Bullet Casting Part 3
We’ve finally reached the pointed where we are ready to cast our first bullets. Exciting as it may be, always remember to use safe techniques and to wear proper safety equipment, including heat-resistant gloves and eye protection. Also, it is best to not wear loose or baggy clothing as it may accidentally get caught in the equipment. A shop apron is good to use, also. If not, the first time you accidentally splatter hot lead on your clothes will have you wishing you had one.
Also, always cast bullets in a well-vented area. As you will be working with lead, inhaling the fumes could cause serious health issues for anyone in the area.
With the alloy well-fluxed, simply dip into the melt with your side-pour dipper, hold the mold to the side, put the dipper spout to the mold's sprue hole and rotate them together into a vertical position so that the melt runs into the mold. Then pour a generous puddle of alloy on top of the sprue to allow for shrinkage inside the cavity as the alloy cools and hardens. This will help avoid cavities in the bullet base, a common cause of poor accuracy and a sure sign of poor casting technique.
In a few seconds the alloy will harden and the mold will be ready to open and give forth a newborn bullet.
Use a stick of hardwood to open the sprue cutter. Don't use a metal hammer to hit the sprue cutter or you'll surely damage it. The first bullets out of a cold mold usually look like silver-plated prunes, all wrinkly and ugly. But as the mold heats up, the alloy will flow more freely and the bullets will come out sharp. Sometimes it takes a while for oil or other preservatives to burn out of a mold (another cause of wrinkled bullets), so clean your molds well with a solvent before use.
If your bullets have a frosty appearance, it means the mold is too hot. This is corrected by reducing the temperature of the melt and/or slowing down your rate of casting so that the mold cools between pours. Most casters will use two molds at once, alternating pours so they have more time to cool and for the alloy to solidify. Remember, the bullets are still rather soft and tender as they come hot from the mold, so catch them on something soft, such as several layers of cotton towels.
You’ll find that, often times, the bullets won’t simply fall out of the mold. Most of the time, this is remedied simply by tapping the hinge of the mold, causing the bullet to fall out. Do not pry the bullet out, as this will damage the bullet and the mold.
After casting a batch of bullets and allowing them to cool down enough to touch, do a careful examination of each one. No matter how experienced you are, you will have several that did not fill completely. Simply add these back to
your melting pot.
You won’t be
perfect, your first time around: it will take you time to get used to pouring the lead into the mold, especially since you’ll be dealing with high heat and molten metal. As long as you make it safe, you should have no problem adding this to your reloading process.