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Thread: 308 Case Life with Cast Bullets?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master Murphy's Avatar
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    308 Case Life with Cast Bullets?

    I have decided I want to delve into shooting a Stevens 200 in 308 caliber using cast bullets. I'm still undecided as to what mold I want to start with. I have a Lyman #311041 from a long ago group buy here on the forum. I have read of some really great results using that mold in the 308.

    I picked up a bag of 200 PMC once fired brass some years back and have decided to use them to get going with my project.

    I won't be looking for top end (high velocity) loads, more so for accuracy in the 1800-2000 FPS range. What can I expect in the way of case life?


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  2. #2
    Boolit Master

    Winger Ed.'s Avatar
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    Go easy on the sizing; clean & lube inside the neck, don't set the shoulders back down any farther than ya need to,
    and they'll last longer than you will.
    Last edited by Winger Ed.; 11-28-2020 at 02:51 PM.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master


    Larry Gibson's Avatar
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    Clean the cases between firings as mentioned. I use a paper towel to wipe lube residue off the neck shoulder area before cleaning. If you neck size you will split the necks after many, many firings with cast bullet loads unless you anneal the necks after every 20 +/- firings. I like to use either a Lee Collet sizer or a Redding bushing die to size the necks just enough so the neck is a tight slip fit over the initial expander on my 31 M-die.

    I've shot and still shoot thousand of cast bullets out of several 308Ws using fire formed cases to start with and have yet to have to set back a shoulder, partial size or FL size any of the cases. I one time shot 50 shots out of a single Winchester .308W case out of my M70 target using a 311299 over 28.5 gr 4895 with a dacron filler. Case was still very service when I gave up.......

    BTW; I use fire formed cases with the flash holes drilled out for my CBA match load using the NOE 310-165-FN "30 XCB" over 2400. Here is a recent 0 shots for score at 100 yards on the CBA score target. It is a lot harder shooting for score than just shooting for group. I lost my position on 2 shots and they got away from me going exactly to call. Still, over laying the 2 'groups" the 10 shot group is right at 1".

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Larry Gibson; 11-28-2020 at 03:10 PM.
    Larry Gibson

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    Boolit Master
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    I have a batch of Winchester brass that is at 20 reloads and still OK. The Lapua brass I have now has passed 20 reloads. Most were cast loads but they also get a dose of full power jacketed every now and then.

    I neck size using the Lee collet die. Every 10 reloads I do a full length resize and trim those that need it (few do). I do not anneal so will see how soon the necks start to split.

    I also have a batch of Hornady brass with the flash holes drilled for my plinking loads (7-8gn Blue Dot). They get neck size only. But, they only have about 10 reloads on them.

    When I do everything right I also get better than MOA groups, out to 300yd. Just take your time and be selective about the bullets you cast. When I started with casting these rifle bullets it was not unusual to throw back more than half of them. Now it is down to about 10%.

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master


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    I lost count on about 25 GI cases I used to play with cast loads in a Model 70 Heavy Varmint last year. Loads were light and I neck sized. The primer pockets all got loose before any split. I did anneal them once or twice. Brass lasts a long time with cast loads.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    Larry G
    How much did you drill out flash holes?

    Wonder about using a flash hole uniforming reamer?
    Nothing is impossible for the person that does not have to do it.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master



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    Don’t forget to anneal from time to time. Don’t crimp any harder than needed. Same gun and neck sizing is a plus.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Late last winter I got 500 primed Lake City .308 (7.62) cases from Everglades Ammo that had been salvaged from loaded ammo. These were all sized nicely and chambered without issue. After swaging out the crimped primer pocket and neck sizing with Lee's collet sizer, they work wonderfully with my cast boolits. I got a Little Crow case trimmer and a Wilson case gage to help the reloading process.

    I get fine accuracy with the well tried 10 grs. of Unique and also 17 grs. of. 2400. I use gas checked boolits but have also done well with a plain based design I got for my 30-30. Alloy has been Lyman #2 but the 5% tin can be adjusted down to 2%. One of my rifles likes a .310" boolit while the other, a well used one, needs a .311" Both can shoot many rounds without any leading. I tumble lube using the 45/45/10 recipie.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I bought 500 new Remington .308 cases about thirty years ago. I think I used all of them for cast bullet shooting in two rifles. Lots of load development with a variety of bullets saw this brass loaded many times, but I couldn't give you a number. A guess would be twenty or more loadings per case, maybe more, maybe a lot more. I use the same brass for both rifles and don't segregate the cases. My loads were never hot ones and very few muzzle velocities exceeded 1900 fps. Most were in the 1600 - 1800 fps range. I've never crimped .308 loads that were fired in bolt-action rifles, though it might be a good idea for lever action or semi-auto guns.

    Just recently, I noticed a few neck splits. As I've fired what's left of this brass, I put all of it in the scrap pile. I'm beginning with a new batch of Starline .308 and if it holds up like the Remington, I'll be pleased.

    I haven't annealed anything since I got rid of some rifles chambered in .219 Zipper. The cases required several forming steps and they had to be annealed to get anything close to decent case life. Proper annealing won't hurt a thing and it may extend brass life, but I wouldn't assume that it has to be done without experimenting on a few cases - as long as you keep track of everything.

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by TCLouis View Post
    Larry G
    How much did you drill out flash holes?

    Wonder about using a flash hole uniforming reamer?
    Those case were drilled out with a #30 drill. You can go as large as a #28 which still leaves a sufficient ledge for the anvil legs to sit on.

    The drill uniforms the size of the flash hole and if sharp and run at a correct speed doesn't need uniforming on the inside.
    Larry Gibson

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    Boolit Grand Master OS OK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Gibson View Post
    Those case were drilled out with a #30 drill. You can go as large as a #28 which still leaves a sufficient ledge for the anvil legs to sit on.

    The drill uniforms the size of the flash hole and if sharp and run at a correct speed doesn't need uniforming on the inside.
    Would this cause hi-pressure problems with jacketed loads if these cases got mixed with un-drilled cases?
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master



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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Gibson View Post
    Those case were drilled out with a #30 drill. You can go as large as a #28 which still leaves a sufficient ledge for the anvil legs to sit on.

    The drill uniforms the size of the flash hole and if sharp and run at a correct speed doesn't need uniforming on the inside.
    I don’t follow why you are drilling our the flash holes. I’ve heard some people do it for BP rounds, but it sounds like you are talking about smokeless. Is it common to drill out flash holes for smokeless? If so, tell me more about it. I understand the need to ream the outside of the primer pocket after crimped pockets, but this isn’t what you’re talking about is it ?

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Drilling out the primer flashhole keeps the primer from shortening headspace and/or backing out slightly when firing light loads. It helps maintain cartridge headspace. The 308 shoulder will move under the pressure of the primer, reducing case headspace without drilling primers. Larry has an very good write-up about this. Annealing keeps case necks from cracking but don't get them too soft. I have 308's shot in Savage 99's that have lasted at 15-20 firings. Neck sizing in a Lee Collet die or Redding 'S' bushing die can also reduce work hardening the case. Redding Competition shellholders can also improve case life by again decreasing the effects of 'oversizing' brass.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master



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    I understand now. Interesting. I keep learning new things on this forum. Thanks.

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    Boolit Master Murphy's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies and advice gentlemen. I'm sure I will be back for more later. My only cast bullet experience in rifles, has been with the 30-30. That was 15+ years ago. So for all intent and purpose, this will be a new experience for me.

    Cases, I am very particular about case prep. I saw the cases coming once fired as being a plus. I have a RCBS Precision Case Mic and have checked some previously fired cases from my Stevens 200. I had 3 cases (Winchester) I know beyond a doubt that were fired from the Stevens. I checked them, and then the PMC cases. Looks like I'll be resizing the entire lot of PMC brass. I have already began the process of uniforming all of the primer pockets. Next will come case sizing, trim to length, and then flash hole deburring.

    I will need to check which Lyman M Die I have from back when I was reloading cast for my 30-30. I know for certain I have a .310 sizer die ready to go. I have already learned from this post alone that I will be needing a neck die. Thanks for the input guys, you're the best!


    Murphy
    If I should depart this life while defending those who cannot defend themselves, then I have died the most honorable of deaths. Marc R. Murphy '2006'.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    If you drill out the flash holes do not use for full power, especially jacketed.

    I do not drill them out for 'reduced' medium loads (1700-2200fps). I do drill for the plinker/gallery loads ~1200fps or less.

  17. #17
    Boolit Bub
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    If you drill the flash holes do you use a mag or standard primer under 2100 fps in 308 with a 170 gas check boolit? Or does it matter?

  18. #18
    Boolit Master Bad Ass Wallace's Avatar
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    Cast boolit loads have cases of the one brand, reserved ONLY for cast loads, to prepare the cases I unify the primer pockets, neck turn the cases for uniformity and trim to length. Whilst not a 308, I have 30.06 cases that have been loaded 32 times without splitting. As I load and shoot single rounds only, I do not crimp as you are not worried about boolits moving forward under recoil.

    10 shots 30.06 at 100yds benchrested
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  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by GregLaROCHE View Post
    I don’t follow why you are drilling our the flash holes. I’ve heard some people do it for BP rounds, but it sounds like you are talking about smokeless. Is it common to drill out flash holes for smokeless? If so, tell me more about it. I understand the need to ream the outside of the primer pocket after crimped pockets, but this isn’t what you’re talking about is it ?
    While drilling out the flash holes was originally done to stop the cases from developing headspace problems, as mentioned by MostlyLeverGuns, it was found with certain types of reduced loads it also reduced powder position sensitivity and gave better ignition resulting in reduced SDs and ESs. The headspace problems developed with rimless bottleneck cases using LR primers that headspace on the shoulder. When "cat's sneeze" or "squib" loads are used which have insufficient psi to obturate the case to press against the chamber walls. The force of the primer explosion drives the case forward slightly setting back the shoulder with each firing. This is exacerbated in push feed actions because the ejector is also pushing the case forward. After several firings there can be failure to fire or failure to extract because the case headspace is shortened too much. This is not a problem with rimed or semi-rimmed cases or with CRF actions. In CRF actions with rimless cases the extractor holds the case back so the shoulder is only set back as far as the extractor allows the case to move forward.
    Last edited by Larry Gibson; 12-01-2020 at 08:39 AM.
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

  20. #20
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by charlie b View Post
    If you drill out the flash holes do not use for full power, especially jacketed.

    I do not drill them out for 'reduced' medium loads (1700-2200fps). I do drill for the plinker/gallery loads ~1200fps or less.
    While everyone is certainly free to do as one wants the above caution is not valid. While years ago when I tested drilled out flash holes and found they did prevent case shoulder set back with "cat's sneeze" or "squib" loads" I also proffered that same cautionary advise. However, after several tests and then extensive pressure test of such cases with drilled out flash holes it was found there is not any increase in pressure nor "danger", even with full powered jacketed or cast bullet loads.

    The results of 2 extensive tests can be found in these threads;

    Is drilling out flash holes dangerous? (gunloads.com)

    Drilled Flash Hole Test; 44 Magnum and 45 Colt (gunloads.com)
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

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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