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Problem Child Tamed?
Discussion regarding the reloading of ammunition and tuning of loads for accuracy
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SingleShotLover
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2016 10:57 am    Post subject: Problem Child Tamed? Reply with quote

Nothing is more frustrating to me than having a firearm that is less than useable. Most people run across one or two in the course of their hobby and either trade it off or stick it in the darkest corner of their closet. It is always satisfying to come up with a solution to whatever problem is present.

In my case the problem child is a Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Magnum that a friend gave me many years ago. When fired with cast bullets, this revolver has always been the worst leading firearm I have ever had. Jacketed bullets worked acceptably with fair accuracy but I have always preferred cast for economy, performance and reduced wear and tear. We all know that most, if not all, firearms will show varying degrees of leading over extended shooting periods, but none of the rest of mine do so as badly as this one. Unfortunately as few as a dozen shots with cast bullets from a large assortment of styles, suppliers and etc. would lead to the point that often the rifling was buried. Slugging the bore revealed that it was .432”. Obviously even .431” bullets weren’t bumping up enough to properly engage rifling and were causing leading. I figure that the only reason jacketed bullets worked is that they had softer cores, depending on the jackets to engage the rifling, and bumped up easier. As a result I seldom shot it, preferring to use other .44s instead. As it had been a gift, thoughts of trading it off were never considered.

In the course of re-building a Ruger Blackhawk .45 Colt I decided to try my hand at casting bullets. Rather than investing a lot of money in moulds, pots, sizer/lubricators and etc., I ordered a couple of Lee .452” 255-grain RNFP molds, .452” sizer kit and a Lee Production Pot. Though this mould design isn’t one of the “tumble-lube” designs, it turned out that Lee’s liquid lube worked splendidly on bullets pushed in the vicinity of 850-900 fps with excellent accuracy and virtually no leading other than a faint “wash” apparent after 40-50 rounds. A quick pass with a bronze bore brush followed by a tight bore mop erased nearly all of the traces and accuracy never fell off with buildup. Dropping from the mould at an average of 262 grains and having an extremely generous flat nose, this bullet is now my standard for the .45 Colt at velocities up to 1,100 fps.

Since things had worked so well for that .45, I began to wonder if a combination of bullet size and lube might make a difference in my problem with the .44. I was lucky enough to win the bid at a very good price on a gently used Lyman 429421 mould (one of those thought to be most closely of original Keith SWC design), ordered a Lee .430 sizing kit and started to work. Initial bullets dropped from this mold at 258 grains and averaged .4315” diameter. Bullets weren’t perfectly round, but considering the excessive bore diameter, I thought to try them unsized using fairly liberal amounts of Lee lube to coat them first. Results were mixed but encouraging. Groups (using my normal full-house loads) were adequate, if not impressive, and leading after 24 rounds was negligible.

Encouraged, I decided to try sizing a few bullets to .430” and backing the load to around 1,150 to 1,200 fps (a load I commonly employ for general use in order to reduce stress on my firearms). After sizing and re-lubing, these bullets were loaded and taken out to my range. Success! Groups averaged 2” or less and only the faintest trace of lead could be found after 24 rounds. This was easily removed merely by running the bore mop through. My S&W 629 (which doesn’t know what leading is) was used to finish the rest of the box of 50 and resulted in groups running 1” to 1 1/2” (from the bench) with absolutely no sign of leading. Another batch prepared the same way but pushed to roughly 1,400 fps actually tightened the groups slightly from both revolvers with very slight leading in the Ruger and the 629 bore looking like a mirror.

Now that I was rolling, I decided to try those commercially cast bullets after tumble-lubing with the Lee lube. I lubed some of LeadHead’s excellent 270-grain LBT and 250-grain SWC bullets without removing the commercial lube in the grooves and allowed them to dry. Each weight was pushed by the hunting load I commonly use for these weights. The Ruger (which had previously leaded hideously with both styles) shot both weights well, but did show a little more leading than with the Lyman bullets. The 629 shot them the same as it does with just the commercial lube that LeadHead uses and again the bore was clean.

I have several other variables I still want to try, but it is nice to know that sometimes that light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a train!

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PaulS
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:30 pm    Post subject: Re: Problem Child Tamed? Reply with quote

Good job SingleShot Lover!
As I understand it the bullet diameter and bore diameter are of prime concern in leading. Ruger has never been known for their smooth finish on their bores and I had a lot of trouble shooting swaged lead bullets but never tried cast. I have some cast bullets for my 357 (170 grain) and I may try to get a load worked up this summer with them. I have checked and they are a snug fit in the cylinder so I can't use much more diameter. It will be the first time lead bullets have been fired in my gun since it was more than a year old.

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Vince
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2016 12:34 am    Post subject: Re: Problem Child Tamed? Reply with quote

Single Shot, have you checked on the BRN Hardness factor of the cast projectiles?

Reading Richard Lee's most excellent book Modern Handloading prompted my mate and I to consider using softer projectiles, reducing the powder charge appropriately. We use LEE Alox tumble lube and with projectiles that come in around BRN 15 - 16 we found that leading was almost non existent and groups were more than acceptable in various rifles... .223 Rem, .243 Win, 30.30 Win, .308 Win and 8mm Mauser.

Not too sure how this would compute out in a revolver mate, but it is definitely food for thought. When I was reloading .357Mag for my 586 S&W, I cast projectiles out of a lead alloy that is very close to Lyman #2, 92% lead, 6% tin and 2% antimony. I never had a problem with leading, even driving these non gas checked projectiles up to 1400fps+. The lube I always used was my own homemade lube...a mix of beeswax and ATF mixed to a nice soft waxy consistency.

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SingleShotLover
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2016 5:56 am    Post subject: Re: Problem Child Tamed? Reply with quote

PaulS - You are right about many Ruger barrels being rough. That isn't the case with this particular revolver. I think the excessive bore diameter is the real culprit. Ideally, cast bullet diameter should be .001 - .002 larger than the bore with an exact match being the minimum. .357 Mags traditionally are harder to keep from leading but it can be done. Swagged bullets are too soft for anything over .38 Special velocities. Cylinder throat diameter is usually a bit larger than bore diameter on most revolvers so a tight fit in yours should be a good bore match.

Vince - Leadhead bullets are advertised as being 18-22 BHN. My bullets are cast from wheel weights and are probably a bit softer, which may be allowing them to "bump up" enough for better rifling engagement. It's pretty much still guesswork at this point. The Leadhead bullets have served very well through a long list of other .44s ranging from many Rugers, 2 Dan Wessons, T?C barrels and a S&W 29s and 629. That;s why this one is so frustrating. I'm also leaning toward thinking that the Lee lube is doing a better job (at least in this case) of lubing the bore. Lotsof work ahead!

And in the interest of full disclosure; shooting distance was 20 yards - high winds dropped a tree in my way at my normal 25-yard line and it will stay there until warmer weather!

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chambered221
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 4:38 pm    Post subject: Re: Problem Child Tamed? Reply with quote

Penn bullets size to .432 !!!

Might be worth it to try them to see what happens.
I'd assume there are others that have oversized offerings as well.

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Elvis
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 1:00 am    Post subject: Re: Problem Child Tamed? Reply with quote

you will nut it out sooner or later.....didnt see gas checks mentioned...... could they be an option for improvement????

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PaulS
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 2:19 am    Post subject: Re: Problem Child Tamed? Reply with quote

The problem I have had with gas checks is that the don't always seat square on the bullet. When you shoot them it is like having a muzzle that isn't square and it throws the bullet wide, high or low depending on how it exits. I used them on inverted HBWC when I was testing them for penetration and expansion in me 357. That is one big hollow point. It turned out to be a bust because the expand too fast and they don't penetrate or stay in one piece unless you drop the velocities down to the 38 Special level. I settled on the 140 grain Speer Hot-Core hollow point. It gave great penetration, expanded well and stayed together even above the 1500 fps which is where I get good accuracy with them. (19.1 grains of H110 is still a 1/2 grain below the old original maximum charge of 19.6 grains even though it is listed in most manuals as a 1.1 grain overload in the later manuals that follow the reduced SAAMI pressure levels designed to accommodate the small and medium frame S&W and clones)

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Vince
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 2:44 am    Post subject: Re: Problem Child Tamed? Reply with quote

I bought a Lyman Gas Check Seater for use with my Lubesizer Paul. It ensures the GC is correctly and fully seated before you crimp it into place. Only complaint I have is it adds another step to the process.

How to use the Lyman Gas Check Seater



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Illegitimi non carborundum
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Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

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SingleShotLover
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 5:26 am    Post subject: Re: Problem Child Tamed? Reply with quote

The problem with Penn bullets is the bullet design. They are mostly bevel-based which, in common theory, allow gasses to jet up the sides of the bullet causing gas cutting and actually promote leading. They may work in some barrels, but I have never had very good luck with BB bullets in any of my revolvers or calibers over the years. Their design is also not a true "Keith" design in that the nose is too short transferring bullet weight too far to the rear for down-range stability. It is nice that there are options for over-size bullets, but the designs make me hesitate. You are right that it may be worthwhile to check other casters for oversize options too.

Gas checks are an option, but would require molds designed for them, additional steps and added expense. Since this one Ruger is the only one of my .44s that gives me problems I am unwilling to go to the extra just for one revolver. If all other options fail me maybe I'll consider them.

Thanks all for their suggestions though. Never can tell what might work the best.

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Aloysius
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 5:46 am    Post subject: Re: Problem Child Tamed? Reply with quote

Vince, don't know the Lyman sytem, but you should have a look at a Saeco press. To seat the GC you just turn something to the middle to prevent the core in its way down. When the GS is seated, you turn that thing out of the way and the bullet can go down to size and recieve its lube. Think you'd love the system.
I don't have such a Lyman press and on the RCBS-presses I don't use GC's.
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Loke
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 2:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Problem Child Tamed? Reply with quote

You have mentioned bore size, but what about the throats? Do they match the bore, and are they consistent?

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SingleShotLover
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 4:35 pm    Post subject: Re: Problem Child Tamed? Reply with quote

Loke wrote:
You have mentioned bore size, but what about the throats? Do they match the bore, and are they consistent?

I used a Manson reamer to open the throats to .4325" several years ago. Throats are uniform and smooth.

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chambered221
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 5:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Problem Child Tamed? Reply with quote

Might be time for a custom mold !!!

My thinking is proper sized bullets will eliminate the majority of your leading.
If it were me I'd buy a 100 just for experimental purpose if I couldn't find a oversized bullet without the BB.

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Aloysius
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2016 1:01 am    Post subject: Re: Problem Child Tamed? Reply with quote

chambered221 wrote:
Might be time for a custom mold !!!

My thinking is proper sized bullets will eliminate the majority of your leading.
If it were me I'd buy a 100 just for experimental purpose if I couldn't find a oversized bullet without the BB.

or experiments with paper patched bullets? Different sizes by using different paper layers or thicknesses.
Or is the patched removed in the gap between cylinder and barrel in a revolver?
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