Bullet casting in the U.S., whether by
individual shooters or by commercial bullet makers, seems to be gaining
in both popularity and volume. The introduction in recent years of handgun
shooting sports that require the use of cast lead bullets, for safety or economy, has lead many
shooters to send an ever-increasing number of commercial or home-cast bullets
Another group of shooters who
have returned to using cast bullets instead of jacketed bullets is big game hunters.
Hunters seeking the largest game animals have found that a high-quality
cast bullet of proper weight, design, and alloy can be relied upon to give
deep penetration and tissue destruction when used against dangerous animals.
Whatever the reason, shooters have been
using more cast lead bullets than ever before. The availability of
high quality commercial cast bullets at fair prices has been of great benefit to
shooters who do not cast their own. A few of these bullet casters, such as Cast Performance Bullets
(see Jeff's article on Cast
Performance bullets at Cast Performance), specialize in
super-tough bullets for the hunter who demands only the best. Most commercial
bullet casters, however, cater to the shooter who needs bullets for competition
or plinking. In this endeavor they are successful, as the accuracy and quality of
most commercial cast bullets are good enough for the demands of most shooting
Many shooters, for whatever reason, are into casting their own bullets. In
doing so themselves, they have absolute control over the quality and hardness of the
bullet alloy. Also, a shooter who casts his own bullets has an almost unlimited
number of bullet designs and weights from which to choose, as opposed to the
relatively few available from the larger commercial casters. A shooter who casts
his own bullets can sometimes obtain the raw materials, such as lead and tin,
for little or nothing from scrap metal dealers or tire stores. There is also
the satisfaction of shooting bullets that you have made yourself, in your own basement or on your
back porch, that adds another bit of enjoyment to the pleasure of
To this group of shooters who prefer to cast
their own, the most important piece of equipment besides a good mould is
the sizer-lubricator. There are several good bullet sizers on the market that
size and lubricate the bullet in one step. All of these of which I am aware are of good quality
and well suited to the individual bullet caster. Some are slower than others,
but all basically do a good job.
The best of these, however, is the new Mark VI Mini-Sizer from
Ballisti-Cast, Inc. of Plaza, North
Dakota. Ballisti-Cast is a company that makes large casting machines for
commercial bullet casters who must cast many thousands of bullets per hour. This
kind of volume is not needed and cannot be financially justified by most shooters.
Thus the introduction of the Mini-Sizer by Ballisti-Cast.
Just so that you don't think that the
Mini-Sizer is a small machine that is incapable of high production; the Mark VI
Mini-Sizer can size and lubricate 2500 bullets per hour.
The basic design of the Mark VI is similar to the Star machine, but
with some improvements. The design of the Mark VI is such that no nose punches
are needed as are on most other sizers on the market, as the bullets are pushed nose
first through the Mark VI, with the nose of one bullet pushing against the base of the
bullet before it. The bullets are fed from a clear tube into a revolving
carriage, depositing each bullet into the sizing die. The die is longer than
competitive dies, giving more surface to achieve the bullet constriction to the desired size, resulting in
a better bullet surface with no smearing. While in the sizing die, the bullet
is lubricated, then pushed out the bottom of the die by the next bullet.
The Mark VI also has a lube heater built into the machine that
assures that the lubricant flows smoothly and evenly into the lube grooves of the
bullet. The lubricant is forced into the grooves by air pressure regulated to a
constant and consistent flow with each pull of the handle. I hooked to mine a small
compressor onto the Shrader valve supplied with the machine. The
result was a evenly well-lubricated bullet with each pull.
The construction of the machine itself
is both heavy and impressive. Upon first inspection of the machine, one gets the
impression that this thing is built to last a long time. I know of at least one
commercial caster who specializes in high quality hunting bullets
that uses this machine with excellent results.
Every component of the Mark VI
is overbuilt, with enough strength in each major part to last for many years. Comparing this machine to
most others on the market is like comparing an anvil to a tin cup. This is
not to degrade the quality of the other sizers, but to show the relative
strength of the Ballisti-Cast product. It is strength that may
be needed when sizing several hundred hard lead bullets in one session.
If you have not seen one of these machines in your
favorite reloading supply store, don't feel alone. Dennis
Edwards, who owns and operates Ballisti-Cast, Inc., would not ship
any machines until he had everything just right. For this he is to be commended.
I first saw the Mark VI at the 2001 SHOT Show
(see article at SHOT Show Day 2), and a couple of months later
I received one for testing. It was definitely worth the wait.
For more information call
Ballisti-Cast at: 701-497-3333 or find their website at www.powderandbow.com/ballist.
While looking over their website, don't
overlook the excellent bullet moulds available. Ballisti-Cast manufacturers
some of the finest bullet moulds on the market, with a wide selection and quality
second to none.
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