Monday, April 02, 2012

Range Report

Yesterday I made my first bullets. I was given a Lee lead furnace and I had bought moulds. I've had them for quite awhile. I don't know what I was waiting for, other than nice weather and a little free time.

I (sort of) followed the manufacturers directions to prepare the mold, but I didn't have alox lube, so I used the lee liquid alox. I plugged in the furnace, and soon had liquid metal. I skimmed the dross off the top with a screwdriver. Need to acquire or improvise a lead dipper.

The first pair of bullets out of the two cavity mold had one perfect, and one not so good. After awhile, I figured out the bottom pour pot, and my mould got heated up properly, and I started getting mostly good bullets without running molten metal all over the place.

A stopped when I had about 50. I lubed them with the tumble lube. I bought lee tumble lube moulds, as I figured that sounded the easiest. No sizing really necessary, unlike other types. I expect I may need to size for my .45 acp, so I bought the sizing die for that.

The tumble lube is supposed to dry overnight. I didn't wait. I loaded five and shot them with a mild load. Then I loaded those five cases and about 30 others with a full power blue dot load.

I went outside and shot most of them. I wish I could tell you how accurate they are, but I am a terrible shot with my .44. I got about a 3" group from a standing position from 30 feet. I don't think that says anything about the loads, rather my poor shooting ability with a handgun.

Next, I suppose I'll have to buy about 50 lbs of lead.


Anonymous said...

Good job an learning something new.

Tip: Don't use scrap lead, no matter how tempting "free" is. you don't really know what is in it. New lead is pretty cheap. Protect yourself from other people's toxic mistakes is always a good investment.

Giraffe said...

I think I might buy it on Ebay. There are people selling it with good feedback. It's little over a buck per pound.

Wheel weights used to be the big thing, but I tried getting them locally and nobody had much. Perhaps I should try again. I think they banned lead in wheel weights. The bad thing is zinc, some are made of zinc and 1 part in 1000 will ruin your allow.

I've found new alloy for twice as much. I figure worst case, it is about half the cost of buying cast bullets.

Anonymous said...

Also, if you shoot into a trap, they are reusable. Melt and recast.

Giraffe said...

Yeah, but I have not seen much for bullet traps. Must be a liability things. They make big ones for indoor ranges, and small ones for rimfires and airguns, but not much that will handle a large handgun.

There is a forum, castboolits that is like the Bible of bullet casting. One of the members there sent me my furnace and threw in some lead for the cost of shipping. They have some info on homemade traps, so I might have to look into that.

You have to shoot a lot, I think to pay for it, but it may be a good idea anyway. At 50 rounds per month 65 pounds would last me 3 years. 50 rounds per month isn't much. The bullet, at about 4 cents is still the single most expensive component, assuming the cases last 5 shots.

Anonymous said...

Not that complicated. Steel plate angled to deflect lead down. Or if you are cheap, you can use a berm covered in playground sand and sift it out every couple of months.

A shame lead isn't magnetic.

Res Ipsa said...

Cool. I've never done this type of reloading. I always find it interesting how many different aspects there are in the shooting sports.

Giraffe said...

Not that complicated.

Acutally after looking at the site I linked, a bog full of rubber mulch will stop them. Some even used a 5 gallon bucket with a steel plate in the bottom filled with rubber mulch.

It really isn't complicated at all. I will want to build one that will stop rifle bullets so I can melt them down to.

Anonymous said...


I saw over at PH's that you are triming AR brass. Why? Its one thing if you have a couple of hundred rounds for shooting dogs. I don't waste time on brass that isn't ment for precision work.

Res Ipsa

Giraffe said...

I trim because I am paranoid. But I guess you are right.

If a piece of brass is too long, it jams into the throat and doesn't release the bullet as easy, causing high pressure.

That is what I was afraid of, but, now that you mention it, I probably should just measure and only trim the long ones.

Res Ipsa said...

"If a piece of brass is too long, it jams into the throat and doesn't release the bullet as easy, causing high pressure."

This is true, but not all that important in a semi auto. Your not going to spike the pressure unless you're shooting hot or temp sensitive loads. I haven't inspected your chamber but I'm guessing that anything too long that would create excessive pressure might not even chamber. I'd measure and only trim if needed.

I have ammo that I use for precision shooting. All of that brass is as close to exactly the same as I can make it. For just plinking though, its not worth the effort.

Giraffe said...

Another reason, I have some cheap bullets with a canneluer. The first time I loaded, I was crimping, and you need uniform length.

Now, I use Midway dogtown bullets, so no need to crimp. Really, there wasn't any need even with the others. I guess I kept the process without questioning it.

I am going to get one of these:

lyman ezee

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I use the Lee trimmers which only trims if they are too long. It makes each one exactly the right size so there is no "overtrimming". And connected to my power drill makes the work go really fast.

I also put a small vise grip attached to the shell holder to make locking and releasing easy.

Giraffe said...

I use the same one. That is part of the problem. I either have to measure every case, or chuck every one up and trim it whether it needs it or not. Neither is a great option if I am doing a couple hundred cases. I don't think my caliper locks, or it would perform the same function as the above linked gauge.

I only want to mess with them if they need it. If it fits, load it, if it doesn't trim it.

Also, PH, the vise grip is a good idea, but I bought the 3 jaw chuck with an adapter for my drill. It isn't perfect, but I like it better than the orignal lock stud.