Introduction: Casting Lead and Reloading Large Rifle Cases

A guide to reloading .45-70 GOVT brass. Significant danger ahead.

Step 1: Get Lead

I bought it off ebay. So heavy the mailman left it in the larger sorting bin and dragged it to my porch. Clearly not what the USPS had in mind when they said anything you can put in the box and close it is a flat rate.

Step 2: Melt Lead

Outside. Fumes. No kids. Yadda yadda.

Step 3: About 20lbs

Lead behaves funny when melting. The first few ingots are the hardest. My heat source choked a bit, but pumping the tank brought the heat up enough to get a nice hot melt. They make thermometers for people who care exactly how hot things are.

Step 4: Heat Your Mould

I put it close to the burner to come up to closer temp. Before casting I dipped the far corner of the mould into the lead.

Step 5: Drop in Bath

The mould has a plate over the top where you pour in the lead. You hit the plate with a nearby stick and it slices the still hot sprue and puddle off the top. I tried to be gentle and drop that back in my pot. You will sustain limb threatening burns if you get any of this on you.

Step 6: Dry Them Off

Old beach towel you're assigning permanent bullet detail.

Step 7: Bullet Grease

Lee Liquid alox. Also called tumble lube. Fumes strong enough to knock the ass off a concrete elephant. Doing this inside was a bad idea.

Step 8: Fired Brass

You can make this pretty quickly.

Step 9: Sizing Die

The sizing die has a pin that knocks out the used primer and narrows the neck for seating a new bullet.

Step 10: Ready for Cleaning

Tumble bath or whatever. I clean every couple of reloads. .45-70 requires a lot less, it's a lot more like a shotgun.

Step 11: Primer Tool

They make widgets for your press that will reload. I got this instead. The big companies make different models.

Step 12: Fresh Pow

There are little cups included with the dies that are probably small enough to keep you out of trouble. Digital scales that will weigh your powder out to the tenth of a grain are stupid cheap on amazon.

Step 13: Measure

It has a widget that adjusts to increase or decrease the measure of powder. Good for a wide range of brass.

Step 14: Fill

For a .45-70 405gr solid lead bullet the die data I have suggests 45-48gr H4895. That's just what I have around. You can download a number of data tables and even tomes of collected powder tables. The .45-70 was originally a black powder buffalo gun. It was .45cal loaded with 70gr black powder behind a 500gr slug. It survived the transition to smokeless powder. Old guns can't withstand pressure but modern levers are pretty stout. I borrowed my uncle's Marlin.

Step 15: Too Tight

Sized brass is easily loaded with boat tail bullets, soft lead is another story. The .45-70 is very tight and would shave your bullet if pressed.

Step 16: Dilator

The dilator die is hollow and if you own a better press you can probably pour powder through the top.

Step 17: Like a Glove

A flipped slug fits right into the flanged case.

Step 18: Seating Die

Initially I adjusted the press to fit a "factory" bullet and pressed everything to that length. The die specs also include a length which can be measured with a caliper.

Step 19: Crimp Die

I didn't have one of these at first and I found that every now and then the flange would be so wide that it would stop the case from feeding easily. The sliding collet really puts a nice finish on the case. Not needed with more conventional reloading because the bullet is not seated into a flanged neck.

Step 20: Done!

Go back to the range and launch some lead.