Loading store bought cast bullets


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Wiz5347
February 18, 2008, 09:27 PM
Hey everyone,

Read the forums a lot but first post.

I went out and bought a box of 500, 155gn SWC (guessing semi-wad cutter?) for 10mm/40 S&W for $33.

I just had a few questions.

First, just in general, why the funky shape and does the shoulder of the bullet cause jams (shooting a Sig Pro 2340 - 40 S&W)?

The bullet is about .040 longer than my plated bullets, so when I seat these, there will be less open space within the shell, should this difference be a concern for high pressure?

What does the blue lube do that fills in the slot near the bullets base?

I've read about the casting process and how the molded bullets are rolled in liquids to harden or prevent leading - do these bullets need to have anything specific done prior to shooting?

Lastly, I've heard about leading, but what is it exactly and how do I, and how often should I check for it?

Sorry if these are really basic questions or if I'm nuking the subject, I just figure better safe than sorry.

Thanks

Wiz

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scrat
February 18, 2008, 09:55 PM
CAST BULLETS COOL

ok let me try this out.

Cast bullets come in many different shapes. SWC stands for semi wad cutters.

Now different grains will be longer. You will need to match your load of powder to the bullet you are shooting. You will still need to seat the bullet in far enough so that the COL is where it is supposed to be.

Now the lube. The lube is there for a reason. Cast bullets usually have grooves in them. these grooves are lube grooves. So that when you size and lube the bullet the grooves will fill in with the lube.

Here is the process it takes.

The lead is heated up to around 700 degrees. The mold is also heated up. The lead is poured into the mold. The Sprue plate on the mold is strucken causing the flat spot on the back of the bullet. Then the bullet is released. Once the bullet is released it needs to be sized so that it is the correct size to use in your gun. So it is put through a sizing die at the same time lube is compressed into the bullet.


Now Why the lube. The lube aids in preventing leading of the barrel. Leading of the barrel can happen when several factors are present.
1. To small of a bullet is used.
2. No lube is used
3. poor casting
4. too much powder.

When loading lead cast bullets you need to reduce the powder load or use a load that is meant for cast bullets.

How does leading of the barrel happen.

Most common problem. You pull the trigger and the explosion passes around the bullet melting it as it travels down the barrel. To prevent this you must reduce your load, use the proper size bullet and make sure the bullet is lubed.


Now with that dont worry about leading that much. Using cast bullets is a very economical method of shooting. It takes some practice to find the right load. However once you do you will find it rather addicting. Now there are a lot of products available to help in getting rid of lead from your barrel. One thing to do is use bronze cleaning brushes. Chore boy works wonders in getting rid of lead. One thing that i always do when shooting lead is to follow it up with a few jacketed copper rounds to help remove any lead.

bl4ckd0g
February 18, 2008, 10:57 PM
You need to check the Brinell Hardness Number (BHN) before purchasing cast bullets for an autoloader. Many of the bullets that are cast in a soft alloy will hang up on the feed ramp.

You might need to clean up your feed ramp and give it a gentle polishing. I load "crayola tip" SWCs in both my .38 Super and .45 ACP.

Be sure that you know the purpose of the cast bulets. Precision and Beartooth bullets will work well in autoloaders. Other bullets, like those intended for SASS cowboy revolver and lever gun shooting will be problematic. Cast bullets for autoloaders already come with a hardened lube applied, so they don't leave a mess in your chamber. If your cast bullets aren't lubed, get a tube of Lee Alox and tumble them in a plastic bag. Let harden before loading.

Also, I wouldn't be too worried about additional pressure with cast bullets, they usually come .001-.002 wider than jacketed or plated bullets to guarantee proper swedging into your barrel's rifling. If in doubt, download your powder charges by 10%.

It's a slippery slope. You may end up retrieving your range bullets and there will be a furnace and pot sitting under your loading bench in the near future.

fireflyfather
February 18, 2008, 11:04 PM
As long as you are working up from starting loads like you should, I wouldn't worry about MINIMUM OAL. Just set it in the last crimp groove, and as long as you aren't too short, you should be fine. Once again, assuming it's not a max load. Full wadcutters are different, as they usually don't poke out much past the end of the case, so they use a lot less powder.

The SWC shape has two functions: To cut nice sharp holes in paper (target shooting), and to cut clean sharp holes in flesh/bone, instead of displacing the flesh, to later have it close back in. Generally, this permits a more humane kill on a game animal (or a better chance of stopping an attacker before they can harm you, if used in self defense). The flat part on the end is called a meplat. They may cause jams in some semi-auto weapons. Usually not, but it can happen. Test it before you use them for mission-critical purpose (hunting/SD/competition).

I think you are talking about tumble-lubing, where you roll around the bullets in a lubricant to coat them evenly. I use this process myself. It's just a lubricating method that doesn't require an expensive machine. The bullets you bought were not lubed this way. The distinct lube band is a harder wax-type. Opinions on which is better are divided pretty evenly. There is also water-dropping the bullets out of the mold, which hardens them quite a bit. I doubt the commercial bullets you bought were water dropped. You wouldn't want them for your handgun unless you were planning on loading them in very hot 10mm (or magnum rounds for revolver, etc). Harder bullets require a little more powder to obdurate and prevent leading (too hard or too soft bullets can cause leading, just like too small ones). For now though, just load those like the plated ones, use the crimp groove and shoot them, checking the bore for lead deposits after every few shots. Unless it's bad, it will just throw off accuracy. Probably not a safety concern. You don't have to do anything special to the commercial bullets you bought. That's why they're commercial.

As for leading, check after each mag until you've run a box or two worth of ammo through the gun. Once you're confident with THAT LOAD, I'd only check it at the end of a session or if accuracy goes way south.

It's a slippery slope. You may end up retrieving your range bullets and there will be a furnace and pot sitting under your loading bench in the near future.

Ain't that the truth. I only bought one box of commercial lead bullets. I tested 50 rounds, but by the time I had a chance to fire them, I already had my casting gear. Those 450 rounds are till sitting on a shelf somewhere.

Wiz5347
February 18, 2008, 11:13 PM
Thanks for the replies. Couple more questions.

As far as the hardness number, I didn't see it posted anywhere on the box.

"Be sure that you know the purpose of the cast bulets."

The box was simply labeled as Hardcast and Cowboy Bullets. The company is Silver State Bullet llc. Tried searching online for them but didn't find a website - they are based out of Carson City and may just be a local company. I made a dummy round with one and chambered it a few times. Never misfed though there was a very slight flat spot where the bullet hits the feed ramp.

Is hardcast the type I want to use with an autoloader?

"If your cast bullets aren't lubed, get a tube of Lee Alox and tumble them in a plastic bag. Let harden before loading."

How can you tell if it's lubed? There is a thick blue lube in the grooves, does this count?

"Also, I wouldn't be too worried about additional pressure with cast bullets, they usually come .001-.002 wider than jacketed or plated bullets to guarantee proper swedging into your barrel's rifling. "

A few sample bullets actually measured .001 less than my Ranier jacketed bullets. Jacketed was .401, cast bullet was .400 - Will this be an issue?

"It's a slippery slope. You may end up retrieving your range bullets and there will be a furnace and pot sitting under your loading bench in the near future."

Someday maybe :) How long does it take to cast a batch of rounds? (100-500)

Thanks again for your help.

scrat
February 18, 2008, 11:27 PM
To cast wow you would be opening up a whole new world of shooting. Depending on what kind of mold you get you can cast up to 800 bullets an hour. Thats using a 6 cavity mold a 2 cavity mold can do about 300 an hour. Initial cost can be as low as 40.00 to get started a good set up would be around 100.00. i buy my lead on line usually off of ebay. i can get usually 50-60lbs of lead for about 55-$65 delivered to my door. Now just think about how many bullets 50 lbs of lead can make. Let me tell you its enough to keep you busy for a long long long time.

As for the lube the blue stuff in the grooves is the lube so your ok. Being hardcast again i would shoot them. Soft cast lead you can take your finger nail and put a good groove in it. Hard cast you cant really put one in it. Just follow best practice. make sure oal is correct. keep the powder charge reduced and go shooting.

hawkeye1
February 19, 2008, 09:45 AM
Welcome to cast bullets. They are great and economical. Make sure you use reloading data especially for cast bullets, as the data is different. Same powders but different charges. Cast bullets and jacketed bullets are not interchangeable.

good shooting

SASS#23149
February 19, 2008, 11:33 AM
Most semi-autos feed round nosed bullets better than swc's,so I'd load up a dozen or two to try out before loading up the whole box and finding out you have 500 rounds that won't feed worth a hoot.

what powders do you have on hand,and what charge are you thinking of using?
My books don't show that weight/style bullet,so wondering what you have for data?

Welcome to the board !

fireflyfather
February 19, 2008, 12:50 PM
Concur, the blue band is lubricant (think crayon wax) that has been set in the groove. It does not need to cover the outside of the bullet. Load that bullet & shoot it. Nothing special required.

You want to use "hardcast" bullets in an autoloader, yes, but what exactly hardcast means is a matter of opinion. Trust that commercially cast bullets in a caliber commonly shot in an autoloader (.45, 9mm, or .40) are probably in the 10-14 bhn range, and suitable. Muzzle loaders or black powder cartridge guns need much softer lead to function properly. Cast bullets in mid-high powered rifles need a much harder bullet (linotype or water dropped wheel weight alloy). "hardcast" on the box is mostly advertising, but cowboy loads are usually very light bullets of very soft lead. If it's a revolver caliber in a very light weight (.357 in 90grn), it's probably a CAS bullet. Ultimately, though, scratch it with your thumbnail. If it scratches, it's good for an autoloader. If you can cut a groove, like the man said earlier, it's too soft for heavy loads in a revolver or almost any autoloader application.

Having said all of that, I have a box of revolver bullets from the same company (450 sitting on the shelf), that I loaded in .38spc with 2.9gr of red dot. No leading worth talking about. I'm sure they are fine for your gun so long as you don't put them in a full house FBI style 10mm load.

Eljay
February 19, 2008, 02:13 PM
As far as "the funky shape" a "full wadcutter" looks like a mini 55 gal drum but does not feed in autoloaders (I know about the 38wc Colt 1911s) so the nose gets it to work through the action and the body of the bullet gives the wadcutter action as stated before. I have loaded 1000s of lead 200gn SWCs through my 1911s, an added bonus is extra FPS for the same load, or the same vel. with less powder. BUT YMMV!!

Wiz5347
February 19, 2008, 07:50 PM
Thanks again everyone for the replies, help and words of wisdom. This all sounds promising.

"what powders do you have on hand,and what charge are you thinking of using?
My books don't show that weight/style bullet,so wondering what you have for data?"

This was my next question actually. Right now the only powder I have for pistol is Winchester super field. I was simply using the .5cc lee dipper (and lee manual) to load 155gn jacketed bullets. I don't have a powder thrower but tested the dipper on a digital scale to ensure the loads were consistant and within min/max.

For the lead bullet at 155gn WSF isn't listed. But it is for 170gn. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you can use load data for heavier bullets on lighter bullets. It's listed as 5.2 - 6.2 (min - max). So my intentions were to use 5.2 for the starting load. Is this safe?

Lastly, is it possible to do math that results in generating your own safe/max loads? For instance, WSF is listed for both 170gn jacketed and lead bullets. Loads are 5.5/6.5 and 5.2/6.2 for jacketed and lead respectively. So -.3 difference for lead loads. Then, if I have WSF load data of 6.0/7.3 for a 155gn jacketed bullet, can subtract .3 from this to get load data for a 155gn lead bullet? Seems logical, but then again, I don't want to blow myself up.

So my plan was to use the 170gn lead WSF load data for my 155gn lead bullet. Safe?

Oh yea, what are the signs for excessive pressure for pistols?

Thanks again for the help.

Wiz

fireflyfather
February 20, 2008, 02:21 PM
I wouldn't do mathematically based load development until I was DAMN CONFIDENT with that specific set of components, and reloading in general. Honestly, going to a more common pistol powder like Unique, Bullseye, Red Dot, etc, would probably be a safer bet. Then you can use commonly available load data. According to the Lee Manual, You would be best off with one of the Accurate Reloading powders, #2,5,7,9. #7 would let you use the Lee dipper, and give you 1050fps or thereabouts. It's also commonly available.

Wiz5347
February 21, 2008, 01:56 AM
That's the route i will end up going is buying an Accurate powder. I was hoping to save $20 by using what I had. Yet, spending $20 will be worth it in order to be safe...

scrat
February 21, 2008, 09:43 AM
Check out either steves pages or the relaoding pages of md smith. both sites have what you need on load data

http://stevespages.com/table1.html

http://www.reloadammo.com/

shooter762
February 23, 2008, 06:15 PM
I'm new to reloading also so take this with a grain of salt, but where you said "For the lead bullet at 155gn WSF isn't listed. But it is for 170gn. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you can use load data for heavier bullets on lighter bullets. It's listed as 5.2 - 6.2 (min - max)."

That has to be wrong, only use the powder charge thats right for that
weight of bullet. Otherwise you gota hotrod, like putting a big engine in
a small car. my .02 :)

Shooter762.

Sport45
February 23, 2008, 08:09 PM
With the faster pistol powders is generally regarded as acceptable to use load data for the next heavier bullet of the same style. That includes the published maximum. I would not try to interpolate any higher as charge weight vs. pressure is not a linear relationship. It sounds like you may be getting your info from the Lee handloading manual. That's a good thing. Read the books and stick to the rules.

With a fast powder like WSF you could reduce charge weight to nearly nothing and all you really risk is sticking a bullet in the bore. (And that takes a load way below any published minimum.) Stuck bullets aren't fun, but at least cast bullets aren't to hard to drive out of the barrel.

Wiz5347
February 24, 2008, 03:55 AM
"It sounds like you may be getting your info from the Lee handloading manual. That's a good thing. Read the books and stick to the rules."

Yea, using the Lee manual. Seems to be a lot of good info in it. I went looking for another book today to try to get another for comparing load data or filling in gaps that Lee doesn't cover but none of the books I saw had nearly as much load data as the Lee book. One thing I noticed, the spear book covered load data for all spear bullets, or the accurate book covered info for accurate powder only...Is there another book similar to Lee's that covers a wide range of bullets and powders?

Also, just to verfiy from a post awhile back. You get more smoke out of the barrel due to the lubricant burning off, is this correct? Kinda suprised me at first when i shot it, reminded me of a muzzle loader.

As always, thanks for the helpful replies. It's much appreciated.

Wiz

loneviking
November 5, 2008, 11:58 AM
I decided to resurrect this thread as I have a question on lube. I have a huge box of commercial, 158 gr. wadcutters for .38/.357 They have this white, hard, waxy junk all over each one. Is that the lube? There does appear to be a lube channel, but there's often no lube just in that channel--some have some waxy stuff in it, others don't and it's just all over the bullet. Do these have to have lube in the lube channel?

And, how do you look for leading in a barrel? I know that may sound dumb, but I've shot mostly JHP's for much of my life and these lead loads are a new toy. How does alternating JHP's after lead wadcutters clean the lead off? Or does it?

243winxb
November 5, 2008, 03:35 PM
I have a huge box of commercial, 158 gr. wadcutters for .38/.357 They have this white, hard, waxy junk all over each one. Is that the lube? There does appear to be a lube channel, but there's often no lube just in that channel--some have some waxy stuff in it, others don't and it's just all over the bullet. Do these have to have lube in the lube channel? Try to find the maker of the bullets website if possible, this will give you a clue on how there were lubed. The bullet may have been tumble lubed. This means there is lube all over the bullet. Wipe the base clean before loading. OR the lube was in the lube grove and some how melted out. (soft lubes) BUT not likely, it would take very high heat above 110 degrees. And, how do you look for leading in a barrel? I know that may sound dumb, but I've shot mostly JHP's for much of my life and these lead loads are a new toy. How does alternating JHP's after lead wadcutters clean the lead off? Or does it? Real leading is when you can no longer hit the target, accuracy gets very poor. IMO shooting JHP's over lead is not the way to clean out lead fouling. And accuracy would be poor for both JHP & cast.

qajaq59
November 5, 2008, 04:28 PM
Lyman puts out a very good "Cast Bullet Handbook" that you might find useful if you are going to get into shooting cast bullets.

loneviking
November 5, 2008, 05:08 PM
Thanks for the help and I'll look for that Lyman book. These wadcutters look identical to some Sierra 158 gr. wadcutters I have. I got these from my dad who picked 'em up at a yard sale years ago. They've been sitting in a barn for years and they could have gotten hot enough to melt. What does the lube do? Does it hurt anything to shoot 'em without lube?

Well, my barrel must not be leaded up as accuracy has always been good. I clean it often and well with Hoppes #9, a brush and lots of patches. Thanks for the info!

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