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Thread: 458 Win Mag Cast Load Data and Musings

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    458 Win Mag Cast Load Data and Musings

    Having shot and loaded cast for big bore lever guns for many years, I’d always wanted an accurate .45 caliber bolt gun to load 325 to 550 grain cast bullets in the 1300 to 2200 fps range with at least for me the most interesting being between 1600 to 1800 with the lightest to the heaviest. I didn’t want to have a custom chambered rifle made (458 American would have been a good one), and prefer Mauser controlled feed actions. I settled on a Winchester Super Express in 458 Winchester Magnum and got it late last year. I could have gotten one of the Zastava action 458’s, but I prefer the New Haven Winchesters with their modified pre 64 action and original trigger.

    There is some, but not a wealth of information available on the net on loading cast in the 458 Winchester, and what info is available seldom gives all the specifics of the load, especially 100 yard accuracy. Also, enthusiasts keep chiming in on their Ruger No. 1 loads, which in most cases doesn’t translate to a bolt gun, in most cases because of OAL issues. I’d like to keep comments limited to loads for bolt action rifles only, keeping to OAL limitations, and with bullets crimped in their crimping grooves, i.e. with no exposed grease grooves. Perhaps then we can have in one place a decent reference to share our experience with the 458 Win Mag bolt gun.

    What I’d like to do is provide information to help the 458 bolt gun shooter understand his rifle, and provide my experience with reloading cast in this caliber. Available 458’s come in two flavors. One are the magnum Mausers most from Zastava and imported over the years by many. The others are standard action length like my Winchester and most other manufacturers. The difference obviously is in the OAL available. Standard length actions have OAL of about 3.4 inches. Magnum Mausers have AOL limitation of about 3.7 inches.

    What does this mean? Well, to the jacketed bullet shooter it means a bunch, and to the cast shooter not so much. Let’s look at a 458 Win Mag chamber drawing. Copyright laws won't let me post the image, but you can find and save it here.

    http://www.saami.org/PubResources/CC...r%20Magnum.pdf

    Whoa! That chamber looks like a cast bullet shooters worst nightmare. A throat that’s over 1.1 inches long and tapered to boot. Hmmmm, a taper from .469 to groove diameter. One of the first things we learn is to size cast to be over groove diameter and fill the throat. Obviously, that isn’t going to happen. Next we learn to load cast to be a snug fit against the leade, or at least engrave a bore riding nose. Guess that isn’t going to happen either. Looking at the throat diameter it’s pretty clear we can’t cast them that fat. Even with a magnum Mauser action and 3.7 inch OAL it would take a cast bullet with a NOSE 1.2 inches long to get close to the origin of the rifling. With at least one caliber groove riding base, and a bore riding nose, the bullet would have to weight over 700 grains. With a standard action length AOL of 3.4 inches it’s impossible. As an aside, I said earlier that the longer OAL of 3.7 is an advantage to the jacketed shooter and it is, as 500 grain jacketed bullets are over 1.4 inches long and can be easily loaded to be close to the origin of the rifling and gain 0.3 inches of case volume available for powder or pressure reduction. For the cast bullet shooter who has to keep his grease grooves inside the case, it is of no benefit, as a 550 grain cast bullet has a nose of approximately 0.8 inches, giving an OAL of approximately 3.3 inches which fits in a standard length action. Basically, this means that even with the longest realistic bullets we can use, that the bullet will never (almost) touch the throat, and the closest it gets to the origin of the rifling is about 0.3 inches.

    One other point. Notice that the twist on the 458 Winchester is 1 in 14. Who came up with that? A twist that fast is not necessary for jacketed bullets much heavier than usually used in the 458. Much more sensible for the bore would be around 1 in 20. A hard jacket on a groove riding bullet 1.4 inches long can take the stress, but it’s a lot to ask of a lead alloy bullet with from around 0.45 to 0.7 of groove riding base and front band, even with a nice bore riding nose. With most of the bullets available, they are completely unsupported leaving the case until they slam into the origin of the rifling.

    Does this mean that a 458 Win Mag can’t shoot cast bullets accurately? No, it doesn’t. What it means is that you have to mitigate as best you can all the things that are going against you to give your bullet all the help you can.

    These are my conclusions, and I’ll try to support them as best I can based on over 2000 rounds sent downrange to date. All of the bullets I’ve cast and shot are sized 0.460, are gas checked, and lubed with Alox/beeswax. Primers are WLR. All bullets are moderately crimped in the crimping groove with a Lee factory crimp die.

    1. Use a harder bullet than you think is necessary for the velocity. The slam into the origin of the rifling and the fast twist requires this, especially the lighter the bullet. Having had 300-350 grain bullets keyhole at Brinell 12 until I got to a harder alloy confirmed this. The gas checked bullets also help with handling the twist. The slowest I’ve shot these has been 1600 fps and shot reliably to about 2100 with Brinell around 15. They should be more accurate with water dropped alloy of Brinell 18. I’ve not done it yet, but next on my list is to use water dropped and heat treated WW and redo the higher velocity testing.
    2. Cast as fat as you can and still have room for the case to open up and release the bullet. Look at the chamber drawing. For me, sizing .460 gives me a couple thousands at the case mouth and is .002 over groove diameter. Using your fired brass, this centers things up in the chamber nicely. Don’t know if it is a major contributor to accuracy, but the .460 diameter also centers the bullet in the throat before it enters the origin of the rifling (remember the tapered throat).
    3. In every case where there is less than 100% loading density use a filler. There are members that are using shotgun granular fillers with great success. I do not. I’ve been using starch based packing peanuts from Office Depot (kudos to Bullshop) with very good results. To me they are easier to use without having to figure out how much and weigh for every load. The peanuts will put moderate compression on the powder keeping it where it should be. Velocity with and without has shown lower SD in velocity. Accuracy in all cases with is markedly greater with than without. Why? I can’t prove it, but I think that the filler acts as a sabot to help protect the bullet from gas cutting in that cavernous throat and helps center the bullet. Maybe so, maybe not, but it works.
    4. Use a longer (yes heavier) bullet with a long bore riding nose. A 550 grain bullet is approximately 1.3 inches long. The bore riding nose of the bullet should then be entering the origin of the rifling while the base is still centered in the case. This is a good thing. Lyman used to make the 460560 which was about 550 grains and had a nice bore riding nose. However, it was designed to be loaded at 3.16 inch OAL. Mountain Molds made one to my design that weighs 550 grains, but has a 0.8 inch bore riding nose for an OAL of 3.3 inches. Remember that the .460 front band is centering the bullet in the throat.

    The bullets used for testing are as follows:

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    You will recognize the first two as one of the group buys from NOE. They also cast the solid nose version of 350 and 425 grains. All of the loads tested used 45R Gator gas checks.

    I started by working up light loads. From my 45-70 experience I felt that Unique and 2400 would be the way to go. I chose 2400 because it had worked well with the packing peanut filler and I was going to use them, and I had 8 pounds of 2400 on hand.

    The rifle is a Winchester 70 Super Express with control feed with a 22 inch barrel. I did not rebed the action. Both lugs were correctly bedded and the forearm has full length contact. I changed the action screws to allen head to facilitate takedown and putting consistent torque in tightening the screws. The trigger was worked to 4 pounds with no creep. The scope is a Leupold Vari X III 1.5x5 set at 5 power. I should have put a higher power scope on it for accuracy testing. I do not have a baseline on this rifle with jacketed, so I really don’t know what it’s ultimately capable of shooting. All loads were tested at 100 yards shooting from sandbag rest and represent 5 shot groups. All loads were reshot on multiple days to confirm results. All loads were worked up using the range of charges from reputable reloading manuals, and the best results are shown. Velocities listed are from chronograph except where listed as estimated.

    These loads can basically be found in Lyman’s Cast Bullet Handbook Third Edition.

    Light loads:

    1. 325 grain HP GC, 15 Brinell alloy, sized .460, 28 grains 2400 with whole packing peanut, WLR primer, 2.90 inch OAL, velocity 1620 fps. Groups: 0.8, 1.25, 1.07, 0.77
    2. 395 grain HP GC, 15 Brinell alloy, sized .460, 28 grains 2400 with whole packing peanut, WLR primer, 2.90 inch OAL, velocity 1560 fps. Groups: 1.8, 2.0, 1.37. 1.67, 1.6
    3. 540 grain FP GC, 15 Brinell alloy, sized .460, 28 grains 2400 with whole packing peanut, WLR primer, 3.3 inch OAL, velocity 1320 fps. Groups: 1.5, 1.4, 1.2, 1.3

    I was very surprised at these results, not that 2400 was a good powder for light loads, as it is very accurate in a 45-70, but that it would perform this well in a 458 chambered rifle. The first two bullets were designed for use in the 45-70. I originally shot these made of 12 Brinell alloy which works fine at this velocity in 45-70 and other calibers but shot groups around 4 inches at these velocities. I plan on running this series again with water dropped alloy that is giving me a Brinell of about 18 or better. Don’t want to get into oven heat treating, but if harder continues to be better, may ultimately give it a try. Even if this was the best I could do with these bullets and velocities, these loads will do just fine for hunting anything in the US.

    Medium loads:

    1. 325 grain HP GC, 15 Brinell alloy, sized .460, 66 grains IMR 3031 with one third packing peanut, WLR primer, 2.90 inch OAL, velocity 2200 fps. Groups: 2.2, 1.6, 2.3, 2.3, 1.5, 1.5
    2. 395 grain HP GC, 15 Brinell alloy, sized .460, 66 grains IMR 3031 with one third packing peanut, WLR primer, 2.90 inch OAL, velocity 2120 fps. Groups: 2.3, 1.5, 2.0, 1.5, 1.9
    3. 540 grain FP GC Haven’t shot these yet but have a series loaded using 5744 around 1600 fps, and IMR 3031 around 1900 fps. Also trying a load based on WW 760 velocity yet to be determined.

    The first two loads will be repeated with water dropped alloy as I think it will result in an improvement. Again, both of the loads listed would make excellent hunting loads with a trajectory for about a 200 yard maximum point blank range.

    I’ll eventually get into heavy load development but please post your results.

    As I continue on this project, I’ll continue to post results maybe with pictures of groups, bullets, etc. for comment.

    I’d appreciate it if the thread could stay on topic, i.e. cast bullets and loads for 458 Winchester Magnum Bolt Action Rifles with 100 yard 5 shot minimum group reporting. Please, if you want an in depth discussion of how 458 recoil causes brain tumors and other bodily damage, or how lower than recommended charges (severe low loading density) of slow burning powders are dangerous, or other off topic subjects, start another thread.

    Maybe we can develop a meaningful reference for those wanting to make their 458 Win Mags fun shooting cast bullet guns.
    Last edited by paborn; 08-13-2011 at 04:55 PM. Reason: actual velocities

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Will be following this thread with great interest. Want to start in on cast .458's for a similar platform. Thanks for such an ernest effort.

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy
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    If anyone is thinking of shooting a 458 bore bolt gun with cast and has yet to purchase the rifle, they might consider the CZ 550 American 458 Lott. The reason I say this is not for an increase in power level, but for the advantages of the 458 Lott chamber. The case capacity approximates a 45-110 Sharps. Take a look:

    http://www.saami.org/PubResources/CC...458%20Lott.pdf

    Here we have a chamber that is much more friendly to cast bullets. The straight, short, 0.459 throat would easily allow loading cast bullets with the front band touching the origin of the rifling, and a bore riding nose to enter and align the bullet. With the 2.8 inch case length and a 0.8 inch bore riding nose on a 550 grain bullet, the OAL would be 3.6 inches which is just about perfect for the Magnum Mauser action.

    If I had figured this all out before I bought my Model 70, I'd have gotten one of the CZ in 458 Lott.
    Last edited by paborn; 07-29-2011 at 09:53 AM.

  4. #4
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    paborn


    My Colt/Sauer Grand African .458 Win Mag.

    I have had this rifle about 15 years and only fired a handful of factory loads. I've fired many thousand rounds with the Lee 457-340 RN-F in various hardness but have settled on a BHN 14 alloy from 7:3 Wheel weight : Linotype. I have 2 molds in this Lee boolit, a single cavity and a double cavity. Both drop .460 to .461" boolits and they weigh an average of 329 grains with my alloy.

    My bore slugs at .4570" and I size these plain based boolits at .459" for my rifle. The rifle is used for Deer and Bear in New York State and is my favorite recreational bench rifle with a wonderful trigger pull at 2 pounds 10 ounces.

    With years of experimentation, I believe my pet load is in the precise sweet spot for my rifle with the boolit and loading I use. It will group consistently less than 1 inch at 50 yards and I have had at least 10 groups less than 1 inch at 100 yards. All testing was with 5 shot timed groups with 5 minutes between shots and a single pull of a Hoppe's Bore Snake between groups. The 100 yard groups were with plus-minus 1 grain weight matched boolits. Other test loads and hunting loads do not use weight matched boolits.

    My load:

    Winchester Brass, trimmed 2.495"
    Lee Cast 457-340- RN-F at BHN 14, 329 grains and sized .459"
    Boolits tumble lubed once before sizing, twice after with LLA or 45:45:10
    Primer: CCI 200
    *LOA: 3.150"
    Charge: 53.3 grains H4895
    Filler: 25.2 gr PSB or 15.4 gr BPI Original with equal accuracy
    Load Density ~ 105%
    Crimp: Lee Factory .004"
    Velocity: 1610 fps verified, statistically equal with either filler.

    *My lube grooves are exposed, seating to the crimp groove more than doubles group size.

    A half grain up or down from the listed charge decreases accuracy in my rifle. LOA variation up or down more than .010" also decreases accuracy.

    My Ballistics:


    Gary
    Last edited by onondaga; 07-26-2011 at 10:07 AM.

  5. #5
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    paborn

    Quote, paborn:

    Id like to keep comments limited to loads for bolt action rifles only, keeping to OAL limitations, and with bullets crimped in their crimping grooves, i.e. with no exposed grease grooves. Perhaps then we can have in one place a decent reference to share our experience with the 458 Win Mag bolt gun.

    I do not understand your reasoning for this statement. Limiting cartridge LOA by crimp groove completely removes a large factor for developing accuracy toward the potential of a specific rifle, it's dimensions, likes and dislikes. These are the reasons I cast and load my own ammunition. Please explain to me why you consider this so important that you would like to "Keep comments limited" over such a minute detail of ammunition that is traditionally accepted. That does not make sense to me.

    Additionally, regarding your desired velocities as stated in your post:
    "being between 1600 to 1800 with the lightest to the heaviest"
    These are not hot loads and a good fit of boolit to case would realistically not even need a crimp at all. I only crimp lightly to control tension on the boolit for ignition pressure with low variance, not because I worry about boolits setting back in the magazine from recoil with reduced velocity loads at 1600 to 1800 fps in a bolt action rifle.

    Exposure of lube grooves has no detrimental effect on ballistics unless contaminants are introduced to the lube from poor storage and handling. Other than that, exposed lube grooves are only an aesthetic visual portion of loaded cast boolit ammunition and traditionally accepted for well over a century. Please explain to me why you consider this so important that you would like to "Keep comments limited" over such a minute detail of ammunition that is traditionally accepted. That does not make sense to me and I think your group of limitations will be very counterproductive to gaining the collection of load data quantity that you appear to seek as a goal in your post .

    Gary

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy
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    Gary:

    Thank you for posting the load data in your first post and pointing out that it results in exposed grease grooves. I solicit other members to submit their favorite loads and shooting results.

    With regard to your second post, I feel that any response I would make would be counterproductive to the intent of the thread.

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    paborn

    You are a riot! I am liking you. Wish you the best!

    Gary

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy
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    While surfing the net for 458 Win reloading data I found the following as a resource from CASTPICS

    http://www.castpics.net/project2/Cas...php?start=5701

    It's enough interesting info on charge ranges with a variety of bullet weights to keep me thinking and busy for awhile.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
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    Every once in awhile, I have a really exceptional day at the range. Today I went to shoot an already developed load to have some fun at the 200 and 300 yard gongs at the range (Also a good way to determine if the bullet is stable at that range). We have some really heavy steel 8" gongs at 200 and 300 yards. Had 50 rounds of the MM460550 Lyman #2 loaded with 28 grains of 2400 that I ran over the cronograph and got an average of 1310 fps. My balistics program says with a 100 yard zero, i need 11.5 minutes to hit at 200 yards, and 25.3 minutes to hit at 300 yards. With my Leupold Vari-X III 1.5x5 set at 3.2 power, there is 11.5 minutes elevation if I use the bottom post as an aiming point. If I use 1.5 power, the bottom post gives me the required 25.3 minutes if I use the post a little proud on the target. It was a very calm day, and 20 rounds at each range hit the gongs with only one miss low at 300. The fun part of shooting heavy and slow with a rainbow trajectory is shooting, having time to reaquire the target, watch it move, and later hear the "clank".

    I also had a chance to run a series using this bullet and WW 760. I've gotten good results in the past with cast using powders a little slower than usually used to get medium range velocities with good loading densities.

    Medium Loads:

    1. 540 grain FP GC, 15 Brinell alloy, sized .460, 65 grains WW 760 with one half packing peanut, WLR primer, 3.3 inch OAL, velocity 1450 fps. Groups: 1.4, 1.7, 2.0, 1.8

    2. 540 grain FP GC, 15 Brinell alloy, sized .460, 66 grains WW 760 with one half packing peanut, WLR primer, 3.3 inch OAL, velocity 1525 fps. Groups: 1.0, 0.96, 1.4, 1.1, 1.3

    Really happy with the 66 grain load and may load 20 rounds with weight segregated bullets as it shows real promise. The top right and bottom left groups are this load. The bottom right is the 65 grain load.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    3. 540 grain FP GC, 15 Brinell alloy, sized .460, 40 grains AA 5744 with one packing peanut, WLR primer, 3.3 inch OAL, velocity 1630 fps. Groups: 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.2

    4. 540 grain FP GC, 18 Brinell alloy (water dropped #2), sized .460, 45 grains AA 5744 with one packing peanut, WLR primer, 3.3 inch OAL, velocity estimate 1750 fps. Groups: 1.6, 1.7
    Last edited by paborn; 08-27-2011 at 04:56 PM. Reason: Added data

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
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    Additional

    As time permits, I continue to work on 458 Win Mag loads with the bullets originally listed.

    1. 540 grain FP GC, 15 Brinell alloy, sized .460, 74 grains WW 748 (lightly compressed charge), WLR primer, 3.3 inch OAL, velocity 1870 fps. Groups: 1.23, 1.09

    2. 540 grain FP GC, 15 Brinell alloy, sized .460, 74 grains WW 760 (lightly compressed charge), WLR primer, 3.3 inch OAL, velocity 1700 fps. Groups: 0.8

    3. 540 grain FP GC, 15 Brinell alloy, sized .460, 46 grains AA 5744 with one packing peanut, WLR primer, 3.3 inch OAL, velocity 1750 fps. Groups: 1.65

    4. 395 grain HP GC, 15 Brinell alloy, sized .460, 67 grains IMR 3031 , WLR primer, 3.0inch OAL (crimped in first grease groove), velocity 2200 fps. Groups: 1.1, 1.8, 1.4

    One group does not a load make, but #2 looks interesting. I'll load up 20 more and confirm the results.

    I've started load development for heavy loads with the MM 550460 and starting to see decent results with IMR 3031 and 748, but the going is slower. Working on the 2000-2200 fps range.

    No. one is the two left groups. Top middle is No. 2. Bottom middle is No. 3. Top to bottom right is No. 4.


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    Last edited by paborn; 10-26-2011 at 11:35 AM.

  11. #11
    Boolit Mold
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    Paborn,

    Thanks for putting this project together. I've been a big fan of large bore bolt guns for some time. However, since I shoot left handed I'm limited to Ruger #1's. I have one of those in .458 and like it so much I'm converting a Ruger 77 to that calibre. I have shot numerous cast boolits, from Mt. Baldy Bullits, and settled on his 510 gr. gc (mountain mould and water quenched) with 66 gr. of 3031 at 1960 fps. He has a mould for a 710 gr. gc that shoots well with 56 gr. of 3031 (1600 fps) but we have never been able to recover one. Reloader 7 works well with the 510 but is not as accurate.

    When "my project Ruger" is finished I expect to be doing considerable load development with cast boolits and hope to gain some insite from your results.

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
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    If you are going to the expense of rebarreling and rechambering a Ruger 77, I'd give serious consideration to eliminating the SAAMI 1.1 inch tapered freebore. At the very least eliminate the taper and I think .459 would work well with cast and have no problem with factory ammo. The actual freebore necessary to feed factory ammo would depend on OAL and nose shape, but I doubt it would be longer than 0.6 inches.

    It sure would make life easier to develop accurate loads.

    Paborn

  13. #13
    Boolit Master DUKE NUKEM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paborn View Post
    416

    If you are going to the expense of rebarreling and rechambering a Ruger 77, I'd give serious consideration to eliminating the SAAMI 1.1 inch tapered freebore. At the very least eliminate the taper and I think .459 would work well with cast and have no problem with factory ammo. The actual freebore necessary to feed factory ammo would depend on OAL and nose shape, but I doubt it would be longer than 0.6 inches.

    It sure would make life easier to develop accurate loads.

    Paborn
    Agreed.

  14. #14
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    Since I had shot my .458 Win. Mag. Ruger M77 alot back in the 80's and 90's, I went back and looked up my load data for you. I was shooting a cast RN GC boolit that weighed 530 gr. with lube and GC. It was loaded with a CCI 250 primer and 58.0 gr. IMR3031. Average velocity was 1900 fps, and it produced a 5-shot group (according to my notes) of under a silver dollar at 100 yards. It became one of my "established" loads used for hunting and range use after that.
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  15. #15
    Boolit Man
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    I built a 458 on a 98 mauser with a E R Shaw barrel. I ordered the barrel with the 1 in 22 twist usually reserved for the 45-70. I have had no trouble stabilizing 500 gr boolits.
    I use 21gr of Unique behind a 300gr gc RCBS with no filler.(nice plinker load)
    500 gr Lee gc with 45 4198 gives 1750 fps and over 3000fp with acceptable accuracy.

    Make sure you don't have any loose fillings when you shoot the 500gr load.

    I have not had good results with any plain base boolits in my 458.
    Having said that, I am going to try the Lee 400gr hollow base (casts at .461) with black powder. The 458 has the same case capacity as the 45-90, so I will use loading data from the 45-90

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    I'm in the process of joining the 458 WM cadre. I picked up a 45-70 Ruger #1 takeoff barrel a couple of years ago and just picked up tang safety 7mm mag Ruger 77. So I spent some time in the shop and fit the #1 barrel to the M77 action and run a 458 reamer into the barrel. I need to modify the stock to fit the slightly fatter barrel contour, but it looks like I'm going to have a spiffy light weight big bore castboolit shooter.

    John

  17. #17
    Boolit Master nanuk's Avatar
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    how much more threads do you need to cut to get the #1 barrel to fit the M77?

    or is it the M77 barrel threads are shorter than the #1...
    I am ONLY responsible for what I Say!
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  18. #18
    Boolit Master DUKE NUKEM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricksplace View Post
    500 gr Lee gc with 45 4198 gives 1750 fps and over 3000fp with acceptable accuracy.

    Make sure you don't have any loose fillings when you shoot the 500gr load.
    That could be backed down to 38 or 40 grains right? Hodgden or IMR?

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Talking

    If I remember right I used 66 grains of IMR 3031 with Lymans 457125 bullet I my 458 Winchester magnum.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by nanuk View Post
    how much more threads do you need to cut to get the #1 barrel to fit the M77?

    or is it the M77 barrel threads are shorter than the #1...
    The threaded shank on the #1 barrel is longer than that of the M77. Not a huge amount, about the depth of the of the extractor cut on the #1 barrel.

    John

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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