Casting Call!

Basic bullet building therapy

Duke shop

Duke casts in his shop with a window exhaust fan just above a “serious”-sized lead furnace.

How’d you like to engage in an utterly relaxing endeavor while building up your stockpile of expensive reloading components? Sounds good? If so, do what I do and cast bullets whenever possible.

Set The Mood

How is casting relaxing? It will be if you follow my rules.

When casting, I don’t answer the telephone or reply to emails or texts. Yvonne knows I don’t snarl very often but I do if I’m bothered while casting. If company stops by, I tell them to amuse themselves because I don’t stop casting until I have a full run of bullets (you might also tell them to call next time before coming over). Don’t set a TV up near your casting area so you won’t be plagued with depressing news and don’t have a radio nearby because most modern music is bound to tie you in knots.

Here’s what you can do. If you don’t have a smart phone, buy one of those devices on which you can download digital books. Then join or some other such entity and buy one of their audio books. Mostly I listen to fiction but well-written history books are hard to beat. I guarantee if you get deeply involved in a book lasting 20 or more hours you’ll end up with more bullets than you actually need! You won’t want to stop casting and you’ll seize every opportunity to get back to the book.

Montana casting bullets

Cast your own bullets and you’ll always have plenty of projectiles for an “out-of-the-ordinary” handgun caliber!

Gear and Materials

Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts. First, don’t buy the cheapest casting equipment. Don’t get a 5-lb. electric furnace because you’ll spend more time filling it and waiting for the alloy to become molten than you will actually casting bullets. Get no less than a 20-lb. pot! I understand getting started can mean a bit of an outlay in cash but during all those politically caused panics when ammunition and components got scarce, I never once suffered from a dearth of bullets.

The other item you’ll need is lead alloy and it’s getting tougher to find. Back in my younger years I scrounged literally tons of wheelweights, rendered them down to clear out the steel clips and road debris then cast hundreds of thousands of bullets. Sadly, wheelweights aren’t the caster’s salvation anymore as most come from overseas and contain mystery metals.

Lead can be found at most salvage yards. It can also have mystery metal, but a little experience will give you some idea about what you’re dealing with. For example, the sheet lead used as roofing is nearly pure. Lead shielding from hospital X-ray rooms usually isn’t pure but it’ll make bullets. Personally — with time being at a premium — I now buy professionally blended alloys.

Montana casting

Some of Duke’s “cast of friends” don’t have a shop, so they set up outdoors.

Miscellaneous Molten Advice

Cast somewhere isolated so it won’t be a nuisance to your family. I set up an area near one end of our shop under a sliding window. A strong exhaust fan sits in the window so any smoke or smell is whisked away. Some of my friends without shops — but who live in areas not given to sudden rainstorms — cast outside.

Don’t fear lead when it’s just sitting there cold. It doesn’t give off death rays! It’s only harmful if you ingest it, so wear gloves when you handle it. But do fear its molten state because liquefied lead can burn the bejeebers out of you. It will splash so always wear eye protection.

Do your casting on a sturdy table or bench and don’t just toss defective bullets back in the lead pot. Save them and then gently ease them back in the pot with a spoon or ladle. Cast in long sleeves, long pants and wear socks. I learned all of these things through painful experience.

Do get a book on casting. Lyman’s Cast Bullet Handbook (4th Edition) is readily available and I happened to write most of the informational chapters! I was proud to be asked.
When I started reloading for handguns in 1966, nearly everyone who did also cast their own bullets. It was a “have-to” situation. It may not be an absolute necessity nowadays, but you can convert what many consider an obnoxious chore into a pleasant and relaxing pastime.

Ph: (800) 225-9626

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