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Thread: Good starting Caliber for casting ?

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    Good starting Caliber for casting ?

    Hey everyone, I've been reloading for about 4 years now and I'm getting into casting now ,originally for making fishing weights but making bullets is my next goal. My question is though what is a good starting caliber for somone to start casting for ? Was considering 7.62x39 but not sure.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    If you have one, I would suggest .38 special, or another rimmed pistol cartridge. Keeping it simple, you can start with a basic SWC or RN bullet of 125-150 grains and Lee tumble lube. You might not even have to size them. That way you will learn the basics of handling the mold and loading cast bullets without having to deal with higher velocity lubes, gas checks, etc. If you're already reloading you probably already have appropriate powders and dies.

    I started bullet casting and loading them about 50 years ago, using a borrowed 358477 SC mold and sizing equipment. It was a good experience; I too at the time had been loading jacketed rifle ammo a couple of years and it was a smooth transition for me. Good luck.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    There really isn't a bad caliber to start casting for. The only reason 7.62x39 might not be easy is because of the guns themselves, with many variations of them. Something more standardized like a 308 Winchester, or a pistol like 45 acp is going to be more forgiving in that sense.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master


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    Start with rimmed handgun cartridges, then semi-auto pistol cartridges, then move to rifle cartridges for bolt/pump/lever rifles, then move to semi-auto rifles last, if at all.

  5. #5
    Boolit Mold
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    Ok well I don't a rimmed hand gun I . I have a sub p320 in 9mm that I shoot alot as far as pistols but if it's a rimmed cartridge what about a 7.26x54r ?

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    7.62/39 is not bad to reload. If itís a bolt gun itís even more easier. The 7.62x39 in a sks for me isint hard but getting a good load to cycle is. Read up EC Harris load on this site. It works great for me. The 7.62x54 r is easy in a bolt gun like a molsen nagant . I only load light loads that I found on this site . E C Harris and I think also another member Larry Gibson on this site have posted really good loads at around 1800 FPS. Donít know about faster loads I havenít loaded any. The low to medium loads work just fine
    Last edited by Jniedbalski; 04-01-2020 at 08:15 PM.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    I also just load the biggest bullet that will chamber. Never had a problem and they shot good like this . In my 308 the largest that would chamber with my brass was .311 .312 was to tight but my savage axis did real good with the bigger .311 bullet

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    +1 on rimmed standard pistol calibers,
    magnums is a step advanced due to high velocity leading.
    rimless autos is an advanced step due to crimping and feeding.
    the low & sloe rifles are good also, 45-70, 45colt.
    gas operated autos might be easy if you load light and operate it as a straight pull action.
    if gas autos are loaded hot enough to operate the action you risk hi velocity leading (advanced casting/loading techniques)

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Don't over think it. A semi auto rifle is not the easiest firearm to load ammo for, but it is not that hard either. Any of the handgun rounds, rimmed or not are a no brainer. A revolver or semi auto handgun is likely the easiest. A non-semi automatic rifle is plenty easy to do too. Don't forget shotguns. Slugs and buckshot are great.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master Bad Ass Wallace's Avatar
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    I like the little cartridges like 25/20 or 32/20. Common as, and low power. I load and shoot mine for as little a $8/100, cheaper than rimfire and a lot more fun!

    Hold Still Varmint; while I plugs Yer!

  11. #11
    Boolit Mold
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bad *** Wallace View Post
    I like the little cartridges like 25/20 or 32/20. Common as, and low power. I load and shoot mine for as little a $8/100, cheaper than rimfire and a lot more fun!

    Wow now that's cool ! Don't think I've ever seen or heard of that round, looks real similar to a .22 hornet

  12. #12
    Boolit Mold
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jniedbalski View Post
    7.62/39 is not bad to reload. If it’s a bolt gun it’s even more easier. The 7.62x39 in a sks for me isint hard but getting a good load to cycle is. Read up EC Harris load on this site. It works great for me. The 7.62x54 r is easy in a bolt gun like a molsen nagant . I only load light loads that I found on this site . E C Harris and I think also another member Larry Gibson on this site have posted really good loads at around 1800 FPS. Don’t know about faster loads I haven’t loaded any. The low to medium loads work just fine
    Ok thanks for the advice I actually need to sluge my mosins bore to see what it will take. Only reason I haven't started reloading for it hinestly

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy Huvius's Avatar
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    I agree that a rimmed handgun cartridge is good to start with.
    The first boolit I ever cast was a .452 wadcutter loaded in 45LC brass that a friend gave me.
    It was a revelation to me that I could produce accurate loads with boolits and lube I made myself!

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    OK, so you got a 9mm auto pistol, a 7.62x39 gas auto, and a 7.62x54r bolt action, correct?
    Here is my take on it, since you asked as a beginning casting gun.
    The 7.62x54 will be difficult to get full power loads to work, but loads up to 2000fps are relatively easy, 2500fps is advanced level, 2700fps+ is highly advanced level.
    The 7.62x39 will be relatively easy to run up to 2000fps (but use it as a straight pull action), full speed loads are advanced level. This round full speed is only about 2300 though.
    The 9mm is likely the best one as a beginner. The deal here is feeding a auto action. I personnally load for Hi-power and 1911. Loading for auto pistols is about the casting bullet as much as it is to make the finished load feed right. (feed like factory ammo, reliably).

    Here is my final thought on your indicated owned guns:
    If you accept light loads or gallery/pest control loads, the 7.62x54 is easiest to get started on.
    If you are expecting full power loads then my opinion is this order:
    9mm, then 7.62x39, then 7.62x54

  15. #15
    I load for x39 and x54r....54r is pretty easy. .312-.314 bullets and some unique powder 10-13gr has worked well for me. Lee TL 160gr
    Unsized PC'd at 50 yards pretty accurate.

    X39- .312 Lee 160gr PC'd checked, sized to .311 and 21gr of AA2230 cycles my AR.

    Obviously work up your load but these work for me.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Wolfdog91, higgins was the first to correctly nail the answer. Your efforts should be focused on creating boolits that will function in your firearm. Keep everything else as simple as possible and work with the variables in the casting, sizing, loading, etc as you learn. The most user friendly platform for this is a revolver using rimmed cartridges. By now you have probably realized that we are all enablers giving you the encouragement to buy a suitable (to you) revolver, then brass, dies, molds, sizers and so on. Like the commercials say "The more you spend the more you save!" Do it, and enjoy.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    If you want an excuse to buy a gun, then I'd recommend the .38spl. Easy to load for, plenty of bullets to choose from, mild to shoot. Brass doesn't get tossed to the ground. It will probably get you hooked on revolvers

    Rifles I'd just use the 7.62x54r. Good case for cast. Load light and have fun. I use 7-8gn of Blue Dot in my .308 and it is fun to shoot stuff like soda cans at 200yd. Very cheap to load for. Or, you can go up to 2000fps and have very accurate loads out to 400yd or more, depending on your rifle.

    Having said all that...I learned to cast for my 1911 in .45acp. Semi-autos have the added problem of getting them to function properly, especially feeding and ejecting. Some pistols can be aggravating in this regard.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    The reason revolvers keep coming up particularly 38 special is they perform normally with low pressure cast bullet loads . It is much easier to build safe loads that don't lead your barrel are accurate and fun to shoot at 700 or 800 FPS . The higher the velocity the more critical the size , alloy , bullet design , gas checks or not . When you move to a semi auto you add getting the gun to cycle correctly to the mix and if it is gas operated you have added more potential issues to the mix. None of this means you can't cast for any of the guns you have , but they may be more difficult /frustrating to get performance that you are happy with.
    A slick functioning used 38/357 is one of the more popular easy to find guns with a lot of load data and molds to choose from for very light to heavy hunting loads .

  19. #19
    Boolit Master Thumbcocker's Avatar
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    Of the cartridges you have I would choose 7.62 x 54 r. You will need to slug your bore and throat if possible. A rule of thumb would be to size boolits .002 over bore diameter or near throat diameter. You can shoot a gas check designed boolit without the gas check at 1200 fps and have lots of fun with just tumble lube. Fast pistol or shot gun powders are your friend. Once you get the hang of it you can gas check the boolits and try medium burning rate rifle powders. You must invest in an "M" type die to get the boolit into the case without deforming it. With military sights you will have to play with elevation but you should be able to shoot a non gas checked boolit well enough to plink at 100 yards with the sights cranked up enough.
    You'll go far providin' you ain't burnt alive or scalped."

    Will Geer as Bear Claw in "Jeramiah Johnson"

  20. #20
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    Any caliber is a good caliber to start with - just jump in and get your feet wet. My very first mold was a Lyman 575-213 hollow base mini ball - that was some 55 years ago or so. The one thingI would say is that if you have some casting experience already, you'll be just fine. IMHO, a hollow base mold may give a person more of a challenge in the beginning in getting heat of mold, lead, cadence, etc. all together but you'll soon learn what to do as far as any issue with skirt fill out. I have never cast with a hollow point mold so can't speak that. Everyone has their "favorite caliber" - go by what you'd like to try first and just jump in! From your first mold - it just expands into others.

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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