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Thread: % culls when casting optimally

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    % culls when casting optimally

    I know this depends on what you're willing to accept, and have read the threads where folks describe what they consider fatal flaws. I've also read about the techniques that help keep the unmentionables to a minimum (heck, I've contributed my limited experiences to the piles of recommendations), but what I'm interested in knowing is, when you're in the zone, casting as well as you can, can you realistically expect all or nearly all, not just keepers, but nigh on visually perfect boolits?

    I think I've gotten close on occasion, when I'm rested, the weather for my outdoor casting is cooperative, and I run just one or two pots worth of alloy (35 to 40#). Using a preheated 8 cavity aluminum mold and discarding the first one or two pours, I'll keep 98%, with 95% looking very good up to no defects noted. But it's harder the longer I cast, with the cadence, pouring technique getting less consistent with fatigue.

    Maybe it doesn't always matter (for instance, I tumble the boolits together in coating them and those perfect edges don't stay that way), but I'd like to know what the acme is.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    i THINK YOUR PERCENTAGES ARE SPOT ON. opps I can cast for about 1 1/2 hours at a fast pace, running at least two molds.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master redhawk0's Avatar
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    I casted ~600 31141's over the past few days. (two sessions) I had about 70 rejects when I was done. 11-12% for me is in the range...I usually fall between 10-15%. If I'm under that....its been a great casting session.

    redhawk

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  4. #4
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    I think it varies a lot of things come into play , I would say after about 1 1/2 to 2 hours I need a break . I think hawks average and mine are really close.
    Keep your powder dry and watch your six !!

  5. #5
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    I usually run about 3-4% rejects after the rhythm starts to "flow".
    I HATE auto-correct


    Happiness is a Warm GUN & more ammo to shoot in it.

    My Experience and My Opinion, are just that, Mine.

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master popper's Avatar
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    Usually 2-3% and most are my fault.
    Whatever!

  7. #7
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    Cast something like 530-535 Lyman 358477s yesterday morning. Not counting a few culled as they dropped from the mold, I tossed out around 20 this afternoon as I loaded my #5 containers for PC. Bottom line: 514 baked and ready to go though the sizer (approx. 3% reject rate).

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  8. #8
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    I have found that preheating my molds to FULL CASTING TEMP (not just warming on the side of the pot like I & many used to do) with an electric hotplate gets me an extremely high % of keepers. Usually the 1st drop is almost perfect, but there are always a few clunkers in there over the 1.5+ hours or so I cast. I would say my average, using 4, 5, and 6 cav AL and brass molds, is 1% re-melts. I never run 2 molds at a time. I use the same mold to make a pile of that style, then switch to another mold on the hotplate and cast until I get another pile, and so on. I drop all of them in a 9x12 baking pan filled with water and an old bath towel to stop dropping dings. I just scrape the cooled cast boolits to one side if the pan and go on to the next mold. That allows me to avoid sorting sizes at the end! If it gets too full, I just scoop them out by hand into a container. Any sorting for damage is done after the fact at a later time & date.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master poppy42's Avatar
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    It really depends on what I’m casting. I am certainly not as discriminate when casting range fotter pistol bullets as I am with rifle bullets. I also find that the bigger the bullet the easier it is to cast. when I cast 22 caliber pills my reject might run 10 or 12% on a bad day.
    Long, Wide, Deep, and Without Hesitation!

  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    Once the mold is hot and the mix is right my reject rate is no more than 3%. I make up the alloy that I'm going to use ahead of time so I have to flux maybe once or twice per pot. I usually make runs of 4-500 at a time.

  11. #11
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    Mk42gunner's Avatar
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    Like so many things in casting boolits, it depends.

    I think one of the main things is having a quality mold, with alloy and temperature of both the alloy and the mold that agree with each other. I'll give a couple of examples:

    1. I had a Hensley & Gibbs #256 that the last time I cast with it before I sold it, I ran just under 250 boolits with one failure to fill as the only reject. The reason I sold it is that I don't have a .41 Magnum and really don't see me getting one at this stage in life.

    2. The last time I ran my Lee DC 312-185, bolits were raining out of it like it was a H&G. I spent a few hours doing the fill, twist the sprue plate, open the mold and watch the boolits just fall out routine. I still have a couple of inches worth on the bottom of a 3lb coffee can.

    I don't know exactly what it takes to enter the zone while casting, but it is very productive when it happens.

    Robert

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I really don't know my % of culls but its pretty low. Probably in the 1% range. I preheat on a hot plate and usually cull the first and second mold full and then get good bullets until its time to refill the pot. I'm also pretty picky about my cast so some casters might keep those first ones that I reject. I'll occasionally let the pot linkage slip out of my fingers and get a bad pour but I usually get good bullets after those first couple of pours.

  13. #13
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    Thanks for the replies, folks. Please keep them coming!

    How many cavities are you all running? Maybe more opportunity over six or eight cavities to not get the transition to each one just right, compared to a single or double? Maybe more trouble handling a bigger mold, with faster onset of fatigue induced goofs?
    Last edited by kevin c; 10-15-2020 at 12:56 AM.

  14. #14
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    Depends on the mold and bullet.

    Pistol bullets, about 90-95% good (6cavity). 160gn or so .30cal rifle bullets about 70% (4 cavity). 210gn .30cal rifle bullets about 50% (double cavity). And yes, I am really picky about the rifle bullets and that includes ones tossed back because of being outside weight tolerance.

    I only cast one mold at a time. More relaxing for me that way and I can go 30-40min between breaks.

    Yes, I am not that good at it, but, it suits me. I have plenty of time on my hands so if I have to toss a bunch back in the pot it is no big deal. As long as the rifle bullets shoot better than MOA at several hundred yards I am happy.

  15. #15
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    rintinglen's Avatar
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    Like most of the others here, it varies for me. My pistol boolits run usually 92-98% keepers, my rifle boolits keeper percentages run lower, more like 60-75 for 30 cal, 75-90 for 45-70 and 44. My experience has been the smaller the boolit, the more rejects. However, I have a 456-401 which stands that on its head--60% is a good day for that mother bear.
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  16. #16
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    I weigh every bullet I cast then set that bullet onto a piece of paper with that weight written on it.
    When all the bullets are weighed and each weight counted for quantity I seen a bell curve pattern emerge.
    The lightest I cut in half to see why it was so light. The cause is a visually detectable malformation or a void inside.
    The very heavy bullets I have no explanation for, I always check the mold for lead keeping the mold open slightly.
    I try to keep as many as I can + or - 1 grain selected from either side of the center of the bell curve weight. I don’t know what the percent keepers that would be but I see on some days I get fewer rejects, some days more.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenjoytj View Post
    I weigh every bullet I cast then set that bullet onto a piece of paper with that weight written on it.
    When all the bullets are weighed and each weight counted for quantity I seen a bell curve pattern emerge.
    The lightest I cut in half to see why it was so light. The cause is a visually detectable malformation or a void inside.
    The very heavy bullets I have no explanation for, I always check the mold for lead keeping the mold open slightly.
    I try to keep as many as I can + or - 1 grain selected from either side of the center of the bell curve weight. I don’t know what the percent keepers that would be but I see on some days I get fewer rejects, some days more.
    WOW! That is quite a process. You must be using single cavity molds? I only own ONE single cavity Fe SAECO mold. And never ever any more.

    When I cast, I drop 4/5/6 boolits at at time (every 12-14 seconds) from the many multi-cacity molds I own. Fill - drop - repeat.........until I get tired or have enough for that session. Once I am totally done I do a quick inspection and PC them so they are ready to load/shoot. I don't care about weight deviations at all. Only major deformities and voids catch my eye. But all I do is kill lots of water bottles and paper targets! No competition shooting (other than against myself). No killing of animals. Just good old fun plinking.

  18. #18
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    When me , moulds and metal are all at casting temperature ...hot ... and I've establi9shed a good rhythm ... Nearly All ! ... And I insist on 99% Perfect boolits .
    But... I can only do Nearly All Perfect with 2-3-4 cavity mould , Lyman ladle with side dipper and by pressure casting .

    Using a bottom pour pot with ... the same moulds = 50% defective and thrown back into the pot.

    For me the bottom pour pot gives me a lot of defective boolits ... the dipper , open top pot and pressure casting gives me mostly perfect boolits .
    Gary
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenjoytj View Post
    I weigh every bullet I cast then set that bullet onto a piece of paper with that weight written on it.
    When all the bullets are weighed and each weight counted for quantity I seen a bell curve pattern emerge.
    The lightest I cut in half to see why it was so light. The cause is a visually detectable malformation or a void inside.
    The very heavy bullets I have no explanation for, I always check the mold for lead keeping the mold open slightly.
    I try to keep as many as I can + or - 1 grain selected from either side of the center of the bell curve weight. I don’t know what the percent keepers that would be but I see on some days I get fewer rejects, some days more.
    The very heavy bullets are the good ones.... think about it. There is an old saying...you cannot put 10 lbs of manure in a 5 lb bag. Molds are the same. You cannot put 150.5 grains of lead in a 150 gr cavity.

    Unless you have a large protrusion where the sprue is, or you did not close the mold completely, it is impossible to put more material into a fixed volume. If you have multiple cavities, some may throw a larger bullet. If using "mystery alloy" and topping off the pot with alloys of different densities that can affect weight.

    Try casting 200 bullets without adding any alloy to your pot and shoot a group with the heavy bullets You may be surprised.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  20. #20
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    W.R.Buchanan's Avatar
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    For me it almost entirely depends on the mould itself. With my Mihec Brass Moulds usually the first 1 or 2 drops may have imperfections. Once the mould is the right temp they run perfect for as long As I can stand to do it.

    My steel moulds generally work well but they take more time to settle in. Aluminum moulds, some work well some don't and them's that don't,,, get sold! Lee moulds generally work well, and I still have my very first Lee Mould (.429-240GC 1978) and it still drops perfect boolits for my .44's.

    I find short fat boolits are easier to get to run than long skinny ones. Those generally need some Tin to fill out right. I cast everything with Wheel Weights cuz I have alot of it.

    I had a Lyman 173 gr .358 SWC mould I never got even one decent boolit out of. Somebody else has that now.

    I have found that if a mould doesn't work right I will smoke it. if that doesn't work then I find another mould. Not willing to spend the time doing all the little tweaks to get something to run that has an attitude. Next time I pick it up it probably won't work either, but I will have forgotten what made it work last time. Better to just send it down the road.

    My .02

    Randy
    "It's not how well you do what you know how to do,,,It's how well you do what you DON'T know how to do!"
    www.buchananprecisionmachine.com

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