Just getting started Casting equipment

  • Last Post 3 days ago
Levergun1966 posted this 5 days ago

Hi everyone! SO after spending the summer reading the manuals from the CBA and reading the forums I think I am ready to take the plunge and begin casting. My question is what melter do people use when starting? I was looking at the Lee furnaces they seem good, but then I see Lyman, RCBS etc.... What are your recommendations? 

FYI, In general I am a fan of Lee, I have a Turret press and mostly Lee dies for the 4 pistol and 2 rifle I reload for and my default position would be Lee but since I have not done this, ever, I would like some more experienced opinions.


As always thanks!

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OU812 posted this 5 days ago

Learn using Lyman ladle and standard Lee 20lb pot. When you get more experience then buy the RCBS bottom pour furnace.

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R. Dupraz posted this 5 days ago

Basically it depends on how committed you are to learning the casting game and how deep your pockets are. You can learn on any pot that you decide on.  The routine is the same and like anything else, you get what you pay for. The real question is deciding on equipment that has proven itself over the long term or something that will need to be replaced later causing you to eventually spend your money twice to replace for something better. 


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Duane Mellenbruch posted this 5 days ago

It is good to understand both bottom pour casting and ladle casting.  What is your objective?  Meaning, are you casting to feed a handgun which will probably require a lot of cast bullets or perhaps a rifle where you will shoot less, but the accuracy will be more demanding.  The shorter range normally involved in handgun shooting might suggest your objective is a lot of good, but not necessarily perfect cast bullets.  Rifle shooters like visually perfect bullets and some will have very high quality and consistent needs.  Generally, with some experience, the ladle casting will produce better consistency.  That said, a good bullet caster will get good results with practice.  I use both, but the majority of my casting is with a Lee bottom pour pot.  I started with a 10 pounder and found I needed the 20 pounder since I often am casting for pistol and need the larger capacity pot for the 6 cavity larger caliber hand gun bullets. You will always have a use for the smaller pot if you do rifle bullet casting because you might have a different alloy that you prefer to use for rifle applications.  And then there is always the black powder lead mix

It is easy for us to give you an idea of what we would choose, but our suggestions may not fit what you need for what your purposes require.  All my pots are Lee, and when they drip, I clean and lap them and keep going.  For my convenience, I have installed brackets on most of the pots and use the same PID control on any of them since I usually have the same target temperature for my casting alloy. 

I doubt that any of the casting methods will hinder learning and succeeding in the bullet casting hobby.  I would remind you that you do not want to use the casting furnace to melt down and clean up scrap alloy.  Once you get the dirt in the pot, a good cleaning will be required and while it is often done, it is not a favorite chore so I prefer to delay that need by cleaning my alloy well in an old vessel on the turkey frier heating unit.   Good luck and enjoy the hobby.

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GP Idaho posted this 5 days ago

All good advice above. In addition to what ever melting pot you chose, buy a hotplate to preheat your moulds.  Get one with the solid top not the one with coils. This will save you time and frustration.  Casting to me is one of the fun parts of reloading.  Gp

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David Reiss CBA Membership Director posted this 4 days ago

I started casting almost 40 years ago and began using one of the Lee bottom pour pots. Since then I have purchased two more. They work as good as the RCBS or Lyman, so I would start with the Lee. This leaves more money to be spent on other items. I would like a RCBS pot and will probably buy one sooner or later. The Lee pots probably outnumber the others, 4 to 1, just because they work well and are cheap. 

As far as bottom pour vs ladle, I get good bullets either way. But bottom pour is more convenient and easier to learn in my opinion. However, you can still ladle pour using a bottom pour pot. 

Just my two cents.

David Reiss - NRA Life Member & PSC Range Member Retired Police Firearms Instructor/Armorer
-Services: Wars Fought, Uprisings Quelled, Bars Emptied, Revolutions Started, Tigers Tamed, Assassinations Plotted, Women Seduced, Governments Run, Gun Appraisals, Lost Treasure Found.
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JSH posted this 4 days ago

I am a green horn by some accounts, started casting in about 98-99. Grab any and all alloy you can get your hands on, now! What to do with it can be worked out later.

Ken, aka 45nut at the "other" site was my go to for a large amount of my questions. He and I had exchanged emails and yahoo chat for a while and years after that. The one local gent that said he was a caster, was for the lack of a better term, just a lead melter. Caused me more grief than help.

I started with a borrowed Lee 10lb pot. I then acquired my own pot, also a bottom pour. It may have just been a 5lb pot as it was smaller than the Lee 10lb. I soon had issues with it, and I found myself filling it more than I did casting with it. A 20 lb Lee was ordered. I used it for a long long time. I purchased a well cared for RCBS. I won't say it's a Cadillac but a fair bit better than the Lee. As to pots, get what you want, but I highly suggest nothing smaller than a 20lb, unless you are casting for 22-6.5 mm and nothing else. Invest in a PID. I don't have one but have used one. Fantastic. Molds I have amassed a fairly large amount of molds of various makes and sizes and designs. Do as you wish, but after going around and around chasing molds, go custom and get what you want, not what you get or they think you need. I like NOE and Accurate molds. You get what you order,and if you don't you will be taken care of. Lube sizer-lube- powder coating. I have three Lyman luber sizers. I have a size able number of dies for these and find myself loading for a lot of different sizes. I think the star is a dandy and if I had started with one I would only need or have one. Lee push through dies have their place at my bench for certain things.

Lube. If you can cast bullets, good ones. You can make excellent lube. Powder coating PC I tried it. Maybe I didn't give it a chance. I had no problems with leading to begin with. Others swear by it. I got everything to do it but thought it to be a pita. More so than lubing and sizing. I do my final cull when sizing and lubing.

If you can buy used as you find it, you can save some money. Read. Then read some more. Then about the time you think you have it all figured out, there will be a glitch of some type. Then you will learn some more.

Keep notes. Good notes. I have found casting with certain designs may have a preference others do not. Some alloys and mold combos may run better hotter or colder. Jeff

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 4 days ago

... just in case budget is a problem, get back to us here .... " primitive casting " ... is a great way to learn and excellent bullets can be created ....  but as above, a lee 20 lb . bottom pour pot  and even a lee mold will get you in the ballpark .   my one general TIP :: ....  hotter lead is better than cooler lead ... you are about right when they are slightly frosty or just below frosty ... even today after casting 50 years i still try to start too cold ... cold bullets are shinier though ( g ) .   welcome to the hot lead club !!   ken

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delmarskid posted this 3 days ago

I started with a hot plate, cast iron pot, and dipper. It made fine bullets but it was too slow for me. I then bought two of the Lee 10 pound bottom drop pots. I would let one warm up as I cast from the other. This worked very well for a lot of years. Later a friend had a like new RCBS bottom pour for sale at a very nice price and I have been using it for about 12 years. I guess it all depends on how many bullets you feel like making. All of the pots that I have used made bullets that shot equally well. The thing that made the biggest difference was the purchase of a casting thermometer.

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