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Experiments With Cast Bullets

Posted by me2 
me2
Experiments With Cast Bullets
September 13, 2021 09:26PM
I wanted to try some cast bullets and Acme Bullet Company was recommended. They have polymer/Hi-Tech coated cast projectiles for various sizes. First the good.

I tried some of their 125 grain green coated 9mm bullets and they work splendidly. They are very accurate, cycle, and leave no residue in my 9mm barrels. Since they are cast, they take advantage of some load data that runs at low velocity and has reduced recoil and noise while maintaining accuracy. I downloaded them with a new to me powder and tried to make a hearing safe load without a suppressor. I might be able to, but my pistol would become a pump action. They maintained their accuracy at low velocity and even with changing loads (3 sets of 2 with different powder charges) all 6 shots were in the 9 or 10 ring of a Shoot n See at 15 yards. These are purely target loads so I keep them at just enough powder to cycle and lock the slide back 99% of the time.

Now the bad. I tried some cast and coated Acme bullets with reduced loads of magnum pistol powder in my 30-30. Accuracy was so bad I’m surprised I didn’t hit myself in the back. I couldn’t keep 3 shots on a target at 25 yards from a rest. Upon cleaning the problem became evident. Somehow just 8 shots leaded the barrel and took hours to clean. I’m either pushing them way too fast or they aren’t sized properly for my barrel or both. I’m going to try to get the velocity below 1400 feet per second and see if that helps. Then I’m going to measure the bore and see what size I really need.
me2
Re: Experiments With Cast Bullets
September 16, 2021 08:28PM
Loaded a few more in my 30-30. We’ll see how they do Saturday hopefully. The powder charge is down nearly 15%. If it’s as simpl as I was pushing too fast that would be great.
me2
Re: Experiments With Cast Bullets
September 18, 2021 10:06PM
Sometimes it works like you’d planned. Dropping the charge weight seems to have done the trick. The loads are even more pleasant than the last ones, mostly because they went where I wanted. Now I gotta do some incremental tests. Groups were as good as I had hoped and were comparable to groups from my Henry 22 at the same distance. For another comparison I loaded up 3 shots with Hornady 150 grain jacketed round nose with the book minimum powder charge. They shot slightly better than my cast loads but only by about one hole diameter. These are really intended for hunting at much higher velocity so I probably won’t down load them any more. It was mostly a sanity check.
Re: Experiments With Cast Bullets
September 25, 2021 01:07PM
Hey interesting stuff Me2, somehow I missed this post. I have nearly everything I’ll need for reloading the .44 Mag after finally locating some very good powder last week. Right now I just have to keep an eye out for primers, otherwise I’ve got the rest.
me2
Re: Experiments With Cast Bullets
September 28, 2021 08:59PM
That’s next on my list. Meaning a revolver of some sort. I nearly jumped on a 44 Mag Super Blackhawk but the deal was a little too good. I’m looking for a long range handgun, 50 yards+. That SBH would have done quite well. With hand loading it I can make it as comfortable or effective as I want. I passed as the price was actually suspicious.

I tested several cast loads for the 30-30 and picked the one that shot the best, which is about 2.5 MOA. That’s about what I and it can manage with other loads as well, with iron sights.

What powder did you find? Oddly the cast powder I have is also popular for magnum pistol rounds, Alliant 2400. I like it because I. Can get about 500 rounds per can of 30-30. The Lyman Cast Bullet Manual has been invaluable for reduced fun loads. My 9mm cast load just drops brass at my feet from the M&P9, which is the one that load was developed for. Primers are a little more available. The loads in my manuals for 44 Magnum use standard large pistol primers instead of the magnums. Those seem a little easier to find.
Re: Experiments With Cast Bullets
September 29, 2021 02:00PM
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me2
That’s next on my list. Meaning a revolver of some sort. I nearly jumped on a 44 Mag Super Blackhawk but the deal was a little too good. I’m looking for a long range handgun, 50 yards+. That SBH would have done quite well. With hand loading it I can make it as comfortable or effective as I want. I passed as the price was actually suspicious.

The SBH is one of the guns that, unfortunately, Ruger has stopped production of. A lot of the gun companies have really trimmed down their current production lineup and it’s really unfortunate, I would absolutely buy a stainless SBH if I could find one. But yeah a really low price, especially if it’s an online purchase, is a little iffy. Most of the Ruger single action revolvers need a little bit of a tune-up right away for best accuracy but after a little work they’re very good.

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me2
What powder did you find?

Vihtavuori N340, which (as luck would have it) is a burn rate that is virtually perfect for the barrel length and bullet weight I’m using. It’s one of the very few single-base pistol powders available, single-base powders are generally far cleaner and far less sensitive to changes in ambient temperatures. The powder burns exceptionally cleanly, like a night and day difference from the notoriously dirty Universal or Unique. The burn rate is just slightly slower than those two, charge weights will be between 13 and 14 grains according to their reloading data, just a few grains more than Unique or Universal, which should give me slightly higher velocities.

N340 can also be used for shotgun loads, and I just got a MEC 12 gauge reloading press setup. The plan with that is to create custom buckshot loads for hunting and home defense.

I still have a ton of 180 grain XTP’s to use as well as several hundred new Winchester brass and 100 once-fired Starline brass. Just have to find some primers now.


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me2
The loads in my manuals for 44 Magnum use standard large pistol primers instead of the magnums. Those seem a little easier to find.

Usually it’s only necessary to use magnum primers (with the .44, .357, etc) when you’re using heavy full charges of spherical powder like H110 that are hard to ignite. It pays to be careful with using magnum primers with just about anything because they can cause big changes in pressure curves, they should never be used interchangeably for that reason.
me2
Re: Experiments With Cast Bullets
September 29, 2021 07:09PM
What I found interesting is how many powders are usable in 44 magnum. I can use basically any pistol powder I have. I think 2400 is intended for magnum pistols but I can use CFE Pistol and my new favorite Winchester 231 as well. You won’t get top 44 mag performance but for target loads it would work great.

I’d like to try some VV powders but there aren’t any around unless I shoot 50 BMG. www.natoreloading.org has some good loads in 223/556 with VV powder. I’m hoping to try some 170 grain cast bullets soon with gas checks so maybe I can push them a bit faster. I haven’t tried many other powders but 2400 is quite dirty.
Re: Experiments With Cast Bullets
September 29, 2021 11:58PM
2400 is good stuff for the magnum revolver cartridges, my uncle uses it quite a lot for both the .357 and .44 Mags. Usually, for the absolute highest velocities in combination with best accuracy, H110 is king, but 2400 is very close. And it’s a little more forgiving to work with, H110 has a very narrow window for safe and effective charge weights.

And yeah, if you’re looking for mid-range or plinking levels of power, .44 Mag can use a really wide range of powders. So can .357 and other similar cartridges. That, combined with usually very long case life, revolvers (no lost or torn-up brass), and a really wide range of available power (cowboy type loads all the way up to moose killers), the magnum revolver cartridges are really well suited to reloading and survival situations.
me2
Re: Experiments With Cast Bullets
February 01, 2022 11:30AM
So I tried to zero my cast load with my 30-30 and I don’t have enough vertical adjustment, plus the load isn’t really accurate enough to justify pursuing. I think I’ll hold out for some Trailboss powder and some larger sized coated lead bullets. Marlin rifles evidently have a micro-groove barrel and often require cast projectiles be slightly larger than standard by 2 to 3 thousandths of an inch. I found some 0.311” coated projectiles but no Trailboss anywhere for months now.
me2
Re: Experiments With Cast Bullets
February 20, 2022 08:07AM
Anyone know anything about paper patched bullets? I’m hoping to solve my cast bullet troubles for 30-30 and paper patched bullets are something I want to try next.
Re: Experiments With Cast Bullets
February 20, 2022 01:45PM
I’m definitely no expert on them, but I’d be careful because that technology wasn’t used with modern high velocity stuff. I’d try to keep the velocity below 1,200 FPS.
me2
Re: Experiments With Cast Bullets
February 20, 2022 09:28PM
So far I’ve only found one reference manual for paper patching. It seems like there should be more. Castboolits.com has a fair bit of information in the form of forum answers but not much starting info. I’ve heard reports up to 2000 fps for 30-06 but have no way to evaluate that information.
me2
Re: Experiments With Cast Bullets
March 06, 2022 07:46AM
I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ve found a good load for light cast bullets in my 30-30. I found some data from Lee using a common 223/5.56 powder which I happened to have. The powder I was using is very hard to find and also works extremely well in my 357 Magnum so I’d much rather use it where I know it works. I’ve only shot a few rounds and the longest distance was 50 yards. IF the load can hold the same MOA as I’ve seen so far, which the other load did not, I should be able to get under 2” groups out to 100 yards. I will have to get a new sight to keep shooting cast bullets. The current one doesn’t have enough vertical range to zero for both.
me2
Re: Experiments With Cast Bullets
March 19, 2022 03:55PM
In my quest to shoot my 30-30 more for less $$$ I have found what I hope will be an accurate cast load. I’m still working through my supply of Acme 135 grain cast bullets. The old load using 223 powder (H335 for those into such things) used about 16 grains, or less than half a standard 30-30 load. Today I tried a pistol powder load with 5-6 grains of Winchester 231. I tried an array of loads from just over 5 to just under 6 grains. One of the mid range loads grouped about 1.25” for 4 shots. I still have to clean the barrel but this might be my practice load out to 100 yards. If there isn’t significant leading this should be the load for the rest of these bullets. When I run out I want to try a different brand that is sized specifically for Marlins. We’ll see how those go. If leading is excessive I’ll shift back to jacketed bullets but they’ll still be light.
Re: Experiments With Cast Bullets
March 19, 2022 07:54PM
Chris,
Are these cast bullets just for target practice?
me2
Re: Experiments With Cast Bullets
March 19, 2022 11:06PM
Yes they are primarily for target shooting. They would also be a mean rabbit load or even squirrel if no choice was available. With supplies what they are I can load these for less than 25 cents each. That’s less than 55 grain FMJ 223 before the pandemic started at $5/20 in steel case Tula. Full power loads are unpleasant and use 5-6 times as much powder. I have some full power hand loads but reserve them for more dire situations.
me2
Re: Experiments With Cast Bullets
April 29, 2022 08:29PM
I finally tumbled to the need for a sight with enough adjustment to zero with these cast bullets. I ordered a Williams receiver sight. I plan to zero it as soon as I get some loads made up. It has adjustment ranges of 1/2” which translates to about 5 feet by 100 yards.
Re: Experiments With Cast Bullets
April 30, 2022 02:39PM
A Williams sight for the .30-30?
Re: Experiments With Cast Bullets
April 30, 2022 02:44PM
If so, I think you’ll like it. My vision in general and especially my ability to use iron sights took a pretty bad turn after that eye injury in 2018, but peep sights like that are a huge improvement over the standard blade/notch type sights. The focal point is now just the target, focus on the target and pull the trigger when the front bead or blade is over it. Much much simpler than focusing on two or three things at once.

I did have different aperture sizes for the Marble’s sight I had and they’re more important than I might’ve guessed. For morning and evening when the light is just not very intense, it’s definitely important to have a large one in there, but full daytime lighting allows for the smaller ones to be used with the same level of clarity.
Re: Experiments With Cast Bullets
April 30, 2022 02:46PM
I’ve been shooting and carrying the HK45 just about as much as I can, and I really love it. The G27 is undeniably easier to conceal and not as heavy, but the big .45 is just so unbelievably easy to draw, aim, and shoot. And it hits harder, which is a great bonus. I really want to take a deer with it this year but it’s as difficult as always, they rarely get inside of 40 yards in my typical hunting areas.
me2
Re: Experiments With Cast Bullets
April 30, 2022 09:42PM
Yes this is for my 336 in 30-30. This load is fairly accurate, grouping about 1.25” at 50 yards. As long as I don’t get any leading I’ll be good. There was still a little last time I cleaned the barrel but it’s very possible the first time I tried cast left enough lead that I was still cleaning that out. I’m going to try some Missouri Bullet Company 135 grain cast bullets too. They are sized 0.002” bigger for Marlin micro-groove barrels. They’re slightly more expensive, but if I’m still getting leading the extra diameter may seal better and stop the lead deposits. Even if I have to switch to MBC bullets, I can still shoot my 30-30 cheaper than steel case 223 rounds were before the pandemic.

The cast bullets hit about 8” lower at 50 yards than the usual jacketed 30-30 rounds. My Ranger Point Precision sight just didn’t have the vertical range to zero them. I filed down my front sight and still couldn’t get them to zero. This sight has a huge vertical range and is click adjustable with target knobs. I’ll probably switch solely to cast if this works. MBC makes 165 grain cast bullets sized for Marlins too.
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