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Old 03-20-2017, 10:46 AM
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I am new to reloading and I am looking into casting my own 9 mm bullets (115 or 124 Gr). Rather than go the route of melting down wheel weights I have found a source of "hard" ingots that are from wheel weights. These will cost me $1.10/lb. in 50 pound lots. (They also have "soft" ingots). And the source is local so no shipping $. This seems to me a good way to start as I could skip process of melting into ingots and the cost of the related equipment. I would appreciate any comments and advice you could offer.
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Old 03-20-2017, 11:16 AM
ronnie gore ronnie gore is offline
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i don't make ingots up from wheel weights, i just put the weights into the pot and clean the material up with flux, the first flux brings all the steel clips to the top for removal and the a second flux to remove any dirt. and then start casting i have been doing it this way for 40 years without any problems.
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Old 03-20-2017, 11:34 AM
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That's a fair price. The biggest problem I foresee is that 9mm is about the most finicky round to cast for. 38 special or 45 ACP is much easier to get a good and accurate results. I'm not saying it's impossible or anything, but you probably won't get it right the first time through.

I'd go for the "hard" ingots if the use is going to be for 9mm. I'd get at least 100 lbs. 50 lbs might sound like a lot but it goes quickly. I usually go through a 20 lbs pot in a casting session. My first time buying lead I bought 45 lbs. That seemed like a lot but now I usually buy in 200 to 400 lbs lots.
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Old 03-20-2017, 11:51 AM
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What is your long term outlook on your lead situation? Can you harvest any range scrap, or is that impossible, or out of your range of comfort, or not worth your time, which is also valuable? From the money saving route of things, I've spent time setting up a trap at home to harvest lead, which makes the process cheaper, but also increases labor, and if you do use range scrap, I would always suggest ingot making. Also, if you continue to do this as a hobby, you might buy some of that extra equipment and setup at some point if your interest continues to grow. Also consider that wheel weights made of lead are under threat, and a good local source is best, but may not be around forever in some cases.

I'll second what's been said about not enough lead. I recycle my lead, and my stockpile grows when other people shoot into my trap, but even with my reserves and ability to recycle, when you get into a hot casting session and things are going smooth, it just never seems to ever be enough clean ingots laying around. When you're on fire, 40-50 pounds can be used in a single session if you work hard enough with a good pace, and you'll be driving back to the your lead source. I have about 200 pounds of lead in circulation in my trap, in ingots, and in made bullets, and even a cheapo like me considers getting a little more.
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Old 03-20-2017, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by ronnie gore View Post
i don't make ingots up from wheel weights, i just put the weights into the pot and clean the material up with flux, the first flux brings all the steel clips to the top for removal and the a second flux to remove any dirt. and then start casting i have been doing it this way for 40 years without any problems.
This works fine for dipping but I won't smelt in a bottom pour pot. All the complaints about the Lee BP pot leaking are mostly from people putting scrap in them &/or draining them & clogging the pour spout.
If you have a good idea that the alloy you are buying is viable, $1.10/# is a good price for clean alloy. If I have to pay much more than $1.50/#, I am not casting my own for general shooting, just not worth my time. At $2/#, 1000, 200gr 45s cost me $58+ elec & lube. It takes me about 2.5hrs to finish 1000 bullets. I can buy Bayou for $93.
For 9mm cast, problems are almost always size related. So plan on 0.3565" as a bare minimum. I go 0.357", fits all my guns using mixed range brass. I can get by with range scrap hardness up to 1100fps, after that water drop or add lino or such to harden.
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Old 03-20-2017, 12:50 PM
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Make sure the ingots are small enough to fit into your casting pot.
Sometimes the ingots will not fit , then you have to melt them down and cast into smaller ingots.
I process COWW and range scrap and soft scrap lead and cast each alloy into aluminum mini-muffin pans.
When casting I will use an equal number of each in a pot for a 50/50 blend or straight COWW .
If they won't fit your pot , melting and casting into smaller ingots is the easiest way to make them smaller.
Gary

Last edited by gwpercle; 03-21-2017 at 12:35 PM. Reason: spelling casting not cating
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Old 03-20-2017, 12:52 PM
rockquarry rockquarry is offline
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If you can, get small samples of the hard and soft ingots and make some bullets with each, sized to the largest diameter that will safely chamber without difficulty in your pistol. Try your chosen loads using each alloy. One alloy will work better than the other (accuracy and a lack of bore leading), depending on the variables.
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Old 03-21-2017, 09:46 AM
Mikeinkaty Mikeinkaty is offline
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My first lead was 50# of wheel weights I bought on eBay for $60 with free shipping. Now I pay an average of 40 per lb for WW lead at small town tire stores. Right now I have about 70# of cast ingots on hand. It don't last long!

I melt the WW in a 10" cast iron skillet using propane and cast 5# ingots. Casting 5#'s of bullets per day is my limit. I have roughly 2000 coated bullets on hand right now.
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Old 03-21-2017, 09:52 AM
rockquarry rockquarry is offline
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Posted advice is fine, but it's composed of pieces with gaps in between. If you don't already have one, get a copy of Lyman's current cast bullet handbook. Very good place to start as far as what you need to know.
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Old 03-21-2017, 10:32 AM
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Ditto on rockquarry. No better resource than the Lyman manuals.

I've cast many tens of thousands of bullets over the past 40-odd years. Older wheel weights are just about perfect for most handgun uses. As for the available ingots fitting into your lead pot, if too large they are easily chopped into smaller pieces using a cold chisel; quick and easy, and old cold chisels can be found in most pawn shops or second hand stores frequently.

Reloading 9X19 can be a little tricky. Tapered case, which carbide sizer dies will reduce in a straight tubular fashion, then bullet seating can leave a noticeable expanded hump in the case wall. Be sure your bullets will work in your pistol's chamber; adjusting bullet sizing and COL as needed for proper feeding. Also, many 9mm pistols will have problems with anything other than round-nose bullet shapes. I have had good results with the Lee 356-125-2R mold for many years in multiple pistols, so if you can find a mold of similar proportions I would expect pretty good results right away.

9X19 headspaces on the case mouth, so no roll crimping; a moderate taper crimp works best. 9mm cases have relatively little capacity, and powders in the middle of the burning rate range seem to work best (with cast bullets I've found Unique to be very good, as well as AA#5 and Blue Dot).

When working up your loads I suggest loading 10 rounds or so at a time, then function testing in your pistol. Start at the recommended starting powder charge and recommended max. COL. Then you can play with overall length as needed to get good feeding, and work up your powder charge until you achieve positive functioning in your pistol. Once you find a satisfactory load I recommend making up a dummy round (unprimed, uncharged case with seated bullet) to use for die set-ups in the future, saving a lot of time and assuring good results.

Have fun with it.
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Old 03-21-2017, 12:47 PM
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Let me warn you the 9mm Luger is not a simple round to get all the kinks worked out of. I started in 1967 38 special / 357 magnum then 45 acp...no problems to speak of. Two years ago started loading
9 mm for three different pistols, It gave me fits , I had to curse it and said I wasn't going to fool with that nasty little round. But after a lot of trial and a lot of error , I got one load to work with all three. If you run into feeding , firing , ejection and accuracy problems , don't feel like the Lone Ranger it's par for the course.
Larger older guns seem easier to load for . A 1943 WWII Walther P-38 would digest any load that had enough powder to cycle the action. Small , new guns were "problematic " at best. Bullet selection , size and seating depth were critical and different in each gun. Mine liked regular 120 grain truncated cone, Lee 356-120-TC (not the tumble lube) sized .357. the best.
Don't get discouraged , keep adjusting things and asking questions.
Loading 10 or loading dummies to get seating depth right saves a lot of bullet pulling ....a LOT !
Gary

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Old 03-21-2017, 07:27 PM
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I am another with the opinion that shooting cast in a 9mm is a College level course, perhaps 300 series, while shooting cast in a 38 special is a High School Soph. class.
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Old 03-21-2017, 09:10 PM
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After may years of casting and reloading 9x19's, I've settled on Lee Liquid Alox and slow burning powders. I mostly use WW540 (close to Unique.) I recently had a disaster with wheelweights that had lots of zinc in the mix. I'm trying to get my pot cleaned out. Any suggestions?
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Old 03-22-2017, 12:07 PM
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After may years of casting and reloading 9x19's, I've settled on Lee Liquid Alox and slow burning powders. I mostly use WW540 (close to Unique.) I recently had a disaster with wheelweights that had lots of zinc in the mix. I'm trying to get my pot cleaned out. Any suggestions?
Sit down with a pair of side cutters and test every WW , if it doesn't cut , toss it. I've had a lot of zinkers that looked exactly like lead WW's but they weren't !
Trying to remove the zinkers before they melt doesn't work.
No easy way to sort them.
Gary
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Old 03-22-2017, 01:27 PM
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The single biggest issue with 9mm & cast is the bullets are often too small. Most guns will be unhappy with 0.356" bullets. If you aren't running max pressure loads, then alloy isn't all that important either. Bullet fit is always king.
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Old 03-22-2017, 04:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ronnie gore View Post
i don't make ingots up from wheel weights, i just put the weights into the pot and clean the material up with flux, the first flux brings all the steel clips to the top for removal and the a second flux to remove any dirt. and then start casting i have been doing it this way for 40 years without any problems.
There are two reasons to cast ingots;
they take up less space
if I am making a harder alloy it is easier to get it correct

That being said, I'm cheap and scarfed an old aluminum muffin tin - the large flat top made it easy to use a magic marker to identify the alloy.
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Old 03-22-2017, 04:24 PM
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This works fine for dipping but I won't smelt in a bottom pour pot. All the complaints about the Lee BP pot leaking are mostly from people putting scrap in them &/or draining them & clogging the pour spout.
If you have a good idea that the alloy you are buying is viable, $1.10/# is a good price for clean alloy. If I have to pay much more than $1.50/#, I am not casting my own for general shooting, just not worth my time. At $2/#, 1000, 200gr 45s cost me $58+ elec & lube. It takes me about 2.5hrs to finish 1000 bullets. I can buy Bayou for $93.
For 9mm cast, problems are almost always size related. So plan on 0.3565" as a bare minimum. I go 0.357", fits all my guns using mixed range brass. I can get by with range scrap hardness up to 1100fps, after that water drop or add lino or such to harden.

The biggest problem I had with loading 9mm was in case variations. Thickness & hardness changed dramatically.
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Old 03-22-2017, 04:42 PM
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Regarding 9mm brass...once-fired stuff with the same headstamp is very cheap and it eliminates the need to worry about the effects of case variations. You put yourself at a disadvantage from the start by using range pickup brass unless it's all the same.

I've been using some Winchester 9mm once-fired cases that I've had more than twenty-five years; been reloaded many times and still works fine.
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Old 03-22-2017, 05:21 PM
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Regarding 9mm brass...once-fired stuff with the same headstamp is very cheap and it eliminates the need to worry about the effects of case variations. You put yourself at a disadvantage from the start by using range pickup brass unless it's all the same.

I've been using some Winchester 9mm once-fired cases that I've had more than twenty-five years; been reloaded many times and still works fine.
I don't use range pick ups; I'm referring to the differences between lots, let alone the difference between RP, WW and Federal.
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Old 03-22-2017, 05:35 PM
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The biggest problem I had with loading 9mm was in case variations. Thickness & hardness changed dramatically.
Which is why I sort when using lead bullets. Many foreign cases are just too thick & cause issue stuffing a 0.357" bullet into them. The Glock OEM bbl will take most anything though, so it's not like my rejects don't get shot.
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Old 03-22-2017, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by rockquarry View Post
Regarding 9mm brass...once-fired stuff with the same headstamp is very cheap and it eliminates the need to worry about the effects of case variations. You put yourself at a disadvantage from the start by using range pickup brass unless it's all the same.

I've been using some Winchester 9mm once-fired cases that I've had more than twenty-five years; been reloaded many times and still works fine.
Or just sort. Anyone buying new brass for their service calibers is wasting $$ IMO. Nothing wrong with range pickups. You can't tell 2x fired vs 3-4x but you can tell 1x vs 7-8. 1x fired will look like a nearly new case. The more you shoot & load the more dings the case head takes.
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Old 03-22-2017, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by ChuckBen View Post
I am new to reloading and I am looking into casting my own 9 mm bullets (115 or 124 Gr). Rather than go the route of melting down wheel weights I have found a source of "hard" ingots that are from wheel weights. These will cost me $1.10/lb. in 50 pound lots. (They also have "soft" ingots). And the source is local so no shipping $. This seems to me a good way to start as I could skip process of melting into ingots and the cost of the related equipment. I would appreciate any comments and advice you could offer.
I love casting my own bullets. Since it's part of my leisure time hobby type activities, I don't consider the value of my time.

A buck ten a pound puts you around .02/bullet, if the alloy is acceptable, plus electricity, lube, etc, etc. Today that's a great cost. Scrap lead is nearly impossible to find in my area for less than a buck/pound.

I use the lee sizer on my press and Alox. It works great and I've never felt the need to buy anything more expensive.

Enjoy the new venture! Looks like you've had great advice in this thread.
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Old 03-22-2017, 06:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M E Morrison View Post
There are two reasons to cast ingots;
they take up less space
if I am making a harder alloy it is easier to get it correct

That being said, I'm cheap and scarfed an old aluminum muffin tin - the large flat top made it easy to use a magic marker to identify the alloy.
I went to a diff ingot mold for diff alloy, just easier to check at a glance. Some channel iron mold for clip ww, pure lead goes into the 1# RCBS or Seaco or what ever, then range scrap into a custom Glockpost mold I picked up years ago. I know instantly what I am grabbing to put in the pot.
If you weld or know someone, angle or channel iron is cheap in the scrap bin. Cut it, weld it, put a handle or tab on it for vise grips.
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Old 03-23-2017, 04:06 PM
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I used to salvage bullets at the range until some old timers told me that tiny particles of sand and grit don't separate out of the mix and will "sandpaper" your bore. I stopped salvaging after that.
YMMV.

As far small size bullets, I even cast 80 gr. .223 bullets for my Ruger #3 single shot and bolt rifles. Even at 1500 fps, they really tear up rabbits and other small varmints.
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Old 03-23-2017, 07:45 PM
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Over here,ww is getting really scarce.Last year,I went through a 135#(5 gal pail)to sort out only 43# of lead WW.Not worth the effort.
I use range scrap and mix(for 9mm)1/2 1/2 range scrap and either WW when I have some or2/3 1/3 rs+linotype of which I still have a couple hundred pounds.Drop in a cold water pail and you get a bullet that's hard enough for velocities over what you can get in a 9mm.
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Old 03-23-2017, 08:04 PM
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I used to salvage bullets at the range until some old timers told me that tiny particles of sand and grit don't separate out of the mix and will "sandpaper" your bore. I stopped salvaging after that.
YMMV.

As far small size bullets, I even cast 80 gr. .223 bullets for my Ruger #3 single shot and bolt rifles. Even at 1500 fps, they really tear up rabbits and other small varmints.
Old timers or sometimers? Everything is lighter than lead & floats to the top. As long as you get the heat up high enough to liquefy the lead, flux it, flux it twice if you like, clean as buying new.
I will water drop[ sometimes, but unless there is enough antimony in the alloy, it won't harden this way. Again, alloy hardness is not as important as proper fit. Range scrap of 10-12bhn will work just fine for vel up to 1300fps or so with good fit & proper lube.
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Old 03-23-2017, 08:21 PM
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Old timers or sometimers? Everything is lighter than lead & floats to the top. As long as you get the heat up high enough to liquefy the lead, flux it, flux it twice if you like, clean as buying new.
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Old 03-23-2017, 09:05 PM
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IMHO, Casting and reloading for a 9x19 is no different than any other cartridge. The issue isn't the bullet or the reloading, its the fact that 9mm handguns are finniky.

I have USA made 9mm Lugers that run fine no matter what bullet. The issue I find is with the military Lugers, Stars, Walthers, et al.

I have switched 100% to wheel weights. They are stinky and smoky, thus I cast ingots out in the garage in the Summer. My ingots run clean and I can do my casting in the winter in the basement.

I know what my formula is - the WWs in my area are quite consistent. I don't know what **** the locals shoot into my ranges, thus I won't use range lead.

After years of experimenting I have found a Lee bullet mold that works in four of my five 9 MMs. It won't run in my P38 (P1), and that's the only semi that I still use store bought bullets in.

The only complaint I have about 9's is that on my outdoor range the cases are harder to spot. Thus I prefer shooting 45 ACP. However, at my club we often lease the range out for a day to the local police, and then the brass trash cans are full of once fired brass, so I now have a lifetime supply.
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Old 03-24-2017, 01:51 PM
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IF you go to coated lead, then alloy is even less important. Proper fit is still the key. My guns happily run on range scrap, about 10BHN. If I am running 9mm minor, no issues. If running max effort loads, the higher pressure, not vel may dictate a harder alloy, may. Every gun is diff, but they all seem to like a slightly larger bullet dia than traditional 0.356".
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