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Thread: Selecting a diameter for my fake Colt SAA

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    Selecting a diameter for my fake Colt SAA

    Hi

    I've been lurking around here for quite some time. You guys have have an incredible amount of knowledge packed in here, and I'm hoping to tap into some of it.

    I've decided to switch gears and take a big step back in time. I've reloaded a wide range of modern cartridges over the years, but recently I've started retooling to cast my own bullets and load black powder cartridges (both of which I've never done before) out of my new Uberti El Patron ('73 SAA clone) .45 colt and Uberti/Cimarron 1866 lever rifle in .44-40. This forum has been a big help, but I'm still a bit foggy on what diameter I should be shooting for when it comes to my SAA.

    I acquired a Saeco 2-cavity 230 gr mould that is listed as being .454 diameter. Not my first choice of bullet, but I like the potential versatility it may give me if I ever decide to run cast bullets out of my 1911, and more importantly, it was one of the only few .45 pistol bullet moulds currently available in these nutso times we're in.

    I slugged and caliper'ed my cylinder's chamber throats and they all run very near .454. I slugged the bore twice and it measured .450 on the money both times. Is that .004" difference quite a bit? I understand a throat smaller than groove diameter is a bad deal, so at least this one doesn't fit that bill. But .004 over seems like a lot. I'm not sure what my bullets will cast to with my new stash of 20:1 alloy, but I'm hoping I can shoot them as-cast rather than sizing them.

    Assuming my mould throws a .454 bullet, is jumping thru a forcing cone down to a .450 bore too harsh of a transition? Should I consider sizing down closer to to groove diameter? If so, how many thousandths under throat diameter can I go down before I start getting blow-by, if any, in my throats upon firing?

    Or... is that .004" difference not enough to worry about, and as long as I find out my bullets cast out anywhere between those two marks, just load up and make smoke?

    Thanks for you input. I think I'm going to like this new-to-me side of the shooting addiction, er, I mean sports.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    May I ask a simple question?? Hope so. Here it comes.
    What is wrong with starting out SIMPLE first and size to .452" and try that diameter before you go into a frenzy over things like this. I've used .451, .452, .453 depending on whether I use my Star sizer or my RCBS lubisizer and the hardness of the bullets with NO problem in Ruger SA's and Smith and Wesson DA. 45 Colt. To tell the difference in field shooting positions you are going to have to be one heck of a shooter.
    Just start out simple and don't overthink things which is fueled by reading too much.
    Let me add this also. Some people thrive on complications and mental gymnastics. Then some like me like to start simple and then if the situation need complications and mental gymnastics I will oblige to whatever degree is necessary to solve the problem.
    I believe in the KISS principle. If at all possible.
    Last edited by 44MAG#1; 06-12-2021 at 08:21 AM.
    We Know Mass Cannot Be Weighed But It Has Newtonian Weight And That Is Derived From Kilograms And Kilograms Can Be Converted to Pounds. But, Still Mass Cannot Be Weighed. But How is the kilograms obtained? Can Kilograms Be Weighed? Evidentally Yes It Can. But, Still Mass Cannot Be Weighed So Kilograms Must Not Exist. Funny Isn't It.
    One good thing out of this the next time I'm at the doctors and they want to weigh me I'll tell them mass cannot be weighed.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master




    Tar Heel's Avatar
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    Yup. What 44Mag said. The sad truth is that for most of us, the guns will shoot better than we ever could. The variation we humans introduce with our marksmanship skills far outweigh any deviation introduced by mechanical variations of .002". We are of course, legends in our own minds, but factually, we ain't that good. Just size some and shoot them. As indicated, .452" is a good starting point.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    I completely misunderstood this issue for a long time. As per above, within reason, if the throat is larger than the bore then just size to the bore, if the throat is not larger than the bore by at least .0015 then have it reamed/honed.

    At least that’s how I’m operating these days.

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master

    Wayne Smith's Avatar
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    What size will chamber? I have a couple of S&W .357 revolvers, a cartridge loaded with a boolit at .359 is extremely tight and hard to load. A case with a boolit .358 chambers easily and that's what I shoot. I did this well before I knew to measure chambers.
    Wayne the Shrink

    There is no 'right' that requires me to work for you or you to work for me!

  6. #6
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    I don't know if this will help you or not - I have a Uberti 7 1/2 inch Cattlemanin 45 Colt - not much different than you have. I have never slugged the bore nor the throats - the closest thing I have done in regards to "measuring" the throats is to take my cast boolits and check the fit to the throats. I have molds that drop at .452 and .454 - in a variety of grain weights but my favorite for 45 Colt or Schofield is either the 452-190 or 454-190.

    On all of my Uberti revolvers - and I own a number of them in various calibers - I have founder the throats to be quite generous - unlike the several Ruger SAs that I have owned. On my Uberti 45 Cattleman, I have found that both a .452 and a .454 shoot very well - whether I'm shooting BP loads or using Unique or Red Dot.

    I shoot at various distances and the revolver will shoot better than I do. When I first shot the revolver, the first shot I took at 50 yards was dead center in the Bull - pure luck but I am more than happy with the group the cylinder gave me - that was with my cast out of range lead from the 452-190 - loaded :as cast".

    All of my Uberti 38s and 357 give similar results - using a variety of .358 molds - a variety of grain weights,. IMHO - if the throats are larger than your bore - load it, shoot it and see how it shoots - the revolver will tell you what it likes. Because I cast from a variety of molds and most are .452 and drop at that _ I pretty much use .452 most of the time in all of my 45 Colt / 45 Schofield loads (I have revolvers with Howell conversion cylinders). For smokeless loads I tumble lube in Alox/paste wax and for BP loads, I finger lube with my homemade BP lube - I have never had an issue with leading.

    IMHO, the 45 Colt or 45 Schofield is probably one of the easiest cartridges to load. For my Uberti 45 Cattleman, I normally FL size the brass the first time and after that, I just neck size a tad bit beyond boolit seating depth - expand, seat, roll crimp and good to go.

    Good luck and enjoy - what the others have said is sage advice.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimB.. View Post
    I completely misunderstood this issue for a long time. As per above, within reason, if the throat is larger than the bore then just size to the bore, if the throat is not larger than the bore by at least .0015 then have it reamed/honed.

    At least that’s how I’m operating these days.
    This is still incorrect. Size to fit THE THROATS. Sizing smaller than the cylinder throats, i.e. randomly picking .452" and sizing to that dimension will insure the fact that you have leading and poor groups *IF* in fact your throats are .454."

    You have a mold that drops .454" SEE if you can push one through the cylinder throats as cast.

    My Uberti Old West (the pistol in my avatar pic) has .4565" throats, with a .451" groove diameter barrel, I size to .456" it is a fly's worst nightmare at 10 yards, all into the same raggedy little hole, no leading, and I never need to clean the bore.

    I have said this many times over on this forum, and it is yet to be successfully argued down: In a perfect world, a revolver's boolit is .001" to .002" greater than groove diameter, cylinder throats are .0005" to .001" greater than boolit diameter. This fitment works quite well in every centerfire caliber regardless of model or manufacturer.
    Got a .22 .30 .32 .357 .38 .40 .41 .44 .45 .480 or .500 S&W cylinder that needs throats honed? 9mm, 10mm/40S&W, 45 ACP pistol barrel that won't "plunk" your handloads? Click this link to send me a PM->>> http://castboolits.gunloads.com/priv...=newpm&u=29606 Also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cylinderhone-756429174391912/

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    I wish that somebody would invoke a Voodoo curse on all those old Lyman handbooks which say to "size bullets top the groove diameter of your barrel" and REDACT them!
    The ENEMY is listening.
    HE wants to know what YOU know.
    Keep it to yourself.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    +1 to what DougGuy and Outpost75 said.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    I read the OP's post and didn't see a place where he asked if he should size to groove diameter.
    He said, "I slugged the bore twice and it measured .450 on the money both times. Is that .004" difference quite a bit? I understand a throat smaller than groove diameter is a bad deal, so at least this one doesn't fit that bill."
    Am I wrong in this? If I am please lay it on me.
    We Know Mass Cannot Be Weighed But It Has Newtonian Weight And That Is Derived From Kilograms And Kilograms Can Be Converted to Pounds. But, Still Mass Cannot Be Weighed. But How is the kilograms obtained? Can Kilograms Be Weighed? Evidentally Yes It Can. But, Still Mass Cannot Be Weighed So Kilograms Must Not Exist. Funny Isn't It.
    One good thing out of this the next time I'm at the doctors and they want to weigh me I'll tell them mass cannot be weighed.

  11. #11
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    mdi's Avatar
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    Since 1990 or so I have been sizing my revolver bullets to the same diameter as the cylinder throats. I also slug the throats and barrels, one to know the throat diameter and to make sure the throats are larger than the groove diameter of the barrel (I would shoot bullets .004" over groove diameter). In my experience bullets smaller than throat diameter produce barrel leading easily. Bullets larger then (.002"+) often results in "lead spray", leading on the cylinder face and frame and the cleanest, most accurate have always been bullets sized to same diameter as throats. ("drop through", "push through", etc. are not measurements and can mean almost anything depending on the person pushing. Throats can be accurately measured by slugging, which I've done and I often/normally use a plug gauge or an expanding ball gauge)...

    I have tried "bump up", pressure vs BHN, velocity limitations, powder burn temps, and maybe a few more "formula", but the easiest and most successful approach is sizing to same diameter as the cylinder throats. K.I.S.S....
    Last edited by mdi; 06-12-2021 at 12:49 PM.
    My Anchor is holding fast!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by 44MAG#1 View Post
    I read the OP's post and didn't see a place where he asked if he should size to groove diameter.
    My response was to JimB's post:

    Quote Originally Posted by JimB.. View Post
    As per above, within reason, if the throat is larger than the bore then just size to the bore, if the throat is not larger than the bore by at least .0015 then have it reamed/honed.
    Also,

    Quote Originally Posted by mdi View Post
    I have tried "bump up", pressure vs BHN, velocity limitations, powder burn temps, and maybe a few more "formula", but the easiest and most successful approach is sizing to same diameter as the cylinder throats. K.I.S.S....
    Sizing to the same diameter as throats leaves you no "wiggle" room for boolits that grow .0002" ~ .0004" while age hardening as they sit until they are used. It also leaves no room for any out of rounds variations that may create interference with the throat and make chambering difficult. Sizing .0005" under throat diameter leaves just enough grace if you will, for typical variations in handloads for them to all work without issue, *usually* and it isn't enough room for powder gas to escape UNLESS throats are egged, which is also pretty typical depending on maker and caliber.

    Of all the cylinders that I hone, I would say over half exhibit some degree of out of rounds and probably 20% of the throats are not parallel, i.e. tighter right in front of the chamber, and belled at the cylinder face. All of the manufacturers turn out imperfect cylinders with some of the smaller but high quality makers holding tolerances and QC to a very appreciable level. Freedom Arms is one, there are others but I get cylinders from all of them that are far from what you would expect them to be.

    Uberti, is actually pretty good. Some are .452" some .451" some .454" depending on model which I think they do go and look at the dimensions for the old Colts they are trying to copy and they do a really faithful job at recreating those guns right down to the cylinder throats. Throats are normally pretty consistent within the same cylinder (which btw, is THE most important part of the cylinder dimensions) and usually pretty parallel. The Italians are MASTERS at mating wood grips to a steel backstrap, nobody does it anywhere near as good as they do, and they seem to pay the same degree of attention to the cylinders.
    Last edited by DougGuy; 06-12-2021 at 02:41 PM.
    Got a .22 .30 .32 .357 .38 .40 .41 .44 .45 .480 or .500 S&W cylinder that needs throats honed? 9mm, 10mm/40S&W, 45 ACP pistol barrel that won't "plunk" your handloads? Click this link to send me a PM->>> http://castboolits.gunloads.com/priv...=newpm&u=29606 Also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cylinderhone-756429174391912/

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steiner View Post
    Is that .004" difference quite a bit?
    Nope. I've got a S&W 25-5 with .455" throats and shoot .455" bullets thru it. No problem.

    Don
    NRA Certified Metallic Cartridge Reloading Instructor
    NRA Life Member

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master Char-Gar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Outpost75 View Post
    I wish that somebody would invoke a Voodoo curse on all those old Lyman handbooks which say to "size bullets top the groove diameter of your barrel" and REDACT them!
    Some of us have been trying to drive a stake through the heart of that bit nonsense, but yet it lives. Maybe a silver bullet would do better, but somebody would tell us to size it to groove diameter of the barrel.
    Disclaimer: The above is not holy writ. It is just my opinion based on my experience and knowledge. Your mileage may vary.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Haha, probably would say size to the "bore diameter", which is something that also needs a stake through the heart. I see that stated by so many that should know better to be correct in a statement.

  16. #16
    Boolit Mold
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    A bunch of great info. Thank you fellas. There-in lies my confusion about which to size for, as there still seems to be a bit of non concensus about whether to size for the throat vs groove. But knowing that it won't cause any drama having a bullet shot .004 bigger than groove diameter is good to know. I guess the first thing I ought to do is give the casting a whirl and see how they come out. Hopefully somewhere close to that .454 mark to pair up with my throats, and then I can go down from there if necessary. And if those first few loaded rounds have any trouble chambering then I have a real obvious sign to go smaller. Ill be using winchester brass over a full case charge of scheutzen 3FG, whatever that ends up being...

  17. #17
    Boolit Master




    Tar Heel's Avatar
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    The manufacturers keep changing the size of throats and bores just to keep all of your heads spinning around!

  18. #18
    Boolit Master




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    Quote Originally Posted by Steiner View Post
    But knowing that it won't cause any drama having a bullet shot .004 bigger than groove diameter is good to know.
    I routinely shoot my 38 Short Colt bullets which are .375" heeled bullets out of a 38 Special revolver with a .357" bore. No problems if pressures are kept low and I don't hot rod things. They seem to squeeze through the cylinder mouth and bore very well. The .375" bullets are for the 1851 Conversion cylinder and the .375" groove diameter of a 1851 Navy Cap & Ball revolver. Modern commercial 38 Short Colt ammunition uses a .357" bullet and they wobble down the larger bores of the percussion revolvers. Some of us like to load the original stuff with .375" heeled bullets.
    Last edited by Tar Heel; 06-14-2021 at 05:07 AM.

  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    A cast boolit 1-4 thousands over will squish under pressure and make a nice tight fit with a good grasp of the rifling.

    Undersized or same sized bullets often keyhole, have terrible accuracy.

    A larger boolit has more options than a smaller one.

    You could if needed size it down one or 2 thousandths.
    But as long as its fairly soft, ie NOT hardcast, it should do fine. And it should do it with a minimum of fuss.

    I used to use the Lee .452 230 gr, but all was not well. Some rounds did not like to go into battery.

    Then I got the Lee 6 cav in .452 truncated cone. And all my 1911 problems went away. Couple of light coats of BLL and it was a steady shooting machine. Fed better, no going into battery issues, shot like gangbusters. Shape is important. Too much bullet too far forward of the neck will give you feeding problems.

    I guess if it was me I would add a little alloy and try to get them to come out .453.

    PS Those bullets you have made from scratch, lubed, loaded. They know the touch of the masters hand. If you ask them, they will go where you want. Think of it as "The Force" if that helps. Does not work as well on factory ammo. Unless you take the time to get connected.

    Enjoy the journey. Each time gets easier as you acquire more tools in your box of tricks.
    As you gain in experience and wisdom over time. This is the very best of shooting. Figuring it all out, and getting boolits that you have cast, lubed, loaded to perform better than factory. And yes you can do it. Confidence helps.

    Like Ladies, we always remember our first. We remember the one we worked hard to get and finally succeeded.

    Those become high points in our memories looking back.
    Take notes, copius notes. Typed, written, on computer, in a 3 ring binder, whatever works for you.

    You'll be able to go back in your head, compare the story to the notes and have a few "aHAh" moments. Those are priceless.

    Good luck on the journey, enjoy it.
    I truly believe we need to get back to basics.

    Get right with the Lord.
    Get back to the land.
    Get back to thinking like our forefathers thought.

    Anyone that wants to use this, feel free. Spread it wide and far.

  20. #20
    Boolit Mold
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tar Heel View Post
    I routinely shoot my 38 Short Colt bullets which are .375" heeled bullets out of a 38 Special revolver with a .357" bore. No problems if pressures are kept low and I don't hot rod things. They seem to squeeze through the cylinder mouth and bore very well.
    Well that settles that then. And Im worried about .004"?

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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