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Thread: Round Ball Mold of Choice?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master

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    Round Ball Mold of Choice?

    I'm about to come into a Pietta '58 Remington clone and will need to acquire a few bits of paraphernalia to fuel it. As far as making .454" round balls:

    Lee: available in 6-cavity and cheap. Have not been impressed with the quality of their smaller 1 and 2 cavity molds, but their 6-bangers seem to get a better rep.

    Lyman: made of iron, and two holes is probably enough for this application. Lyman, however is a bit of a forum whipping boy when it comes to holding decent mold specs. Can they at least make a spherical mold that drops proper diameters?

    RCBS: I know the quality is awesome here, but by the time you get up to .454", you only get one cavity and they are very proud of them.

    Thoughts on these? Any others to consider?
    WWJMBD?

    "I'M MELLLLLLLLLLTING!" - Elphaba

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    Markopolo's Avatar
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    you might need a slightly larger ball for that... just a couple thou... at least that is what I hear.. somebody else will prolly chime in that actually has one of these.. mine are all navy or army colts.
    Any technology not understood, can seem like Magic!!!

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  3. #3
    Boolit Master
    Mr Peabody's Avatar
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    I own a few RCBS. I watch for them on GunBroker. I think they're all 2 cavity. I'd buy the Lee for now and see if it does what you want.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master brewer12345's Avatar
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    I have lee and lyman molds for round ball. My lyman is a very old 4 banger that has seen lots of use, but it sure does cast well. If you can wait for a used rcbs or lyman that is probably the best choice. That said, a lee 2 cavity can be had for about 20 bucks and will do the job.
    "If you see me running something has gone poorly, and you should probably run too." - any beekeeper

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
    swheeler's Avatar
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    I've got Lyman and Lee both in .451 for Pietta Colt, I will take the Lee mold any day over Lyman RB mould. I'd have to look but think my Lyman is a single cavity
    Hell, I was there!

  6. #6
    Boolit Master


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    Are you going to spend the money for a full run comp gun and shoot national level matches? if not the lee will do just fine and if the 454 dosent fit which I think it will your only out 20 bucks for a two banger. If you want a full comp gun send it to a gunsmith get it relined to 32 and get a custom mould. Be sure to use pure lead as hard lead and over size balls can wreck the rammer. Use corn meal under the ball to seal the front and get the powder charge down to target levels, any lube that will stay on the top of the ball, I have used water pump grease and bearing grease but crisco works just fine.
    Don't buy nuthing you can't take home

    Joel 3:10

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Lee is the only common mold I know of that cuts the sprue off flush with the ball. For that, they are miles ahead of lyman and the others.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    i have all three no problems with any of them. I will say .451 is generly what is used in the remingtom. .454 if you have a gun that has a bore on the large side. .457 is for the ruger old army.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I own others but the majority are Lees , they work great and at their price if I mess one up it gets replaced . I haven"t had to in probably 35-40 yrs

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by megasupermagnum View Post
    Lee is the only common mold I know of that cuts the sprue off flush with the ball. For that, they are miles ahead of lyman and the others.
    I like this feature also
    Hell, I was there!

  11. #11
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    ShooterAZ's Avatar
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    I have a .457 RCBS round ball mold for my ROA, and it is a 2 cavity mold. I have the LEE 2 cavity also, but much prefer the RCBS. It casts a lot smoother and more consistently.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master taco650's Avatar
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    I recently bought two Lee RB molds, one in .454 for my 1860 Army and the other a .490 for my rifles. Both drop balls true to advertised diameter and dropped free with just a light tap on the hinge nut. I've only cast with them one time using both, alternating back & forth. I'm happy with both and for as much as I shoot I see no need for anything else.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by megasupermagnum View Post
    Lee is the only common mold I know of that cuts the sprue off flush with the ball. For that, they are miles ahead of lyman and the others.
    SOLD! Thanks guys! Will probably get the six-holer.
    WWJMBD?

    "I'M MELLLLLLLLLLTING!" - Elphaba

  14. #14
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    I have been shooting round balls for over 55 years and have cast them the same length of time. I have used everything from a single cavity "bag mld" to a cheap brass one. I have cast in Lee, Lyman, Ideal, O'Haus, RCBS, Lachmiller, unbranded - steel . . . brass . . . aluminum - single cavity, double cavity, 4 cavity and 6 cavity. If a mold drops a round ball that is the correct size for your gun . . . i.e. if for a patched ball the fit is correct for the bore size or for a C & B revolver, if the ball size is correct so that you have a sheered ring when seated in the chamber . . . it's good.

    In other words . . . "a round ball is a round ball".

    While there can be problems with any brand of mold, and I have had my share of "problems"over the years in a number of them, all different brands, to say one will cast a better "round ball" than another brand doesn't hold a lot of water. I have seen posts on this site by those who are concerned about the "sprue" - to pronounced, too flat, too much under the circumference of the ball . . . . our ancestors, for the most part, utilized "bag molds" which required the sprue to be cut off with the handles - until molds became mass produced. They worked just fine, provided meat for the table and for protection.

    A Lee 2 cavity RB mold will cast just as good of a round ball as an expensive custom cut mold - as long as the mold is not a reject. Any mold can have an issue no matter who makes it. I have cast literally tens of thousands of round balls out of a Lee mold for my cap and ball revolvers and for the cheap price of the mold, it owes me nothing . . . and they have worked just fine in all of the many C & B revolvers I have owned over the years.

    That said . . . at this point in time, I only will buy a Lee conical pistol/rifle mold in order to try the boolit out in a new gun . . . if it casts good, then fine. If not and I like the boolit,, then I will upgrade to a much better mold. Never had an issue with a Lee RB mold . . can't say the same for their conical patterns - but again - I have had issues with Lyman - even running in to several molds that were "mis marked".

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    First thing I would do is take measurements of all things internal when piece arrives prior to the mold purchase. Once you have those numbers then figure out if you are going to leave as is or "correct" if needed the cylinder/groove thing you may very well find. You probably will start scratching your head when you get the real internal dimensions, I have seen a lot of .446"-.448" cylinders with a .452" groove. I have a few old ASM's that have .448" cylinder with .465" groove, yea, sweet huh! Depends on what your after and at what performance level and how far are you wanting to chase it. I can tell you a ball a couple over a cylinder that is equal to or a hair over groove shoots a whole lot better than out of the box.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master


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    hard to beat a lee ball mould. for odd ball diameters i use jeff tanner brass moulds.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master Harter66's Avatar
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    I've had several 1860 and 1858s . The .454 is more consistent than the .451 but it's not been needed to make the seal and engagement of the lands .

    I have a dozen RB moulds and a RB/conical combo mould .

    The majority of them , Lee , Lyman , and Lachmiller , were great moulds and mostly old stock . However the tangical cut off on two .380 RB doubles from Lee were too shallow and gave me a .370 flat to radius dia ...... The other Lees in .454 and .490 and the 18 C 00B are fine . I made a deal at some point , a 454 Lyman RB came with the pistol so the Lee went with the next trade .

    There's no personal dig with Lee of the 70 or so moulds on hand 15 , maybe more are Lee and when they are right or finished to right they're as good as any .
    Lyman made a bunch under size and oval .
    RCBS made some 27-130s that cast 145 .
    NOE makes several moulds over/under on purpose .
    Lee sells for 25-30% of the others and makes a few mistakes .
    I can live with that unless it's just completely unusable then I save it for something else .
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  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by megasupermagnum View Post
    lee is the only common mold i know of that cuts the sprue off flush with the ball. For that, they are miles ahead of lyman and the others.

    yes !!!!

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    I also have many brands of round ball molds. I started casting for my '58 Remington 46 years ago with a Lee .451. That ball shaved off a ring of lead on loading and I never had an issue with it. I know a lot of guys prefer the .454" for the revolvers. Does it matter if the ball is absolutely round? I don't think so; by the time it is loaded, there will have been a ring of lead shaved off and it is swaged into the cylinder. The only way to get the ball close to bore/groove size is to ream the undersized cylinder chambers. Other wise, you just hope the ball will obturate to fill the rifling. As far as lube.....I stay away from any petroleum based greases.
    NRA Life
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  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    LEE ....hands down the best for round ball
    for a more detailed list of sizes look at Pedersoli they have the field covered

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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