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Thread: Cast Bullet Loads for Military Rifles - Article

  1. #21
    Boolit Master Ricochet's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    Bristol, Tennessee, USA


    Moly coated? Let us know how that works. Some have reported poor results with moly coating on otherwise unlubed cast boolits.

    As for the other question, if I saw "4895" with no other qualification I'd expect it meant the old IMR 4895, as it was around long before Hodgdon's. But the IMR formula changed several years ago, and now Hodgdon sells both and they may (probably do) come from the same source.
    "A cheerful heart is good medicine."

  2. #22
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    texas city tx.

    case bullets for 24/47

    I think you missed your rifle my only one number. I've thinking you have a yugo 24/47. I've got several and Had many others. they usually have very good barrels' and I just haven't gotten around to trying lead bullets in any of mine.
    That said I would think a 24/47 will lead bullets would be a very accurate rifle.
    They are in 8mm for sure.
    Yes, you can trim and resize 30-06 brass to 8mm, use a case gage to get the length right. (like with a file ) I resized 7.62x54 R to 8X56r. I"ve made 9x18 brass out of 9mm luger.
    and yes, I reload most mil. supplus ammo and/or pistol ammo. My Dillon does it all (and I reload berdan brass in rifle cal. only, I've got the primers)

  3. #23
    Boolit Mold overbore's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
    I am new to your excellent forum but a 50+ year reloader-my grandson is loading .223's. I have a bunch of old 4831 ( Bruce in plastic bag type) and think that a hotter , magnum,. primer will burn more of the slow sticks with a 33291 cast pill. Anyone have threads or experience with 4831 and this boolit? Yes, I know 25.5 of 4895 but I have to find home for the surplus powder as the newer powders have a specific purpose-now that they my be "precious" or had to find or fund. Many thanks, Overbore

  4. #24
    Moderator Emeritus
    dromia's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    UK. Sutherland & Co Durham
    Hi overbore and a big welcome to the site.

    I don't have experience of the subject of your question to give you an answer, but I'm sure if you do a search of Cast Boolits you'll get some relevant information.

    For fine firearms and shooting requisites visit my Web Site by clicking the link below:

    Pukka Bundhooks

  5. #25
    Boolit Master at Heaven's Range 2010

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    Feb 2007


    I use lyman 311291 with 13 gr red dot in all my military rifles in the 30 cal.
    and Lee 312-160 tl in the 30s my 1903 at 100yds groups in 1"
    also 13 gr in other military rifles
    this also was a Harris recomended load.

  6. #26
    Boolit Mold Abu Josh's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
    California, grid MS 875392

    Thumbs up Thanks for the info!

    This article has everything that hours of net searching couldn't provide.

  7. #27
    Boolit Buddy Mtman314's Avatar
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    Feb 2009
    I live in the back hills in montana no phone, no tv, not many human visitors
    thanks for the article. things like this is one of the reasons I joined.

  8. #28
    Boolit Mold
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    Oct 2006
    Hinterlands of Wisconsin
    I have found that 15 grains of Unique behind a Lee 312 165 2R w/GC (drops at .314), sized to .312 works exceptionally well in both my 1941 Lithgow and my Mosins. No pressure signs, average of 1620 fps (chrono at 15'), and very, very accurate. Planning on using a similar load behind the Lee 329 205 1R sized to .324 for my Commission 88, either that or 21 grains of H4198, but I've had issues with full burn on low power loads.

  9. #29
    Boolit Master Texasflyboy's Avatar
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    May 2005
    Quote Originally Posted by versifier View Post
    That's great news Bruce. I'm glad it was just a rumor and will inform the guy that mentioned it. Do you know if he is still writing? It's been a long time since I've seen his name on an article in American Rifleman, maybe he has found another outlet.
    Ed hasn't retired, either from working or writing. His "other" outlet is the Fouling Shot Newsletter. He lives about 15 minutes from me. One of the surprises I discovered moving from Texas to Virginia was running into him here (where we both live). The first time we met was at a local watering hole for beers and chili. Ed's a fascinating fellow. I brought a 15 lb. block of pure lead to our first meet, as my personal calling card. He was tickled about that.

    Ed still writes, or is writing, but I think he enjoys shooting more. I've been watching him work up quite an extensive article on casting hollow point bullets. Simply amazing the performance he's been getting with lead H.P. loads for the .32 caliber pistols. I envy, really envy, his collection of Hollow Point moulds.

    Ed hangs out daily over at the Cast Bullet Association. He knows well our of existence here, but seems happy and at home over at CBA. From time to time I go over there to check out the topics, but here seems more like home for me rather than over there. I think (but he's never told me) that he feels the same way about CBA. He teases me from time to time about the "BOO lits" place, but its good natured ribbing and taken as such. We each have our home.

    From talking to him at the Thursday shooting sessions, and over a cold beverage from time to time, he has a lifetime of very very interesting stories from his time at Ruger and NRA. He hasn't written for NRA for some time, his reasons are well founded. His interest is clearly technical performance from an engineering perspective.

    A finer engineer mind I've never met.

    If anyone has questions for him I will be happy to include them in the next conversation or you can drop by where he hangs out on the web. He's not hard to find.



  10. #30
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Quote Originally Posted by jonk View Post
    Hmm, who would have thought that I got a rare bird? I got the .30 Lee mold in 130 gr at a gunshow, just sitting used on the table. I wasn't aware it wasn't a regular production piece.

    I did read the whole article. I've read the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook cover to cover several times, minus reading the charts and tables at the end- the first time straight through, then in pieces as needed. I fully acknowledge that despite this and having cast a lot, I'm ignorant of a lot as well, particularly in terms of what bullet works with what twist/barrel length, etc., and with what powder- or what probably will.

    Still, I hold by what I said, that it must have been written awhile ago. Like, ahem, a lot of folks of 'older habits' to use your words, he still calls it Hercules 2400- when surely, as anyone knows, it is and has been ALLIANT 2400 for years now. Same mentality has folks calling the CMP the DCM still, etc; you use the parlance you grew up with. I am NOT flaming the information- I said right up, always still a good read- just that I have seen this article and derivations of it, oh, I dunno, at least 50 times online.
    You know it's dated because of Hercules and he hasn't invented ED's Red yet, still using Hoppe's and GI bore cleaner.

    I agree still good info as usual.

    good luck

  11. #31
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Northern WI Gods Country!
    That post is just the high points of the article that was posted in the 1994 Handloader Digest Thirteenth Edition. The Origional Article is 8 to 9 pages long including pictures. It was that article that got me started using 2400 for my go to for rifles cast bullet powder. It is worth it to find a copy of that book just for that one article.
    A gun is like a parachute: If you need one and don't have one, you won't be needing one again.

  12. #32
    Boolit Mold
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    W. Az
    Anyone have suggestions on what to use for .308 loads using a 108gr M160 bullet. I only have 1 .308 rifle as an Enfield MkIII. Looking for any substitute for the SR8074 bulk powder. I have the Talon manufacturers loading book it only lists SR8074 powder. Would 700X, 4198, H380, H110, blue dot, W760, Win 696, win 680 or bullseye get me anywhere? I do not have any cast bullet loading data for rifles, only handguns.

  13. #33
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    South Central Texas
    This is fantastic information. Had it and lost it when I had to reformat the HD and then forgot about it (but not 16 gr of 2400).

    OK, got it again and this time Word and Excel stuff are saved only to data drives, never to the operating system drive.

  14. #34
    Boolit Master
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    Dec 2009
    Quote Originally Posted by Ricochet View Post
    Moly coated? Let us know how that works. Some have reported poor results with moly coating on otherwise unlubed cast boolits.

    As for the other question, if I saw "4895" with no other qualification I'd expect it meant the old IMR 4895, as it was around long before Hodgdon's. But the IMR formula changed several years ago, and now Hodgdon sells both and they may (probably do) come from the same source.
    Way I've heard it Hodgdon'd 4895 was originally surplus military IMR 4895, the slight differences in burning rates over the years were due to long term underground storage of the powder in bags in a couple of old box cars he'd buried on some farmland he owned.
    When the surplus powder ran short, or possibly had begun to degrade, he sent samples from the best remaing bags in his stash to a cartridge company in Scotland asking that they find a duplicate formula which mimicked the burning rate of the samples. They copied the slightly degraded sample rather than fresk IMR 4895.
    Later he sent the formula to the Australian ADI company. ADI had instituted advanced methods of purifying the ingrediants for their single base powders, and when they began production the result was a much improved powder that mimicked the older powder in burning rate while out performing it in consistency, temperature stability, and shelf life.

    I had not used 4895 before, since until recently my big bore guns were usually short rifles and I wanted a faster burning powder for light loads, IMR 4198, IMR 4227, and had experimented with several others and found IMR 4320 a good powder for the .303 with light bullets.

    Recently I aquired a fine SMLE with tighter than spec barrel of .311 major dia, very uncommon for a military Enfield barrel, so I started looking for other powders to try. The choice turned out to be limited, local shops carry very little in reloading supplies these days, so I picked up one can of IMR 4320 and One of H4895, the last of each on the shelves.

    The new IMR 4007 SSC sounds promising , with suggested .303 loads giving very low pressures even at velocities matching the MkVII at the same bullet weight, but its not available locally as of yet.

  15. #35
    Boolit Master on Heavens Range
    felix's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    fort smith ar
    Rex, there are many versions of 4895, and they are within 10 percent variance for the most part. All are single base and within a friendly burn speed, so it would not hurt to assume 15 percent variance when deciding on an initial load via the "books". ... felix

  16. #36
    Boolit Mold teddy_r's Avatar
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    Dec 2009
    Seattle, WA
    Quote Originally Posted by exile View Post
    Can anyone tell me the date of that article by Harris? I enjoy his articles on cast bullets. Thanks.
    Hi -

    The date on that CE Harris article was referenced as appearing in Shotgun News , Vol 52, Issue 21, July 20. 1998 on pages 12-13. The link should appear below my signature - hope that helps.


    Last edited by teddy_r; 12-28-2009 at 03:11 AM. Reason: issue number incorrect

  17. #37
    Boolit Buddy
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    Dec 2006
    Is there confussion between Col. E. (Edward?) H. Harrison of the NRA publication and Ed Harris of Ed's Red? Bud

  18. #38
    Boolit Buddy bullbarrel033's Avatar
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    Aug 2009

    RCBS 82014/M98 Mauser

    Quote Originally Posted by robertbank View Post
    The following is a very good read with excellent information:


    Cast bullets can make shooting that surplus rifle easy and economical.
    And basic data works for many different guns.

    BY C.E. Harris

    Cast bullet loads usually give a more useful zero at practical field ranges with military battle sights than do full power loads. Nothing is more frustrating than a military rifle that shoots a foot high at 100 yards with surplus ammo when the sight is as low as it will go! Do not use inert fillers (Dacron or kapok) to take up excess empty space in the case. This was once common practice, but it raises chamber pressure and under certain conditions contributes to chamber ringing. If a particular load will not work well without a filler, the powder is not suitable for those conditions of loading. Four load classifications from Mattern (1932) cover all uses for the cast bullet military rifle. I worked up equivalent charges to obtain the desired velocity ranges with modern powders, which provide a sound basis for loading cast bullets in any post-1898 military rifle from 7mm to 8mm:

    1. 125 grain plain based "small game/gallery" 900-1000 f.p.s., 5 grains of Bullseye or equivalent.

    2. 150 grain plain based "100-yard target/small game", 1050-1250 f.p.s., 7 grains of Bullseye or equivalent.

    3. 170-180 grain gas checked "200 yard target", 1500-1600 f.p.s., 16 grains of Hercules #2400 or equivalent.

    4. 180-200 grain gas-checked "deer/600 yard target", 1750-1850 f.p.s., 26 grains of RL-7 or equivalent.

    None of these loads are maximum when used in full-sized rifle cases such as the 30-40 Krag, .303 British, 7.65 Argentine, 7.7 Jap, 7.62x54R Russian , or 30-06. They can be used as basic load data in most modern military rifles of 7mm or larger, with a standard weight cast bullet for the caliber, such as 140-170 grains in the 7x57, 150-180 grains in the .30 calibers, and 150-190 grains in the 8mm. For bores smaller than 7mm, consult published data.

    The Small Game or Gallery" Load

    The 110-115 grain bullets intended for the .30 carbine and .32-20 Winchester, such as the Lyman #3118, #311008, #311359, or #311316 are not as accurate as heavier ones like the #311291. There isn't a readily available .30 caliber cast small game bullet of the proper 125-130 grain weight. LBT makes a 130 grain flat-nosed gas-check bullet for the .32 H&R Magnum which is ideal for this purpose. I recommend it highly, particularly if you own a .32 revolver.

    The "100 Yard Target and Small Game" Load

    I use Mattern's plain-based "100 yard target load" to use up my minor visual defect culls for offhand and rapid-fire 100 yard practice. I substitute my usual gas-checked bullets, but without the gas-check. I started doing this in 1963 with the Lyman #311291. Today I use the Lee .312-155-2R, or the similar tumble-lubed design TL.312-160-2R. Most of my rifle shooting is done with these two basic designs.

    Bullets I intend for plain based loads are blunted using a flat-nosed top punch in my lubricator, providing a 1/8" flat which makes them more effective on small game and clearly distinguishes them from my heavier gas-checked loads. This makes more sense to me than casting different bullets.

    Bullet preparation is easy. I visually inspect each run of bullets and throw those with gross defects into the scrap box for remelting. Bullets with minor visual defects are tumble-lubed in Lee Liquid Alox without sizing, and are used for plain base plinkers. Bullets which are visually perfect are weighed and sorted into groups of +/- 0.5 grain for use in 200 yard matches. Gas checks are pressed onto bullet bases by hand prior to running into the lubricator-sizer. For gas-check bullets loaded without the gas- checks, for cases like the .303 British, 7.62 NATO, 7.62x54R Russian and 30-06, I use 6-7 grains of almost any fast burning powder. These include, but are not limited to Bullseye, WW231, SR-7625, Green Dot, Red Dot or 700-X. I have also had fine results with 8 to 9 grains of medium rate burning pistol or shotgun powders, such as Unique, PB, Herco, or SR-4756 in any case of .303 British or larger.

    In the 7.62x39 case, use no more than 4 grains of the fast burning powders mentioned or 5 grains of the shotgun powders. Theses make accurate 50 yard small game loads which let you operate the action manually and save your precious cases. These plinkers are more accurate than you can hold.

    Repeated loading of rimless cases with very mild loads results in the primer blast shoving the shoulder back, unless flash holes are enlarged with a No. 39 drill bit to 0.099" diameter. Cases which are so modified must never be used with full powered loads! Always identify cases which are so modified by filing a deep groove across the rim and labeling them clearly to prevent their inadvertent use. For this reason on I prefer to do my plain based practice shooting in rimmed cases like the 30-30, 30-40 Krag, 303 British and 7.62x54R which maintain positive headspace on the rim and are not subject to this limitation.

    The Harris "Subsonic Target" Compromise

    Mattern liked a velocity of around 1250 f.p.s. for his 100 yard target load because this was common with the lead bullet .32-40 target rifles of his era. I have found grouping is best with non gas- checked bullets in military rifles at lower velocities approaching match grade .22 long rifle ammunition. I use my "Subsonic Target" load at around 1050-1100 f.p.s. to replace both Mattern's "small game" and "100 yard target" loads, though I have lumped it with the latter since it really serves the same purpose. It's report is only a modest "pop" rather than a "crack".

    If elongated bullet holes and enlarged groups indicate marginal bullet stability, increase the charge no more than a full grain from the minimum recommended, if needed to get consistent accuracy. If this doesn't work, try a bullet which is more blunt and short for its weight because it will be more easily stabilized. If this doesn't do the trick, you must change to a gas-checked bullet and a heavier load.

    The Workhorse Load - Mattern's "200 yard Target"

    My favorite load is the most accurate. Mattern's so-called "200 yard target load." I expect 10 shot groups at 200 yards, firing prone rapid with sling to average 4-5". I shoot high Sharpshooter, low Expert scores across the course with an issue 03A3 or M1917, shooting in a cloth coat, using may cast bullet loads. The power of this load approximates the 32-40, inadequate for deer by today's standards. Mattern's "200 yard target load" is easy to assemble. Because it is a mild load, soft scrap alloys usually give better accuracy than harder ones, such as linotype. Local military collector-shooters have standardized on 16 grains of #2400 as the "universal" prescription. It gives around 1500 f.p.s. with a 150-180 grain cast bullet in almost any military caliber. We use 16 grains of #2400 as our reference standard, just as high power competitors use 168 Sierra Match Kings and 4895.

    The only common military rifle cartridge in which 16 grains of #2400 provides a maximum load, and which must not be exceeded, is in the tiny 7.63x39mm case. Most SKS rifles will function reliably with charges of #2400 as light as 14 grains with the Lee 312-155-2R at around 1500 f.p.s. I designed this bullet especially for the 7.62x39, but it works very well as a light bullet in any .30 or .303 caliber rifle.

    Sixteen Grains of #2400 is the Universal Load

    The same 16 grain charge of #2400 is universal for all calibers as a starting load. It is mild and accurate in any larger military case from a 30-40 Krag or .303 British up through a 30-06 or 7.9x57, with standard weight bullets of suitable diameter for the caliber. This is my recommendation for anybody trying cast bullets loads for the first time in a military rifle without prior load development. I say this because #2400 is not "position sensitive", requires no fiber fillers to ensure uniform ignition, and actually groups better when you stripper-clip load the rifle and bang them off, rather than tipping the muzzle up to position the powder charge.

    Similar ballistics can be obtained with other powders in any case from 7.62x39 to 30-06 size. If you don't have Hercules #2400, you can freely substitute 17 grains of IMR or H4227, 18 grains of 4198, 21 grains of Reloder 7, 24 grains of IMR 3031, or 25.5 grains of 4895 for comparable results.

    However, these other powders may give some vertical stringing in cases larger than the 7.62x39 unless the charge is positioned against the primer by tipping the muzzle up before firing. Hercules #2400 does not require this precaution. Don't ask me why. Hercules #2400 usually gives tight clusters only within a narrow range of charge weights within a grain or so, and the "universal" 16 grain load is almost always the best. Believe me, we have spent a lot of time trying to improve on this, and you can take our word for it.

    The beauty of the "200 yard target load" at about 1500 f.p.s. is that it can be assembled from bullets cast from the cheapest, inexpensive scrap alloy, and fired all day without having to clean the bore. It always works. Leading is never a problem. Once a uniform bore condition is established, the rifle behaves like a .22 match rifle, perhaps needing a warming shot or two if it has cooled, but otherwise being remarkably consistent.

    The only thing I do after a day's shooting with this load is to swab the bore with a couple of wet patches of GI bore cleaner or Hoppe's, and let it soak until the next match. I then follow with three dry patches prior to firing. It takes only about three foulers to get the 03A3 to settle into tight little clusters again.

    "Deer and Long Range Target Load"

    Mattern's "deer and 600 yard target load" can be assembled in cases of 30-40 Krag capacity or larger up to 30-06 using 18-21 grains of #2400 or 4227, 22-25 grains of 4198, 25-28 grains of RL-7 or 27-30 grains of 4895, which give from 1700-1800 f.p.s., depending on the case size. These charges must not be used in cases smaller than the 303 British without cross checking against published data! The minimum charge should always be used initially, and the charge adjusted within the specified range only as necessary to get best grouping.

    Popular folklore suggests a barrel must be near perfect for good results with cast bullets, but this is mostly bunk, though you may have to be persistent.

    I have a rusty-bored Finnish M28/30 which I have shot extensively, in making direct comparisons with the same batches of loads on the same day with a mint M28 and there was no difference. The secret in getting a worn bore to shoot acceptably is to remove all prior fouling and corrosion. Then you must continue to clean the bore "thoroughly and often" until it maintains a consistent bore condition over the long term. You must also keep cast bullet loads under 1800 f.p.s. for hunting and under 1600 f.p.s. for target work.

    A cleaned and restored bore will usually give good accuracy with cast bullet loads if the bullet fits the chamber throat properly, is well lubricated and the velocities are kept below 1800 f.p.s.

    The distinction between throat diameter and groove diameter in determining proper bullet size is important. If you are unable to determine throat diameter from a chamber cast, a rule of thumb is to size bullets .002" over groove diameter, such as .310" for a 30-06, .312" for a 7.63x54R and .314" for a .303 British.

    "Oversized 30's", like the .303 British, 7.7 Jap, 7.65 Argentine, and 7.62x39 Russian frequently give poor accuracy with .30 caliber cast bullets designed for U.S. barrels having .300 bore and .308 groove dimensions. This is because the part of the bullet ahead of the driving bands receives no guidance from the lands in barrel s of larger bore diameter. The quick rule of thumb to checking proper fit of the forepart is to insert the bullet, nose first, into the muzzle. If it enters clear up to the front driving band without being noticeably engraved, accuracy will seldom be satisfactory.

    The forepart is not too large if loaded rounds can be chambered with only slight resistance, the bullet does not telescope back into the case, or stick in the throat when extracted without firing. A properly fitting cast bullet should engrave the forepart positively with the lands, and be no more than .001" under chamber throat diameter on the driving bands. Cast bullets with a tapered forepart at least .002" over bore diameter give the best results.

    Many pre-WWII Russian rifles of US make, and later Finnish reworks, particularly those with Swiss barrels by the firm SIG, have very snug chamber necks and cannot be used with bullets over .311" diameter unless case necks are reamed or outside turned to .011" wall thickness to provide safe clearance.

    Bullets with a large forepart, like the Lee 312-155-2R or Lyman #314299 work best with the 7.62x54R because the forcing cones are large and gradual. Standard .30 caliber gas-checks are correct.

    Finnish 7.62x54R, Russian 7.62x39 and 7.65 Argentine barrels are smaller than Russian 7.62x54R, Chinese 7.62x39, Jap 7.7 or .303 British barrels, and usually have standard .300" bore diameter. (Finnish barrels occasionally are as small as .298") and groove diameters of .310 -.3115".

    In getting the best grouping with iron sighted military rifles, eyesight is the limiting factor. Anybody over age 40 who shoots iron sights should equip himself with a "Farr-Sight" from Gil Hebard or Brownell's. This adjustable aperture for your eyeglass frame was intended for indoor pistol shooters, but it helps my iron sight rifle shooting, and adds about 5 points to my score!

    So now you have enough fundamentals to get started. If you want to have fun, give that old military rifle a try. You'll never know the fun you've been missing until you try it!
    Thanks for your excellent info! I am using 7grains AP50N (same as W231) behind the RCBS 82014 (180gr fn) in my Mauser not sure of velocity yet but it shoots gr8!!

  19. #39
    Boolit Buddy Papa smurf's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    East Springfield Pa.
    C. E. (Ed) Harris is very much alive. He also has a web page The Frugal Rifleman,a really good read,lots of info.
    Good Shooting---------------------------------- Papa Smurf

  20. #40
    Boolit Master

    miestro_jerry's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
    Far Eastern Ohio
    You can find Ed over at the Cast Bullet Association website where he is a regular.

    Honor is a Way of Life

    NRA Benefactor Life Member

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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