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Old January 17, 2012, 10:09 AM   #1
Dennis6474
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Lead bullet questions

I have been a reloader for a while but just recently started to cast my own bullets and have run into a couple of question that I don't seem to be able to find the answer.

1. I am shooting .38/.357 and casting the bullets with a lee mold 140 gn. The bullets are 140.8gr from the mold with alox on them. I am using wheel weight lead so it seems that it is a little heavier than expected. is this bad.

2. I am getting a small amount of lead in my barrel and am trying to use mercury to remove it and not having a lot of luck. How long should I leave the mercury in the barrel.

3. The .38's are showing around 825fps. is this slow enough to prevent leading. I am using 3.4 gr of Bullseye.

4. Any suggested loads for the .357 would be appreciated. Now that I have retired I can spent more time shooting and reloading but have a lot less money to spend on ammo so the casting should help.

If it makes a difference I am shooting a SP101 2.5 inch and a Security Six 6 inch.

Thanks for the advice.
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Old January 17, 2012, 10:26 AM   #2
243winxb
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Cast Bullets

1. The weight is not important. 2. Dont know. 3. Pressure is more important then speed.. Lower the charge to 3.2gr and see if it helps. 4. Alliant 2400-13gr for a 357 mag loading . Bullet diameter should be .3575" to .358" .
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Old January 17, 2012, 11:27 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis6474
2. I am getting a small amount of lead in my barrel and am trying to use mercury to remove it and not having a lot of luck. How long should I leave the mercury in the barrel.
I don't believe that I'd use mercury for anything. It's a dangerous heavy metal the downside of using it far outweighs any benefit that you might imagine.

Most leading is susceptible to normal cleaning techniques and solvent. A good brass brushing should help. Leading is caused by one of several problems, mostly caused by bullet fit, charge weight, or alloy hardness. Wheelweights are generally a bit harder than pure lead and have to be driven faster if they don't fit the bore. If the bullet is undersized when it hits the bore, the gas flowing around the bullet will melt the lead and push it ahead of the bullet (we call this gas-cutting). If the lead is too soft, it will not hold the rifling and you'll see leading as a result. Using lead bullets is a balancing act, and it's one that is very satisfying after you figure it out.

Quote:
3. The .38's are showing around 825fps. is this slow enough to prevent leading. I am using 3.4 gr of Bullseye.
I've seen bullets lead at that speed, but shooting soft bullets at that velocity is not generally a problem. You might want to re-check your charge weight. My standard load for a 148 grain wadcutter in the .38 special is 2.8 grains of Bullseye. It's a very accurate target load. For midrange work, I step up to 4.3 grains of Unique under that same bullet, or use a 158 grain SWC.

Lead bullets are different from jacketed bullets. Not better or worse, just different. With them come different challenges and once you figure out the challenges, I think you'll find that casting and shooting your own bullets is very satisfying.
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Old January 17, 2012, 11:36 AM   #4
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Here is the tool to do the job.

Lewis Lead Remover

Also what works is a brass brush wrapped with copper strands from a pot scrubber (Chore Boy?). Note that the copper strands MUST be pure copper, not copper coated steel....

1) No. Weight doesn't matter (for leading).

Leading is normally caused by the hot gasses getting by the bullet and depositing melted lead in your barrel. The harder you push a bullet, the harder the bullet should be. At your velocities the bullet should be not to hard. BHN of 10-12 should be plenty. What you want is the pressure to 'deform' the bullet to get a 'tight' fit (seal) in the bore. If to hard, the bullet doesn't deform and you get blow by causing leading. Leading can also be caused by tight throats, a bore constriction, alignment from chamber to bore, and forcing cone not setup properly..... Throats can be reamed if necessary, and fire lapping can take out constrictions, forcing cone changed to correct degree angle.

There is a very good article over on the rugerforum.net (but you have to be a member with at least 10 posts to access) : Lead bullets in revolvers



Not that you still will usually get a slight amount of leading, but not in significant quantity when it all comes together. Hope that helps!
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Last edited by rclark; January 17, 2012 at 11:49 AM.
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Old January 17, 2012, 12:04 PM   #5
chris in va
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Quote:
and am trying to use mercury to remove it and not having a lot of luck.
You're what?? Mercury is very poisonous...
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Old January 17, 2012, 12:05 PM   #6
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Use the copper scrub pad threads method to remove the lead, Lewis will also work (I used them for years) but the scrub pads are cheaper.
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Old January 17, 2012, 12:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
You're what?? Mercury is very poisonous...
The BS running around about mercury is getting rather ridiculous.

It is NOT all that poisonous, and many of us have played with it using out bare hands...and lived to tell.

Organic mercury compounds can be very dangerous if you ingest them.

Dimethylmercury is VERY deadly.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Wetterhahn

Methylmercury is a common source of human mercury exposure (and not nearly as deadly as dimethylmercury).

Metallic mercury is not nearly as much of a poison.
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Old January 17, 2012, 12:49 PM   #8
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Birchwood Casey lead removal cloth

http://www.midwayusa.com/product/623...cleaning-cloth
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Old January 17, 2012, 01:13 PM   #9
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I shot tons of lead bullets, just about all I shoot, mostly wheelweights but some times softer. I dont shoot super hot loads yet I still get a bit of leading.

I'm talking a min. of 200 rounds a week.

I found the best thing is normal cleaning, the sooner you get to it after a shooting session the easier it is.

Never had the need to use drastic measures in cleaning lead from pistols/revolvers. Simply use a couple patches soaked in Hoppies, followed by some wire bore brushes, then more matches soaked in hippies, and then dry patches.

Its not really that big of a deal.
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Old January 17, 2012, 01:24 PM   #10
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My favorite 357 Mag load is 10.0gr of AA#7 over a 150-160gr SWC. 9.1gr is the starting load from Accurate.
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Old January 17, 2012, 02:57 PM   #11
Dennis6474
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Thanks for all the info. I knew that I would get the right answers here.

I have the mercury from my company from when we would replace the mercury in the gauges on the equipment. It is not very clean but it seems to work fine. I had heard that it works wonders at removing lead from the barrel. Just plug the barrel and pur in the mercury. They just did not say for how long. I do not touch it or breath it. It might be bad if you heated it.

I am going to take the advice though and stick to a brush and Hoppes.

Would putting gas checks on the bullets do much good? I hate to add another step to the reloading process and increase cost. I am not looking for a tack driving bullet...mostly one that goes bang and keeps me somewhere near where I am aiming.

Thanks again.
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Old January 17, 2012, 03:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
Simply use a couple patches soaked in Hoppies, followed by some wire bore brushes, then more matches soaked in hippies, and then dry patches.
Craig, where did you find the hippies?

Dennis, this should have been posted in the bullet casting section. You have embarked on an adventure loading cast bullets in a revolver, ANY revolver. Possibly the most difficult thing to get right.

First off, bullet "FIT" is the king of the hill for revolver/cast bullet loading. Knowing the diameters of the cylinder throats AND the barrel are the first things to know. You do that by slugging the throats and bore. Use a soft lead ball/slug of over bore size, drive it through the throats and the barrel. Then use a micrometer to measure that slug.

Next, you have to size your bullets to that diameter, or slightly bigger. Most casters go with .001-.002 over what the slug measured. This makes sure the bullet is big enough to seal the bore and grip the rifling.

With revolvers, you must have the bullet fit the throats as well. What often happens is the cylinder throats are undersize compared to the barrel. For instance, .357 throats with a .359 barrel. What happens then is the bullets are sized by the throats, then are undersize when they enter the barrel. In that case, the throats need to be reamed to AT LEAST barrel diameter for the revolver to have any chance to shoot accurately and without leading.

What diameter are the bullets casting at? Lee molds are all over the place as to the diameter they're supposed to cast at and what they actually cast at. Is it this mold?
http://www.midwayusa.com/product/141...semi-wadcutter

If it's actually dropping at .358, AND your cylinder throats are also .358 and your barrel is .358, then you are extremely lucky. You can lube with lee liquid alox, load them unsized. They'll shoot quite well. If they're dropping at .359-.360, then you can still load as cast,(unsized), the throats will size them, they'll shoot even better.
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Old January 17, 2012, 03:21 PM   #13
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Quote:
Would putting gas checks on the bullets do much good? I hate to add another step to the reloading process and increase cost. I am not looking for a tack driving bullet...mostly one that goes bang and keeps me somewhere near where I am aiming.
Gas checks cannot be put on just any bullet. The bullet has to have a rebated shank to accept the gas check.Now I know all about the Pat Marlin gas check maker that can make gas checks out of soda pop cans, they CAN be used on plain based bullets. BUT it requires a set of punches and the time to not only make the checks but apply them as well.

Gas checks do allow increased velocity without leading,BUT all the other concerns I just posted also have to be met.Bullet fit is king!
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Old January 17, 2012, 04:51 PM   #14
Dennis6474
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Snuffy,

I guess I am lucky..... The bullets are .357 to.360. That is checking about 20 of them. I am pretty carefull to bring the lead and mold up to temp. and keep it there. It is a six cavity mold, 140gr swc.

The next time I load some I am going to take some sand bags and see just how accurate they are, Right now they stay in a pie plate at 25 yards but I doubt if my shooting will make them any more accurate. How much difference in group size could I expect f I got everything just right?

I can't mike the throat or barrel right now but the SP101 should be pretty good wouldn' you think? Aren't manufacturers like Rugar pretty close on tolerances?
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Old January 19, 2012, 09:44 AM   #15
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The 6" gun should get close to 2" groups @ 25yds off sand bags. The longer sight radius helps here. The tolerances on most guns are good to go with a .358" lswc. Bullseye in 38 spec brass should do it for you.
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Old January 19, 2012, 12:33 PM   #16
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Dennis, the last Ruger I bought is a GP-100 .357 mag. I slugged the bore AND the cylinder throats, finding that both were .358. So I was lucky. I size my lead boolits to .359 they fit fine at that diameter.

As for expected accuracy, 243 W said it right, you should expect 2-3 inch groups off a rest from a good tight .357 mag @ 25 yards. Slightly better groups with jacketed bullets. My tired old eyes can't shoot that good anymore, I'm happy with 3-4 inch groups.
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Old January 19, 2012, 02:57 PM   #17
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1. I am shooting .38/.357 and casting the bullets with a lee mold 140 gn. The bullets are 140.8gr from the mold with alox on them. I am using wheel weight lead so it seems that it is a little heavier than expected. is this bad.
It's neither good nor bad. Remember, the weight of the cast bullet is dependent on the mold and the alloy used. Lyman used to say their bullet weight was based on using their #2 alloy. Use a different alloy and the weight changes. What's more important than matching the listed weight is consistency from bullet to bullet.
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Old January 19, 2012, 03:34 PM   #18
Dennis6474
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I am using straight wheel weights so I figure that due to the weight being slightly over the 140gr, that there was more lead in my alloy than the one they used to begin with.

I plan on adding a little solder to the mix the next batch to improve the mold filling. From what I've read, about 24" to 10 lbs. should make a better bullet.

I checked my bullets by dropping them in the cylinder and none of them fell through. So I guess that all the bullets fired would be the size of the cylinder before it reached the forcing cone or the barrel. I pulled a factoryl round and it just fell through the cylinder. So my bullets start out larger than factory. Not much but enough to tell the difference.
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Old January 20, 2012, 07:30 PM   #19
243winxb
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Add Linotype- Makes a better Alloy

Adding antimony will harden & increase bullet diameter. Tin will harden less & not enlarge the bullet diameter. Water dropping wheel weight alloy cast bullets from the mold, will harden them also. Lee molds are regulated using 10-1 lead/tin alloy and should drop from the mould .003" larger than the diameter listed on the mould.
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Old January 21, 2012, 12:12 PM   #20
243winxb
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Handgun Accuracy

Quote:
The bullets are .357 to.360.
Sizing the bullets will give better accuracy when you have a variation of .003" How the bullet is held in the case, different neck tension, may make a difference. Same as using all the same brass, from the same lot. Trimmed & crimped the same.
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Old January 21, 2012, 04:52 PM   #21
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Dennis6474:

Mercury has contaminated our ocean fish making them unfit to eat. Where this contamination ccame from, I don't know. Perhaps, in California, it came from the gold mining operations of the 1800's. What is important is that the contamination was man produced, Mercury is poisonious, don't use it to clean guns. There are several solvents available the remove leading.

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Old January 21, 2012, 06:42 PM   #22
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I have a Lee 158 grain mold that I'm not using, that can use gas checks - want to try it out? It's the C358-158SWC mold. I don't have any gas checks, though. PM an addy and I'll send it to you.
Are you sizing your boolits, and to what size? Slug your bore?
LOTS of casting info at castboolits.gunloads.com, best source yet.

Ditto on Chore Boy ALL COPPER scrub pads for de-leading, and Hoppes #9 seems to work wonders for me.
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Old January 22, 2012, 01:05 AM   #23
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dennis, 1/22/12

There is a great forum dedicated to casting and shooting bullets called www.castboolits.gunloads.com. When I first started casting it helped a great deal and, like this forum, they are very helpful. Punch the website into your computer and take a look.

best wishes- oldandslow
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Old January 22, 2012, 01:20 AM   #24
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Hello, The statement that man has produced mercury contamination is not true.
Back in the early 30's, the Ford Motor Co. ran a gold mining operation in mid Michigan..more as a promotional thing than a real money maker..gold was of the "flour" varity. What they did find in that little creek was mercury..gallons of it. Michigan has natural occuring mercury in the soil.
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