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Old 05-06-2018, 10:55 AM
sjs sjs is offline
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Default Lead Bullet Primer

I shoot a lot and have been using plated bullets to control costs but I want to save even more. Unfortunately, my previous experiences with bad leading have kept me away from lead.

I do not intend to cast my own but I would like to be an informed buyer when I buy cast bullets so I can ensure I get the right ones, not only for accuracy but to prevent leading.

My internet research has shown me a ton of materials about cast bullets but it all seems at first glance to be directed to those who want to cast their own. I would appreciate any suggestions for something I can read that will educate me enough to go on line and buy the correct lead bullets.
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Old 05-06-2018, 11:41 AM
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Quick answer; first make sure your bullets fit your gun. For revolvers, measure the cylinder throats and slug the barrel. For pistols, slug the
barrel. I size my revolver bullets to the same diameter as the cylinder throats and my pistol bullets start out .002" larger than the groove diameter (this is the Reader's Digest version). This is an excellent article about casting and shooting cast bullets; From Ingot to Target: A Cast Bullet Guide For Handgunners, Table of Contents - Fryxell/Applegate For answers to any question regarding anything to do with cast bullets look around here; Cast Boolits
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Old 05-06-2018, 12:03 PM
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Default Hardness...

Generally speaking, the harder bullets can be pushed ln velocity like jacketed.

Swaged bullets are soft, and lend themselves to target loads.

I'd recommend trying Hy tek coated bullets. No leading from slow to fast if the bullet fits.

Not sure what caliber you are shooting, but hollow base wadcutters consistently land near the top in accuracy in revolvers. Most semis can't feed them though.

Some cast places will size bullets to your specs.

Don't use a too loose bullet as that causes gas blowby which melts the lead and causes leading.

One problem i have with lube in groove bullets is that they can SMOKE, so indoors they are a pain.

But coated smells a little funny and ruins that "I love the smell of gunpowder in the morning" feeling.

Plain lead can be a little messy to handle, plated or coated is cleaner.
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Old 05-06-2018, 12:32 PM
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Ever think about coated lead bullets ?

No leading and higher fps can be attained.

I have shot a lead 158gr at 1320fps through my 357 Magnum
but I have also worn out a lot of brass brushes.

Good luck.
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Old 05-06-2018, 03:37 PM
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Thanks very much guys, that is very helpful. I have Mikld's websites added to my favorites and will go back through them. The stuff I have read so far sounds like rocket science to me with having to find the perfect mix of alloy, hardness, weight, shape, lube, checks and velocity.

I tried some before from Missouri Bullet Co and they were fine, and tried some coated from Extreme Bullets and they were OK but I drove them real slow and never got comfortable. I have been shooting Berry's Plated and like them but I want to try and spend a little less.

I am loading for a 686 and a 629. I got pin gages and my 686 cylinders are right about .357 as the .357 pin goes through but with resistance. I tried to slug the barrel but must have messed up because the slug only measures .353. The bore will not take a Plus .354 pin gage.

It is very accurate with .357 diameter XTP bullets and Berry .357 diameter bullets so I would assume a .357 cast bullet would be right but I am not sure.

My 629 will just barely take a .428 pin gage in the cylinders. A .427 pin gage will not fit in the bore. It is very accurate with Berry's .429 diameter bullets.

I want to drive them at suitable velocities for Silhouette shooting but I just started that game so I don't know what loads I will end up with.
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Old 05-06-2018, 04:23 PM
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Since you are changing one important component of the recipe,you have now 2 excuses to start low and work up a good load Safety and no lead in the bore.
Your findings(chamber and bore dimensions) make me think that you'll end up being able to have an accurate full power load(in the 1300fps)out of both your Smiths.
Have fun and play it safe.
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Old 05-07-2018, 12:51 AM
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Mikld has given a very good brief explanation of the basics. Good advice that will start you down the right path.

Nothing wrong with good quality cast bullets, whether you make them yourself or purchase from a good source. In most handgun calibers (and many rifles) cast bullets will provide all the performance that can be expected, while also being much easier on the firearm (pressure peaks, pressure curves, etc). I started reloading in 1971 and started casting bullets in 1972, probably turned a ton of wheel weights and salvaged lead into shooting fodder, filled the freezer with game critters to feed my family over the years. Haven't worn out a gun yet, haven't damaged a gun yet, and don't expect to do so.

Cast bullets need to fit the gun to be used. Revolvers require bullets matching cylinder throats. Pistols require bullets that fill the groove diameters. Bullet hardness relates directly to strength under pressure, so the intended load must be taken into account when selecting. Lubrication needs to be tailored to intended use and the individual gun.

Bullet casting adds another fascinating topic to the overall subject of shooting and firearms performance. The more you learn the more you will appreciate the wealth of knowledge that has evolved over the past couple of centuries, all of which is readily available to today's practitioner.

Excellent sources include the Lyman Handbooks, especially the cast bullet editions, and (if you can find a copy) NRA's "Cast Bullets" by Colonel E.H. Harrison, a compilation of 30-plus years of experimentation and innovation (watch eBay and Amazon).

There is no other part of the shooting sports that has provided me with more challenges or enjoyment over the years.

Still producing and shooting cast bullet loads in 9X19, .38 Special, .357 magnum, .40 S&W, .44 Special, .44 Magnum, .44-40, .45ACP, .32-20, .25-20, .30-30, .30-40, .32 Win. Spl, .348, .32-40, .38-40, .38-55, .45-70, .45-90, .45 Sharps Express, .40-60, and a few other antiques that would be wall hangers without bullet molds and reloading dies.
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Old 05-07-2018, 08:56 AM
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I have used coated lead from Summers, SNS, and Missouri with great success. Pushed over 1250fps with no leading problems. One thing I like is lead gives higher velocity than plated at least in my testing so you can use lighter loads with same results
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Old 05-07-2018, 11:59 AM
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K.I.S.S. Use bullets that fit your gun. Use starting loads from your Lyman manuals (either the 50th or Cast Bullet Handbook). If you purchase bullets, make sure they are the diameter you need. This will get you started safely and cleanly.

Some commercial cast bullets are shipped with near worthless lube, so maybe a quick dip in thinned alox will be need, after you have tried them and find a need...

There is so much to learn about your guns when shooting cast bullets you'd never realize when just shooting jacketed or factory fodder. And that's a good thing...

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Old 05-07-2018, 12:27 PM
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If you go to a gun show near You, You can probably meet and talk to some commercial casters that are set up to sell. Look and the shapes and sizes and ask what alloy and lube They use.
You can usually buy in 100 to 500 quantity. Pick up a 100 of each that you choose and try them. Be sure to get a business card so You can order the ones You like.
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Old 05-07-2018, 12:56 PM
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Normally I do not use gas checked lead bullets. But some years ago I came into several hundred 158 grain GC SWCs as a gift. I decided to try them out. No leading happened at top .357 velocities.
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Old 05-08-2018, 10:42 AM
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As DWalt said I usually didn't use GC bullets either...but do have a few that work really well and do not lead the bores. I don't know the reason they don't such as fitting the cyls or bores but I also intend to try some coated bullets. I bought a bunch of plated bullets at an estate sale. Cheap of course. Going to load the 38s soon as I have a bunch of brass to load. I try to keep velocities down on lead bullets mainly because I don't need to push them. If I really need high velocities and serious ammo I usually use jacketed..except my bear loads in the 41 and 44s. Those are commercial cast with gas checks. . I buy 'em because I don't shoot that many and it isn't economically worthwhile to buy the molds. In the OPs case...find a cast bullet that works and buy a bunch that do what you need.
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Old 05-08-2018, 03:37 PM
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Lots of commercial casters now offering coated bullets. Pretty much solves any leading issues, as long as the right size/dia bullet is used.
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