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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just received an early Christmas present. A Lee 6 cavity mould for 140 gr SWC's. Mostly to feed my .38 and lighter loads in Dad's .357.

For use in my .35 Rem I intentionally got the .359 sizer die in hopes that they might make good small game bullets.

Any experience with these? My basic plan is to load these at very low velocity and crimp in the top lube groove. Looking at the mould this should do OK as far as OAL and stuff, don't know how they will feed until I get some more handles. Mine are too short :x so until I get some longer ones I can't cast any bullets.

Hopefully I can find a 25 yard load that is close to my hunting sight in.
 

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SWC feed a little rough in my gun, although they do OK. I would shoot for 1050 or 1100fps with a little Unnique or Universal. Works well for me. My gun definitely likes the round nose a bit more.
 

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Actually, with that bullet, I have a lot of experience. I picked up a one cavity version many years ago in a sale for a local gun place that was moving locations, and I paid a whole $5.95 for it.

I made up a lot of plinking loads with the various shotgun/pistol flake type powders, and it was certainly usable as far as "tin can" accuracy with moderate load development.

The purchase of the .359" sizing die may or may not be useful to you. If the mould casts at any diameter up to .361", which mine did, shoot it as cast without sizing. Marlin barrels have a strong preference for oversize bullets, most especially Microgroove. If it chambers without difficulty it will be safe to shoot. A .359" sizer may be borderline, a bit on the small side, but you never know unless you shoot it. If you are unlucky and the bullet casts to .359" or smaller, you don't need the sizer either. If it casts to .358", good luck getting accuracy as that is too skinny.

For clean burning loads, you must stick to the pistol powders in lower velocity applications. I tend to favor W231 in pistol powders because of its easy metering, but if your measure dispenses Red Dot, 700X, etc. accurately that can be the way to go as well. Stick to the lighter loads, such as found in the Lyman Cast Bullet Manual, as they offer lower pressures and are less hard on the bullet, promoting accuracy. Actually, best accuracy might be below some of their starting loads with some of the pistol powders. Don't stick a bullet in the barrel going too low with the powder charges. 1000 fps is slow enough.

For best accuracy, though, you must try dedicated "cast bullet" powders like RL 7, XMP 5744, SR 4759, IMR/H4198 etc. as they offer a more gentle acceleration in combination with lower pressures that allow plainbase bullets to do their best. I strongly recommend the use of dacron fiber completely filling the airspace in the case between bullet base and powder charge. This eliminates gascutting and prevents powder position shifts in the case, which cause large velocity swings unless you tip the barrel up before firing each shot. On a small game hunt, you're not likely to do that, thus the dacron use.

Despite some claims to the contrary, even "position insensitive" powders like 5744 show velocity variation with extreme, or even moderate, differences in powder position.

The slower cast bullet powders are a little sooty at these levels, and a few granules of unburned powder lie in the bore after the shot (quite a bit with some powders at low levels). However, this doesn't hurt accuracy, and actually "dirty burning" is the reason for the better groups-slower acceleration and lower pressures.

I spent the past summer working on refinement for my cast bullet loads with the mentioned Lee bullet as well as several others, so some more information may be of interest to you. Here it is, abbreviated considerably. Believe me, I'd bore the hell out of you if I posted all of it.

Velocities are for 140 grain Lee. Expect around 20-40 fps less with a 158 grain lead bullet, which are more common. Bullets cast of wheelweights plus a little tin, .361" diameter. These loads are best with dacron, and the mentioned velocities have been obtained using it in each load.

15.0 SR (IMR) 4759 (NOT 4756) 1628 fps. Clean burning, a little too much velocity as groups open up to around 2.25" at 50 yards.

12.0 4759 1280 fps. Used with dacron, one of my favorite loads, producing 1.15" five shot groups at 50 yards. Weighing bullets drops groups another .15" or so, maybe not enough to make it worth the effort. I do so for hunting small game, and the effort is worthwhile in this case. Every little bit helps.

14.0 XMP 5744, 1250 fps. Similar accuracy to 12.0/4759, but dirtier burning, making the 4759 load my choice.

14.5 RL7 perhaps a little too mild for this powder, producing 1060 fps with good accuracy, but a bit dirty burning

17.0 RL7 1240 fps, easier metering powder than 4759 but just a hair worse in the accuracy department, and not quite as clean burning as 4759. Still, a good load.

15.0 H4198 1170 fps, good accuracy, some powder left in the bore, should be bumped up to 17.0 grains or so for best results, but did not chronograph this for velocity. An educated guess would be around 1325 fps.

Shotgun/pistol powders

9.0 grains of W231, Red Dot, or 700X give around the same velocity of 1400 fps and are very consistent velocity wise, and clean burning. However, best accuracy is found around the 7-8 grain region for 12-1300 fps, depending upon charge weight. I use dacron with the fast burners as well, but with all powders, be SURE that the dacron takes up all the space between the powder and base of the bullet. Don't tamp it in hard, just pull off a tuft, push it gently into the case with a standard slotted screwdriver that fits in the casemouth, and be sure the dacron goes around halfway up the neck so the bullet rests upon it with no airspace when seated. DON'T TAMP IT IN.

Of course, make sure you use a Lyman "M" die for damage free bullet seating for the tender plainbase cast bullet. If you don't have one, the 35 "short" die is the proper one to get.

Make sure the barrel has no jacketed bullet fouling. You may wish to forgo crimping, for the simple fact that your rifle may not feed too well with the very short SWC and you will not place more than one round in the magazine. With one round in the magazine it will feed perfectly. Generally, cast bullets should be roll crimped in revolvers or rifles with heavier recoil (IMO), and these loads are not of that sort. A two shot rifle is plenty for small game, and a .35 caliber bullet slaps the hell out of small critters. In the past, I have used the RCBS 200 FN gascheck with IMR 3031 as my full power deer hunting load, and the small game load of 4759 as my subload. This combo does not require me to clean jacketed bullet fouling out of my gun before I can shoot the small game loads accurately.

Some juggling of powder charges may be needed to get a load that hits close to your high power load. This is not practical with a jacketed bullet because of fouling, but with the aforementioned combination it is possible. Barrel band carbines vibrate so unpredictably that what works for me may not work for you, so you gotta strike out on your own to find out what works. A scoped rifle with a duplex crosshair is often very accomodating, as the reduced load often hits near the junction of the thick/thin part of the crosshairs. A variable is the best of all, since changing the power of the scope changes where the reduced load hits in relation to this aiming point. Example-my Savage .30-06, when it is zeroed at 200 yards with the 150 jacketed at 2950 fps, hits on the thick/thin junction of crosshairs at 4.5X using 9.0 W231 and the Lee C113F at 1550 fps. I can switch from one to another without rezeroing the rifle, but the jacketed fouling has to be absent.

Hope that gives you a good start. The Lee die set will not seat the bullet deeply enough, as it was meant for longer nosed bullets. I use my RCBS seating die to seat the light SWC, and it has a nice in-line feature that seats bullets straight. The larger diameter lead bullet means the fit between die and bullet is close, and bullet lube buildup must be cleaned out of the die occasionally. I use a seating stem from my .38 Spl RCBS dies to accomodate this SWC bullet, but you may get by with the one you have if you have RCBS .35 dies. I just like using a seating stem that matches the bullet, but cannot prove any accuracy difference in so doing.

Oh, one more thing. At low velocities you don't need a whole lot of lubricant on the bullet. I use a light coat of the Lee Liquid Alox on the bullets that are shot as cast without sizing. Excessive amounts of lubricant tend to open groups, in my experience. The dacron also helps reduce gascutting and leading, so is another reason why not much lube is needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
THANK YOU!!!

I did shoot a hard cast 158 gr SWC through my .35 soon after I bought it and it slugs right at .358. Of course this doesn't indicate the throat size, etc. I have some of those but when I started casting the idea of buying lead bullets became abhorrent. I went with the .359 die due to finacial and equipement requirements. I feel like the .359 will work with the main purpose of these bullets. And hopefully give reasonable accuracy with the .35 Normally if I use loads like these they are for very close shots usually well inside 25 yards.

As far as lubing goes it appears that still without having cast any from this mould that the bullet length may work better if only seated to top lube groove.

35Remington where did you seat your bullets to? Right now for a dies set I have the Lee set with a FCD so I can if needed crimp a lead bullet any where.

The basic idea was to pop a game getter round or two in my pocket. Should the opportunity arise eject the round in the chamber slide the low power load in the chamber and shoot.
 

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Like you are surmising, I seated the bullet to just in front of the lube groove, not the crimp groove. The band ahead of the crimp groove is narrow and this works in the typical Marlin throat, which really doesn't exist in most guns. I consider seating ideal when rifling marks are left in the very forward edge of the band, but not so much that the cartridge sticks when an unfired round is ejected.

The lack of throat sorta mangles bullets if they are allowed much room to jump to the rifling, as I think this allows the bullets to get a bit sideways before they are rammed into the barrel. I say rammed because a proper lead bullet throat would be the same size, or a half thou smaller than the lead bullet itself, which would be gently guided into the bore by the close tolerance fit between the bullet and the throat. The leade angle would be shallow to facilitate a smooth transition between the two diameters.

As it is, the somewhat sloppy chamber neck and short (NO) throat in the Marlin allow no guidance effect. Like your gun, fired slugs from my rifles measure around .358", but the guns do best with .360-.361" bullets. I believe this is because the larger bullet diameter takes up some of the slop between the chamber neck and case walls and guides the bullet "straighter" into the rifling. If you don't have a throat, then use bullet diameter to decrease the clearances between chamber neck and expanded case walls to improve bullet alignment with the bore-sort of a "pseudo-throat". This is what I'm doing, I think, but ultimate accuracy would still be best attained with a proper throat. I have been able to attain accuracy that meets my standards for 50-75 yard small game hunting without throating, though, so I think you ought to be able to do the same, especially if you don't anticipate shooting over 25 yards.

All that said, though, I'd guess that the .359" sizer will be okay for your requirements. I still wouldn't use it though, and would shoot the bullets as cast if they cast to a larger diameter. Larger is very desirable and I'd give up the lube sizer and tumble lube them if they were bigger than .359", up to .361" or so. Tumble lubing is faster anyway and works fine for low velocity.

I would suggest sticking to the pistol powders for what you envision, especially if 25 yards is your average or long shot and you don't need ultimate accuracy. The accuracy advantage of the slower powders is only 2-3 tenths at fifty yards in many cases, not enough to make any difference at 25 yards.

More important, though, is that the pistol powders do better in very cold temperatures than very low pressure loads of RL7, 5744, etc., reason being that the pistol powders are designed to burn and ignite cleanly at very low pressures. The 1050-1200 fps reduced loads using slower burning powders do fine at temperatures down to 15F or so, but below that I'd stick with the pistol type powders and give up a little accuracy for reliable ignition. I realize that large rifle primers have plenty of spark, but the advantages of slower powders (very low pressures) work against them in extreme cold temperature situations. Sometimes pressures get so low that the inside of the barrel looks like a mineshaft after the gun is fired, and having that much residue in the barrel isn't good.

If your gun is clean or has only cast bullet fouling in it, jacking a cast load in the chamber works fine for your use, and if we're lucky we'll only fire one jacketed round anyway on a deer hunt, usually after we pot a few small game animals. I didn't want to give the impression that lead/jacketed use is incompatible, just depends on which order you fire them through the gun and how many jacketed rounds are fired before you shoot a lead bullet through the barrel. You might want to check your point of impact of the jacketed rounds by firing a jacketed bullet through the barrel after you've fired a few cast loads to make sure bullet lubricant doesn't screw up the point of impact of the jacketed bullet. Such things do happen, but most of the time there's not a change unless you've got a lot of lube buildup in the barrel.

Be careful when extracting a round from the chamber and inserting a cast load-usually there's a round on the carrier if the tube magazine is full and the lever is opened to do this. It's easy to jam things up if you're fumble fingered like me.

If you have the Lee die set, you may have to complete bullet seating by using some Rube Goldberg combination of other dies, but you can do it. As I mentioned before, this is necessary because the Lee die set may be incapable of seating the bullet in the case deeply enough. I use the Lee factory crimp die on my full power RCBS 200 cast loads for tube magazine use, but if you are single loading the chamber you really don't need the crimp on the light loads for anything, especially with pistol powders.

I know what you mean about buying cast bullets. I'd burn in hell before I'd buy a commercial cast bullet if I can buy a mould that does the same thing.

Monkey around with the powder charges a little to see if your point of impact can be the same as your high power load at 25 yards. Another nice feature of these loads is that they are great for coup de gras shots on seriously injured but not dead animals. One shot behind the ear kills them neatly without blowing the entire head off. 1200 fps or so is plenty and gives an astonishing amount of penetration. I have a few rounds in the right front pocket of my coveralls when in the deerstand for just this reason-and small game too, of course.

I think working up loads of this sort is a lot of fun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Again thank you! I also enjoy working up loads like this. I have a pretty good one using some salvaged green dot/Lee 170grfpgc and 30-30. Or it worked well in a Gasp! W94 I used to own. Have not done so for my Marlin 30-30's but will after season. Same with the .35 this will be an after season project.

I keep my bore pretty clean. I made up an electro copper remover thingy like a foul out machine. I use that to get a good clean bore then try to keep it that way. My 35 likes to have a little gunk in it to shoot well. Right now I get it real clean and then run about 10 or so through it. I live on the FL AL line so we have lots of humidity so I swab with some good gun oil. So I try not to let too much copper or lead build up. Another thing is that down here long and I mean long shots are 100 yds. Well if you aren't sitting on a powerline or hunting over a bean field. Where and how I like to hunt accuracy would have to really deteriorate to become a problem. So far it hasn't.

On tap for next summer is some cast bullet only load development. So I will need a larger sizer die and a real .35 remington bullet mould, different powders too I guess. Along with that is a better/ bigger sizer for my 30-30 I bought a .309 die thinking that would work. It did in the W thing and seems ok in my 336A but I have some concerns with the micro groove 30-30.

I am looking forward to all that 'work'. Using reloads is very satisfying but it would be even more so using my own cast bullets. Even the real big hogs I might encounter should be no match for a well placed cast bullet. I am more of a shooter than hunter any way and just enjoy the woods time and have no trouble passing on marginal shots.

Wow this got long winded! If you guys get a chance list some of your favorite powder load combinations using cast bullets. Especially in the 30-30 and 35.

thanks again

Brian
 

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Man, can you tell these guys on this board are serious? WOW. I just learned a lot without even trying. My $.02 is to try a cast or jacketed bullet over 10.0 grains of Unique, standard rifle primer, light crimp, no filler over the powder. My 336C shoots these into tiny little groups at 50 yards, nice BOOM but no kick. Verry eerie at first, but great for small game.

I also agree with the oversize slugs taking up the slop in the leade. Size DOES Matter!

Papajohn the Puny :oops:
 
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