View Full Version : Anyone cast their own RB for front stuffers....

December 9, 2009, 03:40 PM
I cast the RBs for my wheel guns and the conicals for same out of pure lead. But, I do wait till I am casting for smokeless projos to also get my RB moulds out for the patched shooters. Since it's the patches that are actually engaging the rifling of these pieces, I did not feel the need to use pure lead. I have way more WW than pure lead in my stash.

Does anyone else use this practice? Or am I just waiting for a train wreck that is yet to happen?

It's just one of those things that all of a sudden ya wonder if you should be doing it another way. Not that it is wrong, as it is working for me, just could it be better. I have to use a seater tool, they are stiff to start, but it seems the ones I used to buy were just as tough to start and they were pure lead balls.

At present using .445 balls with .015 lubed patches in .45 rifle and two .45 pistols, one C&B, one flint.

December 9, 2009, 07:04 PM
I use "the good stuff" (pure lead) for mini balls (because I want to be sure the skirt is expanding into the rifling) and for RB's for my Remmie (cuz I want the "ring" to cut off easily when the loading lever pushes it into the cylinder chamber). I use wheel weights for everything else, though some use pure lead for any hunting bullets, for faster/easier deformation.

December 9, 2009, 10:01 PM
Use pure lead. Save the wheel weights for cartridge guns.

December 10, 2009, 12:59 AM
Sooooooo, I guess my practice is OK. The reason I do it is that I have over a ton of WW in ingots, and just a couple hunert pounds of pure lead. I do use pure lead for anything other than those ball that use patches, for the reason stated above, the ball is not the material in contact with the rifling.

okie out

December 10, 2009, 05:45 AM
I only use 2 types of Lead.

Pure Lead either bought or scrounged or Adhesive Wheel Weights that are 98% pure Lead.

Everything I shoot is either with my castings are either Muzzleloaders or guns that are running in the low velocity "under 2000FPS" range which pure lead is fine with that.

December 10, 2009, 08:43 AM
WW alloy will usually work fine for PRB's but there are some caveats ...
A mold made for 0.xxx" pure lead round ball will drop a WW alloy ball larger in diameter as there is less shrink on cooling, you need to have the balls drop at the same or slightly smaller diameter than with pure lead. Example: A 0.490" mold will drop a 0.490" ball with pure lead but using WW alloy it'll drop right around 0.495" and thus will likely require using a slightly thinner patch but this depends on the groove depth and land width of the barrel.

WW alloy balls have slightly less mass which may require re-tuning of the load for optimum accuracy but in my experience, they normally shoot the same or close enough that it doesn't matter.

WW alloy balls do not expand like pure lead alloy do, they will however give increased penetration and punch bone quite well.

December 10, 2009, 12:53 PM
You're not the only one who casts balls using wheel weight lead.
However, why use such a tight combination?
I wonder just how much sooner the rifling at the crown will wear out.
Some folks cone their crown which helps to make loading a little easier but even then harder lead may still cause extra wear where the PRB's first engage the rifling. They say that crowning doesn't affect accuracy but I wouldn't choose to cone because there's no guarantees.
The folks who cast using harder lead are more often the smoothbore shooters because their crown doesn't have any rifling to wear out and they use balls that more undersized along with thicker patches.
And some folks who shoot minies have mentioned that their barrels do lose accuracy over time which may be caused in part by barrel wear even if pure lead is used.
I guess that it depends at what distance folks are shooting at and how much of an accuracy difference there is by switching to a smaller PRB combination if using wheel weight lead balls.

December 10, 2009, 01:15 PM
the ball is not the material in contact with the rifling.
That is true but you need to consider that pure lead allows for a better bite or forms better for the rifling. The patch is not a gasket, it's a seal and althought seals leak, the soft lead gives you a better bite. Next time you go to the range, check your shot patches to see how the ball is printing. A harder lead will not give you as good of a seal as the pure lead. There are times when you will get patch cutting with pure lead but the problem in your rifling or bore. The harder the ball, the more cutting you will get. Now, on your WW's, if you want to shoot that material. Then cast a .44 or .45 pistol bullet and use a sabot. You will have to keep track of what is what in order to maintain your consistancy.

Oh yes, guess I should answer your question; Yes, I cast .32,.36,.45,.50 Round ball.
As well as .36, .45, .50 Maxi-Balls, .50 REAL and .50 Maxi-Hunters.

Be Safe !!!

December 10, 2009, 02:28 PM
OK, Arcticap, pahoo, and fl-flinter, etal, that's the kinds of feedback I was wanting to hear. Although I am not trying to be a tack driver with the BP "toys", I don want to keep them on paper. I have considered the patch cutting, but have not noticed that issue yet.

I had never considered the loss of rifling at the bore to be a concern. Are BP "toys" built from softer steel? Soft enough to be affected by a few BHN point? I just never thought lead would wear steel (oh, I'm sure after hundreds of thousands of rounds, anything would wear) in normal shooting.

I think for convenience sake, I may just keep my eyes peeled for more pure lead. I do now have to keep things well marked as to "what is what" and that could be made simpler by only casting all BP projos from pure lead.

From Raider2000 comment - I always considered the stick on truck WW to be considered pure lead or close enough for the girls I go with. That is the bulk of my pure lead ingots for BP use. I did pick up some lead sheathing long ago, and will no go look harder into plumbing lead and other home uses.

December 10, 2009, 08:02 PM
Dental film covers and the stick on ww's are pretty pure, much softer than regular ww's, also older roof vents and flashings were very soft lead.

December 10, 2009, 10:49 PM
I had never considered the loss of rifling at the bore to be a concern. Are BP "toys" built from softer steel? Soft enough to be affected by a few BHN point? I just never thought lead would wear steel (oh, I'm sure after hundreds of thousands of rounds, anything would wear) in normal shooting.

I do believe that some very well made BP barrels are made from softer steel.
I've heard that about some. I can't prove it, but for instance take the old CVA Douglas barrels. As good and accurate as they were, I've heard reports that they were made from softer steel and will wear out as they get older.
I've heard some of the same about some TC and Investarms barrels that suddenly stopped shooting as well as when new. That doesn't mean that they don't shoot, but they can lose their tackdriver edge.
I have one old gun that came from an old gent and the rifling and crown are just not nearly as sharp as when it was newer.
I don't know how many rounds it takes. But some say that even some new barrels can need several hundred shots to get broken in. What does anyone suppose happens during the time period of a few hundred shots?
The barrel wears in and settles down. The sharp edges wear down and the only thing touching them is the patch right?
Also over time, some barrels loosen up and what was a tight load is now not as tight of a load and people will often make a patch adjustment.
Even Olympic rimfire shooters will swap their barrels out long before any normal shooter would swap out their barrel. It's not shot out, but they can lose their perceived edge.
So I don't think that it really matters much because barrels normally keep going and going and going. How much of a difference can it make over a period of an X number of years anyway?
It only makes a difference if it matters to you and no one else.
I don't mind what kind of lead you're shooting, that's up to you.
But I think that softer barrel steel accomodates black powder shooting. The deeper rifling can wear out the tooling and machinery of independent barrel makers if the steel was harder. Plus just look at how thick the walls of the bore are. And the pressures just aren't as high as with smokeless gun barrels. The steel is still relatively stronger than was ever used, but it's not impervious to wear. The heavier projectiles would increase friction somewhat, and the bullets are going both in and out of the barrel past the crown. Just think about the chatter of the PRB traveling down the barrel faster than the speed of sound slamming into the walls of the bore while getting pulled downward by gravity. It's amazing what happens in the instant after ignition and the shot sequence begins. :)

December 11, 2009, 03:23 AM

Muzzle wear comes from loading & cleaning rods, not the projectiles. Some barrels are made from what would be considered "soft" steel like 12L14 but it's still a whole heck of a lot harder than lead alloys that max-out at 32 Bhn for heat treated & quenched WW alloy.

When using PRB's, unless the ball is extremely oversize and cutting the patch material, the projectile does not come into contact with the bore, only the patch.

Based on the experience of seeing the guns come in my shop, the two primary causes of muzzle wear are fiberglass and plastic ram rods, next in line are brass and aluminum rods. Fiberglass is extremely abrasive on it's own and plastic isn't that far behind it. All four; fiberglass, plastic, brass & aluminum are fairly soft materials that will easily impregnate with abrasive particles. This is why brass and aluminum are often the preferred choice for use as machine laps normally used for cutting hardened steel.

How many times you see people pull out their brass/alum shank short starter that's been banging around in the bag with all sorts of abrasive trail dirt and let that abrasive impregnated shank scrub all around the muzzle while they're smacking the ball in. Then they pull out the ram/range rod and let that continue filing the muzzle on the way and on the way out. The whole theory being, "I use brass/alum/plastic because it's softer than steel". While that's true, they never consider that these materials all impregnate with abrasives very effectively turning them into rattail files.

Wood rods can also pick up abrasive but it's much less problematic than the others for the simple fact is that it deforms easier which reduces the amount of cutting efficiency. Three things I push are polished CrMn stainless steel range/cleaning rods, wood/stainless steel short starters and bore guides, bore guides, bore guides, bore guides.

CrMn stainless steel is the primary choice for ML applications because of it's resistance to both abrasive impregnation and corrosion. The longitudinal polishing process is critical as well because latitudinal polishing that is easier and faster to accomplish leaves behind surface imperfections that oppose the direction use that can cause wear and also trap abrasive crud.

Keep them patches clean too, how many times I see folks loading crudded-up patches and that's nothing more than grinding compound on a cloth backer just the same as those nifty sanding belts.

28 years building & shooting ML's and doing it professionally full-time since '05 when physical problems ended my 21 year run of designing and manufacturing custom industrial machinery.

December 11, 2009, 01:39 PM
Good info here and even after al these years, you still see some old glass rods but hopefully not in use. Also support your comment on bore guides as I do not load without them except perhaps while Deer hunting. I use bore guides on all calibers that I shoot. The last time I was shooting M/L at the range, had a couple of in-liners say that the bore guide I was using, looked like a good idea. :rolleyes:
I even have a bore guide on my short starter as well as my cleaning rods.

Be Safe !!!