why the reluctance to use hard cast lead projectiles

Discussion in 'reloading/bullet casting' started by grumpyvette, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. grumpyvette

    grumpyvette Administrator Staff Member

    Ive been casting and shooting bullets for most of .35-45-58 caliber rifles for 4 decades, if properly done and loaded for a velocity range that's appropriate there's been excellent results, in fact in many cases I find I have a difficult time duplicating both velocity and accuracy with jacketed bullets.
    So, why is there the reluctance of a good many people to try cast projectiles ? now I can understand many guys don,t want to get into casting, for various reasons.
    but there's certainly a wide selection of commercially available options.
    once you find out the ease of use of those cast bullets,and the potential reduction in cost I can,t see why its not a more popular option.
    most wheel weight lead already has some antimony and calcium , adding about 3%-5% tin helps a great deal to get molds to fill out and bullets to not lead the bore and hold together,well and expand in a controlled manor on impact. I try to use 5% tin as its makes the best bullets in my experience but I will point out that adding more than 5% tin is a total waste of tin as it seems to do nothing more,beneficial, in fact the benefits of more than 3%-up to 5% while noticeable are minimal compared to the first 3% tin added benefits
    about 35 years ago I had purchased a marlin 45/70 and at that time I decided to get into casting bullets for that rifle. Id been casting for about 10 years prior, but just for hand gun ammo, as at that time I had heard that velocity's over about 1300fps would not work with cast projectiles. but after doing some research and some experimentation, I soon found I could load 350 grain cast/gas-checked slugs in my 45/70 to be very accurate at up to 1800 plus fps, if I sized and lubed the bullets correctly, and the last bit of doubt fell when I shot my first elk with a 400 grain hard cast bullet and he dropped instantly.
    I later found that the 350 grain weight cast 45/70 bullets worked even better.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 21, 2017
  2. DorianL

    DorianL solid fixture here in the forum Staff Member

    Heh, I got a buddy of mine, the fella who runs the best damn garage in Belgium, who occasionally wraps my rims in rubber. He also balances, of course - and keeps the weights he removes in a bucket.

    I asked him, and you guessed it, he melts it down and casts his own balls for black powder... :mrgreen:
  3. grumpyvette

    grumpyvette Administrator Staff Member

    At least to me the HUGE advantage in using a 45/70 or 450 marlin comes with the intended use, velocity range it operates at and the fact that a hand cast, hand loaded projectile performs nearly perfectly and will allow you to hunt at far lower cost for ammo yet still have a very VERY effective gun that will easily allow 200 yard or a bit further, kills on game for far lower cost, plus the satisfaction you get from owning a rifle that shoots very accurately with cast projectiles you can push to near the design limitations.
    I think you'll find as I have that a 4%-5% tin added to wheel weights makes a very noticeable difference in the appearance and the ability of the bullets to rivet yet remain relatively intact after expanding on impact.
    you will also find dropping them into a 7 gallon bucket of water filled about 7/8 full tends to make a better quality bullet , I generally cast about 10lbs-20lbs of bullets at a time then pour out the water and spread the bullets out on a beach towel, separate the few culls and bits of casting scrap that you always get and then dry the bullets and lube size them.


    I found this bullet to be especially accurate in my marlin 45/70 over 45 grains of IMR 4198, Im not sure what velocity youll get in your rifle but cast from 95% wheel weights and 5% tin,well lubed its accurate,and it shoots thru deer,hogs and elk , holds tight groups,and generally works real well with expected results..very dead game.
    you might not feel the same, but the ability to fabricate 200-500 projectiles at home on a few hours notice is a big plus in my opinion.
    I got asked WHY are you not using a heavier cast bullet?
    Ive got molds for that NEI 350 grain,and several various brands of molds for 405 grain, 450 grain,535 grain .458 molds and Ive tried them all,in my 458 win, 458 lott and 450 marlin in addition to my browning single shot falling block, but at some point I think a reasonable route to take is to ask yourself,


    "is this cast bullet,accurate enough and will it do its intended job well under almost any likely condition, at any reasonable range on the game I hunt?"
    the 350 and 405 grain bullets are the only ones short enough to function and still provide higher velocity's in my 450 marlin BLR and the marlin 45/70 lever action I recently sold to buy the BLR, and yes even the cast gas check 350 grain has amazing penetration, on elk and deer in fact Ive yet to recover one, nor has anyone else I remember using one, and I load for many of the guys I hunt with.

    http://www.handloads.com/loaddata/defau ... fle&Source

    you might want to think of using that 357 mag carbine as something similar to archery, in that the effective range is a bit limited and the effects of a good hit are not always instantly obvious BTW THOSE ARE GOOD GUNS AND I DON.T KNOW ANYONE THAT OWNS ONE THAT DOESN,T LOVE IT, you just need to accepts its limitations but youll love the low cost to feed it and minimal recoil and good accuracy

    this nei design works well in my brother in laws marlin 357 mag carbine

    my brother-in-laws used these bullets cast from 95% ww and 5% pure tin in his 357 marlin for decades loaded over 9.3 grains of blue dot and seated out to the longest length that will function, they are good killers when placed correctly.
    youll save a great deal of money, and put far lower wear on the rifling using a good cast gas check bullet , and the deer are just as dead if the shots placed correctly, keep in mind its NOT going to drop them in there tracks nearly every time like a 270 win or a 30/06 but its also 100% lethal and the deer rarely get far either, my brother-in-law loves the minimal recoil and noise.
    http://www.neihandtools.com/ (decent quality but slow)

    http://www.leeprecision.com/html/catalog/bullmol1.html (dirt cheap but fair/good quality)

    http://www.lymanproducts.com/lyman/bullet-casting/ (decent quality iron molds . moderately priced)

    http://www.mountainmolds.com/ (very good quality, reasonably fast delivery,
    custom designs easily available )

    http://www.huntingtons.com/bulletmoulds.html (decent quality iron molds . moderately priced slow to deliver and not everything advertised is available)

    http://www.castpics.net/subsite2/MoldMo ... tation.pdf


    http://www.handloads.com/loaddata/default.asp?Caliber=357 Magnum&Weight=All&type=Handgun

    If you start casting bullets regularly youll find , as your speed picks up, that you must wait for the SPRUE, or over-fill lead on the molds cut-off plate to change appearance as it cools before you open the mold to allow the bullet to drop out or the bullets deform as they are still semi hard ,the lead alloy doesn,t fully get solid for a few seconds after the mold releases them, in fact that they normally come out of the mold rather soft and easily deformed for the first few seconds,if you cast bullets as rapidly as possible, dropping them on a soft cotton towel reduces the deformed culls , that get damaged while dropping, that might hit previous cast bullets but theres an option that works better. dropping hot cast bullets in water quench both cools and reduces the impact velocity as they reach the bottom of a bucket youll use but Ive found the less common and taller 7 gallon buckets with both a taller column of water and greater mass seems to work better than the more typical 5 gallon bucket.
    a typical 5 gallon bucket holds about 4 gallons of liquid and the bullets fall thru about 18" of water , the taller 7 gallon bucket adds at least 6"-8" more cooling distance and on larger 300-500 plus grain bullets this seems to help reduce culls)scrap quality bullets cast) and allows you to cast a bit faster.
    water quench also tends to make some alloys with tin and antimony harden and work better.



    the 5 gallon buckets not as effective in my experience as the taller 7 gallon buckets
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  4. 87vette81big

    87vette81big Guest

  5. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey Staff Member


    does anyone have a source at their work for these 7 gallon
    (not the common 5 gallon buckets)
    (Id gladly pay a reasonable amount and shipping cost for two-or-three)
    if you have some that are getting thrown out after the contents are used up.
    as they are not easy to locate around here
  6. rlphvac

    rlphvac Well-Known Member

    I'm waiting to get more confident with myself in reloading before advancing. I did do some factory cast lead for my .45 Colt with mixed results. I didn't care for the barrel leading. I wouldn't know what caliber to start with as I have several Deer rifle calibers that I rotate hunting with30/30,30.06, 300Savage, 300Magnum, 7mm08, 8mm,44Magnum,308 I think thats it I don't have any big guns yet
  7. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey Staff Member

    every commercially available cast bullet I've ever seen or used,
    is, cast from, pathetically soft alloys, and frequently not uniformly sized and almost universally uses a inferior bullet lube.
    cast bullets are usually best matched too, and used at, fairly low (for most rifles) velocities, (under about 1900 fps) the 44 mag, and 45 colt revolver, cartridges, are both the exception in your list, of calibers as 1300 fps-1600 fps,with a 300-310 grain bullets is about the reasonable max expected velocity for the 44 mag, a 45 cassul can use a bit heavier 325-350 grain bullet very successfully,
    and similar bullet weights in the much lower pressure level, in a 45 colt can be pushed to about 1000 fps in carbines and about 700 fps in revolvers,or a bit more.
    you can certainly cast , size and lube 44 caliber bullets and get excellent accuracy with ZERO barrel leading, if you use the info I posted in several threads.
    obviously you'll need to cast those 44 caliber 300-grain 310 grain, bullets with the 95% WW alloy and 5% pure tin as previously mentioned and size and lube them to slightly over bore size, (generally .431)
    I usually use 21 grains of H110 powder and federal primers in my marlin 44 mag carbine or S&W revolvers, this easily allows you to reach in excess of 1300 fps plus in a decent barrel length.
    more than enough to kill hogs and deer at under 150 yards if you shoot accurately.
    even at only 700 fps in a colt revolver the 300 hard cast bullet will reliably kill deer with good shot placement at under about 70 yards
    IF you were located locally Id be very willing to show you how each step in the process is done correctly and how to load accurate 44 mag ammo






    Last edited: Jun 21, 2017
  8. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey Staff Member

    yes gas check 300 grain bullets are generally the most accurate as they have the required, bore surface area & length needed, too effectively grab and seal off the powder gases,and hold rifle lands, impart spin without stripping and leading the bore, and the gas check helps eliminate leading

    44 mag
    http://handloads.com/loaddata/default.asp?Caliber=44 Magnum&Weight=All&type=Handgun


    45 colt
    http://handloads.com/loaddata/default.asp?Caliber=45 Colt&Weight=All&type=Handgun&Order=Powder&Source=

  9. rlphvac

    rlphvac Well-Known Member

    Grumpy I wish that I did live close to you or someone with some of your knowledge in reloading I sometimes think that I'm the only reloader in Western Pennsylvania. I have learned by making mistakes( no big ones) and have refined my process on what I've learned the hard way so far so good but reloading is like therapy and it is very addictive I started to do just 3 pistol loads to save money now I load for 15 different rounds and need 3 more to catch up to what I need. I keep buying more guns
  10. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey Staff Member

    The meplat is the frontal circular flat of a flatnose bullet that first comes into contact with game. The size or diameter of the meplat effects the performance of a cast bullet in a number of important ways. Among these are terminal stability, bullet length and subsequent power generation efficiency, wound channel diameter, rate of incapacitation, aerodynamics, and, in lever-action rifles, magazine safety. We take the view, common to experienced users of large caliber cast bullets, that a large frontal flat or meplat is essential in producing quick and humane kills on big game.

    Terminal Stability
    Terminal stability refers to a bullet's impact characteristics. Upon impact, a bullet can be expected to penetrate the game animal. However, a bullet's path through game tissue, whether it is straight, deep, or angular, is largely determined by its construction and design characteristics. Primary among those characteristics is the weight carrying capacity of the front of the bullet. Bullets with less weight in the forward half of the bullet, as compared to the rear half, tend to be less terminally stable and tend to exhibit characteristics such as yaw which reduce penetration depth, than bullets that carry similar amounts of weight in the front and rear. Since bullets with wider or broader meplats tend to carry more weight up front than bullets with smaller meplats, they tend to be more terminally stable and, as a consequence, produce deeper and straighter penetration channels. This is most apparent with relatively short bullets such as those used in handguns. The mechanics associated with this are pretty clear. When a bullet carries significantly more weight in the rear than in the front, there is a definite tendency for the rear of the bullet to overtake the front of the bullet upon impact. In other words, the bullet tends to go sideways. This is due to the complete loss of aerodynamic stability that occurs upon impact, and the greater momentum of the rear of the bullet when compared to the lighter front end of a small meplated bullet. This is especially important for those shooting the handgun, since smaller meplats have a relatively greater effect on the front to rear weight-carrying ratio of the bullet, since the bullets are shorter. When the subject turns to rifle bullets, especially the longer bullets that characterize heavy 45-70 bullets, the influence of meplat diameter on the front to rear weight ratios is generally less relevant to terminal stability, since the bullets are longer. Meplat diameter does, however, contribute to bullet length, with wider meplated bullets exhibiting shorter overall length than smaller meplated bullets of the same weight. This is quite relevant to the 45-70, as overall cartridge length is a critical measurement that cannot be exceeded if the cartridge is to chamber properly. Consequently, given a cartridge of a specific length, the cartridge with the shorter bullet possesses less seating depth, and as a result provides more room in the cartridge case for gunpowder. Simply stated, such a bullet can produce more power at the same pressure, or equal power at lower pressure, when compared to a bullet with greater length. Since broader meplated 45-70 bullets tend to be shorter at any given weight, they tend to provide a superior power to pressure ratio.

    Wound Channel Diameter
    The diameter of the wound channel produced by a proper hard-cast bullet is far more a product of the diameter of the meplat than the diameter of the bullet. This is of critical importance. As a consequence of this, wound channel diameter and the resulting speed of incapacitation can be substantially increased through the use of hard-cast bullets with broad meplats. This is readily observable through wet newspaper penetration testing, or by the careful postmortem examination of big game animals. Interestingly, as can be verified by testing, relatively small increases in meplat diameter produce relatively large increases in wound channel diameter. This is great news, as increased meplat diameter not only contributes to improved terminal stability and power to pressure ratios, it also produces substantially larger wound channels and faster incapacitation. We have observed this in our 44 Magnum and 45-70 [​IMG] production. Interestingly, our 540-grain Hammerhead for the 45-70 produces penetration channels or wound channels that appear to be fully twice the diameter of our 420-grain Hammerhead for the 45-70, yet the difference between the bullets' meplat diameters is only .030-inch. Our 420-grainer sports a meplat diameter of .330-inch and our 540-grainer sports a meplat diameter of .360-inch. What is also clear is that our 420-grainer with its .330-inch meplat produces wound channels substantially larger than those produced by the .300-inch meplat that is all to common to the caliber, and characterized our early efforts in 45-70.

    Further considerations
    Although broader mepated cast bullets generally produce larger diameter wound channels, sometimes, especially at the relatively high velocities produced by medium weight 45-70 bullets, impact stresses can be great enough to deform the meplat and effect the size and characteristics of the wound channel. Occasionally, when impact occurs at short range into heavy game even the toughest hard-cast bullet will deform at the meplat, reducing its diameter. This is most often observed when the impact occurs at short range into heavy bone, when impact velocity is relatively high. This is one of the primary reasons we offer our very heavy 540-grain Hammerhead, as its extra weight mandates a lower velocity, which tends to protect against significant meplat deformation when engaging the heaviest game. Since game such as buffalo and elephant are invariably shot at short range, logic strongly argues for a heavier bullet at lower velocity. In this way, the major determiners of impact stress, the speed of impact and the toughness of the target, do not tend to overwhelm the strength of the bullet. However, in the great majority of shooting circumstances broad meplated hard-cast bullets, such as our 420-grain Hammerhead, can be depended upon to produce substantially larger wound channels than smaller meplated hard-cast bullets and also provide faster incapacitation. Whereas smaller meplated bullets appear to never produce the large diameter wound channels normally produced by broader meplated bullets, unless they are sufficiently soft to cause expansion, which always limits penetration. This is the primary reason why we have designed our SuperHardCast Hammerheads with the broadest meplats available.

    - Randy Garrett
  11. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey Staff Member

    notice the heavy hard cast bullets extreme penetration ,penetration that if you place your shots precisely will allow vital organs to be destroyed.
    the hard cast bullets design allows much better depth than the jacketed lighter weight expanding bullet designs,a single precisely placed shot and a good knowledge of the games anatomy allows a hand gun hunter to provide truly lethal results, with his chosen weapon.
    and notice the much more predictable and strait path the hard cast bullets
    Last edited: May 27, 2017
  12. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey Staff Member

    notice the much improved penetration of the lead alloy hard cast projectiles,
    over the rapidly fragmenting hollow point jacketed bullet designs
    this is something I see frequently, hollow points have more shock but usually fail to penetrate to even 1/2 the depth of a good hard cast projectile.
    a pistol cartridge like a 357 mag or even a 44 mag may not have near the energy of a rifle but it has the ability ,
    to shoot clear through large game like elk very easily and destroy vital anatomy if hard cast bullets are used
    rough guide to cast bullet selection for hunting use

    from my decades of experience , and that of my friends hunting with big bore revolvers, I;d suggest that, cast bullets should have a 70%-90% wide flat melplat (nose)and ideally use a gas check base and be cast from 5% tin and 95% ww alloy and be pushed to
    1100 fps-1600 fps
    higher velocities than about 1800 fps flatten trajectory and increase energy levels , but they also increase muzzle blast and recoil while not increasing lethality a great deal.
    but don,t generally increase penetration over the 1300 fps-1600 fps range, if a well designed bullet in the correct weight range is used made of the correct alloy,
    yes accurate shot placement and a good knowledge of the games anatomy, is critical, but ive seen excelent results from similar loaded ammunition.
    keep in mind most big bore revolver hunts are completed with game at under 120 yards.
    punch a hole clear through the chest of a big game animal and have the vital organs shreaded and game won,t go far regardless of the energy levels

    if possible, use a mid weight bullet from the chart below sized about .001 over bore diam. with lots of quality bullet lube in the grooves.
    naturally heavier bullets in the ideal range tend to have lower muzzle velocities, so a good compromise would be finding a projectile mid way in that weight range






    suggested bullet weights
    357 mag= 158 grain-180 grain
    41 mag= 220 grain-250 grain
    44 mag= 270 grain-320 grain
    45 caliber -300 grain-350 grain
    480 caliber 350 grain-400 grain
    50 caliber 400 grain-480 grain
    ideally pistol velocity and the bullet design of the better hunting ,
    cast bullets are most effective if the melplat (nose) is flat ans between 75%-80% of the bullet diameter, its a gas check design and its pushed to a muzzle velocity of at least 1350 fps but not too exceed about 1800 fps and have a bullet in the .240-.260 sectional density range.
    jacketed hollow points should be used only on lighter weight game like deer.
    remember the proper hard cast bullet will penetrate very effectively but it won,t expand rapidly, thus a knowledge of the games anatomy and locations of the vital organs is critical to rapid kills.
    don,t be surprised if the first few large game animals you shoot run off with little indication they were hit, unless you place shots precisely handgun kills will resemble archery hunting and it will take 30 seconds for the game to bleed out, and in 30 seconds a scared injured deer can travel 200 yards making its recovery difficult.
    but place shots precisely and if you used the correct projectile, distances will be much less.


    Sectional Density Calculator


    bullet stability and twist rates

    ballistic calculator

    allows custom mold designs

    basically you want to select a bullet in the .240-.260 sectional density range
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2017 at 11:23 PM
  13. rlphvac

    rlphvac Well-Known Member

    Grumpy I just bought a Henry 45 Colt rifle I haven't had it to the farm yet but after I get the barrel seasoned ( I know don't laugh but I do this with every rifle I buy new I'm really not sure if it helps put I do know it sure don't hurt ) but I am going to load up some of the cast bullets I have for the rifle only loads. I just read about loading up 45 Colt loads and for my Henry and my Blackhawk you can get a pretty hot load out of the guns with no harm. Now I don't think I want to hit the max loads they are writing about but I can sure step it up from the loading books I have and I have every one I could find plus a ton of loads out of magazine articles and different articles I have read on gun loading forums like yours. Now I know I wont load anything I see but I thing I have an idea now that what to believe and what not to believe like the info you give I can trust from your experience with reloading I would not think you would steer another person wrong
  14. Grumpy

    Grumpy The Grumpy Grease Monkey Staff Member

    I'VE LOADED THOUSANDS OF 45 lc CARTRIDGES mostly for friends with marlin cowboy carbines and rifles, which are popular plinkers, these are fun guns to shoot so your Henry should be quite similar

    while its no 44 mag, its still able to kill deer out to about 50 to a max of about 100 yards with proper shot placement.
    accurate hand loads relied on consistency in the ammo,the 45 lc is not loaded to high pressures like the later design magnums but a hard cast 300 grain gas check bullet still packs a decent punch at limited ranges.
    low recoil, low muzzle blast.
    UNIQUE is almost ideal as a propellant in this case, but you damn sure better not double load a case which is potentially possiable because unique powder only partly fills the case
    this is a very good and less expensive mold


    no commercially available cast projectiles I've yet seen have the hardness of a 5% tin.95%WW alloy bullet I've used for decades
    don,t confuse load data for hard cast bullets that have lower friction, and can be pushed to higher velocity at lower pressure,than jacketed bullets , data


    http://www.handloads.com/loaddata/default.asp?Caliber=45 Colt&Weight=All&type=Handgun

    8 grains of unique, as a starting load for those hard cast 300 grain bullets and a mag fed primer works very well, you could use the lighter weight 255 grain lee bullet if you want less recoil, but theres not much to begin with.
    youll only get a bit over 1000 fps out of a carbine but is sized and lubed correctly its very accurate

    http://www.handloads.com/loaddata/default.asp?Caliber=45 Colt&Weight=All&type=Handgun

    I've never had good results with commercial cast bullets, obviously there has too be many that work ok, but If I was looking for a 255 grain, 45 colt, bullet Id cast these
    ,lee bullets, a 5% tin.95%WW alloy bullet ,lube and size them and load them over a stiff load of unique.
    Id start with 8 grains and work up to 9.4 grains slowly, in 2 tenths of a grain steps, with that 255 grain bullet, too find the best loads with accuracy as the deciding factor.
    if you want to order a similar weight bullet the same, basic idea would apply, load the cartridges so the bullet is seated to the longest over all length that will easily function in your pistol or rifle.

    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017

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