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Thread: Hard cast bullets in 44 mag

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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Default Hard cast bullets in 44 mag

    I am getting ready to load up some hard cast Double Tap 320 grain bullets in my super red hawk but was warned by a seasoned reloader (my dad), not to run them too hot to avoid excessive lead fouling.

    The whole point of these is to run them pretty fast as a backup weapon for bear protection. Is leading a problem in hard cast bullets like this? Is there a limit on velocity I should hold to avoid leading? I'm thinking that maybe the lead issue is more a problem with soft bullets??

    I'm reloading with W296/H110 and WLP primers.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dkwarthog View Post
    I am getting ready to load up some hard cast Double Tap 320 grain bullets in my super red hawk but was warned by a seasoned reloader (my dad), not to run them too hot to avoid excessive lead fouling.

    The whole point of these is to run them pretty fast as a backup weapon for bear protection. Is leading a problem in hard cast bullets like this? Is there a limit on velocity I should hold to avoid leading? I'm thinking that maybe the lead issue is more a problem with soft bullets??

    I'm reloading with W296/H110 and WLP primers.
    Some primary causes of leading:
    Bullets that are too hard and don't obturate (common problem).
    Bullets too soft for the velocity they're driven (far less common a problem than being too hard).
    Improperly sized bullets.
    Insufficient lube.

    Highly recommended reading:
    http://www.lasc.us/Fryxell_Book_Contents.htm

    http://www.lasc.us/Brennan_6-6-3_CastHandgun.htm

    http://www.customsixguns.com/writings.htm
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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Thx IOT, I'll do some reading....

    I'll also need to look up the definition of obturate...

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Note there's a tiny pdf link in upper left corner of first link. I highly recommend downloading and saving that one. It makes for better reading.
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    Default experience..

    I've been shooting hard cast bullets in various .44 Mags for nearly 50 years now and I've never had a significant leading problem in any of my guns. I have had issues with leading in my other pistols with the .357 Mag being one of the worse.

    I shoot primarily hard wheel weight lead in my guns. The stuff I'm using now is so hard the ingots "ring" if I drop them on the concrete floor. I do use the old tried and true Alox / beeswax lube, it is messy but apparently does a great job of preventing leading. While the harder lubes are more convenient for the commercial bullet sellers I have to wonder if the lube works as well.

    I also load my bullets with as long as a OAL as possible - I'll crimp into the bullets if needed rather than depend on the crimping grooves. My bullets are normally seated so they go into the chamber with a small amount of pressure - the bullets are starting to jam into the throats.

    Most of my .44s have been S&W although I do have a couple of Blackhawks. Ruger Redhwawks may be a different story - I do note I have leading in my .45 Redhawk that I don't normally see in handguns. Not knocking Rugers, there may just be different techniques for them.



    Quote Originally Posted by dkwarthog View Post
    I am getting ready to load up some hard cast Double Tap 320 grain bullets in my super red hawk but was warned by a seasoned reloader (my dad), not to run them too hot to avoid excessive lead fouling.

    The whole point of these is to run them pretty fast as a backup weapon for bear protection. Is leading a problem in hard cast bullets like this? Is there a limit on velocity I should hold to avoid leading? I'm thinking that maybe the lead issue is more a problem with soft bullets??

    I'm reloading with W296/H110 and WLP primers.
    Living the urban lifestyle so I can pay my way and for my family's needs, and support my country. And you?
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    I'm not expert on the topic but if your loading them for bears and not high volume target practice perhaps its a wash?

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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Thanks for the link Taiga, that is a good article, a lot more to it than I had considered.

    interesting that you mention the 357 tvfinak, that was the pistol that my father had all the lead issues with. I'll forge ahead with a little more knowledge about what I am doing now.

    Although its true that these are mainly bear rounds, I have enough of them that i am sure that I will spend a significant amount shooting these bullets at things other than bears...

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    Are they gas checked? If not, you may get some leading if you load hot. I load 310gr TruShot at max; they are gas checked and I don't get any leading. TruShots are a lead/silver alloy which are pretty hard.
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    As an aside to the leading advice you've been given I will also add that hard lead bullets, especially heavy for caliber, don't have to be driven at maximum velocity to penetrate like crazy. You ain't going to "shock" a bear into submission with a 44 magnum, so if you need to, whether to stop leading or to manage recoil, load them to a moderate velocity and use them with confidence.

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    You will definately notice improved accuracy with a less than +P full load.....!

    A lot of the new hard cast bullet manufactures make them really hard because that is really the only way that they can get their multi-capacity automated molds to fill out well - as fast as they turn them out they have to make them hard. This IMHO is what has made the "hard cast" craze lately.

    Have you measured your barrel and made sure that your double taps are a bit over your barrel size? I'd do that first.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OKElkHunter View Post
    Are they gas checked? If not, you may get some leading if you load hot. I load 310gr TruShot at max; they are gas checked and I don't get any leading. TruShots are a lead/silver alloy which are pretty hard.
    I agree, use gas checked bullets to eliminate the leading if you want to run them hot.
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    With handguns most leading is from improper sized bullets or small throats. The bullets need to be as big as the throats or bigger and the throats have to be as big as the barrel grooves or bigger . If not, you will get gas blowby, which will lead unless the bullet is soft enough to bump up (obturate) and has enough pressure bihind it to bump it up. The hot high pressure gas screaming past the edge of the bullet rips lead from the side of the bullet and sprays it on the barrel. If the bullet is really soft and you launch it really hard it can skid in the first bit of rifling and lead as well but it won't happen with a hard cast or even a medium cast bullet. Almost any lube works with handguns even the junky way to hard stuff that most commercial cast bullets have on them. Check your bullets in the throats of each cylinder to make sure they are a snug finger push through or are just plain tight. Either is ok. Drop through or loose is not good. Slug your bore and check groove size, it should be no bigger than your bullets after they pass through the throats.Also, while slugging your bore, push the oiled slug from the front of your barrel out the rear. There should not be any tight spots in the barrel. Watch especially at the area where the barrel screws into the frame for a tight spot. If the gun and bullets check out ok you shouldn't get any leading even without gas checks and shooting hot loads to 1600fps or so.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullelkklr View Post
    A lot of the new hard cast bullet manufactures make them really hard because that is really the only way that they can get their multi-capacity automated molds to fill out well - as fast as they turn them out they have to make them hard. This IMHO is what has made the "hard cast" craze lately.
    The term "hard cast" really doesn't mean anything. It's a generic catch all term used for marketing purposes. Besides what Bullelkklr mentioned, the primary reason for casting excessively hard bullets is to prevent them getting beat up during mechanized bulk handling and shipping. Anything softer than about 16 BHN is prone to getting dinged up a bit during shipping... "True Shot" is a trade name of Oregon Trail Bullet Company, same as "Laser Cast" and "Real Silver Bullet". They're all the same thing and as far as I know they're all BHN 24 which is insanely hard (and brittle). No gun, including even the .454 Casull requires a BHN harder than about 20. I'm running my heavy .45 loads, and now my .500 Linebaugh loads at BHN 15 and that's plenty hard.
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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Thanks again for all the good info. I checked and these bullets are not gas checked and they are labeled as 22 brinnel. I havent had a chance to measure them yet, but I will do that when I get a chance. I didnt have the brass that I thought I had, or cant find it, so this project is on hold for a bit til I dig some up.

    next time I buy bullets, I will be a smarter shopper thanks to you guys...and I now know what obturate means... and that harder is not always better..

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    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    If you are in town (south anchorage) you are welcome to stop by and we can pour you up some. I have a .44 cal brooks single holer and hard and soft lead (WW, Lino, pure lead) send me a PM if you are interested.

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    Yeah, the term hard cast doesn't mean a whole lot as anything over about 12bhn can be called hard cast. 12 to 15 or so is plenty hard assuming you have good bullet fit and the gun was built right. At 22bhn, those are plenty hard even without gas checks assuming all else is ok. I'm sure I could spare a hundred 44mag cases if it will help.

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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Thanks for the offer rbuck. I have some brass floating around, just need to find it..

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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    Wow, a lot of good info there that I missed the first time I read thru the thread. When you say slug the bore, are you talking about just pushing an oiled bullet thru and measuring the groove cut in it? Appreciate all the detail info you guys are passing on...


    Quote Originally Posted by rbuck351 View Post
    With handguns most leading is from improper sized bullets or small throats. The bullets need to be as big as the throats or bigger and the throats have to be as big as the barrel grooves or bigger . If not, you will get gas blowby, which will lead unless the bullet is soft enough to bump up (obturate) and has enough pressure bihind it to bump it up. The hot high pressure gas screaming past the edge of the bullet rips lead from the side of the bullet and sprays it on the barrel. If the bullet is really soft and you launch it really hard it can skid in the first bit of rifling and lead as well but it won't happen with a hard cast or even a medium cast bullet. Almost any lube works with handguns even the junky way to hard stuff that most commercial cast bullets have on them. Check your bullets in the throats of each cylinder to make sure they are a snug finger push through or are just plain tight. Either is ok. Drop through or loose is not good. Slug your bore and check groove size, it should be no bigger than your bullets after they pass through the throats.Also, while slugging your bore, push the oiled slug from the front of your barrel out the rear. There should not be any tight spots in the barrel. Watch especially at the area where the barrel screws into the frame for a tight spot. If the gun and bullets check out ok you shouldn't get any leading even without gas checks and shooting hot loads to 1600fps or so.

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    Hard cast is generally considered to be about BHN 18. And BHN and higher do not obturate at all at handgun pressures. Bullet composition comes into play here and quenching or heat treatment to get higher BHN, rather than adding antimony will leave an alloy (Pb/Sn) that does obturate some at about 35,000 psi. (44 mag pressure). But in any case when shooting hard cast bullets a few things matter alot. As has been said here, dimensions matter. Bullet diameter must be about .0005" to .001" larger than the groove diameter of the barrel. And cylinder throats must be .0005" to .001" larger than the bullet. The purpose of this is so the bullet isn't s waged down smaller by passing thru the throat to get to the barrel. I have a 5" Redhawk in 44 mag. It has very uniform throats slightly bigger than .430". I shoot nothing but hard cast in the gun. Gas check at velocity as high as 1400 fps and plain base at about 1150 with virtually no leading at all. I go hundreds if rounds without cleaning. Primarily Beartooth,Leadheads or Cast Performance bullets. 44's are not problematic with cast lead. The 357 is. Also the 44's in general have very good throat/groove dimensions and rarely need the attention the 45 Colt needs. There are many good bullet makers around. Find one that sizes bullets to .430" and load up. Your powder primer selection will work fine.
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    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    I did measure the bullets last night and of the half dozen I checked, they measured pretty consistently right at about 0.4303". Three ten thousanths is not exactly best measured with a lyman dial caliper, but that is where the reading landed consistently and I have no reason to believe it is off. If I had a micrometer, I would verify it, but I currently dont have one

    I am slammed this week, but hope to measure the barrell soon.

    thanks guys...

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