View Full Version : What kind of molds?

05-12-2012, 11:04 PM
I would like to start casting to save money on bullets. It will take a lot of time to break even on the venture if I have to put out a lot of cash initially. That being said, Lee molds cost a lot less than others but you never read the magazine writers talk about using them. Lee is a growing company so people must use their molds as well as their other products. The only obvious difference I see between Lee and the others is that they make their molds out of aluminum. Are the steel molds that much better to justify the very significant cost difference of a mold and handles?

05-13-2012, 05:51 AM
yes and no.
lee's 6 cavity's have been pretty good lately. [and are a completely different material than thier 2 cavity molds are]
for a while there everything they put out had burrs, was cut off center,or was undersized.
nowday's a good cleaning and slight polishing of the cavity's is about all that's needed.
the 6 cav molds are a lot better than thier 2 cav's are.
lyman is really bad about having small cavity's lately and real slow customer service when sending the mold back to be fixed.
i have mstly lyman molds and have lapped several of them out and all of my older ones are generally a bit oversized.
saeco usually has decent molds but they usually aren't oversized and depending on your alloy they might be undersized.
probably the best available right now are the rcbs molds, they come in only 2 cavity's but are/have been some of the best available for a long time.

your other options are custom or semi custom mold makers they offer steel,brass and aluminum molds.
some of them offer all three,and in different cavity configurations and counts and combinations.

Paul B
05-13-2012, 02:55 PM
Runfiverun has pretty well covered it regarding molds. I haven't used any of the Lee 6 cavity molds yet but my preference is running toward SAECO first, RCBS second with current Lyman's running a very distant third place. I've had most of my molds for many years now with a few over 50 years old now and I bought them new.
As was said the Lee single cavity molds cast a bit small and they're a bit fragile too. I would have to venture that probably most, it not all my Lyman molds are at least 30 years old. I really like the RCBS molds as they seem to cast great bullets right of the bat. SAECO molds are now made by Redding and they ain't cheap but they are excellent molds. I have two that are custom molds, one is a .35 caliber 250 gr. for the .35 Whelen. RCBS treat it as a special order option and that one was $100. Another custom mold I have made by David Mos was $125. Both are fantastically great molds that cast perfect bullet literally from the first cast.
What cartridges do you plan to cast for? The reaon I ask is if you get up tp Tucson for any reason, you're more than welcome to stop by and run a few bullets for what ever you're shooting. I have had people come from as far as Phoenix who were interested in learning to cast and wanted a little hands on teaching before committing. If you're interested, feel free to PM or E-mail me and we can set something up.
Paul B.

05-13-2012, 04:36 PM
I will say this: inexpensive Lee moulds have probably gotten more people into casting than any other route. All their smaller moulds are 2cav now and the quality of them, while not as good as their 6cavs, is better than ever. You can try several handgun bullets in 2cav for cheap money and then order what your guns like best in a 6cav. I really like the 6cavs and run more than a dozen of them, many customs for rifle bullets. I also have a lot of Lyman moulds and an RCBS. They are of good quality, but 2cavs are really slow when you can run 6's.

As for casting pots, you get what you pay for. Lee pots are inexpensive, but most of them drip. If you can live with that, fine. If you can't, them you'll have to shell out more cash. Never smelt in your casting pot. Your best bet is to hit the yard sales for a cast iron pot or dutch oven and either a turkey fryer or an old coleman stove. And while you're out there, keep your eyes open for lead, solder, old pewter, lino or babbit ingots, etc.

You can start out lubing and sizing with Lee's system. You may even stick with it as it is inexpensive and effective. I use it for all my rifle and handgun bullets (many thousands every year). You can upgrade later, but I have never needed to.

How economical your casting will be is dependent on your ability to scrounge castable metals, and your luck in choosing moulds your guns like. As with jacketed bullets, some barrels have very definite preferences, others are easier to live with and shoot many different weights and profiles acceptably. And the only way to find out what you've got is to jump in and try it. Out of the dozen plus 30cal moulds I have, I can almost always find a target or hunting bullet for most rifles. It can be very dishartening for a new caster to choose a mould and rifle that are incompatable, when the next one may be a tack driver. Such is life. Every gun is a new (sometimes more than one) puzzle to solve.

Casting will sure keep you busy and out of trouble. ;)

10-04-2012, 02:18 PM
< Out of the dozen plus 30cal moulds I have>

Saw several of your post on the military CB forum. I have a new puzzle. 1892 built Schmidt-Rubin 1889 model.

Had the chamber cast and bore measured. Bore measures 0.2965 and Groove is 0.302 inch.

You wouldn't have suggestions for a projectile to use in this sweet heart of an old rifle?
Thanks in advance.

Paul B
10-04-2012, 03:20 PM
Lyman used to have a bunch of molds in many oddball sizes. You need something that will cast out around 0.304" or at least size to that figure. One was #300136 which has been long ago discontinued. Not even sure it would work assuming you find one. It might not cast a bullet quite fat enough to work. It used gas checks for 7MM.
Lyman trashed all their not so popular bullet molds and threw away the cherries used to cut the molds years ago. You could check with some of the more higher end mold makers to see if they'll make you one but be prepared for a high price tag. You might check with David Mos. He used to make up special order molds at one time. Dunno if he still does that. He made a clone of the Lyman #3589 mold for those of us shooting .35 Whelens and IIRC, mine cost $100. One of the best casting molds I own. You could ask for contact info over on Cast Boolits as I no longer have it on hand.
Probably the best place to ask would be:

http://castboolits.gunloads.com/index.php?sid=41389a0d410b77be3d0c2f91547649e3 or


Paul B.

10-04-2012, 03:22 PM
I sure do. I have two K31's (one stock and one sporterized) and they are just about my favorite rifles. The problem with them is that they have no real throat, the good thing is that they are undersized compared to other .30cals so most any mould, even those of smaller diameter, will potentially work. They can have feeding issues with very large meplats like Lyman's 311041, and the lack of throat may mean you have to set a long target bullet like 311291 more deeply than you normally would.

The three bullets that work best in mine are the RCBS 180FN, the Ranch Dog .30cal (you better hurry if you want one as he is closing - you can get them in custom Lee 6cav & 2cavs - get the 6cav and a matching one in .35 for .357mag & max, 35rem, 358win, etc.), and the Lee 113FP "soupcan". For accuracy the RCBS is tops, but the RD's slightly larger meplat makes it a superior large game bullet. This is not to say you can't get a hollow pointer from Forster, then the RCBS is equal to the RD on game. The soupcan is great for small game and plinking.

You said you had it measured, but did not say if the barrel was actually slugged. From the posted measurements it sounds like a cerosafe casting that included some of the barrel, and it seems a bit on the small side. BUT, I have never measured a 1911, only K31's, so I am not sure about it. To be sure, I would slug the barrel and measure the slug with a mic, not a caliper. (A caliper is just NOT accurate enough, even if it has a digital readout, and you need the higher level of accuracy to choose the right sizer.) If those measurements are accurate then I would try a .308. If you go any smaller you may not have sufficient neck tension to hold the bullet properly and your accuracy will go to hell in a bucket. Generally, expander balls and neck sizers are designed for .308 jacketed bullets.

I usually size all my .30cals at .310 to avoid confusion with my other .30cal rifles - the K31's feed them with no problems, but with their tighter bores they do just as well at .308 (and are the only rifles I have that will). Everything else much prefers the larger diameter. A few thousandths larger is no problem as long as they chamber, but a few thou smaller can be - poor accuracy and barrel leading. They do well with WW alloy for hunting bullets and either lino or 50/50 lino/pure for target bullets.

1700 - 2400fps is the velocity range you will be working in (maybe up to 2600 or 2700 with soupcans), so you must reduce your loads - I suggest IMR 3031 and 4895 as they can be reduced with no danger. NEVER try reduced loads with ball powders. Harder bullets can be pushed faster without leading, but they will not expand, so stick with wheel weight alloy for hunting bullets. Watch for leading as you get up into the jacketed bullet table.

Also, the older 1911 chambers are a bit different than the K31's, and the newer die sets are made for the newer chambers. It may or may not be an issue. You'll need a Lee collet neck sizer, factory crimp, and a neck expander die anyway.

Here's a great website if you have not already discovered it: http://www.swissrifles.com/