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Thread: Conversation with Veral Smith

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    Conversation with Veral Smith

    I'm brand new here and this is my first post. I hope you'll find this interesting. I typed this out immediately after my conversation.

    Anyhow...

    Earlier this week, I called up Veral Smith of LBT (Lead Bullet Technology). I am trying to start bullet casting (and reloading in general) for a 44 Rem Mag Ruger Redhawk and wanted to seek his advice. I have everything for my 44 mag Redhawk, except a mold and some alloy. I donít have anyone else I know to ask my questions to, and after reading Veralís book (Jacketed Performance with Cast Bullets), I had some questions. It was 10:00am and he had to get up from sleeping. I didnít want to bother him, but the nice lady I was talking to said it was fine and that it was late anyway and time for him to get up. At one time he joked that he needed to teach people like me how to fix their own problems because he wasnít going to be around forever. And indeed, he is no spring chicken; he sounded a bit fragile and old and tired. Here are the highlights of what he said:

    - He asked where I was from and after I told him, he said if we had any more animals to hunt in Colorado. I said that they do a good job here of herd management, but then I caveated that by saying that last year Colorado passed a wolf reintroduction bill. He got agitated and excited and said thatís because of all the communists out there (in Colorado). Then told how where he is (Idaho) they introduced wolves and it reduced the Elk herds by 90% and now the governor is saying to kill the wolves in any way the citizens can. He again blamed the problem in Idaho on a bunch of communists. I like how our elders donít care about filters such as this and it made me smile.

    - He said to use measuring slugs to measure the muzzle and chamber of the barrel and that I will see the difference (he said the chamber will likely be a little larger and it will taper down to a more narrow diameter at the muzzle). Also measure the cylinder heads. The idea is to make them fairly uniform so there is no canting of a bullet as it travels from the cylinder to the barrel lands, through the barrel. To do this, I should use a real soft lead bullet impregnated with his lapping compound (he said I could just use wheel weights and air cool them for the correct softness). Then measure with the slugs as I am lapping the barrel. It wonít take much. Then I will know the bullet diameter I want.

    - For a 44 mag Ruger Redhawk, he said he doesnít like to go below 240 gr, and liked 300 and 320 gr. But he recommended to me as the best, a 280 gr WFN with gas check and to load around 1200 fps, and to not go over 1450 fps. He explained that this bullet will kill a deer and elk in one step or two, it will have great accuracy, and it wonít beat you up while shooting. (He then told how years ago while he was reloading, he would lie in bed at night after a day of shooting and his whole body would be in pain and he would have to hang his feet off the bed [not sure why] and his point was that it just wasnít worth it; why beat yourself up? Have fun shooting and thereís no need to go over 280 gr.) He said H110 (and W296, which is essentially the same thing) are good powders, and to limit the differences from lot to lot, I can combine my lots of powder together.

    - I asked and he said he doesnít offer molds with two different bullets and, if I understood him correctly, he explained this was because I would like one over the other and dislike one of the bullets. He also explained that I would have two different POI when shooting, etc and I would have to accommodate for this. I tried to explain that I wanted two bullets for two different purposes (Alaska Brown Bear protection, and everything else). He explained that the 280 gr bullet he recommended would be all I need for hunting Alaska Brown Bear (he assumed I wanted to hunt them, not just for self-protection). He said it would leave such a large hole that it would blead out right away [Iím not positive this is true] and I would never recover the bullet anyway [meaning it would go right through], unless it lodged in something like a shoulder joint.

    - He didnít directly tell me a BHN that I should try for, but he did tell me how to create a lead alloy (so perhaps he meant to recommend this as what I should go for?) He said that bullet alloys no longer have arsenic (safety concern?) in them, but that if I purchased a good bullet alloy from Rotometals then added lead shot (which has a high concentration of arsenic, that this would be the best way to add arsenic, and that I would end up with a great alloy that would have a great property of heat hardening [I donít necessarily want this because I donít want my bulletís BHN to soften in storage over time]. He said lead wheel weights were hard to get now (I didnít know this) because most are now steel. He also said I had to be extra careful I donít get any with zinc (perhaps on the clip?) because that would poison my melting pot.

    - The last thing we talked about was he was ruminating on Elmer Keith. We were talking about how if that bullet gets turned going from the cylinder to the barrel, NOTHING is going to straighten it out. There are X number of tons of pressure behind that bullet. And gas checks do not come off! He said that Elmer Keith felt that gas checks fell off. Then he said he admires Elmerís lifeÖ. That Elmer was a hay bale wire guy (something like that) and yet made a huge impact on the public by selling the 44 magnum to the US public. He also said something about how he used to recommend US service members get a revolver as their side arm, and theyíd get sent a custom revolver, and so through this he ended up being a salesman without even knowing it. But then he got to his point: ďBUT, Elmer Keith did not know precision!Ē That elicited a big laugh from me.

    It was a great chat with a bullet casting legend.

  2. #2
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    First, welcome to the CB Forum, a great place to be. Lots of good, knowledgeable folks here, and we're always looking for one more! Thanks for posting your conversation with Veral Smith, certainly a great addition to the archives.

    DG
    Last edited by Der Gebirgsjager; 09-03-2021 at 05:23 PM.

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy

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    Once in a lifetime chat. You did good.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
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    As a Ruger Redhawk shooter & bullet caster I recommend at a minium, a 250gr bullet My favorite is an NOE mold I have. Drops a 280gr bullet from my scrap wheel weights. I drive it at 1100fps . It will amaze you just how easy this bullets penetrates, deep..You don't need high velocity. A heavy bullet at a moderate velocity , just plain works!! My 280gr is a PB ( BHN 10.5 ) & is extremely accurate in my Ruger.Attachment 288246 I have several LBT bullets & they are great. Also have bullets from others that work as well. Don't try to over think this. A basic SWC will get the job done...
    Last edited by Dom; 09-03-2021 at 03:42 PM.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    In the 35+ years that I have dealt with Veral, I have had a number of pleasurable conversations with him. He was instrumental in guiding my bullet casting endeavors and was the prime source of information before I found this fine site. I would recommend that anyone who is serious about casting buy his book "Jacketed performance with cast bullets" as it covers a vast amount of information and proven theories of how bullets/lube perform. That being said, I will also say that he is very adamant about his views on bullet design and casting. I have shot tens of thousands of bullets cast from his molds and cannot fault his beliefs.
    Old enough to know better, young enough to do it anyway!

    When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail.

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy
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    Cool

    His bullet recommendation (280 WFN) is a good one. I use that bullet in my T/C Contender (in .45 LC but the results are the same) at 1150 fps and it does hammer deer. Recoil isnít bad and accuracy with the right load (BlueDot in my case) is 2 moa.



    .

  7. #7
    Boolit Master LAH's Avatar
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    I've spoke to him several times & Judy a few times while he was on government vacation. I purchased a "lot" of lube from Judy to help all I could. Mr. Smith never forgot that. He sent me the wrong case of lube once so I called him. He said return it but told him to give an address of someone ordering that lube & I'd send it & save him a few dimes. He never forgot that either. And you are correct, he's not a spring chicken.
    Joshua 1:9

  8. #8
    Boolit Master murf205's Avatar
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    Veral Is a great guy and a walking encyclopedia for casting and shooting lead boolits. He is spot on about not having to run handgun loads to warp speed. If you want to really get him going, let him tell you what he thinks about Dr's! I hope he is doing well. He is a treasure for sure.
    IT AINT what ya shoot--its how ya shoot it. NONE of us are as smart as ALL of us!

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I am in Denver if you would like to get together and chat. I cast a few boollits for the 44.
    swamp
    There is no problem so great, that it cannot be solved by the proper application of high explosives.

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy JAC43's Avatar
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    I have two LBT molds with 2 different designs cut into them. He made them at one time apparently.

  11. #11
    Boolit Bub
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    carelesslove, here !

    Congratulations on making contact and doing business with Veral Smith - I had a very similar experience a couple of years ago. After some excellent discussion, I asked him to make me a .44 cal. 260 gr. WFN-PB 4 cavity mold. This mold solved all the problems I had experienced with some older S&W .44 Magnums and their oversized throats. Having recently retired, I realized that this might be my last new bullet mold, I went "whole hog", and bought a full complement of spare parts, a bag of mold lubricant sticks and - potentially - a lifetime supply of SoftBlue bullet lube. As an added bonus, he even made multiple, perfect fit top punches, for my LYMAN and SAECO lubersizers. He even asked me to ship him my LYMAN sizing die spindles, so he could machine the ends perfectly square and machine a slight (cupped) depression on the top of the spindle, that would "square up" the bullet base at sizing. I had never thought of doing this, but this makes every bullet enter the case at loading perfectly straight.

    This proved to be my most positive casting & shooting experience - in over 40 years of casting.

    I would heartily recommend this for anyone - Veral's experiences are unique - and the excellent products are well worth the $ and the wait. I just hope I can buy at least one more of his molds to finally solve the same oversize throat issues I have with my S&W 1950 and 1955 Target revolvers.

    Thanks, Tom "carelesslove" Love

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    Welcome to the forum and welcome to bullet casting. Along with your conversation with Veral, it would greatly assist you to read and digest the information contained withing the publication From Ingot to Target: A Cast Bullet Guide for Handgunners which can be downloaded in its PDF format from here: http://www.lasc.us/CastBulletNotes.htm

    This publication contains a wealth of information and should be considered as a primary text for any bullet caster. While you peruse the forums on here, you will be saying to yourself that "they should have read the publication before asking that question." A lot of questions asked here are addressed in great detail in that publication. It is solid gold.

    Again - welcome aboard!

  13. #13
    Boolit Master

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    Welcome Doozy!

    I have two molds from Veral my Dad several more, and they really are a special thing. His 230 grain LFN .45 ACP bullet was the one that really opened my eyes to what Veral told you - you don't have to beat yourself up with recoil to get acceptable terminal performance. I wouldn't trade in my elk rifle for a 1911, but after requiring 6 feet of water to stop one (9 gallon milk jugs) at standard GI issue speed, I wouldn't hesitate to feed myself with one out of the thought that it wouldn't serve. That mold is also what I consider to be the last word in feeding functionality in the .45 / 1911 platform - they feel like the gun is feeding. . .nothing, they're that smooth.

    How do I put this? If you were to play the "Kevin Bacon Game" with people connected to the development or evolution of the .44 Magnum, Veral Smith has possibly the shortest line of anyone still living. It's safe to say that he has a better understanding of what goes on inside a firearm than Keith did, and he's been collecting "medical data" of bullet impacts for a very long time. If .44's are your thing, and Veral Smith is making mold recommendations to you, just give the man your cylinder throat diameter and send the check. You won't regret it, ever.
    WWJMBD?

    Is the mightiness of the pen still relevant after we roll the writing paper into cartridges for a Sharps?

  14. #14
    Moderator Emeritus / Trusted loob groove dealer

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    Welcome aboard. My chronograph can testify that gas checks can indeed come off!
    The solid soft lead bullet is undoubtably the best and most satisfactory expanding bullet that has ever been designed. It invariably mushrooms perfectly, and never breaks up. With the metal base that is essential for velocities of 2000 f.s. and upwards to protect the naked base, these metal-based soft lead bullets are splendid.
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  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Good to hear that Veral Smith is still going, I haven't talked with him in a long time.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

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    Welcome to the forum!

    Veral is indeed and interesting man to talk to. He helped me 5 years ago over a couple of phone calls when getting started. I am grateful for his advice. I also spoke to him twice within the last year about a delayed delivery of a mold order I'd placed. He was more than happy to talk about molds and casting and the most recent call went longer than I intended.

    He's definitely somewhat of a govt conspiracy theorist. The call abruptly ended when I could hear his wife reminding him that the man he was talking to might be recording him. Suddenly he had to hang up.

    My 4 cav mold showed up shortly therafter.

    He strikes me as somewhat of a lonely person, isolated in a very remote part of north Idaho. So that is why it isn't hard to get him to chat. He seems to get around to cutting your mold when he feels like it, and his turnaround times are pretty slow. I have felt that turnaround times might be quicker if he'd hang up the phone and go to the shop and do what he does best!

    His molds are my favorite to cast with by a ways. I have 3 of them. His 10mm WFN design has been copied several times by other makers.
    "There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something."
    ~Thorin Oakenshield

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by JAC43 View Post
    I have two LBT molds with 2 different designs cut into them. He made them at one time apparently.
    He cut a mold for me with one of 4 cavs different. He just asked for a $10 retooling fee. That was late 2016.
    "There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something."
    ~Thorin Oakenshield

  18. #18
    Boolit Mold
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    I just received his 280 gr. WFNGC 2 cavity mold. It took about 2 months to get it, but was well worth the wait! The mold casts wheel weight +2%Sn at 287 grains. My 5 1/2" Redhawk loves them. Very accurate and a joy to cast with.

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy
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    I've had Verl make me about 18 molds over the years. Love every one of them. I think we've talked about 3x since dealing with each other. The most recent call just a few weeks ago. His lovely wife answered and promptly handed me over to him. Sometimes he goes off on a side tangent of what ever topic is on his mind. I love it when he does that. Just make sure if you ever call, be prepared to spend more time than needed; until his wife reminds him to end the call. I've sent recent emails with no reply so.....who knows..... I recall a time when I sent him a picture of the moose I shot with my 45 Colt and he begged me not to ever send pics again as he only had dial-up for internet and it bogs down his speed. IIRC, he would always check his emails, late late at night.

    Alan

  20. #20
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    I have a ton of admiration for Verals work. I have owned several LBT molds. If he thinks Elmer was not concerned with accuracy, he is unaware of his target work at Camp Perry with the State teams.
    [The Montana Gianni] Front sight and squeeze

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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