THIS is my Ruger No1H in 450/400 N.E. 3":
It's a beautiful rifle and it cost me the most I've spent on a single firearm. And it's fun to shoot. Here's it's first outing at the range:
But some issues with using it raised their ugly heads early on. A box of factory rounds is at least AUD$125 per 20. And while I bought Hornady dies and cases I also had to contend with the AUD$65+ cost of a 50 pack of Woodleigh RNSNs. The prices headed up from there. To further complicate things our local ranges were suddenly given power limits of 7.62 NATO. So there were few places, even having paid the money, that I could actually shoot full house load with it.
But there was some good news. Although the power limits were frustrating we were allowed to shoot lead bullets bigger than .30 cal at 1500fps or less. That was to allow black powder, single action, and pistol round chambered rifles to continue to be used at our range. That opened stuff up considerably. So I began looking for a bullet that would suffice. I found some 210gn FPs designed for 41 Rem Mag but they were too small. So it was no choice but to cast them myself. Our club president, Ken, is an old hand at casting and he offered to help me so I searched for a mold.
Australia's Cast Bullet Engineering make a whole range of molds for tons of things and I found their 400-410GC amongst the 400 cal molds:
Cast Bullet Engineering 410-400GC Double Cavity
I spoke to owner David Commens and he said that it had actually been designed for older double rifles with .408" bores but promised to machine out the mold a thou and a bit to make it work well in the Ruger's .410" bore. Soon enough it arrived at my house along with some 41 cal gas checks.
At this point there was a long pause while my normal life went on. A fulltime job, wife, 7 kids, church and other commitments kept me from taking up Ken's offer. Until yesterday. I'd taken 2 1/2 weeks off to hunt sambar deer in Victoria (for the 5th year in a row a fruitless endeavour) and Tuesday was the last day before my return to work and a looming avalanche of paperwork for the end of the first semester. So we took it easy when I finally reached his 25 acre property south of town. Ken was a flight engineer in the RAF during his youth and his keen grasp of historical and technical detail and love of firearms is a dangerous mix for one such as myself. Finally we pried ourselves away from talking guns & club news (I'm the range captain) and got down to business. Here are some pics to show the progress.
The mold in the handles ready to be warmed up:
Putting solder into the lead to sort the alloy:
A couple of the many hundred ingots Ken has. Seriously, he has hundreds of kilos of lead.
Checking the fluidity of the lead with the scoop:
The first pour into a "cold" mold. The bullets were rubbish but we knew they would be:
The first bullets beginning to come together after quite a few duds.
The finished product after I got them home.
Here's a comparison between a 45gn 22 Hornet SP, a 7mm Nosler 120gn BT, a 9.3mm Speer 270gn Semi-Spitzer and the massive 400 grainer.
Last night I rolled them about in Lee Liquid Inox to lube them:
Then this afternoon I added some gas checks and ran them through a .41" cal Lee Lube Sizer die:
The sizer takes them back from .4115" to .410" so I'll try a few in standard .410" cal. If it doesn't work so well I'll have a local engineering firm open the lube sizer die to .4115". So here are the first dozen I cast. The strange shapes are basically lube on the nose of the bullet.
There was one issue with them. Ken told me to weigh them to make sure there were no voids as a bullet with a void is not balanced in flight. I got home and 34 of the 52 were good, all around the 400gn mark - between 398.9gn and 401.3gn. But another 18 all sat around 387gn within a grain either side. The 400 grainers I was comfortable with. But are all of those 387gn bullets rubbish? Are they voids? Surely a 13gn variation is a lot. Any tips there? And do my lubed, sized and checked pills look ok? Should I wipe excess lube off the nose?