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Thread: Just a few tips for new rifle casters.

  1. #1
    Boolit Master

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    Just a few tips for new rifle casters.

    If you are thinking that loading cast boolits is a little different than loading jacketed bullets you are right! This is a totally different deal. I didn't realize either until the fellas on CB got me lined out. The good news is that this is relatively simple once you understand what needs to happen and why. It’s just that you can be an expert reloader with jacketed bullets, without realizing that you are taking a whole slew of things for granted that you must control individually with a cast boolit. These same things are necessary with a jacketed projectile, but the extreme hardness of the bullets, make a lot of this a mute point, to the detriment of performance on the intended target. It has taken me a while to give up on my jacketed bullet crutch, but I have finally come to the conclusion that there is nothing that a jacketed bullet can do, that a cast boolit will do even better at 75% of the speed, except long range hole punching. If you can find a way to deliver a cast lead boolit to the target, it will out perform a jacketed bullet every time, but getting it there takes a little.....savvy.

    You need to know the bore diameter and the groove diameter of your rifle.
    In order to get this precise information, it is necessary to slug your barrel, and possibly use a pin gauge set.
    In order to slug your barrel, get a pure lead slug (a fishing egg sinker works well for this) and drive it through a clean, oiled barrel, dropping it on a soft cushion like a T-shirt or a rag of some sort. Measure the OD to get your groove diameter. If you have few enough grooves, measure between them to get your bore diameter, or use precision pins in the actual barrel to get your bore diameter.

    Next, you need to know what your chamber is like, and have a measurable rendering of the throat, free-bore, and neck of your rifle.
    You can achieve this several ways, but the best is a chamber slug, followed by a cerosafe casting.
    In order to get a chamber slug, take a once fired piece of brass from your rifle, and fill it with molten lead to just below the case mouth. Cast a lead boolit of pure lead. Insert the lead boolit into your breech, followed by the lead filled casing. Close your bolt on the casing. Take a 5/16 rod of aluminum or brass longer than your barrel, and put it down the muzzle until it touches the pure lead boolit. Use a hammer to pound the rod until it bounces, indicating that the lead has flowed everywhere it can and has filled every void. Carefully, open your breech and extract the lead filled cartridge casing. Give the rod a few light taps to dislodge the chamber slug from the breech. Measure it to determine the profile of your neck to throat transition, the throat diameter, and the length of the free-bore if any.
    Edit: for more detailed information and pictures on how to do this operation, see this link:http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...o-a-pound-cast

    Now, your boolit should match these dimensions.
    First of all, the nose of your projectile should be exactly the same as your bore diameter, or no more than .0005 less.
    Second, the driving bands are to be .001-.002 bigger than your groove diameter, unless the free-bore of your rifle measures bigger than the groove diameter, in which case the boolit's driving bands are to be .001 less than the diameter of the free-bore.
    If your rifle has no free-bore, and all you have is a tapering lead-in, (aka throat) then the boolit must be .001-.002 larger than the groove diameter of the barrel, and the forward-most driving band should have an angle that compliments the throat angle, and should not protrude from the case mouth far enough to crash into that angle. A chambered cartridge should make the driving band just kiss the throat angle with perhaps .001 press upon closing the action
    (Edit 9/10/15: the Hornady bullet seating depth gauge is an absolutely invaluable tool for finding this specific dimension http://www.hornady.com/assets/files/...OAL-Gauges.pdf Just seat your cast bullets to the depth the gauge gives you).

    Now, your brass should be as long as it can be without crushing the case mouth into the end of the chamber. Your neck should stop just .001-.005 short of bottoming out in the chamber.
    Load a dummy cartridge to these specs, smoke it with lamp black, and chamber it. You should see the lands wipe shiny streaks on the bore-riding section of your boolit, and leave shiny marks around the perimeter of the first driving band. Obviously, the cartridge should chamber easily. If you have no contact in these areas, do it over with a longer dummy till you find that spot. Don't quit until you have this right.

    It may require mold modification or brass modification or even new brass, or a new mold, but that does not change the fact that it must be this way, but you are working on becoming an expert reloader, so this should be no problem.

    Once you have these things right, pull the boolit as gently as you can from the casing and measure the OD. If it is not .001-.002 over the groove diameter blah, blah, blah, make or have made, a neck expanding tool, or buy a Lyman M die so that your brass will quit squishing the boolit down undersized. Once you have this taken care of, reload the dummy, smoke it and do the whole cambering thing again.

    Once you have things going your way on every last one of these instructions, load up ten dummies, smoke them and cycle them through your magazine/tube/etc etc and cycle them as you normally would. Observe if they are consistent in all these critical points. If they are, do it for real. Load up 10 rounds and shoot them. Don't worry about accuracy for the moment, just load 'em somewhere in the middle and blast them off and see what your barrel does. If you get leading,(which I doubt) use a harder/tougher alloy like 94/3/3, or water quench your boolits to get them a touch harder.
    Shoot again. You want a smoky looking barrel with a little bit of a lube star on the muzzle and NO LEADING.

    I am sure you are aware of ladder testing? Load 50 cartridges each with different lubes. Just for starters I would load FWFL, White Label BAC White Label 2500+, and Javalina lube.
    Load 50 progressively larger charges of powder, starting with the minimum and ending at the maximum, with each lube choice. Go to the range and shoot them methodically.

    Note your accuracy nodes and keep the most accurate combination. (Edit to add) Since writing this I have changed my method so that I load 10 cartridges each, in each charge 1/2 grain at a time, minimum to maximum. Each charge is a law unto itself. The one merit that shooting a ladder has in this case is that you can easily determine when and if your lube fails, but you'll know it either way, so I just do 5 shot groups till I'm pretty sure I'm on a node, then I go to ten shot groups.

    This is the best I can do to explain how to get the most from cast boolits.
    Any of you more experienced shooters feel free to chime in and set me strait if I am wrong on any points here, this is just the way that I do it but I am still learning. I base every bit of this on what I have learned here at Cast boolits and can site who told me what, and why I believe it to be true.
    I hope this helps somebody get where they are going.
    Last edited by goodsteel; 09-11-2015 at 12:12 AM.
    Tim Malcolm
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    "He who is enslaved by the compass has freedom of the seas"

  2. #2
    Boolit Master


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    Sticky!

  3. #3
    Moderator Emeritus / Trusted loob groove dealer


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    You have learned well, grasshopper.
    The solid soft lead bullet is undoubtably the best and most satisfactory expanding bullet that has ever been designed. It invariably mushrooms perfectly, and never breaks up. With the metal base that is essential for velocities of 2000 f.s. and upwards to protect the naked base, these metal-based soft lead bullets are splendid.
    John Taylor - "African Rifles and Cartridges"

    Forget everything you know about loading jacketed bullets. This is a whole new ball game!


  4. #4
    Boolit Man handyman25's Avatar
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    Very good post. The only thing I would do different is to use cerrosafe to do a chamber, throat, freebore etc test. Also I would start out before shooting any cast bullet with a clean bore and I mean cleaner that my drill sargent wanted. As I said a very good post. I award you two gold stars.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    The truth is, this is a message that I sent to a new guy here (at least new to rifle casting) that was having trouble getting his boolits to work right.
    I spent so much time typing it out, I saved it on my computer so that I would have it if I ever needed it again. Then I figured I would just make it into a post here so that you guys have a chance to shoot it full of holes, and if it ends up being bullet proof, I can reference it easily.
    The thing I love about this place is that the information is solid. Its as solid as a math book once you get under the surface. Real Booleteers are solid on every point down to the minutest detail, and if there is a discrepancy we start a thread and beat it to a pulp until solid fact emerges.
    Very good post. The only thing I would do different is to use cerrosafe to do a chamber, throat, freebore etc test. Also I would start out before shooting any cast bullet with a clean bore and I mean cleaner that my drill sargent wanted.
    I did mention cerrosafe as a second option, but there are instructions that come with that stuff when you buy it. Also it shrinks with time, so based on that fact, it is an inferior way considering that the only reason you are doing it is to get precision measurements, but I did mention it.
    Also, I didn't go into detail about using a good ammonia based cleaner on the barrel (like Sweets 7.62) after cleaning and followed by cleaning and oiling in order to remove all traces of copper from the bore.
    I also mentioned nothing about feeling for tight and loose spots in the barrel as the slug is pushed through (good info can be had from feeling for this!).
    Last edited by goodsteel; 07-08-2012 at 08:24 AM.
    Tim Malcolm
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    "He who is enslaved by the compass has freedom of the seas"

  6. #6
    Boolit Master



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    Very well done. I find composition and editing a daunting and time-consuming task, and highly commend you for taking the time to compose this. I'm sure the person you, initially, wrote it for was very grateful for the help. Sharing it with the entire Cast Boolits membership is an act of great generosity.

    That much information, all in one post, should get any novice cast boolit rifle shooter on the right road.

  7. #7
    Boolit Man
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    That is a great piece of work. I will read it several times over.
    Thank you.

  8. #8
    What great info. Thanks for taking the time to provide this great insight to loading cast bullets for those of us less experienced. Would most of these techniques not work for revolvers also?
    Could I not also measure revolver cylinder throat diameters using the same method of upsetting a soft lead slug in the throut, removing it, then measuring the diameter? Or is it better to just use pins?
    Thanks again for great info !!

  9. #9
    Boolit Master

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    Welcome to Castboolits Loadinfool! I'm honored that this thread inspired your first post.
    These principles are the same no matter what you are loading for, but the teqniques change slightly for semi-autos and for revolvers. The trick is to get an oversize boolit into your barrel, without it getting sized down by your brass, throat, forcing cone, threaded portion of your barrel, etc, etc. All leading is linked to a compromise of your gas seal, and it is usually just an assumption that we have been trained to make, that now has to be thought about and corrected. Like for instance, Ruger revolvers work great with jacketed bullets, and everybody has no trouble, but some folks get leading in the barrel that is very hard to pin down. Turns out that Ruger runs their threads really tight sometimes, and the frame sqweezes down the barrel threads which makes the bore slightly smaller right at the beginning of the barrel where it is screwed into the frame. This creates a situation where your perfect boolit makes it out of your perfect cases, and through your perfect cylinder throat, just the perfect size for your measured groove diameter (as the slug was driven from the muzzle of the revolver and measured), but you still get leading past that first 1/2"! Well, your boolit was the right size for the first 1/2", but after that, it's just like you had shot an undersized boolit from the very beginning. Nothing can be taken for granted! Every part of the loading process and firing should either be exactly the same as the previous operation, or slightly larger than the next, until the crown of your barrel kisses that boolit good by.
    ie, you start with your cast boolit. It should be bigger than every operation that happens to it until it hits the paper target.
    Next you stuff it in the casing. It can be sized smaller than the original diameter, but must still be bigger than every subsequent operation.
    Next it gets fired and begins to engage the throat/freebore. As it transitions this area, it must once again be the same size or larger than the next step.
    Next it engages the rifling, and begins its trip down the barrel. It must be the same size or larger than any portion of the barrel that is ahead of it at this point.
    Finally, it crosses the crown of the muzzle and is free to fly as God intended it to.
    You see, it always comes down to ill fitting boolits! Always! Every now and then you have a problem with your lube, or boolit shape yada yada yada, but 99% of the time, a new caster has undersized boolits, or some part of his process is making them that way and that is the root of all his trouble.
    Think for a moment about a .22LR. It shoots lead boolits with very little lube on them, and you have probably firedthousands of shells through your favorite squirrel gun and never gave leading a second thought. Why not? The boolits are almost pure lead going supersonic speeds, right? How are the cartridge manufacturers able to crank out millions of these little suckers with total confidence that they will not ruin their customers guns? Hmmmmmmm
    Do me a favor, go slug your .22 and measure the groove diameter, then measure any 22LR boolit and tell me if anything looks familiar about the size difference.
    Last edited by goodsteel; 07-14-2012 at 09:53 AM.
    Tim Malcolm
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  10. #10
    Boolit Master







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    Well written thread, a must read in my opinion for newbees casting for rifle!
    1Shirt!
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    "Ve got too soon old and too late smart" Pa.Dutch Saying

  11. #11
    Longwood
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    Good going Goodsteel
    One nice thing about it being on the net is it is a bit like a Wiki.
    It can be edited/added too as time goes on.
    Please do not let it get lost in the dark depths of the archives.

  12. #12
    Boolit Mold
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    Yes. Thank you Goodsteel, I am just starting out reloading 7mm for a Mauser and was looking for something else but your post has probably saved me time and heartache!

  13. #13
    Boolit Master

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    Glad to help Dave, and welcome to the forum! Don't be afraid to start a new thread and ask about specifics, because every rifle has them.
    Tim Malcolm
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  14. #14
    Boolit Master

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    Welcome to the forum crackerjack! You are on the right track.
    9MM can be a real PITA for a new caster, so I would hold off on that and focus on the 30-06 and the 7.62X39.
    Just start following the instructions that I posted. Settle down and do one thing at a time. Each step has a small learning curve of its own, so don't get in a hurry. Once you make it to the end of my instructions on the first rifle you are casting for, you will have half as much trouble with the second one and so on, until most of what I wrote is second nature as the way to approach reloading for a new rifle. I simply wrote down every little step that I do without even thinking about it, so that a new guy can get into the game faster.
    Its not the only way to do things, but its a way that will get you scary close to where you need to be in a very short period of time. You will undoubtedly modify the process to suit your style, but however you do it, you need to touch on each of the points that I made.
    Good luck! and welcome to cast boolits!
    Tim Malcolm
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  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    l suspect it might be best to neck only for bolt action and single shot rifles.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by sw282 View Post
    l suspect it might be best to neck only for bolt action and single shot rifles.
    You're kinda correct in your statement. Let your firearms tell you if it NEEDS to have the brass full length sized. SOME single shots (particularly with high intensity loads) will need full length sized. If you can neck size only even every other reloading it'll save working your brass which contributes to longer brass life. It has been my experience that even semi-auto rifles can be reloaded with neck size only under the right circumstances. Again, let your gun tell you what it needs/likes and don't get set in one way of doing everything under every circumstance. EXPERIMENT!

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  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    Again, let your gun tell you what it needs/likes and don't get set in one way of doing everything under every circumstance. EXPERIMENT!
    There is great wisdom in your words for those who will hear them.

    Some of my rifles prefer full length sized brass. It's not always a good thing to neck size, although for the most part, it does give a slight edge. I also always full-length size my hunting rounds because I don't like that small amount of press you get on the bolt after you have fired a piece several times.
    I am much more concerned with consistency in my brass than long life. Buy quality brass, and use a method that you can reproduce every time.
    Last edited by goodsteel; 09-07-2012 at 01:38 PM.
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  18. #18
    Boolit Mold smokepole's Avatar
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    Thumbs up rifle casters

    Great post ...One thing I have not seen mentioned is the need to bell the mouth of the case slightly before seating the boolit. This step is absolutely nessasary if not done, the case mouth will shave material from the boolit. Causing an out of round boolit.

    I might be getting ahead of myself...but, needed to post this for the newbes.
    ooooooow! I hate earth wobble...

  19. #19
    Boolit Master UBER7MM's Avatar
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    Thank you Goodsteel,

    You've put the process into concise words. I specially appreciate the section on how to create a chamber/throat gauge from a lead filled case and pure lead bullet. Genius!

    Good shooting,
    Uber7mm

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  20. #20
    Boolit Master

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    Don't thank me, I didn't know any of this stuff two years ago. I've been soaking up knowledge here for a couple years like a sponge. I just took that proverbial sponge, held it over the thread and gave it a good squeeze.
    I got most of these methods from right here on cast boolits. You hang out here for a while and ask questions and you will get lots of answers. When you go and do what folks told you, you find out that some stuff works and some was intellectual BS that sounds really good.
    I could have made a thread twice as in depth on all the bad advice I have gotten (mostly from other sources). This is just a bunch of the basic stuff that I feel always works.
    However, its not plug and play. It will get you darn close, but then you have to start messaging stuff.
    Like the part about fitting the boolit to the barrel. I lined out the best way to get it "ideally" right, but you may find that your groups shrink a little if you make the boolit press a couple thousandths deeper or hold back a couple of thousandths, but the result is going to be minute.
    My proposition with this thread was to say if you do everything like this, and you get a 4" group out of an otherwise accurate rifle, then it must be the boolit design, and its time to try a different style.
    I have spent years trying to get a certain boolit to shoot in a certain gun (mainly because I didn't know that anybody else did this stuff and I figured what I had is what I had to work with) and I blamed everything but the boolit.
    For instance, the 358318. I tried and tried to get that sucker to give me good groups in my 35 cals. I did everything you can emagine, lubes, alloys, seating depth, powder, primers, paper patch, gas checks, etc etc etc. Then Larry Gibson gave me a bunch of RCBS 35-200-FN to try. I tell you I couldn't make that boolit do as bad as the 358318. It was like magic. It didn't matter what powder, primer, lube or seating depth, my rifles just love that particular boolit!
    If I can get somebody to where in one weekend, they can experiment with several boolits that they got from members to try, and select the one that works best for them, then I consider this thread a success.
    Last edited by goodsteel; 10-07-2012 at 04:53 PM.
    Tim Malcolm
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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