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If you are a reloader like me, you may be casting your own bullets.
Lead bullets, even hard-lead bullets, need to be lubricated to help
reduce leading in the barrel. In an
effort to save money, and due to the many shortages during the Covid pandemic, I
wanted to make my own bullet lube. I
could make it in bulk, and because a little goes a long way, it should last me
quite a while. I researched various
types of bullet lube on the Internet and have included my favorite recipes in
this article. Try them for yourself;
you may be surprised at the performance and savings.
Smokeless Powder Bullet Lube
years I used alox sticks that would fit in my Lyman 450 lubricator/sizer.
This is a soft lube that would flow through the sizing dies with no
additional heat. I noticed this lube
was not very efficient when used with magnum loads.
I tried using Lee Liquid Alox, but it was too messy; I would have to
clean off the bullet noses otherwise the chamber or cylinder would get buildup.
searching for a harder bullet lube I could use with magnum loads, I found Jakes
Purple Ceresin on eBay, and stocked-up.
It’s a good thing I did because I can’t find it anymore on eBay, and his
web site is down. This lube must be
heated to flow through my Lyman 450, so I purchased the heater base.
Once heated, the lube flows smoothly through the Lyman 450.
I can no longer purchase Jakes bullet lube, I decided to make my own.
I found a YouTube video posted by TATV Canada
His recipe is:
1 part petroleum jelly –
2 parts beeswax – 26oz
1 capful STP oil
1 or 2 crayons for color
Cook for 30 minutes.
beeswax is the base, but it is too hard to be used alone.
The petroleum jelly acts as a softener.
By adjusting the amount of petroleum jelly, you can adjust the
hardness/softness of the resulting lube.
Hard bullet lube requires the heater attachment for the Lyman 450 for the
lube to flow. The STP Oil Treatment
is used to help reduce smoking. His
recipe is based on a 13-ounce jar of petroleum jelly which I purchased from my
local grocery store, but I cut the recipe in half.
I used beeswax pellets I purchased from eBay, and I already had the STP
water into a small crock pot I purchased from Goodwill, set the open jar of
petroleum jelly in the water, and set the crock pot on high.
As the water heated up it melted the jelly so I could pour it out of the
jar. While the jelly was melting, I
placed 15-ounces of the beeswax pellets and the STP in a pie pan and set it over
the open crockpot. After the jelly
melted to a liquid, I poured it over the beeswax and allowed everything to melt.
After everything was melted, I used a craft stick to stir everything
together. I did not add any crayons
to the mix, I like the natural golden color.
wife and I eat a lot of Chinese food and I keep the plastic containers.
They work great for holding small parts when I’m disassembling a firearm,
or for storage because they come with non-leaking lids.
I poured the melted lube into a plastic Chinese soup container and
allowed it to solidify, then covered it with a lid to prevent it from becoming
contaminated. When I run out of
Jakes lube, I’ll melt my homemade lube in the microwave and pour it directly
into the Lyman 450.
Powder Bullet Lube
Black powder bullet lube should NOT be made with petroleum products.
The petroleum interacts with the black powder residue and creates a heavy
crud that will eventually bind up the revolver.
I found a recipe on the Internet posted by Lloyd
His recipe is:
Crisco – this is made
from natural vegetable oils
beeswax is the base, but again, it is too hard to be used alone.
The Crisco acts as the softener in this recipe.
Lloyd did not provide an exact mixture, but by adjusting the amount of
Crisco, I can adjust the hardness/softness of the resulting lube depending on
the use. I wanted my lube to be hard
enough to use in the summertime and not melt off the wads, but soft enough to
press into a chamber. I purchased a
16-ounce tub of Crisco from Wal-Mart and used the beeswax pellets I purchased
from eBay. The pellets were easier
to melt than a block.
(Same photo, same process,
again poured water into the crockpot, turned it on high, and set a pie tin on
top. I started with a 50/50 mixture:
1/2-cup of Crisco and 1/2-cup of beeswax.
After everything was melted, I again used a craft stick to stir the mix
together. I could have added some
wax crayons to add color, but again, I really liked the golden color of the
lube. I tried adjusting the mixture,
but the 50/50 mix seemed to work best.
poured the melted lube into a plastic Chinese soup container and allowed it to
solidify, then covered it with a lid to prevent it from becoming contaminated.
I labeled it BP so I wouldn’t get it confused with the smokeless lube.
purchased some 100% wool felt from
Amazon.com. It measures from 1/8
– 3/16 thick; perfect for making lubricated wads.
You can also find felt at
www.durofelt.com. I used a 7/16”
punch to punch out the felt wads. I
punched on top of a piece of leather so I wouldn’t damage the mouth of the
a wad with small forceps, dipped it into the melted lube, then set it on wax
paper to dry. After drying I placed
the lubed wads into a plastic container.
These lubed wads go on top of the powder before loading a round ball in
the revolver chamber and help to prevent a chain fire.
years ago, I purchased a tube of Thompson/Center bore butter to use as a
lubricant on top of the round balls in my Ruger Old Army.
I have since learned that bore butter can be used to lubricate bullet
patches, black powder rifle and revolver bores, and other moving parts.
When applied to the arbor or cylinder pin of a black powder revolver it
can prevent the cylinder from binding up due to fouling.
found a recipe for bore butter online:
4-parts olive oil
Cinnamon or mint oil for
again, I used my crock pot as a double boiler, melted the beeswax, added the
olive oil, mixed it all together, then poured it into a Chinese soup container.
While it was still liquid, I sucked it up into a 60ml syringe.
The syringe has a cap which prevents the bore butter from leaking out.
At the range, I can use the syringe to put the bore butter on top of the
lead balls in a revolver chamber, lubricate the moving parts, or apply it to a
round ball patch.
can even condition leather with it.
I put a small dab on a cloth and worked it into the leather.
It will make the leather darker, but the olive oil will help prevent the
leather from drying out, and the beeswax will help protect it from water.
After it dried, I buffed the leather with a soft cloth to give it a soft
These are the bullet lubes that work for me. I encourage
you to do your own research and experimentation to find what works best for you.
But in this time of shortages, it's best to have a backup plan.
decided I wanted to add color so I wouldn’t get the different lubes confused.
I purchased large, single-color crayons from Amazon.com.
I chose green for my smokeless bullet lube, and red for my black-powder
lube. I left the bore butter the
natural beeswax color.
melted the black powder lube in the microwave and added a red crayon, then let
the mix cool and solidify. The
smokeless bullet lube wouldn’t melt in the microwave, so I put the container
back in my crock pot until it melted, then added a green crayon.
I mixed it with a craft stick, then removed it from the crock pot and
allowed it to solidify. The
different colors make it easy to distinguish between the different lubes.
I found a video on You Tube by Walter Bunning on how to make lube stick molds.
was to pour the liquid bullet lube directly into my 450 sizer it would probably
flow right out of the bottom.
Following his method, I cut 4 pieces of 1-inch inner diameter PCV into 4.75”
lengths. The lube sticks are
4-inches long, but I needed the extra .75-inch to accommodate the Delrin
some 3/4” Delrin from which I made 1-inch diameter washers with a 5/16” hole in
the center. I used my CNC table-top
mill to fabricate the washers. The
washers make the lube sticks easy to remove from the tubes.
drilled a 5/16” hole in the top of 4 1-inch PVC pipe caps, and cut 7” lengths of
5/16” dowel rod to fit in the center of the washer and cap.
This makes the hole for the threaded shaft in the center of the 450
an 11” length of 1”x4” pine and milled 5 holes.
Four holes to fit the PVC tubes, and a fifth hole to glue a 5 1/2” length
of 3/4” dowel rod. The dowel rod is
used to push the lube stick out of the PVC tube.
I cut a short piece of PVC pipe to act as a collar.
I place the Delrin washer on the wooden dowel, place the collar on top of
the mold, then strike the collar with a leather or nylon mallet get the lube to
start moving out of the mold.
process of making lube sticks is as follows:
I melted the lube in a
double boiler. As before, I used
water in an old crock pot.
I assembled the tubes,
washers, and rods in the base. I did
not cap the tubes because I needed to add the lube.
I drew the melted liquid
lube into a 60ml syringe, then injected the liquid lube into one of the
When the tube was full,
I capped it. The caps don’t have to
be put on tight; they should be just setting on the tube to keep the 5/16”
When the lube
solidified, I removed the cap and dowel rod and removed the tube from the
I set the tube on top of
the 3/4” dowel with the Delrin washer down and placed the collar on top of
I used a mallet to
strike the collar get the lube stick started out of the tube.
I removed the collar,
then pushed the lube stick out of the PVC tube.
I removed the washer,
then wrapped each lube stick in wax paper for future use.
stored the wrapped sticks in a plastic Chinese food container.
Now I have enough bullet lube to last a long time.
Yes, my wife and I eat Chinese food at least once a week.
I’ve been eating at our local Chinese restaurant since the day they
opened. I’m sure I helped put their kids