Lead Therapy Works Wonders
By Tank Hoover
You recognize the signs. You’re gnashing your teeth, clenching your jaws and gulping down anger before getting to your melting point. You need a way to pour your stress out …
For me, nothing’s better than casting bullets. I know, sounds boring, like I’ve lived a sheltered life. But let me explain.
Please Release Me
I got into casting and handloading after being a police officer for 5 years. The “newness” long gone, shiftwork and dealing with “challenging people” were taking their toll. I needed a hobby, something soothing and rhythmic to relax me. Casting and handloading fit the bill, but handloading came first, to keep my shooting addiction affordable.
But casting my own bullets cut the cost even more. Funny thing is, I found I loved it! It’s satisfying turning dirty, oily wheelweights and other lead alloys into shiny ingots, ready to re-melt into bullets of my choosing, from thousands of different molds.
I choose what bullet style, weight, diameter and hardness. The choice is mine and mine alone. If I want to cast a particular design, that’s possible from several custom mold makers. I’m in control of making the bullets I want!
Freedom of choice: Here are six different styles just for the .480 Ruger/.475 Linebaugh.
Scrounging Toward Independence
During routine patrol, scrounging lead was always on my mind. Back then, gas stations and tire stores were more than happy to have you haul away their dirty wheelweights. I met a lot of nice people along the way in my lead-scrounging pursuits.
Casting my own bullets took me one step closer to being more independent in making my own ammunition. It feels pretty good when you’re getting low on a particular caliber and load, and you know all you have to do is spend a little time in your shop to fill your needs.
In true pioneer spirit, there’s nothing like throwing your own “roundballs” for your frontstuffer. Who needs to buy ammo?
Converting lead alloy objects into clean ingots is satisfying when you’re a lead-head.
A Job Well Done
Satisfaction comes from doing a well-done job on a specific task, something missing today in the “buy it now, throw it away later” society we live in. I try to live by the pioneer code “if it’s broke, fix it” mentality. A sense of pride emerges when you make or fix something yourself, let alone the money you save.
Whether I need ’em right away or not, casting a pile of bullets just makes me feel better. I’m doing something positive, it gives me time to think as I rhythmically pour, cut sprue, tap open mold blocks, tap handle hinges to drop bullets … repeat.
As I solve both my problems and the world’s — cogitating as I cast — time flies by. Before I know it there’s a heaping pile of potential shooting fun sitting before me, waiting to be powder coated, sized and loaded. I have bean cans, coffee cans and plastic containers full of bullets just waiting to be loaded and shot.
Casting classic Keith bullets in a caliber he never cast for mixes old and new. Casting couch? No! Casting corner.
I have two casting pots, a 22-lb. capacity RCBS and a 10-lb. capacity Lee pot. Both are bottom pour. How much time I have decides which pot I’ll use. The Lee really melts the lead quick and makes for roughly half the casting session. Sometimes a “quickie” is all ya need to clear the cobwebs.
I set my mold on top of the solid alloy and let the alloy pre-heat my mold. Once the alloy rolls off the sides of the mold, I know it’s time to cast. I keep a damp sponge next to me to cool the mold if it gets too hot. Through practice and repetition you’ll learn when to cool to keep your rhythm and pace up.
If the top of your mold starts to smear with lead, cool it down on the damp sponge. Now cut the sprue and drop your slugs onto a soft surface — a heavy towel or cloth to avoid warping or damage.
Although Tank’s garage workbench looks cluttered, he knows where everything is. Honest!
I Did It My Way
Some men cut brush, do yard work or paint to relieve stress. Me? I cast bullets. The payoff? I get to eventually shoot them, whether plinking, hunting, competing or simply trying for the best possible group. Either way, it’s my way to relax and keep the demons at bay.