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Thread: Round ball molds???

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Round ball molds???

    I have a Traditions .50 cal flinchlock rifle. I've been considering getting a RB molds for it. Currently it shoots and groups Hornday RB .490" pretty well. Do Lyman and RCBS RB molds "typically" drop what they say they will? Will a RCBS .490 RB mold drop a ball at .490"?
    Which brand RB molds do you prefer?
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  2. #2
    Boolit Master Czech_too's Avatar
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    I don't have an RCBS RB mould so can't comment there, only a single Lyman and a couple of Lee's. My feeling, at this time, is that the Lee's don't leave as much of a 'stub' from the sprue plate as do the Lyman's. They both drop at their respective diameters with soft/pure lead.
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  3. #3
    Grouchy Old Curmudgeon

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    You can get bag molds from Callahan's and Track of the Wolf. Nice molds but have steel handles so you'd need a good glove if you're casting a lot of them at one time.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master Maven's Avatar
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    "Do Lyman and RCBS RB molds 'typically' drop what they say they will? Will a RCBS .490 RB mold drop a ball at .490"?" ....Lefty SRH

    Lefty SRH, I have both Lyman and RCBS .490" RB molds and neither casts an actual .490" ball. Neither did my T/C mold for that matter. The Lyman and T/C drop pure Pb balls @ .488" while the RCBS casts a bit larger @ .492". In practice it matters little as I adjust the patch thickness to suit the RB diameter. E.g., .022" thick patches for the Lyman & T/C RB's, but only .018" for the RCBS. As far as preference for one brand over another, I'd have to give the RCBS mold a slight edge as it is a double cavity design whereas the others are only single.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master 1874Sharps's Avatar
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    Maven is right. I think you will not go wrong with any of the big brands such as Lee, Lyman and RCBS. I have RBs from all three makers and they cast very close to the advertised size and are nearly perfectly round. The key is matching the patch and ball to the bore. Even then there is tolerance. Experimentation will tell. BTW, in my flintlock I often shoot balls with leather patches, just like some did back in the day -- something to consider.
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  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1874Sharps View Post
    Maven is right. I think you will not go wrong with any of the big brands such as Lee, Lyman and RCBS. I have RBs from all three makers and they cast very close to the advertised size and are nearly perfectly round. The key is matching the patch and ball to the bore. Even then there is tolerance. Experimentation will tell. BTW, in my flintlock I often shoot balls with leather patches, just like some did back in the day -- something to consider.
    Or you could use a patch and an overpowder wad...

  7. #7
    I'm A Honcho! montana_charlie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rattus58 View Post
    Or you could use a patch and an overpowder wad...
    The o/p is shooting a .490" ball in a fifty caliber flintlock rifle. That means he is already using a patch.
    What would be the advantage in adding an over-powder wad?

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  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    If you have a tumblr just put the cast balls in it and add a little water and let them tumble for a 1/2 hour and that sprue will be gone and look like a swaged ball.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master Pb2au's Avatar
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    Lee mold here. Simple to use, very diminished flat spot/sprue area. It drops right on the money with pure lead.

  10. #10
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  11. #11
    Boolit Master


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    Strange things happen when combinations change. I shoot a very tight fitting combo most of the time. Such as a .400 with .020 in a 40 and have 490, 495 and 500 for the fifty. The wad has mutipule potential uses, one being bumping up the ball for a better fit. Recovered 530 ballsthat fall down the barrel shoot really badly like minuite of barn if shot that way and recoverd ones are round. Put a wad under it and the recovered ball will have a ring around it from barrel cointact. It is easier to get a hot load to shoot well with a wad, less stress on the patch. For hunting and mutiple shots the wad can carry lube to help with fouling.
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    I would say any of them will cast a ball that will work. I have Lee, Lyman, and RCBS, and they are all within .003", and all vary the size they cast depending on alloy used. I know, I know, pure lead only. We're NOT casters cause we don't like to experiment. Anyway, and some will laugh at this, but here is my suggestion. Get a mold from whoever you want, and assume it will not be dead on so you will have to do some load work-up again. Now, please forgive me for saying this and bursting your bubble, but do me a favor. Take a box of whatever RBs you're buying now, and first measure every single one and then weigh it, while keeping notes so you can look at them when you're done. I bet you that you will have variation, and this variation will be enough to cause fliers on target. Now keep this sheet of notes, you're going to need it later. WHen you get your mold, do the same test with the same number of balls as was in that box, and repeat your test, also keeping notes. I bet you kick yourself for buying balls instead of a mold afterwards. The name of the game is consistency, as with anything gun related. If you take this a bit further, and work up loads for both the store bought balls and your cast, and then go shoot them and compare targets, you will also notice increased accuracy with YOUR cast balls over the bought ones. This will be even more obvious if you weigh your cast and just use the heaviest for this test while randomly loading whatever you happen to grab out of the box like I assume you do currently--I know that is what I used to do, and my targets showed it.

    My cheapest rifle is a CVA St. Louis hawken .50. Before I started casting, I was lucky to get 6" groups at 50yds, and was usually looking at 15-18" "groups" at 100yds, so didn't bother doing much 100yd shooting, but kept messing with it cause of all the stories of long range shots in the old days. Those were why I got into MLs in the first place. Something was wrong, but I just couldn't figure out what. Well, fast forward 15 years with a lot of experimentation with many rifles, and this same cheap CVA does 1-1.5" @25yds, 2-3"@50, and 3.5-5" @100. This took me casting so I got a SAME size ball every single time (my .490 Lee casts at .492") same powder charge ( I make my own nowadays, thanks to this forum), and CCI #11 percussion caps. I know Pat Marlin is working on a cap making die, so I will be getting one when he finishes that work, but for now, I still have enough for at least the next few years because I found some on sale and ordered all I could afford about 8-9 years ago because the local shop refuses to carry much of anything ML related. OK, so far, we've covered RBs, powder, and caps. Don't forget the patch cloth and lube. Yes, it makes a huge difference. I have several bolts of various thicknesses of cloth in my closet marked with which rifles like which bolt (I wasn't lucky enough to have them all like one thickness) and just cut off what I need for the next month or so, lube it (which also requires experimentation to know what kind of lube and how much of it) and keep that cloth in a ziplock baggie that is marked with which rifle it goes to so I can't screw up when I go out hunting or to the range. I did this same kind of load work up with this CVA, and my several Lymans, and TVM semi-custom, and all shoot into 2.5-5" at 100yds. They didn't start out that way, but once I learned on the CVA, I got the loads worked up for the others as I got them and all has been good since. My least accurate guns are the smoothbores, and even they do 4-5" groups at 50yds at worst, and are as good as the rifles at 25yds.

    Just make sure you expect to have to work up your load again when you get your mold, since you ARE changing a component, and you won't be disappointed. Just make sure you cast them with as much care as you do your other boolits and your rifle will be more accurate than it has ever been with store bought RBs.
    Last edited by Lonegun1894; 08-17-2013 at 01:29 PM.
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  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Round ball moulds are very hard to get with a consistent diameter,or round for that matter. Even a multi cavity cut with the same cherry. A round cavity is the hardest to get perfectly round. It makes no difference who makes the mould or swage die.
    Lonegun laid out some very good sound advice. Read it again.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master Good Cheer's Avatar
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    Got a Lee .600 that is five thou out of round. Now using a .595 push through sizer. Shoots just fine.

    I never have figured out a favorite manufacturer. Each has good points and bad points, good molds and bad molds.

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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