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Thread: Kit for new caster in 2021.

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    Kit for new caster in 2021.

    Hey gents! I know the "I'm new" threads are aplenty and beat to death, but here it is..

    Diving in to casting primarily for my 458 SOCOM and Colt King Cobra 357.

    I obviously dont need top tier kit, but I want to skip the budget super entry level stuff and get a kit that will last and provide me with consistant/repeatable molds/coating.

    I've never cast and dont know anyone locally who does (live in super rural northern Maine).

    What furnace, molds, and powder coating is currently recommended in 2021? I know availability it a whole separate topic altogather.

    Also as far as ordering raw ingots, what am I looking for to reliably and safely shoot coated supersonics through my AR 458 and wheel gun 357? One aspect I dont understand is the "hardness" I need to achieve and how to achieve repeatability in my casting.

    I've lurked this form and the new caster topics, and watched hours of YouTube videos, but the market is always evolving and progressing, so what was recommended 1-10 years ago is often different than what is optimal today.

    Sorry for the loaded post, and thanks for any or all tips.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master WRideout's Avatar
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    A great deal depends on the volume you will need to produce. If you are only needing a few of each for occasional trips to the range, a dipper pot and two cavity, or even one cavity mold will do fine. If you are planning to shoot thousands of rounds in competition, you will probably need a bottom pour pot, and a six cavity mold.

    I recommend that you start with the .357, and do all your self-study on that before you get too involved. Good molds are available everywhere for not too much money (except of course on Fleabay). A tumble lube design makes lubing your finished boolits easy, but a conventional boolit that is sized in a lubrisizer gives you more flexibility in terms of sizing.

    Alloy hardness needs to be whatever works in your gun. It is actually easy to make boolits too hard. I would start relatively soft, and add antimony as required to bring it up to the desired hardness. I have used clip-on wheelweights in 357 with complete satisfaction, but also currently use recovered range scrap with just a little tin added. My 357 mag loads are pretty mild, with a plain-based 358477 boolit. If you plan to gas check your boolits, you could use almost any alloy you want. I would look to buy alloy from the swapping and selling section of this forum.

    Wayne
    What doesn't kill you makes you stronger - or else it gives you a bad rash.
    Venison is free-range, organic, non-GMO and gluten-free

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Welcome to the world of casting in your soon to be future

    This, unfortunately, is prob the worst time in memory to try and get into the hobby and skill of reloading and casting. Maybe I should rephrase and say.... hardest time. It's actually a wonderful skill to have had....tools to already have on hand.

    As you say, availability aside for another topical discussion - basics: casting can be done with a mold....a small cast iron pot and a ladle . There are alot of improvements from there that make castings very much more enjoyable, productive and overall easier

    I would look to see which molds are proven by others as good performers in your particular cartridge. Experimenting with different molds would be incredibly difficult and expensive right now....and the work up with primers and powders will also be frustrating.

    There are great mild makers such as MP, arsenal and noe that can make molds at prices LESS than you will find on auction sites such as fleabay. Find a good proven design, buy a good quality mold and off to the races.

    Bottom pour melters are absolutely worth the money. Huge advantage over ladle casting in my experience. I've had my lee 10# pot for almost 2 decades and just replaced the pot liner and it's good to go for another 20 years or more in sure. Lee makes solid options, lyman, RCBS also good though I have no experience with them.

    Gloves, get a good well fitting pair or leather gloves and learn to work with them. You'll thank me later.

    A stick. To gently tap the sprue plate open or tap the hinge of the mold handle if bullets don't drop freely. No need for a special designed tool....just cut off a segment of old shovel handle or broom handle made of hickory or hardwood and it's perfect.

    A large spoon...find it at the thrift store because you'll never be able to use it on food ever.....for scraping off dross from the melt or stir pot ect.

    I have a metal baking pan on hand to put dross ect in. Dross is still hundreds of degrees and will light anything combustible on fire so having a can or a pan or ect for this purpose makes it easier and safer.

    Sawdust (not from pressure treated lumber) beeswax or both for fluxing.

    Table with a good working height. User comfort isn't just a luxury....it's safety and makes it more productive. I used to cast with the pot on the ground on my knees.....it's a pain in dark places to try that. Find a table or make one....not plastic (it'll melt) from scrap wood or ect. Something you won't mind getting burned spots or spatters of lead on.

    Towel or bucket of water away from the melted lead to drop bullets onto. I've made this mistake before (water too close to melted lead)....drops splashing in, sweat beads, rain or any liquid will flash boil and has the capacity to throw lead up out and onto your tender flesh. Eye protection should be a no brainier.

    Closed toe shoes and long pants...same reason.

    If you don't have it, get and bring to your casting sessions an attitude for accepting failure and fortitude to continue till you get good results. Expect to not be expert as you start. You'll get messy boolits, you'll forget some step and it'll frustrate you. Read "If" by Rudyard Kipling and especially the line about building back with worn out tools.

    There are other things I'm sure I've missed but those seem to be the basics

    Sent from my moto g(7) power using Tapatalk

  4. #4
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    I think the best thing to do now is to get a cheap lee 38 mold and wear it out. Find out whether the hobby is really for you. Get a 20 lb pot either bottom pour or dipper. I believe the Lee is adequate for most users. You can tumble lube or pc for cheap but there is nothing wrong with pan lubing. To pan lube you stack your bullets in a old cheap cookie tray, and fill with melted lube up to the lube groove. Cut the bottom out of a case or a large hole in the side. When the lube has dried cut the bullet out with the shell and eject it with a screwdriver or punch. It doesn't take as long as it seems. This may be the time to get a lubesizer as many are going to PC for their bullets. You will need a die for each diameter you size to. Next time you size place the cast bullets in the holes and warm to 180 F or so to get the lube to melt and then re-cool.
    Take care of that little two cavity mold and lube it often. It might be that other stuff is affordable once you decide what you want to get as more equipment.
    You have some great advice above but we are all different. I cast much better bullets with a rowell 1 lb ladle than I ever did with a bottom pour. I can also fill a 6 cavity mold easily with one and the excess goes right back in the pot.
    I cut the top off an old soda can for dross.
    Natural fiber clothing and gloves will not let lead burn to your skin. Bullets poured onto polyester clothing will melt to them so I don't want that on my body. Long sleeves, leather gloves you can work in, eye protection and head protection [hat] socks and leather shoes are a good start.
    [The Montana Gianni] Front sight and squeeze

  5. #5
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    Casting table. i used and old student desk for years I got at a yard sale. I cover the top with cardboard every so often and toss it when it chars. When I am done with a hot mold it goes on the hot plate or rests on a ingot mold on the floor.
    Get a good light to see and sort by. A 4' LED shop light works great.
    [The Montana Gianni] Front sight and squeeze

  6. #6
    Boolit Master


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    I'd get a lee 10# bottom pour pot and then pick a 357 mold you want. I like a 158gr gas check hollow point..but you may not find that. A Keith style 158gr would work. If you can get it in lee micro groove..do it and tumble lube with liquid alox. Grab a 358 sizer die.

    Candle soot your mold. Wipe it. Pre heat it on top of the pot before you cast.

    I would personally get a thermometer for the pot for repeatability.
    For the 357, try to find range scrap bigots..those generally run around 10 bhn hardness and are decent for most handguns. For the AR.. I'd go for Lyman #2.. And gas checked if possible... Get a sizer die for it too. Get a bag of tin nuggets ( rotometals sells lead. Lyman 2 tin etc ). Find range scrap here, Amazon..ebay..good luck..its scarce.

    On the 458... Guess it may be a grease groove bullet. Personally.. I'd pan lube those..vs powder coat. That's a hole neither hobby unto itself imho. I've been pan lubing and tumble lubing since I've been casting. ...ive never leaded a barrel.

    Sizing is a game too. The harder the lead..the more it can change size . some molds throw more round than others. Sizing guarantees uniform projectiles... That will mean more to an auto loader finicky AR platform than to a wheelgun where cylinder chamber max size is about the bulk of what you worry about. ( because if too big you can't put ammo in the cyl, and if the cup exit is smaller than forcing cone..its going to get swagger anyway unless you have it reamed to match.

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Just a thought as the above posts are pretty in line for a new caster. Don't limit yourself to the more (most) expensive equipment available. I started with a Coleman stove a Lee mold and a Lee dipper. I fluxed with candle wax, stirred with a slotted spoon I swiped from Ma's kitchen and sized with an old Lee Lube/Size kit (long discontinued). I made good shootable bullets for about a year before I got my first electric pot. Thirty years later I'm still using that Lee 20 lb bottom pour pot. I have a dozen Lee molds, all producing good bullets. The pot and molds have lasted me for many thousands of bullets mainly because I take good care of them. I do have other molds Lyman, Lachmiller, and NOE but good bullets have come easily from my Lee equipment.

    Safety. Use common sense and you'll be safe; well ventilated area, solid/sturdy casting table and always use eye protection. Others are more involved in their safety equipment like gloves, leather apron, full face shields and boots. Don't chew on a bullet while casting, don't do deep breathing exercised over your pot, and allow bullets to cool before picking one up (early in my casting I got a bit excited once when a perfectly shaped bullet dropped from a mold, so I picked it up for a better look. Bad idea!). My safety requirements are a bit more relaxed, but that is entirely up to you as common sense it the best "Safety Tool". Think about what you are doing.

    Getting 100% keepers is easy, just drop the culls back into the pot before anyone sees them. Casting is a whole new world, a most satisfying addition to a shooting hobby. For me casting is probably the most rewarding, satisfying part of my shooting. Taking a bunch of dirty, scrap lead and wheel weights, cleaning and alloying the lead into bullet alloy, producing accurate, clean shooting bullets. Ain't nuttin' like it...
    My Anchor is holding fast!

  8. #8
    Boolit Master


    kungfustyle's Avatar
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    Welcome aboard, feel free to ask questions. Roto metals or missouribullets.com for alloy. The Captain sells range lead ingots is great do deal with Located in the vendor section. McKorcal gave some good advice. Take it one step at a time. Youtube can be a good resource too.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    First of all, get the mold which will be a challenge in itself these days. For the 357 I would recommend a 150-170 gr semi wad cutter. Can't help you with the 458.
    Next comes the furnace. If you don't plan to pour in huge batches but just do 30-40 at a time, I would just visit some fishing lure component sellers who have the small, electric hand pouring furnaces (Do-It Manufacturing makes one I think) that just do a couple pounds at a time. I have larger furnaces but still use mine for small batches. As mentioned above, a ten pound bottom pour from Lee will be where you will eventually end up but it takes up more space.
    Now you need a sizer and lube. Assuming you already have a reloading press, the simplest is is a Lee push through sizer in 358 and a tube of Lee Alox tumble lube liquid.
    That should get you started with the 357 anyway. If you get that small electric hand pour furnace for fishing jig making, the whole thing will fit in a shoebox except for the press, of course..
    Once you get addicted to making your own, it will really start getting expensive.
    Correction: That little 2# melter is made by Palmer and is not in stock at the fishing outfits I deal with.
    Last edited by quilbilly; 02-23-2021 at 03:26 PM.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Good advice above. One thing though, melt scrap lead and/or blend alloys in a separate pot, not in your casting furnace. You can safely use a surplus pot of some kind made of stainless steel, cast iron, or a pot made from a cut-off 20 pound propane tank (or facsimile. Welcome to the addiction!
    R.D.M.

  11. #11
    Boolit Mold
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    Holy smokes thanks alot for the info, guys! Alot to go on here.

    So a Lee #10 is on the order list for tonight, and I'll hunt for a 357 mold and a Lee 358 sizing die.

    Now if I powder coat do I need to worry about lube at all? Pros and cons or is one preferable to the other?

    Say I go on Missouri bullets and simply order thier casting ignots... for 357 Mag and 38 special do I simply melt down the raw material and start casting? Or do i need to be adding other materials to achieve a specific hardness? This aspect still confuses me a bit.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master


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    http://www.lasc.us/Fryxell_Book_Contents.htm

    Read that a couple of times.

    If you powder coat you shouldn't need lube.

    IMHO buying ingots somewhere other than here is going to waste money.

    Also commercial alloy is way too hard in my opinion. I shoot for a BHN of 10-11 and call that good for 95% of my cast boolit needs.
    NRA Benefactor.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master


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    When is the last time you have seen ingots for sale here??? There are ---none--.
    He may HAVE to buy ingots somewhere else.

    Agreed on about 10ish bhn.

    To the original poster... The Missouri bullets alloy is equivalent to Lyman #2. That's harder than needed for most handgun.. But could be good for your rifle application.

    Range lead is for sale on eBay. As mentioned.. It costs more than has been found here..back when it was available here. Alternately..check rotometals.. You can buy lino or mono and alloy with lead.. Again.. You may bay 5$ a pound delivered though. Range lead on eBay is more than the 2$ a pound commonly found here..but less than rotometals.

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master

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    If you are having trouble getting supplies , I started with an old cast iron pot on top of the kitchen stove , with the hood exhaust vent / light on , it was a nice touch , ... left the kitchen door and window open .
    Single cavity mould was filled with an old heavy duty soup spoon I bent a pouring "V" into .
    The spoon gave way quickly to a Lyman Ladle ... with the little side spout ... much better .

    I have since tried the fancy electric bottom pour casting pot ... which didn't work well for me , so I'm back with the Lyman Ladle and a Lee 20 lb. electric Magnum Melter pot ... I could go back to the kitchen stove if needed but leaving my casting clutter in my reloading building keeps the wife happy .
    Gary
    Certified Cajun
    Proud Member of The Basket of Deplorables

  15. #15
    Boolit Master


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    A piece of metal to cover the work table top helps. Lead won’t stick to it. I use a cheap galvanized garage floor oil drip tray. Someone else recently said that they use a stainless steel backsplash.

    Don’t worry about lead fumes. The lead has to get to over 1100 degrees F to make vapors. Do worry about the smoke created by melting used wheel weights. All sorts of nasty stuff is found on them.

    Sawdust makes a great flux. As said, it can’t be from treated lumber. Sawdust from plywood is bad, too because of the glue used to make it. The best is from pine or similar softwoods.
    Sometimes life taps you on the shoulder and reminds you it's a one way street. Jim Morris

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy
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    I also suggest you get the 20 lb pot instead of the 10. The 10 will empty fast when you are casting large boolits. I use Ben's liquid lube, BLL for short. There's a sticky on it in the lube section. You can protect the your casting table top by covering it with aluminum foil.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master


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    A 10 # pot never empties as long as you fill it as you go.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soundguy View Post
    A 10 # pot never empties as long as you fill it as you go.
    True, you will need to reflux at each refill and there will be twice as many refills.

    Three44s
    Quote Originally Posted by Bret4207

    “There is more to this than dumping lead in a hole.”

  19. #19
    Boolit Mold
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    So gents.....

    I've got quite a bit of stuff coming, and I purchased 15lbs of range lead ingots from ebay.

    What I CANT find anywhere is a lee bottom pour furnace, and believe it or not lee mould handles anywhere. I found a 6 bullet 158gr SWC mould for a rather high price (they all seem expensive at the moment) but the darn handles are non existant.

    Once I find a furnace and the lee 900005 handles I should be off to the races.

    I'm quite excited.

    EDIT**

    So I decided for the sake of wetting my feet and getting in the game to order the Lee "big dipper" and a 158 "single groove RFN 2 bullet mold that comes with handles from ebay, and the 15 lbs of 1lb range lead ingots. Also ordered a lyman and a lee ladle, and 2 lbs of "Ford light blue" powder coating.

    I have an old toaster over and some chicken wire mesh I'll make a basket out of. I have plenty of welding gloves and safety items around the farm already.

    Any rough idea how many boolits 15lbs of range lead will actually produce? I'm sure I'll find out soon enough though..

    Really wanted a bottom pour furnace and a 6 bullet mould, but the price of those are absolutely absurd at the moment.. all things considered and from what you gents have thought me so far is I made out decent considering the market at the moment.

    Oh Brownells also had the lee 358 sizing dies in stock so grabbed one of those.

    I tried to find a designated flux from Brownells or midway, but no cigar. I'll use the non treated wood shavings for now as advised.

    Do I need to find another metal to mix with the range lead in order to use it? Still a subject I'm a little dark on.. can I just pick up the "fluxed" lead ingots from ebay and start casting? Or is there a "standard" special something I should be mixing with a specific ratio with every batch?
    Last edited by Campower; 02-24-2021 at 01:41 PM.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    "Any rough idea how many boolits 15lbs of range lead will actually produce? I'm sure I'll find out soon enough though.."

    7,000 grains in a pound. Divide the weight of the bullet you are casting into 7,000gr and you have your answer +/-.
    R.D.M.

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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