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Thread: Lee 358-158-RF: Your experience?

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy PBSmith's Avatar
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    Lee 358-158-RF: Your experience?

    Looking at this design for .38 Spl, and wonder how it does at lower velocities in soft to medium hardness.

    I read plenty of "Yeah, great," reports, which do nothing to convince me I should buy the mold.

    Does anyone here have targets to show what kind of accuracy they've experienced at .38 velocities? Or does it require more fps to group well?

    It seems to me that this bullet would accomplish about the same level of damage as a wadcutter of equal weight. Maybe the only advantage in the RF design is that it might drop more readily from speed loaders? Any comments here?

    I see NOE and Accurate have similar designs and welcome reports from users of those as well.

    Given the choice, would you prefer the slight bevel base on Lee's mold, or a perfectly square base?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    Shoots around 3" at 25 yards out of a 3" Sp101 with a +p load of Promo (PC'ed). Shoots much better in a 357 case with 10 grains of Bluedot, groups are maybe half of the promo groups. I suspect the SP has a bit of thread choke and the pressure curve of the Bluedot is enough to bump the boolit back up after is passes the choke. I wouldn't hesitate to buy the mold. Congrats on .357 posts!

  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    For me, that Lee boolit groups the same a full wadcutters at the ranges I shoot(10-15 yards. I am not a great shot so targets won't be of any value except as compared to what I normally do. That said, I shot some of them at the range yesterday from 15 yards at a B27 silhouette with my S&W model 15 and ripped the 10 ring out of the target. 18 shots, nothing outside the 10 ring. That is as good as I can shoot with any handgun.
    I run it with 3.5 grains of Bullseye in 38 special cases.
    I haven't tried it in magnum cases yet. I see no reason it wouldn't work just as well there.
    I used to own one the the NOE versions of this boolit. It didn't shoot any better than the Lee so I sold it.
    I have the Lee in 6 cavity and it drops from the mold just fine.
    For me, the bevel doesn't matter except to make insertion into the case during loading easier.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
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    For $25, what do you have to lose? Each gun is is a law unto itself. Only you can determine if it will work well for you

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim357 View Post
    For $25, what do you have to lose? Each gun is is a law unto itself. Only you can determine if it will work well for you
    So true. I shoot the 125 grain version for cowboy action and it works wonderfully in my 1990’s 1894C with micro groove. No leading ( only using 2.8 grains bullseye in a 38 special case). I have no doubt that the primary purpose of this design was to feed in lever guns. If you will never plan on shooting a lever gun, I believe a semi wadcutter may be a better choice. It makes sharper holes in paper ( almost like a wadcutter). The round flat bullet is only slightly better than a round nose bullet on paper. The semi wadcutter is more game proven than the round flat and feeds OK from speedloaders. Just my .02.

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy
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    In my test all at 25 and 50 yards with a scoped Smith/15 here is what I found. First my alloys are 2 tin and 4 antimony and 20:1. I test mostly target loads in the Bullseye 2.8 to 3.2 range. Same with HP-38 from 3.2 to around 4.0. Other powders that I use are Unique, Zip, Red Dot, Green Dot and Clays.
    In general at low velocity there are better bullets.(IMO) But when you get up towards max on these fast powders it becomes unbelievably accurate. One of my best loads is 4.0 HP-38 in 38 special cases. It is my go to load when woods roaming with a 38 special.
    I don't have any targets I can post but off the bag at 50 yds in my gun it will almost hold the x ring on a slow fire bullseye target. I have switched to the Lee 358-105-swc, same charge for match shooting for the lesser recoil. If I add the Lee 358-148-BNWC, then these three boolits will fill every need I have for 358 boolits. Wadcutters for ultra accuracy, 105 for cheap plinking and the 158rf for serious terminal performance.
    Hope my results are of some use to you.
    Tony

  7. #7
    Boolit Master FergusonTO35's Avatar
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    Great boolit for .357 carbines, and the bevel base will take a gas check no problem!
    Currently casting and loading: .32 Auto, .380 Auto, .38 Special, 9X19, .357 Magnum, .257 Roberts, .30 WCF, .45-70 Gov't.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master Forrest r's Avatar
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    Decades ago I used/shot tons of the lyman 358311 158gr rn bullet. It is extremely accurate in several firearms I owned at the time including 6" bbl'd 1911's chambered in 9mm. That lyman rn bullet could easly match wc accuracy in every firearm I tried it in from the 50ft line to the 50yd line.

    Decided to give the lee 158gr rf bullet a try, the 6-cavity molds ability to rain bullets appealed to me along with the lighter weight of the alunimum molds.

    Well that lee mold rained bullets all right, but I just couldn't get them to shoot accurately. They were accurate enough for blammo ammo/dirt clod killers @ 10 paces. But to consistently hit dimes @ 50ft, no way. I'm sure others have had better luck with that lee 158gr rf bullet than I had. Tested that bullet in 10+ firearms over the years and finely gave up and got rid of the mold.


    I always like the rn/fn design for the 38spl's/357's and have always kept a mold or 2 around. Ran across the Mihec 359640 mold years ago and never looked back. Typical 6-shot groups @ 50ft.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I cast these for my buddy to use in his Henry lever action. By the time I got this mold I was out of the 38/357 revolver business so can"t speak as to its accuracy in a handgun, but my buddy is quite satisfied with the accuracy in the Henry.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master



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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim357 View Post
    For $25, what do you have to lose? Each gun is is a law unto itself. Only you can determine if it will work well for you
    THIS!!!^^^^

    Works well in a number of 35 calls I have shot it in.

    I like a WFN design. Not a LEE fan boy at all. But I’m no hypocrite either credit where credit is due.

    I like this and the lil brother 358-125 too!

    CW
    NRA Life member REMEMBER, FREEDOM IS NOT FREE its being paid for in BLOOD.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master roverboy's Avatar
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    Forrest r, that's some great accuracy. Nothing at all wrong with that.
    Mrs. Hogwallop up and R-U-N-N-O-F-T.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master Forrest r's Avatar
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    Thank you, not hand/cherry picked by any means. Those were the test targets used testing loads in a nib 686s&w.

    That lyman 358311 shot the same groups in several different firearms.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master Ed_Shot's Avatar
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    Economical mold.... and I get great performance in both pistol and rifle

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master

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    38 cal. accuracy sleeper ... few realize the virtues of this one :
    Lyman #358432 - 160 grain WC (discontinued) got a used one cavity on Ebay
    NOE #360-160-WC PB (358432) improved design and available . Bought a 4 cavity when I realized how accurate this boolit was .

    It's not a RNFP or a SWC but a modified WC . Take a look if you can find one .
    Gary
    Certified Cajun
    Proud Member of The Basket of Deplorables

  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy PBSmith's Avatar
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    Thanks all for your responses.

    Gary, based on your earlier posts and reports from others here, I bought a Lyman 358432 not long ago and am working with that one at present. The bullet you suggest might well be my final choice for a walkabout round.

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy ACC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PBSmith View Post
    Looking at this design for .38 Spl, and wonder how it does at lower velocities in soft to medium hardness.

    I read plenty of "Yeah, great," reports, which do nothing to convince me I should buy the mold.

    Does anyone here have targets to show what kind of accuracy they've experienced at .38 velocities? Or does it require more fps to group well?

    It seems to me that this bullet would accomplish about the same level of damage as a wadcutter of equal weight. Maybe the only advantage in the RF design is that it might drop more readily from speed loaders? Any comments here?

    I see NOE and Accurate have similar designs and welcome reports from users of those as well.

    Given the choice, would you prefer the slight bevel base on Lee's mold, or a perfectly square base?



    Thanks.

    Shoots pretty good out of my Blackhawk. The load was 5.2 grains of HP38. The target was shot at 30 meters. In Winchester .38 Special cases. Standing.

    ACC
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  17. #17
    Boolit Master Thumbcocker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FergusonTO35 View Post
    Great boolit for .357 carbines, and the bevel base will take a gas check no problem!
    I learned something today.
    You'll go far providin' you ain't burnt alive or scalped."

    Will Geer as Bear Claw in "Jeramiah Johnson"

  18. #18
    Boolit Bub
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    Got the six cavity Lee 158 rf mold to keep my wife happy shooting her two rugers and rossi 357. I just use 357 cases.
    She will go through between 100 and 150 rounds in a session. That 6 cavity is needed to keep her supplied. She
    claims it is accurate.

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy gunarea's Avatar
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    Been casting the older brother Lyman 358495 for over fifteen years now. A few of the shooters I know have the Lee version and do well with it. Got the Lee mould last year, for reasons not mentioned. Last Tuesday I took 20 of the Lee, four month maturity loaded identically to the Lyman standards, to the range for side by side comparison. Fired from a Uberti rolling block pistol. Same POA, same POI. In my opinion, the Lee projectile had a slight advantage toppling steel. Different nose ogive and larger meplate on Lee, might be the reason. My test was steel at 50 to 70 yds. Of the 20 Lee slugs, not a single missed target. Oh yeah, it does rain bullets!
    Roy
    Shoot often, Shoot well.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master FergusonTO35's Avatar
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    If I had to make do with one .38 and .357 boolit for the rest of my life this would be the one. Never met a revolver or carbine that didn't like it.
    Currently casting and loading: .32 Auto, .380 Auto, .38 Special, 9X19, .357 Magnum, .257 Roberts, .30 WCF, .45-70 Gov't.

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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