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Old April 6, 2013, 10:26 AM   #26
myfriendis410
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You don't need to harden the mix to increase your bullet size in existing molds. Just "Beagle" it using aluminum tape. If you do a search for the technique you will find ample info. I use it on one of my Sharps molds, an RCBS, which (typical) casts undersize.

You can bias the stop point of your bullet in the Star so that it only encounters the one point but be sure your dies have only one row of lube holes open. If you do you might move it down to a lower single hole point so that you are fully into the sizing point of the die. Also; running the lube too hot can do that too.
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Old April 6, 2013, 10:31 AM   #27
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Cricoid,

Which Lee turret press do you have? If you have 4 stations, use the separate crimp die unless you've added a powder check station. In general, most target shooters over the last 50 years have found better accuracy from a separate crimp.

The only counter indication I've found for the Lee Carbide Factory Crimp Die, specifically, has been when bullets were large enough that they were consistently significantly resized by it. This can happen when brass is extra thick or the case bullet is extra wide. You have to check it for yourself.

Guns are individual about leading, but you can generalize that lead bullets are pickier about the gun and bore condition. If you get a cast bullet matched to a gun whose bore is smooth and without constrictions, you get only traces of leading and it seems to self-limit, rubbing out of the bore as fast as it forms. My .45 Auto barrels are all like that. They are pretty smooth on the surface and I'll pick up a little lead in the corners of the first inch of rifling. But I've shot one of them up to about 3,000 rounds without cleaning, to test feed duration, and the amount of lead was really no greater at the end than it had been after the first twenty rounds. Not much.

One thing that helps reduce leading in self-loading pistols is headspacing lead bullets on the bullet rather than the case mouth. It also improves accuracy, often significantly. The limitation is that your gun has to be able to feed the greater length. You just have to try it to see (third from left in illustration at the bottom).

Revolvers are the most picky. For one thing, it is common for them to have a constriction of several ten-thousandths where the barrel screws into the frame. I've heard of instances of this being as bad as three thousandths. Such a constriction can spoil lead bullet accuracy and requires lapping to remove. For the amateur, firelapping is best for this.

For another thing, the chamber throats in revolvers are often not quite exactly the same size. They need to be the same size and at least half a thousandth bigger than the groove diameter of the bore, and the bullets need to be sized to fit that throat diameter for best accuracy. I like revolver throats closer to 0.002" over groove diameter and cast bullets that same size.

Still another thing is that barrel cylinder gap be uniform in all directions. An uneven gap will tend to gas cut bullet bases slightly unevenly, which adversely affects accuracy.

Finally, you want the timing of the cylinder chambers to line up with the bore when they lock into position. If yours don't line up well, see a gunsmith. You may want him to uniform the chambers by reaming them anyway.




A pause for the COZ,

Try skipping lubing in the Star and just use Lee Liquid Alox (or White Label Xlox lube). It seems to work well even on bullets without the little tumble lube micro bands, especially at handgun pressures and velocities. If the bullets fit the gun, try skipping sizing, too. I find that bullets I can shoot unsized are typically most accurate and lead least.
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Old April 6, 2013, 11:18 AM   #28
A pause for the COZ
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A pause for the COZ,

Try skipping lubing in the Star and just use Lee Liquid Alox (or White Label Xlox lube). It seems to work well even on bullets without the little tumble lube micro bands, especially at handgun pressures and velocities. If the bullets fit the gun, try skipping sizing, too. I find that bullets I can shoot unsized are typically most accurate and lead least.
I can lube them just fine in my RCBS LAM. So I have options.


I have found my needs for 45acp have increased by a factor of 4.
My son found out how fun it is to shoot a 45acp carbine....

What I have been working on/at installing and using a Hornady bullet feeder on my progressive. With cast bullets.

I have upgraded my Mold to a 4 cavity.
I Upgraded to a Star lube sizer
Added a heater and hard lube. ( for the feed die)

If I can get the bullets lubed with out a mess I pretty much have it fixed.
If not maybe a HG46 mold will be in order.
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Old April 6, 2013, 11:21 AM   #29
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Don't ignore the Lee 6-cavity molds. Steel pins. Fast to heat. Good consistency. I have about half a dozen of them and they throw some of my best bullets.
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Old April 6, 2013, 02:56 PM   #30
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I'll second the Lee 6 cav moulds. I have several and they're totally serviceable and throw good boolits. They're no Miha Previc moulds for sure but neither is the price. be easy on them and they will have a nice long service life. I haven't worn any out or anything but they are a little uh, lighter duty than a MP mould so be easy on them and enjoy.
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Old April 6, 2013, 03:30 PM   #31
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Well as you can tell, there are plenty of folks shooting lead with little to no issues what so ever. My first dip into lead bullets for the most part cost me 20 years of not even looking at them. I shot 4 of the first 6 rounds through my 41 mag of some custom heavy cast bullets, and literally had strings that looked like tensil hanging out of the muzzle. It took me two weeks to get it all out. Of course back then I hadn't heard of Chore boy and my internet surfing was about on par with my cast bullet shooting.

Then several years ago I got started shooting some in my 454 Casull. They were very well made commercial, and came highly recommended. After shooting several hogs with them I was hooked. Trouble was, with the way I like to shoot, I simply couldn't afford the $35 prer hundred that they cost. I started reading and like you asking questions. It took me about a year to gather up my materials and tools, and pour up my first.

Well that was around three years ago, and I have learned a TON since and am now pouring and shooting several types for all of my handguns.

THe commercial folks do a decent job of getting you pretty close to what you need. Most folks as mentioned have little issue what so ever. Give it a try, at worst you might lead up a bore, but it really is easy to scrub out with a copper chore boy strand wrapped around a bronze brush. Just be sure it's copper and not copper plated steel.

THe best reason to get into it, is like has already been mentioned, you will not be captive to what is on the store shelf, or the price they want you to pay. Scroung up what you can and if need be purchase what you need, and you will have your own bullets when you need them from now on.
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Old April 6, 2013, 04:00 PM   #32
Edward429451
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Keeping casting temps stable (digital thermometer & SS probe) will bring them all out in very consistent weights and size. Almost match grade. +/- 10 deg is what I use.

The pot gets hotter as it empties, and it's surprising how much throwing in a couple cold sprues will lower the temp.

Last edited by Edward429451; April 6, 2013 at 04:14 PM.
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Old April 6, 2013, 04:31 PM   #33
Cricoid
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Wow I truly appreciate all the information! You've all convinced me to pick up some lead.

I have a Lee Classic Turret fyi. Sounds like I don't really need to alter the methods I've used to load my FMJ rounds.
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Old April 6, 2013, 05:58 PM   #34
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I have a Lee Classic Turret fyi. Sounds like I don't really need to alter the methods I've used to load my FMJ rounds.
Cricoid, that's correct except that if you use a taper crimp with cast lead bullets you want need as much for the cast lead bullets. I don't recommend the use of the LEE Factory Crimp die, either, because as stated, with varying thicknesses in brass and very slighly different diameters with cast lead bullets, you may end up resizing bullets that are under diameter for the bore. You really do need to slug your bores though. When you know what the groove dia. is for the barrel, it's pretty hard to get into trouble with leading so long as your bullets are .001" above groove dia.

9mm is the only caliber where I don't use cast lead. I don't do BunnyFart loads in 9mm. I use JHPs exclusively because bought in bulk they're rarely more than the cost of FMJ and now plated bullets are approaching those prices, so it's JHPs and cast lead for me. I buy and can recommend Missouri Bullets. If you go to their website, they give an easy to understand explanation on how to determine Brinnel hardness according to the pressure level you're loading at. That's about it, no big mystery in using cast lead, just make sure you crimp in the groove provided for roll crimping and a very little or no taper crimp is required for autoloading cartridges, just remove any flare.
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Old April 6, 2013, 06:39 PM   #35
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"Worth reloading lead bullets"

Assume you mean reload with lead bullets? Those of us who do it think so. Those who disagre generally don't do it. ?
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Old April 8, 2013, 08:08 AM   #36
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Is loading lead really that big of a hassle? Or have I just done too much research on the internet?

It is not nearly as complicated as forums seem to make it! If you have a modern gun with standard dimensions, you buy quality reputable commercial bullets such as Missouri Bullet Co., and you pick a standard recipe right out of a cast reloading data book such as Lymans, about 95% of the time you will have no issues with accurracy or leading. Most CAST will be of a standard hardness rating of 18 unless they are made for very low velocity loads. Make sure you are getting "cast" and not "lead" bullets. "Gas checks" have been deleted from my entire pistol vocabulary.

The problem is that when you ask a simple question on a forum, every wants to tell you everything they know that is even remotely related, and every isolated malfunction in tehir lifetime, and you get bogged down with lots of information that looks complicated about troubleshooting every possible diffculty that you will most likely never encounter.

Half the information in this thread is about casting your own bullets which you never asked about, and would be foolish to get into before you've ever shot any.

Cast bullets at rifle velocities gets a lot more complicated, but you only mentioned pistol rounds, and thats a great place to start.

I think that way too much information scares a lot pof people away from cast bullets.

So, get some quality cast bullets, load them up and work up your loads just like you would with jacketed bullets, and see how you like them. If you should experience leading or accurracy problems, then you can troubleshoot those problems with some of the more in depth techinques if necessary, but most likely you won't have to deal with them.

I've shot cats bullets for many years in a wide variety of guns. I've never had barrel leading, and they are of super accurracy, and I've never slugged a barrel, or ordered a special size bullet. Im shooting Rugers, and Smiths, and Freedom Arms. My guess is that 95% of your research, you will never need to know.
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Old April 8, 2013, 12:13 PM   #37
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Man, your experience with leading is to be envied. I have never had a revolver that didn't pick up throat lead as it came out of the box. I can believe the Freedom Arms does better because of the way they are made, but Rugers I've had, in particular, have all had barrel constrictions at the frame, and clearing that up has always caused groups to shrink substantially and lead build-up near the throat to abate substantially.

In the case of one Redhawk a friend purchased, the sandbag groups were so bad (6" at 25 yards with jacketed bullets, and unable to stay on a plate with lead) that we sent it back to the factory. They returned it with a note saying they had reamed the chambers. It then shot 2" groups with commercial cast bullets and 1" with jacketed bullets and there was less lead building up around the throat.

Most cast bullets on the market seem to be made with Terracorp Magnum Alloy or its equivalent, at about BHN 16. Missouri offers BHN 12 and BHN 18. Beartooth has BHN 21, and Lasercast BHN 24. I suppose you can use hardness to mitigate some leading, but I like to keep in mind that Elmer Keith developed the .44 Magnum with 16:1 lead:tin alloy at a hardness of BHN 11. When a gun is in good shape it can drive bullets with a given BHN to higher velocities than some might expect.

Other small things can sometimes help. The trick of headspacing on the bullet that I illustrated took my Goldcup's groups with BHN 15 cast bullets down from 1⅜" off bags at 25 yards to under 1". Conventional Pistol shooters will care about the difference, but the various practical discipline shooters won't. That's just to say it depends on what you define as "accurate" to determine what you find to be satisfactory performance.

Times may be changing. CNC machining certainly has helped with gun precision in general, and I haven't bought any new revolvers for a number of years, so perhaps things are getting better. But I still don't think it can hurt to check.
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Old April 9, 2013, 09:54 AM   #38
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Ruger is pretty infamous for having chambers that are undersized compared to the bore. In fact Brownells sells a kit to fix the problem for "do it yourselfers."

However, once the fix has been done, that tight chamber provides no stop against bullets walking loose against recoil, so be sure to crimp your bullets firmly if you do it.

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