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Thread: Cast Bullet Loads for Military Rifles - Article

  1. #61
    Very nice info, indeed, well done,
    But i am a little hazardus to use the burn rate charts, cos i read in that articel or a equivalent of that powder, i asume he ment the burn rate card
    How does that burn rate card work??? are there some rules or calculating in it?

    With best regards parkerhale

  2. #62
    Boolit Bub
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    Can the 16 grn of 2400 apply to a 125-150 Grn. Jwort as a plinker also?

  3. #63
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    Troutman and parkerhale1200,
    Several of us shooting '03 sporters and M-1 Garands used 2400 for a long time, 12 gr minimum up to 21 gr, absolute max load with 175+/- gr bullets but 2400 would not burn clean, left partially burned powder in the bore of the M-1 and '03 rifles, accuracy was inconsistent, same with 4227. In an attempt to develop a lo-vel cast bullet turkey or hog load while hunting deer with jacketed ammo, I started with BE at 5 grains and increased to 8 or 9 gr that fouled the throat quickly, also tried Unique, same problem but had a can of 231 ball powder, worked up a load up to 14.5 gr, actually higher but settled on 14.5 gr as the fully hardened alloy of the 311(314)299 shot <1 MOA consistently and the cartridge cases (8 match prepped cases for neck sizing with Lee Collet) were fully fire formed by the powder charge unlike the lower charges of BE and Unique left headspace and primers backed out, not sure that was a problem unless shooting full power loads. I tried AA#2 (two) and stayed with it. Warning: use of that powder is not recommended by AA but several of us found it worked in nearly all rifles and pistols, shot clean and was not position sensitive or limited. I know the max load, never loaded it but eyeball each case with an LED light before loading a bullet. It is entirely possible to double charge light loads in rifles and such would damage the rifle and shooter; I have done that and ruined a bolt in a Swede. I had to taper the bullet to make a better seal at ignition, used a PVC wad as an additional gas check until got the taper as needed, left the wad off after that. I loaded my cases at the bench, powder charge with Lyman 55 measure and Lee dippers, Lee hand press. I have a shop full of equipment, not room for all of it either and need a mini-drill press if I can find one that fits.
    For rapid fire loads in timed stages, I used the RCBS 30-165-Sil and 36.5 to 38.5 gr of 4895-Surplus but prefer the 299 for those stages and finding about the same powder charges. Early on, I used 4831 at 49-51 gr, enough to cycle the M-1 action, both bullets.
    I developed AA#2 loads for 222, 250 Savage, 308, 35 Whelen, 45-70 and 458 Win Mag (450-500 gr loads up to 1500 MV was max for my 68 year old body and stayed with mostly sub-sonic loads), loads would hunt as were very accurate once bullet fit and hardness was established. We also shot recommended book loads at higher velocity but the fun part was best accuracy for a target load that would hunt as well at close ranges. We estimate a 30% case full is maximum depending on bullet weight but starting with lower charges, using a Chrony to watch out for increasing MV's as that means powder charge is too much, learned from experience.

  4. #64
    Boolit Master rattletrap1970's Avatar
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    I have an FN49 in 7x57. I have a bunch of GC'ed 287405 boolits weighing in at 153.6gr. The FN is of course a semi-auto and its used to a standard 7x57 load to function. Can you give me a ballpark to assure function?

    I'd like to use 4895 since that is used a lot to duplicate military loads. Is a gas checked cast boolit even remotely close to jacketed loadings if the boolit weight and desired velocity are similar?
    Last edited by rattletrap1970; 11-07-2013 at 06:03 PM.

  5. #65
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    Think that it should be a must for all mentors of new reloaders to recommend Ed's article, particularly if they are starting out with cast in a Milsurp!
    1Shirt!
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  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by rattletrap1970 View Post
    I have an FN49 in 7x57. I have a bunch of GC'ed 287405 boolits weighing in at 153.6gr. The FN is of course a semi-auto and its used to a standard 7x57 load to function. Can you give me a ballpark to assure function?

    I'd like to use 4895 since that is used a lot to duplicate military loads. Is a gas checked cast boolit even remotely close to jacketed loadings if the boolit weight and desired velocity are similar?
    Rattletrap,
    The cast bullet must first fit and then be hard enough to tolerate the inertia of the twist. Whatever the starting load of 4895 or other powders is, that should be tried first, not the full maximum load. If either of these conditions are not applied, the throat and bore may be fouled. I do the best I can to fit a bullet by tapering, seating Hornady gas check, sizing to groove or up to 0.003" over groove and then fully harden wheel weight alloy or half and half WW to pure/soft lead by heating to 450F in my oven for 45 minutes and then quickly quench in tap water, age at least 30 hours and then lube in the same size die. To find the minimum, smallest, groove, you could tap a cast bullet (never use a soft bullet as it will stick and at best will take many days to remove) if possible from the breech end and if not, from the muzzle end, mike the groove and bore if possible. To find the throat diameter, fill a full length sized cartridge with melted lead alloy, cool, and then drop an unsized cast bullet into the breech, allow the bolt to force the cartridge case to jam the bullet into the throat. Remove the cartridge and gently tap the bullet from the throat with a rod from the muzzle. Mike the bullet where it obviously engaged the throat. This is the maximum diameter for sizing diameter. If the bullet nose does not engage the lands, it may not made a difference but if it does engage/engrave, try to measure that diameter and try to find a way to taper the nose to that diameter. If that is done, the bullet will engage two points and fit best to reduce gas cutting of the bullet alloy and lube. In my case, I used a PVC vinyl wad of 0.062" or thinner and diameter of 0.003" larger than throat/groove, fit tight enough in the case neck and intimately against the bullet, not able to fall into the powder charge. In some loads, I had 100% density powder charge of a slower powder and PVC wad at the bottom of neck against the bullet and that worked fine. Do not preseat the wad, just push it in with the bullet on seating. Hope this helps.

  7. #67
    Boolit Master rattletrap1970's Avatar
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    My lead is a mix of WW and range lead with pewter added. I water drop after casting and age over a month easy. The bullets cannot be scratched with a fingernail. I do plan on melting all my lead ingots together and re pouring the ingots, mostly for uniformity of the alloy.

    I gotta slug my FN49, and 7.35 Carcano. My marlin 336 is shooting very nicely with the 222gr boolits single loaded. The m1 carbine is doing well. The Bolt guns aren't my biggest worry, but the FN49 and M1 garand I worry about functioning.

  8. #68
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Dusting off this old thread, when Ed Harris was still at the NRA and helping Col. E.H. Harrison with his cast loading experiments, prior to his going to Ruger in the 1980s, he was a regular at the Fairfax Rod & Gun Club near Manassas and was often on the benchrest range with Homer Culver and Frank Marshall. The 4895 he used was most likely pulldown salvage from Lake City cal. .30 or 7.62 ammo, as the guys on the VA State Team would get bulk powder in .50 cal. ammo cans and we would screen it to remove little bits of asphalt bullet sealant and the occasional M72 or M118 projectile that would fall into the can. When Ed went to Ruger he worked with Clint Fowler to develop what eventually became the Mini Thirty. He has always been into strange research projects, some of which were used successfully on behalf of our Nation in a parallel universe on another planet long ago and far away.

  9. #69
    Boolit Master rattletrap1970's Avatar
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    Ok, here is some odd and interesting info to me. I loaded up some 7x57 with 287405 bullets. I went with the Lyman's minimum load for that boolit in that caliber which was 22.0gr of SR4759. I initially seated the boolits at the max length for 7X57 (Of course the stock ammo is a jacketed Spire Point). Well, the ammo would not chamber, but cut some nice rifling grooves into the boolit. I gradually walked the seating length from 3.000 inches to 2.800 inches (till the bolt would close securely every time). Very much looking forward to trying these, but, alas, I'm done shooting for the day today.

    On a different note, but still a "Military" rifle, I will say that a 311284 seated to max length with 22.2 gr of SR4759 shoots outstandingly from a Fabrique National M1951 Army in .30-06. If I had optics I can guarantee this is a 1" to 1-1/2" shooter at 100 yards. Very pleasant to shoot also. 1559 ft/sec

    This same boolit in a Marlin 336 with 34.0 gr of H414 makes a 1" group at 50 yards to 1-1/2" at 100 yards. 1898 ft/sec

  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by rattletrap1970 View Post
    Ok, here is some odd and interesting info to me. I loaded up some 7x57 with 287405 bullets. I went with the Lyman's minimum load for that boolit in that caliber which was 22.0gr of SR4759. I initially seated the boolits at the max length for 7X57 (Of course the stock ammo is a jacketed Spire Point). Well, the ammo would not chamber, but cut some nice rifling grooves into the boolit. I gradually walked the seating length from 3.000 inches to 2.800 inches (till the bolt would close securely every time). Very much looking forward to trying these, but, alas, I'm done shooting for the day today.

    On a different note, but still a "Military" rifle, I will say that a 311284 seated to max length with 22.2 gr of SR4759 shoots outstandingly from a Fabrique National M1951 Army in .30-06. If I had optics I can guarantee this is a 1" to 1-1/2" shooter at 100 yards. Very pleasant to shoot also. 1559 ft/sec

    This same boolit in a Marlin 336 with 34.0 gr of H414 makes a 1" group at 50 yards to 1-1/2" at 100 yards. 1898 ft/sec
    rattletrap,
    I haven't shot my Marlin 336 30-30 in a long time, micro groove, loaded some light loads, 1300 fps, RCBS 30-180, used several different CB in it, for daughter but didn't go hunting. It was my first match rifle, did OK with light target loads.

    I have some SR4759, never shot any of it.

    I'm not familiar with the FN rifle, looked at it on wiki and did shoot the 284 in my '03 sporter early on, didn't work, shot RCBS 30-165-Sil for a long time, wore the throat in the 2-groove, changed to the longer 311/314299 and after a lot of tinkering with heat treat and tapering, got it to <1 MOA.

    I looked at the Lyman/Ideal 287405 Loverin style with a bunch of lube grooves, had some of those in 25 and 30 cal, would not shoot well, sold them. That style must be seated deep in the lube die just to size the gas check and top of bullet but not to lube the entire bullet. I lubed 1 or 2 grooves used in the 336 target loads, size first, adjust die for lube second. I even sized the nose down to .301 in a die but didn't help in 30-06.

  11. #71
    Boolit Mold 171raven's Avatar
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    wich of the hunting loads in the article would not need any filler? i'll be using the lee c312-185-1r in a mosin nagant 91/30 .3125 bore

  12. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by 171raven View Post
    wich of the hunting loads in the article would not need any filler? i'll be using the lee c312-185-1r in a mosin nagant 91/30 .3125 bore
    Raven, I assume you haven't shot jacketed bullets but if they are accurate enough, cast bullets are a good choice for hunting. I don't recommend fillers to everyone, can be and have been a serious problem with damages to rifle and shooter, are experimental loads for experienced experimenters and for rifle throats that are so large and long that no loads will shoot in them with any accuracy. For your rifle I would recommend you first find the throat origin and length by bumping a larger cast bullet 1/4" into the throat, remove it and measure throat origin past the neck chamber, groove if there and bore dimensions with a caliper or micrometer. If the Lee bullet is smaller than the throat origin you can try a safe powder load that will fill the case, slow 4831 types, that act as a filler, in loading manuals that give 2200 fps or more with no filler. Shoot 3 or 5 shots at whatever range to zero and if that works, keep the load. All partially burned powder, leading and carbon should be removed with a brass brush, wet and dry patches and take a good look for dark areas that may need further cleaning.

    If the cast load does not shoot well, misses the target, try at 25 yards to see if the bullet yaws or keyholes and if keyholes, try the same load with a reduced powder load of 4831 (or similar powder), a 1 cc or more filler of granulated Cream of Wheat, grits as a second choice, both having slight abrasive ability to clean a bore with each shot. Cornmeal is my choice now after finding loads that work but has little abrasive or cleaning ability, works only as a gas check to protect the bullet base and bullet lube. A thin wad should be placed over the powder charge, bent slightly to fit through the neck and tamped down flat with a dowel, then adding the filler, tamped down so that the bullet will seat and compress only slightly when seating the bullet in the seat die but not so much pressure that would bend or bump the bullet. COAL should be about 0.015" off the throat touching the bullet and hopefully will fit the magazine and feed properly. Such a load can be used with a soft 9-12 BHN alloy that will upset on impact with large game and work properly as a soft nose mushrooming jacketed load. A fully hardened WW or WW+soft lead mix, even some range scrap bullets will harden from heat treating at 450F and quenched, even one dropped in water from the mould will be more accurate in some rifles. These will need nose annealing if I previously described that; if not, let me know. I have used over powder wads and omitted some with no difference in quality and have fired some, 35 Whalen with 290 gr 358009, years later with no ill effects. There is more to consider but try that and if not successful, let me know and I have other means beyond that. Fillers do increase pressure especially with faster rifle powders and are definitely dangerous and foolish with fast pistol and shot shell powders. 1 or 2 cc's is not a problem if the powder charge has a pressure lower than faster powders. In some loads with a large rifle throat, I use a powder to fill the case, no filler and use a soft PVC vinyl wad of 0.041-0.075" thick cut to 0.003" larger than the throat under the bullet if there is room for the wad in the throat.

    There must be no airspace in these loads--full of powder, filler, wads such that seating the bullet will not let anything shift or mix together.
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  13. #73
    Boolit Bub Tomkitty's Avatar
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    This is a great article. I have had good success with the 150gr Lyman 311466 w/o gas check over 10 grs Trail Boss in my 1917 Enfield 30-06. Just like the article says, tumble-lubed cast boolits at about 22LR velocities are very accurate at 100 yds and fun to shoot. No leading problems and easy cleanup even after 60-70 rounds. Another good load in the 308 case is Lyman 31141 with gas check over 20 grs 5744. This is very similar to the 200-yd target load in Harris' post and is a good deer load out to 100 yds or so. I have killed several deer and feral hogs with that load. You don't have to use full power loads in any of the 308 to 30-06 size cases to have an effective and accurate hunting load.

  14. #74
    "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."

    I really enjoy reading through articles about cast reloading in rifle calibers, especially for military surplus rifles. I have been reloading for all of my rifles and handguns with cast bullets for years and was really struck by the quote above because it is surprisingly off-base. In fact, there have been numerous events that suggest the opposite is true, that using pistol powders in large volume cases without the use of fillers can lead to a phenomenon called detonation, where the extra volume contributes to all of the powder igniting at once (in many cases when the gun is tipped forward and all of the powder slides to the front of the case) causing extreme pressures and sometimes kaboom events (see link at the end of this entry). I routinely use PSB filler (Polyspherical Buffer) in all of my cast rifles loads with excellent results. This is likely the heaviest filler option, which would be the most likely to lead to pressure issues as mentioned above. With any filler, you simply need to account for the weight of the filler used, adding it to the bullet weight. For example, I reload for my Yugo M24/47 8mm Mauser using a 180 grain lead gas checked bullet. I cannot simply refer to 180 grain bullet reloading data when using fillers. If it will take 18 grains of PSB to fill up the rest of the case, you have to treat the load as if you're now firing a 198 grain bullet and recheck the load data to assure you're in an appropriate powder charge range with reference to the new bullet weight with filler included. One of my favorite loads for my 8mm Mauser is 26.0 grains of IMR4064 topped off with 18.0 grains of PSB to fill the case and add a slight compression to the powder once the bullet is seated. This is a nice tame load with regard to recoil and pressure. The velocity is under 2000 fps (probably around 1700-1800). I have shot tons of ammunition loaded this way through my Mauser and never once had an issue, no pressure signs on the cases, chamber looks the same as the day I bought it, and have reloaded the same modified 30-06 cases for most of that time (many reloads through them). It's a highly accurate load, right on with the sights all the way down at 100 yards and a pleasure to shoot.

    I bring this up because most reloading manuals and professional reloaders will tell you that the most accurate loads tend to be those where the case is full of powder up to the base of the bullet, if not a little bit compressed, with the bullet seated out as far as it takes to touch or nearly touch the lands (where the rifling in the barrel starts). Most military surplus rifle calibers being shot today were designed with jacketed bullets in mind and the powders evolved over time to suit these jacketed bullet loads. Because of this, you will be hard pressed to find a traditional rifle powder (and definitely no pistol powder) that will properly fill a military surplus rifle caliber case without yielding velocities too great for even gas checked bullets (much over 2000 fps is pushing it even for appropriate hard alloys with gas checks). While great results can be had with reduced loads (lowering the velocity) you can never really reach that perfect situation with a fully filled case under slight compression using these loads. This is where filler comes in. I have used dacron and a few others, but have really come to prefer the PSB. Much more uniform, much easier and faster to repeatedly/consistently weight out (just meter it through a powder measure), insulates the base of your bullet better from the powder blast, and even has a cleaning affect (no danger to the bore as it's a form or plastic). Just last week I shot 100 rounds with the above data through my Mauser, ran a dry bore snake through it, and the barrel was completely lead free and polished clean. Using appropriate rifle powders (appropriate charges obviously) with proper case filling/compression, leads to clean burns, zero leading, and superior accuracy. I like some of the reduced pistol loads for rifle calibers (using dacron instead of PSB because there's so much space to fill) and they can be quite accurate and super economical, but you'd really be missing out if you have never experienced the pleasure of a highly accurate, clean burning cast load with tradition powders and PSB filler. The stuff cleans your barrel a bit with each shot, making clean up at the end of the day a breeze. I have never read or seen anything credible to suggest that the use of traditional fillers (if done appropriately by adding the weight of the filler to the bullet weight) results in anything but an emulation of using a bullet of a higher weight with the same powder charge. Reloading cast rifle bullets can be done safely with fillers and not only will not damage your rifle, but will be easier on it than shooting military surplus ammo.

    Click here for more info on the possible hazards of using pistol powder in rifle cases without fillers

    Click here if interested in buying PSB. Precision Reloading sells it under the name "Spherical Shotshell Buffer."
    Last edited by DIYGunGuy; 04-02-2014 at 06:37 PM.

  15. #75
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    I use two boolits, 311291 and 311413 in both my 03-A3 and MI Garand. I use three different powders, 2400 (20 grains), 4895 (35 grains) and 4831 (43 grains).

    All loads are excellent performers on deer and antelope. The 20 grain 2400 load does not cycle the bolt in the MI. The 4895 and 4831 loads both cycle the bolt in the MI. I like to shoot all three loads in both rifles. All loads are very accurate.

    There is no leading with any of these loads.

  16. #76
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    Other than the link that diygunguy posted I have not seen much discussion on detonation effect with fast burning pistol powders however I have come across plenty of work on reduced loads with fast rifle powders and the SEE effect, (Brownell).

    I have shot 10s of thousands of rounds in most military calibres over the years with small loads of fast pistol powders and along with my fellow club members we have shot 100s of thousands of these loads with no issues to date.

    Someone with more skill that I can add to the statistical significance or otherwise of this, but me and my club members will continue to shoot small loads of fast pistol powders with gay abandon.

    Larry Gibson has provided us with a lot of information on his work with fillers and as far as I can recall he recommends them with rifle powders that have around 60% or greater fill. Larry I stand to be corrected as i am working from memory here which is getting more and more unreliable.


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  17. #77
    Boolit Master robertbank's Avatar
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    Compared to dromia my experience with small charges of fast burning powders is limited. That said my experiences mirrors his and his clubs.

    Take Care

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  18. #78
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    Dromia, I use 5 grains of Unique with the 358311 .38 special pistol bullet, plain base, in my 35 Whelen. I get one big hole, all bullets touching, at 50 yards. I use no filler. Good small game load, not much noise.

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    Thanks for another great article full of great info!

  20. #80
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    This continues to be a great thread. Regarding SEE - I'm only aware of it occurring with small charges of SLOW powders. All the research accomplished on this in the '60s and documented in the book Pressure Factors used 3031. If using powders quicker than 3031 I would not be too concerned. Slower - yes. The pressure traces with 3031 were very erratic with small charges but did not blow anything up. Based on the data in that work, I would definitely stay faster than 3031.

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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