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Powder Coating Cast Bullets

May 2022 -- Jamie R.

Note from the Webmaster: Jamie also wrote an excellent article here in Member Ramblings called "Some Tips For Making, Loading, and Shooting Cast Lead Bullets" that is very useful, as is his article "Paper Patching Cast Lead Bullets For Cartridges."

As a follow up to the Cast Bullet Tips article, I thought an article on Powder Coating was the next step. Powder coating can replace costly gas checks by adding a durable plastic jacket to lead bullets and allow you to shoot the bullets at jacketed velocities with no leading.

This article covers the basics that work well for me. Keep in mind that you are applying a TOXIC very fine plastic powder to the bullets; so I suggest a mask and thin gloves for this process.

What you need to start

A toaster oven is what most folks use. NOT the one on your kitchen counter that you prepare food in. Get an oven from a second hand store or online marketplace for dedicated powder coating use.

A wire basket with holes small enough to keep the bullets in while sifting out the excess powder. The Dollar Store has a black mesh basket for 3 or 4 bucks that can be bent into shape to fit your oven and holds bullets as small as .223 inches.

Powder Coat can be found online or from a local paint store. Call around locally or check Princess Auto for the colours you want (Ford Light Blue coats great).

Wax paper, an old pizza box, and a plastic jar with a tight sealing lid for each colour you want to do.

This process should start after your bullets are cast and sorted. It is important to handle the bullets as little as possible with bare hands to keep oils from your skin off the bullets. Place the bullets you want to coat into a plastic jar and add a few tablespoons of the powder. The amount of powder will depend on the number of bullets being done. Donít worry about adding too much as the excess powder can be poured back into the plastic jar for use on your next batch of bullets.

Many people suggest adding plastic bbs to the jar to help generate the static charge that sticks the powder to the bullets. I have done this and found it to be more of a pain in the butt getting the bbs out later in the process. What I do is add some cast 223 bullets to the batch of larger bullets being coated. The small bullets do the same thing as the bbs and you get more bullets coated at the same time.

Screw the lid on tightly and shake the container all around for 5 to ten minutes. Stop, let things settle, open the lid and see if the bullets are well coated. If necessary, add more powder and repeat the process. Now is a good time to preheat your toaster oven based on the directions on the powder coat you are using. Most want a temperature of 400 degrees.

With the bullets well coated, put wax paper in your pizza box, put your wire basket on the wax paper and pour your bullets into the basket. Lift the basket a bit above the wax paper and shake off the excess coating. You should be left with a bunch of coated bullets in the basket, and the excess coating on the wax paper. You do not want any excess coating in the basket because this will cause the bullets to stick into one big lump when heated in the oven.

Place your basket in the preheated oven and let them bake for the time in the directions from your powder coat manufacturer. Some typical baking times are 20 minutes and others are 10 minutes.

While the bullets are cooking, pour the excess powder from the wax paper back into the jar you used to coat the bullets, for reuse on your next batch. I have a special container here for when I have just a tiny bit of one colour left. This jar gets all of my little leftovers and makes some funky bullets with the colour mixes.

When the timer goes off on the oven, remove the bullets and let them sit for a minute or two. With a glove on your hand, run your hand over the bullets in the basket to loosen the bullets from the basket. Dump the basket into another pizza box lid. You may have some stuck bullets but a tap or two with a screw driver handle or similar should remove the bullets.

Take a look and sort the bullets. Some bullets may be stuck together but are easy to separate by pulling each bullet the opposite direction top to bottom while still warm. If the bullets wonít come apart, you can either scrap them or use a sharp pocket knife to split them. Doing this does not hurt the bullet at all.

At this point the bullets should be sized before loading because the coating will add a bit to the diameter of the bullets. If you want to add lube to the bullets that is up to you. I have shot powder coated bullets both ways and had no issues.

Powder coating is a very useful process for cast bullet shooters. Not only does it allow you to shoot using jacketed loading data, but it is a good way to separate batches of the same bullet based on the diameter they are sized to. I also use bullets coated different colours when working up a load for a rifle, with each colour denoting a different powder charge. By far the best benefit is the savings on gas checks and the ability to shoot higher velocities without any lead fouling.

I hope this helps answer some getting-started questions.

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