Casting Lead Round Balls for Your Muzzleloader

 Not as hard as you might think!

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   Most people who like to shoot muzzleloader guns will at some time try their hand at casting lead round balls or conicals. Casting Lead Round Balls is really not that hard to do. Once you have the proper tools and a little knowledge of how to use them.  

  Tools you will need to get started casting lead round balls are, mold for round balls or conicals, melt pot, dipper for pouring lead into your mold, heat source to melt the lead, fluxing material( we will explain more later) and pure lead.

   Your melt pot can be a simple 10 pound steel or cast iron pot made just for the purpose of melting lead in it. With this you will need to use some kind of heat source. I use my gas stove in the kitchen, only in the summer and with a fan in the window. Or you can buy an electric melting furnace. One thing you need to make sure of is you have GOOD VENTILATION. Casting lead round balls  should be done outside if at all possible. Lead when melted or in dust form can be very toxic. When casting keep all children and pregnant woman away from the area that you are working in.

 

Cast Iron Pot and Dipper To the left here is a cast iron Lead Melting Pot and dipper. This pot will hold around 10 pounds of lead. Plenty to get you started in casting lead round balls.

   For muzzleloader use, your Lead Round Balls should always be made from pure lead. Not wheel weights with the clips in them. Wheel weight lead is too hard. NEVER use lead from batteries. This is toxic to everyone! Good pure lead is easy to find on the Internet. Wheel weight lead is OK for bullets going into cases, but again muzzle loaders use pure lead due to the fact that it is very soft. 

  Your mold can be a single, double or multiple cavity type. Lee Molds makes a very inexpensive mold in popular sizes. The blocks are made of aluminum, and you will have to be careful not to scare the inside of the mold. You can also get molds made of steel. These you will have to make sure that you protect them from rust while not in use.
 

To the right here is a round ball mold mounted in the handles and also a loose pair of blocks for casting lead round balls also. Round Ball Mold and handles

  

Mold Blocks You can see the inside of this mold block here. You will want to take good care of these surfaces here. If you damage the edge of the round ball half, you will ruin your mold.

    Your work area should be well organized, and only have the things you need to cast your lead round balls. Make sure your melt pot is on a good stable location. Keep all food and drink away. Have a soft cloth like an old towel to drop your fresh cast lead on. You should wear long sheave shirt and eye protection. You should stand while casting, you do not want to spill any amount of molten lead in to your lap. Never have any water by your melted lead, if the two get together, the lead will cause the water to boil and could cause an explosion.

     First thing is to get your lead melted. It will melt around 622 degree f. Next you want to flux the lead by putting in a fluxing compound. You can use paraffin, bees wax, oiled sawdust or just sawdust. Or you can buy a fluxing compound like Frankford Arsenal lead fluxing compound. The main benefit to this is when you put it in the melted lead you get no smoke or smell. The waxes and oils will smoke and smell a lot. This brings all of the impurities to the top of the melted lead so you can scoop it off with a wooden stick or spoon.

    Now you are ready to pour your first ball or conical. Once you pour it you will see the top of the lead change texture. This is the lead setting up. Once you see this you can tap or swing open the spur plat cutting off the spur. Now you can open your mold and drop the ball onto the cloth. Your first couple will more than likely have wrinkles or hollow spots in them. This is due to your mold being cold. Keep making more round balls and the mold will heat up and you should start getting good round balls. They should be shiny when you dump them out of the mold. You know your lead temperature and mold are right.

 

Cast Round Balls To the left you can see that the left ball did not fill out in the mold, Cold mold or lead not hot enough is the cause of this. The left spur and 2nd from left ball also has a wrinkles in it showing a cold mold. The right hand balls and spur are good ones, see how shiny.

      There is a difference of opinion about getting frosted looking round balls or conicals out of your mold. Some people say that your lead and mold are too hot. I have never had any trouble shooting frosted round balls or conicals. As long as the mold is being filled out with good sharp corners ( conicals ) you should be good. You can use a bullet casting thermometer to adjust your heat if you want too. This way you know that you will always be consistent.

   If your mold is too hot you can keep a damp cloth to just touch the mold on to bring down the temperature a little. But remember NO RUNNING WATER.

With a little practice you will be making good shooters all of the time. Our forefathers caste theirs by the camp fire for their muzzleloader guns.

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