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Thread: Cleaning and Cast Bullets

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    Default Cleaning and Cast Bullets

    I am thinking of getting into casting bullets for my 30-06. The plan would be to drive these at less then 2000 fps perhaps as low as 1000 fps for practice and small game. I know that 1000 fps might be to low for the case size but I might use them with a 30 carbine converter.

    Bullets are my single biggest reloading expense so I would like to cast.

    My question is this. I see lots online about cleaning very well when switching between cast to jacketed and back. How important is this?

    The Idea would be to shoot maybe 5 rounds of full regular reloads and maybe 20 rounds of very cheap low velocity practice ammo at the range in no particular order, with no cleaning in between. Will this cause problems?

    If I need to clean in between then it would not be worth it.

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    What you might want to do is to buy some cast bullets first before going through the expense of casting them yourself. Run some at low velocity and see how they lead your barrel up.

    There will definitely be leading,the question is how much.

    I shoot cast bullets through my 1911 and it takes a while to get the lead out. No pun intended.

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    There is no one that can say how much leading you will get if any and whether or not you will have to clean between lead and cast in your rifle except you by trial. Using the right sized boolit of the right hardness and good lube, you should hit 1800/2000fps with decent accuracy without problems. Go to cast boolits.com for everything you could want to know about casting and shooting lead. Many people do just what you want to with success.

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    Cast bullets in rifles will work fine and in the '06 and 308 and a couple of other calibers I have used them and for any rifle I intend to keep I develop a load with cast bullets.

    There are some things you can do to reduce leading. A few that come to mind are;

    Clean and smooth Barrel. Ideally a barrel that is smooth as a babys butt and of uniform diameter chamber to muzzle. You may have to fire lap the barrel.

    Bullet size. I will size the bullet the larges it can be and still fit the chamber/throat of the gun. That may sound odd but .310" will usually go in the case and allow it to chamber. A tight fit is what we want here but you may have to go to .309".

    Gas Checks. Leading is less with them but they usually make a more accurate load at varying velocities.

    Bullet Hardness. A BHN of about 18 to 22 for heat treated bullets or about BHN 16 as a minimum. You can buy these from various bullet makers.

    Certain powders work better with cast bullets generally the slower the better.

    Heavier bullets will give less velocity which will reduce leading and give bettter field performance.

    You can get up to 2000 fps pretty easily with these but it really isn't necessary to go beyond 1600 fps for general hunting applications. We are really talking about a pot load for a bunny or a grouse or just general trigger time.

    Usually we can sight these in to hit POA at 50 yards and maintain the standard sight setting for about 200 yards with full power JSP hunting loads.

    I really big deal here is a clean barrel. If you shoot jacket ammo at high velocity it will leave copper deposits in the barrel. These copper streaks will cause leading when we follow with cast bullets. One or two shots won't matter but any quantity will degrade the accuracy of both lead and jacketed.

    Just some things to consider in your quest for cast bullets.
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    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    I routinely switch back and forth between cast and jacketed bullets in my 30-30’s, 375 Winchesters and in my 45/70 with no noticeable increase in leading what so ever.

    All of my current cast bullet loads for center fire rifle run right around 1900 – 2000 fps and I use two alloys (wheel weights + %3 tin @ 12 -13 bn, and 5 parts WW + 2 parts Linotype + 1% tin @ 17 – 18 bn) neither of which lead my barrels at that velocity.

    I commonly have far more trouble with copper build up than I ever do with leading….

    I have found over and over again, that the biggest contributor to leading of a barrel is the hardness of the bullets. When in doubt go with a softer alloy! With good soft lube (NRA %50/50) you can even drive pure lead upwards of 1500 fps with little to no leading, but if you try to shoot a “hard cast” 20 bn bullet any slower than about 1800 fps, you will not likely generate enough pressure to properly obturate (bump up) the bullet and seal the bore from the expanding combustion gasses that will then leak past the sides of the bullet and high velocity, gas cutting the bullet shank and plating the inside of the barrel….

    So when you look at the barrels that guys with “leading problems” are talking about, you will often see leading to such an awful extent that the rifling is hard to distinguish! This is almost ALWAYS caused by a too hard or too small diameter bullet being driven too slowly!

    Go forth and sling some lead!


    One important caveat that applies to pistols! If you shoot a bunch of lead in a revolver or auto (revolvers are more of a problem) the forcing cone can become leaded to such an extent, that if you subsequently fire a jacketed round, a severe overpressure situation could occur. Even to the extent of a burst barrel due to the restriction in diameter caused by the leading in the forcing cone area….
    “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alangaq View Post
    I routinely switch back and forth between cast and jacketed bullets in my 30-30’s, 375 Winchesters and in my 45/70 with no noticeable increase in leading what so ever.

    All of my current cast bullet loads for center fire rifle run right around 1900 – 2000 fps and I use two alloys (wheel weights + %3 tin @ 12 -13 bn, and 5 parts WW + 2 parts Linotype + 1% tin @ 17 – 18 bn) neither of which lead my barrels at that velocity.

    I commonly have far more trouble with copper build up than I ever do with leading….

    I have found over and over again, that the biggest contributor to leading of a barrel is the hardness of the bullets. When in doubt go with a softer alloy! With good soft lube (NRA %50/50) you can even drive pure lead upwards of 1500 fps with little to no leading, but if you try to shoot a “hard cast” 20 bn bullet any slower than about 1800 fps, you will not likely generate enough pressure to properly obturate (bump up) the bullet and seal the bore from the expanding combustion gasses that will then leak past the sides of the bullet and high velocity, gas cutting the bullet shank and plating the inside of the barrel….

    So when you look at the barrels that guys with “leading problems” are talking about, you will often see leading to such an awful extent that the rifling is hard to distinguish! This is almost ALWAYS caused by a too hard or too small diameter bullet being driven too slowly!

    ….
    You make a good point here about bullets being too hard to bump up. I guess I was making bullets for the faster use. That's why I run them oversized to make a tight fit, like a revolver. Softer may well be a better way to go. I think the gas checks will allow hard bullets to go at lower pressure without leading and without full obturation. I think the number is 1430 * BHN to find obturation pressure so you're BHN 13 and light loads work well. You jacket velocities are also low enough to not leave much copper aren't they, less than 2000. The '06 will copper foul with the 2700 to 2800 fps for the jacketed and would't take many cast before making lead deposits over that copper. I think copper is a bigger pain than leading but lead build up is bad for accuracy and pressure. I think one of my biggest failings is I never have the right lube either. What do you use for rifle bullets?

    Thanks, good post.
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    In an ideal world you should shoot cast in a baby butt smooth barrel that has never seen a jacketed bullet, it made from the "perfect" alloy, is precisely sized to your chambers throat, is lubed with nee plus ultra bullet lube and all will be fine.

    In the practicle world I've gone between jacketed and my 30 cal plinker bullet of choice the Lee 115 gr in my .308, and have had suitable accuracy at 50 yds, which is 1" and change. Those loads are in the 1200-1700 fps range. I have had no problems with leading with that bullet in that gun and have gone 100+ rounds before cleaning. It is a gas checked bullet, I do use a beeswax/moly lithium lube and I cast them from wheel weights and size them .309" and the barrel is in good shape.

    Your mileage may vary.

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    Murphy, the lube I use is called “Jake’s 50/50 Alox bullet lube” and he claims it to be a 50% Alox 350 and 50% Yellow Beeswax mix. His contact info is:

    Jeffrey Hilde, jhilde@aol.com or 111 E. Melbourne Ave. Peoria Il. 61603, 309-645-6201

    It looks, feels, smells and works just like every other 50/50% lube I have used, but this Jeff guy is some sort of E-Bay type and does a bunch of different lubes at really reasonable prices. They come wrapped in wax paper and in a plastic case. I have had nothing but good service from the guy, but have never actually spoken to him, nor am I affiliated with him or his operation in any way. Seems like a quality product at bargain prices to me, so I have been using it for a few years now. I found his contact info off of the cast bullet forums.

    He also has a “sampler pack” of all his different lubes, and I bought one to play around with. I think there was like 4 or 5 different hard lubes of various flavors and they all seemed to work ok. Frankly I didn’t notice any real difference in performance from one lube to another regarding accuracy, leading or velocity… of course I only tried two 5 shot strings of each type, so my data set was not very large and therefore any conclusions are really anecdotal if you know what I mean…

    For me, it all comes back to ease of use, and the hard lubes are simply a pain for me. I do all my lubing immediately prior to loading, so storage is not an issue (big benefit to hard lube) and all my loading is done in the garage. It is heated, but still the temps can drop down into the 50’s making for lengthy warm up times when using the hard lubes and a heater for the lubrisizer. And frankly, since I cant seem to find any sort of ballistic advantage to the hard lubes (note that I don’t drive anything faster than 2100 fps) I have just stuck with the soft 50/50% lube and it suits my needs really well.

    I have read many different theories on how lube on bullets actually provide lubrication, and my two favorites (not to say they are fact, but I like the idea) are the “hydraulic application” were in, as the bullet obturates (compresses or bumps up) under pressure, the lube in the grooves of the bullet is forced out under pressure to coat the bore of the rifle. The other theory is of “centrifugal application” were in the high speed rotation of the bullet as it travels down the barrel imparts enough centrifugal forces upon the lube to “sling” it off of the bullet and onto the bore of the rifle! Now on the face of it, both of these theories sound plausible to me, but the fact remains, that I have routinely recovered fired bullets, that for the casual observer, seem to still have all of their lube intact within the lube grooves…. So are these theories sound or bunk? I dunno, but the lack of leading leads me to believe that lube is in fact being deposited within the bore of the rifle, in sufficient quantities to prevent leading….some how. So I guess it don’t really matter HOW it gets there…

    Now also, your post reminded me, and I forgot to mention in my last, that ALL of the bullets I use are gas checked. And just as you stated previously, I agree that the gas checks do contribute to a lead free barrel. Also, I don’t shoot cast bullets out of any barrels longer than 20”, not as a rule or anything, but I just don’t happen to have any longer barreled rifles that I shoot cast out of, so the shorter barrels may have an advantage in regards to the leading issue. I suppose that it is a possibility that the bullets could “run out of lube” in a longer barrel….. but it seems unlikely to me, give the presence of lube in the grooves of dozens of recovered bullets. I also always observe I nice sticky lube residue “butt hole” or “star” on the end of the muzzle after shooting, and that indicates to me, that the lube is doing its job and lubing the entire length of the barrel, and then some…

    Anyway, I guess to sum it all up regarding bullet lube, I have tried nearly 8 different lubes of both soft and hard varieties, and have found the soft 50/50 lubes to be satisfactory for all my applications (45 colt, 30-30 Win, 375 Win, 45-70 Gov) at the temperatures in my area and at the velocities in which I shoot them.

    One other item of note: I have gotten the impression from various posts on other forums that the Alox based lubes have some health concerns associated with them in confined shooting areas i.e. indoor ranges. I cant disprove or confirm this, nor have I read any credible specific information, but I think it worth noting none the less. I always shoot out of doors, so am not overly concerned about it, but the Alox lubes do produce more smoke than the hard lubes and also have a distinctive, but not unpleasant smell to them…. For what its worth.
    “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

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    I have never run into a leading problem in any of my rifles in which I shoot cast. Mainly that's my dad's old sporterized Remington '03A3, but also my CMP '03 Springfield, two Garands, and a Ruger M77 .375 H&H.

    For the .30-06 I use Lyman #311332 sized to .310". The Garand action would function better with a heavier bullet, but I'm having some success in this area with slower powders, mainly H4350 for now. For lighter loads around 1400 - 1500 fps I like 18 to 20 grains of 2400 or 20 to 22 grains of IMR4227 (and I'm sure H4227 would work just fine at those charge weights as well). For loads that are lighter yet, 10 grains of Unique is good. I've pushed 311332 to about 2300 fps (44 grains of IMR4895, LC53 cases) in one of the Garands, but even though I still had no leading in the bore or at the gas port, accuracy was not that great. I think that was mostly due to my using plain air-cooled wheel weight alloy +2% tin, which is almost certainly too soft for that pressure/velocity.

    As Murphy mentions, at 50 yards the 1500 fps loads are about dead-on with the rifles sighted in at 200 with normal jacketed loads. The sole exception being my '03. That one is in unmodified milsurp trim and the sights appear to be regulated for about 300 yards with M2 ball, so it's pretty close to dead-on at 100 yards with the lighter cast loads.

    I think the vast majority of leading problems stem from undersized bullets or extremely rough bores. The first thing I'd do on a rifle that leads, especially with a gas check bullet, would be to slug the bore. That'll tell you a number of things--the actual bore and grove diameter, as well as let you feel for rough spots as you push the slug through.

    Mike

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    Thanks for the responses. This has helped me a lot I think I will start by getting some pre cast bullets and experimenting. Then start looking for some casting equipment if all goes well.

    Thanks

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