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In the gilded halls of Valhala
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Thats right a younger family member has decided to reload 9mm, and has collected a bunch of lead from all the local auto shops and there gonna cast bullets.

I asked him about work-up loads and just some general questions and he did not know what i was talking about.

Can someone point me to a resource about hand loading and casting bullets? Particularly one with a emphasis on safety?

Is casting bullets dangerous? I would think you need instruments to measure.

they think they will save money but i think it won't be worth the time (at least casting the bullets).

any thoughts fellas?
 

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Gloves are good. Shooting outdoors is better. Having good ventilation whilst casting is best.

Just make sure he gets his lead levels in his blood checked from time to time. Unless he's a very high round count shooter, it probably won't be a problem from an exposure standpoint.

Then there's the molten metal hazards. Spillage, water in the pot, etc.

Also, quite a bit of wheel weights are now made of other metals. Annoying, that.

As far as having no idea about working up loads, maybe it's time to remove him from all dangerous activities until he develops a sense of mortality...
 

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He definitely needs a load manual; however, lead bullets can only be pushed so fast before you need a gas check on the base. He really needs to be loading jacketed bullets.

Marty
 

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The Lyman reloading manual covers all the basics of reloading, as well as the basics of casting equipment. I learned to reload 9mm using this book alone.

It does not iirc go into the many facets of what to use or not use in casting, though. HERE is an ebook that cover all aspects of casting.
 

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I frequent the Cast Boolits forum and have cast off and on for 30+ years. The 9mm seems to be a difficult cartridge to achieve success with cast bullets. The 9mm seems to require rather hard cast bullets, but remember that bullet fit is king. I've cut and pasted a response to another poster on another forum. Not everything pertains to this situation, but it mostly does.
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Leading is caused by a variety of problems, first and foremost of which is bullet fit. If the bullet doesn't create a gas seal as it travels down the bore, gas will leak past the base and cause leading. Many 9mm bores are larger than the nominal .355" standard, some run as large as .358" - the same as a .38 Special or .357 Magnum. Obviously, a .355-356" bullet is not going to create this gas seal. Slug your bore and use cast bullets a minimum of .001" larger than groove diameter. There are videos on YouTube that show how to do this.

The term 'hard-cast' is a misnomer propagated by commercial bullet casters. 'Soft' bullets are easily deformed during shipping and handling relative to the much harder alloys like linotype. Customers complain about damaged bullets. Their solution is to make their products harder than woodpecker lips, so they resist deformation during shipping. Convince the customer that 'harder is better' because hard bullets resist leading, and you're golden!

Commercial cast bullets (well, most of them, anyway) are TOO HARD for about 85% of handgun applications. The alloy is too hard to allow the bullets to obturate or 'bump up' to seal the grooves as they travel down the bore. Some commercial casters offer a choice of alloys; a very few offer a choice of diameters. If you cast them yourself, you can control these variables.

Now that I've said all that, I will admit that the 9mm MAY be an exception to my beliefs. This is probably the most finicky handgun cartridge to get to perform well with cast bullets. Slug your bore, then use bullets .001-002" larger than bore diameter, assuming that ammo loaded with them will chamber in your gun. You may well need 'harder than woodpecker lips' bullets to resist leading; you won't know until you try. Insure that the bullets fit the bore, and you'll be well along the path to success.
 

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9mm is one of the few rounds I don't cast for, or reload for for that matter. Bulk 9mm is just to cheap for me to screw with, that and I'm not a big fan of 9mm anyway.

I do cast for just about everything else in my safe though. I've put over 7 thousand rounds of cast through my 1860 Henry, all loaded with black powder. 45 ACP and 45 colt, 44 colt, and 38 colt, 45-70, 45-75WCF, to name a few.

Basically, hard lead for high velocity, soft lead for low velocity. Of course it's all relative, you simply can't push cast as fast as copper jacketed, unless you get into paper patching, but that's a whole nuther can of worms. It's generally a good idea to size lead bullets for an auto loader and to size a couple thou. above bore size if it'll chamber to get a good gas seal.

Considering the cost of 45 ammo, I do save a good bit by casting and loading my own, especially when dealing with black powder loads.

Casting safety, mainly gloves and eye protection like googles and a full face shield. I've seen the results of dropping wet lead into liquid lead and the results can be explosive. 20 pounds of 800 degree lead flying around isn't a good thing.

Most pistol caliber ammo works just fine when cast from straight wheel weights, unless loading supper hot magnum loads or little mouse fart target loads. No real reason 9mm needs a jacket, it's not going that fast.

Loading for cast is the same as loading for any other round, get good data and load in a safe and consistent manner using the rite powders, primers and OAL, trim cases, ect.

Like everything else, it can be as dangerous or as safe as you make it. Check out the Cast boolet forum, lots of good info there like nicholst55 suggested.
 

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I casted bullets for many years before retiring from it about 5 years ago. Haven't regretted selling all my casting stuff at all. You can tell him to just think about it, you're dealing with molten metal, knoxious/poisonous gases, and very hot materials. Go figure what the risks are if you aren't knowledgeable and skilled at what you're doing.

Besides, as others have already said, the 9mm isn't easy to shoot cast bullets in. Small diameter bore and high pressure rounds make for leading of the barrel very hard to prevent. Just buy jacketed bullets in bulk and forget it.
 

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Some really good info on lead here.
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=307170

read the whole thread.

BTW Missouri Bullets 18 BHC lead pills work fine for me... get the right size for your bore. My pistols both slugged .357 so I use. .358 pills. No leading that I can see.
 
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Hi. If the pistol they are to be shot in is a Glock, DON'T do it. Don

"The manufacturer Glock advises against using lead bullets (meaning bullets not covered by a copper jacket) in their polygonally rifled barrels, which has led to a widespread belief that polygonal rifling is not compatible with lead bullets. Firearms expert and barrel maker, the late Gale McMillan, has also commented that lead bullets and polygonal rifling are not a good mix. Some have made a point of the fact that neither H&K nor Kahr explicitly recommend against lead bullets in their polygonal rifled barrels, and feel that it is probable that there is an additional factor involved in Glock's warning. However, Kahr's FAQ does include a warning that lead bullets can cause additional fouling[8] and recommends special attention to cleaning after using them. In addition, while H&K doesn't warn against the use of lead, at least one well-documented catastrophic incident in an H&K pistol[9] may be related to this issue. Furthermore, Dave Spaulding, well-known gun writer, reported in the February/March 2008 issue of Handguns Magazine that when he queried H&K about their polygonally rifled barrels that they commented: "It has been their experience that polygonal rifling will foul with lead at a greater rate than will conventional rifling."

"One suggestion of what the "additional factor involved in Glock's warning" might be is that Glock barrels have a fairly sharp transition between the chamber and the rifling, and this area is prone to lead buildup if lead bullets are used. This buildup may result in failures to fully return to battery, allowing the gun to fire with the case not fully supported by the chamber, leading to a potentially dangerous case failure. However, since this sharp transition is found on most autopistols this speculation is of limited value. The sharp transition or "lip" at the front of the chamber is required to "headspace" the cartridge in most autopistols."

"Another possible explanation is that there are different "species" of polygonal rifle and perhaps Glock's peculiar style of polygonal rifling may be more prone to leading than the particular styles employed in the H&K and Kahr barrels."

"Leading is the buildup of lead in the bore that happens in nearly all firearms firing high velocity lead bullets. This lead buildup must be cleaned out regularly, or the barrel will gradually become constricted resulting in higher than normal discharge pressures. In the extreme case, increased discharge pressures can result in a catastrophic incident."
 

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Hi. If the pistol they are to be shot in is a Glock, DON'T do it. Don

"The manufacturer Glock advises against using lead bullets (meaning bullets not covered by a copper jacket) in their polygonally rifled barrels, which has led to a widespread belief that polygonal rifling is not compatible with lead bullets. Firearms expert and barrel maker, the late Gale McMillan, has also commented that lead bullets and polygonal rifling are not a good mix. Some have made a point of the fact that neither H&K nor Kahr explicitly recommend against lead bullets in their polygonal rifled barrels, and feel that it is probable that there is an additional factor involved in Glock's warning. However, Kahr's FAQ does include a warning that lead bullets can cause additional fouling[8] and recommends special attention to cleaning after using them. In addition, while H&K doesn't warn against the use of lead, at least one well-documented catastrophic incident in an H&K pistol[9] may be related to this issue. Furthermore, Dave Spaulding, well-known gun writer, reported in the February/March 2008 issue of Handguns Magazine that when he queried H&K about their polygonally rifled barrels that they commented: "It has been their experience that polygonal rifling will foul with lead at a greater rate than will conventional rifling."

"One suggestion of what the "additional factor involved in Glock's warning" might be is that Glock barrels have a fairly sharp transition between the chamber and the rifling, and this area is prone to lead buildup if lead bullets are used. This buildup may result in failures to fully return to battery, allowing the gun to fire with the case not fully supported by the chamber, leading to a potentially dangerous case failure. However, since this sharp transition is found on most autopistols this speculation is of limited value. The sharp transition or "lip" at the front of the chamber is required to "headspace" the cartridge in most autopistols."

"Another possible explanation is that there are different "species" of polygonal rifle and perhaps Glock's peculiar style of polygonal rifling may be more prone to leading than the particular styles employed in the H&K and Kahr barrels."

"Leading is the buildup of lead in the bore that happens in nearly all firearms firing high velocity lead bullets. This lead buildup must be cleaned out regularly, or the barrel will gradually become constricted resulting in higher than normal discharge pressures. In the extreme case, increased discharge pressures can result in a catastrophic incident."
When I went to Glock Armorer School, they told us the polygonal rifled barrels give a better bullet to barrel seal resulting in higher gas pressures and higher velocities. As a result, lead will sheet the inside of the barrel quickly reducing the diameter of the bore and cause the catastrophic failure you mentioned.

Marty
 

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Casting is pretty straightforward; I agree he should get the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook. To my mind it's also devils work. Go to some of the cast bullet websites and buy in bulk. I've had good luck with Penn Bullets.
 

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I've been casting since I was about 15 (I'm 60 now). My dad made me learn because I could shoot up reloads too fast.

Casting is art, not a science, at this level. I've cast from .224 all the way up to .452. I won't do small caliber, say under 6mm, any more. Too few good ones.

I can hard cast a 9mm 115 grain ball that doesn't need a gas check and drive it all the way to the firewall per the loading manuals and I don't get leading. It's a matter of the alloy.

Now, I can go a couple of years without casting and within an hour be back up to speed. Can cast 100 bullets with a 4 cavity mold, showing anyone who wants to know just what I'm doing. Let them set down at the pot, put on the gloves and glasses and they can throw 200 crappy bullets. I sit back down and in 5 minutes I've got good bullets falling out.

If he can, he should learn to cast on someone else's setup before you start investing in the hardware to cast. He might learn he does not have the skill set to ever get it to work to the point that it's fun and economical.

PS: wheel weights today have a lot of calcium for hardening. But in hand casting calcium is not a good thing. He would be better off to buy linotype metal off eBay, get some tin and some straight lead, and you have all the ingredients to tune an alloy that works. Steer clear of wheel weights. Once upon a time linotype was like gold. Then offset printing shifted to laser jet and ink jet technology and linotype became useless.
 

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Here is my experience in casting bullets (hope it helps):

I have loaded many thousands of cast bullets. Some were cast by me, some were bought. I have bullet moulds for several pistol rounds and a few rifle rounds.

If you are starting with wheel weights, you need first to figure out what kinds of bullets they will work for. Pure lead is very soft but also difficult to find. Pure linotype is as hard as is practical but expensive and even more difficult to find. Wheel weights are moderate hard and generally cheap or free. Because of this, all my bullet casting has been for applications not requiring anything harder than wheel weights. Magnum revolvers are definitely out.

You will spend considerable time getting from a bucket of wheel weights to regular clean ingots which you will feed into your furnace. The time needed to melt down wheel weights and remove all the floating junk is not trivial.

I found quite early on (unfortunately it was AFTER I bought a .45 caliber 6 cavity mould) that casting for handguns was pretty much a waste of time unless your base salary is about $5 per hour. You can use up 20 or so pounds of lead VERY quickly. After you calculate the time spent in casting ingots, bullet lube and such, you don't really save any money. If done right, home cast bullets will be superb, but you will not see the accuracy difference in a handgun. I was getting "one ragged hole" kind of groups at 25 yards, but unless shot off the bench, you can't really tell the difference between that and more mediocre bullets.

I also don't like the idea of casting bullets that require gas checks because that is additional labour and cost.

Some folks like tumble lubed bullets. I have tried that but think they are unsightly. They also will occasionally allow a slightly undersize or oversize bullet to get loaded. If you must use tumble lube, save a few pairs of disposable chopsticks and use them to pick up each bullet and set it base down on wax paper. They will look nicer but will still pick up lint and junk.

The lubrisizer pretty much prevents that and if it is heated (which it should be), allows the use of hard lubes. Sometimes a bullet just doesn't feel right when sizing and that is another check. Those get re-melted.

As for calibers that are suitable, I don't believe 9 mm is one. The problem is that bullets may need to be 0.001 to 0.002 inch larger and the 9 mm case is very tapered. Fitting a slightly bigger bullet tends to remove that taper and there may not be much clearance between the loaded round and the chamber.

In my opinion, the best calibers to cast for are Black Powder Rifles. You can't really buy bullets of great quality and a fair price for these calibers and properly done, the quality of home cast bullets will be visible on the target.

Getting a bit too long winded.....
- Ivan.
 

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One fact jumped out at me from reading TheHighRoad thread that 1KperDay linked to. It had never occurred to me that there's all kinds of nasty stuff in the dust from our tumblers. I frequently start a reloading or gun cleaning session figuring out what batch of empties needs to be polished and start up the tumbler on the floor right next to my bench. Then I just dump everything through the sieve on my bench -> LOTS of dust everywhere. Eh, it's just corncob and walnut right?

The tumbler is going into the garage and I'll sift outside from now on.

BTW there's a theory that one of the causes of the downfall of the Roman Empire was their prolific use of lead plumbing.
 

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If he would be interested in a .38/.357 or .44 revolver, they are much more forgiving of reload variables than 9mm. The 9mm's taper, high operating pressure and cycling nuances make it a tricky cartridge to reload for.
Casting can be very interesting, adding bullet hardness to the load puzzle matrix.
The economic attraction of free lead has the trade off of the possibility of stumbling across some very nasty substances used in alloys; antimony, arsenic and other heavy metals, especially in older scrap vintages.
Cast Bullets by Col. E.H. Harrison is a good reference, IMO.
 

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I'd like to add that I don't spend a lot of time casting, love 6 cavity moulds. I normally cast several thousand bullets at a time, then I'm good for 6 months or more. I keep hopping Big Lube will hurry up and come out with 6 cavity round ball moulds, the little two bangers take too long.

The only auto loader I cast for is 45 acp, everything else is either revolver or rifle. I will say my cast loads for the 45 auto are a lot more accurate than winchester white box FMJ.

Nothing wrong with tumble lubing, I like to thin it just a bit with mineral spirits and then let it completely dry before loading. For big lube bullets, those designed for extended shooting with black powder, I use a star sizer, it really speeds the process up.

As for savings, there's no way I could shoot as much big bore as I do if it weren't for casting and reloading my own. Granted I don't save any money, but I get to shoot a whole lot more.
 

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I'd like to add that I don't spend a lot of time casting, love 6 cavity moulds. I normally cast several thousand bullets at a time, then I'm good for 6 months or more. I keep hopping Big Lube will hurry up and come out with 6 cavity round ball moulds, the little two bangers take too long.

.....

Nothing wrong with tumble lubing, I like to thin it just a bit with mineral spirits and then let it completely dry before loading. For big lube bullets, those designed for extended shooting with black powder, I use a star sizer, it really speeds the process up.
How much time do you take to process the lead into a useable form for your furnace / pot?

In my experience, the tumble lube never really "dries" and will stain or pick up crud whenever it touches something. Do you coat the bullets with Mica or some kind of dry lube?

- Ivan.
 

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I reload for a 9mm, but I don't cast my own. Lyman used to have a reloading manual that had a section on bullet casting. As I recall, it provided bullet cast mold numbers and provided instructions on how to cast. My father was looking into casting his own about 30 years ago, and I recall as a kid he had a 5 gallon bucket of old wheel weights in the garage. After looking into it, he determined it was more trouble than it was worth. One of the problems is wheel weights tend to be dirty and debris is embeded in the lead. He could not figure a way to "clean" the lead enough to where he'd be happy about using it. The second issue is I believe the lead is too soft, and you need to mix in an alloy. This is where the Lyman or other manual is needed.
 
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