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Thread: Barrel Life by shooting Cast Boolits?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master Bad Ass Wallace's Avatar
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    Barrel Life by shooting Cast Boolits?

    Folks who know me know that I am very particular about which rifles are fed "J" boolits and which are only fired with cast boolits. Any Winchester levers, Martini's, Sharps and several classic bolt actions are only fed cast.

    The cheapness of cast boolit loads means that I can afford to shoot much more than if I was relying on store bought boolits. Shooting more may mean that the barrel would be worn out quickly but I haven't seen that.

    The payback is absolutely polished barrels that only get better with time. But the burning question that I am often asked is what barrel life can be expected? I simply don't know and don't have a clue. A Google search is even more confusing with 'estimates' running from 40,000 to 250,000?

    I have new rifles and some old ones where changing the cast boolit size has made a rifle with useable accuracy. This is something you can't do with "J" boolits.

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  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    I don't believe that you can ever wear a good barrel out shooting only cast boolits.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

    Winger Ed.'s Avatar
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    One of the older Lyman books had a 2-3 page article on that.

    According to the article:
    The biggie is throat erosion.
    It can be compensated for by longer OAL, chopping off the back of the barrel, and rethreading/chambering it.

    They figured a regular, sport barrel was good for about 2,000 or so full house rounds
    before accuracy started falling off from the erosion or burning of the throat.
    A Chrome lined GI type barrel was good for about 5,000 before it started to wear out.

    They took a new, everyday Win. Model 70, I think in .308 and shot only cast boolits in it.
    After 40,000 rounds, they ground off the top of the chamber and first bit of rifling.

    They found 'no measurable wear'.
    It wasn't playing the blame game, finding fault, and complaining about every little thing that made America great.
    It was God, guns, and guts.


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  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master



    M-Tecs's Avatar
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    Barrels mostly wear out from heat/pressure erosion. The lower the pressure and heat the longer the life. For low pressure rounds like the 45 ACP 250,000 rounds and still maintaining competitive accuracy is not unheard of.

    On the other end of the spectrum some of the high pressure jacketed rounds used for long range competition lose their competitive accuracy life around 2,000 rounds. A standard 308 normally goes about 4,000 for usable accuracy life. It will still group at 200 or 300 yards but you will start to shots dropping at the bottom at longer ranges. Hunting accuracy should be double or more.
    2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

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  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy
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    Well if any of that is true I'm probably gonna wear out before the barrels on anything I own. Lol!

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy Win94ae's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bad *** Wallace View Post
    I have new rifles and some old ones where changing the cast boolit size has made a rifle with useable accuracy. This is something you can't do with "J" boolits.
    I do it all the time. Actually I shot "oversized" jacketed bullets today with my 30-30. It has a worn barrel, which is much like a funnel now.



    That is a Speer 31cal 180gr bullet, that I size to .310 so I don't get a 4MOA high flier every 5 to 10 shots.

    I'm pretty sure, the cast bullets were what effected my bore. I was under the assumption that cast bullets were "polishing" my bore also; when in actuality, they were polishing and compacting the fouling and causing a problem. Now, in my other rifles, I don't shoot many cast bullets at all without a thorough to bare metal cleaning.

    That reminds me, I need to thoroughly clean the Marlin 1894. I've shot a lot of cast in that lately. Powder coated, hopefully the absence of the lube fouling will make a huge difference.

    P.S. I have about 25,000 rounds through the 30-30, I had maybe 15,000 rounds through it before I started using cast, and the bore wasn't a funnel at that time.
    Last edited by Win94ae; 05-17-2020 at 08:48 PM. Reason: round count

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    as stated, yes you can the question is "when is it worn out" to you and your uses. You know you can wear out even a 22lr? top rimfire prone shooters will wear them out, the throat will go, the crown erodes, etc. Now the top shooters will replace those smallbore barrels at about 30-50k rds but they will still shoot very well for an average Joe, just not for someone trying to shoot a 1200.
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  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Good question for powder coat......all plastics contain fillers ,which can include fine silica ,talc,ground glass,ground mica ,alumina,and colours like titanium dioxide .....TiO2 is a very common whitener .So how abrasive are powder coat bullets?...Obviously depends on the powder .....which is made to give a smooth ,long wearing coating on metal objects ,doubt bullets come into consideration.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master


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    I think a cleaning rod has ruined more barrels than anything else.
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  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Michel View Post
    I think a cleaning rod has ruined more barrels than anything else.
    Good point.
    I had a Confederate issue musket that was very used.
    The barrel end at the muzzle was oval. Probably from the ram rod going in & out so many times.
    It wasn't playing the blame game, finding fault, and complaining about every little thing that made America great.
    It was God, guns, and guts.


    Never pick a fight with old people.
    If they don't think they can win it: They'll just kill you.

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have a Model Seven in .308 that I bought 25 years ago. Put several thousand rounds of ball ammo through it. Now I shoot a gas checked .311 boolit in it and it's back to sub moa, at least at 50 yds. I doubt that 16 grains of 2400 is going to wear that barrel very much from here on out. It won't see anymore j word bullets.

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    Cast boolits and 1% carnuba wax in my BLL. Bores just keep getting shinier.

  13. #13
    Boolit Grand Master



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    Quote Originally Posted by akajun View Post
    You know you can wear out even a 22lr? top rimfire prone shooters will wear them out, the throat will go, the crown erodes, etc. Now the top shooters will replace those smallbore barrels at about 30-50k rds but they will still shoot very well for an average Joe, just not for someone trying to shoot a 1200.
    Rimfire ammo does not have an anvil in the primer. In lieu of an anvil they use powder glass in the priming compound. Starting at about 20K you can see a sandblasting effect 6 or 9 inches in front of the chamber at the 6 o'clock position from the powder glass.
    2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    "Before you argue with someone, ask yourself, is that person even mentally mature enough to grasp the concept of different perspectives? Because if not, there’s absolutely no point."

    – Amber Veal

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by GhostHawk View Post
    Cast boolits and 1% carnuba wax in my BLL. Bores just keep getting shinier.
    Does the carnuba readily dissolve?

  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    No, it has to be heated with the Alox. Once all melted together I combine with the floor wax/mineral spirits and all is good.

    I love what it does for bores, it also makes a non sticky film on the surface of boolits. Which is also a nice side effect.

    Microwave works for warming. I also did it once with a soldering iron in the alox bottle till it started looking runny. Added my Carnuba crystals and hit it again with the soldering iron. Then put the cap on and shook it hard. Then mixed as normal.

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy
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    I chambered a new barrel before the 2019 shooting season, 30BR. Once chambered, I polished the leade to remove the perpendicular reamer marks. I checked it with the borescope, there were a few faint marks left, but otherwise matched the surface finish of the lands and grooves. I shot quite a bit between Febuary and August, then decided to change the barrel for a different twist. I checked the first barrel again with the borescope, those slight marks were till there. Between matches and practice, I estimate 500-600 rounds, looked like new, no change in seating depth. I cast linotype and powder coat the bullets. Polishing the leade as I did using j-bullets, those slight marks are gone in 10 rounds.

  17. #17
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by M-Tecs View Post
    Barrels mostly wear out from heat/pressure erosion. The lower the pressure and heat the longer the life.…....
    This is correct. With low end cast bullet (regular lubed bullets) loads using small charges of fast to medium burning powders many, many thousands of rounds would need be fired before you'd measure or find any noticeable throat erosion. This especially so if the shooting cadence is slow where the barrel never gets to hot to grasp and hold in front of the action.

    Over the years I have shot out (loss of match or varmint accuracy....basically would no longer hold 10 ring for a match rifle (M14/M1As & M1903s) or hold moa or better for a varmint rifle/bolt action match rifle. I have also shot out several other rifle barrels of various calibers simply because I shot them a lot.

    Conversely, I have shot thousands upon thousands of cast bullets in numerous rifles and handguns over the years and have yet to discern any measurable throat wear from shooting the cast bullet loads......with two exceptions. Those two exceptions are my 308W Palma barrel with 14" twist and my 30x60 XCB with 16" twist. Both of those have had quite a few top end HV cast bullet loads using slow burning powders at 48 - 50,000 psi (measured). I have tracked every round fired through the 30x60 XCB and it's just over 3,000 rounds. There is measurable and discernable throat wear.
    Larry Gibson

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  18. #18
    Boolit Master Bad Ass Wallace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Gibson View Post

    Conversely, I have shot thousands upon thousands of cast bullets in numerous rifles and handguns over the years and have yet to discern any measurable throat wear from shooting the cast bullet loads......
    From you very informative posts, it would seem that I need not worry about my "cast guns". I have recovered many cast boolits and find that medium loads (1500-1800fps) and the right soft alloy will kill game emphaticaly with a not to hard alloy.

    Hold Still Varmint; while I plugs Yer!

  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master

    Wayne Smith's Avatar
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    So I guess that the shorter way of thinking about this is that it is powder that erodes throats, not boolits or bullets.
    Wayne the Shrink

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