Let me guess, ever since you saw Stephen King’s Silver Bullet, you’ve been fascinated by the scene where the gunsmith melted down the girl’s necklace and cast a single silver bullet. A bullet that would faithfully find its mark; saving them from “Reverand Werewolf”.
Now you want to make your own? If so, then guide’s for you.
I tried to keep everything simple and easy so keep reading if you want to learn how to make a silver bullet quickly.
The information contained in this post is something I did for my own entertainment and personal aversion to being eaten by a werewolf.
Under no circumstances should YOU attempt to use this guide to make a bullet that you intend to use in a firearm. Casting bullets is serious business and unless you know what you’re doing bad things can happen. Failure to properly size a bullet, calculate powder charge or load may result in damage to your firearm, you or the people around you.
There’s also no guarantee a silver bullet will effectively kill a werewolf. For all I know, the lethality of silver bullets to lycanthropes may very well be werewolf propaganda.
Table of Contents:
Preface – The Things I Tried that Didn’t Work
So how do you kill a werewolf? Well, knowing how to make a silver bullet quickly is a good start. You might also want to read up on other ways to stop a lycanthrope that don’t involve a firearm since you can’t always take it with you when you leave home.
Before I tell you the easiest and most successful way I made a functional silver bullet, let’s talk first about what didn’t work so you don’t waste your time either.
Below is a list of my previous attempts at casting a silver bullet using various methods, of which all failed one way or another.
Lost Wax is Really Lost Time without the Proper Equipment
It looked simple enough, so I first tried to use the lost wax method to cast a silver bullet because it seemed like the cheapest route. While I could produce the wax part without much difficulty, the biggest issue I encountered was the inability to burn the residual wax clean of the mold in a regular oven at 550 degrees – even after letting it sit for 24 hours.
The other issue was time, time, time. Letting the plaster set into a mold and burning out the wax in an oven takes a long time – up to 24 hours – even with the proper equipment.
The gasses created by the hot silver interacting with the wax ruined the cast part every time. I wasn’t too keen on investing in a kiln for $1,000, so I started to explore other options.
If you have the time, you can watch me dunk the hot casting in water and see the mold disintegrate.
Off-The-Shelf Bullet Molds Won’t Work – Period
Before ordering a custom silver bullet mold from a machine shop, I wanted to find out if it would be practical to pour a silver bullet into a machined mold. I picked up a cheap Lee Precision aluminum, two-bullet mold to play with but immediately ran into problems.
First, the rate of contraction (shrinkage) during cooling of melted silver is more than melted lead primarily due to the different pouring temperatures even though lead has a higher coefficient of thermal expansion.
Any off the shelf mold intended for lead will yield an undersized silver bullet.
Second, the melting point of aluminum is 1221 °F, considerably less than the 1764 °F melting point of silver. If you’re not careful, you’ll easily damage or melt the aluminum mold when you pour the silver. The much cooler aluminum mold also guarantees you’ll never get a good pour because the silver will immediately begin solidifying on contact with the cavity wall. Because of this, it made no sense to custom order an oversized aluminum mold for a silver bullet when the mold would have a short life expectancy and produce unusable casings.
In the photo below, you can see that by heating the sprue plate and mold, I was able to successfully pour melted silver into the mold and completely fill the cavity.
Unfortunately, you can see from the next photo that the walls of the mold are simply too cold and won’t produce a well-defined casting.
The alternative is to order a steel mold, and if you do, I would recommend you check out Accurate Molds. However, you’re going to pay a couple hundred bucks and can only make one type of bullet, unless you order a mold with two types of bullet cavities for a little extra money. Plus, don’t forget the manufacturing lead time. We’re aiming for quickly, remember?
Also, the technique for casting a silver bullet in a metal mold is tricky. If you don’t keep the sprue plate heated enough, the silver will solidify during the pour and your castings will be useless.
What Did Work?
Having a background in materials engineering, I considered sand casting but knew the surface quality for a small, cast part wouldn’t be sufficent for a bullet given the large sand grain typically used in a cope and drag casting process. I began searching for alternatives and discovered a process from Holland for casting fine jewelry called Deft Clay Casting.
Essentially oil is used to bind very fine sand together and, similar to a cope and drag with sand casting; a two-part mold is created and used to cast the part.
By far, this was the easiest, quickest and cheapest method I could find which produced a decent silver bullet that I would be willing to load and use in the case of a full moon emergency.
As a bonus, the Deft Clay Kit is useful for other things beyond werewolf slugs like casting rings, necklaces, earrings, etc. You’ll get much more use out of it compared to a dedicated steel mold.
The best part of all – I could easily create the mold, melt the silver, clean the silver bullet and load the round in less than 45 minutes.
I now feel five times better about surviving a werewolf attack!
Getting Started – The Shopping List
Here’s a complete list (with links to Amazon for the uncommon stuff) of the equipment I used to cast a silver bullet and load a live round with it. Personally, I chose to cast a bullet for the .40 S&W but really any bullet can be cast using this process.
The mold making process:
- Delft Clay Casting Kit
- Small knife
The casting process:
- Small Whip w/2 Sm Crucibles – CAS-250.10
- Borax Flux 8 Oz. Container
- 1 Troy Ounce of .999fine German Silver
- Bernzomatic TS4000 Trigger Start Torch
- Wire cutter
The loading process:
- Lee Cast Aluminum 4 Hole Turret Press with Auto Index Md: 90932
- Lee Precision 40 S and W Carbide 4-Die Set (Grey)
- Lee Precision 0.401 New Lube and Size Kit
- Lyman Alox Bullet Lube
Step 1: Create a Silver Bullet Pattern
The pattern is a fancy word for the piece (or pieces) that create the cavity in your mold where the melted silver will flow and solidify. The pattern is made and sized to compensate for any shrinkage that will occur as the silver cools. To successfully make a pattern, you need to start with the desired dimensions of your finished casting and adjust as necessary.
Fortunately, quite a few bullet casting designs are available on the internet. You can find a good list of bullet profiles at Accurate Molds, I picked bullet number 40-165F. It’s a fairly common profile for a 165-grain .40 S&Wbullet and closely matches the bullet profile produced by Lee Precision mold 401-175-TC.
The target dimensions for the .40 S&W bullet I chose are:
- 165-grain weight profile
- 0.400 inches diameter after sizing (0.401 inches after casting but prior to sizing)
- 0.565 inches in length (this is very important when calculating the amount of gunpowder)
Note: Even though I’m using a 165-grain profile, the actual weight of the silver bullet will be considerably less than lead (Pb) because silver has a lower density:
- Density: Silver 10.49 g/cm3
- Density: Lead 11.34 g/cm3
That means my silver bullet will weigh approximately 93.5% less than its lead counterpart, or 152.63 grains. Based on an average of my castings, I ended up with approximately 154 grains, pretty close.
Now that I have the dimension of my bullet, it’s time to create the pattern.
I’m lazy and chose to use my 3D printer to create a two-part pattern. I kept it simple and used Autodesk 123Design, a free software program.
Note: You can make a pattern out of a simple wooden rod from the hardware store– it just takes a bit longer and some trial and error. As a matter of fact, I made my original patterns out of wood, and they worked well. I didn’t even have a lathe, so I used a drill press and sharp tool to slowly cut out the bullet pattern. It did take a lot of trial and error, and if I took too much off, I had to start over.
Here’s a screen shot of the finished part – about 60 minutes work. You can see the single part pattern on the left and the two-part pattern on the right. I printed and used both patterns, so it’s your preference that to use.
However, you can securely download both patterns in STL format from Amazon AWS here:
Note: I created both STL parts with an outer diameter of 0.401 inches, not 0.400 inches because I intended to use a sizing die.
Step 2: Sizing Your Silver Bullet Pattern for Casting
Silver has a different coefficient of linear expansion than lead; therefore you need to account for differences in contraction so using the dimensions of a precut mold intended to cast lead is out.
As you’ll read later, I found the best casting results by scaling my pattern up by 3% to offset shrinkage. I recommend starting there and adjusting by 0.1% increments.
Now, 3.1% to 3.2% worked but was very difficult to press through the sizing die; 3.4% was near impossible to size. Also, sizing the overcast part resulted in a slightly longer bullet – something you’ll need to take into account when calculating the powder requirement. Longer bullets seated at the same overall length (OAL) will increase the chamber pressure.
Calculating the shrinkage factor of a metal casting is a bit of an art. You can start by estimating the linear expansion and Engineeringtoolbox.com has a handy calculator that does the work for you.
Here are the linear temperature expansion coefficients for silver and lead (10-6 m/(m K))*):
- Silver – 19.5
- Lead – 28.0
If you plug in the data for silver, using a diameter of 0.401 inches with a final temperature of 1764 °F, you’ll see the expansion is roughly 2% or 0.0074 inches. Based on this calculation, I originally targeted a pattern outer diameter of 0.4084 inches (i.e. scaled my STL file by 2% before printing).
However, when working with liquid metal shrinkage can be much more difficult to estimate because it depends on many factors, including the mold type.
I started with 2% and worked my way up to 3.5%, here’s the results:
- At 2% & 2.5%, the final casting diameter was significantly undersized and unusable.
- At 3%, the final casting diameter was near perfect. I could press the casting through the sizing die with minimal effort, and the final bullet diameter was consistent all the way around.
- At 3.2%, it became very difficult to press the casting through the sizing die.
- At 3.5%, it was almost impossible to press the casting through the die and resulted in elongated bullets.
As I mentioned, what worked best for me casting with .999 silver ingots was scaling the STL printed pattern up by 3% from what I considered an ideal casting size of 0.401 inches.
Essentially I was targeting a part diameter of 0.413 inches.
However, when printing the two-part pattern, I noticed my 3D printer created slightly oblong prints. There are various reasons why the print job was off, such as layer height and calibration, but the easiest thing for me was to adjust the scaling factor simply to compensate for the difference.
My first print of the two-part pattern yielded a diameter of 0.4165 inches in the x-axis and 0.4075 inches in the z-axis. Therefore, in order to create a pattern that was 0.413 inches in diameter (+3% scaling) all the way around, I scaled the STL file by 2.2% in the x-axis, 4.4% in the z-axis and kept 3% in the y-axis. That seemed to work just fine.
As an FYI – I also created a few bullets using a flat 3% scale along each axis and the resultant casting, once run through the sizing die, worked just fine. It was just harder to push through the die.
My recommendation is to print the STL file and take measurements. If the part is off by too much, adjust the scale to compensate.
Note: If you’re printing a single-part pattern then it should be perfectly round, just ensure the diameter is correct, in my case the correct diameter would be 0.413 inches.
Step 3: Creating the Mold to Cast Your First Silver Bullet
What follows is an abbreviated guide to using a Deft Clay Casting Kit to cast a silver bullet. If you want to learn more about using a Deft Clay Kit, there are plenty of how-to videos on YouTube.
One of the things you’ll appreciate with your Deft Clay Kit is how much detail the process can capture. The silver bullet castings results were great, and as you can see from this casting, the 3D printer layers used to construct the part are all visible.
If you’re using a two-part pattern, place one-half of the pattern face down in the smaller casting ring. The lip of the ring with the notch mark should be on the table.
Gently fill the casting ring with the Deft Clay, packing it in tightly with your fingers. Continue filling the casting ring over the top and gently tap the Deft Clay with a hammer to further compact it. Scrape off the top, leaving a flat surface.
Turn the casting ring over and place the other half of the pattern in place.
Add the top ring, aligned at the notch, and lightly dust the top of the clay with talcum powder. The talcum will ensure the two halves separate along the parting lines.
If you’re using a one-piece pattern, fill the casting ring with Deft Clay and use a hammer to compact it down. Scrape off the top so it’s flat. The lip of the ring with the notch mark should be on the table.
Turn the ring over and push the single-part pattern into the top of the clay until it is half way down. Now dust the top with talcum powder. Add the top ring and make sure the notches are aligned. The talcum will ensure the two halves separate along the parting lines.
For all methods, fill the top piece of the ring with more deft clay, pushing it in with your fingers. Compact the clay down with the hammer and scrap off the top.
Separate the two pieces; you’ll rejoin them again at the notch marks.
Remove the pattern(s) from the clay. Congratulations, now you have a mold cavity to fill with melted silver!
Next, we need to get that melted silver into the mold cavity by drilling out the sprue and riser using a drill bit. The sprue is where you’ll pour in the silver, and the riser is where it will come out on the other side of the mold cavity.
Now use a knife to cut out the pouring cup above the sprue.
Gently blow out any loose material and rejoin the two pieces at the notch marks.
The mold is now done!
Step Four – How to Pour A Silver Bullet
If this is your first time heating metal in your crucible you need to season the crucible with Boric Acid, so the metal doesn’t stick. Here’s a good video.
Warning! Always wear protective gear when casting the metal. Silver melts at 1764 °F and will instantly burn through your gloves, clothing, and your skin. So don’t touch it unless it’s completely cool – just trust me on this.
Always wear goggles – no exceptions.
Fire up your torch and begin heating the silver. Carefully heat up the entire crucible and silver at the same time. If you don’t, you can crack your crucible.
After the silver melts, keep heating until a clean, smooth bubble of silver forms. You’ll probably see an orange-white coating over the metal that’s swirling, like skin. Those are impurities, and you don’t want any of that in your casting.
Sprinkle some Boric Acid onto the metal and you’ll see the impurities pull back to the edges. If you don’t, the metal isn’t hot enough for casting yet, even if it’s completely melted. Keep heating until the impurities “pull back” from the silver’s surface to the edges. Now you’re ready.
Carefully pour the melted silver into the pouring cup (sprue).
You should see the silver come up in the riser (flames and all) to about the same level as the silver in the pouring cup. That’s the sign of a good pour. If the riser doesn’t fill, then the metal solidified too early in the sprue or runner, and you have an incomplete casting.
Wait until the metal completely solidifies before separating the two halves of the mold. A minute should be enough time, but remember, the silver bullet casting is still very hot. Let it completely cool or grab it with pliers and run it under the water.
Separate the casting from the Deft Clay and discard the burnt material. Place the remaining clean Deft Clay with the rest of the product in an airtight container.
The casting will look yellowish but don’t be alarmed. That’s a residue left over from the burnt oil, and it washed off with soap and water. At this point, you should see a very nice silver bullet with a sprue and runner attached to it.
Using a pair of wire cutters, clip off the sprue and runner. Use a file or similar tool to remove the burrs left on the casting.
Congratulations! You are now holding a silver bullet.
Step Five – Preparing the Silver Bullet for Service
I’m not going to cover the details on how to reload a bullet or how to use a silver bullet. Whatever kit you use should have the necessary information and there are plenty of books and manuals out there. And besides, conceptually knowing how to kill a werewolf with a silver bullet should be self explanatory – don’t miss!
I’m also going to remind you of what I said earlier:
Under no circumstances should YOU attempt to use this guide to make a bullet that you intend to use in a firearm. Casting bullets is serious business and unless you know what you’re doing bad things can happen. Failure to properly size a bullet, calculate powder charge or reload may result in damage to your firearm, you or the people around you.
At this point, I checked the dimensions of my silver bullet to ensure the dimensions are correct.
First, I checked the diameter and ensured it was the correct size all the way around. For my casting of the .40 S&W using the scaling factors I mentioned above, I measured a diameter of 0.4015 inches along the x-axis and 0.4105 inches along the z-axis. The x-axis was spot on, but the z-axis was a little big – it’s nothing the sizing die can’t fix. If I print the pattern again, I’ll make some more adjustments to the scaling factor along the z-axis.
If the casting diameter is smaller than 0.400 inches (or whatever the correct size is for the bullet), then I’d need to increase the scale and run through the casting process again.
Next, I checked the length of the silver bullet. My target length was 0.565 inches, and I measured 0.5705 inches, still well within range and won’t affect my gun powder requirements. I could probably easily correct it with a minute or two of gentle filing.
I ran the silver bullet through the sizing die to prepare it for the reloading process. Afterward, I measured a consistent 0.4000 to 0.4005 inches all the way around. I measured the length again, and it is unchanged at 0.5705 inches.
Gently, I added bullet lube around the lube groove of the silver bullet, squeezing out any extra with my fingers. Yes, there’s many different ways to do this but since I’m only making a handful, it doesn’t take more than a minute or two per bullet.
Here’s a picture of four other bullets I made. You can see the Lyman’s Bullet Lube in the groove. They’re ready to load.
Finally, I ran the silver bullets through my loading process, ensuring the powder measurements were accurate, and the OAL was 1.125 inches (or close to it). The bullet in the picture below measured 1.1240 inches, these rounds shouldn’t have any trouble chambering.
And there you have it, five silver bullets! Much better than no silver bullet…
And there you have it, that’s how to make a silver bullet quickly. When I get a chance, I’m going to run down to the range and punch holes in some paper with these.
Have a better way of making a silver bullet or have some questions? Please leave a comment below.