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Thread: Brass vs. Aluminum mould

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
    FISH4BUGS's Avatar
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    Brass vs. Aluminum mould

    OK...so here is the problem: virtually all my moulds are Hensley & Gibbs moulds. I am a casting snob - I admit it. Anyone that has ever sat down and cast thousands of bullets with a well tuned Hensley & Gibbs 4-6-8 or 10 cavity H&G moulds knows of what I speak.
    But now I have been gifted a pristine 1924 manufactured Savage Sporter in 25-20 and cannot wait to cast for it. I have brass 300 reformed 32-20 by a vendor sponsor here GRUMPA (RIP sir) and 150 or so proper headstamp 25-20, dies, and a caliber conversion.
    I also was gifted a box of Old Western Scrounger 25-20 loaded ammo.
    I will watch for the H&G #5 if one ever becomes available.
    But to shoot it now, it looks like the Arsenal mould # 257283 60 Gr FN bullet is the one to use for cast.
    The question is brass or aluminum?
    I have always used iron moulds. Given the mould can be purchased in brass or aluminum, which would you buy and why?
    Your thoughts are welcomed.
    Donald
    Last edited by FISH4BUGS; 09-30-2018 at 06:45 PM. Reason: Wrong Manufacturer Named....OOPS!
    Collector and shooter of guns with selector switches and threaded barrels. Collector of suppressors, SBR's, AOW's and SBS's. Lead and brass scrounger. Never too much brass, lead or components in inventory! Always looking to win beauty contests with my reloads.

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy
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    I'll be following this thread myself - one of those questions I've asked myself, aluminum or brass?

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy StuBach's Avatar
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    100% agree on your sentiments towards H&G molds. I havenít had the opportunity to try an accurate mold but I do know they offer molds in Iron as well which might be more up your alley and the reviews on his molds are phenomenal.

    I tried to pull up the catalog at Accurateís website and didnít see any molds that small (smallest listed is .28Ē). Recommend reaching out to the owner as Iíve heard heís a good guy and see what he can do for you in iron.

    As a personal recommendation, if iron isnít an option, I like the brass better. Seems to retain heat better and provide cleaner casting for me personally but I know others will say the opposite.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy Hick's Avatar
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    I've got Iron, brass and Aluminum. The only drawback to brass in my experience is that my hands get more tired because of the weight. I agree with StuBach on the heat holding and casting qualities.
    Hick: Iron sights!

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy glockfan's Avatar
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    i use both brass and alu molds. my alu mold is an accurate 5 cavities,and my brass are accurate 4 cavities. i can maintain a higher production pace with the alu because alu is cooling faster than brass.then,you don't want to let it cool out of the sweet spot,so you can keep a quite fast pace. the brass is more easy goin but much heavier. with the brass i can wait some more between pours and releases,BUUT,it's heavy.i'm getting tired much faster than with the alu mold. ......then,curiously, maybe i prefer the brass exactly because it retain heat much better,then i can take my time between pours...but when i want to drop a lot of boolits the faster i can,i warm up the alu unit.
    Last edited by glockfan; 09-30-2018 at 10:15 AM.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    No H&Gs but I do have steel brass and a couple aluminum moulds. I wont tell you what to chose but give you my impressions and thoughts.
    Steel/cast iron) Heats well durable and long life. breaks in easily and runs good. a little more expensive do to the fact its harder to machine. on the heavy side in big blocks but the density mass holds heat good.

    Brass) Heaviest of the blocks heats evenly, you may want to preheat these before casting. cost is more do to material brass machines easier and with really nice finishes. Bras may require a couple casting sessions to come up fully casting the best bullets.

    Aluminum) lightest of the materials and softest, easy to machine. easiest to damage. aluminum moulds may take some break in to run the best. Heats well but also looses heat the fastest.

    Heat cycling a new set of blocks can help a lot with the break in developing the patina that aids bullet release and fill out. heat to 350-400* let cool repeat 3 times. My brass molds I heat cycled and then the first couple sessions cast a little hotter than normal. As far as frosted bullets I find materials in this order aluminum, steel last brass. brass holds heat very well but can be a pain when done as it takes longer to cool out to put away.

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    Boolit Buddy hockeynick39's Avatar
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    Is the 25-20 the WCF or the Single Shot? I am using an original Ideal #4 tool that has a #20 cherry and drops a pb boolit at 86 grains using COWW,but is 87 gr after lube and aluminum (soda/beer can) pb gas check. Pretty neat and it works like a champ in my Stevens Ideal No. 44 bull barrel single shot rifle. Just wondering why you are staying with the lighter boolit?

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy bosterr's Avatar
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    I tried to find the 257283 in Accurate's catalog and couldn't find it either. It's in the Arsenal Molds catalog.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
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    Brass is heavier and costs more therefore I go with aluminum. Aluminum works well enough. Once the mold is up to temperature you can set it down and take a couple minute phone call and resume casting without issue.

  10. #10
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    Brass molds cast great boolits, no doubt. I have a few. If it were me this time though, I'd go with aluminum. Even the 2 cavity brass molds are heavier than I'd like any more. ALL of the Accurate aluminum molds I own are fantastic. You won't regret making that purchase.

  11. #11
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    I buy aluminum if available. The type that Tom and Al use for their molds is a lot higher quality than what Lee uses. I swore off aluminum molds because of Lee. Thankfully I bought some Accurate and NOE molds and havenít looked back.

    I like brass for its heat retention qualities. But it weighs a lot and I know as I get older the weight will be a problem. Theyíre also prone to tinning if your alloy contains any. You must heat cycle the mold a few times to get the patina started. Even after this the molds donít come into their own until youíve cast w/ them for a few sessions. The only brass molds I buy are from Miha. Theyíre works of art but I would choose aluminum if he offered it.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by bosterr View Post
    I tried to find the 257283 in Accurate's catalog and couldn't find it either. It's in the Arsenal Molds catalog.
    You are correct. I should have said Arsenal mould, not Accurate mould.
    My bad!
    Collector and shooter of guns with selector switches and threaded barrels. Collector of suppressors, SBR's, AOW's and SBS's. Lead and brass scrounger. Never too much brass, lead or components in inventory! Always looking to win beauty contests with my reloads.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master

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    I prefer brass and will go that route whenever possible. Nothing against good aluminum (NOE, LBT), but brass holds on to heat better. I would certainly prefer brass for small size bullets or hollow points / bases.

    The weight of brass is certainly a negative for some. For me, pain at the casting bench is literally in the butt and back more than in the arms, so a mold that gets hot, stays hot is usually more trouble free and faster than a lightweight mold that bleeds off its heat quickly if I lose cadence. Mainly, I don't really HAVE cadence - which may be why I prefer brass; it seems less picky if you don't.
    WWJMBD?

    "I'M MELLLLLLLLLLTING!" - Elphaba

  14. #14
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    I share your love of moulds produced by Hensley & Gibbs -- I presently have and use over fifty of their works of art . My inability to find the "right" mould in a variety not in my wee H&G stable forced a similar question for me, brass vs aluminum, and it turned out the aluminum version -- my 1st choice -- was sold out. Hence -- this from NOE -- I bought my very first brass mould. To make a long post shorter, I ended up giving away or selling all of my aluminum moulds through the years, save two which do not have a brass clone, and almost like the brass ones as well as the H&G's! Two things may be noted, though: 1st, I use a bottom pour furnace, so the mould is on a guide while being filled, and it is no real effort to cut the sprue and drop bullets, any more than a light-weight one. I will confess that in recent years, most all my purchases gravitate to two-cavity, for this (weight) reason. I am 70! And, #2, I believe it is no more than a matter of personal preference of what mould is made of. A couple of fellows who shoot at same club I do use aluminum only, and (the grass is greener ) I wish my bullets would look as good as theirs... The bottom line, imho, is the quality of manufacturer. RCBS, SAECO/Redding, MP, NOE, MM, or Lyman to name a few -- all great product. Vis your choice, I'd try the brass; if you do not love it, you can surely sell it on this sight for very little less than you have in it -- if nothing else, an inexpensive education.
    BEST!
    geo

  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy
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    Have to admit aluminum is my first choice,iron/steel 2nd. I have 1 brass mold from Mihec as much as I like it casting with it is tireing.

  16. #16
    Boolit Bub Teemu's Avatar
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    I prefer Brass vs Aluminium. It keeps heat better and i think that brass cast better. Just my opinion. I have lots of Aluminium molds from different manufacturers and maybe 20 or so on Brass. I usually take Brass nowdays if possible. I have pot where is support plate for mold and it leads mold direct under spout so weight isn't issue for me.

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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