CASTING MATCH QUALITY BULLETS


 


“Melting lead and casting bullets can be hazardous; follow the manufacturer’s instructions that are packaged with your casting equipment and moulds”.


When I purchased my Browning Creedmore (.45-90) in the summer of 1998, I had never cast bullets before. Someone suggested that I call Larry Sarody at American Bullet Company and ask him what bullet he would suggest for Long Range BPCR shooting. Larry recommended the Paul Jones Creedmoor 545 grain bullet, and added that shooters were winning matches with it.

I subsequently ordered 200 Match Grade bullets (pre-lubed with S.P.G.) to try in my Browning Creedmore rifle. They shot extremely well and in January I decided to order more bullets from A.B.C.. When I did, I found out that Larry had passed away unexpectedly. Although Buffalo Arms had a supply of Larry’s bullets (purchased from A.B.C.) they were gone in a flash when the word got out that they would no longer be available.

In the spring of 1999 I was forced into either casting my own bullets or buying some of the poor examples that were being sold at that time under the premise that they were acceptable BPCR bullets. In my humble opinion, the only thing they were good for was as heavyweight plinking bullets.

While waiting for my Paul Jones mould to arrive, I purchased a quantity of 20-1 lead alloy from Buffalo Arms. I also purchased a Lyman electric pot, a plumber’s furnace, and several different size cast iron pots to hold the alloy.

I resigned myself to my outdoor cedar shed to do my casting because it had sliding windows, a booth, and exhaust fans to rid the area of harmful fumes, as well as excess heat. Without a mentor to guide me, I made a lot of poor quality bullets. As time progressed, the learning process kicked in and I started to produce some higher quality bullets. It’s a good feeling when you see the results of your efforts become something of which you can be proud.


Why Match Quality Bullets Are Required

Unlike BPCR silhouette, where the rams are at 500 yards (or meters), we are shooting at 1,000 yards. There are several requirements that a bullet must have in order to accurately travel the half-mile journey to the target. The Long Range match grade bullet has to be a better designed, heavier bullet, with a higher ballistic coefficient capable of leaving the muzzle at higher velocities than those typically used in silhouette shooting.

The Long Range match grade bullet must be hard enough so the nose won’t slump (if it’s a bore-riding bullet), yet soft enough so that it will bump-up to be properly engraved by the rifling. It cannot have defects (i.e. voids, nicks, rounded corners). In addition, the lube grooves and wiping bands must be filled out and the base must be flat and sharp.

A one-half grain variance in bullet weight is all that should be tolerated. The Long Range match grade bullet should be shot as cast and not reduced or altered in size in any manner. The lube grooves must contain a lube that can maintain accuracy with just the use of a blow tube for a minimum of 15+ rounds (we recommend using X-Ring Lube).

Bullet Selection

As I previously mentioned, a heavy bullet with a high ballistic coefficient is necessary to travel 1,000 yards and hit the target nose first. Most shooters with whom I have associated use .45 caliber rifles for Long Range BPCR (i.e. .45-70, .45-90, .45-100, and .45-110).

Commonly used bullet weights typically fall between 500 and 560 grains. Velocities average in the neighborhood of 1,300 fps, with a few running closer to 1,400 fps.

The Postell or Creedmoor-shaped bullets are the most popular, with a few shooters using the Lyman 457125 round nose or Schmittzer pointed bullet as well. Some shooters have tried other styles, both lighter and heavier, but the winning scores are usually shot with a Creedmoor or Postell-shaped bullet.

Nose Pour Moulds

With all the whoop and holler about nose pour moulds one would think you could not win in Long Range BPCR competition with a bullet cast using a base pour mould. Such is not the case. Nose pour moulds come with their own set of problems. For example, they just get their voids in a different place (nose instead of base). In fact, many reputable mould manufacturers don’t recommend or make a nose pour mould, stating that they are too complicated to use and take longer to reach and maintain an acceptable casting temperature.

Alloy Selection

Talk to a silhouette shooter and you’ll find that he’s probably using a soft alloy. In fact, most BPCR shooters don’t have a clue as to the hardness of their alloy. To further complicate matters, bullet alloy becomes softer as our bullets age. Long Range BPCR shooters (for the most part) use a harder alloy than their silhouette brothers.

Most shooters don’t have an accurate method of testing their alloy for hardness (Brinnell Hardness Number). Unless they are buying their casting materials from a reputable source they cannot accurately duplicate bullet hardness from one melt to the next.

LBT Hardness Tester

LBT (Lead Bullet Technology) makes an excellent lead hardness tester that reads out in BHN. They don’t list a phone number that you can call, so you must mail in your order. The LBT Hardness Tester retails for around $90.00 plus shipping:

LBT..Div. of F.I.G. Ent. Inc.
HCR 62 Box 145
Moyie Springs, Idaho 83845


By George Liotta
 

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