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Thread: AR-15 500 Round Cast Bullet Test

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub
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    AR-15 500 Round Cast Bullet Test

    Recently I was wondering about shooting cast bullets out of an AR-15. In checking the web all I found was much discussion about how you could not use cast bullets in an AR-15, and like most things on the web, there were lots of opinions with few them based on actual information. So I thought I would conduct a test of cast bullets in the AR-15 by firing 500 rounds through one and see how it went. The primary focus of the test was to see if cast bullets could reliably function in an AR-15, with accuracy a secondary issue.

    I used a Colt A2 upper with a 20Ē barrel with a 1 X 12Ē twist. It appears to be a Model 1 Sales barrel that does not appear to be chrome lined. I shot all targets at 25 yards because as stated the primary goal of the test was 100% functioning of the gun with cast bullets, not finding the most accurate load. I also decided not to clean the gun during the duration of the test to see if a build up of lead or lube would cause any malfunctions.

    I got on EBAY and found a Lyman 224415 single cavity die and a 224 sizing die for sale at a very reasonable price, so I bought them.



    My standard load for 223 is 26 grains of WW-748 behind either a 55 grain or 62 grain milsurp bullet. When I tried that load with the cast bullet, I ended up with a silver soldered flash hider, and no idea where the bullets were impacting.



    I reduced the load down to 16 grains of 748 and then worked back up until it would reliably eject the case and load another round. I found that with 22 grains of WW-748, the load would reliably function in the Rock River AR-15 Pistol I was using at the time for load development (the idea being a AR-15 pistol would be more finicky than a rifle, so if it worked in the pistol it would in the rifle).

    Due to the blunt nose of the Lyman bullet, I was only getting the bullets to feed properly about 80% of the time. I then tried a custom Lee Bator bullet that Midsouth Shooters Supply offered, while it was more accurate than the Lyman, but had to be hand fed to work.



    I decided to spend real money and bought the RCBS 55 grain spire point bullet mold and that solved all my feeding problems.



    The bullets were cast primarily out of wheel weight with a little linotype mixed in, they were sized .224 and had gas checks placed on them during sizing. They were only casually inspected for wrinkles, voids and so on. Cases were military surplus brass, Reloading the cases followed the standard procedures, with the exception of using a Lyman M die to expand the case necks and then a lee factory crimp die to crimp the reloaded cases.

    I proceeded to shoot the first 250 rounds in intervals of 10 or 20 rounds at a time while I was shooting other stuff (I am retired so I have lots of time on my hands). I then decided to shoot the other 250 rounds in a single setting in a very short amount of time to maximize the stress on the gun.



    The 250 rounds were fired in about 15 minutes with the barrel too hot to touch by the end of it. There were no malfunctions of any kind during the test.

    Here is a picture of the bolt at the end of the 500 round test.



    I was able to put 500 rounds of cast bullets through an AR-15 without cleaning it and did not have any problems or malfunctions at all. The test showed (to me at least), that AR-15's can be made to work consistently with cast bullets. In regard to accuracy, I didn't see any significant change in accuracy, but I wasn't really testing for it.

    I have submitted a more detailed version of this post to cast pics. It includes more detailed photos of the bullets, targets and so on.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    btroj's Avatar
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    I would say you certainly shot enough to prove things to me.
    If the carrier or has tube was going to be gunked up with lead or lube it certainly would have shown up in the last 250 rounds.

    Well done.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks

    Nice write up - It is refreshing to see a "myth busted" with actual hands on hard work and effort, rather than just accept what many others have rehashed with no personal knowledge of what will or will not work. I can't believe the amount of time that must have been involved in casting, sizing and reloading that amount of 223 only to blast thru it for mostly function testing. I really don't shoot my AR enough to justify getting set up to cast for it, but it's good to know that it will work. My one and only question about your testing, is the upper you used a gas tube design or the newer piston style? Once again thanks for the write up - Good luck with you cleaning - Bill

  4. #4
    Boolit Bub
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    It was a standard gas tube design upper. As far as clean up, it was fairly straight forward and simple. The casting wasn't bad, but the sizing and gas checks was a pain in the butt, I usually wear 2 x readers to do close up work and I had to go to 4x readers just to see the **** gas checks.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master WILCO's Avatar
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    Great job! I read this with much interest.
    Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. - Albert Schweitzer

    Yeah, I love cast iron cookware.

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  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    The only thing I've found is -one can't use fillers in the AR. Atleast I couldn't ! It would gum stuff up after about 50 rounds for me. Stopped using filler and can shoot all the rounds I want with out problems. I'm using the Lyman 55 GC design.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master GabbyM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldsgm View Post
    It was a standard gas tube design upper. As far as clean up, it was fairly straight forward and simple. The casting wasn't bad, but the sizing and gas checks was a pain in the butt, I usually wear 2 x readers to do close up work and I had to go to 4x readers just to see the **** gas checks.
    Donít have any particular issues with making 22 caliber boolits. However I much prefer 6mm boolits for my 243 Win and AI. Have thought for years that a 6 x 45mm AR with 1-12Ē twist barrel would be a nice boolit shooter. Would also shoot 80 grain J bullets for deer, hog and Antelope sized game. However what I have in 223 and 243 fill the bill. Not saying Iíve enough guns. Just that Iíve enough that some wait a couple years between getting used.

    Have never noticed any extra fouling in my ARís after running a couple magazines full of cast boolits through. Just the bit of black lube I see on the first bore patch. To call this fouling is in question as the lube doesnít seam to build up in the bore and a coating of it is what we want. Nothing but powder fouling in the bolts gas piston. Am sure thereís some lube fouling in there but my guess would be that if anything it would help soften the carbon fouling from powder. As in a black powder rifle but keep in mind this is only in my mind and not anything proven by experimentation. Only mentioned it as my view is contrary to those who claim cast canít be shot in an AR. I've found the AR and M-16 to be fairly self cleaning and I've owned one since before the VN war was over.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master


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    Thanks for posting this,seems after searching for a week for definitive answers,only speculation,and opinions at best, I finally see some "light at the tunnel"! If you have anymore proven loads using the Bator or the 55 Rem spire please post them ! I wish I could see your detailed version on this subject! I was beginning to think I was the only one on earth that was interested in doing using cast with the AR! GT27

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kzfm4pYhIyY

    The ultimate AR torture test!
    Last edited by GT27; 06-10-2012 at 06:33 PM.
    You can't buy common sense,and stupidity can't be fixed!

  9. #9
    Boolit Master GabbyM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnut 45/454 View Post
    The only thing I've found is -one can't use fillers in the AR. Atleast I couldn't ! It would gum stuff up after about 50 rounds for me. Stopped using filler and can shoot all the rounds I want with out problems. I'm using the Lyman 55 GC design.
    What kind of filers were you using ? Cream of Wheat or Dacron?


    Iíve never used any filler in any cast bullet load. just curious.

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
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    Awesome write up, thanks OP for sharing.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Did you chrono any of your shots? Curious to know what your velocity was. Also you don't mention anything about leading. Did a .224 cast bullet shoot without leading?

  12. #12
    Boolit Mold
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    Is there an update to this thread? Very interested in the final results.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I just got some gas checks to try out my MiHec 5.56 boolit. The aluminum ones didn't stay on well so I tried the Hornidy crimp on gas checks and they are staying on fine and are easy to put on. I haven't tried the 5.56 yet, but I do shoot cast exclusively in both my 300 blackout rifle, and pistol. The rifle when first assembled was shot over 1000 times with cast boolits without issue. Several thousand later and the gas tube is fine with a standard cleaning of the upper, and BCG it continues to roll. Thank you Oldsgm, for showing what the rest of the reloading, and AR groups that cast is OK in an AR as long as you stick to the gas checked boolits.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master bbs70's Avatar
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    I don't have a 5.56, But I do have an RRA 6.8 with a 1:10 twist.

    I've shot about 1300 lead bullets through my rifle with no malfunctions and the only fouling was from the different powders I was testing.
    I usually shoot about 100 to 200 rounds at a session, I didn't shoot all 1300 at one time, this was not a torture test.
    I was going for accuracy and reliable function.

    I have 2 moulds, one 110g and one 125g (135g with gas check & lube.)
    I use straight wheel weights.

    MY AR seems to prefer the heavier 135g lead bullet with AA1630 @ 21g, not sure what the velocity is, but it is sure accurate.

    Yes, it is a royal pain casting, attaching gas checks, and sizing them.
    Jacketed bullets run me about 20 cents each, the ones I cast run about 5 cents each.
    It means I get to shoot my AR more and I'm having a lot of fun.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master madsenshooter's Avatar
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    I've used my 6x45 AR to shoot in Cast Bullet Association benchrest matches at Washtenaw a couple times. I drew a lot of lookers. Most all of them believed the myth that you couldn't shoot cast out of an AR. Must be a pretty wide spread rumor.
    "If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny."

    -Thomas Jefferson

  16. #16
    Boolit Man
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    Any specifics on accuracy, at say 100 yards with the .223 AR?

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    45 2.1 posted this in the Mihec 5.56 rerun.

    (1.175" 5 shot group at 100 yds. on 4/26/12 by Hamish in a DPMS 16" 9 twist barrel, Velocity 2443 fps Avg.)

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Oldsgm, excellent write up. Thanks for posting.
    Paul G.
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  19. #19
    Boolit Master popper's Avatar
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    My LR-308 carbine does fine with a .310-165 FN GC cast over 40 gr. 4895. 2% Sb with As & sulfur hardening, WD. No leading in bbl or bolt. It has an adjustable GB and after ~ 300 rnds, still works fine. 80 rnds and the hand guard was too hot to hold. Just had to tweak the mag lips to get the FN to feed right.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by xacex View Post
    45 2.1 posted this in the Mihec 5.56 rerun.

    (1.175" 5 shot group at 100 yds. on 4/26/12 by Hamish in a DPMS 16" 9 twist barrel, Velocity 2443 fps Avg.)
    And I am long overdue to go visit the gentleman to discuss what was in between the primer and the boolit on that day. This broken down old bum has had his hands full with twin grandsons, but I am hopeful of having lunch with him before long.
    More "This is what happened when I,,,,," and less "What would happen if I,,,,"


    Noli sinere nothos te opprimere

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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