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Hello Friends--

I have been casting .38 and .44 handgun bullets for awhile, but yesterday I cast my first rifle bullets. I was pretty disappointed with the results.

I have a Lee mold, .35 Remington 200 Grain, gas check flat point. First of all, it took a LONG time for the mold to start casting good bullets. I had to remelt a bunch of them. I finally ended up with a little over 100 of good bullets.

I ran them through the sizer and seated the gas check. About half of them looked real bad after this step, the sizer eliminated a lot of the bands on the bullet!!! I'll remelt them at a later date. Wasted gas checks.

Then I powder coated the bullets, let them cool and ran them through the sizer again. Some of them had to be eliminated after this step. I ended up with about 40 bullets. At least the powder coating stayed on.

My question is what am I doing wrong? Do you think the Lee mold isn't any good? I was using my buddy's .358 sizer (we were casting at his house). Could that sizer be messed up?

I was using some pretty hard lead, wheel weights and Linotype. Should I have been using something else?

You can tell I'm pretty confused about casting rifle bullets. Any help would be appreciated.

DRSLYR
 

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Do you have the 2-cavity or 6-cavity version? Obviously the larger mold will take longer to heat up. Also you don't need to size them twice. Size them once then powder coat and be done with it. As for the sizer you may want to verify with a caliper, might be smaller than you think.

I have the 6-cavity version and milled the gas shank off 3 cavities for use with subsonic .38 specials out of a suppressed lever action SBR. I usually use straight WW or range scrap and cast then size to .358" using a Lee push-through sizer. After that I powder coat for an average of .359-360". The bullet on the bottom photo on the right was powder coated before installing the gas check but I don't even bother with that now. These days I cast, size while installing the gas check and powder coat in a different color so I can tell the difference between the plain base and GC versions.


 

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Hello Friends--

I have been casting .38 and .44 handgun bullets for awhile, but yesterday I cast my first rifle bullets. I was pretty disappointed with the results.

I have a Lee mold, .35 Remington 200 Grain, gas check flat point. First of all, it took a LONG time for the mold to start casting good bullets. I had to remelt a bunch of them. I finally ended up with a little over 100 of good bullets.

I ran them through the sizer and seated the gas check. About half of them looked real bad after this step, the sizer eliminated a lot of the bands on the bullet!!! I'll remelt them at a later date. Wasted gas checks.

Then I powder coated the bullets, let them cool and ran them through the sizer again. Some of them had to be eliminated after this step. I ended up with about 40 bullets. At least the powder coating stayed on.

My question is what am I doing wrong? Do you think the Lee mold isn't any good? I was using my buddy's .358 sizer (we were casting at his house). Could that sizer be messed up?

I was using some pretty hard lead, wheel weights and Linotype. Should I have been using something else?

You can tell I'm pretty confused about casting rifle bullets. Any help would be appreciated.

DRSLYR
Drslyr,

Could be a few things. Try these for the next session.

No need to us an alloy that hard with a GC or PBB at less than full loads. Something in the 16-18 bhn range is all you should need. 94% lead, 3% Tin, 3% antimony drops just over 12 and after a week hardens to 16 or water quench for 18 BHN. A PBB with 16-18 bhn will work up to around 30K-34K psi.


  1. I did not see tin in your alloy mix ingredients. If you add at least 2% tin the alloy will flow better and fill the mold more consistently.
  2. I did not see a step to smoke the mold. Smoke with a wood match, birthday candle, or a product like Frankford Arsenal drop out spray, graphite. Inside the cavity, top of mold, and bottom of the sprue plate. If you go with the graphite spray, less is more.
  3. Be sure the alloy is kept at a good working temp. In my bottom spout pot with my thermometer, 700-725 degrees is a good operating temp. If the alloy is to cool, it sets before filling the mold causing all kinds of issues.
  4. Pre heat the mold and work quickly. The aluminum cools much quicker than steel blocks.
  5. If the bullets frost up, let the mold cool a bit.
  6. Inspect the bullets. Check to ensure the base and grease groves are filled completely, QC#1. QC#2, If you have a electronic scale weigh them and keep those +/- 1 gr. before installing a GC

I have the same GC mold and use in a 357 single shot contender. It is a fine bullet that shoots great.

Oh, clean the block with break cleaner and be sure the vent grooves are clear after smoking or graphite.

Good luck. Out of 100 bullets, expect to keep about 80 when all is working good.

There is a reference for bullet casting and alloy mix in the link below.


https://www.marlinowners.com/forum/reloading/281290-line-free-load-data-references.html
 

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I ran them through the sizer and seated the gas check. About half of them looked real bad after this step, the sizer eliminated a lot of the bands on the bullet!!!
There is only three bore riding bands on that bullet. Either the mold is grossly oversized or what you are seeing is that since the crimp ring on that bullet is very shallow, the lead is filling in the crimp ring. Remember lead is not removed when resizing but displaced.

Then I powder coated the bullets, let them cool and ran them through the sizer again. Some of them had to be eliminated after this step.
Why did they have to be eliminated? What was the size of the cast bullets from the mold and the size after running them through the sizer? what sizer are you using?

I was using some pretty hard lead, wheel weights and Linotype
In my opinion you're simply wasting the Linotype. Mixed with pure lead it helps but with wheel weights you already have the three ingredients required for good casts. Want them harder simply water drop from the mold and again after powder coating. Only time I add tin is if I need better fill out from a particular mold. As to smoking a mold, only when a mold doesn't drop the cast well do I smoke the mold halves.

Pictures would go a long ways helping people understand what you are seeing. I also have that mold and have never had a issue with it.
BTW...different powders put on a different thickness of coating. Some are thin and some are very thick. I cast, run through a sizer to install gas check, powder coat, and then resize again to what I want. Never had a bullet change in any manner except in size on the second run through after powder coating.
 

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I am no fan of lee molds, they drop the boolit to small. I want my boolit .002 inch ove bore size, for example for my 45/70 that has bore dia. of .458 my boolit is cast and size .460.
I also cast my boolits for hunting soft about 8 to 12 BHN .
but add tin and get a good mold is where I would start
 
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