Saturday, October 1, 2011

Follow up on the Lyman 358-477 and the 358-429 and a Mountain Mold Custom Design is on Order

I thought it was time to revisit these moulds, and spend some more time flushing out their potential.  I ordered a new 358-477 from Cheaper Than Dirt.  What a great surprise!  Dropping nice size .3576 and .359 bullets with soft lead, as delivered from the factory.  That's much bigger than the prior mould.  Made of soft steel (steel and lead alloy) the four cavities create a pile of great looking bullets in no time flat.

My guns shoot .360 soft alloy bullets better than anything else.  That soft alloy cast smaller than the "spec" alloys used by the mould manufactures, as a result I expect to have to lap them at least some.  It took some time to get the go through that entire process.  Previously described in detail, here's an overiew:

  1. Before first use, heat cycle the mould, 3 times at 400 degrees
  2. Strip the sprue plate and screws off
  3. Heat the mould and alloy
  4. Pour through some nuts, one over each cavity
  5. Cool and measure, if all the cavities are full size (.3604 across the seam) it's done.  Wash up, and the mould is ready
  6. Lap with 220 grit Wheeler Lapping Compound (from Midway)
  7. Cool down & wash with Dawn
  8. Go back to step 3
It takes a few hours, and is well worth the effort. The lapped mould drops .3604 diameter, 160 grain BHN 8 bullets effortlessly.

Lubed with Darr lube, I loaded up a bunch of 357 brass with 3.5 grains of 700X.  Shooting off-hand at 25 yards matched my best results to date, of any bullet.  That includes the champ, a lapped Lee TL-358-158-SWC.  The lapped 358-477 requires a shorter OAL than the usual.  The Blackhawk can handle these at 1.600, just barely.  There is a little resistance when rotating the cylinder as they fit the chamber "snug".

Lube for Convention Lube Groove Bullets

I've written a lot about using Alox and JPW for bullets with tumble lube grooves.  But that's not all that I use, by any means.  For conventional grooves I also like to use a Lyman Lubrisizer and a .360 sizer.  It pumps out well sized and very round bullets very quickly, that may be worth a post sometime.  The conventional lubes of choice are Darr (homemade), NRA & Carnauba Red, from White Label lube.  Their 2500+ looks like a good one to try too, much like the NRA, but not as soft.  These lubes, and many others from other providers, are excellent-proven products.  Look for a used 450 Lubrisizer and get lubing!  A Star from Magma is a good way to go, if money is no object.  I have a used Lyman 450, it works just fine.

For loads that work with pure Johnsons Paste Wax, that remains a top favorite.  It takes testing to determine if that works the best.  For example, a Keith style bullet with a large deep lube groove doesn't work in my guns, with tumble lube.  At least for full-house loads.  I plan to test the 358-477 with JPW in the upcoming weeks.

In closing on the 357-477, the Blackhawk is loving these with a light load.  Heavier loads remain to be tested.  A huge surprise is that the Rossi M92 20 inch lever rifle doesn't like these one bit.  The Lee TL-358-158-SWC remains the king in the Rossi, at least for now.

Now, the 358-429

I placed an order (Cheaper Than Dirt again) shortly after the great results with the 477 mould.  I heated it up, cast some bullets, and with high exceptions began to measure them.  What a let down, .3555 to .357 inch.  After a couple of tries, I decided the micrometer wasn't lyin' to me.

That's way to much lapping for me, even if it might work.  I'm not sure it would.  I really like the design of this bullet, so it was time to get creative.  I measured and measured the 429 bullets.  Once I had a good idea of the dimensions, it was time to go with a custom mould.  I choose Mountain Molds, who has a nice oneline design tool.

It took some time to get solid measurements for the nose, lube groove and driving bands.  I ended up specifying a 175 grain bullet, the spec alloy being WW.  That'll put my soft lead bullets closer to 178 to 180.  The order was placed last night, here are the specs (you may have to click to be able to read the details):

It takes a combination of measurements and much tweaking.  But I believe it's close to the same measurements as the Lyman.  Needless to say, I'll do a write on the the mould and the results at the range.  I'm excited to have a custom design on order, even if I did make it as much like the Lyman as possible.

Have fun at the range, more results are coming soon.

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