View Full Version : reasonably priced source for 36 / 38 caliber custom diameter round balls ???

Magnum Wheel Man
January 4, 2010, 03:16 PM
I'm going to be doing some popgun loads in 32 S&W & 38 S&W for a couple top break revolvers, I want to load lead round balls a median size that my my bores slug, the 32 is not a problem, but finding the right size 36 caliber / 38 caliber ball is proving to be more difficult...

since I won't be shooting a ton of these, but I want the most accurate load possible out of these old guns ( one is an old Hopkins & Allen Safety Police with a 6" barrel & custom period target grips ) I'm looking for a custom 2 ball mold in my optimum size determined by my bore slugs for the 38 S&W loads

any suggestions for cheaper priced custom diameter ball mold makers, that don't have 6 months of lead time ???


January 4, 2010, 04:09 PM
Why not get a mould and make your own?

Magnum Wheel Man
January 4, 2010, 04:15 PM
OK... how would I do that ???

I have a retired tool & die buddy that does alot of machining for me, & he makes his own bullet molds all the time, on his lathe but as far as making perfect little round balls, of a specific diameter, he thought that would be tougher, & if the ball is not reasonably round, it likely won't fly true... I'm open for suggestions

January 4, 2010, 04:24 PM
Try this person, he does good work & his price & shipping.

Magnum Wheel Man
January 4, 2010, 04:37 PM
thanks for the link TOM... the .360 ball will be close... I don't have a problem buying balls, as I have all the casting equipment ( inherited from my father in law ), but haven't gotten my feet wet with molten lead yet... or buying custom molds, as my buddy will cast a couple 100 for me from my lead, until I'm ready to make that plunge... I'm waiting for my last 38 purchase ( an old S&W 4th model "lemon squeezer" ) to get here, to decide just the ball size / mold size to buy, but I'm hoping to size everything as close to optimum as possible, if the bores turn out to be tight, & the .360 works, it would be great, but I expect .003 to .005 or so bigger as optimum size ???

January 4, 2010, 09:41 PM
Go too big and they wont chamber. Pure lead will obturate and fill the bore if it's reasonably close.

January 7, 2010, 10:45 AM
I believe Lee makes a .360" round ball mould. I'm planning on aquiring one for light loads in 38/357.

A little oversize in cartridge guns isnt much of a problem with soft lead, it may be more so with harder lead. I load .315" balls in 30-30 for grouse and small game loads (w/ 3 grs Unique, and a very small tuft of Dacron, balls lubed w/ Lee liquid Alox). The soft ball sizes down enough when loading that they chamber just fine. I expand and flair the neck with a Lyman M die in the 310 tool, then very lightly crimp just enough to close the neck up on the balls major diameter, and get a good enough grip that the balls wont come out.

Magnum Wheel Man
January 7, 2010, 10:52 AM
I spent a while looking for molds available .360 any eye deer where I could find one ???

January 7, 2010, 03:00 PM
Mr Magnum,

LEE does make a DC mould in .360 if you check their site sometime. I have several of their ball moulds, and they cast as good a ball as any mould. I like it that there is no sprue nub on them like my steel molds cast.

January 9, 2010, 01:21 PM
Check out the Gad Custom Cartridges website at http://gadcustomcartridges.com/
If offers a bunch of cast bullets for obsolete calibers, including a good selection of pure lead balls for black powder arms or cartridges.
Lead balls of .360-inch are sold for $5 per 100. Balls of .308, .311 and .319 inch are also available for the same $5 per 100. That's a darned good price!
Loaded ammo for many civilian and military calibers is also offered by this Medford, Wisconsin outfit.

Magnum Wheel Man
January 10, 2010, 11:16 AM
thanks for the link... I've bookmarked it... BTW... I've been having a real "blast" the last couple days doing this with the 32 S&W... 0.5 grains of Trailboss & a 47-48 grain .315 Hornady round ball... this was my 1st test load, & my 1st try was with an old Hopkins & Allen exposed hammer double action top break, that I bought, that had been re-nickeled... standing at 10 paces, I easily shot an 8" - 5 shot group... this out of a 100 year old gun with a 3.5" barrel... how cool is that ??? I ran this test batch through 5-6 of my other top break 32's to test for gun function... it's looking like I can load these a bit hotter... maybe to 0.7 grains ???

I can't wait to do the same thing with the 38 S&W's... I have a 6" barrel Hopkins & Allen Safety Police, with factory target grips in 38 S&W, it has a nice barrel... it'll be interesting to see how that shoots with round ball light loads... I'm looking at a similar Iver Johnson in 32 S&W, which might shoot better than the other short barreled 32's ???

January 11, 2010, 11:41 PM
I load Hornady .310 lead balls in the .32 Long Colt, to shoot in my Marlin 1892. I also load heeled bullets for slightly longer range.
When I seat the ball, I seat it partly in the case because the inside diameter of a sized .32 Long Colt case is about .294 inch. After seating the .310 ball partyway, I turn the cartridge upside down and dip the ball -- right up to where it meets the brass -- in Lee Liquid Alox.
Then I place the cartridge right side up and let it dry overnight.
This eliminates leading.
You may wish to do the same, putting a little Lee Liquid Alox on the ball, then let it dry overnight.

January 12, 2010, 05:26 AM
I believe that Hornady has made .360 round balls in the past which aren't currently listed on their website so those may be a discontinued item.
I would think a factory swaged ball made from pure lead would be preferable to a cast ball for cartridge reloading because it wouldn't have a sprue and the ball would be more uniform.
Check out this site for computer designed custom molds and which lists a 10-12 week estimated lead time. I noticed that the outfit also has its own forum that the owner of the company participates in.


Magnum Wheel Man
January 12, 2010, 07:31 AM
GATO... I also use Alox on my 32 H&R magnum when I use cast bullets... I was thinking about painting a small ring around the joint between the case mouth & the ball ( like you would with nail polish if waterproofing a cartridge )... but the 32 caliber balls are so small, that even though I'm seating them at 1/2 way, & with just the slightest crimp, I might be better off to dip them as you suggested... I'm looking at doing a 32 Colt conversion on an old 30 rimfire pocket gun, if I decide to do it, it'll be with the .310 balls also...

ARCTI... I had been on that site several times when I was looking at .577 bullets... ( designing bullets with their bullet design program was really interesting ) but the cost for a round ball mould is pretty high... pretty decient for a custom 577 bullet though...

so right now I'm leaning towards just buying lead balls from one of the 2 sources listed in this thread in .360 for the 38 S&W, which so far I've collected the dies, & 100 starline cases... so after this next payday, I'll order another 200 cases & the balls, & should be in business for the 38 S&W as well...