Casting Bullets for the Muzzleloader

When I first started casting I found it to be a bit tricky. First I melted a few ingots of lead.

I wear this full face shield when cast. I am around molten metal far too often to take any chances. When I was melting aluminum I got a splatter of molten aluminum right between the eyes - on my face shield! You can never be too careful. I also wear full body coveralls just in case.

The ladle I use is like a cup with a hole in the bottom. I find that with this ladle the dross stays in the ladle and I get pure clean lead in my mold. Every once in awhile I will scoop all the dross with my ladel and let the pure lead flow out the bottom and then just tap the dross off using the ingot mold. This ladle really works good to fill bullets and remove dross.

The ladle and the bullet mold should be preheated so that you can pour lead into a hot mold that will form the bullet.

The bullet mold has a striker on the top where you cut off the 'sprue' or the column of lead that feeds the bullet. In this first attempt my bullet mold wasn't hot enough and for the first few tries I was getting partial bullets. Also when a cold mold is used, striking off the sprue is difficult since the lead solidifies really fast. It's easy to strike of the sprue when the mold is hot and you strike it as soon as the lead solidifies when the lead is still very soft.

In no time at all I was casting a whole bunch of bullets. Soon I realized that I was getting 'wings' on some of the bullets and noticed that I had put too much soot on the mold. I wiped the face of the mold with a dry cloth and it solved that problem.

Most people use a wood dowel to move the top piece to strike off the sprue but I found that a pair of pliers worked best for me. I would also tap the mold on the hinge bolt to shake the newly cast bullets out of the mold. Once the mold was at the right temperature I could cast two bullets about every 30 seconds or so. Soon I ran out of lead in my pot and had to add some more and wait for it to come up to temperature. Waiting for new ingots to melt is what took the longest. Perhaps a bigger pot would be a bit quicker, but I find the small pot of molten lead a bit safer which is fine for me. This electric lead melter has a rheostat on it to adjust the temperature and I found a setting of '7' worked the best for me. I soon realized that I could turn up the thermostat to melt ingots and turn it down again to cast bullets.

After I got going, my technique was to cast a bunch of bullets and drop them on the blue towel. After they cooled and when the towel was full I would go through them and inspect them for defects. At first about half of them had defects, wings, or incomplete portions and I would remelt them in the pot. I found that a pair of pliers worked well for putting the hot sprues back in the pot. After the mold came up to prime temperature and I wiped the face of the mold with a soft cloth, most of my defect problems were solved. I did have one instance where I had gotten some lead on the face of the mold and it produced bullets with 'wings'. I couldn't get the lead off the face of the mold so I heated the whole thing up really hot to get it off. The only problem is that I tried to cast a bullet when it was really hot and the bullet took forever (a minute or so) to solidify and I had to sit there with the mold closed in my hand until the lead solidified. The mold has to be at the right temp for proper bullet casting.

Here I tried some round ball casting (0.490 inch round balls).

They came out pretty good but I did notice that they have a small flat spot on one side from striking off the sprue. It will be interesting to see if this affects accuracy.

If you don't have a hardness tester, here's a good way to test the hardness. Get a box of pure lead round balls from your local muzzleloader shop. Sqeeze a ball in the vice as hard as you can. You will see that it deforms quite easily. Then take your scrap lead and cast a ball of similar size and squeeze it in the vice. Here you see a pure lead ball on the left and a ball cast from my wheel weights on the right. Wow what a difference. This test clearly shows that the wheel weights are way too hard for muzzleloading.

Click on 'LUBING' under the banner at the top of the page to go to the next topic.
Web www.aaawebmaster.com
Copyright 2006
Page Posted in April, 2006
Site Designed and Constructed by
Chris Hardwick