View Full Version : Newbie to Casting Boolits

08-30-2011, 11:14 PM
I'm a long-time metalic cartridge reloader, mainly for precision rifle. I have loaded for handgun rounds before, but I only have one press, the Redding Supermag press. It takes a while to load 100 rounds one at a time.

Recently, I purchased a S&W 500 Magnum and I would like to break into the world of cast bullets by casting bullets for my 500 Mag.

One issue that I keep hearing from guys who cast boolits for the 500 Mag is the bolits need to be very hard.

What equipment am I going to need, and what metals will I need to try and find?

Aaaand...is there a handbook for cast bullets? I hate to monopolize someone's attention by asking them to answer every little question I have.


08-30-2011, 11:51 PM
You are going to need a mould, pot, sizing system and a little patients.
Find the Lyman manual on casting and the Robert Lee Reloading book and sit down a read them.
It will a mase you how much information you can glean out of these two books on casting and reloading.

As for how hard the bullets in the 500 have to be that veries from gun to gun and reloader to reloader.

Good luck Ken.

08-31-2011, 03:53 AM
there is alot more to it than say just loading like jacketed bullets , as for how hard of an alloy .... that actually has more to do with how fast or how hard you're going to push them , they arent as strong as jacketed but awesum results can be had and fairly easy , i dont shoot the cartridge in question so anything i mite say is in general , one of the most important things isnt how hard of an alloy anyways but proper sizing - any casting sized too small will lead the bore even a hard alloy , most guys have great results with wheel weights sweetened with a lil tin , btw ? that alloy isnt set in stone but it does work great , it can also be heat treated/water quenched to give a harder bullet than air cooled casting , i do agree that alot of reading is in order and inbetween here and cast boolits as well as the manuals ken mentioned should serve you well , lyman has a fairly new cast boolit manual out ( #4 ) but i also suggest a #3 as well ( the older ones may not be current with some of the data and cartridges but the info is timeless ) one thing ? it's addicting so fair warning , in addition to what ken mentioned i'd also suggest safety glasses and pair of leather gloves as well as a set of welding gloves for the smelting/alloying part , it's also harder to suggest an alloy without knowing the intended purposes , lino is pretty hard but tends to shatter when hunting but punches paper fine , the ww ( wheel weights ) as stated can be made harder thru heat treating or blending ( alloying ) your press should be fine for now until you get the casting/sizing part down better ,and the best advice i can give ( besides being safe ) ? jump in there and do it man !!!! ( kinda like that song says ...life's a dance you learn as you go lolz ) g'luck amigo

08-31-2011, 04:51 PM
Welcome to the Guide. Those little questions are the reason we exist here. The only dumb question is the one a man is too proud to ask. Everything else you need to know and as no one I know is psychic if you don't understand something then like me you need to ask. Many of us have been at this a long time and between us we can answer most anything, or we know who to ask or where to look for answers. There are several different facets involved in casting, depending on your needs, motivation, and degree of sanity. Your questions will get more specific as you begin to understand the differences between cast and jacketed loading. It's not rocket science (until it exits the muzzle), but like with loading, there is a lot to learn, depending upon how involved in the process you want to get. You will find the search function to be really helpful, not only here, but next door at Gunloads and Cast Boolits, too.

You might have to use a harder alloy for full charge loads, but not necessarily. I doubt if you will even need gas checks even for your full charge hunting loads, but that comes later. First and foremost, the bullet's diameter and its relation to the barrel's groove diameter is what is critical for any accurate cast bullet, but in a revolver, you have three extra variables: The cylinder throats, the forcing cone, and then the barrel. To have a handle on what size it needs, first one must slug the cylinder throats and forcing cone with soft lead slugs and measure them with a mic, not a caliper. If the throats are too tight, passage through thme will size the bullets down so far that they will lead excessively when they reach the barrel as they attempt to obturate to it. It takes some creativity to get bore/groove measurements from a S&W's 5groove barrel, so don't bother unless you have to. Slugging techniques for revolvers and using the data is a fairly involved topic and I could go on for several pages.....

As to mould selection, you don't have many choices in .50cal. Some guns are really picky (and some aren't) about certain bullets, it's trial and error to find the one(s) your revolver likes best. Collecting moulds can get expensive. :o I would go with tumble lubing and push-through sizing to start with (after 35 years of casting, it's still all I use). The Lee sizers can easily be reamed out to custom dimensions from .005" larger to whatever maximum the physical dimensions of the die will let you make, maybe .65 caliber or so at a guess. Or you can make your own sizers like I do on a lathe quite easily. Moulds are an art and a science unto themselves and I could go on for several pages.....

Might as well start out with a cheap Lee lead pot, get a 20lb with a bottom pour, though I have to say that IME certain very large (over 400gr) bullet moulds I own demand I pour them by hand with a pouring ladle (Lyman makes the only one on the market to even consider). Candle wax and beeswax make the best flux (I use them indoors), don't buy the commercial powder stuff unless you want to go outdoors and clean out your pot after every use as the residue from it will eat the iron lining of the melter (it's acidic and absorbs water) and cleaning it also exposes you unnecessarily to lead oxide. You need a hardwood dowel or an old hammer handle to open sprue plates on your moulds - some wear leather gloves, but I prefer to do it barehanded as I'm less clumsy. Eye protection is mandatory when working with any molten metal. You can buy commercial alloy until you have developed a local source for casting alloy. Casting is an involved subject and I could go on for several chapters.....

If you are going to end up casting for all of your handguns and rifles, the you are going to need to scrounge for metals whenever possible. Wheel weights are not so easy to come by anymore, and they are seldom free. Anyway, this leads to smelting. Get some ingot moulds, an 8qt cast iron dutch oven, and a propane turkey fryer or an old Coleman stove, these are yardsale items: old cast iron muffin or cone pone pans, cast iron cookware, and cheap sources of expensive tin and lead like old pewter in any condition, bar solder, plumber's lead, lead chimney flashing. You will have to smelt your source metals like wheel weights into usable ingots you can add to your melter, and you should never smelt in a melter - it's too difficult to keep clean and impurities clog up the spout really bad. Set up the turkey fryer outside on a calm day - for safety always use a cast iron pot - NEVER ALUMINUM (it loses strength when heated). The smoke is nasty and can piss off your neighbors, so be aware. Candle wax is the best flux, melt it on top and light it on fire with a grill lighter or a match. Welders gloves are a big help for this operation as is a metal bucket to put the steel ww clips, skimmed slag, and other smelting dross as they are very hot when they are removed. I use ancient wooden handled metal cooking spoons for mixing and skimming. Smelting is an involved subject and I could go on for several pages.....

Proper bullet alloy for the specific application is an interesting and hotly debated topic. Basically, although there are times when you do really want a hard alloy, the softer you can get away with for a handgun the cheaper it is to produce them in quantity. As long as the bullets are correctly sized to fit bore and the throats are large enough not to cause problems, IMO you never need anything harder than wheelweights for any handgun bullet, often diluting it with pure 3 or 4 to one for smaller bullets and lighter loads. If you are hunting large game, you need either a bullet with a hollow point or a large flat meplat, and the alloy ought to be soft enough so you can get some expansion, especially with .35 and even .40 cal. Wheel weight alloy seems to be about the best for a heavy hunting bullet to my way of thinking for either magnum handguns or rifles. There are many and diverse opinions on this, some wildly different from my own, obviously another topic I could go on for a chapter or two about.....