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Some Tips For Making, Loading, and Shooting Cast Lead Bullets

April 2022 -- Jamie R.

With the latest reminder that winter is not done, I thought I would do a little write up on getting the best results for shooting cast bullets. I have been reloading and shooting cast in many different guns for more than 15 years. It has been a fun challenge and very frustrating at the same time. When it works, itís nice to know that projectiles for more shooting are just a matter of doing more casting and loading.

What I have found is being consistent in everything you do is one of the main keys.

Starting with casting your bullets for centerfire rifles. When you sit down to cast, make your alloy and cast as many bullets as you can (or need) from that same batch of alloy. Water quench the bullets (drop them into water) right out of the mold. This quick cooling will add hardness to the bullets and prevent dings and marks on the bullets. You may want to cast with several different bullet molds to find the bullet that your rifle shoots best. Above all, BE CAREFUL.

The other thing I like to do when possible is cast a .311 or.312 bullet and then size it down if I am loading it in a rifle that uses a .308 or.309 projectile. If you are casting with a .309 mold it is still a good idea to size the bullets with a .309 sizer. This will once again keep the projectile a uniform size. Be very picky when sorting your cast bullets; keep only the perfect ones and put the others aside for remelting.

Sort and weigh the cast bullets. I put weight numbers in rows on a pizza box lid and group the bullets together. You will find that a large number of bullets fall into the mid [middle] range within a few grains of each other. These are the ones that I keep when going for accuracy. The others are either put aside for remelting or, if there are quite a few bullets in a group heavier or lighter than the main group, I mark the group and keep those aside as well for loading and testing. Who knows, your rifle may like the heavier or lighter bullets more than the mid range weight bullets. The main point here is that the weight of the bullets is consistent for the batch of bullets you are going to work with. This is one of the times that powder coating comes in handy. Each group can be colored differently.

Casting the bullets oversize and then sizing the bullets down with a lube sizer, or push through sizer, and applying gas checks will keep the diameter of the bullets consistent. Do this with all the bullets you are keeping for loading, separated by weight group.

Now, on to loading. Consult your load data, which should be obtained from a reputable printed reloading manual or from a powder manufacturer's official website. Do not rely on data you might read on a web forum.

Pick a suitable powder and start loading. If you are new to shooting cast, I suggest starting at the bottom powder weights of the recommended load data. Hereís why: due to the many sources of data available and the bullet/powder combinations out there, you have to start from scratch. That is actually a good thing because some combinations are more accurate at lower velocities. I load about 6 rounds of each charge going up half a grain at a time but staying under the maximum listed charge. You should see the right combination group much better than the others and then you can refine your load within that half grain charge from there if you want to.

I load 6 of each, one for a fouling shot and then a 5-shot group. This is up to you but I caution you not to load up a bigger bunch of any charge until you work up a good load for your particular rifle -- unless you want to spend a lot of time pulling apart loads that donít group.

When prepping your cases you MUST bell (open up) the case mouth slightly; if you donít you will shave the bullet making it undersized and less accurate. For this I suggest the Lee Universal Case Expanding Die. This is a great tool but be careful, you only need to open the case mouth up a bit. If it looks like a tuba at the case mouth you have gone way too far. The bullet should sit on top of the case mouth without holding it.

Seat your bullets to the desired overall length and apply a light crimp. The light crimp will close the belling on the case mouth and ensure that the bullet is centered in the case. Not much of a crimp is needed but be sure to apply a consistent crimp to each round.

Now the fun part. Go shoot your rounds. Take good notes or pictures of targets for reference later. You should be able to pick out the group that shot best and refine your load from there if necessary. If not you have to look at the next powder/bullet combination and start all over working up the load. This can be the most frustrating part when shooting cast bullets, but it is very satisfying when it works and a bullet you made and loaded shoots a one inch or less group at 100 yards.

Good luck and enjoy shooting!

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