Personal Reflection: Gerald was fanatical about having a large quantity of ammunition on hand. In this fictional letter from Karl to George, he encourages readers to make their own.
Hope you don’t get tired of my rants, but have just seen a demonstration on casting bullets (lead balls in this case) that really caught my imagination.
The person who did the demonstration said if you have a muzzle loader rifle or handgun, why not cast lead balls for it? He likes the balls because they are easy to load, but you can also make regular handgun slugs, rifle slugs, and shotgun slugs. The molds use the same handles which keeps cost and weight down.
Why cast them? Well, what if commercial bullets were no longer available, or you were someplace where you couldn’t buy them? All you need is the mold and handles, a pot for melting and a dipper. In a pinch, he said you can melt and even pour from a tin can, using a pair of pliers to hold the can. But he uses a long handled dipper to stir the metal and dip it for pouring into the molds.
He used a Lee double cavity mold for his demonstration. He likes the double mold because it is faster and holds the heat better.
There are electric melters that are really nice, he said. Bass Pro has them for making lead sinkers. But for out in the woods survival a little wood fire will melt lead. Some guys use canned heat.
He laid out an old towel to catch the slugs as they came out of the mold. The first ones he cast were kind of wrinkled because the mold wasn’t hot enough he said and the metal solidified too soon. He just put them back into the melter and kept on casting. He knocked the sprue cutter with a piece of wood and turned the slugs out on the towel. Soon the bullets came out nice and shiny, which means they were just right and had filled the mold.
He let me try some. He said you need to get into a rhythm with how fast you pour and dump them out. This keeps the mold just hot enough. Some of mine came out kind of frosted and he said that means the lead or the mold was too hot. Shiny is what you want. No harm though if they aren’t exactly right. Just put them into the pot and try again.
We used up the can of lead pretty soon and had a nice batch of round balls. He said you can also get a mold for casting little ingots. They are a handy way to store lead and the little ingots could be used for sale or barter.
Where to get the metal? Of course you can get it from Bass Pro or MidwayUSA. Some guys use old wheel weights, which are an alloy. Wheel weights make hard bullets. Then there is the inexhaustible source of old car and truck batteries. Target shooters can find slugs at the range or reuse ones they retrieve.
Just thinking, you don’t have to be a reloader or even a shooter to cast slugs or little ingots. You could set up a little bullet-ingot shop for barter with those who do shoot. It really is fun to do, once you get the hang of it.