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Paper Patching Cast Lead Bullets For Cartridges

March 2021 -- Jamie R.

Note from the Webmaster. Jamie R. has extensive experience in reloading cartridges for many calibers, including using bullets that he has personally cast and then resized for a custom fit in a particular barrel's bore.

In the past he has also successfully powder coated some of his cast lead bullets to reduce lead deposits in the barrel.

Here in this report he has successfully used an old technique (dating back to the 1800's) to reduce barrel leading by applying a paper patch to the bare lead bullet, resizing with lube, and then loading the completed bullet into a cartridge case.

His goal here was to make inexpensive but good quality loads for military surplus calibers, which often have a limited selection of reloading components. Photos and the following text are by Jamie.

Loverin cast bullet

I am using a 151 grain 0.312" nominal diameter Loverin bullet (actually measured at 0.3115") that I will be shooting in a Mosin-Nagant military surplus rifle; it is weighed and checked for defects before being selected to proceed further. Consistency is important for accuracy.

Package of cigarette papers

These are the rolling papers that I have been using because they are very thin with a natural fold in them.

Sheet of paper

Many people using regular paper cut it into a slanted rectangle shape but I find that these papers are very easy to work with when just folded in half and lightly wet.

Rolling bullet in paper

Start to roll the bullet in the paper tightly, being careful to overlap as much as possible, leaving a good amount of paper over the base of the bullet. I roll the whole length of the paper because the bullet is put through a sizer after it has dried and the paper will shrink and stick itself to the bullet.

Wrapping completed

Once the bullet is wrapped, twist the excess paper at the base into a tight tail. This is very important because the excess paper and the tail form what used to be the gas check section of the base. Like most things with reloading, you have the option of starting the wrap where you want on the bullet. I like the multi lube grooves in the Loverin Bullet because I can use a lube groove as a guide while wrapping. Always leave a good amount of overhang at the base for a good tail.

Paper now dry

Once the bullets have sat and dried overnight, they are ready to have the tails trimmed and put through a sizing die to the diameter you want the final bullets to be for reloading. Be careful trimming the tail. You don't want to nick the paper patch on the base. This will expose the lead to the heat and cause lead fouling in your gun and probably cause a loss in accuracy. I trim the tails with sharp snips and then run them through a lube sizer that pushes the bullets from the top (nose), base downward into the sizer.

Bullet was lubed and sized

At that point you can see the lube in the grooves and the gas check groove and the bullets are ready to load. The process takes a little time but it is easy to do once you get the hang of it, and should provide good accuracy especially in military surplus (milsurp) rifles. My testing at the range with a Mosin-Nagant confirmed very good accuracy and virtually no leading.

For those that donít have lube sizers, paper patching can still work for you. Just patch the bullet to just over the desired diameter and the paper will dry and shrink to the bullet just the same. Measure the dried trimmed bullets with a micrometer and as long as you are at the desired diameter, or one thou over, tumble the bullets gently to provide a light coat of Lee Alox lube.

Let the bullets sit until dry on some wax paper, and then they are ready to load. Remember to open the case mouth slightly before seating the bullets to prevent any shaving of the paper, and apply a light crimp to the completed round when done.

Good luck, these bullets can be sized to whatever your needs are. The Loverin bullet at 151 grains can be patched and properly sized for use in all of my milsurp rifles, or any other 30 caliber bolt action or single shot rifle in good condition. With the long bearing surface you can patch high, or mid, bullet and use the many grooves as a guide. I was careful to use a safe powder load obtained from a name brand printed reloading manual. I am not sure at this time how well the paper would hold up in a semi-automatic or lever action.

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