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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
.454-250-PRS

The Pigeonroost Slim Boolit?! Now, jest wut ‘ntarnation is all the fuss about! Why be a’ weewallen with sum special boolit when they is so many designs out thar already?

Well, if you got this far in your search for a bullet that works well in your black powder .45 Colt lever action rifle; you probably already know just what in the entire nation all of the fuss is about. Traditional design .45 Colt bullets with two decent lube grooves or one larger lube groove work pretty well in their intended rolls. That intended roll was for use in black powder revolvers. The old traditional designs shoot great in that regard for the most part. Once that new fangled fad got started with smokeless powders, the newer bullet designs generally were offered with relatively skimpy lube grooves, smokeless powder rounds just don’t depend upon lube consumption to keep the barrel clean and associated parts running smooth. Folks dedicated to the real gunpowder were left behind to rely on those old traditional designs; which worked out just dandy, until we changed our shooting habits.

What changed, you ask? For one, the manufacturers of our brass cases evidently changed their manufacturing methods to produce a heavier walled and stronger based cartridge. Second, apparently long guns were only rather recently chambered for the .45 Colt round, an application for which it was evidently not intended. The minor case design changes were and are welcome as it allowed the lever action rifle’s extractors to reliably grab the rim, plus a stronger case is likely a better case. Then again a strong cased straight walled cartridge operating at relatively low pressures tends to allow a good bit of blow-by gases and grime to enter the receiver mechanism and even exit through the loading gates or such to possibly contact the shooter. This is a minor aggravation for the user of those heathen smokeless propellants, but a bigger problem for the black powder user who’s gunpowder makes a more chemically aggressive and hotter exhaust residue. The use of this cartridge in rifles became popular rather recently. The traditional bullets available were designed for revolvers. Most of those don’t carry enough lube for the longer barrels and some have "noses" or metplats that are precariously small when stacked against a live primer in a spring loaded magazine tube and then exposed to recoil.

Our current habits or demands present another challenge to bullet design and lube requirements that was generally not faced by the shooters during the golden era of cowboys. We shoot far more rounds than they did and we generally shoot them at a faster rate of repetition. We blaze through 5 to 8 stages of about ten rounds each with our main match rifles. In the revolvers, a good BP lube with traditional design bullets will get you through. But, many Pards have experienced trouble getting through even a couple of stages or with their .45 Colt rifles and commonly available bullets, even with top grade black powder lubes.

Our rifles get a little rest between stages, but there’s always some chores to do and fun to have; who wants to clean or damp swab their irons between stages? Many an enterprising cowpoke or gal has loaded up special rifle rounds with "cookies" of wax or lube and with care in design this can be done without losing too much accuracy; but its extra work and then you have your revolver ammo to keep separate from your rifle rounds. One could abandon the .45 Colt in favor of .44-40 or .38’s where more generously lubed bullets are available. I hear tell of older mold designs still available if you have a magic crystal ball to locate them and a good heap of cash to plunk down. I figured the .45 Colt should do just fine, if I could come up with an easy way to keep the crusty fouling away. So I went in search of a way to rid myself of the foul-out blues.

My initial attention went to the lube I was using. It was good stuff. Commercially made by good, well respected cowboy related folks and recognized long range shooters. I purchased it pre-applied to commercial bullets of top quality. No help – a few shots into a string and accuracy was going out the window. I liked another bullet I was using and casting myself from a 6-cavity Lee mold (452-255-RF), but it had skimpy double lube grooves and a crimp groove of near equal size. I decided I would try to make a lube so good that even with those skimpy grooves, I would be able to beat the foul-out blues. Started simple and small --- took a few steps forward and a few more back. I made some modest progress. I could shoot all day without fouling out if the weather was damp and I did not rush things too much. Then, by lubing the two lube grooves plus the crimp groove of that favorite bullet, I could even get by with more rapid shooting and a bit less wet weather with some success. Then again, I never got to the point to where I could shoot magazine after magazine of ten shot sequences in rapid succession on dry days without getting the blues; them low down, hard foul’n, lead strippin’ blues. Sometimes, after fifty or one hundred shots on dryer days, that big ole .45 bore looked more like a .38 with that hard baked crud in the barrel. Still, I had made progress and at least developed a dandy lube recipe for my troubles. I was not fond of cookies and fillers; although I went through that process too. I decided to look for a bullet design with a more generous helping of lube.

On the SASS Wire, this topic is not uncommon. Sooty Pards with the blues are not at all rare, as soot breathers go. On the Wire, some were/are advised to make special cookies and soaked wads or such. Others were/are told to use this filler or that to reduce the loads to get less fouling or to let the filler cut the fouling as they shoot. Some very ingenious and impressive efforts have been made and with some degree of success, no doubt. One Pard, Cutts Crooked, kept mentioning his pet bullet, the MaxiBall. I had used and had even cast that bullet design before in a larger size for muzzle loaders. It did work in that experience. So I traded my old .54" MaxiBall mold for the same design in .452". That single cavity mold was painfully slow to cast and not particularly caster friendly. The bullets it did cast were GREAT! Held lube galore! However, the metplats were way too small for safe tube magazine rifle use. I devised a top punch for my lube/sizer tool that would "bump" or reform the metplat out into a nice shallow hollow-point as the bullet was lubed. Great result! No fouling to speak of after many rounds in rapid fire. Good off-hand accuracy! But, no way could I live with such limited and tedious production. At the same time I was trading Maxi molds, I also ordered a new Lee single cavity "Improved Minnie" in oversized .454" diameter. It throws a wheel weight alloy bullet that tipped the scales right at 300gr – not exactly a "gamer" bullet. This ingenious design had three lube grooves with forward facing "fouling scraper bands" and a hollow base to boot. Even with a cartridge OAL of the maximum standard 1.6", there was not room for much powder under that big boy. With the lube grooves packed and the hollow base full of fffg Holy Black, the rifle would foul-out with only about 4 or 5 stages worth of shooting. With the hollow base also packed with lube you could shoot all day, just like the Maxi. Packing hollow based bullets with lube is no more fun, nor less bother than using cookies or grease wads.

I had said this to myself from the very beginning of my quest, "If the Lee 452-255-RF had larger lube grooves it would be a honey!" That bullet cast with ease and cast fast in their excellent 6-cavity mold. The mold was very reasonably priced, even with the special spru cutting handles. That bullet also shot well, at least until the foul-out blues would set in, and had a nice big metplat that fed through my Marlin like air. I started thinking about having Lee make a custom version with two big and deep lube grooves. The more I though about it, the more sense it made. So I took a closer look at Lee’s 452-255-RF with the intention of having them make a custom mold with much deeper and wider lube grooves.

Well, things are not always so simple as first glance suggests. With the increased grooves of the size I was considering, the area of the bullet appeared to be too small to accommodate, so additional length would be needed along with sacrifice of the crimp groove to gain groove room and keep adequate bearing surface for contact with the riffling. I took my case to a higher court for consideration; I posted a notice on "The Wire" and got immediate responses from several interested parties. One suggestion from Old Scout (or was it Grandpa Willie) fell right in place with an option I was already pondering in hope of keeping things simple. Scout (or Willie) suggested having Lee combine the two existing lube grooves into one bigger groove since that bullet probably had adequate bearing surface forward of the groove and in the base drive band. Others hinted that they would appreciate my retaining the crimp groove. So I went back to the drawing board.

The drawing board, by this time, consisted of a rough sketch of the "mother bullet" (Lee .452-255-RF). A good bit of time spent with caliper and micrometer revealed that bullet to have subtle features not initially noticed by my untrained eye. The metplat was not entirely flat, but had a very slight rounding from center toward the shoulders. The cuts into the bullet that form the crimp groove and lube grooves were not simple straight cuts, but carefully sliced angles. The area of the bullet just forward of the crimp groove appeared to be of a somewhat reduced diameter from the lower full diameter portions of the bullet and that reduced diameter was maintained for a short distance before the ogive started its gentle progression toward the metplat. I realized these features were there to make the caster’s job easier and also to allow the bullet to be more easily slipped into a chamber, especially as cycled by a lever gun. These features I wanted to preserve in my modification. I needed help from an expert.

A visit to Lee’s web pages led me to their printable instructions for designers of custom bullets. They gave examples of the measurements needed and some hints at features to make designs cast with ease. I pondered and measured and sketched; several times over. As I looked at their example sketch I wondered at how much easier it would be if that had been an actual sketch of my selected "mother" design. I called Lee Precision and told the telephone person what I wanted to do. She patched me through to the bullet mold fabricator, Doug Boochman. I explained to Doug what I wanted to do; he said, "Piece of cake!" Then he looked at his log book to see if it had already been done and, if so, if a duplicate may be in stock somewhere. He found no previous such custom mold. I told Doug that I would forward my design sketch to him and then I hinted that I would like to see the professional draft of the .452-255-RF. "No problem at all, I’ll fax that to you right away." What a company! True to his word the document was soon in my hands and I began transferring my design onto the original design.

First, I expanded the mold diameter slightly to achieve a true .454" bullet with the Lee specified alloy. I knew my wheel weight alloy cast a slightly larger than nominal bullet in the "mother" design, but only slightly so. Cast bullets tend to shoot better, especially with black powder, if they are one or two thousands over bore size. My reloading set-up uses a case expander that fits .454 bullets very well to give a strong "pull resistant" fit, in hope of encouraging excellent ignition and better case expansion with ignition. Next, I increased the length of the bullet very slightly by making the base driving band thicker/stronger. I then extended the 30 degree slope of the forward shoulder of the front lube groove and the rearward shoulder of the rear lube groove very deeply into the core of the bullet. Each to a point to where the remaining core was just slightly larger than the metplat diameter since that was the minimum tolerated by Lee’s machinery. This yielded a remaining core diameter almost exactly equal to what I had already calculated by finding the approximate "root mean square" of the overall bullet diameter in hope of not weakening the bullet too much by taking too much material away from the center. Just lucky, I guess. All the area between those shouldered cuts would be a very large lube reservoir. This large reservoir was intended to distort slightly under the setback of black powder ignition and bullet acceleration to greatly compress the lube. Those sloped shoulders should not only allow easy drop from the mold, but also give more mechanical advantage to that lube compression to create a very strong hydraulic pressurization of lube into the barrel walls under firing pressures. Next, I slightly extended the parallel area just forward of the crimp groove and true to the original, I used the very slight reduction in diameter that may serve to help ease the bullet into the chamber while levering and into the bore while firing. That last extension caused the ogive to be slightly more severe as it tapered toward the metplat, but still very similar to the original in form and function. So right there on paper was my first glimpse of the PRS .45Colt bullet. Look’n good!

What would it weight? Lee gave information in regard to estimating bullet weight as cast in their alloy. It was a ponderous task for a non engineer like me, but my best estimate suggested a finished weight of about 240+ grains. How would it shoot? I feared it would tumble. I tried to maintain a nice balance of weight fore to aft, and it did give the aerodynamic appearance of a bat mitten shuttlecock. It certainly would hold a big supply of lube! Doug at Lee estimated 2 to 4 weeks until delivery. I told him others were interested too and that I would pay the set-up fees and would gladly allow other Pards to purchase copies at their own risk from Lee. Doug obliged and made "several" extra copies of their fine 6 cavity molds.

Sooner, rather than later, my two copies of the design arrived. Beautiful molds! I already had new handle sets on hand for them. I followed the instructions for cleaning and lubrication. I smoked the cavities with a wooden match stem. I commenced to dropping perfectly formed bullets right from the start. I had used that type of mold before with the "mother bullet" and it was just as easy that first time, maybe the PRS bullet was even easier to drop from the molds. The average weights of bullets dropped from all 6 cavities (three sample each cavity) with wheel weight alloy was right at 250gr and each sample was very close to all others. In my .454 sizing die, the bullets just barely "kissed" the die and essentially were lubricated without any significant sizing. One thing for sure, just like the Maxi-Ball, it took quite a generous turn of the lube crank to fill that bullet!

Now, how about shooting? I am not the best of shots and I asked other Pards to test the bullet and post their results. Sergeant Drydock came up with an interesting experiment where he found the PRS bullet to shoot well from his .45/70 where it had to be bumped up under the set back of firing to grip the barrel. He was impressed. Three Legged Dog posted a nice target demonstrating his informal skill at getting a very tight group and nice round (no tumbling) holes in his target. Others reported success in accuracy and ease of cleaning after shooting. I concentrated on an effort to intentionally defeat the bullet by fouling-out my Marlin 1895 Cowboy rifle. Using my personal lube recipe and the PRS bullet in .45 Colt full house loads of 2.2cc of ffg and fffg Elephant black powder in Starline cases with CCI 350 LP primers and no fillers or cookies or such; I fired rapid ten shot bursts, reloaded and repeated – time after time. No cleaning during the shooting, nor any spraying of moisture or Ballistol. No breathing into the barrel; just shooting rapidly and continuously. 50 rounds, no problem. 100 rounds, no problem. Clean-up was easy with hot soapy water on nylon bore brush. As a left handed shooter, I did not burn any holes in my shirt sleeve due to blow-by out of the receiver port or loading gate; in fact, there was very little blow-by at all in the receiver. I have repeated that challenge several times with as many as 350 shots over two days without cleaning anytime, anyway during shooting and no hard fouling noted nor any loss of accuracy noted under main match type conditions. Interestingly, as compared to previous testing of other bullets that failed the challenge, the Marlin’s barrel was not even overly hot. Previously that barrel got hot enough to blister bare skin at even a quick touch. I am still waiting for that very cold, very low humidity bluebird January day for another challenge of 100 fast rounds. Never thought I would be hoping for that kind of weather!

Any planned developments on the horizon? Well, I have heard of other folks who plan to have similar creations made in .38 and .44 caliber. I hope they have the good luck I experienced with my bullet, beginner’s luck!

Regards;

PS: Boy ‘O Boy did them cold January days ever come with a vengeance! She shot just as well as ever! Also, thanks to Mason Stillwell for getting me to try the RCGS Cowboy expander die for .454 bullets. That switch along with my other loading techniques has eliminated the blowback in my .45 Colt Marlin Cowboy totally so far as I can tell.[/size]
 

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Piegon Roost I am glad my suggestion helped you it has also worked for me. I really enjoyed this post you made.

You know how I told you that I used my 200 gr hollow base only in my bp loads. WELL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! After using the PRS bullet in 250 and the lube CANYON That is all I shoot in the rifles. NOT one bit of blowback and it is VERY accurate. I am using the wheelweight for my lead.
I have taken several 1st places in bp with this bullet and I am going to take it to EOT next month.

Again Thank you Piegon Roost
Maybe some day we will get to meet and shoot our BP loads with your bullet !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :wink:


Your Pard
Mason
 

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HAH!!! And then he doesn't EVEN tell ya the single most important part of his developement!! :?

Ah well! Ah 'spose it's up to me ta eddicate the heathens. <sigh>

You see, the REAL purpose behint alla this learned research on the part of Pigeonroost was to create for me, and those enlightened souls like myself, a proper projectile that would work in those #$*@@#*& frixenfraxen &^% but oh so luvely and fantastic shootin 75 Remmies and 58 Conversions! :grin: Indeed, the finest shooting handgun in the world bar none, suffers from a terrible malady concerning it's use with the Holy Black...it binds up FAST! As I accidentally discovered, the inclusion of copious amounts of proper lube in the loads was the best answer to this minor, but significant shortcoming. Many threads have I read about shooters looking for an answer to making thier 75 run properly with BP, the same being true for 58 conversions. And again & again, I've told them "LUBE, LUBE, and MORE LUBE". You want that stuff squirting out of every oriface of yer iron, keeping the fouling soft 'n slippery! The PRS will do this with style!

Now Pigeonroost might get away with pulling yer laig a bit concerning his hard werk on this boolit, but there's the pure truth, it was entirely outta his concern fer us foo...er I mean...enlightened souls who shoot the best handgun in the world! The added benefit concerning it's use in long gunz was really only a side affect! :wink:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Mason, Jax, and Cuts; I appreciate you Pards responding so kindly.

Mason -- win that Big-n wit the PRS! You can do it!

Jax, come to Darkside with the only real powder!

Cuts -- ya done caught me up in a terrible error! I didna mean to lie outright -- I jest had trouble wtih my memory banks. In the first real paragraph of the post I told a big lie --- really I didna mean to. I said the traditional boolits did real well in revolvers. I was thinking about the SAA Colt for which the .45 Colt was designed. I didna consider the enlightened elite who shoot the Remmington conversion. How could I have been so insensitive and crass!?

Even I had visions of slick performance out of the wonderful Smith and Wesson Schoefield, replicas there of and new generations thereof with this bullet as I sat on the toilet sketching out those early drafts! How could I have forgotten those visions of success and dreams of unreasonable expectations? I have not even heard of anyone trying the Schoefields with them yet! I may call up Iron Duke and get him to try them.
 

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PRS Mold

Were does one buy the PRS mold, from Lee? what is the model #, price?

Thanks FRED...................
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hey Ho Fred!

Its a special order item, but Lee should have some some in stock and the special fee has been waved. The straight retail price is $50.00 for the 6 cavity mold plus the usual shipping and handling. You will need handles for that mold if ya don't have a set already -- get that at your usual dealer to save gelt -- but Lee will be happy to sell to ya. It is listed as the 454-250-RF.
 

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PRS, It is amazing how things work out. By the way, I really liked your post. AS I too have been dealing with the exact same problems with the 45 Colt in rifles. Here a while back I had the same idea and called Lee and talked to one of there engineers. I told him I wanted a 200 gr. bullet with a large greases grove that would cast wheel weights at least .454. He said he had a special run of these bullet molds, so I immediately ordered the six gang mold. What I received was your bullet design for the 250 gr large groove bullet. I cast about 600 of these in short order and lubed them with my favorite BP lube(used in buffalo guns) and loaded 50 rounds in new brass with my favorite "real" gun powder. Went to the range and set up paper target at 50 yards. Fired ten rounds for a group 1.3" outside to outside and dead center in the bullseye! Holy cow I was elated. Proceeded to shot the other 40 rounds as fast as I could sight them. The last ten rounds still grouped 1.5" and I never touched the bore of the rifle until I was done. Thanks for your design work! THIS SUCKER CAN REALLY SHOT GOOD GROUPS!!!!!!! More important, it is a safe design which looks like it is going to be hard pressed to foul out.
I called Lee and told them they didn't ship the mold I had ordered. They offered to take it back and make me happy. I said "are you nuts? I love this bullet. I recommended that they put this in their catolog and list it as "the PERFECT BP BULLET". Thanks for your work. I am happier then the "hog ranch inspector".
 
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