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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Questions for those of you who cast your own: is this mostly done for the pride of being able to do it, or do you really save enough $$ to cover the cost of equipment and the time it takes to do it? I'm just looking at the process and counting time, thinking okay, if you were getting paid your usual hourly rate during the time you took to do this, how much $$ would you have to go buy the bullets...? Don't take this wrong, I'm fascinated by the process and very curious. I need another shooting related hobby like I need another hole in the head, but I'm wondering about net cost per 1000 rounds, for example.
 

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Well, I figured up what it cost me to load a 230 gr. round nose jacketed bullet for a .45 ACP. Bullet was about 20 cents. Primer 4 3 cents, powder, 2 cents. Not counting shell case as I alreadyhave those. So, we are looking at about 30 cents a shot.
If you cast your own, with scrap wheel weights that you pick up somewhere for nothing, you can get down to about 10 cents a round.
Once you get good and establish a good rythem, you can cast up a lot of bullets in an hour, especially if you have a four or six cavity mould.
 

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As with most anything, it all DEPENDS. I do it because: 1) have the time; 2) permits me to shoot a lot more for the same $$s; 3) pride and satisfaction of shooting something I made. For the casual shooter with little or no time to do, it probably would not be worth it. Another variable one must consider, it the number of calibers one wishes to cast for - the more calibers or bullet types involved = more cost in moulds & sizers - BUT - also takes advantage of the common equipment already on hand (pot, lead, press).

If doing it to save money as the only concern, this would be dependent on the cost of your cast alloy. Here is an example if you just buy the boolits already cast:

45ACP
$68.00 Shipped for 1000 230gr Cast boolits from Missouri Bullets = .07 per round
$00.00 Free wheel weights or range lead = .00 per round
$16.43 1000 230gr boolits from Wheel Weights @.50lb = .02 per round

In my opinion, the MINIMUM equipment needed to cast your first boolit would be a Lee bottom pour melting pot (holds 20lbs) will cost you around $65.00 on sale at Midway.

http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=645810

A 230gr 45ACP Lee Mould (2 cavity) on sale now at Midway for $17.79 - regular price is $19.79 -or- a 6 cavity 230gr for $38.49.

http://www.midwayusa.com/browse/BrowseProducts.aspx?pageNum=1&tabId=1&categoryId=9257&categoryString=9315***685***8657***9247***

A Lee push through sizing die (use with a standard reloading press) on sale now for $13.89 from Midway - regular price is $15.49.

http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=116429

Total expenditure would be around $100.00

Using the Missouri Bullet cost of $68.00 per 1000 and getting your lead for free, you would need to cast around 1400 boolits to recoup your investment of $100.00 (savings of .07 per round).

Time it takes to cast and size 1000 boolits - again it DEPENDS if all goes well!! I have actually never timed it, but these are my best guess estimates. Usually it will take your pot 30-45 minutes to melt the alloy. Using a 2 cavity mould, I would guess around 130 minutes for casting 1000 (6-8 seconds between drops). Sizing is simple using the Lee push through die - around 45 minutes. Total "guess" = 220 minutes / around 3.5hrs. Of course, I piddle around and it may take me a little longer!!

Another important variable -- you got to like to tinker with this type stuff .... it can be frustrating at times (wrinkled boolits, mould want fill out well, etc) - each little problem has its own unique "cause" and its own "fix." You will also find yourself experimenting a lot in order to get to that "perfect" boolit!! The equipment listed above is MINIMUM required .. just like reloading, there are many bells and whistles out there that can be purchased in your quest for that "perfect" boolit.

Hope this helps!
 

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Hammer said:
Well, I figured up what it cost me to load a 230 gr. round nose jacketed bullet for a .45 ACP. Bullet was about 20 cents. Primer 4 3 cents, powder, 2 cents. Not counting shell case as I already have those. So, we are looking at about 30 cents a shot.
I just wanted to add to Hammer's post, because if you prefer to shoot jacketed bullets for the advantages they offer as I do, .45 caliber 230 FMJ's can be had for a good bit less than $.20 per bullet.

Precision Delta Bullets are $.12 - $.13 a piece and made right here in Mississippi. Tom at Action Shooting Supply could probably beat this price by a small amount, potentially getting them a hair under $.12 a piece by saving shipping and possibly tax, and you could pick them up from him at the Mississippi Classic in Jackson the third weekend in May or at another local match he attends up that way.

Zero bullets are about $.13 a piece delivered depending on quantity bought, located in Cullman, Alabama.

Montana Gold Bullets are about $.15 - $.17 shipped depending on quantity.

Lots of good information provided by the good Captain, in my opinion. Captain mentioned as cheap as free or up to $17 per thousand with lead at $.50 per pound, so there is some variance.

I personally look at the time involved. Captain provided what I believe to be an honest estimate of 3+ hours. What is your time worth? If Missouri lead bullets are $68.00 shipped, you are worth about $22 per hour (or less) if your lead is free, and $17 per hour if your lead costs $.50 per pound. Of course all of these numbers will change as the raw materials fluctuate (and generally increase). There is also something to be said for the self reliance and satisfaction of casting your own. My $.02 anyway.
 

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DBChaffin said:
.. What is your time worth? If Missouri lead bullets are $68.00 shipped, you are worth about $22 per hour (or less) if your lead is free, $17 per hour if your lead costs $.50 per pound, and $9 per hour at Mr. Bowser's casting cost. Of course all of these numbers will changes as the raw materials fluctuate (and generally increase). There is also something to be said for the self reliance and satisfaction of casting your own. My $.02 anyway.
Thanks for the add on --- good info!!

There is another aspect of casting that I did not mention but brought to the forefront above ... the future and self reliance. Over the past several years it has been a quest of mine to be able to cast for everything I own .. Revolver, pistol, rifle, and shotgun and "hoard" enough raw materials to produce boolits for many years to come. Casting and reloading never gets cheaper - prices of components are continually on the rise. I am confident that I can continue to produce boolits for years to come without having to rely on what the future may bring .... still have not found that "perfect" AR .224 boolit load but still working on it!!
 

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For .45 ACP, I have 3 - 4 cavity bullet moulds. You ought to see how fast they can empty a 20 pound pot. I have a 4 cavity .38 wad cutter and a 4 cavity .38 semi-wad cutter mould as well as a 4 cavity .44 Magnum bullet mould. It is very fast to mould bullets this way. I figure the ammo cost this way:

Primer .03
Load of Bullseye .01

Total .04 per round

I do not factor in any cost for my time. I figure the reloading is part of the sport and more pleasureable than work. That makes my ammo $2.00 per 50 rounds, not too bad.


Doug
 

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I apologize for the misquotation due to my misunderstanding of your previous post, Mr. Bowser, and I have edited my post to attempt and correct it. Thank you for clearing that up.

As an aside, I wish that I got all of my brass back, but I lose some percentage even when I shoot at my office range or a match, let alone a major match which is typically "lost brass". Guess I could shoot a revolver, LOL.
 

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Economics aside, I wanted to learn a new aspect of the shooting sports.

I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction learning to do the process myself. Its very relaxing to me. I'm not dependent on anyone or anything else for my bullets....not to mention what "could happen" if the evil empire decides to ban bullets or say levy a severe tax on them per box...I intend to keep shooting no matter what.

I don't think you have to factor in your labor...you don't pay yourself to mow the yard or to go fishing do ya?.....I got plenty work to do...

Its a choice....I choose to reload and cast my own because I enjoy it....someone else might like watching NASCAR on TV...everything's a choice...for a little while longer...we are not totally Socialist yet....

Next up for me is learning to make my own primers
 

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Well said, and I understand your post entirely. Due to some of the posts here, I may very well get into casting some myself. I don't expect the majority of my fired rounds to become cast anytime soon though, unless something terrible happens as you suggested.

I am probably more impatient than many here, but I found out a long time ago that I prefer the actual shooting to loading bullets, cleaning guns, etc. I consequently prefer big progressive presses and doing what is necessary and little more.
 

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+1 If you folks can manage to "pay yourselves" for all you have to do around the house etc then you are a lot brighter than I am...

Bottom Line....Boolit casting TURNS ME ON! :crazy:

I've even had a few "inquiries" from folks wanting to buy some off me....but I'm not quite "good enough" at it

If you can find someone near you to give you a "demo" of the process you might just get "hooked" :D
 

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msredneck said:
.......Next up for me is learning to make my own primers
Hey Neck.... I will have to attend the same Primer Making classes you do.
Those little boogers are the only "catch" the Man (US Gooberment) has on us.

Like Captain & Neck, I cast bullets to reduce my unit shooting costs. I started many years ago to feed my guns because back then I had MORE TIME than $$$. I was HEAVY into 3 different type handgun competitions plus I have SMGs to feed. I also started small (minimum equipment), but as my need for ammo increased and "free time" decreased, I invested in better (faster) casting equipment.

If you are just a casual plinker, then I suggest you start as recommended by Captain. I will tell you.... That while I have a fairly nice bullet casting setup, I still need to get "in the mood" to cast. Hey, I just bought 2 LEE 6-cavity 40cal 175gr TC molds (& handles), however, I am still trying to get in the mood and find the time to cast. But when I do.... I will spend the time to cast 1500-2000 bullets which will last me quite a while.

All my rambling is leading to this............... Bullet Casting does take knowledge (most is developed with OJT). Yes, I have PRIDE in that I make GOOD bullets. Yes, you will need to put your TIME into casting. How much time depends on your skill and equipment. But the bottom line is CHEAPER SHOOTING if you shoot enough during the year. Bullet casting is like reloading.... You have to make the decision to "invest" in the equipment to do it. But after the initial $$$ is spent, your only concerns are components (reloading) and raw lead (casting).

Now to the flip side........... Until about 2-3 years ago (in a window of about 2 years), it was easier & "cheaper" for me to buy factory ammo (ie: Win. WB or Fed. AE 9mm @ $5/box and Win. & Fed. 45acp @ $8/box). As we all know, those days are LONG GONE.....
Now, factory 9mm @ $10+ and 45acp @ $20+.

If you are really a shooter (mainly for handguns), I suggest you look into bullet casting. You don't have to be into handgun competitions, just someone that might shoot 200+ rounds a month. Start with the minimum equipment to see if you like casting. If your desire & needs increase, buy faster equipment.

.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Part of my curiosity over the whole bullet casting issue centered around what Cap'n said-self reliance. I don't want to sound like a kook survivalist, but pragmatism is a good trait, IMO. Being able to hunt your own meat, grow your own garden, can your own food, make your own bullets....

For $100, I might be convinced to break down and try this. I see that there are several videos on youtube describing the process, but don't want to get bad info by watching jakelegs doing it wrong. Any vids y'all can point me to that describe the process well?
 

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I will review a few videos and try to post a few links late tonight ..
 

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Thought Subgunfan had already posted a link to one of his vid's but maybe not...but it was only the casting process..

There's the "refining" process of taking the raw material (say range bullets or Wheel weights) and putting it into a more useable form... ingots

I'm not gonna lie to ya...its a little involved...You might melt raw material one day and put it in ingots and label it for storage....

Cast a few hundred another day and resize em...

then eventually load em up

It does kinda go along with the whole self-reliance thing....I can make em...load em...shoot em...kill it...drag it home...butcher it...clean it...cook it and eat it...actually most of mine will be practice ammo.... :lol4:

In baseball they call that "hitting for the cycle"

I'm sure Captain-03 and Subgunfan will post some educational as well as entertaining info...instead of you having to read my :bull:

I do TRY to be entertaining however....
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
And you succeed at that, 'Neck! :2tup:

For reloading my .30-06 ammo, I read once that you could use a small amount of castor oil, smeared into a pan and used sparingly. I tried it, and it worked beautifully (took veeeery little of it). Is it illogical to think that you could lube your cast lead bullets with the same, and avoid all that wax heating and pouring stuff? The point of the lube is to allow the sizing die to work without leading and to allow the bullet to be seated without sticking in the die, right?
 

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That's what they make this stuff for..although for high velocity rifle like 30'06 I probably go with lube in the groove...

But the Lee Lube sizer kits with Lee Alox are cheap ($15) and effective for low vel. pistol rds that I'm looking at right now..Just put a very small amount of lube with bullets in an old Cool Whip container and stir...then run em up the pipe of the Lee sizer die that screws right in like any other die...It's the K.I.S.S. method...is it as good as a high $ lube sizer?...heck no...but its cheap and gets the job done for now

 

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slabsides45 said:
And you succeed at that, 'Neck! :2tup:

For reloading my .30-06 ammo, I read once that you could use a small amount of castor oil, smeared into a pan and used sparingly. I tried it, and it worked beautifully (took veeeery little of it). Is it illogical to think that you could lube your cast lead bullets with the same, and avoid all that wax heating and pouring stuff? The point of the lube is to allow the sizing die to work without leading and to allow the bullet to be seated without sticking in the die, right?
The point of the lube is to lube the barrel as the bullet travels down it to prevent leading of the barrel. If you dont have some type of lube, the barrel will retain some lead off of the bullet, causing leading of the barrel. It can kill accuracy.

If you dont lube a tumble lube bullet before running it thru the lee sizer, you can lead the die. If you are using a Lyman type sizer with stick lube, you got the bullet sized before you inject the lube into the groove.
 

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If you are loading low velocity pistol ammo say 750 - 900 fps you are not gonna have much of a leading problem either way...

Later on when you want to jack up your loads or do rifle it becomes more of an issue. Bullet harness becomes more of an issue then as well...

I aint got that far yet :lol4:
 

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