The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The North Corral > Black Powder and Cowboy Action Shooting

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old September 16, 2010, 03:19 PM   #1
mrappe
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 29, 2009
Location: Texas
Posts: 220
Best type of lead for C&B balls and bullets

What is the best type of lead to use if I want to roll my own? I bout a Lee Melting pot and an ingot mold many years ago but just never did anything with them. Also, what size/brand mold would you recomend for Pietta 1858 and 1860s
mrappe is offline  
Old September 16, 2010, 03:23 PM   #2
Rifleman1776
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 25, 2010
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 3,309
Pure soft lead only. For a variety of reasons.
Rifleman1776 is offline  
Old September 16, 2010, 03:26 PM   #3
denster
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 24, 2010
Location: Ohio
Posts: 465
+1 on what rlifleman said. For Pietta .451 works best.
denster is offline  
Old September 16, 2010, 05:26 PM   #4
Doc Hoy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 24, 2008
Location: Chesapeake, VA
Posts: 4,629
Mrappe

As crazy as it sounds I like the Lee alminum molds better than the Lyman steel molds.

For one thing the aluminum molds come up to temperature quicker so you make fewer scrap bullets.

For the second thing the Lee molds make an essentially sprewless ball.

The downfall of aluminum molds is that just as they warm up fast, they also cool down fast. This means that in order to get consistent castings, you have to develop a relatively consistent rythm to your casting.

I did a study of the consistency of store bought bullets and found that a home caster can easily cast a better product.

Don't expect the average size of a Hornady .451 to be .451. They can be all over the place. Standard deviation can easily be .003. You can meet that at home with little effort.

I developed a set of spring loaded handles which always apply the same pressure to the molds while the bullet is solidifying. Standard deviation of bullets caste using this set of handles is right around .001.

My guess is that for most shooters this does not matter a hill of beans at the range. I just thought it was interesting.
__________________
Doc

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. Thomas Jefferson
Doc Hoy is offline  
Old September 16, 2010, 06:43 PM   #5
mrappe
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 29, 2009
Location: Texas
Posts: 220
Thanks for the info. I have always used Hornady .454 balls in my pistols. They swage a small ring of lead when rammed and I thought that was good to insure that there were no gaps between the balls and the cylinder walls. If pure lead is better can you tell me why? Does it take the rifling better? Also, what is a good source of pure lead?
mrappe is offline  
Old September 16, 2010, 07:14 PM   #6
robhof
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 16, 2007
Posts: 709
robhof

Pure lead is easier to load, less stress on the ram and rammer, it is also easier on the rifling ang fills the bore more consistently than harder lead. A good source of near pure lead is once fired jacketed bullets, they're very soft. I scavange from the local outdoor range after rains, the bullets seem to run out of the berms and are on the surface in groups, easy picking.
robhof is offline  
Old September 16, 2010, 07:22 PM   #7
denster
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 24, 2010
Location: Ohio
Posts: 465
Doc. I agree the Lee molds are nice. I have some I've used for over ten years and still going strong.
The reason I suggested .451 balls for Pietta is that the chambers are ,445/.446 . Using .454 balls is OK but it just makes more work and strain on the loading lever but if that is what you have no problem using them.
The reason to use pure lead is two fold. Alloyed bulets are much harder to load and also the chambers are a few thousandths under bore diameter and for the ball to obdurate to fill the bore soft lead is best.
You can shoot alloyed bullets but if you do it is best to have the chambers opened up to bore diameter and size your bullets to .001 over chamber diameter and bevel the mouths of the chambers to ease loading.
denster is offline  
Old September 17, 2010, 10:04 AM   #8
mrappe
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 29, 2009
Location: Texas
Posts: 220
I am not sure where I can find pure lead around here. My local shooting range would not allow you access to their berms. Are fishing weights and scuba lead made out of pure lead?
mrappe is offline  
Old September 17, 2010, 10:27 AM   #9
denster
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 24, 2010
Location: Ohio
Posts: 465
Yes they are. As to sources look back a few threads for one titled lead getting hard to find. Several possible sources were listed there in response.
denster is offline  
Old September 17, 2010, 10:34 PM   #10
Hawg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 8, 2007
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 11,862
Quote:
The reason I suggested .451 balls for Pietta is that the chambers are ,445/.446
ummm mine have all been .450. I use .454's
Hawg is offline  
Old September 17, 2010, 11:18 PM   #11
denster
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 24, 2010
Location: Ohio
Posts: 465
Hawg. That's why ti's always a good idea to check. I've only got 5 Pietta 44's. Two 58 Remmies two 1860 Armys and a Starr DA all 445/446.
denster is offline  
Old September 18, 2010, 07:35 AM   #12
Gator Weiss
Member
 
Join Date: August 13, 2007
Posts: 98
Mr. Rifleman, I have a question for you; about civil war style mini bullets. The hollow based conicals with grooves, engineered for and normally fired in the 577 or 58 bore military barrells made with three lands and a moderate twist. In many specimens, the rifling is cut somewhat deep toward the breech, yet shallower toward the muzzle.

Some say exceeding 80 or 90 grains of powder tends to hyper expand the skirt in these pure soft lead cast hollow based bullets. The hyper expansion of the skirts has been photographed in flight by some research experts, so apparently it actually does happen. The hyper expansion of the skirt distorts the shape in such a way as to create much drag on the missle. This obviously causes the missile to suffer in accuracy and to dump velocity even more quickly than normally.

The school on black powder has always called for the use of pure unalloyed lead in a casting for the muzzle loading guns. BP cartridge guns will allow for harder leads.

I have some observations here, and my question is, do you think these observations would prove accurate, or do they just open other problems to be considered in BP shooting?

You seem like a very knowledgable guy and a credit to the forum. Would you comment on this for us?

1. Reproduction BP military style gun barrells are slightly thicker than many original cuts, and so they are a little stronger. You can therefore come up in pressure a just little bit with no worries or problems other than accuracy. But do not abuse this margin with reckless and dangerous pressures. Sometimes more pressure is desired in creating more energy for moose or elk, or for experimentation with long distance target work.

2. For more pressure, you obviously add more powder. But you risk hyper expanding skirts in a pure lead hollow base casting, and you risk some very weird or erratic flight characteristics if you are using simple patched round ball. Round ball isnt very accurate at high velocities.

3. Adding some alloy to the crucible can create harder lead, and less skirt expansion at higher pressures. Accuracy is held in place for a little bit longer distance accordingly.

4. Patched soft-lead round ball can be distorted by the rammer at loading. Accuracy suffers. Harder round ball casting will resist distorting the face of the ball on loading, and the patch is the only thing contacting the barrell anyway.

Please give me your thoughts on this.
Gator Weiss is offline  
Old September 18, 2010, 07:40 AM   #13
Gator Weiss
Member
 
Join Date: August 13, 2007
Posts: 98
Denster, Lee molds are great.

Denster, Lee molds are great. I agree with you. They are affordable and well machined. They throw a good cast once you get the hang of it and get the heat right.

I was looking over the Cabella's website on molds. I have bought molds there. Someone posting comments on the website was citing some negative things about using Lee molds. He said he would never buy another Lee product because of the quality of their molds. I have never gotten a bad Lee product. Apparently he liked steel molds.

What is the difference in the casting? A casting is a casting, whether it comes from aluminum or steel. At least, that is how I kind of see it.

Is there any real advantage worth spending a hundred bucks on a steel mold?
Gator Weiss is offline  
Old September 18, 2010, 08:12 AM   #14
denster
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 24, 2010
Location: Ohio
Posts: 465
Gator. I don't have anything bad to say about Lee molds. I cut my casting teeth on Lyman molds years ago they were also good just more difficult to use. As long as you follow the directions with the Lee molds they will give you long and excellent service. They do need lubed and the cavity smoked as per the instructions and they will loose heat quicker as Doc stated if you pause in casting but can be brought back to heat much quicker than steel. Most complaints I've seen are from people who don't read instructions don't lube the molds and then gall the blocs then blame Lee for their ignorance.
denster is offline  
Old September 18, 2010, 08:44 AM   #15
Doc Hoy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 24, 2008
Location: Chesapeake, VA
Posts: 4,629
Denster and Gator

Yup!
__________________
Doc

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. Thomas Jefferson
Doc Hoy is offline  
Old September 18, 2010, 09:34 AM   #16
Rifleman1776
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 25, 2010
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 3,309
Gator Weiss, you flatter me, thank you. I have been deeply involved in the ML game since 1970.
My experience with the CW style rifled muskets is limited. But, I have known (past-tense, many are dead now) many of the top shooters with them. I can tell you this: there are fewer shooting disciplines where the participants experiment more than with those muskets/minies/powders/lead alloys/chants and incantations, etc.
I will say this, most, if not all who are going for accuracy, end up with the tried and true powder charges. Going hell bent for big bang gains nothing except smoke and recoil. (remember the CW rifle musket was designed to INCREASE felt recoil so the guys in battle would know when their gun when off) Most experimenting revolves around bullet style. I believe the most popular usually ends up with original style.
Understand, a .58 cal. very heavy bullet hitting a living target is a very formidable thing. Shooting the normal charges in the 50-60 gr. range is deadly plenty enough. By trying to go to 90 gr. or whatever you are leaving the world of traditional shooting and entering into a realm of problems. That is not what the CW rifled musket was designed for.
If you want a big bore, big banger, get, or have a good builder build you something like that. A custom Hawken in .58/.60 cal would be fine with the right twist and such. I have seen some up to a full 1.0" bore. With a good barrel and proper build you can stoke them up (almost) as full as you want.
I shoot a .54 Jaeger with 75 gr., patched round ball. And, I can tell you, going over that makes for very uncomfortable recoil even with the rifle weighing more than 10 pounds.
My bottom line advice is to go with what works for you if it is safe. Also examine what you want to do. If you want an elephant gun, build or buy one that loads from the back end. If you want to enjoy old guns in the traditional way. Then do it in the traditional way.

edit: hope this helps

Last edited by Rifleman1776; September 19, 2010 at 07:54 AM.
Rifleman1776 is offline  
Old September 18, 2010, 10:19 AM   #17
Hawg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 8, 2007
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 11,862
I've been shooting bp and casting bullets since 1969. I started with a Lee mold and I still have it. I have some others but most of them are Lee. I mostly use others when Lee doesn't offer a particular configuration.
Hawg is offline  
Old September 18, 2010, 10:23 AM   #18
denster
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 24, 2010
Location: Ohio
Posts: 465
Gator. If you are interested in using minis over huge charges of powder. Google "Val Forgett Africa" for some interestingt reading. Val was the founder of Navy Arms and back in the 80's took Africa's big five and lesser game with Italian built guns he designed and sold as the Buffalo Hunter and Hawken Hunter and Hawken Hurricain. These used the Lyman 577611 mini and a mini that used to be produced by Shilo called the "stakebuster" that I believe was 610gr. These were shot over charges in excess of 200gr of 2F and I would imagine killed on both ends.
denster is offline  
Old September 18, 2010, 11:21 AM   #19
Hawg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 8, 2007
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 11,862
I use 70 grs. of Pyrodex under a traditional Lyman minie with devastating results.
The original C.S. charge was 65 grs. U.S. charge was 60 grs. However I use 120 grs. and a prb out of my .54 Hawken, go figure.
Hawg is offline  
Old September 18, 2010, 02:09 PM   #20
Doc Hoy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 24, 2008
Location: Chesapeake, VA
Posts: 4,629
Parenthetically.....

....I just came back from our mechanic with a half of a five gallon bucket of wheel weights. About eighty pounds in metal, some of which I am sure is not lead.
__________________
Doc

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. Thomas Jefferson
Doc Hoy is offline  
Old September 18, 2010, 03:04 PM   #21
Hawg
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 8, 2007
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 11,862
Quote:
some of which I am sure is not lead.
Unfortunately some of it will be zinc. Zinc doesn't discolor like lead and melts at a higher temp. Lead scratches easily with a thumbnail, zinc doesn't. Keep your smelting heat too low for zinc and it will float to the top if you do get some in it.
Hawg is offline  
Old September 18, 2010, 04:26 PM   #22
denster
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 24, 2010
Location: Ohio
Posts: 465
Additional Info

Drug out my old Lyman Black Powder Handbook and reread the article. It was actually in the early seventies. Val Forgett and George Nonte went to Africa.
Val did take the big five and other plains game. Killed a Seleous Lion with the Buffalo Hunter and 577611 Minie over 125 of 2F took out both shoulders and everything in between. Killed a Hippo with the Hawken Hunter and the Shilo Mini over 180gr 2F and muffed a side brain shot from close range on elephant and the PH had to finish the job with a .458. Same gun and load as the Hippo did penetrate over 18in of elephant skull though. Both of these minis had thick skirts to resist deformation. Interesting article.
denster is offline  
Old September 20, 2010, 02:50 PM   #23
Rifleman1776
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 25, 2010
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 3,309
Denster, yes, but Forgett used a rifle, not a repro CW rifled musket. World of difference.
Rifleman1776 is offline  
Old September 20, 2010, 03:18 PM   #24
Rifleman1776
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 25, 2010
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 3,309
more on big charges in a rifled musket

Gator Weiss, I'll take on #4 first.
Yes, ramming a ball can distort the face. Tests have shown it is the base of the ball that is most important to maintaining accuracy. Consistent loading with a proper tip on the rod is the best way to avoid messing your ball. For hunting situations, a looser ball/patch combo is usually used anyway and you are not going to lose enough accuracy to matter.

#3: To be sure what I was talking about, since I am not a big time CW rifled musket shooter, I looked up something that was written by a friend of mine.
BTW, my area of interest is 16th & 17th century flintlock rifles. As far as I'm concerned, those preecussin thingys ain't been invented yet.
In the book compiled and edited by my, now deceased, good friend Don Davis, Winning and Shooting With the Champions, he had Bob Butcher write a chapter on shooting the rifled musket.
Bob, in those days (late 1960s through early 1980s) won many-many National championships with the rifled musket. Accepting what he says is a wise way to go.
He came to his conclusions by extensive testing. I have been there watching, by "extensive" I mean EXTENSIVE, days and days shooting all day, taking notes, trying powders, charges, voo-doo chants and any thing else you can imagine.
In the end, his winning combo was "proper lube", he lists many and doesn't seem too fussy except to avoid some, like Crisco; a 50-60 gr. charge of bp and the right bullets. About minie choice, he says, "The only two minie bullets I can recommend and I have tried them all, are the .58 cal. 575213 or the 575213OS. I like the old style (OS) the best. It's a lighter bullet and has a thicker skirt than the 575213, which has less tendency to break off or crack while firing causing 'flyers' or tumbling bullets - go 575213OS."

As to your idea to harden the minie to avoid over expansion of the skirt when using larger charges, I'll add my opinion that this would prove to be a futile experiment.
It would require: exactly consistent hardness from batch to batch when casting and Butcher-like extensive testing on the benchrest. You would make the lead and powder suppliers very happy indeed.
And, I'll remind you, the CW rifled musket was designed to INCREASE felt recoil. Heavy thumping on the shoulder a hundred or two hundred times a day ain't fun. You would not like it.
Bob won matches that included 100 and 200 yard offhand targets. The inventors of the CW rifled musket did a good thing. The design does what it was intended to do and it does it well.
I guarantee, if you can hit a deer, using stock open sights, shooting offhand at 200 yards, it ain't goin' no wheres after that 505 grain hunka lead hits him.
Did I miss any of your questions?
My bottom line advice is do what works for you as long as it is within safe parameters.
Rifleman1776 is offline  
Old September 20, 2010, 04:00 PM   #25
mrappe
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 29, 2009
Location: Texas
Posts: 220
Is lead shot for shotshells suitable for casting in cap & ball pistols?
mrappe is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:06 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.13028 seconds with 9 queries