Monday, June 28, 2010

Reload Redux

I toyed with the IDEA of reloading in the past. Many things stopped me.

I’d want to do it relatively right, and I don’t need another equipment intensive hobby.

I hear nightmares about kabooms, (gun exploding in your hand), particularly with .308 semi-autos. My attention to detail isn’t that great, and you NEED good attention to detail when reloading, or you seriously risk a kaboom. I never want my own kaboom. Guns are expensive. And I like keeping all my fingers.

Re-loading shotgun shells isn’t very cost effective to buying new, but it might be the best ability to have in year 20 of a post-apocalyptic colander-helmet world. If it was cost effective I’d reload shotgun shells already.

If I reloaded, I’d want to cast my own bullets. To my head, that is a big part of the fun and advantage of rolling your own bullets. But I hear about all the issues with leaded barrels from residue the cast bullet leaves behind.

The ammo shortage of the past 2 years has also been a bit of a reloading component shortage too. Not a good time to start up the hobby. You might easily build up a lifetime supply of casings to last you through TEOTWAWKI, but a lot of primers is a hazard. And there is very little way to make your own. A person could figure out how to make a casing, the powder, and the projectile, but the primer is the hardest thing for an Omega Man to make and make safely.

But Box O Truth got me thinking again. He goes through a little bullet casting tutorial. Hmmm…

If I got JUST a setup to do .38/.357… As I have 3 firearms that shoot that, and they are on the beefy side. Would they survive a double charge? Perhaps. But maybe if I tailored the load where the powder would prevent the bullet from even seating in the press if it was a double charge, then I wouldn’t have to worry. It’s a lot easier to recapture revolver brass… Hmmmm…

It sure would be nice to develop the skill.

But even then, it sure seems complicated. You can’t just use lead wheel weights, melt them on the stove and pour into the molds. You need (need? well, maybe more of a should for this stuff) flux to get the dross out, you need other metals like antimony and tin to maybe harden the lead further, and you need lubricant. It’s making what seemed simple gets kinda complicated already…

Hey, does anyone know is the micro grooves on the Marlin 1894C will be ok with LUBRICATED home-cast lead bullets? The company warns against all-lead bullets for fear of fouling the special rifling, and to use at least semi-jacketed stuff, but maybe box-o-truth style lubricant addresses this issue?


Arthur said...

If you get the recipe right you won't have leading in your bore. I cast for 380, 45, 9mm, and 7.62x39 without problems.

But it does take some trial and error. You need to get the proper alloy for the load you're shooting, you need to get your bullets sized right for the bore you have, and you need to use the right lube for you're particular setup.

If you ever start playing with cast bullets White Label Lubes has the cheapest lubes and he'll send you a sample pack to play with.

Pop N Fresh said...

reloading rocks, .45 runs like $5.34 a box now and I buy lead bullets (we have a local guy that makes good stuff), custom tuned .308 for my heavy barrel 308 and small base sized 308 for my fal. Get a case gage for 9/45/223/308 and it will let you know if you f'd up. Be careful go slow and find a mentor. Lead comes out easy with a lewis lead remover

Ritchie said...

I mostly cast and load .45 ACP and a little .38/.357. Straight wheel weights and range lead seem to work fine, strangely the as-cast range lead is harder than the wheel weights. Leading is mostly an overblown problem. I find that harder lubes such as Rooster Zambini work very well and make less mess in the gun than softer lubes, you just have to warm up the lubrisizer, perhaps with a hair dryer. Also, some molds make a slug with a smaller diameter base for a "gas check" to reduce the chance of leading even further. Nothing says homemade like a heaping pie-pan of fresh cast slugs.

Anonymous said...

Wheel weights already have tin and antimony in them. You probably don't need to add anything to them. Lead Bullet Technology has a book that tells you how to heat treat bullets to the proper temper to avoid leading. Or, as Ritchie says, cast gas-check bullets instead of plain base bullets.

Oh, and don't use any of those shiny, Kalifornia-mandated wheel weights. If they go "clink", or ring when dropped on a hard surface, pass them by. Good lead wheel weights go "thud" when dropped.

You probably should weigh most of your rifle powder loads until you become comfortable with the process. For pistol rounds, I tend to use a bulkier powder (Unique, Universal Clays, etc) that fills the case at least halfway up with a proper charge. That makes it difficult-to-impossible to double-charge the case. There's a powder called Trail Boss that is really fluffy, and you might start out using that. With cast bullets, you probably don't want to be loading Godzilla killer loads anyway - jacks the pressure WAY up.

Cheers, Cactus Jack Poltroon