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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How many of you cast your own balls? Do you find them as accurate as the store bought without the sprue? I've noted that my own have much closer tolerances than Hornady, or Speer, but I have to be careful to make sure the sprue mark is facing directly up, little extra effort on my part. Would like to hear your side of the story. RR :D
 

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RR- The only RB's I cast are .62 cal. because they're hard to find and when you do they're expensive and cast anyway, but for everything else I shoot the commercial swaged RB's I don't think the roundness is an issue because once the charge is intiated they obturate into the bore and flatten out to some degree anyway, but the real benefit in my mind is the swageing process they use reletively pure dead soft lead and there are no voids, and I don't believe it's possible to cast anything without some voids, it's unavoidable ;-) sorry I couldn't resist. And they are really cheap
all things considered, I think for offhand shooting at least my offhand shooting it doesn't make a whits difference whether it's cast or swaged
any difference is lost in the wind and operator error.
The joy of casting kind of came and went for me years ago, it's now just a chore, I cast all of my bullets because I don't believe I can buy bullets as good as I can cast, but I try to do my entire years casting in 2 sessions as once you get everything set up and get a rythm going you can really crank them out and the weight and diameter variations etc are minimized, it seems quite inefficient to just cast enough for a shoot.
Regards fredj
 

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RR,

I have the exact same findings you have with my cast balls. They shoot a bit better accuracy wise as long as you keep the sprue up to keep it from cutting the patch was the reason I was always told.
 

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I cast all my own. I'm not sure about accuracy question. With me the operator error is usually pretty great and minor differences in ball performance is lost. But I cast because I ENJOY it. I'm financially responsible (cheap ba**ard) and enjoy the savings I think I'm getting. But the biggest reason is because I can't get to the range as often as I'd like and any activilty that is invovled with shooting is enjoyable.
 

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Maybe it's just me, but wouldn't casting your own balls hurt pretty bad? :) Sorry, it was just sitting there waiting to be said!
Selmer
 

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Only if you cast them before swine...
YIKES!
 

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bubba said:
RR,

I have the exact same findings you have with my cast balls. They shoot a bit better accuracy wise as long as you keep the sprue up to keep it from cutting the patch was the reason I was always told.
The reason for keeping the sprue up is not to avoid cutting the patch, but to always keep it centered on the axis of rotation, so it doesn't spin around the circumference of the ball, "wobbling" it downrange, like a heavy planet around a light star. You could accomplish the same thing with the sprue down, but then you couldn't see it to keep it centered.
 

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casting balls

Hey!!
Got a followup to RR's ? I shoot an Underhammer .36 so what about shooting OOO They say its .35. the same as other widely avail. balls.
My rifle has deep grooves so how about some rec's for patch thickness.
I've been using .15 ticking over Goexfff. accuracy is ok but would always like to spiff it up. Thanks Ya'll
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the feedback, Guess I cast for the enjoyment and the belief I can cast a better bullet. Being retired, I have the time, but, like fredj, when I cast I generally cast a bunch. The only exception to this is if I'm working with a new mold, don't want to make a bunch and find out they don't perform.

Clodbuster, I don't think you'll get the accuracy out of 000 buck as it contains antimony, and significant amounts of tin to make the shot hard. You probably won't get the ball to obturate, as pure or nearly pure lead will do. It'll also erode your barrel quicker. RR
 

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RR- Interesting post, I do however differ on the erosion reference I don't believe the tin and antimony would have any erosive effects on the bore
I believe barrel erosion is almost entirely the result of the heat and pressure of the powder, as far as actual wear lead or even really hard cast alloy bullets have virtually no wear properties on a barrel, where
the cloth patches, or Paper patches are actually significantly abrasive,
which in the past was significant with the soft iron and really mild steels used in barrel making, Ned Roberts wrote of some really fine RB target rifles guilt edged accuracy being diminished in as few as a couple of hundred shots. BPC rifles shooting wheel weight alloy bullets in Silhouette
shooting show almost no wear even after thousands of shots over a period of years. I think most barrel damage is from improper cleaning
techniques and people falling for the bore seasoning bullshit, particularly
when shooting Pyrocrap, or using FFFg way beyond it's point of diminishing
returns, which creates excessive heat and pressure and can erode a the chamber area of a barrel in short order.
Regards fredj
 

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Fred,

Actually there is some plausable concern for barrel erosion and hard balls.

Like you stated, the heat and pressure are what erode a barrel. Often the gas blowby the goes around the patched ball can gradually erode the metal.

Bullet obturation helps reduce this gas blowby. No obturation, more blowby.

Also even modern ML barrels are softer than breach loading barrels. I understand this is an intentional safety feature, since manufacturers considered short-starting a real hazard with ML's. They felt the softer metal would split or bulge rather than shatter.
 

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I'm just begining to cast,in my learning process I have destroyed a lee RB mold,and found that "just a hunk a lead" from the scrap yard box doesn't lend to consistancy.
Iv'e had awfull luck with Horandy RB.+/- .8 gr per box of average.With only 60% being within .5
Thats a full grain diff. Why? Where's the air bubble,or extra tin?Is the unbalanced part of the ball right in the center of each different ball?

I think most of the best shooters cast their own,and by doing so after learning the art,are confidant of the consistancy of each projectile.

I just got my first steel blocks! and I'm a gonna be practicin,If I mess up ,well I'll toss'em back in the pot,dross,skim an try again.
 

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Here's a trick to improving the weight consistancy of your cast bullets - overpouring.

I honestly don't have an explanation for it, but it works.

With a Lee mold, I pour an entire ladle of lead into/over each mold cavity. The cavities inevitably overflow, but I keep pouring until the ladle is empty. Re-dip the ladle and fill the next cavity.

I used to pour enough lead until a nice puddle formed on top of the sprueplate, then move on to the next cavity and do the same. Then I would wait until I could see the lead "freeze", cut the sprue and drop the bullets/balls. I thought by maintaining a puddle of molten lead on the sprue plate this would give sufficient reservoir to prevent the cavities. BUT IT DOESN'T?!?!

I'm truly confounded why my old method doesn't work as well at the overpouring. But if I weight the balls out, the old method produces a much wider standard variation than overpouring. For a 0.530" ball the overpouring method will produce better than 95% within + or - 0.3 grains. The "puddle" method produces 25% more than a full grain lighter than the rest.

The theory goes that as the lead in the cavity cools it shrinks, drawing in molten lead from above. If this molten lead is not present, it will form a cavity. But in both the overpour method and the "puddle" method, the molten lead IS present. So why such a difference?

I truly recommend a balistic balance or scale. Don't be afraid of the cheapy little $20 balances, they work great and they aren't that slow. They are only slow if you are trying to get the exact weight of each ball. But in reality your are just looking for "odd-balls" so-to-speak. So you just set the balance to your minimum acceptable weight, then run the balls through one at a time. If the balance shows less than the minimum weight - back in the melting pot it goes. Everything that "makes weight" is good for competition.
 

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Black Jaque, the explanation has to do with the close proximity of the ball cavity to the top of the mould. The sprue neck and puddle freeze before the ball center, while continuous pouring tends to keep the sprue neck molten longer because heat is being added.

I'm still fighting the idea. After I finally bought a bottom pour furnace, we're supposed to go back to ladle pouring. Grrf.

How do you handle problems with lead splashing and keeping the pot at an even temperature? Using a whole ladle for each ball depletes the pot pretty fast. I haven't figured out the details of overpouring yet, so I'm still using a bottom pour and leaving a puddle. I get at least 75% passing a +0, -1/2% weight test, so that's Ok but could be better.
 

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Rest your mould handles on the edge of the pot, between the blocks and pivot, tilt the blocks down a bit, and all the overpour goes back into the pot. If I'm steady, the overpour flows over the front. If I'm not, some gets spilled on the handles and I have to pry it off.

Overpour gets the blocks up to temperature faster than a small puddle does. However, if your bullet bases are frosty and not filling out, you're getting too hot, so cut back on the overpour.

Bye
Jack
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I've found that keeping the temperature of the lead consistent, using a Lyman lead thermometer, my pure lead balls come out very consistent, using a bottom pour furnace, and just the puddle method. I do pour a generous puddle however. My .54 balls will generally be with in a .5 grain or less, using this method, and the last 420 grn. conicals were also with-in .5 grain, my rejects were less than 15 percent. I use sheet lead, and flux it only after removing the scum that floats to the top (impurities) the flux gets the rest. I keep the molten lead much hotter than is recommended, 900-950 degrees, and make sure my aluminum molds are well smoked, the blacker the better; and of course I preheat the mold before actually casting, the first casts I don't even look at, and I just discard, after the first few then I inspect until I get the cast I want and go from there with usually good results. RR :D
 

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P-J,

I hold the mold over the pot an let the lead pour back in. I also cut the sprue and let it fall back into the pot. This all helps prevent pot depletion.

Dropping the sprue cuttings back into the pot one-at-a-time doesn't seem to affect the temperature much. They sink. You're skimming the hotter lead from near the top.

Hold the mold near the pot. When stuff falls from the mold into the pot it doesn't splash as much. If you're putting discarded roundballs back into the pot, put 'em in the ladle and lower 'em in. Otherwise their like a kid doing a "cannonball" into a pool.
 
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