Friday, November 6, 2009

A pleasant discovery

When the ammo shortage began I decided that it was time to renew my casting capacity. As a kid I had cast almost everything I shot as it was the only way I could afford to shoot as much as I wanted to. But then I got away from it when I could afford to buy ready-cast bullets. With the uncertainty of where the gun issue was going to fall out I thought it would be wise to fit myself out with what I would need to keep my guns usable in the "worst case."

So I bought a bunch of Lee molds to go with what I already had. Also a furnace. I put it away for "the future."

Today I decided it was time to check out the new gear. I was sighting in a little .45 cap-lock in preparation for the muzzleloader season and decided I wanted to use the .45 R.E.A.L ("rifling engraved at loading") Lee mold I had bought for that rifle. I really didn't expect all that much from the Lee aluminum molds, but figured they would be adequate.

Was I ever surprised. The first two bullets (it's a double cavity mold) were perfect and fell out onto the towel with no fuss at all. A fluke no doubt, as I well remember the many casts that had to be made with iron blocks before good bullets would fall out. No, not a fluke. The first dozen bullets were perfect— and when weighed later they varied no more than a grain. (They're 250-grainers.)I cast about fifty and then got curious and decided to try a couple of different Lee molds from my stash.

Same story with the 250-grain .452 Tumble-Lube bullets. All perfect. Then I tried the 180-grain .308 gas check bullets. Same story over again.

Next up was to try out the .45s in the little T/C Seneca New England deer rifle. I had been using T/C's Maxi-balls, which are almost identical to the Lee R.E.A.Ls. The groups tightened up by almost half with the Lee bullets.

To say I am pleased with my afternoon's experiments would be an understatement. Next on my list will be roundball molds for the .45 and the .36 and .50 flintlocks. Maybe a few more for the cartridge handguns "just in case."

It's been a good day.

Later... I chronoed the .45 R.E.A.L bullets out of the 28" Seneca. They gave me 1460 f.p.s. which will account for 1183 f.p.e at the muzzle and about 520 @ 100 yards. That's a completely adequate deer load, coupled with good placement.


theotherryan said...

Seems like a good plan.

Anonymous said...

I use a lot of Lee products and they have never let me down.

What is a "gas check" on a cast bullet and why does it make reloading with a cast bullet different? Or does it? People tell me so but they aren't very specific in exactly how.

Rio Arriba said...

Hermit, A molded bullet intended for use with gas checks has a rebated base, which allows for the attachment of a caliber-sized copper "cap." This gas check prevents the erosion of the bullet base by the hot gases and allows a bullet to be driven faster than a non-gas checked bullet. I expect to be able to drive those bullets through my '03 at somewhere around 2100 FPS. This should achieve FPE about comparable to a jacketed .30-30, maybe a bit better.

Kansas Scout said...

I really like Lee stuff myself. I have had real good luck with it and like you I am going to get some Lee molds and start making bullets for my pistols and for my .357 mag puma 92 carbine.

Good posting!