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Thread: Casting Softnose Bullets From ANY Conventional Moulds

  1. #1
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    Casting Softnose Bullets From ANY Conventional Moulds

    This is the final distillation of how to use my results to cast your own SOFTPOINT boolits from any conventional (i.e.: base-pour) Lyman, RCBS, Lee etc mould.

    1. Decide how much of your boolit will be pure lead, and conjure a way of measuring that amount of pure lead. This can be via ladling liquid lead with a fabricated tiny dipper, perhaps a pistol cartridge case of the proper volume with a wire handle added. It can be via a "donor" pure-lead bullet of the correct weight, cast for this purpose, which will fit in the cavity of the mould to be used for making the softpoints. It can be a measured length of lead wire. It can be....?


    2. Get the full melting pot as HOT AS IT WILL GO, assuming an electrically-heated pot. Place the mould IN THE POT, in contact with the melt, and wait for it to get as hot as possible....several minutes at least. Then place the pure-lead component in the mould. We want it to melt and take on the form of the bullet nose.


    3. REMOVE the mould from the heat source, and ALLOW THE NOSE TO SOLIDIFY. THIS IS IMPORTANT, because it prevents the alloys from mixing, as they might do if the base is poured while the nose is still liquid.


    4. Once the nose is solidified, ADD THE HARDER SHANK METAL, leaving a generous sprue puddle on the plate, and again allow the alloy to solidify.


    ****************************************

    -----We now have two completely-separate hardnesses of alloy in the cavity, with a probably-weak attachment to each other and a visible joint or crease where the metals meet. This is where most earlier types of softpoint cast bullets run into possible trouble. To fix the potential weak point, we will......MAKE IT INTO A ONE-PART BOOLIT!!!!!

    *****************************************


    5. Place the filled mould, with its pure-lead and harder-alloy contents, IN CONTACT WITH THE TOP OF THE MELT IN THE FURNACE AGAIN. Watch until the entire sprue has remelted, maybe a couple of minutes or more, and then wait a minute or two after that sprue-melting occurs, before removing the mould from the heat. Waiting a bit longer ensures that everything in the cavity is DEFINITELY melted, and that's what we need.


    6. With a minimum of disturbance, agitation, vibration etc., place the bottom of the mould on a wet cloth pad and watch closely until the sprue solidifies again. Then, WAIT A MINUTE OR TWO LONGER before opening the mould, to absolutely ensure that the boolit has solidified in the cavity.


    *******************************


    We now have a harder-based, soft-nose cast boolit. It does NOT have a weak point at the juncture of the alloys, because we melted them together WITHOUT disturbing their orientation in the cavity. That is, the pure lead is still up-front, and the harder alloy is still in the shank.

    Production is obviously fairly slow, but we only need a handful of the softpoints for actual shots at animals. This is because our practice and zeroing can be done with NON-softnoses cast from exactly the same cavity. The minor weight difference due to the pure-lead component has no effect on zeroing or anything else.

    My current thinking is that about 1/2 of the length of the nose (of a bore-riding design) should be pure lead, on normal-weight for-caliber boolits (180-220/.30, 150/.270, 250-300/.338 etc.) With modern cartridges, where cast boolits normally aren't used (or useable) at the max speeds attainable in the cartridge, I suggest leaning to the heaviest possible cast bullet for best effect on game. Ergo, I'd use 220 grains in '06 or .300 Mags, 300 grains in .338, 300+ in a .375 H&H, etc. As we get up to .40-plus caliber, "normal" speeds for jacketed bullets can often be reached with cast loads as well. The .45-70 is the classic example, but the .404, .416, .458 and many others are equally adaptable to the cast softpoint for hunting purposes.

    The distribution of proportions of pure-lead to hard alloy is entirely under the control of the maker, of course. Some testing of personally-cast boolits on wetpack or water jugs will prove very interesting. My preference is to have a LOT of shank metal left if the softpoint should destroy itself on bone or whatever. This way the shank will keep penetrating due to decent remaining sectional density. Hence, my belief that having about half of the nose length in pure lead will be in the right area.

    Once decent accuracy is achieved in the 1800-2000+ fps speed range, the rifle will have enough reach (flatness of trajectory) to make 200 yard shots quite practical. My .416 with 365 at 2100 fps drops three inches at 200 yards from a 160-yard zero, and lands three inches high at 100 with the same sight setting. That is a highly-useable 200-yard load for elk, moose, deer, or whatever.

    I'm quite excited about the success of this development work. Cast softpoints have suffered an 'iffy' reputation for years, because most of them were in fact TWO-part bullets, and although some decent successes were reported with such bullets, there were also reports of the bullets coming apart on impact, meaning that the two "parts" would separate. I believe the tribulations of the earlier versions were avoidable by the simple procedure described above....get the two different alloys into proximity and in their correct locations, and re-melt them together. THEN, by George, we have a ONE-PIECE boolit, and no mistake.

    Look at the wide variety of nose shapes used in jacketed bullets, and realize that whatever the shape, almost all except the monometals such as Barnes use PURE LEAD (or nearly-so) to initiate their controlled expansion. To me, this also indicates that a pure-lead nose on a cast boolit of almost ANY shape will also expand easily on impact. I don't believe that "slumping" of the softnose under acceleration forces will be much of a factor at speeds up to 2000 fps. I believe that with boolits made as described here, my cast projectiles have arrived at a point where they don't give up much at all to the "more-modern" jacketed bullet in the hunting fields. I do however think that BIGGER cast bullets are better than smaller ones for hunting, and prefer to start my candidate rifles for CB hunting with the .338 and go up from there.

    I'm posting this so that newcomers to our Board don't have to trudge through the entire story of how I arrived at where I ended up on this search. Dare I say, it might warrant a sticky or "article" status, due to the fact that the topic comes up so frequently?
    Regards from BruceB in Nevada

    "The .30'06 is never a mistake." - Colonel Townsend Whelen

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Glen's Avatar
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    Ross Seyfried outlined a similar (and simpler) method for making this kind of bullet several years ago in Handloader. His approach requires having two lead pots -- the first filled with pure lead (or at a soft alloy) and the second filled with a harder alloy (like WW). A small dipper is made with a small caliber pistol case and piece of coat hanger (for the handle), and the dipper was filled with lead and poured into the mould cavity. As soon as the lead solidified, then the mould was placed under the pour spout of the second lead pot and topped off with the harder alloy. By casting the second alloy when the first is still hot, the two alloys form a solder joint and fuse together. This approach makes good hunting bullets, and obviates the need to heat the mould up and wait for it to cool back down, etc.
    Glen

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glen View Post
    Ross Seyfried outlined a similar (and simpler) method for making this kind of bullet several years ago in Handloader. His approach requires having two lead pots -- the first filled with pure lead (or at a soft alloy) and the second filled with a harder alloy (like WW). A small dipper is made with a small caliber pistol case and piece of coat hanger (for the handle), and the dipper was filled with lead and poured into the mould cavity. As soon as the lead solidified, then the mould was placed under the pour spout of the second lead pot and topped off with the harder alloy. By casting the second alloy when the first is still hot, the two alloys form a solder joint and fuse together. This approach makes good hunting bullets, and obviates the need to heat the mould up and wait for it to cool back down, etc.
    Glen ...you will see in that Handloader #222 article by Seyfried that there IS a joint and or wrinkles where the bullets fuse....He says there is no problem with this.....maybe so, maybe not, that is speculation.....If you follow the method outlined above by BruceB there will be NO visable joint or wrinkles....maybe just a slight change in color.....I have tested the nose and bases on bullets casted like BruceB suggested on my LBT hardness tester and you can see that there is no complete mixing of the base alloy and the pure Pb nose materail like you get when you pour the base alloy into a mold with unsolidified pure Pb nose....
    Try it for yourself and see........

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    Howdy, Glen.

    I'm a great fan of Ross Seyfried's writings, and I remember that article very well. Still have it here somewhere.

    His article about cast softpoints was one more nudge in the direction of doing it myself, and so were some others dating back right to the dawn of the smokeless era.

    If you look at the photos of his cast softpoints, you can actually SEE the area of my greatest concern. There are clearly-visible joints between soft and hard, with creases, wrinkles and other imperfections. Cosmetically, this doesn't bother me. FUNCTIONALLY, it concerns me a good bit, and this is why I set out on my personal campaign.

    By the visible surface imperfections, it is clear that the internal bond may not be as secure and uniform as "I" like. Therefore I set out to see if it could be improved to meet "my" requirements. I have succeeded, and can make two-alloy bullets with NO IMPERFECTIONS, and with only the differing colors of the alloys to show the differentiation.

    Yep, Ross has a "simpler" system. I don't think that the degree of simplicity has much implication when only a dozen or so bullets will take care of several hunts, at least. What DOES have serious implications for me, is that I want any bullet I fire at an animal to be the very best I can obtain, and in the case of cast bullets, that means a bullet that is as good as I can possibly make, with the minimum possibilities for failure on a game animal. I'm not happy with cast bullets (for any purpose) which plainly show imperfections, and PARTICULARLY so, if I intend to fire them at game which deserves the cleanest, fastest death I can inflict.

    Hence my campaign to do BETTER than the cast softpoints about which I've occasionally read over the course of four or five decades. Mine look better than those with which Ross illustrated his Handloader article, and they look better than any others I've seen illustrated over the years. By "better", I mean that there are no imperfections around the area where the alloys meet.

    It's as simple as that...if I can't make softpoint bullets which are satisfactory to me, I won't take them hunting. Others are free to do as they will, of course.
    Last edited by BruceB; 12-26-2006 at 07:54 PM.
    Regards from BruceB in Nevada

    "The .30'06 is never a mistake." - Colonel Townsend Whelen

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    I got considerally LESS than the amount of linotype back when I fired these bullets into DRY phone books and about 8-9" of penetration. 1 1/2" wound channels with about an inch damage beyond where the bullets stopped. Starting weight was 240+gas check and lube,recovered weight was 107+ and 114+ grains.These same bullets of lyman #2 went 19+" in WET phone books at 25 yards.(the 2 alloy bullets were shot at 50 yards). 358318 lyman mold.

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    Boolit Man rebliss's Avatar
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    BruceB: I'd enjoy seeing a picture of one of your 'finished' soft-points, if you could get one to show the color difference you're talking about. Also, if you have any of spent bullets, that would be good too.

    Thanks for posting this thread.

    -Rob

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    I'm hoping to try this "Version 2.0 Method" of Bruce's in the next little while. My earlier efforts with the first method worked well--tested molds were the Lee 405 grain and the Mtn. Molds 9.3mm x 270 grains. Even with pouring the hot shank metal into melted nose portions, there is a definite demarcation between the two alloys. After 2 weeks of "aging", the transition is more pronounced, but there is no visible "seam" per se.
    I don't paint bullets. I like Black Rifle Coffee. Sacred cows are always fair game. California is to the United States what Syria is to Russia and North Korea is to China/South Korea/Japan--a Hermit Kingdom detached from the real world and led by delusional maniacs, an economic and social basket case sustained by "foreign" aid so as to not lose military bases.

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    Boolit Master Vly's Avatar
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    Nice write up, Bruce. I think that deserves to be a sticky so folks can find it easily.

    My only question is, do you think there is the potential to damage the mould by leaving it in the melt for that length of time? I stick a corner of the mould in to warm it up, but this method goes beyond that. Also, does the mould material - iron/aluminum/brass - make a difference?

    Thanks

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    Howdy, Vly. Nice to see your handle again.

    So far, I've only used three or four moulds to make softpoints. None were brass, but I have used both aluminum and iron moulds for the job. I haven't noticed any problems so far (and I have been watching closely).

    I believe the heating takes place rather uniformly when the entire mould is half-submerged in the melt (I generally get the furnace FULL and immerse the blocks right up to the bottom of the handle "prongs").

    No warpage or other damage has come to light so far.

    Our digital camera is mammaries-to-the-sky right now, and I haven't mastered the art of posting photos yet, anyway. Maybe what I'll do is make up an assortment of shapes and sizes in softpoint form and ship the boolits to someone to photograph and post on this thread. Maybe Buckshot would be willing, or someone else???
    Regards from BruceB in Nevada

    "The .30'06 is never a mistake." - Colonel Townsend Whelen

  10. #10
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    I tend to think that warpage comes from different metals expanding at different rates, as well as a single metalic item not being made homogeneous enough when different elements are involved (i.e., any alloy). In very particular to this discussion, warpage can be promoted by having tight fitting screws because different whole metals are in direct contact. In general, make sure there is some obvious slack between all unlike parts like mold handles, screws, and the blocks. In other words, all fairly loose fitting between them. ... felix
    felix

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    Boolit Master Vly's Avatar
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    Thanks Bruce and Felix for the responses. What Felix says about warpage makes sense. I think I'll have to give this a try as cabin fever sets in.

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    Photographer needed...apply within

    A picture really is worth a thousand words....sometimes.

    I went out back and cast a few softpoints in hopes that some kind soul will volunteer to take pictures of 'em, and post them on this thread.

    There are four bullets all wrapped-up and ready to mail:

    1. A Lee .338-220, with softpoint poured via a dipper made from a .32ACP case, about 80 grains of pure lead.

    2. A PAIR of NEI 421-390s (for my .404 Jeffery), cast simultaneously in a 2-cavity mould as an experiment. It worked, and I have two good softpoints cast at the same time. The dipper was made from a 9x19 case, and throws about 120 grains of pure lead. I have high hopes for this design, as it will run just as fast as the famed African factory loads for the .404, used on everything up to and including elephant......no, I'm not over-run with pachyderms, but JUST IN CASE....it should kill an elk, anyways!

    3. A 457125 Lyman 500-grain roundnose, with 180 grains of pure lead from a .40 S&W "dipper". This one was cast some weeks ago, and the pure lead has darkened very noticeably...today's boolits have very shiny softpoints.

    The bullets are all just as they fell from the mould, with no cosmetic work or anything else.

    I hope the pictures, if we can get some, will show the color demarcation. It's very plain to see with boolits in hand....in photos, I dunno.

    Anyone?
    Regards from BruceB in Nevada

    "The .30'06 is never a mistake." - Colonel Townsend Whelen

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    Boolit Master Vly's Avatar
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    Talking I have a digital camera

    I'm not a photographer - I'm just a guy with a digital camera and a Fototime account. But the macro function works reasonably well and I would be happy to give it a shot. If someone who is a real photographer pipes up, I would be happy to defer.

    Bruce - I will send a PM with address, but if you line up someone more qualified that is fine with me.

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    Stand by here; Daughter has been assisting, and I MAY have a photo!

    .338 on the left, two 421-390s, and the 457125. ****, they look ugly when blown-up this big.

    I'll get this figured out to use a smaller-size photo, but this will give y'all a REAL close-up. The shinier pure lead can be seen on the noses of the first three, and the darker oxidized stuff is plainly visible on the 500 RN.

    Even under this much magnification, note that there are NO FLAWS OF ANY DESCRIPTION around the juncture of pure lead to wheelweight alloy!

    Last edited by BruceB; 12-27-2006 at 11:37 PM.
    Regards from BruceB in Nevada

    "The .30'06 is never a mistake." - Colonel Townsend Whelen

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    Bruce, been watching the growth of your SP technique for months and you've really got something. Every objection I could think of has been met with your method. Makes me wish I had one of those rifles that starts with the number "4" to try it in. Great pictures, too. (I see you went with the conventional wisdom on the high-tech photography-get a young 'un to do it for you!)
    Eagles have talons, buzzards don't. The Second Amendment empowers us to be eagles. curmudgeon

  16. #16
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    In a Lee 6 gang mould .
    Do you think I could do all 6 or just try 1 or 2 cavitys ?

    I was going to try it with a 8mm GB and 44 Ranch Dog mould

    If I did 2 cavitys , would there be a better 2 ?

    Johnch
    Yea, thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
    And I carry a SIG

  17. #17
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    NVcurmudgeon: "Makes me wish I had one of those rifles that starts with the number "4" to try it in."

    (Ahem) NVC; You will note, dear Sir, that the left-hand softpoint boolit in the photo is a .338, and it's my understanding that you still own and treasure a .35 Whelen...... which is larger-bored than said .338....meaning that you don't need a ".40-plus" rifle to try the softpoint method.

    I'm going to try making some .30 softpoints soon, but as I've already stated my preference is to start my cast-bullet hunting calibers with the .338 bore and go upwards in caliber from there. The smaller the caliber, the better such things as using lead wire or pure-lead donor bullets look to me. I suspect that pouring from a makeshift dipper into a .30 mould might be a bit more awkward than in .338-and-up moulds.


    Johnch; I'm at a bit of a loss to answer your query about using the 6-banger for this softpoint procedure. I've never owned one myself. The only reservation I have is whether or not the bigger blocks could be gotten up to high-enough temperature. I think if I were going to try it with the big LEE mould, the first attempt would be made with only the first cavity, the one furthest from the handle end. This is due to the difficulty of immersing the entire block for heating. This will be a chance for 6-cavity owners to try something different, for sure.
    Regards from BruceB in Nevada

    "The .30'06 is never a mistake." - Colonel Townsend Whelen

  18. #18
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnch View Post
    In a Lee 6 gang mould .
    Do you think I could do all 6 or just try 1 or 2 cavitys ?

    I was going to try it with a 8mm GB and 44 Ranch Dog mould

    If I did 2 cavitys , would there be a better 2 ?

    Johnch
    Johnch... I have'nt tried using a 6 cav. for BruceB's version2 softnose boolit.....but I'm thinking a hot plate mite work for reheating....I used a propane camp burner to reheat my two cav. molds but would probably set an old Skill Saw blade over the flame to distribute the heat better if using a 6 cav.....If you try a hot plate please post if it works or not......
    Last edited by Nrut; 12-28-2006 at 12:55 PM.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master

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    Tonight I used my 6 gang Ranch Dog 44 and a .360 180 gr GB mould to make soft points at the same time
    I used a old 9" SS frying pan and a 1000 watt single burner for the soft lead and the 20 lb bottom pour pot for the WW
    I filled the frying pan 2/3 full of almost pure lead

    I followed BruceB's directions
    But I did all 6 cavitys at a time
    I was able to put both moulds in the pan to preheat or remelt the slug at the same time
    I then sat the mould with the remelted slugs on a piece of wood to cool enough .
    That gave me enough time to use the other mould

    I did then water drop the bullets , but only to cool them and keep the limmited work area clear of clutter


    I probely got 200+ of each tonight , not sure how long it took .
    I was casting other stuff before and after I did the soft points
    Not bad IMO

    Johnch
    Yea, thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
    And I carry a SIG

  20. #20
    Boolit Master

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    Boy John it's going to take alot of killin' to use up 200 softnose cast boolits!.
    Last edited by Nrut; 01-04-2007 at 11:57 PM.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check