View Full Version : Is Lee missing the boat?
04-24-2005, 05:18 PM
Fellas, I don't get here regularly, but I'm never disappointed when I do get around to checking in. Lots of good experience here, and "idea men." That's why I'm posting this question here.
The first bullet mould I ever bought, some 30 years ago, was a Lee 45-190HP mould that I got for my Colt Mk. IV Series 70 .45 ACP. Worked pretty darn good, and it wasn't long before I learned to cast a passable bullet. That teensy lil' ol' HP didn't do much to open the bullets up, though, even over 8.0 gr. of Unique, which was used a lot in those earlier times.
However, I've been thinking for some time now that Lee's really missing the boat by not making a more apt HP design. Their moulds are - by FAR - the easiest to use and fastest casting HP moulds I've used. Seems to me that a big ol' gaping HP stem with maybe a parabolic type curve on it (so it could go fairly deep without thinning the front end too much for handling) would make up some darn fine HP's, and it seems to me that a good HP pin would be able to release the bullet easily, too.
You guys have more experience than I do at this type of thing, though, so I want to hear your opinions about this possibility.
They've got some pretty good bullets already that look like they'd lend themselves easily to making up on a HP mould, like the 45-230TC, the wide pointed .44 and .45 SWC's in heavier wts., and that 357-158RNFP looks like it ought to be a winner, too. Cast of alloys commensurate with the speed they're to be driven at, and these ought to provide some useful "improvement," at least for some purposes, over anything they presently offer, I think.
I've also used the .357-150SWC-HP a lot in both .38 and .357 guise, and even of WW's, it would open up reliably. It had a MUCH larger HP pin, though, than the 45-190-HP. That bullet has taken a couple of deer that I know about, and very cleanly, too.
What say you? Remember, the HP configuration would need to be customized to the caliber, length, etc. for this to work well.
04-24-2005, 08:18 PM
I agree, that hollow point is small. Th simple solutio woud be to take it to a machine shop and have them make a hollow point pin for it the style you want and simply remove the factory one and put the other in it's place. No biggie.
04-24-2005, 10:24 PM
.............The various Lee HP and HB pins are very easy to modify and/or replace if you have a lathe. One of my early BP shooting buddies was changing Minie' HB posts like socks. Very possibly the boolit design you're talking about has developed a reputation as a good boolit, and Lee may not be interested in messing with it?
I do believe that Lee IS in fact missing the boat in some respects. If you look at their offerings they have as many or maybe even more designs then the old timer, Lyman. Due to the lathe boring process Lee uses, in conjunction with their multi tool CNC equipment I don't know why they don't offer an even larger variety?
They do not have any 6.5mm designs at all, yet they are capable of doing so. If you look at their various rifle bullet designs you can see that the drive band designs are carried from one bullet weight to the next, and in various callibers. This maximizes the utility of their tooling. The beauty here is that their tooling isn't really dependant upon the bullet's diameter.
Thier 30 caliber designs (largest offerings) are a prime example and are merely the same body with a longer bore riding nose tacked on.
While they have a pretty good selection in some calibers, there are also glaring holes, at least in my opinion. As mentioned, no 6.5mm. I'd have a light and heavy one. The 7mm is the next. While I have no experience with their 135gr slug, a friend uses it and likes it. However it would seem that a nice heavy one with a flat nose would be a seller.
Moving up, their C312-185R is a nice one. But here is where I'd add a heavier one, and then 2 fatter ones of median and heavy weight casting at LEAST .314". Then in the 8mm you have the same situation as the 7mm. They have a good useable design which a couple of my 8x57's shoot well, but again a heavier one sporting a FN would sure be nice.
And etcetera on up the list.
Finally, a pet peeve is that they have several current suitable designs that they could offer in their 6 cavity blocks, but don't.
I'm not privy to their books, nor am I a market analyst. They ARE in business to make money so I'm sure they have looked at lots of things. I can't say that they are unresponsive. To the benefit of many shooters they have provided many innovations. Plus they have been responsive and first out the door with a few mould designs and dies for oddballs, like the 8x56R as one example.
I guess as long as I'm praising and bagging on Lee I might as well bring up thier 1 and 2 cavity moulds. I would happily pay $30 for a set of upgraded blocks, on a par with their 6 cavity jobs. As they are, they're a great value for the money, as long as they last. Longevity is the issue as I've never had a problem with the quality of bullet they've dropped.
I would have the top of the blocks anodized. Secondly I would trash the rollerbearing they use for vertical alignment. Too small a surface area and it's steel on aluminum. VERY dependant on lube (hot aluminum is sticky) and the steel pin easily batters it's mating surface's edges without thoughtfull closing. If they'd provide the steel pin in the steel bushing like their 6 cavity blocks, they'd last at least 5 times as long as current carefull tender use provides.
Okay, rant off :rolleyes:.
04-25-2005, 06:49 PM
I think Lee is missing the boat by not making every boolit in 6 cavity, I will not buy another of their 1 or 2 cavity molds again.
04-25-2005, 10:27 PM
I have to agree that Lee should offer more styles. But I have to question the need for a hollow point in a .45? A semi wadcutter, if it will feed, or a truncated cone will do as well due to the diameter of the meplat. If you are shooting varmints though, I can see the fun in a hollow point. I loved them in a .357 when I owned some of those little guns. They are a pain to make so I quit. Bad enough making shotgun slugs with those plugs.
I have a hollow pointer for .22 bullets that works like a charm. Never figured out why someone never made them for other calibers.
04-27-2005, 09:14 PM
The primary intent of my post, and I probably didn't make it well, was that nobody else has as good a HP mould, I think, as Lee. Having that HP or HB stub is the best HP mould innovation I'm familiar with, and if they made a different HP pin, I think they'd really be giving us a darn good reason to buy even more of their moulds.
A buddy used two of those 358-150HP's (actually come out at 142 gr. with the HP) on deer. One bullet each, and they performed VERY well, and he (and this is a guy whose word I trust because he's probably shot more deer than a lot of folks have SEEN) said that the bullets were clearly superior to a plain SWC. One was shot from a .38 Sp. and the other from a .357, both 4" guns.
HP's can add expansion, and with good loads and solid lead alloys that don't chrystalize and break, can give BOTH expansion AND full penetration pretty easily. Our southern whitetails just aren't that hard to kill, and a .44 or .45 with a good sized HP should give way more than enough penetration while ALSO giving a bigger exit hole. Also, around here, there are so darn many tracks that if the hide covers the exit hole, as can often happen with a running deer that's been shot, tracking is something I'd rather NOT be doing when I could be home tasting some nice, fresh loin cuts and sipping a celebratory drink. I think the HP's, with a wide, parabolic HP pin, could really enhance many of their present bullets, and all they'd have to do is put a new pin in. I believe a grand total of a whopping 3 pin sizes would be all that would be needed.
They'd wind up with bullets comparable to the Lyman "Devastator" HP's, but in a mould that would help us produce more bullets per hour in our casting sessions, and less all-around trouble.
The .44 and .45 RNFP's and SWC's look like they'd really be improved, at least for smaller deer and game, by giving them the HP treatment and there'd be darn little expense, from a manufacturing perspective at least, in doing so. The .45 200-RNFP would also make a great candidate, I think, for a .45 ACP cast bullet. Pure lead alloys often offer better velocity than jacketed, and the proper alloys make up HP's that REALLY perform. You can also control rate of expansion by softening or hardening (to a point) the alloy, until you get just the performance you want for the purpose intended, and do it DANG cheap, too - NEVER a bad thing!
I just wondered if there might be enough interest in this and whether they might be interested if enough folks beseeched them for these.
I've almost always cast for volume, at least for everything except my BPCR, but when I want to or think I need to, I don't mind taking some extra pains for a particular purpose, and making good self defense or hunting bullets would be one of those times when I'd go for ultimate quality over volume.
It also just seems so dang EASY, and "cheap" for them to do that I can't understand why they haven't done it. If an ol' country boy down in Jawja can figure this out .... well, it just seems so darn logical, doesn't it???
04-28-2005, 04:20 AM
This being completely in the nature of a shot in the dark, but - Has anyone approached Lee about doing a special run of HP molds, much as they do the six cavity?
If it's as easy as suggested from a manufacturing/design point of view, and enough interest is created by special orders, it might open their eyes.
04-28-2005, 06:12 AM
I myself think what have far more utility is a hollow pointing attachment for the Wilson case trimmer, one where the boolit was a .0005 interferance fit in the case adaptor, you could thus cast a TON with normal methods, and then hollowpoint a few to whatever HP you prefer.
I also think such a tool could be used to square the bases on plain based cast boolits for match purposes.
if you have never used a wilson they are a "dead length" type setup where the item being cut to length actually bumps against a stop, they cut cases closer in length than you can measure with digital calipers, IE within .0005". The cases are put in a hollow sleeve where their body taper holds them from turning. There are far faster designs but none more accurate.
04-28-2005, 09:05 PM
Willbird, you certainly have a point, but I'm thinking more along the lines that Wayne is. After using the 45-190-HP and 357-150-HP's from Lee quite a bit, it would just seem easier and a lot faster in the long run to have a good HP mould, and IMO, Lee really makes the best one out there. I've got a 330 gr. Lyman/Gould mould for my .45/70's, but have yet to try it. Having to take the pin out and replace it for each bullet would seem to surely slow me down, but as I've said, I've yet to try it, so ....
Anyway, having used Lee's HP moulds quite a bit for quite a few years, the only thing I'd really like to see is a better (for some designs and purposes, at least) HP pin. I keep looking at that 45-230-TC, and thinking a parabolic HP pin that would leave the front of the bullet thick enough while letting the HP cavity go pretty deep, could be a darn near perfect bullet for the various .45's, including the Colt. The 45-255-SWC and RNFP's ought to be just dandy as well. Same for the .44's, and .357's, and maybe even a HP version of one of the 9mm. moulds, maybe?
The Lee design for the HP's is a darn fine one, since the bottom plate keeps that HP pin in place and lets you cast darn near as fast as a solid point version. Just seems like this type of design would have pretty broad based merit. With a GC bullet, we could use softer alloys for smaller stuff that we're not going to eat, too. That Lee 357-150-SWC sure does a fine job, usually acting sort of like a Nosler Partition, with the nose blowing up when cast of WW's, and petals thereof zinging all through radially, while the shank winds up like a full flat faced WC, and the nose of that generally expanding a bit. Add in some tin with the WW's and the nose petals stay on better and the bullet winds up being pretty impressive for its caliber when and if recovered.
On the other hand, the tiny dimple of a HP on the 45-190-SWC's never produced any expansion at all that I could detect. That bullet really needs a much better HP pin, especially in the .45 Auto.
I've got a suspicion that such a HP mould lineup (small at first, of course) could make some big waves in the CB world. Fast to cast, darned effective and impressive .... just seems like a "natural," to me.
Anyone think it would be worth beseeching Lee for something like this???? I really think they'd get TONS of "free press" from this, and maybe get more folks to casting, and maybe give us some better performance in the field for some applications, too, which is always a good thing. Not every game animal needs a WLN or WFN, and in fact, few do, really. The big caliber heavyweights seem like they'd make a big splash if the affair were handled right, and I think it would be. Penetration's great, no doubt about that, but for a lot of game, the bigger calibers have more than enough, and I think making those big bullets plow an even WIDER track might just be the cat's meow. I've toyed with this idea for some time, but have never posted it to a group of really good casters, and just wondered what you all would think.
The key I think would be a parabolic HP pin with a deep and wide HP, but with the parabolic curve keeping enough of sidewall thickness for the bullet to maintain its integrity. I think a lot more HP cast bullets would be shot if they could be cast nearly as fast as the solid ones, and Lee's design for the HP's surely is the best I've ever used.
Ballistics in Scotland
04-29-2005, 02:54 AM
I do notice that hollow-point moulds usually sell like hot cakes on eBay, so a demand obviously exists. Could it be that the manufacturers are afraid of legislation or court verdicts which would cut off the demand they'd invested in?
04-29-2005, 03:49 AM
Well a sort of in between proposition would be to convince Lee to make the HP pin easy to remove, and common between all HP molds, then making a custom one would be childs play.
I only ever bought one Lee HP mold and the pin was way off center....they however did cheerfully replace it with another mold, they no longer made the 357 HP like I had originally so we got a solid nose.
04-29-2005, 04:58 AM
Not every game animal needs a WLN or WFN, and in fact, few do, really. The big caliber heavyweights seem like they'd make a big splash if the affair were handled right, and I think it would be. Penetration's great, no doubt about that, but for a lot of game, the bigger calibers have more than enough, and I think making those big bullets plow an even WIDER track might just be the cat's meow. I've toyed with this idea for some time, but have never posted it to a group of really good casters, and just wondered what you all would think.
I don't mold my hollowpoints, I made a setup to drill them out which matters not. Bottom line is that I did experiment with hollow points and don't really recommend them below 45 caliber. The reason is bullet break up and then the final result on game. Smaller bores break up even if extremely soft metal is used. They just don't have the strength from a large enough diameter shank to maintain integrity. Death was either instantaneous or not at all. In the 45 bore, you really couldn't tell the difference between soft mix solids and hollow points until you got to 16 BHN. Then the mix became brittle enough that it broke up.
You could sort of control break up if you used a sharp knife and engraved a Y in the nose. Then fill the hollow point with candle wax and scrape the nose flat with the knife. The fragments went off at about 33 degree angles from the core and were about 55 grain / 22 caliber insize. (recovered off side) This left you with a large slug about 235 grains to plow through if you had a 400 grain bullet.
Here the effect was .... devastating. But so was meat damage. In the three deer that this was used upon, all shot in the same general location, the head and front quarters completely pulled off the body during skinning. So I abandoned the hollowpoint concept.
04-29-2005, 06:43 AM
Lee misses the boat with their single-cavity limitation on rifle molds, excepting the smaller/special run items. Taking Buckshot's idea a little further, I would gladly pay 30 bones for a 2-holer with the steel engagement points. Or--better yet--put up more designs in the 6-cavity block, cutting the number of holes to 3 or 4 if needed. They would sell like crazy, I'm sure.
04-30-2005, 07:40 AM
I just got my new Grafs catalog and no Lee H.P. molds are offered. I go to their site and look under closeouts and the 358 150 hp and 452 225 hp are selling at $13.59 if any one else wants to try this project. Gianni.
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