Casting Lead Bullets for Big Bore Airguns – Part Two
In Part One we covered the equipment you’ll need when casting lead bullets for big bore airguns. Now we’ll get to see how to use it and make your own big bore ammo.
First, I’m going to say this again. Safety!!!
Read, understand and act upon all safety information provided for the casting pot. RTFM!
This stuff is screaming hot, as in you’ll be screaming if molten lead touches you. Take care that you wear closed toe shoes, eye protection, gloves and a respirator if you’re going to work in an area without great ventilation. No matter who you are, you’ll have a really bad day if a splash of alloy lands in your eye!!!
Last time, we left the pot heating up. Now let’s cast…
The lead should be just about ready and at this point we’re going to flux the alloy. Fluxing is simply a way to clean your alloy of all the impurities present at this point.
Everybody has their own witches brew of what to use for flux. It can be as simple as saw dust or pieces of cardboard. I’ve used many but settled on using tea candles. Just grind up some of the wax with your flat blade screw driver sprinkle a pea sized amount into the pot.
Once the flux is added the pot will start to smoke heavily and the surface might light on fire, which is no big deal. (OK Derek, if you say so! – Editor).
When the mix stops smoking grab your self a spoon and start scraping the sides and bottom of the pot. This will make the bad stuff float to the top. The waste is unusable material and after cooling can be thrown away.
When casting lead bullets for big bore airguns, some folks are a bit manic about fluxing and will do it 2-3 times before they begin casting. I’ve had great results with a more relaxed approach and generally do an initial flux and maybe a a bit when adding lead, but don’t go crazy with it and forget to cast some bullets.
Now the lead is clean and at the correct temperature, it’s time to finally cast! It is ideal to preheat the bullet mold either on the rim of the pot or a hot plate. This helps eliminate the dozens of cold casts you’ll have when trying to cast in a room temperature mold. I prefer the hot plate since I can have 2-3 molds pre-heating at the same time.
Slide your bullet mold on the mold rest and give the feed knob an upward tug. It takes some practice to get the stream just right and not overflow the mold. The flow rate can also be controlled even on this budget pot. If the alloy is splashing out of the hole then your flow may be too high, while too low can lead to inclusions and partial fills.
You want to fill the mold until it overflows just a bit to ensure proper mold fill out. The over flow from casting lead bullets for big bore airguns is called the sprue.
Hold the mold still for a few seconds after the pour and then knock the sprue plate open to cut the sprue from the base of the bullet. Some folks like to use a whackin stick to open the sprue plate while others use their gloved hand.
If you’re accurate the whackin stick can be quite fast, however if you miss and strike the mold or even the plate at the wrong angle then things will bend and deform very easily at that temperature. A whackin stick is usually just a wooden dowel or mallet.
The base of the bullets should have a clean cut. If it looks like a smear it’s even better. When you open the mold the bullets should fall right out, if not just give it a little shake or in some cases a light rap on the mold handle nut.
If the little buggers are stubborn and stick all the time you can “smoke” the mold cavities with a match or lighter. Smoking the mold simply adds a bit of soot/carbon and allows the bullets to release easier. Typically you will have to smoke new molds a couple times before they’re broke in, be sure to refer to your mold user manual for correct setup up and maintenance.
When casting lead bullets for big bore airguns, I open my mold over a small bowl filled with water and rags. The water instantly cools the bullets and slightly hardens the exterior while the rags take up room and keep the splashing to a minimum. I tend to find far fewer bullets with deformities or dents when water quenching. This procedure is purely up to you, though I recommend trying both ways and seeing what you prefer.
You’ve just cast your first bullet! Now you just need to repeat it a couple hundred times…
Casting lead bullets for big bore airguns is extremely simple. Once you get in a rhythm it’s easy to crank out several hundred bullets in a few hours. As you keep casting it will be easier to learn your mold, read your melt, and identify where your problems are occurring.
We’ve just barely skimmed the surface of casting lead bullets for big bore airguns. (Derek, was that meant to be a joke? – Editor). But this should get you started and learning quick. Keep an eye out in the future for intermediate casting tips, not to mention just where in the world you can find cheap or even free lead!
I wish you all the best, happy hunting and safe casting!