Hunting with cast lead bullets

Discussion in 'Firearms & Ammunition' started by njc110381, Jan 11, 2019.

  1. njc110381

    njc110381 AH Enthusiast

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    I'm not sure of the laws regarding home loading ammunition in Africa so this could be a no go from the start? But are there any members here who shoot cast bullets in their big game rifles? I think it's quite a big thing in the USA?

    I don't suppose it's the best idea for really tough, dangerous game but for plains game it would work? But is it a common thing? It's certainly a good way to keep ammunition costs sensible on less important quarry and targets. I've priced 500gr Lott ammo at approximately 85p per round, factory ammo is maybe five times that and just a basic jacketed bullet costs about the same as the whole cast load.

    When you look at all the animals killed with the .45-70, it seems like a good approach. Big game rounds look to be very easy to adapt to shoot cast. They have weight and don't need huge velocity, so fairly soft lead bullets should shoot well. Apparently the throat on the .458 Mag is a bit long to magazine feed cast bullets well but the Lott is better suited? I'm hoping that's the case!
     

  2. John J

    John J AH Veteran

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    There are custom mold shops like Accurate molds that can cut what you want to feed properly to your spec, weight driving bands, alloy ect. I used Accurate to reproduce the RCBS 45-405 mold for my 45-70 with a wider meplat. Test your alloy if you are going to hunt. I used water soaked phone books. My first alloy was soft but I took a bull elk and a deer. After that I hardened it up some and took an elk and deer again. The deer both looked the same as far as damage internally similar shot distance. On the second elk the shot was closer with the harder alloy. It went down fast to a pass through lung shot. The phone books soaked for about 90 min. They soak up alot of water. They were fairly stiff still but these 2 bullets penetrated 22 and 23 inches at 110 yards at 1735 fps. 20150923_210316.jpeg 20150923_210339.jpeg 20150923_210822.jpeg 20150923_210402.jpeg
     
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  3. 5shot

    5shot AH Senior Member

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    I water drop mine to harden them up to allow for more velocity, but I have heard that straight wheel weight alloy is perfect for hunting. Many people have used them for Dangerous Game in handguns, so I think it would be fine with the proper alloy and hardness (not brittle) as long as you keep velocity at 2000fps or slower (heavy for caliber on the smaller bores). You can heat treat certain alloys in a toaster oven too, but you can go way too hard and they will shatter when they hit bone.
     

  4. 7x57Joe

    7x57Joe AH Veteran

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    I was very heavy into cast bullets 20-25 years ago using them in .30, .358, and .45s. They are accurate and I never had a failure when using them on game either. I've only ever recovered 2 and these were from elk and cast from very soft lead, about 5 BHN. Below are the pics from left to right: bullet before patching, patched bullet, .45/70 loaded round, bullets taken from elk that were against the skin on off side.
    [​IMG]

    I have never recovered bullets hardened to 10-12 BHN and .45 were the only size I patched.
     

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 12, 2019
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  5. 5shot

    5shot AH Senior Member

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    I have a 434 grn GC bullet from a mold that Robert Applegate made me that was initially designed for use in a Marlin. If you ever want to try them out, give me a shout.
     
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  6. 5shot

    5shot AH Senior Member

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    I have wanted to try paper patching. I have been shooting a lot of cast in my 35 Whelen AI and 47-70 Ruger #1, and they are super accurate, so I haven't experimented much. How fast can you drive a paper patch slug with such a low BHN?
     
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  7. njc110381

    njc110381 AH Enthusiast

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    Paper patching is something that interests me also. I've never done it, but if it's worth doing I'm up for giving it a try! Is it simply a case of wrapping the bullet in paper and then running them through the sizing die? I'll have to read up on it.

    Alloy hardness is challenging. We don't have lead wheel weights here, they're zinc. And that stuff plays havoc with your alloy! What I do have is roofing lead and printers type, which I believe to be a very hard alloy. I mix it in with the roofing lead to give a BHN of about 12-14. That's for my Marlin .45-70, 500gr Lee gas check mould.

    Soft lead and patching looks good. For deer sized targets that expansion would be great!
     

  8. CTDolan

    CTDolan AH Elite

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    A good test for hardness with regard to hard cast for heavy game is to take a heavy hammer to a bullet sitting on an anvil or something of the sort. It should take quite a whack to deform and, most importantly, should not shatter. If it shatters it's obviously too hard. If it gives easily (subjective, I know) it's too soft. You can buy a lead hardness tester but they run a fair bit in cost.
     

  9. Ray B

    Ray B AH Elite

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    The laws regarding cast bullets may vary; however they are legal for big game hunting in Washington state and I know hunters that regularly use Oregon Trail cast bullets for deer and elk. the bullets are an alloy of four metals so they differ from the standard lead/tin homecast bullets. But the success rate with them is very good. I don't know but that I'd prefer a higher velocity premium jacketed bullet if I was taking on a Grizzly Bear or Cape Buffalo.
     

  10. 5shot

    5shot AH Senior Member

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    Make sure to wear safety glasses...if one shatters you can easily put out an eye.

    Another good test hardness (the hammer definitely test ductility better) is to use a bullet of known hardness, and put the one to be tested nose to nose with it in a vice. Whichever deforms the least is harder, and if the same, they are of equal hardness.
     

  11. IvW

    IvW AH Legend

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    Saving P's on ammo when planning a African safari is a bad idea.

    You wanna cast bullets in a 458 Lott for hunting African plains game?? Rather don't buy it and look for a 45-70 or just stick to a 375 H&H with conventional bullets....
     
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  12. CTDolan

    CTDolan AH Elite

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    Thank you for mentioning. I have corrected vision and wear glasses on a regular basis. Therefore, I never think to raise the issue.
     

  13. 7x57Joe

    7x57Joe AH Veteran

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    Thanks for the offer 5shot but, I don't have .45/70s anymore. Those pictured are 510 grains before patching and mz was 1650 fps. I also made some for deer hunting of 5 BHN, 320 grains and mz on those were 1960 fps. Two thousand fps is reasonable for soft bullets and when hardened, whatever the velocity is with jacketed.
    IvW, saving money wasn't my concern when I was into casting bullets but, I sold that idea to my wife.;) Adding up the moulds, casting furnace, sizing/lubing press and dies, swaging press and dies, well you get the picture. I wanted to make a very deadly game bullet and that endeavor was completely successful without having to buy store bought bullets. They do have limitations, as everything else, and I wouldn't shoot elephant or cape buffalo with them but, deer and elk are no match for them.
    One of the contributors here, Von Gruff, is very accomplished at making soft point cast bullets.
     

  14. Von Gruff

    Von Gruff AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I have a reasonable experience in casting bullets for a variety of calibers and cartridges from the 6.5 GM and 6.5x57 to the 7x57, 303, 400, 404, and 458 Lott to paper patching 577450 and have cast from soft lead to to various alloys with PB, ww, ino and babbit. I have cast two part bullets for the 7x57 that have hard shank and soft nose with velocities in the 2400fps+ range and have killled goats to 200yds with them.
    The 404 loads I developed from a custom mould were ones that I would not have hesitated to use as a first round on a buffalo with a 2365fps velocity with a 25 BHN that was tough rather than brittle although for sensible safties sake there would have been solids in the mag
    2000fps for a 320gn bullet in the 400 Lee Speed would also be up to taking a sizabe animal with certainty
    Casting is a practice that can lead to serious use if it is investigated and understood fuly.

    I see Joes post after I hit post for this one.
     

  15. Von Gruff

    Von Gruff AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    View attachment 263256 This is the hard shank with the soft nose 7x57 bullet that I ran at 2415fps and had 100% weight retention with excelent accuracy

    7x57 cast SN 004.JPG
    This is a recovered bullet from the hard clay bank that was the backstop for my testing
    008.JPG
    And the 2415fps was gained by having the 16gn bulet over 39gn 2209/H4350. This target was adjusting the scope although I generally hunted with the bolt mounted aperture sight so an 1 1/4 groups at velocity gave me a good 200+yds hunting cast bullet
    001.JPG
     

  16. Von Gruff

    Von Gruff AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    380gn cast bullet in the 404 Jeffery at 2363fps into 1.1in would account for a decent animal
    011.JPG
    and even my accuracy load at 1900fps would make for a good killer on much larger game than the goats I took it on successfull hunts for
    002.JPG
     

  17. njc110381

    njc110381 AH Enthusiast

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    Have you ever tried the pencil test? That gives a vague idea of lead hardness. Basically you buy an artists pencil set and different graphite ratings of the pencils will either scratch the bullet or not. You can by a process of elimination get a fairly accurate idea of bullet hardness by working up through the hardness grades of the pencils until they cut into the bullet.

    Not for a safari. But it doesn't hurt to experiment and use home made bullets on small local game. Deer are free here for me, I can shoot as many as I want. And I enjoy casting too. It's a good feeling of achievement to take game with bullets you've made yourself. As long as I can be confident that they are humane I'm happy to use them. Our little deer don't fight back. I already have a .45-70, it's a great deer round.

    I'd love to know how you make those! They look amazing! I assume you run two pots and pour a measured amount of soft into the mould first, then follow it up with harder alloy? I'd imagine it needs doing fairly quickly so the nose section hasn't set before you follow it up with the shank? Otherwise you may get bonding issues?
     

  18. 5shot

    5shot AH Senior Member

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    Same here...do you have a mold for the nose and then put those into bullet mold? How do you get them in a hot mold with gloves on?
     

  19. Von Gruff

    Von Gruff AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Happy to show you. You will need to have a steel mould to make them this way. I tried the tw pot method but it was highly unsatisfactory as the amount of each alloy even with accurate small dipper was difficult as weighing the resulting bullet showed a significant weight varience which is really detramental to accuracy. This method gave by far the most consistent results by both weight and accuracy at velocity
    First off cast a bunch of 50/50 (ww/Pb) Use some for general fun low velocity plinking and cut some so you have (in this case) a 60 grn nose from the 160 gn bullet
    soft noses 003.JPG
    Initially I used a brass plate spaced so I could cut them the right length but had to clean up the cut edge. Later on I just used bolt cutters which did just as good (an accurate for length) job. On larger calibers the cut nose would still be best.
    casting 002.JPG
    Next you need to bring a pot of lino and the mould up to heat
    casting 007.JPG
    and this is where a pair of fine needle nosed pliers is necessary unless you have fingers that are not effected by heat as mine are so you can place one of the noses into the hot mould
    casting 004.JPG

    fill the mould with the lino and wait for the sprue to set off then return the mould to the pot till you see the sprue start to siveroff as a prelude to remelting. This indicates the nose and the shank have both melted and will set as a one piece bullet.
    casting 023.JPG

    The mould and the alloy in it are very hot at this stage so to help it to cool I have a wet towel on a chair behind me so there is no chance of water and alloy pot coming together (have to keep the tinsel fairy away from our place)
    casting 018.JPG
    And when the sprue has set again (it takes 30-40 seconds although a fan might expidite this process)you can turn the bullet out. This is not a fast process but it dosent take long to make enough bullets for testing and a years hunting
    casting 027.JPG
    when I had sized gas checked and lubed the bullet I would load it and then dip the bullet into thinned mule snot (LLA) and hang the cartridge till this dried/set and wipe the drip off the nose. This would give the bore riding soft nose protection for the HV run down the barrel. You can see the slight yellow colour of the mule snot in this pic 7x57 cast SN 003.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
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  20. Von Gruff

    Von Gruff AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I make most of my own gas checks and have found that up to about 1900fs that there is no difference and in some cases better accuracy with the aluminium (that is al u min e um not alum a nim lol) ones I made myself but when velocity goes above this the Hornady gas check is the best there is in a commercial check. I did make my own copper checks but they were not as successful as the Hornady and as accuracy was the main intent at velocity I used what worked best.
     

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