Lyman Mag 20 Lead Furnace
by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn


There comes a time when most serious reloaders, and particularly  handgunners, find the need or desire to start casting their own bullets. There are several good reasons to do this. 

One good reason is the economy of casting your own. Bullets can be a major expense for the reloader who  shoots large quantities of ammunition,  but lead, the base material used for cast bullets, is relatively inexpensive,  and sometimes can be found at no cost.

Another good reason for a shooter to cast his own bullets is the ability to have total control over the composition  and quality of one's bullets. Bullets can be cast from pure lead for softness  when used in muzzleloaders or light  target loads, or from very hard alloys for deep penetration on dangerous game.

One more good reason to get into bullet casting is the ability to be even  more involved in the process of creating your own ammunition. 

The basic piece of equipment for the bullet caster, aside from a bullet mould, is a lead furnace. Whether you melt the  metal in a cast iron pot on the stove, or use the most advanced casting furnace available, the need to melt the alloy and  keep it at a constant temperature is important.

The best method is to use a high quality, purpose built lead furnace. This  article will deal with one of the best lead furnaces on the market: the Lyman Mag 20

Lyman Products Corporation is one of the oldest and most respected in the reloading industry. They manufacture and market a complete line of products for the shooter to load his own  ammunition, including bullet moulds, reloading presses, powder scales, dies, tumblers, and a seemingly endless list of products.

The Mag 20 furnace tested here is their top-of-the-line lead furnace, and is equipped with features designed to make the casting of bullets fast and easy. There are differing opinions as to the best method of filling the bullet mould with lead. Some casters prefer to dip the alloy from the furnace with a ladle, while others like a bottom-pour furnace. With the Mag 20, either method is possible. The Mag 20 is a very well-designed bottom pour   furnace, that also has ample room to dip a ladle into the top. Many other furnaces are not designed to allow for this, with their operating rods hindering access from the top. 

Another fine feature of this furnace is the ability to accept large ingots that some others will not. I was able to easily place five pound ingots into the top of the Lyman with room to spare. This is very important, as much of the lead available to bullet casters is sold in five pound sizes. I have another  bottom-pour furnace that will not accept ingots this large, even though it has a ten pound capacity.

The Lyman, due to its high quality thermostat, was able to cycle on and off during the casting session, holding the  bullet alloy at a near constant temperature. This is a necessity when  striving for consistent bullet weights and quality.

The Mag 20 has easily-read reference numbers on the thermostat control for  reliable repeatability, and did a fine job  of returning to the desired temperature. The Lyman also is equipped with an adjustable mould guide, which proved to be very handy for aligning the mould  with perfect repeatability while minimizing fatigue. On top of the furnace is a shelf for preheating bullet moulds.

To say that I was impressed with the Lyman Mag 20 would be an  understatement. It made the job of melting, fluxing, and pouring bullet alloy much easier than with any other furnace with which I have experience.

The Mag 20 can be found at any quality reloading supply store, or mail-ordered through such outlets as Midway or Midsouth Shooters Supply. You can reach Lyman at 1-800-22-LYMAN or on the web at:

Jeff Quinn


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Lyman's Mag 20 furnace is a fine piece of equipment and represents a good value as well. It is intelligently designed, easy to use, and comes with detailed instructions for the novice bullet caster.



The Lyman Mag 20 features a high quality thermostat, and excels at the all-important task of keeping your alloy at the proper temperature for maximum bullet consistency.



The Mag 20 uses an excellent bottom-pour design, with plenty of room for the largest gang moulds.



The Mag 20 also features plenty of access to the top of the furnace for those who would rather dip their alloy with a ladle.



Among its many attractive features is the Lyman Mag 20's ability to easily accept five-pound ingots, which is a rarity among consumer-oriented lead furnaces.