Bullet Casting advice needed

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I'm loving the reloading so much, that it's getting very expensive. In my quest to lower my costs, I have decided to cast my own bullets. I have included a list of what I have already ordered. I know I need a lubricator/sizer, or do I? Is there a cheap one I could start with? I'm planning to start with 9mm and .45 acp. Can anyone tell me what else I will NEED versus what I may WANT? Here is my list of what I have ordered...

90009 LEE PRODUCTION POT IV
90029 LEE INGOT MOLD
90465 9mm (.356dia) 124gr Six Cavity mold
90310 45cal(452dia) 200gr SWC Six Cavity Mold
90005 Lee Mold Handles

Thanks guys. This forum is a great resource!
 
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i notice you're running tumble-lube molds...gonna see some Lee Liquid Alox too! and a good boolit-shaker to coat your new creations in alox. i recommend a large foldger coffee container (or maxwellhouse, thats what i use, i find the handle very helpful)

dont usually need a sizer with TL boolits. the molds are typically cut a tad smaller so your alloy will drop within .001-.002 of your target diameter....negating the need for sizing.

that'll get ya going pretty well though. now all you need is lead!



FWIW though....casting is FAR from "cheap"...especially if you develop a bit of a passion for it, like clerk.mvgc, Bob J, or myself [laugh]
 
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i notice you're running tumble-lube molds...gonna see some Lee Liquid Alox too! and a good boolit-shaker to coat your new creations in alox. i recommend a large foldger coffee container (or maxwellhouse, thats what i use, i find the handle very helpful)

dont usually need a sizer with TL boolits. the molds are typically cut a tad smaller so your alloy will drop within .001-.002 of your target diameter....negating the need for sizing.

that'll get ya going pretty well though. now all you need is lead!



FWIW though....casting is FAR from "cheap"...especially if you develop a bit of a passion for it, like clerk.mvgc, Bob J, or myself [laugh]

Thanks Jasper. Though I think I accidentally did something good? Are you saying that I just need the liquid Alox lube, and shake these bullets in a can of it to lube them? Also, if I understand correctly, I don't need to size them? So, then am I good to go with everything I need? Thanks a million.
 

DukeInFlorida

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Save some $$$$, and get the Alox "White Label" version......

You can buy a QUART sized container of the Alox stuff (White Label) for the same price as a mere 4 oz container from Lee.

Bob_J put me on to this place:

http://www.lsstuff.com/lube/index.html

They call the generic version XLox, so there's no lawsuits. It's the exact same product.

In fact, it's an even better deal than the Lee version. Lee uses a solvent to "water" theirs down a bit. The stuff from lsstuff is very very very thick. If you thin it down to Lee's version, you'll end up with at least 1/2 gallon of the stuff.

I use an old cream cheese plastic container (margarine container, or what have you), and put some of the lube product in. I add some mineral spirits, and stir with a stick until dissolved. Then drop a few hundred bullets in, put the lid on, hold onto the lid tightly, and tumble the container in your hands. The bullets will get coated all over with the lube.

Take them out of the container, leaving any extra lube in the container (waste not), and place the bullets, butt end down, on a sheet of wax paper to dry over night. When in a hurry, you can put a fan on them, and they will be ready to pop into cases in a couple of hours. Make sure they are dry to the touch all over before loading though.

The big cast bullet grooves are for lubing the other way. The micro-grooves are called "tumble lube grooves", and I have just described that technique, and where to get the product.

Oh, and for the other type of lube (the kind you use in a lubricizer), llstuff also has that, really inexpensive!

And, speaking of lubricizers... that's one additional tool that you might want to look into. They're not all that cheap, but they do the sizing of your bullets for you. Especially important, depending on the gun you are running, the quality of your castings, and how fussy you want to be. Most reloading books tell you that you can load the cast bullets as-is, but I found that I can make them (the bullets) more precise by sizing them. Lubricizers come as a bench mounted press, and you pop in different tools to do the sizing. I bought the Lyman version (Lyman 4500), and their inserts come in increments of .001", and they have the top "punch" in varying bullet nose shapes. That is to say you would use one punch for SWC, a different shape for RN, FN, etc.

So, if you want .355 bullets, you buy that insert. If you want .356 bullets, you can buy that insert, etc..... The molds aren't necessarily all that accurate, and get worse if you have any "parting line flash". The sizer fixes the bad issues, and assure that the bullets are exact in diameter. If you properly fill the cavities, you won't affect the ability of the micro-grooves to accept the tumble lube.

Link to show Lyman 4500: http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=458891

I run my Lyman 4500 without the heat rod installed, and without any stick lube in it. I am only resizing in it.
 
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Thank you Duke! It looks like my 9mm mold has micro grooves. The .45 acp does not. I watched a few videos on bullet lubricating, and I think I'm going to try "pan lubing" until I can afford a lubrisizer. Thanks again for all the help, everyone!
 

DukeInFlorida

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Try the 9mm microgrooves without resizing. If that works for you, great. When I tried it, I was getting some shaving of lead, which is an issue (even with bell mouthed cases). That's why I went with the sizing for that.

If you have the normal grease grooves for the .45, then you have two options for lubing those, and one of the options is NOT Xlox.

You can either use a lubricizer, as described. Normally, you would get the heater accessory, plug that in until the press unit warms up the grease, and then run it. It not only resizes the bullet, it also squirts the right about of grease into the larger grease grooves.

Or, the other way is what Bob_J does with his large .50 cal bullets:
Melt the wax/grease into one of those flexible cooking trays, to a depth that would reach the top grease groove. Place the bullets, base down in the pan, and let the grease/wax chill and firm. When you pull the bullets up and out, the grooves are filled. You'll leave behind small holes in the mixture where the bullets were. Just reheat the mixture, and add some more to do it all over again.

Flexible trays, from Bob_J's link:
http://www.amazon.com/Wilton-Easy-F...2?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1255452111&sr=8-2


Bob_J can perhaps elaborate more on how he does this. It might not work as well with the somewhat smaller .45 bullets, especially since they are somewhat pointy. That is to say, tough to pull out of the wax/grease.


Thank you Duke! It looks like my 9mm mold has micro grooves. The .45 acp does not. I watched a few videos on bullet lubricating, and I think I'm going to try "pan lubing" until I can afford a lubrisizer. Thanks again for all the help, everyone!
 
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gerrycaruso

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Not all 9mm handguns have a .356 bore. Some are larger and require a larger bullet. You can shoot the .356 bullets but will get leading from gas blow by and lousy accuracy. You'd have to slug the bore to be sure.
 
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I prefer lubing and sizing in a Star machine; the process and end result is a lot cleaner. Also, you know the exact diameter of the bullet as you have run it through a sizing die.

PS .356 is the recommended bullet diameter for 9mm because it is .001 over bore diameter.
 

EddieCoyle

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I prefer lubing and sizing in a Star machine; the process and end result is a lot cleaner. Also, you know the exact diameter of the bullet as you have run it through a sizing die.

PS .356 is the recommended bullet diameter for 9mm because it is .001 over bore diameter.

Is the Star/Magma worth the extra money?
 

Bob J

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Is the Star/Magma worth the extra money?

I think it depends on how much you plan on casting.... If you plan on sizing large numbers of cast bullets it really is nice.... For small volume stuff it probably doesn't matter much....

Youtube video here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8NdY15RstE&feature=related

BTW, if you do go with the star I recommend that you get your dies, locking rings and press handle from Lathesmith over on cast boolits.... Cheaper than the Magma equivalent and his workmanship is excellent....[wink]
 
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Patriot

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Is the Star/Magma worth the extra money?

Depends. If you are looking for production, yes. If your needs aren't too great, maybe not.
It's the 'Giraud' of luber/sizers. I got one used in great shape and I love it.

I've had trouble with the Lathesmith product. If you want to know more, pm me. Suffice
it to say that for a few bucks more the next time I will go with the Magma product.
 
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Duke, +1 on White Label Lube. I use Glens Carnauba Red in my Star and and it works great. Great guy to do business with.

EC, the Star sizer is worth the extra money by a mile!! If you're about production, it's the only way to go. I used to HATE sizing with my old Lyman, now it's not bad. It seats gaschecks square, and it's fast out of the gate. Add the bullet feeder and the air cylinder and you're really off. The only upgrade I have on my Star is a roller handle. For those of you who have or are getting a Star, there's a guy on castboolits that goes by Lathesmith that makes dies, punches, and accessories for the Star at a good price. I think his roller handle is far superior to Magma's shovel handle. The stock handle gives you blisters, and I have busted my knuckles on the shovel handle. All my dies are now made by this fine gentleman. I have sized 5000 bullets in a afternoon, try that on a Lyman or Saeco!
 
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Depends. If you are looking for production, yes. If your needs aren't too great, maybe not.
It's the 'Giraud' of luber/sizers. I got one used in great shape and I love it.

I've had trouble with the Lathesmith product. If you want to know more, pm me. Suffice
it to say that for a few bucks more the next time I will go with the Magma product.

I find the opposite to be true, alas Baskin Robins has 31 flavors
 
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gotta agree with plumber on the Star. it IS the shiznit.

as for Lathesmith on CB, he's a good guy. ive got half a dozen of his dies, and all work exactly as promised. i had ONE issue with a flat punch i got from him (threads werent cut deep enough). sent him an email and shipped him back the punch (along with a die that i'd buggered up). he fixed the punch, fixed the die (didnt expect that, cause i screwed that one up on my own), and sent em back to me for nothing.

if you want to check it out, you're more than welcome to try mine out (ive got the Magma heated base, airfeed, and the bullet feeder (although to be honest, i never use the bullet feeder...its just as fast without it).
 

EddieCoyle

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I don't know what kind of quantities I'm going to cast because I haven't started yet. I'll begin with bullets for my .500, which will have gas checks. However, if it's anything like my other reloading experiences, even if I plan to 'just do a few', I usually end up doing way more.

I think I'll put the Star on my list.
 
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Huh? The opposite of what statement? I find your analogy to be somewhat confusing. Are
you are referring to my opinion of the Star or my experience with Lathesmith?

Sorry!
I have dozens of Lathesmith's dies and punches and am more than happy with the quality. Including a few specialty ones that Magma won't make.
 

Patriot

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Sorry!
I have dozens of Lathesmith's dies and punches and am more than happy with the quality. Including a few specialty ones that Magma won't make.

No problem. Based on what Jason mentioned in the above post, I have emailed him to see
if he will correct the problem I am having. When I spoke to him after I received the items
originally, I felt that he was not interested in solving the problem, which btw, is definitely
a problem with one of his parts working in my Star. I will let you know what the outcome is.

ETA: Well that was quick. Chris (Lathesmith) got back to me and is going to replace the
item I am having difficulty with. He also stated that he has modified his process a month
ago to virtually eliminate the issue. I should also state that he was very gracious about
it and had absolutely no qualms about making it right. [smile]
 
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No problem. Based on what Jason mentioned in the above post, I have emailed him to see
if he will correct the problem I am having. When I spoke to him after I received the items
originally, I felt that he was not interested in solving the problem, which btw, is definitely
a problem with one of his parts working in my Star. I will let you know what the outcome is.

ETA: Well that was quick. Chris (Lathesmith) got back to me and is going to replace the
item I am having difficulty with. He also stated that he has modified his process a month
ago to virtually eliminate the issue. I should also state that he was very gracious about
it and had absolutely no qualms about making it right. [smile]




glad to hear it! chris is a stand up guy....i assume you had the same issue i did (punch would only thread in ~ 1/3rd of the way? threads not cut deep enough?).


his old method worked for 95% of the machines out there. apparently we have a couple of odd ducks [laugh]
 
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I don't know what kind of quantities I'm going to cast because I haven't started yet. I'll begin with bullets for my .500, which will have gas checks. However, if it's anything like my other reloading experiences, even if I plan to 'just do a few', I usually end up doing way more.

I think I'll put the Star on my list.

hehe. well, get into it soon! cause i'm trying to have a custom mold made. something along these lines....




as for .500's, if you're not going to load them in massive quantities, a Lyman 4500 lubrisizer would probably serve you quite well. you can still move at a pretty good clip, and if you're only going to be casting a couple of different styles of boolits at low-production numbers, it's WAY more economical (4500 is ~ $150ish, plus $40 for a heater.....whereas a star is ~ $500 all set up)
 

Patriot

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glad to hear it! chris is a stand up guy....i assume you had the same issue i did (punch would only thread in ~ 1/3rd of the way? threads not cut deep enough?).


his old method worked for 95% of the machines out there. apparently we have a couple of odd ducks [laugh]

Exactly the same problem. It was on the .300" punch. I tried all the work-arounds he gave me to no avail. I gave up but after reading your post above I thought I would give it a shot to see if he would either fix it or replace it. Thanks for the 'nudge'! [smile]
 

Bob J

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As for the $500+ for a Star, that is for all the bells and whistles. The bare bones machine is $250, and if you are running a hard lube $105 for a heater. That's all I have on mine, and it's 10x faster than anything else.
My opinion, the bullet feed doesn't make it faster without the collator, it gives you confidence to go faster without putting the punch through your thumb.
I have thought about the air feed for the lube, but where you need to turn the screw every 2-3 bullets on a Lyman, the Star is spring loaded so 2 spins gets you 20-30 bullets if the grooves are deep 50+ on some.
 
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cricco, pan lubing is painfully slow and messy. i switched from a lubrisizer and stick lubes to liquid alox and lee's bullet sizer kits. they're faster than the lyman/rcbs lubers because they minimize bullet handling; a complete kit costs less than a sizer die for a lyman/rcbs unit. as a bonus, the lee dies can be honed to custom diameters with a drill and crocus cloth plus each kit comes with a bottle of liquid alox. my xlox is good stuff, too, but i wonder if i'll live long enough to use all the lee alox ii got with my sizer dies...

i love aluminum molds, but they're easily damaged; scoring the top of the mold blocks due to lead smear (from cutting the sprue before the lead is solidified) is common...bull plate sprue plate lube prevents lead from adhering to the bottom of the cutter and stops sprues from sticking to the cutter top...i hate beating on the mold hinge pin to dislodge reluctant sprues. this stuff is magical; using it, i double my casting rate. it works for iron molds as well. here's the site: http://bullshop.gunloads.com/prices.html

i hope you find casting a fun part of the shooting game,

budman
 
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feeder, yes. i have one. its nothing special (ive found i can go just as fast, if not faster without it)

they also make a collator that fits on top of the bullet feeder, but its $660.
 
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I purchased a Saeco Lubrisizer. I LOVE this thing. I was just a little nervous shooting them "as cast". After seeing the differences in the bullets that I've sized, I'm sure I made a wise decision.
 
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feeder, yes. i have one. its nothing special (ive found i can go just as fast, if not faster without it)

they also make a collator that fits on top of the bullet feeder, but its $660.

Is the "feeder" like the Mr. Bullet feeder or just a tube you stick bullets in? I'm looking for something where I could just dump boolits into a hopper and go to work.
 
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