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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is one reason why I like to handload.

A month or so ago I went to the range with a goal to try and find some reduced lead bullet handloads that would shoot well in my old .444 Marlin w/ its MicroGroove barrel. Some posts on the Marlin Forums peaked my interest to make a light plinking lead load that would shoot. Two powders I tried initially were 700X and Blue Dot. I quickly determined that the 700X loads were not going to cut it for accuracy but the Blue Dot load of 11 grs. with a lead 240 gr. SWC showed promise at 25 yards.

25 yd. group


So I settled on the 11.0 grs. of Blue Dot load with some 240 gr. Hornady SWC's I had laying around and CCI primers. This combination printed the tightest group at 25 yds. and seemed like a great plinking load. POI is woefully off from my standard hunting load of 46 grs. of 4198 with the Hornady 265 gr. FP. Sight adjustment to raise the point of impact was necessary to get these to print on the target. But these reduced loads are a lot more comfortable on my shoulder in the summer. Rifle wears a Leupold 1.75x5 variable for optics so it's not overweight by any means. Now I'll work on final zeroing of the scope to get these to print properly so practice is meaningful.

When handloading so little powder in a big case I used a bit of polyester filler over the powder in each case prior to seating the bullet and final crimp to keep the powder close to the primer's flash hole for consistent ignition.

Last week I spent some more time at the range sighting in and managed some okay groups at longer distances with these reduced loads. Recoil is negligible compared to hunting handloads and this one is definitely a pleasurable round to shoot. Essentialy, what I'm shooting here is something in the power range of a .44 Special. It offers 742 ft.-lbs. of energy at the muzzle and still has 500+ ft.-lbs. of energy at 100 yards. Yet recoil energy is a little more than 4 ft.-lbs. compared to the 23 ft.-lbs. of my hunting load. What I accomplished was making myself a light plinking load tuned to the rifle, that's fairly accurate, and is cheap to shoot.

Was it worth the time to tinker and test over the course of a few outings? My answer would be "yes!"

50 yd. group, maximum spread 1.654":


100 yd. group, maximum spread 2.855", MOA=2.7" (impact was off the paper due to drop but group shows
potential)
 

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Cool. I'm going to work up some plinking loads eventually for my 444. Right now I'm 'plinking' with my 300gr hard cast hunting loads. They really aren't that bad off hand shooting, but they are a real bear form the bench!
 

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I have been shooting "Gallery Loads" in my big bore rifles for a long time. In the 45 Colt or 44 Magnum or 45-70 you can even shoot round balls as the projectile for some really cheap shooting if you do not cast your own bullets.

I shoot alot of these loads in my 45-70. I have worked up a Red Dot load that is silent in my Browning 1885's. I use it to small game hunt while I am deer hunting,. I have shot alot of quail for the pot from my deer stand and this load. the load is so quiet you can hear the hammer drop on the rifle.

"Gallery Loads" are also great for practice in your basement, or if you live in an are where noise is a problem. You can shoot all day long off your front porch, and your neighbor will never know. They work. And mine are more than accurate out to 50 yards. Tom.
 

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Setters4Life said:
My next endeavor is to get into casting my own bullets. I regret not starting this a long time ago.
I cast bullets for my 357 for cheap plinking. I have a LEE mould that doest even require being sized. They shoot really good out to about 25 yards from my GP100. 50 yards, and the groups open up alot. With a load of Bullseye (around 4 grains in 38 special), and those 158 gr cast bullets I can literally shoot all day for under 10 bucks. The most expensive part is the primers. Actually the most expensive part is putting gas in my truck to get to the range.

I do have a sizing die for 44 cal from LEE that just screws into your loading press. It works well to size and install gas checks. I'm pretty sure it costs less than $20.

You should be able to get started with less than $50 if you just want to give it a try.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
hunt/fish365 said:
Setters4Life said:
My next endeavor is to get into casting my own bullets. I regret not starting this a long time ago.
I cast bullets for my 357 for cheap plinking. I have a LEE mould that doest even require being sized. They shoot really good out to about 25 yards from my GP100. 50 yards, and the groups open up alot. With a load of Bullseye (around 4 grains in 38 special), and those 158 gr cast bullets I can literally shoot all day for under 10 bucks. The most expensive part is the primers. Actually the most expensive part is putting gas in my truck to get to the range.

I do have a sizing die for 44 cal from LEE that just screws into your loading press. It works well to size and install gas checks. I'm pretty sure it costs less than $20.

You should be able to get started with less than $50 if you just want to give it a try.
I'm game if there is something simple I can use to get started. I have a spare Rockchucker laying around. You're saying I can set this up to size?
 

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Sure. I got my stuff from Midwayusa. I started with a basic LEE 2 cavity mould that is supposed to cast 240 gr SWC's. It has the relief on the base for a gas check. I think the mould is something like 20-25 bucks. I got a sizing die from LEE as well. It screws into any loading press. The instructions are very easy to follow. The die even comes with lube if memory serves my right. I think the die is less than 20 bucks.

I think 1000 gas checks are something like 5 or 10 bucks at most. I would use them on anything going faster than 11 or 1200 fps.

There are several types of lube. I just use the LEE alox lube. It's cheap, and it works. It's not the same as hard lube though. It can be a little sticky until dry.

You can go cheap, and melt wheel weights on the kitchen stove if you want. My dad used a coleman stove outside back in the day to make RB's. You will need a dipper if you don't have a lead furnace. My dad makes a lot of lead fishing lures so I bought him a furnace for christmas a few years ago, and go to his house to do my casting.

Many people use wheel weights to make bullets, and that's OK. They can be a bit soft IMO if you don't heat treat them. I got lucky, and a friend of mine gave me a 25# bar of linotype. It is really hard, and doesn't lead the barrel. Course with proper lube softer lead won't lead the barrel either.

I guess it's what you want to make of it. I cast bullets to make cheap plinking ammo so I didn't spend a lot on my equipment. I did some math, and it would have taken me more bullets than I could possible shoot to make up for the cost of high end equipment. Just isn't important to me.
 

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I do not wish to get into an equipment argument here. But certain things just work, and certain things don't work. Let's leave it at that.

To get start casting there are a couple of basics that you need.

A mold

A ladle

A cast iron small pot

A heat source

Lead

These are the only items you need to start if you want to cast bullets and round balls. However Personally I consider a sizer as a bare minimum if you want to produce any bullets worth shooting(IMO).

First off-barrel leading is not so much a function of the hardness of the lead. Leading in the barrel is mostly caused by improper bullet sizing, or bullets that are not sized properly to the firearm. I can easily push lead to 1600 or even 1800 fps with no GC's as long as the bullets are sized properly. And this can be soft or hard or in the middle when it comes to hardness of lead. Properly sized WW wil work in any rifle or pistol.

Anything above 1800 I go with GC's. Normally I use GC's more as a function of bullet base deformation than velocity.

I do not care very much for the Lee molds, but in a pinch they will due. And the Lee melting pots are OK. But as far as the press sizer---well all I can say is no thank you.

If you are serious about decent bullets with good accuracy then you really should buy a Lyman sizer. Then check the diameter of your firearm and buy the proper sizing does. Casting and loading without sizing the bullets is strictly hit or miss.

The second most important part of a good bullet-after proper sizing-is proper lube. And the Lyman sizer will also solve this problem by spitting out perfectly sized and lubed bullets.

Personally if I could not afford a Lyman sizer then I still would cast round balls But I would not even consider casting bullets without one. Just an opinion.

I have been casting bullets and sinkers and jigs for a long time, and I really enjoy it. However once you buy the basics there is not much more you need. You just accumulate more of it. And by the way Gas checks cost about $25 to $45 per 1,000 depending on what size you need. If you buy them in bulk you can get them a little cheaper. Buy a good sizer and apply them properly. Along with your lube. Tom.

 

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Like I said before Tom, It's what you want to make of it. I will admit the LEE mould leave a bit to be desired. No question about it, but it will make decent bullets.

Seeing the poster just wants cheap plinking bullets I was just stearing him in the path I chose to make cheap bullets. Your path is much better than mine, but I probably spent a small fraction of the money you did. Like I said, I'm not very serious about it.

If I were to cast rifle bullets I would probably get a little more involved, but I don't. I just like to shoot handguns a lot. The poster, even though is shooting a rifle is shooting handgun bullets. It's not rocket science. If his goal is to kill beer cans on a Saturday afternoon cheap stuff will work fine. If he likes it he can move forward with better equipment.

Most of my cast bullet shooting is done with a 38 special at low velocities. Much of that is just offhand shooting at 25 yards or less. I don't have a probem with leading in my gun.
 

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Some guys who shoot the old 577 Snider and some of the other huge capacity cases have experimented with ways to reduce the case interior volumne so they can safely use squib loads.

The old 1920's Ideal catalogue had loading instructions for loading the 45=70 down for gallery shooting. But there are about 18 different weight molds for the 45-70 from 180 grains to 600 grains.
 
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