Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lyman 358-477 : 150 grain SWC: Accuracy Results

Accurate results with the lighter bullets has been impossible, so far. Today with a medium crimp and  loaded over 3.5 grains of 700X, success!   A very accurate sub-1-inch 5 shot group of .69.  That makes the 358-477 one of the best moulds for the 357 Magnum revolver.  The actual bullet looks different than Lyman's website:

As always, that's with a Taurus 66, 6 inch barrel, from at rest at 25 yards.  The Taurus is now carrying a Simmons 4X scope which is very effective.  Here's a picture, the 358-477 group is the first target:

The updated details of the load are in the Most Accurate Bullet Moulds and Loads Table

Additional tests are planned to further refine the OAL, which is very important for this bullet.  I will be testing magnum powder charges in the future, but the initial results are not worth mentioning so far.  That may change, and the results will speak for themselves.

The 358-477 works great loaded long, tested with a OAL of 1.620 (a little shorter may work) and lubed with Darr lube. 

FYI:  NRA lube is quickly becoming my favorite, and works well with all 357 bullets, including this one.  The high quality and the low price of the hollow sticks from White Label Bullet Lube make it a great value.  NRA has been a favorite for cast bullet shooters for years, and with good reason.

The 358-477 is super accurate, with light recoil and very economical to shoot.  The Lyman steel/lead moulds cast great and won't break the bank.  Available new in 2 cavity and 4 cavity versions and available from all the web-sites that sell resloading / casting equipment.  Midsouth has the best price right now, at least that I can find.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

357 Magnum Cast Bullet Crimping

A short note on the roll crimp used for cast bullets:  Nothing in casting and handloading works for everyone, for all guns, for all reloading presses and in all instances.  Crimping is just like that.  You will have to adjust a bit, but crimping does affect accuracy and is important.

I do know the Lee crimping dies and the Dillon Square Deal B dies do work with these adjustment specs (note: the Lee FCD can cause problems. For accurate cast bullets that are oversize at .360 diameter, a regular roll crimp die works best.): 

Crimping cast boolits without a groove, or crimping on the driving band:  This takes pure experimentation.  The Lyman 358-429 crimped onto the front band works well with a light roll crimp.  It's important to crimp enough so the bullets don't jump out of the case due to recoil, and not to much crimp or it will ruin accuracy.

The 700X and HP38 loads in the Most Accurate Boolits and Loads Chart have a medium crimp.  The 700X 5.1 load and all the H110 & 2400 magnum loads have a heavy crimp.

What does this mean?  First, here's how I zero the crimp:

  1. Back out the crimp die
  2. Size a fires 357 magnum case
  3. Place the case under the crimp die and raise the ram (don't use a flared case)
  4. There should be no contact between the crimp die and the mouth of the case
  5. Holding the ram up, Screw in the crimp die until it make firm contact
  6. Now the crimp is  zeroed
Once you are at this point, lower the ram and screw in the crimp die to the crimp needed:
  • Light crimp = 1/2 additional turn of the crimp die from zero
  • Medium crimp = 3/4 additional turn of the crimp die from zero
  • Heavy crimp = 1 additional turn of the crimp die from zero
This isn't how everyone does it, so this terminology isn't universal.  Most all non-magnum loads work well with a medium crimp.  The magnums and the non-magnum powder- near-max-pressure loads work with a heavy crimp.  For example, 5.1 grains of 700X works best with a heavy crimp.

Bullet diameter plays an important factor with the crimp setting.  Recently, with full size .360 diameter bullets, and using a Lee seating/crimp die, a light crimp proved to work the best.  

The 148 wadcutters also work well with a medium crimp.  I've not been able to produce good results with a light crimp on a wadcutter as many recipes or tips advise.  It's worth a try if you are shooting a full wadcutter.  Like the opening said; nothing in casting and handloading works all the time.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Initial test results: Casting at 725 VS 925 degrees. How bad is casting hot????

So this topic has been bothering be for some time.  I've often heard concerns of what happens to WW and other bullet alloy when casting with a hot pot.  So it was time to run a test.  I also wanted to figure out how to soften WW to meet my needs in my 357 magnums.

Added for clarification:  There is a popular idea that casting with a hot pot cooks out the tin and antimony from the WW alloy.  If that happened the alloy would be softer.  Their follow on argument is that a hot pot oxidizes out the tin and antimony, some cliam within minutes. Again, if either point is true, the alloy will become softer. 

Added:  How to harden and soften cast bullets using heat is an upcoming topic.  However a few other projects are first.  A much closer look at H110 in the 357 Magnum is not-to-far-off.

I figured I'd cast test bullets at intervals (see below) and measure the BHN after 1 day, 7 days and 14 days.  After 1 day I'm shocked enough to post the first results.

The test scenario is straightforward:

The 725 degree test and then the 925 degree test are identical:
  1. Clean out the pot
  2. Put in 3 lbs of WW
  3. Bring the lead to 725 or 925
  4. Cast 4 bullets - minute 0 of the test
  5. Cast 4 bullets - at the 30 minute mark
  6. Cast 4 bullets - at the 60 minute mark
  7. Cast 4 bullets - at the 120 minute mark

725 BHN results after 1 day:
    0 min = 10.4
  30 min = 10.4
  60 min = 10.4
120 min = 10.4

925 BHN results after 1 day:
    0 min = 10.4
  30 min = 10.4
  60 min = 10.4
120 min = 10.4

There is no negative impact on BHN from casting with a hot pot. 

My goal of wanting to cook WW down to a softer BHN isn't going to work out.  I'll wait a week and see if results change at all.  But I didn't expect them to be 10.4 this quickly and don't foresee them getting much harder, if at all.

The next time someone tells you the horrors of casting with a hot pot and the major impact of oxidizing tin etc... and having a major negative impact on the bullets, you don't have to take their word for it.  You don't have to take my work for it either. The test is easy, try it yourself and see what your results are.

I plan to continue casting hot as I find it to work well.  Now that I know for a fact there's no negative impact on the alloy, there's no reason to be concerned at all.

Update:  Here is a snippet from the  Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook, third edition, page 43.  The tin and antimony doesn't cook out of the lead.  It's apparently difficult to remove enough tin / antimony to matter. Cooking 2 hours at 925 oxidized out some tin possibly, but it still measured 10.4 BHN, it made ZERO difference.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Accuracy Results: Lyman 357-446 & Lyman 358-429

The older Lyman 357-446 mould is found on eBay and other web auction sites these days.  They is an great buy.  Test results at 25 yards are excellent with the potential of groups less than 1 inch.  The best group being .78 inches.

UPDATE on 3/19/11: The Lyman 358-429 seated at 1.620, crimped into the front driving band works great. It shot a best group of .8 inch over 11.8 grains of H110 at the range today.  That was out of 3 groups of 5.  It liked a light crimp, but more testing is needed to confirm the bullets don't pull out a bit under heavy recoil.  I'll add it to the next version of the Accuracy Chart.

UPDATE on 4/23/11: Note, I ran across a few Lyman moulds that drop undersized bullets.  This can really impact accuracy.  Just a warning to measure the bullets, and have Lyman fix any problems that exist.

The Lyman 358-429 is available new from any of the online shooting supply sites. has the best prices right now, that is always subject to change.

If you are a new reader, all tests are conducted at 25 yards, off a rest.  This time a Simmons scope has replaced the Red Dot.  With a 1 inch "dot" in the Red Dot,  it makes testing difficult.  Hiding 1 inch is a bunch when attempting to shoot 1 inch and smaller groups.  I'm still getting used to the Simmons, but like it quite a bit.  Oh, its a 4X power scope too, works out great at 15 yards too.

The 357-446 is an older discontinued design and has some controversy surrounding it.  You decide if it matters to you, it doesn't to me and I plan to keep it.  Some reports claim this bullet starts having flyers at 50 yards, and the problem gets worse at 100 yards.  Specifically at 38 special velocities, which the super accurate load below is.  This is a good shooting and good looking bullet design.

If you shoot at very long distances at 38 special velocities it may make a difference to you.  If not, this is a great mould that is readily available on eBay, and other auction sites.

This is now ranked fourth on the Most Accurate Boolits and Loads chart:

1360-200-SWC2000.573.4, 700X1.614660
2358-429 NOE1680.584.7, HP-381.620900
2358-429 NOE1680.585.1, 700X1.6201,200
3158-SWC TL1580.613.5, HP-381.600810
4357-4461620.783.5, 700XGroove890
5358-429 NOE1681.0011.8, H1101.6201,260
6158-SWC TL1581.105.1 HP-381.6001,129
6148-WC TL1481.103.5 HP-381.400928
7360-200-SWC2001.183.0, 700X1.614660
8360-145-SWC1451.203.9 700XGroove1,020
9358-429 NOE1681.3010.3,24001.620910
10140-FN-LBT1401.405.8 700XGroove1,347

The alloy used id the proven soft mix or lead/solder at 50/1 .

The Tarus 66 has a .357 groove diameter with .358 cylinder throat sizes.  This is optimum, not all guns are this cast-boolit friendly.  That means they produce bigger groups.  I'll stick with the Taurus and the small groups.