Bullet casting for 45-120 Sharps


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benchrest
December 29, 2006, 10:37 AM
Not sure if I should have asked this in the black powder rifle section or this one. I'm seriously thinking of buying a 45-120 Sharps clone that is being manufactured today. I do my own bullet casting and need to know if it would be better to cast these bullets in hard lead like linotype or would softer wheel weight lead be more beneficial to accuracy? I will probably be loading in both black powder and smokeless. The bullet style will be without gas checks.

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Father Knows Best
December 29, 2006, 11:51 AM
For black powder, you generally want a soft alloy. Pure lead would work great if you could get it to fill the mold consistently, but you generally have to add some tin. Common alloys used in the BPCR game are 20:1 (probably the most common) and 30:1. The bigger the bullet, the more sensitivity to alloy pourability and mold filling, so I'd lean toward 20:1 if I was you. In my view, linotype is WAY too hard for black powder cartridges.

benchrest
December 29, 2006, 12:13 PM
I figured that would be the response for black powder loadings but what about modern smokeless powders? I am thinking of using a powder along the lines of Accurate Arms 5744. I have a fairly good supply of linotype lead along with some wheel weight. I only worry that the base of the bullet is without a gas check. I have never had much luck with bullets without gas checks, rifle or pistol, without going to a harder lead composition.

Father Knows Best
December 29, 2006, 12:22 PM
The more velocity and pressure you are creating, the more of an issue you may have with leading. You may need to experiment with harder alloys. Frankly, I prefer a gas check to really hard alloys in cast bullets, but that's just me.

ReloaderFred
December 29, 2006, 02:09 PM
I've been loading for, and shooting, the .45-120 Sharps for about 20 years, but I only shoot smokeless powder in it. I really, really don't like the mess and smell of blackpowder. (And I don't care to hear from blackpowder shooters how they love it) My bullet is an RCBS 405 grain RNFP that falls out of the mold at 420 grains. This is a gaschecked bullet, though. I've driven it as fast as 2,100 fps through my rifle, with no leading. There is a caveat, though. I use Super Grex as a case filler, as described in Handloader Magazine. I can't recommend it for anyone else, but it works for me.

My powder of choice is IMR 4895, in large doses. This rifle is a thumper, and not for the timid. Most people won't shoot it more than a couple of times before handing it back, though I once had a female game warden that weighed about 140 pounds put 21 rounds through it in one session. She loved it and only stopped because that was all the ammunition I had with me at the time.

Since you haven't bought the rifle yet, I would suggest that you go with the .45-90 caliber instead. That is, unless you want the blackpowder loads for the extra power. When using smokeless powder, the .45-90 is more efficient and will give you the same velocities as the longer .45-120 case. It's only with that smelly, dirty blackpowder that there will be any advantage to the longer 3 1/4" long case. (Did I mention I don't care for blackpowder?)

Another factor is the availability of brass, and the cost comparison between the two calibers. Starline is making .45-90 brass, as are several other makers. The only current manufacturer of .45 Basic brass that I'm aware of is Jamison International, who bought all the BELL brass making equipment from PMC (and then bought PMC). I don't consider Bertram's products as reloadable brass, since I've had so many problems with it over the years. It cost about the same as Jamison's product, so if you decide to go with this caliber, buy the good stuff and don't waste your money on the inferior Bertram product, unless you like cases with splits right out of the box, before loading, and primer pockets that the web blows out with the first loading.

If you decide to buy the .45-120, you will draw onlookers when you take it to the range. I like mine, but there are the things I've listed above to consider.

Hope this helps.

Fred

PS: Did I mention I don't like blackpowder??

Jim Watson
December 29, 2006, 02:19 PM
Well you could say the same thing about .45-70 and save a lot of learning curve. Not to mention more selection in rifles. The non-custom makers seem to favor the SAAMI standardized .45-70 or the biggest possible .45-120 and not much in between. Of course Shiloh will be glad to run you up a .45-90, -100, or -110 if you want something out of the ordinary.

What do you plan to DO with said rifle?

I only shoot BPCR silhouette and mid range so I don't know if you need anything bigger than .45-70 for 1000 yards, but you definitely don't at anything 600 and under.

ReloaderFred
December 29, 2006, 03:22 PM
What Jim Watson says is correct. With the proper rifle, the 45-70 can be loaded to just about the same velocities as the 45-120. I've driven 405 grain jacketed bullets through my Marlin 1895 carbine at over 2,000 fps. Mine is an older one, with Micro-groove rifling, so it won't shoot cast bullets in that range without them tumbling. If I keep the cast bullets down in the 1,500 to 1,600 fps range, it will shoot them just fine.

Hope this helps.

Fred

benchrest
December 29, 2006, 03:31 PM
First, Thanks to all who have replied. Very informing. Now, to answer a few questions and also to make comments on those that have replied. I am no hunter. This is strictly for target shooting out to 600 yards. I already have a 45/70 in a bolt action Mauser and in a TC contender 14". I also have a 458Mag and 500 S&W so recoil is not a factor in my decision. I just wanted something different than the 45/70 and was afraid that the 45-90 and 45-100 were so close to a 45/70 and 458 mag. that I wouldn't experiance anything new. I also read that the 45-120 was finicky to achieve any consistant grouping. I just want something that I don't have to arch like a rainbow to hit something at 600 yards or farther. If I'm not mistaken, I think that I read somewhere that using Accurate Arms 5744I could fill the case without having to worry about a filler or wad. Anyone else use this powder to comment on this?

Father Knows Best
December 29, 2006, 03:43 PM
Well, I'm a black powder guy, but I'll echo what was said above. Unless you intend to load those cases with black powder, the 45-120 doesn't make much sense. It has a huge case capacity that is only effectively used by a bulky, inefficient propellant like black powder. If you intend to load smokeless, you can get the same or better performance in a smaller package. The 45-70 would be your best choice for smokeless, both because of the smaller case, cheaper brass, and the ready availability of load data and factory ammo.

For that matter, you don't see the 45-120 much in BPCR and other "buffalo rifle" long range competitions. If you want to target shoot at long ranges, there are better choices.

Jim Watson
December 29, 2006, 04:08 PM
The only thing you will experiance new with a bigger cartridge than .45-70 up to 600 yards is more recoil with no return. I think any cast bullet .45 is going to have a bit of a rainbow trajectory at such distances.

You cannot "fill the case" with AA5744 although it is claimed to be insensitive to powder position. A case full of FFg pretty well takes care of that part anyhow. Cleaning up after black powder is not near the chore that casting and lubing the bullets in ther first place is.

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