Good rifle.

Muir

Well-Known Member
#1
I know from experience that bullet casting isn't very popular in the UK or, at least, not as popular as it is in the US, so I thought I'd fill you in on my latest doings in cast bullet shooting. The 100 yard target below was fired with my new, 1944 dated Remington Model 03A3 30-06 using a 190 grain cast bullet that cost a whopping 3-cents. The rifle has iron target sights and is no sloucher!


I'll be hunting deer with cast bullets again in the fall. I may use this rifle! .~Muir
 

Daemo

Well-Known Member
#2
Bullet casting

Hi Muir

Bullet casting - I pressume this is done using lead?

Do you use pure lead or is it hardened with something?

I don't know anyone that does it in the UK, can it be done for any calibre or do you get better results with larger calibre bullets?

For 3 cents and that sort of accuracy it certainly makes me think.........!

Daemon

:D
 

JAYB

Administrator
Site Staff
#3
Daemo,

don't listen to my ugly cuz, he is a cast bullet fanatic and has been for years. He has even had lee make up cast moulds to his own design. Listen at your peril it will lead you deeper into the dark arts :D

Just for your information wheel weights are a good source for cast bullets, they can be used as is or hardened by heat treating. Outstanding accuracy and surprising speeds can be achieved by using cast.



As you can see it is too late for me the damage is done, I cast for .22, .243 and 6.5 :eek:

It does mean that you can go shooting rabbits with your deer rifle's and get as much practice as you want for pennies.

John
 

Muir

Well-Known Member
#4
(You and that crummy .243 again. You should sell it to me and get that albatross off from around your neck... ;) )

Daemo: I cast bullet from 5mm to 62 caliber. Like JAYB I also shoot them in Hornet, 243, and other cartridges. JAYB is right, I'm a bit of a fanatic as I have been doing it for 30 years and have 100+ bullet molds.

It is slightly more dificult to cast and load for smaller calibers but only because the bullets must be processed and because at best they are only 1/3 as hard as copper, they can be damaged more easily in handling. When casting 35 grain .22 bullets I must be careful to get them aligned in the dies carefully, etc.

They are cheap, that's for sure. I use wheelweights but like to add a bit of printer's type metal: about 10% if I am going to shoot high velocity. For hunting loads, (and I know this will fly in the face of sanity for some folks) the trend is to add pure lead to the wheel weight and use a softer bullet at slower speeds. An example would be a 308 or 30-06 loaded with a 165 - 200 grain soft bullet at 1500 to 1800 fps. At 100 yard this bullet will expand well and kill readily. Probably not applicable for you though as I understand there are velocity requirements?

The other method is to use a heat treated bullet (one that was baked in an oven ar 460F for an hour then quenched in water. Wives love that one!) and drive it fast! I shoot a 188 grain bullet from my Brno .308 at 2400 + fps and it kills deer like the hand of God. These heat treated bullets are the ones that are only 1/3 as hard as copper so they will expand at high speed.

Like JAYB said, the real benefit to shooting them is the cost reduction and the ability to practice with your big game rifle on paper and small game. Since the essence of accruate shooting is sight alignment and trigger control, practice sessions shooting lightly loaded, accurate ammunition from your deer rifle can be invaluable when the time comes to shoot that once-in-a-lifetime stag you've been dreaming about. ~Muir
 

griffshrek

Well-Known Member
#6
great topic guys,

i thought that cast bullets were only for "davey crockett" type rifles and were made by rounding the edges off old fishing weights .

is there velocity limits on these type of bullets?

i might be wrong/right but is it as simple as getting a bullet mold melting lead or equivilent poreing into mold and thats it (like fishing weights)

neil
 

Muir

Well-Known Member
#7
In it's simplist form, yes. It's just that easy. It takes some reading and preparation to cast bullets: a heat source, a mold, a sizer of some sort. (Lee makes on that fits in your reloading press. Cheap and simple) As to velocity, they can be shot as fast as 3000 fps in 30 caliber, I know that. Not particularly accurate at that speed, but it can be done. The key to successful cast bullet shooting is to choose a load that will deliver the velocity you want at the lowest pressures. Different lead alloys have different "yield" strengths. In other words, the strength at which the alloy compresses under ignition and does not resume it's original form. Heat treated bullets will take a 42,000 psi kick in the pants and still hold together. When I was working up loads for my .222 I chose H-4895 powder because I could hit 2700+ fps with only 32,000 PSI pressures. Since this is well under the yield strength of my heat treated 55 grain bullets, I knew it would give optimum performance. As it turned out, it shot between .8 and 1.1 MOA. Not great for that particular rifle (.25 MOA with Sierra 52 grain Match bullets) but they cost a penny each and the prairie-dogs didn't know I'd used a cheap bullet at all.

Casting bullets takes reloading to a new level. You will come to understand your rifle's barrel and chamber quite well in the process and, of course, save a bit of hard earned money in the process. I can point you to a lot of information should you be interested. ~Muir
 

JAYB

Administrator
Site Staff
#9
Roger,

Of course you can ask, and if I knew I would tell you :D I lost all that info in a computer crash some time ago. I have been using up old targets but I shall have to start looking again I suppose.

neil, don't get him started, this could lead to a whole new forum, if it does he is going to be in charge of it :D :D

John
 

Muir

Well-Known Member
#10
JAYB: It there was an interest I'd do it but I'm afraid it would be the most obscure forum in the UK! Too bad though. The way your folks get raked over the coals on bullet/powder prices you'd think there would be an interest. For the price of a few boxes of bullets a person could make their own. ~Muir

A Later Post Script: If there are any people teetering on the edge of this cast bullet hobby but think it a bit lunatic, I wanted to say that here in the US, there was a time when every reloading manual had as many, or more, cast bullet loads for a cartridge than jacketed... and not that long ago, either. I was reminded of this tonight as I read a 1950 Ideal Manual (Later to become Lyman) in which they had perhaps 40 different cast bullet loads for the 30-06 alone. Back then it was considered common and sensible practice for a hunter to work up a small game/ target load using cast bullets. Just an FYI.......
 

ejg

Well-Known Member
#11
Muir,
well done with that 30-06. I wouldn't mind taking that after a deer.
Some would probably ask themselves if this lead lump deforms in a controlled manner?? No thick copper jacket, no A frame... can't work

Many would tear us apart for using a hornady a-max at 2500 fps out of a 308, saying it will just explode on the skin of a deer. I found it is a good combination, just expands right for mid sized deer. Like you possibly find that at less speed the no copper lead cast bullet works and expands right.

Now this is why I criticize the 6.5 swede with a heavy bullet combination running possibly under 2400fps with a fused extra hard thick copper jacketed bullet that won't expand. A cast bullet at that speed could be better for those little deer.

I'd love to tinker with the cast bullet's.... how about fiber reinforced lead..
whisker reinforced lead... ever thought of that. :lol:

edi
 

Thar

Well-Known Member
#12
With the price of ammo and the likelihood of it getting even more expensive with the new US president, casing your own ammo might be a goer here. Muir have you tried jacketing your bullets? I seem to remember reading some were you can make jackets from old 22rf cases.

I recon it might be a good excuse to get a 444 marlin with some heavy cast bullets doing 2451fps would be fun for a close range woodland rifle.

Best rgds

Tahr
 

Muir

Well-Known Member
#13
ejg: Lead does wonderful things to game just as is it. I hear you about the A-Frame bullets! When I hear such remarks I remind folks that the plain old lead bullet killed ALL the game the was to be killed with a firearm until jacketed bullets became popular in the late 1800's, and then is was in continued use for a long time thereafter. I have not done any reinforcing of lead but I have done a goodly bit of manipulating alloys. A good friend of mine, now passed on, was a balllistics engineer for the US government and he devised a simple method of taking a cast bullet and quench hardening the driving bands and simultaneously softening the nose. I began experimenting with it almost immediately and found that the expansion was very much like normal, jacketed, big game bullets. The expansion of a 200 grain 30 caliber bullet at 2200 fps was between 38 and 45 caliber. It killed deer, and one Ibex that I know of, quite well. I moved on to shooting game with completely heat treated bullets and found that the deer were dying as fast. For anyone with a "velocity" requirement (that still baffles me) the heat treated bullets might do the trick. These bullets are about 31 Bhn (Brinnel hardness scale) and copper bullets are around 90 Bhn, so they are really quite soft by comparison and the idea that they would act like a fully jacketed copper bullet has not been borne out in the field. A really good hunter / marksman that lives just south of me in JAYB's dream land of Sheridan Wyoming kills all his game with heat treated cast bullets from a 30-06.

In truth though, a very soft lead bullet with a reasonable weight and sectional density fired at at 1800 fps will drop the largest deer handily.

Thar: I have not made my own jacketed bullets though the idea bubbles up now and again. The problem is that once you buy the components and the tooling, you could just about have bought a lifetime supply of bullets. The least expensive outfit I know of is 4-Square, a division of C&H dies. They will sell you the dies for a single caliber for about $250 and you can use them in a standard (stout) reloading press. I think the benefit come in when you are an experimenter who wants to design and use your own jacketed bullets. Otherwise, it's not very cost effective.

The most expensive part of a cast bullet is the gas check. It's a small copper cup that crimps onto the base of the bullet during the sizing operation. They are currently trading at $30/1000 tho a new compoany has opened up that will sell them much cheaper when they get cranking. Gas checks aren't always required. Some bullets, like many for the .444 you spoke of, have a "plain base" and come with no provision for a "GC". For light practice rounds from most rifles -the kind that shoot at low pressures and velocities, you can omit the gas check even from bullets designed for them.

The .444 is a great cast bullet caliber by the way, because you can use every bullet designed for the .44 pistols, from 180 grains all the way up to a 365 grain gas checked brush buster. I built a custom single shot for myself many years back in that caliber with a 1-18" twist barrel for heavy bullets. I took a mule deer with a 365 grain NEI cast bullet at 150 yards. He went about 6 feet before collapsing with a two inch exit wound on the far side of his ribs.

My current "thing" is to paper patch bullets. I have about 40, thirty caliber bullet molds and about 4 for the .303 British. I decided to wrap the 30 calibers in good linen paper up to the .317" or so and then size them accordingly. The benefit of a paper jacket is that you can take a pure lead bullet (Bhn of 9) and drive it at 2500 fps with zero chance of leading and good hunting accuracy. As pure lead is very cohesive, the result is an excellent "mushroom" at any velocity. The NRA did tests authored by C.E. Harris that has paper patched lead-alloy bullets of 150 and 165 grains traveling 3000 fps from a 300 Win Mag and delivering 1.5 MOA.

JAYB is right, lead casting is another road to go down but it's a darned interesting one. ~Muir
 

Muir

Well-Known Member
#14
Another good rifle...

I fired this group from a 30-40 Krag Jorgensen rifle using a 182 grain cast bullet over a compressed charge of IMR 4350. The speed was 2410 fps using iron sights. The range was 100 yards and it's about 1.5" center to center. I think with better eyes it would produce tighter groups. :( ~Muir

 

ejg

Well-Known Member
#15
Muir,
now what??
next hunt you won't know which one to take.
30-06 or Krag??
I'm very impressed, with open sights.

edi
 

griffshrek

Well-Known Member
#16
Muir

great explenation of this topic , i'm going to learn to shoot straing with standard bullets first before i go old school . .......neil
 

Muir

Well-Known Member
#17
ejg said:
Muir,
now what??
next hunt you won't know which one to take.
30-06 or Krag??
I'm very impressed, with open sights.

edi
I am hunting in South Dakota this fall (trying to get JAYB to make the trip...) and will probably use my custom Siamese Mauser 45-70 as my son is talking about using his Marlin 1895 45-70 and we would only need one kind of ammo. If not the Siam-Slammer, then it will either be the J-bore Mauser or a Krag 30-40 with cast bullets. If we go with jacketed (gasp!) it will be the 7x57 or my .257 Roberts for me and the Model 70 FWT 6.5x55 for junior. I'm leaning towards the cast slugs.

Neil: Probably a good call. Cast bullet reloading adds one step to the mechanical process of reloading; the case mouth must be expanded to avoid shaving lead from the relatively soft bullets during the seating process. Anyone who has reloaded handgun will understand this. I have actually taken to flaring the case mouths of jacketed ammo as well; makes for accurate bullet alignment. If you get up to speed with regular loading and still wish to cast, I will be happy to walk you through it.

~Same goes for anyone on the Board. ~Muir.
 

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