- Reloading Tips
Why Cast Your Own Bullets?
Many shooters turn to reloading in order to save money and casting your own bullets provides one of the best ways cut costs. Bullets can be cast for as little as 6 cents per bullet. In addition to saving money, shooting cast bullets also saves wear on your firearms. The soft lead alloy is much gentler on a barrel than jacketed bullets. This can be very important with many fine old guns that are still in use. Since they are generally fired at lower velocities and pressures, cast bullet loads also produce less recoil and noise. This makes cast bullet loads perfect for youngsters, beginners or anyone looking for less kick or muzzle blast. Finally there is no more gratifying feeling than making your own reloads with your own cast bullets and having them perform exactly as desired. See our Casting Section for a look at Lyman’s complete line of moulds and casting equipment.
Never exchange powder pans (or any other parts) on beam scales. All parts are calibrated together by the manufacturer. If parts are exchanged from one scale to another, inaccurate and possibly dangerous charges can be the result.
Powder pans can be safely exchanged on electronic scales however, as any weight difference can be “zeroed out” by the scale. Lyman recently introduced the “Powder Pal” Funnel Pan especially for electronic scales. This innovative product combines a powder pan and a powder funnel. Powder can be poured directly from the pan to the case, saving time by eliminating a step in the reloading process. The unique funnel shaped spout will fit any case from 22 to 475 caliber, including the new “Super Short” calibers that many standard funnels cannot handle.
We often receive questions regarding the “trim-to-length” given in our handbooks. Reloaders are frequently confused when they measure their cases and find them to be under the listed trim-to-length. This is particularly common with pistol cases such as the 40 S&W and the 45 ACP. The reason for this is that, depending upon the caliber, some cases will grow when fired and reloaded, while others will actually shrink slightly. Ammunition manufacturers do not make their cases close to maximum length, rather they are generally made closer to minimum length. Minimum length is usually under the trim-to-length. If a given caliber case stretches little, if at all, it may never reach the stated trim-to-length. The best way to handle case length is to trim all cases to the same length as your shortest case before their first reloading. Afterwards, they will only need to be trimmed if they stretch and exceed the stated trim-to-length.
Along with autumn colors and cooler temperatures, hunters are gearing up and preparing optimum loads for local game. When hunting with a .30 caliber rifle with cast bullets, it is important to remember that harder is not necessarily better. For optimum penetration and expansion, it is best to cast with #2 Alloy (90% lead, 5% tin, 5% antimony – appx 16BHN) or a slightly softer alloy. Work your load up to achieve the best combination of velocity and accuracy. This will generally fall in the 2000 to 2200 fps area.
Keep in mind that exterior ballistics, including striking velocity, optimum penetration, and bullet performance will all play a part in the success of your hunt. For additional information, please refer to the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook, 3rd Edition.
Now that black powder hunting seasons are upon us, many hunters are taking their muzzleloaders out to the range for sighting-in and practice. Sooner or later, most shooters will seat a projectile without first pouring in a powder charge. Before resorting to a ball puller, try this tip: remove the nipple or touch hole liner and work a small amount of FFFg black powder through the flash channel and into the space behind the projectile. Only 10 grains or so is required. Lightly tapping the barrel with the palm of your hand will help work the powder in. Be sure the projectile is fully seated (do not attempt this procedure if you are unable to fully seat the projectile). Next, reinstall the nipple or touch hole liner and fire out the projectile (in a safe direction).
Seating Screw Adjustment
When adjusting a seating die to obtain a particular over-all length, most reloaders use the old “trial and error” method. Turn down the seating screw a bit, seat the bullet, measure the cartridge with calipers and repeat, until the correct length is reached. To speed up the process, using a little math will help. Lyman seating screws have 20 threads per inch. This means that one turn of the screw equals .050” change in depth, (1/20 = .050”). A half of a turn would then get you .025” change in depth, while a quarter of a turn would get you .0125”. Now when you take your first measurement after starting a bullet into the case, you can get very close to your final length by knowing how much change one turn of the screw will make.
Why do you reload?
Ask any reloader and you will come up with a variety of answers. Many reload for accuracy. Factory ammunition is not as precise as reloaded ammunition. The ability to fine-tune a load, focusing on the powder charge, bullet style and bullet diameter for a particular rifle, is an accomplishment only a reloader can experience. This is particularly satisfying when he or she is successful with the target.
With the variety of calibers available, there are limited sources for many cartridges. Reloading enables you to enjoy these without spending excessive amounts of money on ammunition, let alone wasting time searching for loaded ammunition in that particular caliber.
As ammunition prices continue to rise, reloaders can continue enjoying their sport, without causing a painful dent in their wallets. Most reloaders collect their spent cases after a day at the range for later use.
Sure, these are the typical answers. Think about it. Did your father or grandfather teach you to reload many years ago and you are carrying on that tradition? Do you carefully construct light loads for your daughter or son to learn shooting without the recoil? Does this enable you to have some time to yourself or quality time with a loved one?
Whatever your reason is, enjoy it! Spend time teaching a son, daughter, grandson or granddaughter as you were taught. Give them something to remember you by. Years from now, they too will feel nostalgic while sitting at their own reloading bench.
Look Before You Seat!!
After charging cases with powder, it is important to check each and every case before seating a bullet. Look for the proper amount of powder, and also to make sure that there actually is powder in every case. The best method to do this is to use a loading block so that all cases are together and all can be compared to ensure that they contain the same amount of powder. Remember that a double charge of a fast burning pistol powder may not fully fill the case, so look carefully!