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Rich22
08-16-2012, 08:04
So here is my question. I currently reload and am considering getting into casting to lower the only component cost I can, the bullets. For now the only caliber I have is 9mm but this will likely change soon. When comparing prices on what I could make by casting and what I could buy cheapest I can find is about 54.00/1K bullets. It seems that factoring in equipment cost which I assume to be 400-500 since I have nothing that would work and factoring in a decent amount for my time I would have to make in excess of 300 bullets an hour to make it worthwhile to me. Considering the little I know of casting, with all the prep, ingot making etc etc making a bullet every 12 seconds or less is quite unlikely and that is even assuming my consumable costs at 0. In short, is my logic correct or flawed?

Appreciate the advise

Richard

Three-Five-Seven
08-16-2012, 08:25
The only reason I cast is that some of the bullets I need are not available otherwise.

For long range, the exact alloy ratios are very important. To control that I have to cast my own.

For action shooting with black powder, certain bullets have a significant advantage. Those are not readily available so casting is necessary.

For all-round shooting with smokeless powder, my time is much more valuable than the cost of commercially available bullets. Besides, if I had time to cast, I'd be better off going to the range and using that time to practice.

Don't forget, casting them is just one part of the chore. You also have to size them and lubricate them (and make the lube, etc. etc.).

Casting is not worth the time unless you shoot very low volume, have special alloy requirements, or want to use the latest modern designs that are not available from any other source (i.e. NASA Money Bullet).

fredj338
08-16-2012, 09:35
I used to cast, then my time got short & I started buying commercial. I still cast quite a bit, since commercial went up so much, my time is worth less. The other real issue is cheap or free alloy. If you have to buy alloy for more than $1/#, it's not realyl worth casting IMO. That would be $30/K for alloy, then time & lube, not worth it.
Like reloading, better gear will get you faster results. You don't have to spend $400 to get 600 bullets an hour. A Lee 6cav mold & 20# bottom pour pot will set you back $150. You can tumble lube any bullet & shoot as cast or buy a cheap Lee sizing die kit for $25 & go that route. I do prefer a luber/sizer, the Star/Magma is hands down the best. Yes it's expensive @ $275 but can lube & size 1200-1500/hr. So high production can be done for right around the $400 mark total for one caliber. I can cast, lube & size 1000 bullets in less than 3hrs total time. At $80/k for 45, I would have to make $40/hr to break even using free alloy. Free is getting almost impossible to get & cheap is tough too.
Casting your own can certainly be worth your time, even for a working guy, if you buy the right gear.

PhantomF4E
08-16-2012, 10:41
I can afford to shoot corbon dpx at the range to practice with if I really wanted to . I cast and reload as a hobby, as much as being a cheap s.o.b . I like the flexibility and just being able to do it. A cheaper day out shooting is a plus, but rolling your own sub moa ammo can get pretty rewarding . IF self reliance ever becomes the rule of the day . also a plus !!!!

Rich22
08-16-2012, 11:17
I guess before I consider this any more I need to look for sources of material. I have no idea where to get it from around here. Tire places I have checked with won't keep the wheel weights and I cannot find a scrap dealer anywhere near me.

freakshow10mm
08-16-2012, 11:22
I cast. It's my preference over jacketed both due to cost and control. I'm making the bullets. Scrap lead here sells for 55 cents a pound, so 1,000 230gr me $18 in alloy, an hour to cast, an hour to size/lube and maybe a dollar in lube. Figure $20 per thousand bullets and two hours of my time enjoying a hobby. It's a hobby, so my time is free.

Reloading and casting are as expensive as you want to make it. What you pay for is speed and convenience, with minor variations in quality.

The only jacketed bullets I have are in my carry ammunition. Everything else is cast bullets only.

freakshow10mm
08-16-2012, 11:23
I guess before I consider this any more I need to look for sources of material. I have no idea where to get it from around here. Tire places I have checked with won't keep the wheel weights and I cannot find a scrap dealer anywhere near me.
Look to marine outfitters and marinas. Many sailboats have lead attached to the keel to keep them balanced in the water. This is pure lead. You'll have to harden it up yourself by adding antimony. There are also a few places that sell bullet casting alloy like Roto Metals.

Rich22
08-16-2012, 11:33
I cast. It's my preference over jacketed both due to cost and control. I'm making the bullets. Scrap lead here sells for 55 cents a pound, so 1,000 230gr me $18 in alloy, an hour to cast, an hour to size/lube and maybe a dollar in lube. Figure $20 per thousand bullets and two hours of my time enjoying a hobby. It's a hobby, so my time is free.

.

Two Hours for 1000 bullets wow even assuming what has to be a very high skill level I assumed it would take much longer than that.

freakshow10mm
08-16-2012, 11:57
Two Hours for 1000 bullets wow even assuming what has to be a very high skill level I assumed it would take much longer than that.
Nope. Not much skill involved, just a good setup.

I run 2 Lee Pro 4-20 pots. I am casting from one while the other is melting the next ingot.

I run 2 six cavity moulds, some Lee, some custom. I fill one and set it aside to cool, fill the other one and set it aside to cool. Pick up the first one and dump the bullets, then fill it. Grab the second mould, dump the bullets, refill. You're basically dumping the bullets and refilling one mould while the other one cools a bit.

The key is to have a constant supply of melted casting alloy in the pot, using more than one mould so you're always either filling or dropping, and setting things up in the workspace to utilize economy of motion.

Can be sped up by laying a wet hand towel on the table and setting the moulds on there to cool faster.

For sizing, Star sizer all the way. It's just fast. Here's a short clip I made a few years ago of me sizing on the Star sizer.

Star sizer - YouTube

country85
08-16-2012, 12:28
I guess it all depends on the type and caliber of bullet you want to cast. I cast for my 38 special, and keep even pretty much on what I can buy lead ammo for. But for my 44 magnum, I cast a lee 310 gr FP and save a butt load. I work in a tire shop so I get wheel weights for free, so where I could be spending 40 bucks per hundred of these:

http://www.midwayusa.com/product/1988713863/cast-performance-bullets-44-caliber-430-diameter-300-grain-lead-wide-flat-nose-gas-check

All I'm out is a little time and sweat, It's more of a hobby, kinda like reloading can be, you can do it in a way that save's you alot of money, or it can become an obsession and it can cost you alot of money,

fredj338
08-16-2012, 13:23
I guess before I consider this any more I need to look for sources of material. I have no idea where to get it from around here. Tire places I have checked with won't keep the wheel weights and I cannot find a scrap dealer anywhere near me.

Exactly. If you can't find cheap/free alloy, casting isn't going to save you money. The lead ww will be extinct in 2-3 yrs. There are other sources, keels can be lead or zinc now days, so be careful there. Berm mining @ the local shooting hole is always going to be there. Stain glass shops, contractors that do remodel work can find roofing lead or plumbing lead. If yo uhave a contact @ a hospital, Isotope lead from radiology is perfect for casting. I asked mny dentist a few months ago if he had any lead foils from his old xray setup. That got me 30# of dead soft lead foil.:supergrin: I have also traded lead for bullets @ 2-1 for guys that have a little alloy but don't want to cast.
Again, if you can't find cheap or free alloy, casting will just be a hobby that sucks out your $$$. I enjoy casting & some bullets I make I just can't buy cheaply. You can even make a quality hunting or SD bullet.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v703/fredj338/DSC_0041.jpg http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v703/fredj338/44-272.jpg http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v703/fredj338/45-215gr.jpg

norton
08-16-2012, 13:37
I cast using range scrap I dig out of our pistol berms at the club where I shoot.
I enjoy the whole process. From finding bullets in the dirt, to melting them down into "biscuits" , to melting them in a Lee pot and pouring the lead into both Lee or Lyman molds. Then sizing and lubing. Then reloading. For me its a hobby and a $ saver.

Beware Owner
08-23-2012, 08:35
I like to cast as a hobby, a very entertaining one at that. I also believe in the security of having several hundred pounds of lead to back up the other stashed components in case of a SHTF scenario. Something like a backup to the backup.

vafish
08-23-2012, 14:54
I get soft pure lead for free, I cast lee tumble lube bullets that do not required sizing. For low velocity rounds like the .38 special and .45 acp they work great.

If I don't include my time in the calculation I can load those 2 calibers for about the same cost as buying .22lr.

I also cast bullets for my muzzle loaders and slugs for my shotguns. I can load slugs for about 13 cents each instead of buying them for over $1 each.

Outdoor Hub mobile, the outdoor information engine

RustyFN
08-23-2012, 16:17
So here is my question. I currently reload and am considering getting into casting to lower the only component cost I can, the bullets. For now the only caliber I have is 9mm but this will likely change soon. When comparing prices on what I could make by casting and what I could buy cheapest I can find is about 54.00/1K bullets. It seems that factoring in equipment cost which I assume to be 400-500 since I have nothing that would work and factoring in a decent amount for my time I would have to make in excess of 300 bullets an hour to make it worthwhile to me. Considering the little I know of casting, with all the prep, ingot making etc etc making a bullet every 12 seconds or less is quite unlikely and that is even assuming my consumable costs at 0. In short, is my logic correct or flawed?

Appreciate the advise

Richard

If you have to factor in your time to do it then you would be better off not doing it. If it's not going to be a hobby you probably won't stick with it long.

fredj338
08-23-2012, 18:30
Two Hours for 1000 bullets wow even assuming what has to be a very high skill level I assumed it would take much longer than that.

If your time is valuable, but more expensive gear. A 6cav mold will do 600-700/hr, rotate two & you might get to 1000, but it's tiresome. The Magma Mastercaster will do 600-700/hr all day, just pull the handle. It's $1000 though, as usual, saving time costs more money. The Star/Magma sizer is easily 1500rds/hr, again, twice a Lyman or RCBSm but oh so much faster.:supergrin:
Hey Freak, anytime you want to sell some of your scrap lead, let me know. 65# flat rate ships for $16.

freakshow10mm
08-23-2012, 20:56
Hey Freak, anytime you want to sell some of your scrap lead, let me know. 65# flat rate ships for $16.
I'll check with the scrap yard. I've been on day shift this week but will be back on 2nd shift next week so I can go during the day. Do you want ingots or just raw "as it comes" lead? I've still got some tin balls if you need some too. I think I have 14 left.

fredj338
08-23-2012, 23:39
I'll check with the scrap yard. I've been on day shift this week but will be back on 2nd shift next week so I can go during the day. Do you want ingots or just raw "as it comes" lead? I've still got some tin balls if you need some too. I think I have 14 left.
Well if the scrap is known, I have no issues with good scrap lead. Let me know, I'll shoot you some money.:wavey: It's almost impossible to find lead sources around Kalif anymore. I have quite a bit, but it isn't going to get any easier to find so I am willing to buy it for a good price.

freakshow10mm
08-24-2012, 17:16
I've also got about 565 pounds of foundry 92/6/2 alloy in ingots. I casted a run of bullets and found out during sizing that the mould wasn't cut properly so it is back at the mould machinist for a new one. Took the rejected lot of bullets and made them back into ingots again.

fredj338
08-25-2012, 10:16
I've also got about 565 pounds of foundry 92/6/2 alloy in ingots. I casted a run of bullets and found out during sizing that the mould wasn't cut properly so it is back at the mould machinist for a new one. Took the rejected lot of bullets and made them back into ingots again.

Best part of casting, you can recycle your mistakes.:supergrin:

dkf
08-25-2012, 10:20
Best part of casting, you can recycle your mistakes.:supergrin:

Being "Green" before it was cool to do so.:cool:

Rich22
09-12-2012, 15:11
So since I have hit a bit of a roadblock here I thought I would resurrect this thread for a minute. My biggest problem that seems to be keeping me from looking at casting more seriously is the lack of supply of lead in a price that is workable. I have called every scrap dealer for a 40 mile radius, numerous tire shops and searched online significantly. I have had no luck with scrap dealers willing to sell to me, no tire shops that have any available that are not spoken for or willing to keep some for me to pick up even if I offer to pay them and online sources are well above the approximately .75 per pound I need to obtain the material for to make casting worthwhile to me. Am I doing something wrong? Not taking advantage of an obvious opportunity? Or is this fairly common?

Thanks

Rich

RustyFN
09-12-2012, 17:09
So since I have hit a bit of a roadblock here I thought I would resurrect this thread for a minute. My biggest problem that seems to be keeping me from looking at casting more seriously is the lack of supply of lead in a price that is workable. I have called every scrap dealer for a 40 mile radius, numerous tire shops and searched online significantly. I have had no luck with scrap dealers willing to sell to me, no tire shops that have any available that are not spoken for or willing to keep some for me to pick up even if I offer to pay them and online sources are well above the approximately .75 per pound I need to obtain the material for to make casting worthwhile to me. Am I doing something wrong? Not taking advantage of an obvious opportunity? Or is this fairly common?

Thanks

Rich

Calling will do no good, you have to go in person. I called every tire shop in town and go nowhere. I started driving around and found two tire shops that said they would give the used weights to me for free. I would bring them a 12 pack of coke when I woild get a full bucket. That made them save even more for me. That was around 1,800 pounds ago. You can still get free or cheap weights from tire shops, try the small mom & pop shops. You can also clean out the bullet traps or berms at the range.

You can also check with plumbing contractors, staind glass shops and anybody else you think might come in contact with lead. I have even heard of people putting an add on Craig's list for wanting lead and getting all kinds of calls. I heard the back of a dental x-ray has a piece of lead foil that gets removed so I asked my dentist about it and walked out with 70 pounds of lead foil. You just have to get out there and look.

http://im1.shutterfly.com/media/47b8cf07b3127ccec5e02db707dc00000040O00DZOGblm4Yg9vPhI/cC/f%3D0/ps%3D50/r%3D0/rx%3D550/ry%3D400/

http://im1.shutterfly.com/media/47b8cf07b3127ccec5e0d68c470200000040O00DZOGblm4Yg9vPhI/cC/f%3D0/ps%3D50/r%3D0/rx%3D550/ry%3D400/

Rich22
09-12-2012, 17:16
Calling will do no good, you have to go in person. I called every tire shop in town and go nowhere. I started driving around and found two tire shops that said they would give the used weights to me for free. I would bring them a 12 pack of coke when I woild get a full bucket. That made them save even more for me. That was around 1,800 pounds ago. You can still get free or cheap weights from tire shops, try the small mom & pop shops. You can also clean out the bullet traps or berms at the range.

You can also check with plumbing contractors, staind glass shops and anybody else you think might come in contact with lead. I have even heard of people putting an add on Craig's list for wanting lead and getting all kinds of calls. I heard the back of a dental x-ray has a piece of lead foil that gets removed so I asked my dentist about it and walked out with 70 pounds of lead foil. You just have to get out there and look.



I Misspoke, I called the scrap places and went to the tire shops, I wish I could mine the berms but at my range that is an offense punishable by expulsion from the club since someone almost got shot once since the shooter didn't see them. Did do the craigslist ad and for now have not received any responses, Definitely did not think about plumbers however.

Zombie Steve
09-12-2012, 18:50
I get lead from a gun guy that owns a tire store. He gives me a bucket, I bring him 20-25 pounds of clean ingots and he calls me when he has more.


Offer to cast them some bullets or clean up lead for them.

Before I met this guy I made it a condition of buying 2 sets of tires from another guy. He was willing to do it (as in, every time I come get rotations, I get to fill up some...).

For the most part, these guys were selling it as scrap and using the money to buy the shop pizza for lunch.

There is value to it. Big tire stores will usually have some deal with Interstate battery or something like that. Hit up the little guys first and make it worth their while.

Also - mine berms at the gun club, hit up contractors you know that pull old lead shower pans and tin roofing out of remodel jobs.

Don't forget how useful the wal-mart parking lot will be. :supergrin:

RustyFN
09-12-2012, 20:23
The last set of tires I bought for the wifes car I saw a full 5 gal bucket of used weights. I told the guy if he didn't need them I sure could use them. I left with new tires and 5 gal of WW's.

I had somebody tell me on a forum once to tell them you melt them for fishing weights. Well I don't believe in lying and found I get more weights telling them I make bullets with them because they think it's cool. I had one place stop giving the WW's to a so called fishing weight caster and started giving them all to me because he thought casting bullets sounded cool.

fredj338
09-12-2012, 22:50
The last set of tires I bought for the wifes car I saw a full 5 gal bucket of used weights. I told the guy if he didn't need them I sure could use them. I left with new tires and 5 gal of WW's.

I had somebody tell me on a forum once to tell them you melt them for fishing weights. Well I don't believe in lying and found I get more weights telling them I make bullets with them because they think it's cool. I had one place stop giving the WW's to a so called fishing weight caster and started giving them all to me because he thought casting bullets sounded cool.

Well, that will be location dependent. Telling guys you make bullets around Kalif is likely to only get you the scarey look. I always ask, sometimes I get some, most times no, but if I am spending $800 on tires, I press pretty hard.