|res45, very nice write-up and pictures. Wow, you have a passion for this. Glad it is starting out well for you. |
Are these bullets soft enough to expand when hitting game or do you modify them to have a hollow point?
Do you get your lead from the local tire store?
Do you buy the copper bases separately? how are they attached?
Slimjim, reloading, casting an shooting are my hobbies, it's what I do when I'm not working on the honey do list or working for the man. I enjoy the process and the detail that goes into making your own ammo and bullets and getting the best out of my handguns and rifles while having fun doing it, plus I get to shoot more.
As to the bullets I cast I have molds for around 30 different rifle and pistol bullets. I have a mixed bag of mold types, some are just strictly for target shooting, others such as a couple of my 38/357 and 45 ACP pistol molds are of the HP design while most of the bullets I cast an load for hunting have large meplats.
The meplat is the flat or open tip portion of the bullet. For target or long range shooting with cast lead a small meplat is desirable due to its aerodynamic properties for SD or hunting purposes a Hollow point or a bullet which has as large a meplat otherwise known as a flat nose that will reliable feed is desirable to cause tissue / organ destruction. In general the larger the meplat the larger the air pocket that is created in front of the bullet as it passes through tissue this in turn create the shock wave that transmits the energy of the bullet to the surrounding tissue and organs. Veral Smiths book "Jacketed Performance with Cast Bullets" is a good must have book for any bullet caster and will explain in detail how cast bullets work.
As to bullet hardness I basically tailor my alloy to what I'm going to do with the bullet. For the most part these days I cast all my rifle and pistol bullet out of 50% pure lead and 50% wheel weight plus about 2% Tin. I also powder coat all my bullets which basically give the bullet a polymer jacket and acts as a lubricant. During the powder coat curing process the bullets reach around 400 degrees, if I remove the bullets from the toaster oven and allow them to air cool they are the same hardness as when they were cast which works great for plain base or gas check HP bullet in handguns or upper mid range velocity gas check rifle bullets I want to expand. If expansion is not an issued or very little is needed and the larger meplat is going to do most of the work I water quench the powder coated bullet right out of the toaster oven and let them age harden for several weeks before loading. I've shot the about bullets in the post at up to 2300 fps. with no accuracy or leading issues.
The copper bases are called gas checks, they can also be made from aluminum but I mainly use the ones made from copper as there isn't much différance price wise if you buy them instead of making them yourself. If my machine shop buddy gets things going I gave him some plans for a gas check makes and I will start making my own and use aluminum as I have access to high quality aluminum plates used in the printing process. Gas checks basically serve a couple purposes. They seal the bore and protect the base of the bullet from high pressure gasses which can cause gas cutting which lead to leading and poor accuracy especially if you're using a softer alloy that could not normally withstand those high velocity / pressure loads, they also give the bullet extra grip on the rifling so the lead bullet under high velocity an pressure doesn't skid or slip on the rifling. This is especially useful if you have a rifle with micro groove rifling like that found in many Marlin rifles.
Gas checks are basically attached to the base of the bullet during the bullet sizing process. One method uses a Lube Sizer which can do multiple things with one pull of the handle. The gas check if needed is place in the sizing die mounted in the lube sizer, the bullet is then set on top of the gas check base first and a ram presses the bullet down into the sizing die and the gas check is crimped onto the base of the bullet. The lube sizer can also lubricate the bullet as well during the gas check seating and sizing process. Some individuals that powder coat which is a form of lube just use the machine to set check and size the bullet. When I used to use my RCBS Lube A Matic that is how I seated most of my gas check.
The other way is to use a push through sizer die I have one from NOE that uses interchangeable bushing for different dia. bullets. The bullets can be body sized to the correct dia. and you can even buy bushing that will size the nose portion of bore rider bullets as well. Lee also makes different size sizing die each one being a fixed size, both the Lee and NOE will seat and crimp gas check when the bullet is pushed through the sizer.