Hunting with cast lead bullets

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

  1. rookhawk

    rookhawk AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    I don't mean to threadjack here, but I have an honest question. (no contempt or sarcasm intended)

    I get this vibe that cast bullets are an esoteric endeavor. People love the extra steps. They love the thrift...old bearded guys grabbing wheel weights and making bullets, etc.

    My question is, if a $5000-$50,000 hunt is on the line...why? I'm assuming that modern technology has surpassed lead alloy bullet performance yet people still gravitate towards lead-cast bullets.

    Is it an anachronism? Thrift? Nostalgia? Or is there something specifically superior to this very old technology that is providing something to me a Barnes, A-Frame, or hydrostatic solid cannot deliver for me better?

    I'm generally curious. I enjoy the threads. I love the recycling, thrift, and nostalgia angles...I just don't understand their application when HUGE money is on the line for a big hunt leaving it in the hands of what I think of as antiquated technology.

    I appreciate you setting me straight.
     

  2. Von Gruff

    Von Gruff AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    The same question might be asked of someone who bow hunts when the same antiquted technology is used where the modern firearm is so much more effective.
    It is the challenge!!!
    While I may not have put an expensive hunt on the back of cast bullets, I have done extensive work with them and have no doubt that the 385gn cast bullet from my 404 Jeffery at 2416fps over 87gn H4350 with excellent accuracy would have no trouble with an effective kill on a buff which was the thinking behind the developement.
    Having sucessfully made softnosed hard shanked 7mm bullets and run them at over 2400fps (39gn H4350) and have perfect mushroom of the nose with almost perfect weight retention and have no doubt that if the need be I could have done the same type of bullet for the 404 Jeffery.
     

  3. sgt_zim

    sgt_zim AH Elite

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    For me, nostalgia. No, I'm not running black powder under my alloy bullets. But it's a common bond to the buffalo hunters of the late 19th century who killed millions of American bison with 405 gr soft lead and 405 gr paper patch bullets, at MV of around 1250-1300, and at distances difficult to believe.
     
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  4. njc110381

    njc110381 AH Enthusiast

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    I think for some people, making the bullet that kills their trophy is a whole new level of achievement. It's nice to know that just like it's a skill to stalk in on your quarry, it's a skill to make a good bullet to kill it cleanly too. Just like engineers are proud when they design something special, home casting and loading is another hobby all together.

    I don't know enough and am not good enough to risk shooting a cast bullet at DG. I'd happily shoot a deer with one though, in fact I'd quite like to and am still in the process of getting the kit together to cast for my .416. It's great that I can make hundreds, if not thousands of bullets for the cost of a box of factory ammunition. I can go to the range and fire 50 - 100 low loaded cast bullets through my gun without the pain or cost of full power loads. That's the main reason I cast.
     
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  5. Dr Ray

    Dr Ray AH Elite

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    Yes I agree but it’s the fun of making your own.
    I used lead alloy buckets in a 270 and 45/70.
    By sheer luck the lead alloy ones in my 270 shot lower than the normal Bullets but the same east-west.
    I was full of experimental enthusiasm back then ... alas I don’t bother anymore.
     

  6. Dr Ray

    Dr Ray AH Elite

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    Bullets I meant - always having problems typing on my iPhone
     

  7. PaulT

    PaulT AH Elite

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    Many moons ago I guided a hunter who was desperate to take a buffalo with his ancient antique double rifle, chambered for an obscure cartridge that I no longer remember.
    He came loaded with some commercial brand of ammo from a small custom ammo loader and they were loaded with cast projectiles.

    Our opportunity came late one afternoon after walking down to a quiet little spring known well to me.
    We had come up on a magnificent bull laying in a mud wallow beside the spring, cooling off from the oppressive heat.
    He took the first barrel at about 40yds, which appeared to have little effect, then wheeled about and ran for the safety of the opposite tree line.
    Before entering the bush he stopped to face his pursuers and the second barrel landed with an audible thud, but again very little visual effect.
    When the request for back-up came my slug buried deep in his chest and dropped him where he stood. It was a wonderful bull but the hunter was a little disappointed with the effects of his rifle.

    A week or two after that kill a grass fire had gone through the very same area and purely out of curiosity I ventured down to the site of the kill for no other reason that to inspect what effect that fire had had on the remaining carcass.
    Apart from a few charred remains of skin, ribs and bone it was when I was looking amongst the remains when I spotted the two spent cast projectiles laying on the ground within the remains of the bull and picked them up.

    These two spent cast projectiles remain in my collection to this day.

    These ramblings are not a comment on the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of cast projectiles for hunting, merely my late night musings of days gone by.
     
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  8. cmk

    cmk AH Veteran

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    @PaulT - good story, but a little more info would be interesting. What did the bullets look like? What is your estimate of their effect on the animal (shot placement, broken bones etc)? The fact that a third shot was deemed necessary, and that the bull chose to fall over at that point is not by itself evidence enough. It sounds like all of this took place within less than 30 seconds.
     

  9. bruce moulds

    bruce moulds AH Elite

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    paul,
    one would have to expect the double might have been a nitro for black express.
    possiblya moderately large calibre, but a light bullet.
    it is amazing the people who do not do their homework, and think that just because it is a double of larger calibre it is a big game rifle, when it is in fact only meant for large small game and medium game like red deer.
    bruce.
     
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  10. PaulT

    PaulT AH Elite

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    Yes, it all took place quite quickly.

    The first shot was a full frontal, not ideal, but all that was offered after the bull spooked from the wallow and wheeled around to face us at about 40yds.
    Apart from the sound of the bullet hitting there was little other evidence of much damage, likewise with the second.
    The tree line the wounded bull was heading for contained a river known to harbour numerous Salt-water crocodile which I had previously alerted the client to that we needed to make all efforts to avoid the bull from reaching.
    I had, by this stage tired of having to cape animals out in croc waters and was trying to avoid the obvious. The client was aware of this and based on the scene witnessed he requested a finisher from me as his gun was now empty and the bull was on the tree line.

    One of the spent projectiles is slightly deformed on the tip where it has come in to contact with bone and the other looks just like it was before firing.

    Like I said originally, my post was in no way making any sort of judgment of the effects of hunting with cast bullets, rather just recollecting some good old days of my past.
     

  11. PaulT

    PaulT AH Elite

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    Bruce, you are most probably correct.
    I do have some memory that the rifle was manufactured prior to 1900 therefore it probable preceded nitrocellulose powders ?, again i'm not sure.
    This particular hunter was using his Australian buffalo hunt as a "practice" run for Cape buffalo in Africa, which accorded to correspondence I received from him at a later date he accomplished but the results were quite similar where "finishers" were required by his P.H.
    Again, I draw no conclusions as I have very little knowledge of the subject.
    In fact, from a personal standpoint, I am about as far right of this subject as you can possibly get as my preferred buffalo loads consist of homogenous brass projectiles with very broad, flat meplats !
     

  12. cmk

    cmk AH Veteran

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    Thanks for the story PaulT, in this case it seems like not all things were better in the past.

    Not too long ago I read the book by Roualeyn Gordon-Cumming, where he states that at one time he fought with an elephant bull, which required 57(!) shots before going down. One can assume that not all those shots were well placed. This was ca 1850, and IIRC he used a 10-bore, black powder, lead ball setup.

    ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_big-game_hunters#Roualeyn_Gordon-Cumming )
     

  13. bruce moulds

    bruce moulds AH Elite

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    cmk,
    he might well have been using round balls at that date.
    even hardened, round balls have limitations.
    very low sectional density.
    bruce.
     
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  14. bruce moulds

    bruce moulds AH Elite

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    paul,
    there were nitrocellulose powders in use pre 1900, so it is a murky area.
    what do those bullets weigh, and can you get some idea of their diameter?
    bruce.
     

  15. cmk

    cmk AH Veteran

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    @bruce moulds yep , sounds probable. I might be mixing up the tales of yesteryear, but as I recall he stated at some point that he "was now casting hardened bullets, as he was going into elephant country, and pure lead was not good enough". I assume that tin was the (only) hardening agent known (or available) at the time.
     

  16. Von Gruff

    Von Gruff AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    It may have been that the alloy was so hard and the shape wrong for the intended game with no expansion and that may be an indication of wrong mix of many of the ingredients in this case, ie alloy choice for the intended game, bullet shape (tip) velocity and or marksmanship but having said that it is not unusual for an animal to make a 100 yd dash before ruined lungs/blood loss causes death and the fact that you had a crocodile possibility in the very near vacinity possibly contributed to the "NEED" for the follow up shot. Hard to call it a failure under these circumstances which I freely acknowledge that you took pains not to do.
     

  17. cmk

    cmk AH Veteran

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    @Von Gruff, so far I don't think anyone's (PaulT least of all) said "failure" yet (though my last comment may seem to imply it). Not my intention at all.
     

  18. IvW

    IvW AH Elite

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  19. bruce moulds

    bruce moulds AH Elite

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    tin and antimony are the common bullet hardeners.
    bullets hardened with a lot of antimony can shatter when they hit something hard.
    in the Victorian era mercury was used, but not sure how.
    bruce.
     

  20. njc110381

    njc110381 AH Enthusiast

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    I use tin mainly. The bullet hardens a little but seems more robust. It also casts more easily. Old pewter tankards contain a lot of tin and can be picked up very cheaply at sales. That's what I melt into my mix and the bullets work pretty well at big bore velocities.
     

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