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Old 03-06-2010, 11:51 AM
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Default Cast Bullets and Lube

I'm relatively new to casting (about a year) and I've had really good results with Lee equipment. I've cast 230 gn .452 and .309. I use Lee's simple sizer die and Alox lube. The molds are Lee's micro band which they recommend for the Alox lube. I'm shooting 30-30, 45 acp and 45 colt.

So what is the advantage of the more elaborate (and costly) sizing and lube presses? I'd also like to buy a 255 gn .452 mold from other vendors and wonder how well will the Alox lube work on their bullets if I do not use their re-lubing equipment.

I'd also like to start casting for my 30-06 and some other rifles.
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Old 03-06-2010, 12:09 PM
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I'm also using the Lee casting equipment these days, though I've used the Lyman amd RCBS molds in the past. I use a Lyman 4500 with a heater for sizing, and use a hard carnuba wax based lubricant. I'm loading on a Dillon 550, and I don't want sticky, messy bullets to deal with. I've never used the alox lubes for this reason. Many folks seem to swear by alox, but I wonder why none of the commercial casters use it since it would simplify lubing. When I got back into casting after a long vacation, I considered the Lee sizer and using alox for lube. I didn't own a single stage press, so the option was less appealing than it might have been had I had a ss press. In the end, I just like the hard lubes similar to those used by the commercial casters. I don't have to clean lube off the cases, and my seating die doesn't build up junk. In short, I think a traditional sizer/lubricator is a worthwhile investment.
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Old 03-06-2010, 12:15 PM
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When I used to cast my own bullets in both pistol and rifle calibers I used an Alox based lube and the old Star lubricator/sizer. The soft Alox lube performs well but is messy in handling the sized and lubed bullets. I suspect that commercial caster prefer the hard lubes because they can handle the finished product with less cleanup.
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Old 03-06-2010, 12:18 PM
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As epj said, the mess.

Also, with the sizer/lubers they use a top punch that fits the nose of the bullet instead of pushing one bullet through with the nose of the next one. This can really mess up some nice softer cast or hollow point bullets. I don't know why Lee doesn't make extended bullet rams to push one bullet all the way through.
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Old 03-06-2010, 02:25 PM
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Beemer Mark,

Can you give us (me) some more feedback about using the Lee sizer/Alox and 30/30 bullets? I assume the mold you use has lubricating grooves, do you just tumble lube the 30/30 bullets with Alox and load them?

What weight 30/30 cast lead bullet do you use?

Does it shoot to point of aim at 50 yards?

What 30/30 rifle do you use the cast lead bullets in?

I too recently got into bullet casting, I have had good results with the Lee .38 Special 158 grain LRN with tumble lube grooves, sized with the Lee sizer and tumble lubed with Alox. They shoot just as good as commercial bullets sized and lubed in the lubricating grooves.

I bought a Lyman Sizer/Lubricator to size and lube 45/70 bullets, as Lee doesn't offer a sizer in .457 diameter, but if 30/30 bullets work well with the Lee sizer and Alox, I'll try that first before buying a 30/30 sizer for the Lyman sizer.

I'll be using any 30/30 cast lead bulllets in two Winchester 30/30 rifles, a Pre-64 Model 94 and a 1980's vintage Ranger. So far, all the commercial cast lead bullets I've tried in both rifles have shot way low, with velocitys around 1700 FPS with a 170 grain bullet.
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Old 03-06-2010, 06:44 PM
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Some years back, I used to cast a 172 gr FP Lyman design out of straight linotype for a 30-30 and also a 30-06. Lubed it in a Lyman 450 with traditional allox/beeswax lube. Worked very well as I recall. Used modest amounts of IMR 3031 powder as best I can recollect.
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Old 03-06-2010, 06:56 PM
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Casting rifle rounds is a bit different. For a great web site on it try castboolits.com you will be amazed
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Old 03-06-2010, 08:02 PM
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I started out using the Lee system for lubing too. Switched shortly after I went to higher velocity and production in my reloading. If you want to go to a more economical way of using the tumble lube system, check out White Label Lube's "Liquid Xlox". Same stuff but a ton cheaper.

There are several reasons to switch. One reason is the mess. Although that can be reduced by using mica to cover your Alox lubed bullets. It is available from Midway and others.

There are different types of lube for different combinations. High velocity cast bullets may (do) need a different lube than what can be used on pistol/revolver target loads.

Use the wrong lube with bullets that are too small to start with and you will have a different kind of mess!
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Old 03-06-2010, 08:44 PM
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Try going to lasc dot us and to leverguns dot com. Both sites have many articles on cast bullets and their uses. The lasc (Los Angeles Silhouette Club) site has many articles by Glen Fryxell, including one which is also on the leverguns site, Lubricating Cast Bullets. Good luck with your pot and mould adventures. Be sure to report your travails and results!
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Old 03-06-2010, 09:02 PM
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I have used Alox for years but am now sold on Rooster Jacket. Very clean to use, clear, no gummy mess in the dies, no leading with my 45ACP loads.
Rooster Laboratories, Professional Quality High Performance Lubricants & Polishes for the International Shooting Trade

I put a bunch of cast bullets in a gallon snap lock bag, squirt enough wax in to cover, then massage them around, while they are in the bag.
As I remove them, I stand them on a waxed paper sheet overnight.

Last edited by klondike; 03-06-2010 at 09:05 PM. Reason: Wanted to complete
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Old 03-06-2010, 09:11 PM
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My only experience with the Lee equipment was a friend showing me his setup. I started out with the Lee 4 20 casting pot. The problem I had with it was it wouldn't maintain temperature. After using it for 3 months I sold it and bought a Magma Master Pot. The Magma holds 40 lbs and has a double spout. The Magma maintains temp very nicely and hold a large amount of lead.

For sizing I purchased a Star with base heater. It uses the hard lube so there is no mess. Also, one movement of the handle and the bullet comes out the bottom of the die. This allows me to do large numbers of bullets quickly.

I bought the above equipment with starting a bullet casting business in mind. It has worked quite well for me.
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Old 03-06-2010, 09:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canoeguy View Post
Beemer Mark,

Can you give us (me) some more feedback about using the Lee sizer/Alox and 30/30 bullets? I assume the mold you use has lubricating grooves, do you just tumble lube the 30/30 bullets with Alox and load them?
I have a 1970 Winchester '94. 150 grain cast bullet with gas check. I'm using the Lee 309-150-F mold and Lee .308 sizing die. Alox tumble lubed. Yes it shoots point of aim once I slightly adjusted the sights for 100 yds. Haven't chrono'd them yet.
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Old 03-06-2010, 10:10 PM
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So except for the mess there seems to be no good reason to spend a lot money for a combination sizer / lube press. Actually I haven't found the "mess" that messy. I lube them, let them dry over night, size them, re-lube and let them dry again. I just shot 20 rounds of 165 gn lubed cast bullets thru my 7.7 Ariska today with no leading so I guess I'll stay with the Alox. Am going to try the Rooster and White Label.

Last edited by Beemer-mark; 03-06-2010 at 10:18 PM.
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Old 03-07-2010, 02:41 PM
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If you ever decide to use gas checks, that sizer/luber would be a good idea.

Check out White Label for lube. They make several high quality lubes at very reasonable prices.

I'm using the BAC for pistol through rifle, very low smoke.
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Old 03-07-2010, 08:59 PM
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So if you tumble lube, you dont size the bullet and its good enough as cast??

I have always cast, lube sized and loaded. Seems to me I can load the press and lube faster than setting each bullet up right to dry.

What about gas checks?
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Old 03-07-2010, 09:52 PM
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Lee makes a sizing apparatus that is used in conjunction with a single stage press. It has no lubrication ability, so it is intended to use the tumble lube system. (preferably before and after sizing, so I'm told.) I can't remember if it will seat gas checks or not.
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Old 03-07-2010, 10:42 PM
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I've cast a lot (thousands) of 9mm/38, 40 and 45 bullets using a Lee pot and several Lee 6 cavity molds (and one Lyman 4 cavity-200gr SWC.) I've used the Lee push through sizers on all of them and it's very fast and the dies are around $14.00. The dies are easy to modify if Lee doesn't offer the exact diameter that's required. I used Lee Liquid Alox and now XLOX found here: White Label Lube which is cheaper and works the same (in fact, it seems exactly like LLA). LLA/XLOX works just as well on conventional bullets as it does the Lee tumble lube design.

For sizing, I spray a very light coat of Hornady "One Shot" case lube on the bullets (one can will do around 20,000 bullets. It doesn't take much), put them through the push through sizer and then place the bullets in a Coolwhip container. I put some XLOX thinned with low odor mineral spirits on the bullets, close the lid and tumble them and then roll them out on a table covered with wax paper to let them dry. It doesn't take much and I think there is a tendency for people to use too much.

The bullets will always be a bit tacky in my experience but, after they're loaded, I lay a line of loaded rounds on a bath towel, roll them and inspect for "rings of lead" at the case mouth, check the case mouth for cracks and the loaded round for overall condition and then place a folded, micro fiber towel over the row and, pressing down, roll them back and forth. This does a very good job of cleaning the XLOX off the brass and a bit off the bullets themselves. I then transfer them to cartridge boxes.

Forty years or so ago, I had a conventional lube/sizer (I think it was a Lyman) and had no interest in buying another one.
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:22 AM
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I'm doing the same as Cloudpeak, except I put a sheet of wax paper on a cookie sheet. I have no problem putting gas checks on the two 30 caliber rounds I have. I do not have a problem (as another member mentioned) of deforming the bullet nose by pushing the bullet up thru the die against one or two bullets already in the sizing die. While my 45 acp loads are relatively soft, they aren't that soft. I bought 3 or 4 Lee's sizing dies, have cast over a thousand bullets, and have only used one bottle of Alox (each die comes with a bottle). So while Alox may be relatively expensive it goes a long way. I will try the XLOX when I run out of Alox.

Re-loading is not the cleanest task to start with. I do not find the finished lube bullets messy or overly sticky. My reloading dies are not all gunked up with Alox.

I started out reloading (about 15 years ago) with an RCBS outfit and Hornady dies. Bought a Dillion progressive press. Bought all the high press stuff. Today I mostly use Lee dies and misc. I don't usually give endorsements but I'm extremely happy with Lee.

I started this thread to determine if $200~$300 sizing / lubing presses had any advantage. So far no one has given me one. I plan on stick with the Lee $14.00 sizing die.

Last edited by Beemer-mark; 03-08-2010 at 09:25 AM.
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:37 AM
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Heres a short video of a star sizer in use. I think its hard to beat this set up. Take the as cast bullet, place it in the die nose down, pull handle, bullet drops into box ready for loading. Depending on what lube you use they come out looking like factory purchased bullets. Clean, shiny with nice full lube band. You can also use harder lubes for rifle load or softer, its up to you. Also it seems to be an advantage that you can cast, size and load all in one day. Yes I know some people like age the casting...

To me, just one mans opinion, it just easier and yields a good result. Whats not to like?

YouTube - Star sizer

Please dont think I am trying to argue. I am trying to learn and share a different way!

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Old 03-08-2010, 10:44 AM
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I've used Lee equipment for years, use their sizing kits exclusively on half a dozen calibers.
They do have a 45/70 sizing kit.
I had issues with excessive force deforming the nose on softer bullets when installing gas checks so I now run the bullets through the sizer first with very little lube, i.e. I thin the ALOx with mineral spirits and use a tiny bit on it, let dry or dry with a hairdryer, then run them throgh the sizer. Then, i install the gas check and run it through again, takes a lot less force to do so that way.
After the gas check is on I lube them again with Alox, a little bit thicker and let them dry.
On the big stuff, the 500 S&W, I actually apply ALOX to each individual bullet on the grooves and let it dry between each application. I can get a really thick, almost like a hard lube, with about 4 or 5 applications. Might be overkill and, yes, it's slow, but I don't load or shoot a whole lot of 500 S&W so it makes sense to make sure each one is really, really good.
I've tried sizing the tumble lube bullets by Lee Molds, they usually barely touch the sizing die and then drop in the container. Never had any issues with leading from them so I must be living right !

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Old 03-08-2010, 06:30 PM
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My issue w/ TL bullets, shooting them unsized, is lack of uniformity. Your bullet dia will change w/ the casting/alloy temps. You are pretty much stuck w/ an Alox type lube. Using a luber/sizer gives you uniform sizes, improtant for proper neck tension & consitant bullet release, & the choice of many bullet lubes. Yes, bullet lubes matter for both leading & accuracy.
If you don't like the idea of nose punches & deformed bullets then get a Star/Magma sizer. They size nose first & use one size (i use two diff) top punch. I find the luber/sizer just easier & faster too. No multiple stgeps, no drying bullets, no sticky Alox mess. To each his own, but I started w/ the Lee pan lubing/hammer punch, then a Lyman 450 now a Star. The Star is the only way to go for a serious caster, shooting 1000s of bullets a year. You can easily & cleanly do 1200 bullets per hour w/o breaking a sweat.
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Last edited by fredj338; 03-08-2010 at 06:35 PM.
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:33 PM
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I don't understand what your saying. The bullets are re-sized with Lee sizing dies. Per the directions Lee recommends lubing before sizing and after sizing. The bullets are the size of the Lee die. No more, No less. The Lee sizer does not push from the nose end, so there is no deformation of the nose. No special nose top punch to match the bullet. All bullet bases are flat, the Lee sizer pushed flat against flat. I can't do 1200 per hour and don't have any desire to do 1200 per hour. I'm not a bullet manufacture. I probably size & lube maybe 300~400 in an hour. Good enough for me.
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lcdrdanr View Post
I had issues with excessive force deforming the nose on softer bullets when installing gas checks so I now run the bullets through the sizer first with very little lube,
I do not understand? You push from the base, with or without gas checks, so how do you deform the nose. I understand there is the weight of 2, maybe 3 bullets still in the die above the new bullet but it doesn't really take any force to push the already sized bullet out of the way.

The only place I seem to get a lot of excess Alox lube in the die in the sizing operation. Usually I do a few hundred at a time and when I'm done I've learned to clean the lube out of the sizing die with brake cleaner. Does the lube build up deform the sized bullet?

My 230 45 caliber bullet is the softest I re-size, around 9 hardness. My rifle bullets with gas checks are closed to 12 (or above).
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Old 03-08-2010, 09:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wheelgun28 View Post
Heres a short video of a star sizer in use. I think its hard to beat this set up.

Please dont think I am trying to argue. I am trying to learn and share a different way!
I'm not being argumentative either, just trying to figure out if there is a reason to spend a couple of hundred dollars on a Star plus another $30 or so for each die and top punch when the Lee sizing die (with Alox) is $14 for each caliber. So far I'm being convinced that Lee is the right choice unless I want to make thousands per hour and not get dirty in the process.

When you start adding up all the fancy stuff it becomes cheaper to just go to Berry Bullets.
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