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Old 02-12-2010, 10:10 AM
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Default Leading 158 SWC 38/357 Hard Cast

Can some suggest a load that I can try in either 38 or 357 that does not lead for them with 158 grain hard cast bullets? I have purchased a good quantity of these from a quality company that look very nice. But I have had problems with five different Smith Wesson 357's with leading. I have Bullseye, Unique and No.2 powder to work with. I am trying to develop a good field load not a good light target load. Any help with a good starting point for 38 and 357 with the above powders would be appreciated.
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Old 02-12-2010, 10:15 AM
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IF THE BULLETS ARE HARD CAST AND YOU ARE HAVING A PROBLEM WITH LEADING IN 5 DIFFERENT GUNS THE PROBLEM MAY BE THE BULLETS ARE UNDER SIZED.

I HAVE ASSUMED THAT YOU AREN'T PUSHING THE BULLETS TOO FAST. JP
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Old 02-12-2010, 10:21 AM
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Yup, what size are they and how fast are you trying to push them? Even a hard cast plain base is only good to about 1100fps or so, some more but depends on a lot of things. They may look nice but what alloy was used, what where they sized too and how good is the lube?
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Old 02-12-2010, 10:25 AM
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I've just started handloading this year. But, getting after it in a big way. I'm using the 158 grain laser cast SWC from Oregon Trail. With Unique, the following loads have been fine so far, with no leading:

4.7 grains
5.0 grains
5.2 grains
5.4 grains
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Old 02-12-2010, 10:25 AM
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PPCS is right. If they are .358 or maybe .359 and have lube on them they should'nt lead up several different guns.
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Old 02-12-2010, 10:36 AM
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I use bullets from Stonewall, and in 38 Spec I load 4.9 gr. 231. It chrono's 906fps, and I get no leading. They are sized .358.
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Old 02-12-2010, 10:43 AM
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"Even a hard cast plain base is only good to about 1100fps"


Not hardly!

Hard cast bullets without gas checks, properly sized & lubricated, can be fired through a smooth and clean bore at velocities exceeding 1350 fps with minimal if any leading.

Almost all leading issues in handguns below the 1400 fps threshold can be traced to incorrect sizing, lubrication or cylinder throat dia. vs bore dia. relationships.

Bruce
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Old 02-12-2010, 10:49 AM
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There are a few missing pieces from the picture you painted. Things to help answer your question more effectively include: What is your bore diameter? What diameter have these bullets been sized to? Did you sufficiently bell the case before loading? (ask me how I know this can shave a perfectly good bullet into an undersized leading machine)

If you iron out these pieces, get a bullet loaded that is .001 or preferably .002" over the bore diameter and still get leading then you need to look a little deeper like what are the diameter of each of the chambers in the cylinder (under bore diameter and it will always lead until it's reamed out). Or there can be a stricture in the bore where the barrel attaches to the frame (like my 627), the solution for mine was firelapping.

Sounds like you have some investigating to do. Good luck.
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Old 02-12-2010, 10:59 AM
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i load my 158 cast swc over 6.0 unique around 1000 fps no proublums and in my 4 inch 27-2 they are tack drivers!
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Old 02-12-2010, 01:11 PM
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+1, BruceM.

Duskykiller, I'd not use BE to develop a field load of the sort you're envisioning. Look at the companies' data for recommended loads with Unique and Accurate #2.
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Old 02-12-2010, 02:05 PM
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Besides the leading issue, this is what you may run into if the diameter is too small and the bullet is too hard.



This is a keyhole example of the same bullet (Oregon Trails .357" SWC) shot in two different guns and they were undersized for the gun producing the keyholes.

As far as leading with a plain based bullet, I shoot Lyman 358429s at 1750 fps without leading and the hardness is only 12 BHN.
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Old 02-12-2010, 04:03 PM
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Those sideways bullets would make a good SD load.
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Old 02-12-2010, 04:06 PM
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Thanks for the tips. The bullets measure.3585 should be fine and they are from a major caster. My previous loads have been on the mild side. Before I load again I will make sure the expander is set correctly so I do not size the bullets. I will be trying 6 grains of Unique in a 357 case. I will let you know how this work for me.
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Old 02-13-2010, 03:35 PM
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I don't think anyone mentioned the location of the leading. I believe leading predominantly in the breech area may mean velocity that is too low or bullets that are too hard while leading toward the muzzle may mean you are pushing them too hard or the bullet is too soft. I have used Oregon Trail hard cast lead in my .38/.357 and also in several different 1911's (.45 ACP). In all of mine the leading was at the breech end and all but disappeared when I stepped up the loads and also started using liquid ALOX in addition to the OTB lube.

I hope that helps,

Frank
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Old 02-13-2010, 06:27 PM
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Frank

The leading has been in the throat area leading me to believe that I need to try faster loads. How is the liquid Alox applied to the bullets? The Alox sounds like something I would like to try.

Thanks for the help
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Old 02-13-2010, 07:04 PM
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Just get a bottle of Lee liquid alox, thin it about 30-50% with mineral spirits, swirl them with a small amount of lube in an old plastic butter tub. Then dump them onto a shallow cookie pan or onto wax paper. Let them dry a day or two. A little goes a long way.
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Old 02-13-2010, 08:59 PM
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Dave has the process nailed, except I do not thin the ALOX at all. I do put the plastic bottle in a hot water bath for a couple of minutes so that the ALOX will flow better. I put about 50 bullets in a butter tub and squirt a very small amount of ALOX over them. I then tumble the bullets until they are covered with a thin coat of ALOX. Start small as you can add more a lot easier than taking the excess away. Dump the bullets out onto waxed paper and let them dry overnight.

One other thing. The ALOX will tend to gum up your seating and crimping dies so plan on cleaning them after fifty or so rounds.

I hope that helps,

Frank
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Old 02-13-2010, 10:15 PM
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Another important measurement is the diameter of the cylinder throats. If the throats are undersized, the bullet will be swaged down to a diameter smaller than the bore, causing the same problems as undersized bullets.

I have a Ruger GP100 that had undersized throats. I couldn't push a jacketed bullet (.357" diameter) through four out of the six throats. I had a machinist open the throats to .3585 and leading went away. I can shoot 140gr hardcast bullets at 1,200 fps+ with virtually no leading.

Chris
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Old 02-13-2010, 10:28 PM
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What is (or are) the angles of the forcing cones?

Have you ever had any, or all of them "adjusted" from factory?

This also needs to be considered since I haven't seen it asked prior to this.
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Old 02-19-2010, 10:13 PM
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I've been reloading about four years now and shoot quite a lot on the weekends using hard cast bullets exclusively; 38/357 as well as 44 Mag. A lot of the loads are full house max and I have not had a problem at all with leading. Lands and grooves stay clean and shiny. I buy my bullets off a guy who has them on gunbroker.
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Old 02-20-2010, 04:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragon88 View Post
Yup, what size are they and how fast are you trying to push them? Even a hard cast plain base is only good to about 1100fps or so, some more but depends on a lot of things. They may look nice but what alloy was used, what where they sized too and how good is the lube?
THis just isn't completely true. Depending on the fit of the bullet to the bore/cyl throats, you can drive a hard cast (BHN14+) to well over 1500fps w/ little to no leading.
Measure the cyl throats, a pin gage works best, they should match your bore diameter (slug it & measure that too) or only slightly over (Less than 0.001") for best accuracy w/ least leading. Shooting a hardcast, undersized bullet too slow can also cause leading as the hot gas blows by the base & flash plates the lead to the bore.
I have a RBH in 45colt that was just leading badly, especially the first 1-2" of the blbl. The cyl throat measured 0.450", the groove dia @ 0.451". I opend the throats all to 0.452" & not only did the leading go away, but accuracy was almost twice as good @ 25yds (from 3" to under 2").
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Old 02-23-2010, 01:09 PM
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To try to get the leading issue figured out I decided to work with only one of my Smith Wesson revolvers. I am working with a 627-5 that I have had for 8 months or so. The revolver iscompletely stock from the factory. The best I can measure the cylinder throats I get .358 a .357 JHP almost drops through the cylinders with out help. The cast bullets I am using will push through the cylinders with a little push.I have been using Unique powder because that is what I have to use in quantity. My last range trips where with 6.5 grains and 6.8 grains of Unique pushed with a WW mag primer. Both loads still put lead in the throat of the barrel. The leading was confined to the first inch or so of the barrel. I shot 24 rounds of each with the 6.5 grains appearing to be the most accurate of the two. I cleaned the barrel between the two different loads. Should I try increasing the load a little further to see if the leading goes away? I have not tried the Alox as I load on a Dillon 550 and there is just no easy way to clean the dies every 50 bullets.My question on the Alox is there any way to use it without having to clean the dies so often?
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:44 PM
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I think the alox is a band-aid. It is too messy to use if you have another choice. I think your bullets may be too hard, and are not obturating properly. Try a different brand of bullet and see what happens. (Many commercial cast bullets are pretty hard, 'cuz that's what their customers think they want.)
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Old 02-23-2010, 05:03 PM
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I had similar issues with cast bullets in both .45 ACP and .38/.357. With the automatic the leading problem was solved by pushing the load a bit harder. I didn't want to push the .38/.357 so I ordered some slightly softer bullets from Missouri Bullet. I use their IDP#1 (hard cast) for .45 ACP and their .38 Match for the softer loads.

Missouri Bullet Company

I hope that helps,

Frank
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