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I've been reloading off and on over the past few years and have been thinking about casting. I'd like to start of with casting for my 30-30 or maybe my 45-70. I've got a friend that runs a tire shop, so I think I can get a pile of lead wheel weights. Aside from that, how much do you have in your casting setup? Any one thing that you thought was a "must have" or a waste of money?

thanks,
James
 

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It is kind of like reloading, a little or a lot. One good way to get started is to actually request a catalog from an outfit like Lee Precision and/or Lyman so you can get an idea concerning the equipment used. Sure, you can look at stuff on the internet but there is nothing like a good bathroom reader!

You mentioned wheel weights. With that comment the one suggestion that I would make is that you plan on having to sources for melting lead. One for rendering the WW in ingots. This is a process that prepares the alloy to be used for bullets and removes all the trash contained in the material. That process will leave a lot of residue that you do not want in your bullet casting pot. I use a catfish fryer for smelting lead into ingots. A shallow cast pan is good to work from. Mine is attached to the burner so that it cannot turn over with 30# of lead in it. Trust me it can.

The actual casting pot might be a choice made based on the number of bullets you will cast each season. Most cast a year or two supply at a time. Beyond the pot, really all that remains is a ladle. Sure there are lots of small things you will end up working with but most of that comes from a normal work area bench.
 

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I am not sure exactly how much $$ I got in it, but I know I ain't thru yet. I got a Lee bottom pour I really like. I got quite a few Lee molds that were fairly inexpensive and work pretty good. I bought some actual ingot molds, but think they were a waste of $$, too small. I went to a flea market and bought a big pot for about $30.00 to smelt in. I also picked up some muffin pans ( tin, don't get aluminum ones they melt) to make ingots in and a metal spoon that I pour with ( each of these were about a dollar a piece) I bought a gas burner at cabelas that had been returned for around $25.00 or so. I would like to get some of RD's molds in the future. I have not had much time to cast much lately, but now is a good time while it is still cold.
 

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This thread has some relavence to the topic. http://www.marlinowners.com/forums/index.php/topic,72163.0.html

I started casting in spring of '09 with....

Lee C309-160-R, 2-cavity mold $20
Lee .309" sizing die $15
Hornady gas checks (1000) $27
RCBS ladle $20
Lee ladle $3 (it's my skimming spoon, buy one and you'll see why that's all I use it for)
RCBS 10 lb casting pot $20
pigskin work gloves $8
Those items add up to $113 not including shipping.

I also commandeered an old steel cooking pot (holds about 30# of alloy), a muffin-tin, an old hammer (cut the handle off) and my Coleman campstove that never got used more than once a year anyway. I have since added about a dozen molds, sizing dies, a hardness tester, a deep-fry burner, 10 qt. cast-iron pot and a Lee Pro4-20, but that's what I started with and those first boolits gave me MOA groups in my Win M70, .30-06 at 1850 fps.
 

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I picked up most of my equipment used. First thing you should do is pick up a Lyman Casting manual. It will give you a step by step how too. I would really hang out in the Castboolit forum. They are a great bunch of guys and will answer any question that you may have. The site also has a great Swapping and Trading forum. Back to the orginal question, I have probably tied up close to 1000.00 in casting stuff including numerous moulds, (Just won one on Ebay for 30.00 and got in on a group buy for a brass one for 108.00). Sounds like you have a good source for one of the most importan items..lead. I have over three 55 gal drums of WW that I have to smelt. I used to sell alot of my lead and that funded most of my casting stuff. I am going to save the rest since it is gonna be hard to come by in the future. You will not regret starting to cast. It sure is nice to shoot whenever you want and not worry about the cost of ammo...good luck !!
 

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I cast from a 2 quart stainless sauce pan on a 5 dollar yard sale Coleman stove with a Lyman ladle for 20 some years before I bought an electric furnace. Probably cleaned over a ton of scrap in that same sauce pan over that period as well. Add a Lee mold and sizing kit and you are in the game for less than $75.
 

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Lyman 4th Edition Manual
Lyman Big Dipper Furnace
Ranchdog 6 cavity TLC311-165-RF mold
Lee 6 cavity mold handle
Lee 2 cavity mold for .38 special (358-105-SWC)
Lee 4 cavity ingot mold
Lee lube and size die, .311

Hmm, that's all I have so far. Figure I need a dipper, some lead alloy, flux, a thermometer, and some gas checks. Oh, right, I need some more sizing dies, too, almost forgot. Woohoo, Michael has some .310s in! I'm glad I checked on this thread.

I'm pretty much trying to go as cheap as possible and still get decent stuff. The Lyman furnace had pretty good reviews on Midway's website, and looks pretty solid.
 

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I bought a fairly cheap Lee 20-pound casting furnace for about $55, plus a few molds, about $25 each. Then a ladle I don't use. I think that's about it. So far. There are definately more molds on the list.
 

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Id say about $300. A 100 of that was for a check maker.
A Lee furnace and Ranch Dog molds were the brunt of the cost.

I used a coleman stove for years, but the gas exceeded the price of the furnace.
With a furnace you wont need the $35 thermometer I have either.
The Lyman casting books are a good source of info, I have picked up a few, and look for them at gun shows.

I make my own lube, along with a few of the implements.
Bought a 5 gallon bucket of WWs and still have lots to go. I also bought 50lbs of linotype.
 

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Although I'm not the original poster I wanted to say that you guys are doing a great job responding with info! I too am interested in getting started in this. I shoot so much each week that I can't afford to continue in the jacketed realm much longer. I think if I invest in a startup for casting I'll end up getting a return on investment very quick (three months at most for any particular caliber). At least that is my story and I'm sticking to it.

Guess I need to start looking into molds for the following:

- 45 Colt (240-250 gr range)
- 44 Mag (240-250 gr range)
- 444 (265-300 gr range)
- 45/70 (325 & 405)

I'll also start spending more time on Cast Boolits.

Keep the info coming..........
 

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Scott, you can save the cost of a mold by using Ranch Dog's fantastic 265 gr in both the .444 and the .44 magnum. Shoots great in both and hits very hard.
 

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Tony65x55 said:
Scott, you can save the cost of a mold by using Ranch Dog's fantastic 265 gr in both the .444 and the .44 magnum. Shoots great in both and hits very hard.
See Tony, that right there is why I love this site! I knew one of you experienced casters would jump in and give me ideas specific to my calipers. The folks that participate (share information) are what makes this site special. ;D
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
As 1895 Gunner stated, thanks for the great info. Did any of you guys start out using gas checks? Or did you just cast straight lead/lead-alloy and eventually move up to including gas checks.
 

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I find the Lyman manual very dated. It is a good tool if you are using their product line. The reloading data is pretty much "plinking" loads with bullets cast from their molds. Most of the data is with pistol powders, they really don't use a cast bullet as a replacement for jacketed bullets. Of course, if that is what you are looking for it is a great resource.

The best resource for any cast bullet shooter is those offered through The Los Angeles Silhouette Club. They have become known for their dedication to developing cast bullet shooting. They have an excellent online reference manual, Cast Bullets For Beginner And Expert, and this will take you to their other resources. There is a decade worth of reading and learning on this Club's web site. The manual mentioned is available in print form. I received a copy as part of a new membership in the Cast Bullet Association. It is nice to have the material at my bench. If it is not being given with membership, it is available for $13 through their store. The CBA has a great forum as well and their magazine, the Fouling Shot, is a good read.
 

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marlin_james said:
As 1895 Gunner stated, thanks for the great info. Did any of you guys start out using gas checks? Or did you just cast straight lead/lead-alloy and eventually move up to including gas checks.
When I moved into casting, I wanted to replace the performance I had with jacketed bullets which means the use of gas checks. There are no tricks to casting checked bullets. I've tried plain base molds and don't care for the reduced loads that are required for the bullet to survive the chamber pressure. I only use plain base bullets in my 25 ACP, 32 ACP and 380 Auto.

This is a bit like reloading, don't come into it to save money! I'm casting 27 different bullet designs for 23 cartridges. About 25,000 bullets a year. Things can get out of hand quick. My wife always says that I need to hire a full time bullet caster and reloader!
 

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Ranch Dog said:
What's wrong with us here at Marlin Owners?
Ya! We got cooties or sumthin?
 

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1895Gunner said:
See Tony, that right there is why I love this site! I knew one of you experienced casters would jump in and give me ideas specific to my calipers. The folks that participate (share information) are what makes this site special. ;D
I was just sucking you in. Once you get that 265 gr mold and see how good it shoots in both your guns, your mind is going to say, "how about the 300 gr? I bet it shoots good too. Or maybe the 350 gr so I can shoot diesel locomotives out of my .444?" The next thing you know, you got the whole set and you become consumed like us. Pretty soon your wife is advising you to hire someone to cast for you... (sorry Michael ;D ;D ;D)

Oh ya, to answer the original question. I've been casting for 28 years and of course, am constantly accumulating stuff, molds, etc. I might have a couple of thousand in it but in truth, it has given me enormous pleasure and one hell of a lot of shooting for that small amount of money. The beauty is you don't have to spend much to get in. Less then a couple of hundred gets you everything you need and more and you'll save that in no time if you were going to buy factory bullets instead. Case in point, when you get one of Ranch Dog's fine 265 gr 6 cavity molds going, it is no great trick to cast several hundred bullets in a hour. You'll discover that these are every bit as effective as the finest premium bullet you can buy... at how much per hundred?

The effect of doing that much shooting should not be underestimated. I know many shooters and can honestly say the finest field shots I know are the avid casters. It isn't magic, they just shoot a lot more than most. Makes them into pretty good shots mostly.
 

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Tony65x55 said:
The effect of doing that much shooting should not be underestimated. I know many shooters and can honestly say the finest field shots I know are the avid casters. It isn't magic, they just shoot a lot more than most. Makes them into pretty good shots mostly.
This is a very good point and what actually stirred my interest in casting. I ran a levergun postal match for a few years and most of the place holders where cast bullet shooters. It kept burning at me, a fellow sent me some C430-310-RFs to try in my 444 Marlin and that was it. The bullet didn't work to well for me but it sparked an idea to make them better!
 
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