Tumble Lubing: Yea or Nay?


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StrikeEagle
May 27, 2005, 10:33 AM
When I started casting years ago, I was doing it on the cheap and went with Lee's Tumble Lube method. I've stuck with it over the years. Kind of out of inertia, and also cause I'm still sorta cheap when I reasonably can be. :D

But... I'm wondering... is the conventional method of sizing/lubing really superior? How much would it cost me to set up with .38 and .45? What gear is needed/recommended? Can the same gear be used for .45 ACP and .45 Colt?

Many Thanks!

StrikeEagle

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fecmech
May 27, 2005, 11:11 AM
Strike Eagle--Tumble lubing worked for me in the .45 and .38 but not the 9mm and not very good in the .357 and .44 mag.. That said my objection to it is the sticky bullets protruding out of the case on loaded rounds. I load on a progressive and usually bag my rounds a 100 to the bag so tumble lube transfers to other cases. I think in the long run a lubrisizer is a good idea, I have 2, a Lyman 450 and a Star. The Lyman will do about 400-500 bullets per hour and new is about $100. in one caliber. Add another size die and top punch for about $25. You can find them used with additional sizers for about half that. The star is about $230 new and easily does 1000 bullets per hour.
If you are getting good accuracy, no leading and are happy with the tumble lube stick with it, in the right applications it works fine. Nick

HSMITH
May 27, 2005, 05:16 PM
I have tumble lubed 50K+ bullets, and I have all the stuff to conventionally lube also. I don't lube bullets conventionally very often. I find tumble lube to be adequate for most all of my needs, it's FAST and cheap. I can tumble lube 1000 bullets in 2 minutes, where it takes me nearly 2 hours to do the same amount on my Lyman lubrisizer.

If I were you and I was satisfied with the tumble lube I would keep right on going. If you aren't satisfied with tumble lube by all means spend the money and get a Star lubrisizer, anything else is going to be SLOW and laborious.

DMiculek
May 27, 2005, 05:49 PM
I have been using tumble lube in my 9mm ( low velocity) for a few years with no complaints. I use the lube very, very sparingly, I don't get any build up in my seating dies. I ran my springfield 9mm over 1200 rds between cleanings.
I can live with the little smoke produced from the lube on the bullet base.
Some folks even thin the tumble lube with 30-50% mineral spirits.
When I finish loading a batch of tumble lubed ammo, I dump them in the tumbler with clean corncob and a cap or two of alcohol or laquer thinner. (I usually leave them in about 5 -10 minutes). They come out nice and clean and dry

FYI, you can also tumble lube conventional cast bullets as well.
I have done, H&G 68's and 130's with no problem.

Should want to stick to conventional sizing and lubing, you'll never regret getting the Star/Magma setup.

MuzzleBlast
May 30, 2005, 11:00 AM
I can tumble lube 1000 bullets in 2 minutes, where it takes me nearly 2 hours to do the same amount on my Lyman lubrisizer. What procedure are you using?

fecmech
May 30, 2005, 10:08 PM
Muzzleblast--Put the bullets in a heavy plastic bag, squirt in some lube, hold the top of the bag in one hand and moosh the bullets around in the bag with your other hand on the outside of the bag. When the lube has been spread all over the bullets, dump the bullets out on a heavy screen or peice of hardware cloth to dry.

drinks
May 30, 2005, 10:52 PM
I use either liquid alox or LBT soft blue, applied in the sardine can method, for shooting lubes even in .243 and 7.5SR at 2300fps +.
I have no leading problems and while I do set each bullet on it's base to dry, find it pretty fast.
To crimp on gas checks, I am now using the Hornady Unique case lube, I just wipe my fingers across the cake and fondle the bullets as I put on the gas check, rewipe every 5-6 bullets, very fast and no buildup.
Don :cool:

HSMITH
May 31, 2005, 10:38 AM
MB, like the poster said above you can use a plastic bag. A zip-lock with all the air squeezed out will keep the lube in the bag soft for next time and lower lube consumption quite a bit.

I normally lube several thousand at a time and use a bowl. I put a little lube on the bullets in the bowl and use my hand in a latex glove to swirl and swish. I used to set them on the bases to dry but found no advantage to that. I just dump them out on wax paper and make sure there is a little air space between each one.

One other thing I do that helps a LOT. I thin the lube out with mineral spirits to the consistency of say........hot maple syrup? Just a little thicker than water? A VERY thin coat is all that is needed, it dries a LOT faster, and it saves lube drastically over applying in heavy coats. It also makes loading them trouble free as your seating die doesn't get caked up and OAL start shrinking.

Poodleshooter
June 1, 2005, 07:41 PM
I've used nothing but Lee tumble lube on both TL designed bullets and regular lube groove bullets and am quite happy. The home cast and lubed bullets work much better than the undersized,conventionally lubed "store bought" bullets that I used to load.

StrikeEagle
June 2, 2005, 07:14 AM
I've used nothing but Lee tumble lube on both TL designed bullets and regular lube groove bullets and am quite happy. The home cast and lubed bullets work much better than the undersized,conventionally lubed "store bought" bullets that I used to load.

Do you size them, btw? I use the Lee sizer for conventional bullets. Generally I don't have to size Lee TL bullets at all. What's your experience?

StrikeEagle

Poodleshooter
June 2, 2005, 01:24 PM
I find that my need for sizing is directly related to how fast I cool the bullets. Any hot bullet dumped on a slightly hard surface will slump somewhat out of round and will require sizing. I size all of my .45 ACP bullets since I usually get 1-5 per hundred with this problem and they're awfully hard to detect by eye. If I miss any, they usually shave lead from the bullet at seating,screwing up the headspace and jamming my .45. I've never experienced a problem with my .358" bullets in revolvers (quicker cooling bullet due to less mass),and it's usually not a problem with muzzleloading projectiles for some reason.
I prefer the non-TL designed Lee bullets because the sizing process essentially eliminates most of the TL grooves on about 1/2 of the bullet's bearing surface. The TL process works just as well with regular grooves.

Vern Humphrey
June 2, 2005, 05:52 PM
I use tumble lube for everything, from .357 to .30-06. With conventional lube-groove bullets, you can seat the tumble-lubed bullets below the lube groove, and then wipe the exposed nose with a cloth wet with alcohol or Ed's Red and you have the best of both worlds -- a quick, effective way to lube, and no greasy bullets.

My one complaint about tumble lubing is the need to clean the seating die thoroughly every couple of hundred rounds or so.

candt
June 5, 2005, 04:21 PM
Does it take more applications of the lube to lube the conventional bullets, vs the TL bullets? If not, then why do they make the TL bullets?

Vern Humphrey
June 5, 2005, 05:33 PM
Normally, it takes a single application for any bullet. The exceptions are bullets that are sized after lubing and bullets with gas checks. I normally lube before and after sizing and/or fitting gas checks.

The best method of lubing I've found is to use a small container (cottage cheese tub or the like) and float the lube bottle in hot water (as hot as your water heater can get it). Then squirt the hot, liquified lube onto the bullets in the container, put the top on and shake until golden brown.

DMiculek
June 5, 2005, 07:39 PM
Candt,
If a bullet is sized properly to the bore (read that not undersized) and has a fairly decent base, you'll be surprised how little lube it takes to effectly lube a low to moderate velocity bullet. I think the design of the TL bullet is that it helps hold lube on the bullet.
In my opinion (and we all know about opinions) is that the lube groove on conventional cast bullets is unecessarily large for all but the highest of velocities.
Most cast bullets I have recovered from a berm still have a fair amount of bullet lube left in the groove.

HSMITH
June 5, 2005, 09:46 PM
When I tumble lube bullets I thin the alox down as mentioned above. For typical 38 special and 45 acp target loads the lube coating is JUST enough to see a gold tone to the bullets, that is IT!!! Any more is wasted, and won't help anything. For full power 45's and light 357's I will do two coats of the lube, again both are VERY thin. This results in a light bronze color on the bullets. This does two things, it gives me a little more lube to help with the added pressure and velocity and it also dries much quicker when applied in two thin coats than it will with one thicker coat.

I get about 2500-3000 158gr SWC 38 bullets lubed per bottle of liquid alox and zero leading.

I tried warming it up when I first started using it, and applying as delivered. The bullets were light brown in color, stayed sticky as heck, gunked up my seating die in just a couple hundred rounds, and generally made a mess of the gun when I shot them. I didn't like it one bit, and nearly swore the stuff off. I got some advise on this board or another to thin it out and apply light coats, tremendous advise that really made the tumble lubign work well.

I've never used the tumble lube bullets, I've only used it on conventional bullet designs.

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