no complaints.
    I had a bottom pour lee pot early on and gave it away. Nothing but trouble, and it did not help that I did not know enough to know how to run it properly.

    The 20lb magnum melter gets my allloy liquid in a very little time, is easy to use, works great with a ladle, and does not mess up mom's kitchen.

    I do wish I had known about liquid wrench dry lube sooner. I destroyed a couple of double cavity lee molds because of boolits that did not want to release.
    Not a big loss, but life got a whole lot easier once I found out about it.

    I should have been buying more 6 cavity lee molds from the start.

    No real complaints or major changes though. It is a process, a journey. You learn what you learn when you learn it. Until you are ready to learn it, it just is not going to happen.

  13. #33
    Boolit Master
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    The only change I would make is - I would have started 35 years ago .
    My point is get started , everything is a learning experience as long as you learn from the mistakes .
    A lee 4/20 pot is a very useful tool at a modest cost .

  14. #34
    Boolit Buddy
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    The only thing that I would change for sure is my first lead pot purchase. I regret buying a Lee 20# bottom pour pot. Mine is currently "adjusted" so that the slide will not move, basically plugging the pot. I am now laddle casting, and very happy with my the resulting bullets. Eventually I will install a permanent plug and remove the slide and valve.

    Hindsight is 20/20.

    JM

  15. #35
    Boolit Master


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    No reason the APP couldn't seat gas checks, just go nose first, like on a Star. Personally, instead of the LEE I wold find an older RCBS 20 lber. Much better temperature control. For sure get a thermometer. I like Accurate Molds better than NOE, prefer the tapered alignment pin, but I use both. Mihec's are great too. But mostly I use LEE 6 cavity for handguns.

  16. #36
    Boolit Master


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    I'd throw the shot in a tumbler with some graphite, let it run for about 3 hours and drive on. Shot's too expensive./beagle
    diplomacy is being able to say, "nice doggie" until you find a big rock.....

  17. #37
    Boolit Master
    Mal Paso's Avatar
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    I did have to start over and I changed 2 things. I got a Star Sizer and stainless pin tumbling for cleaning brass.
    Mal

    Mal Paso means Bad Pass, just so you know.

  18. #38
    Boolit Master
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    If I knew then, what I know now, I'd be rich-Rich-RICH! I sat on the smelting fence for three years. Then I jumped into the deep end in a positive way...though I have Never seen the Tinsel Fairy!?!

    I ENJOY A SINGLE CAVITY MOLD! There is no use in GOING FAST. Haste makes waste and renders safety to fate. Making boolits should be QUALITY FUN TIME. This is a full featured metallurgical hobby to be experienced and enjoyed through alchemy and sometimes wizardry.

    If we each had a USB port, we could upload, like the Matrix, all we know to ya, and forgo the learning curve. As it is, it's kind of like taking the Red Pill and awakening to a World that has to be experienced. Some responses to your question will be 50-years worth summarized in a paragraph of searing, white hot, brain frying intensity. You get used to those in time. sip a little. savor the liquor. you'll thank us for that in the morning.
    Last edited by Land Owner; 03-29-2020 at 07:33 AM.
    If it was easy, anybody could do it.

  19. #39
    Boolit Buddy Scrounge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walks View Post
    ...I was much more Fortunate then most here. I literally learned at My Father's Knee. I started casting round ball from a one cavity Lyman mold. Dipper cast from a small cast iron pot over a Coleman stove.
    I was eight years old.

    I Do Not recommend to anyone to start that way...

    ...Good Luck, don't forget the safety equipment mentioned above.
    I was somewhere between 8 & 10, I think. May have been as young as 6. My dad had several pistols and rifles he handloaded for, including a couple of old SAA Colt's in .45long, a GI 1911 .45acp, and a 1903 Springfield he'd sporterized himself. Cast iron pot on a Coleman two-burner and a ladle was, IMNSHO, THE way to go go. I learned a lot, had a lot of fun. It's also a pretty cheap way to go. I've got fancier stuff now, but I was getting good boolits from whatever lead Dad could scrounge. A bottom pour pot is easier and faster, and you can certainly do many more in the same time with the modern fancy equipment, but which way is best depends on you, and what you want. If you load occasionally, and don't shoot all that much, the cheap way may well be just fine, or even the best! If you shoot thousands or 10's of thousands of rounds a year, you'll need the fancier equipment unless you can spend all your time in front of the casting pot.

    OTH, modern safety equipment is a really good idea. Even a necessity! I wear ANSI Z-87 safety glasses all the time these days. I've been pretty well blind as a bat since the 5th grade, got glasses in the 7th grade. I work as a mechanic in an industrial laundry plant, I'm taking a class to become a machinist in my spare time, and I'm getting back into reloading after several decades without any firearms at all. There are too many ways to get hurt in my life. So using appropriate PPE is definitely the way to go, even if you're using the least expensive (and least safe!) means of casting for reloading. My younger brother, who spent all the years I missed shooting shooting in the 10's of thousands of round a year, is now wearing hearing aids. I'm not. We both did careers in the military, and both wore hearing protection as a matter of course for our working environments. Back when we started shooting, no one wore safety equipment to shoot. Nor cast, or reload. I figure my employer doesn't pay me enough to get hurt, and I'm certainly not paying myself enough to let me get hurt! I know more about these things now, so even when I'm doing stuff the old way, I'm wearing my safety gear.

  20. #40
    Boolit Master



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    Definitely start with a 20# pot bottom pour. You can always close off the tap if it doesn’t suit you. Start with a Lee double cavity mold. They are cheap and come with handles. If you are lucky, you won’t have to size. If you need to, NOE sizing setup is great. You will have to flare your brass. Start with a Lee universal flaring tool. Later you can move to NOE type case neck expanders, to use in the Lee universal expander. I would pan lube to start and then look into powder coating.

    That is very a minimum set up to start making and loading cast boolits assuming you have basic reloading equipment. Lyman’s cast bullet manual, youtube videos and threads on this site should get you started and then you can form your own opinions on what direction you want to go. Don’t hesitate to ask questions here. Good luck!

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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