Casting lead bullets the old way is now becoming a dying art. But some people still do it for the purpose of economy, accuracy and authenticity. This is also preferable for those with vintage or very old types of guns with bullets that aren’t easy to find and aren’t sold commercially.
Remember how they made bullets during the cowboy days and the revolutionary eras? Those cast-lead bullets were so effective and powerful. Some might think it’s difficult or even too dangerous to do. That’s why there are precautionary measures to follow. If you want to try a hand at casting lead bullets in the old style, follow these instructions carefully.
- Make sure you wear the proper attire and check that you’ve secured these safety measures first before you begin to cast lead bullets.
- Wear your safety gear: safety glasses, thick leather gloves, long sleeves and thick long pants, and a mask.
- Work outdoors or in an area with proper ventilation.
- Prevent water or liquids - even your own perspiration - from coming into contact with molten lead, as it causes the mixture to heat up more and shoot up out of the mold.
- Make sure to always wash your hands thoroughly.
Materials and tools
- Lead (any scrap material or recycled piece of lead—a salvaged cast bullet, lead pipe, lead weight, etc.)
- Cast iron pot
- Stove (even a simple propane camp stove or cast brass burner would do)
- Aluminum foil
- Bullet molds (can be bought from manufacturers of molds&etc. like Lee, Lyman, Rapine, SAECO, RCBS, NEI, etc. and comes with one, two, or four cavities)
- Paraffin candle or beeswax or Marvelux
- Ladle (can be an old soup ladle)
- Can (must be empty and used or recycled)
- Casting mallet
- Old towels (an old shirt would also do)
- Before using your mold, make sure that it’s still in good condition if it isn’t new. When in storage, you can coat it with oil to preserve its quality; before usage, clean it with an old toothbrush and a solvent. After drying, smoke the bullet molds by lighting two matches and playing the fire along the inside until a layer of soot is produced in the cavities.
- Fire up your stove and melt your lead in your iron pot. You can choose to wrap your pot with aluminum foil to make it heat up faster. Preheat your molds by putting them on top of your pot.
- At full temperature, you will need to flux the metal by using paraffin or beeswax. You can also opt to use a popular bullet casting flux called Marvelux. Drop a pea-sized lump carefully into the pot. Then use your ladle to stir the molten metal and scrape against the sides and the bottom to mix it thoroughly. This is where caution should be exercised the most. Adding too much Marvelux, paraffin, or beeswax will cause the molten mixture to erupt in a thick smoke or burst into violent flames. That’s why you have to wear protective gear to save yourself from dangerous splatters and from inhaling too much fumes.
- When the metal is fully melted, all dirt and impurities will float and show. You can skim them off with the ladle and put it in the can. Throw this away after gathering all of the dirt and impurities.
- You are now ready to pour molten lead into your molds. Use a ladle to transfer the mixture into the mold and allow for a small puddle to form at the top of the mold. Wait for the lead to grow cold and hard. When it has solidified, use a casting mallet to shear off the excess lead.
- Lay an old towel or shirt on top of a flat, padded surface. Put your mold upside down inches above the towel. With the casting mallet, gently strike the mold handle at the hinge until the bullets come down. Not all of the bullets will come down as easily so persist in striking gently until they do. Be careful not to strike too hard to prevent damaging your molds.
- Inspect and arrange your cast bullets one by one. Separate the usable ones from those that are not. You can’t shoot bullets that have wrinkles, a frosted look, bases with cuts, or those that may not be filled out much which may be due to the mold not having reached the perfect temperature. You can save the rejected ones for the next casting. If you’re a first-timer, you’re more likely to produce some flawed bullets., but don’t despair. When you get the hang of doing this repeatedly and adjusting your flaws and mistakes, you’ll soon produce perfect and efficient cast-lead bullets for reloading and shooting in no time.
- Put the usable ones in a plastic tub with lid. Put a spoonful of lube or liquid alox on them. Seal the tub and roll it around gently to coat the bullets evenly with lube. Pour the lube-coated bullets neatly on a piece of wax paper and let it dry overnight. After that, you’re now ready reloading lead bullets or shooting lead bullets that you have cast yourself.