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Old August 21, 2001, 04:04 AM   #1
Smokey Joe
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Hard cast bullets need gas checks?

Am researching a hunting load for my .357 mag. revolver. Have about settled on using 180 gr. hard cast bullets. Plan to use a powder that will give me maximum accurate velocity. Now I want to know: Do I need gas checks on the bullets or not? Is one "hard cast" bullet superior in some way? What does "hard cast" mean, anyhow? By the bye, I've really appreciated all the help & info The Firing Line users have provided in the pastÑThanks, guys.
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Old August 21, 2001, 09:04 AM   #2
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Joe, in one depends . Probably in your 357 with a 180 grain bullet it may not be necessary. I use 140 grain SWC's at lets just say an "elevated" velocity in my 357 and have no leading problems to speak of. The same is also true in the 44 magnum and the 45 Colt. Now I use a hard linotype alloy for the bullets. I guess the softest that you may want to go is the Lyman #2 alloy. All I have ever used as a lube is the old NRA formula of beeswax and alox. I also shoot cast rifle bullets but these are always gas checked. USUALLY at pistol velocities with a good hard alloy and a well lubircated bullet you can skip the gas checks. I also think that a lot too depends on the smoothness of your bore/forcing cone as to weather you will have leading. In this case a gas check may not help stop the problem.
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Old August 21, 2001, 09:51 AM   #3
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Another variable would be the relationship tween chamber mouth diameter and bore diameter. If you have tight chamber mouths and spec or larger bore......more tendency to lead.

I had one .357 with .354 chamber mouths and .358 bore. It would lead if you looked at it...........any load.

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Old August 21, 2001, 10:15 AM   #4
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"Depends" = the best universal answer.

Lyman #2 is perhaps the standard alloy for most every application - ~15-16B (pure lead =5-6 & lineotype = 21, IIRC).

Too hard a bullet may fragment excessively & not give the desired penetration you need for a clean kill. Probably won't matter if you're hunting bunnies, but a good WC will do that nicely.

I'm thinkin' a bunch of the hard cast bullets being sold today are more for target applications, rather than hunting.

Take a look at Lyman's cast bullet handbook about various alloys & their properties.
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Old August 21, 2001, 11:31 AM   #5
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What are you hunting? Deer ?

At the velocities that you will be able to reach in a pistol with 180 grain bullets, leading will probably not be too much of a problem.

I reload and hunt deer with my 357 maggie also. Last year I used 158 grain Gold Dot JHP but have since read too much to trust them to fully denetrate through a deer, especially the 200 lb 8 point that I ended up getting last year with my 20 guage. Therefore I have switched to the 180 grain XTP JHP from Hornady. This is a tough bullet that should stay together, expand some and fully penetrate through a deer in a broad side shot. WESHOOT2 recommended to me that I use the Remington Scalloped JHP because it expands better. A recent Handguns magazine issue reported the velocities and expansion of some 180 bullets for a 357 magnum. The Remington expanded all the way and had good mass retention and penetrated very well also. They also tested the Partition Gold bullets and those did well also, but those are too expensive for me to reload. The Soft point from Corbon had great velocities but no expansion, even from a 7.5 in barreled revolver.

My first choice for hunting whitetail deer is to use a 180 grain JHP, but a well placed hard cast bullet through the front shoulders will anchor a deer too. A hard cast bullet will zip right through a deer unless you hit the shoulders or spine and most of the energy will not be transfered into the animal and you will most likely have a long tracking session on your hands.

If you are hunting hogs, defenitely go with the hard cast with gas checks. Shoot it from an N-frame or Ruger single action and push it to max velocites. With hogs you need all the penetration that you can get, the same goes with black bears.

My 2 cents, which was learned mostly from TFL!!

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Old August 21, 2001, 11:55 AM   #6
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Gas Checks? NO!

I've been shooting .41 Magnums for years (since circa 1978) with cast bullets. My current load (225 gr H&G over 22.0 gr. 296) gives me circa 1,300 fps. I experience NO leading, nor have I experienced any fragmintation. I have recovered many from the berm, and, except for a blunted nose, they are intact.

The bullet is cast of lin-o-type. It is then moly coated using the NECO moly-kote process (minus the wax). It is then sized and lubed using NRA formula beeswax/Alox. Finally, it is seated over a NECO P-Wad (Polypropolene). The P-Wad eliminated what little leading I was experiencing. It replaces a gas check, but MUST be used with a plain base bullet. I believe that this process would eliminate leading, and the need for a gas check in any reasonable load, including rifle loads.

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Old August 21, 2001, 02:17 PM   #7
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It depends is a good answer based on your question. I never use gas checked bullets in my magnum revolvers, haven't yet had a need to. One point I want to make, because from your question I'm not sure you know this, you can't put gas checks on any old hard cast bullet. The bullet has to be a design that uses gas checks.

In 357 magnum you're not likely to be pushing 180gr bullets fast enough to require gas checked bullets as long as you pick bullets cast from a decent alloy. Leadhead or Penn Bullets would be good sources for reasonably priced hard cast bullets that don't require a gas check.
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Old August 21, 2001, 06:22 PM   #8
Art Eatman
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How much leading would be expected from one or maybe two shots on a deer?

Any notable amount of leading would be from one's testing and sighting in--and cleaning before the hunt is no big deal.

Those loads where I know I'll shoot only a few times--deer or coyotes--are loaded to the max. Loads for extensive shooting--say, prairie dogs or paper--will be loaded down for less throat erosion or less leading...

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Old August 21, 2001, 07:05 PM   #9
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Boo586's "A hard cast bullet will zip right through a deer unless you hit the shoulders or spine and most of the energy will not be transfered into the animal and you will most likely have a long tracking session on your hands."

Have to disagree somewhat. I'm beginning to question the "energy dump" theory - especially for any normal handgun caliber. A bullet that goes all the way through causes more trauma than one that stays inside & "dumps" all its energy. Bullets kill by hermorage (in lack of a CNS hit) & th elonger bullet path, the better. Even though a "shot through critter" still only has one hole through it, it does "leak" from two sides which provides a better blood trail. A solid hit in the vitals & most anything will pile up soon enough.

The many elk/deer I've seen shot (.308/.30-06) have had "blow throughs" & bullets that stayed inside. Never seen any appreciable difference in how far they've travelled. Most piled up well within 100 yards & none of them experienced the "massive energy dump phenomena" of getting blown away.

You put a .357 180 gr cast bullet (even if it doesn't expand) through the vitals of a deer & it will head to the freezer.

A good shot puts them down shortlly enough.

'Course, then there's the exceptions.
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Old August 21, 2001, 08:32 PM   #10
Mark C. Kimmell
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Take a look at Beartooth Bullets at and Cast Performance bullets at for hard cast bullets. Beartooth has alot of information and loading data as well as a talk forum that well be very helpful. I only had experience with Cast Performance loading their 320gr.WFNGC LBT style bullet for the 44mag. I know Cast Performance provides starting load data with each box of bullets. Hope this helps Mark.
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Old August 21, 2001, 09:50 PM   #11
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I have recently started casting with pure line-o-type. It appears that a good rule is that for pistols, reclaimed ,fluxed and importantly* averaged *hard pistol lead are OK at the "usual" velocities. Some of the semi-jacketed types are very soft lead and can affect the alloy mix adversely.

But for velocities over 1,500FPS a gas-check and plenty of lube is needed -I have been strongly advised.

I load commercial lead projectiles(SWC and WC mainly) in my pistols- as it is easily available and cheap. There is always some leading in the cylinders and forcing cone and barrel of my M14 S&W(750FPS), none on the 7.62mm Nagant (650FPS)and very little at the muzzle of my CZ75 at about 1,000FPS.
I can't work that one out!
But for the 30/30(7.62 diam) rifle I load with 10gn of 4754SR Du Pont with Winch cases and WLR primers with home-cast 150 LEE projectiles, lubes with LEE ALOX mixture all over, to around 1,450FPS without a gas check (hell they are 4c each here!) and have had no problems yet as regards leading. Nice load for target too, nio problem with magazine load RF either.
But I agree -it must depend upon the smoothness of your bore and importantly the quality of the lead.

I was told .32s are hell to mould( fiddley - too light), but I may try .38SPL SWCs in reclaimed pistol lead from our Club mound, as I feel the leading I am experiencing could be due to a soft lead mix in the commercial bullets I am presently using.

[ Though I never questioned it before I started lead melting/pouring!!! It was an integral part of pistol shooting I thought.]
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Old August 22, 2001, 06:37 AM   #12
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Beartooth and Cast Performance are the best.

Gas-checked bullets don't HURT, and MAY enhance accuracy.

The best 357 deer bullet is the R-P 180g semi-jacketed HP (if your cylinder is long enough).
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