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American Handgunner Nov/Dec 2010 - Page 38
John Taffin HANDLOADING SAGE ADVICE FROM THE HANDLOADING GURUS Currently molds are available as single-, double-, or 4-cavity versions. TO STarT CaSTinG? i n 1957, casting was a way to keep me shooting very inexpensively. I started with a single-cavity mold, a dipper and lead melted in a castiron pot on my mother’s gas stove. It was labor-intensive, crude and I’d never think to do it the “old” way again. Times have changed for the best, indeed. You should find a buddy who casts and learn a bit to see if it’s something you really want to do, before you invest in equipment. The first piece of equipment needed is a good book, and the best I know of is the Lyman Handbook of Cast Bullets. Along with this you need a source for equipment. I know of no more comprehensive source of casting equipment than Midway USA. Not only do they have virtually everything, they also make ordering very easy, and pride themselves on quick delivery. ready Taffin recommends running two double-cavity molds for efficiency and ease of casting. TOOLinG-uP e A soft pad is needed to receive bullets dropped from a mold; an old towel works just fine. ven before ordering equipment you need to consider a very sturdy bench and good-quality stool, since you’ll be spending many hours at the bench. When casting bullets, we’re dealing with molten alloy and temperatures from 750 to 1,000 degrees, so must-use pieces of equipment are prescription or safety glasses (and a face shield!), leather gloves and long sleeves and pants — which must be worn at all times when around molten lead. All of my original molds, .38, .44 and .45 were single cavity, however today, except for special purposes, I would not think of buying anything less than double-cavity molds. I have steel molds from Lyman, RCBS, SAECO and aluminum molds from LBT and NEI. They are all high-quality pieces of equipment. Midway stocks the first three while the latter two can be found online. Double-cavity steel molds complete with handles will run from $100 to $119 depending upon the maker. I’ve found the most efficient casting is to run two molds at a time, so one can be filled while the other is cooling. For my use I would not think of anything except a large-capacity bottom-pour casting furnace, I use both Lyman and RCBS 20-pound capacity furnaces, both priced at $257 from Midway. Along with these you will need at least three ingot molds. These are not only used for turning melted lead into easy to handle and measure 1-pound ingots, they are also used while casting. One is placed under the furnace spout to catch any drips while the other two are placed on each side to be used as a rest for each mold after it is filled. These run from $18 to $21. A wooden-mold mallet is needed to move the sprue plate on the mold, and also to tap out the bullets; these run around $11. Personally, I use a hammer-style mallet with nylon heads. will run anywhere from $25 to $48 per thousand, depending upon size and manufacturer. Totaling all this up, we come to just under $700, which is a most sizable investment. One could easily purchase $700 worth of bullets instead, however at today’s prices that is about 3,500 jacketed .44 Magnum bullets. For many shooters this would last forever, but for those who shoot a lot they will be gone in a few months; the investment in bullet casting equipment will last a lifetime. Over the past 50+ years of bullet casting, I have accumulated over 300 molds covering everything from .32 Auto up to and including the .500 Linebaugh, as well as specially molds such as hollowpoint, hollow base and even heel type bullets for the .44 S&W American and .44 Colt. You’ll soon have your favorites too! For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/productindex WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER2010 he next step is lubricating and sizing. I have Lyman, RCBS, SAECO and Star Lubri-Sizers bolted on my bench. The latter is the fastest, however each sizing die must be adjusted for one particular bullet style, mine are set up for Keith bullets, while the other three will handle a large range of bullets no matter how many grease grooves they may have. Prices run from $155 to $177. Sizing dies and top punches are necessary, with the dies running from $19 to $35 and matching top punches from $9 to $15. A lubri-sizer heater is a most useful add-on, and runs around $45. Finally, we need sticks of lube. Prices run from $4 to $7 per stick, and I prefer Javalina brand Alox for most of my shooting. If you choose bullets designed for gas checks these 38 Lube And SIzIng T *