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Casting your own Projectiles

As a person interested in shooting a muzzle loader of any kind it can be more enjoyable to make items for yourself. It is not difficult to cast you own bullets or round ball, cut out your own patches and make your own patch lubricant. making things like this just adds another aspect to your hobby that you can do in the winter evenings. There are just a few things that you need to consider and they really concern safety. Lead boils at around 700 to 800 degrees F and can give a very nasty burn. When boiling lead it give off a very toxic fume which can cause serious respiratory and health problems. Always boil lead out of doors or with a good fume extraction system. Also water split into molten lead will cause a sever reaction that will make the lead splash up out of the boiling pot.

I wear a leather welding apron, T.I.G. welding gauntlets, as they are light weight leather and a pair of industrial spec. safety glasses with side protection.

The other items we require will be some scrap lead and a means of boiling it. This can be either a modern electric furnace or a cast iron pot heated on a gas ring. You will also require the correct size of bullet mould and handles. The final item is a lead dipper to take the molten lead from your pot and pour it into your mould.

The type of lead you require for casting rifle and pistol balls or bullets need to be a soft lead, such as lead water pipe or lead flashing used for roofing. When I collect old lead I melt it down into the back of what is called to frog or indentation of a house brick. This gives you a nice stackable shape for future storage. It is important however to ensure the brick is really dry as a damp one can cause the molten lead to spit.

So, before we start let us look at our mould.  If we assume it is a new one we need just to make sure the two halves fit together properly. There is a school of thought that says it is best to smoke to inside of the mould with a candle, allowing the smoke to coat the inside. I have been told that it is like proving a new frying pan. I have tried with and with out and have not noticed any difference but either way it is really up to the person casting the balls.

Cutting your own Patches or Wads

As with casting  your own lead balls and bullets you can cut your own patches or from scraps of cloth. I go to jumble sales or look for old items of clothing we have discarded. The material needs to be plain cotton or linen. Remember the material needs to be the right thickness. For example if you are shooting a .45 caliber pistol or rifle and you are using a .440 ball you will be using a .010 thousandth of an inch patch. You can cut the patch with either a conventional wad cutter that you hit with a hammer our you can use a rotary spinning wad cutter you put in a bench drill. If you are making your own wads the process is the same except you can use card, cork, felt or fibre board.

Making your own Patch or Wad Lubricant

To make up your own lubricant you will need a pan to boil the ingredients up in, a spoon to stir it with and either an electric hot plate or gas ring. The ration and ingredients are 60% paraffin wax - 20% lanolin- 20% lithium grease. Heating up items like paraffin wax and grease has to have a fire risk, the fumes are not really good to breath in and it does smell a little so doing this outside is good practice.  Place the pan on the stove and put in the paraffin wax, keep the heat as low as possible. If it smokes then the heat is too high, keep stirring until melted and add the lanolin. Once melted and stirred in finally add the lithium grease and stir thoroughly until all the ingredients are blended together. This is purely optional but some people I know like to have their lubricant coloured, so they melt in a red, blue or yellow wax crayon. Once the mixture has become cooler and before it sets pour into jars or plastic tubs. I personally use plastic tubs as they are less likely to get damaged if knocked.