When looking to make your own ammunition, there are a number of factors that you should consider before taking the step. The first thing to do is to understand the type of ammunition you want, the size of the round that matches the weapon you are using, the types of equipment you need, and the process you want to use. There are three main ways to make your own ammunition: casting, drawing and machining.
The method of throwing bullets is one of the oldest methods. It uses a lead furnace to melt the lead, molds for each size and caliber of bullet, and a device to size the rounds to the correct diameter and lubricate them. Launching bullets are best used for pistols such as pistols and semiautomatics, and are popular with hobby rechargers.
For this article, I will focus on how to make your own bullets using scrap lead weights to make your own ingots, pour the molds and size them and the process involved.
Throwing bullets can be fun and can give you a sense of pride in your work if you allow it. With the increased cost of munitions, it has become easier and cheaper to make your own bullets, especially if you plan to use many of them.
When wanting to throw bullets, there are some steps to successfully launch your own bullets safely: equipment and supplies, pouring bullion and, finally, the launching process. Safety is important when it comes to molten lead. So when you throw bullets, you throw intelligently.
The safety materials you would need to start should be used only for the casting process and nothing else, since the materials can be toxic, especially if there are children around. That said, the necessary materials are a respiratory mask, welding gloves, clothes that are not loose, closed shoes closed, a resistant surface to hold the welding furnace, safety glasses and a well ventilated area to work is better).
To begin with, in addition to the safety equipment, it is important to have all other necessary materials ready. You will need to buy a list of materials to begin to melt your advantage.
- Single burner stove with temperature control.
- Cast iron crucible
- Metal spoons
- Small stainless steel cups to mold the ingots.
- Cast iron ladle to collect the molten metal.
- Flux material (such as paraffin wax, candle wax, bullet lubricant, etc.)
- Bullet mold (s)
- Bullet lubricant
- Gas checks
- Aluminum skillet and aluminum cake pan
- Disposable aluminum cake pan
Once you have these materials, the next step would be to obtain your lead. What you are looking for are the weights of the lead wheels, since they have a good amount of tin and another alloy. These can be melted to make your bullets easily. A good ration for your bullet alloy would be 10 parts of lead to 1 part of tin and 1 part of antimony. If you are not sure if the source wire has a sufficient can, you can always add 1 part of the can by adding a plumbing dryer.
If you want to get the full experience, you can make your ingots instead of buying them. Wheel weights are less and less used as technology advances, so if you are going to start throwing your own bullets, it is recommended that you go to your rescue yard or local garage and get everything you can. Sometimes you will give them free, others may cost a little, so check the local sources and establish a relationship with them to make sure they save the weights for you.
When you are making your own ingots, it helps you to feel comfortable when pouring the molten alloy before the actual process of launching the bullets takes place. Make sure that your crucible does not come into contact with water. The water reacts violently with the molten metal causing the steam to blow all the molten lead on everything that is nearby.
That’s why it’s important that there’s no moisture or water anywhere nearby. Use the weights of the wheels that have the steel clips, save the stickers for another day, since these are pure lead and would be too soft for modern bullets.
Make sure there is no zinc and other things you do not need. This is a good video to order your weights here.
Once you have ordered them, take the lead weights with the steel clips and place them in the pot; To begin with, you will want approximately 5 pounds. Turn the burner to its highest position and wait. You may want to invest in a lead thermometer to make sure that the temperature stays at a certain point.
If you are working with harder alloys such as Linotype, you should increase the heat of the burner you are using. Make sure you are wearing your respirator, so you do not inhale the vapors that come out of the lead. This is toxic, so safety is extremely important.
When the alloy melts and the fire goes out, steel clips and other scrap materials from the top with a slotted spoon. This is very hot; so when you take them out, be sure to place them in a disposable mold to avoid ruining the work surface. Once you get all this out, you should keep the molten lead. To this, add your flow. This will be paraffin wax, sawdust, candle wax or flow powder like the Marvelux flow.
These options are your best option, the wax will smoke and create a smell, so you can add some sawdust or paper to help reduce the smoke. You could use beeswax, but it is better to keep it for lubrication at the later stage of the bullet’s manufacture. The flow is used to prevent metals from oxidizing and to remove impurities from the surface tension of the liquid molten metal mixture, such as calcium, zinc, copper and aluminum.
When you add the flow to the pot, you wait for it to stop smoking / burning. At this point, stir the pot carefully, scraping the sides and bottom with your metal spoon. This will bring the impurities to the top so you can take a look. It is possible for more to appear, but you can always flow again if you find more impurities floating on top later. You will get a good cast shiny silver alloy in the pot and it is time to pour the ingots.
Place your cups inside one of the trays and make sure it is on a level surface that can withstand a very high temperature that will propagate through the steel cups (like the floor). Put on the gloves, take the pot and pour the mixture into the small steel cups until they are about 2/3 full. Be careful not to spill or splash it. It will cause serious injuries. Let stand in the cups for a few minutes to harden.
After about 10 minutes, keeping the gloves on, turn the cups over and tap your bottoms carefully to remove the ingot. They will still be hot, just like the glasses. After a total of about 20 minutes, they should be cool enough to handle them. Repeat this step until your alloy is gone. It would be better to have more than a couple of cups, so you can do many at the same time. Now you have your ingots to make your bullets.
Bullet molds and crucibles.
In the upper part, I listed a really useful video about the choice of equipment in preparation for the launching of bullets. There are several types of molds and lubrication machines that can help you decide which would be the best for you. There are many options to choose from, such as a cast iron ladle and ladle, Lee’s lower pouring electric furnace (around $ 80) and a more economical electric furnace precision melter that costs around $ 45.
Either way, it is a matter of preference what you want to use, but the lower pouring pot would be the easiest way to introduce the alloy into the molds. When it comes to molds, there are different molds for different styles, sizes and weights, so it is important to make sure you have the right one for the weapon with which you plan to use the bullets.
If you plan to make many bullets, it can often be better to buy one that is new, good quality molds such as a Layman mold 2 and 4 cavities. The best pot for beginners would be the one below.
This is easy to handle, since the peak is at the bottom, just lift the lever and pour it into the mold. If you want maximum precision, you will need a single cavity mold so that all bullets are even. If what you are looking for is your large-volume pistol, then the best would be a mold of multiple cavities such as the molds of 2 and 4 cavities.
Just make sure your molds have wooden handles. The handles sometimes do not come with the molds; so when you buy your mold, check again if it comes with a handle. Follow the preparation suggested by the mold manufacturer, which may involve lubricating the mold or smoking it before using it.
Now it’s time to make some bullets! Place the pot of your choice on the well-ventilated surface, level and dry, turn the cast iron pot to high and place some clean and dry ingots. Once it has melted, lower the temperature between 5 and 6 on the oven dial. This would keep it around a medium high temperature. Place your mold on top of the pot to heat it, and if you are using a variety of standard electric oven, make sure that the cast iron spoon is also hot.
When bullets are made, if they look frosty, the mold is too hot. If there are holes in the bullet, then the alloy did not reach the mold completely and that means it was too cold. It is important for the performance and quality that the temperature of the alloy is perfect.
Once the alloy has melted and the temperature is correct, you can start pouring. First, make sure that your gloves are on and that your disposable aluminum tray is useful, since these bullets will have a value between 500 and 600 degrees and will be VERY hot. Take the mold and keep it under the spout. Gently pull down and fill the sprue until it forms a small puddle on top of the mold. Wait a few seconds for the bullets to harden, open the sprue plate and release the bales on the aluminum foil baking sheet.
Sometimes a small tap with a wooden dowel or stick is needed to help the bullets come out. Do not use metal to hit it since the mold can be damaged. Close the mold and pour more molten alloy into the mold. The more you perform these steps, the more efficient and fast it will be. Next, I have listed the video of a champion shooter who makes bullets with an aluminum tray and a bottom pot.
The other way to do it is with the electric precision casting furnace that does not have the lower pouring spout. It works the same in terms of heating the alloy to the proper temperature and making sure that the molds and the spoon are also heated.
When the alloy reaches the maximum temperature, you carefully place a portion of the alloy in the mold, while holding the mold on top of the oven. You still wait a few seconds for the bullet to harden, then you can drop them on the aluminum foil tray or, when you get better at casting, you can drop them into a bucket of cold water.
Now, if this is the method you choose, it will give you more difficult bullets. But, make sure this bucket is at least 5 feet away from the furnace that has molten lead because even if a drop of water gets into the lead, it can cause a steam explosion. This method is seen here.
Sizing, gas control and lubrication.
If you want to do high-speed charges and you’re not covering them, then you’ll want to put gas checks, fine rounds of copper, into the bullets. This helps prevent them from becoming deformed, helps the accuracy of the round, cut gas and helps reduce lead buildup in the barrel. Some bullet molds are designed for gas controls and others are not.
Make sure you know what you need. The most common use of gas checks is found in .44 Magnum, .375 Magnum and 10 mm automatic. They are also popular in obsolete military rifles. Therefore, it is important to be familiar with the ammunition that your weapon or rifle needs.
For the sizing and lubrication process, the best option would be to use a Layman RCBS size lubricator. It will cost around $ 250 to brand new, but it is worth it if you can not find a good second hand. This device will size the bullet to the size it needs, apply the gas check and lubricate the slots all at once. It saves time and energy. You can get a variety of dies that you can get depending on the caliber of the rounds you need and these dies come with liquid lubricant for bales that is easy to apply.
If your bullets do not need gas controls, then you can lubricate them, which is faster but not as clean. The fall lubricant is produced when the bullets are placed in a plastic container and the lubricant heated and the bullets are turned so that they are a uniform layer on them. From there, simply place them overnight, on a waxed paper, to dry.
Below is one of the best videos showing the sizing and lubrication process using the Lee recharging kit and the RCBS lubricant, as well as showing the process of coating bullets that require a cover and a load.
Therefore, whether you are new to the field of weapons, look for a new way to make bullets, or if you are an experienced user, launching your own bullets can be rewarding and can allow you to create your own bullet design. By making sure you are safe and have clean equipment, and be careful with the molten liquid, the bullets will come out well, strong and ready for action.
Making your own ingots can also help in the process, since you would have control over the tin and antimony content of the molten alloy. There is a lot of space for creativity when it comes to making your own bullets. Make sure you are familiar with your weapon of choice, and with the ammunition you need, as well as with all the components involved in making your own rounds.
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