Thursday, November 15, 2012
Sustainable Armory - Casting Bullets
A few problems immediately become apparent when you begin thinking of using firearms not in terms of a weekend, a season or even for a year but for decades and generations. Namely ammunition. I have experimented with making black powder, reusing primers by scraping matchheads into them and researched resizing off caliber cases into more usable sizes so the next logical step seemed to be casting my own bullets.
I am by no means an expert on bullet casting. I do have an edge over a beginner, and from what I have been able to tell even some seasoned hobbyist bullet casters, due to some previous employment as a miniature sculptor. I have made my own molds in the past and have some understanding of metal mixtures which result in better hardness and sharper detail along with a rudimentary understanding of fluxing agents and the like.
There are some resources on the web that are very helpful and go more in depth into essential basic knowledge than I will go into here. This post is simply a short primer into the skill and to show that just about anyone can get started with a very small out lay of cash and space. I will provide a link or two at the end if you wish to look into this skill more for your own prepping needs.
Pure lead is suitable for blackpowder bullets only for the most part while cast bullets for modern firearms requires the addition of tin or antimony to harden the bullet and help create the grooves needed to keep the bullet lube in place. Also do not expect for a minute to get some blazing fast FPS out of cast bullets. Those high powered rounds you can shoot when the bullet is plated are just not possible with hand cast lead/alloy. However hand cast bullets are wonderful for lower charges and especially economical for larger caliber pistol calibers. I would suggest anyone taking up this skill begin with .38, .45 or 9mm to get a feel for how it is done.
I also suggest reading a bit more than I will write here however do not be dismayed by all the stuff some articles suggest. It really isn't as hard as it first appears.
I recommend purchasing a small LEE melter, a LEE mold of the caliber you wish to reload, a small casting ladle and a pick to remove the flashing. You will of course also need some lead and a sizing die in the appropriate caliber. I also use a LEE sizing die for this step. You can get started for well under $100.00 by going with the LEE products. Other manufacturers like Lyman and RCBS make some better quality molds and the like but I would suggest starting off cheaper until you get the hang of it.
The lead can be purchased in various places depending on your location. Tin and antimony can be purchased at hardware stores as plumbers solder which no longer contains lead you can then add it to your melted lead and flux it together to make some suitable medal hardness. I will place a link for a good (and free) book that explains this more in depth below.
Once you have prepped your mold and cast your first bullet you will understand why I recommended a pick as the lead always catches in the little pour hole and needs to be poked out. There are various methods to harden your bullets as they cool which I won't go into but you must coat the bullets in lube before sizing them. Luckily the Lee resizer dies come with ALOX bullet lube so for your first few bullets you don't have to sweat figuring out all the different lube recipes. After running each bullet through the resizing die you must them lube them again before pressing them into a case.
Yes I know this is very basic sounding but it really is that simple. The whole setup will actually pay for itself with the first 500 or so bullets you use at today's costs, or so I figure.
Here are some links.
A good Bullet Casting Forum Cast Boolits
And a free PDF book "From Ingot to Target" This book is very informative let me tell you. I enjoyed reading it and it helped alot.
Having some bullet casting skill is required in my opinion for anyone who wishes to keep and maintain a sustainable armory.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!