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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I guess this could go under this sub forum, or bullet casting, or rifles and rifle cartridges. I'll start it here, and if one of the moderators/administrator feels it is better served elsewhere, please move it to the appropriate forum.
I want to hear if in the experiences of others, any problems encountered shooting cast bullets in the 350 Legend, any platform. I'll explain the reason for the question below.
Got a call from a cousin last evening where he related an experience his son just had with his 350 Legend a few days ago.
To set the stage: The son's rifle is a CVA break open single shot....Scout Model (?don't know). The dad had cast a handful of bullets, ran them through a LEE .356" push through sizer, and loaded six for his son to try. Son tried them at the range and reported back that he was very pleased with the way they shot at 50 yards, with a nice tight group, and that he wanted to hunt deer with it during this Missouri season. So, dad loaded up a 'small supply', assembled with no changes in process or components. Son shot a few more and found that they were harder to load than the first six had been. Closing the action on a live round was much more difficult. He took it deer hunting and shot a doe with it, and was very pleased with the performance. He loaded it again, again with difficulty and a 'hard close', and went back out hunting, hoping for a chance at a buck. No luck, so at the end of the day, he went to unload the rifle and when he 'broke the action', the extractor failed to remove the round (don't know if it 'jumped the rim'). To remove the live round, he had to take a rod and tap it out from the muzzle. This experience of his son, is what prompted cousin to call to see if I had any ideas.
It remined me of an experience I had a number of years ago shooting cast bullets in my 30 Carbine Blackhawk. After shooting a couple of cylinders, the cartridges would not enter any of the chambers deep enough to pass the loading gate and recoil shield. I told cousin of this, and said I think the same thing is causing the problem with his son's Legend.
I think the problem is created by lead building up (somewhat gradually) on the chamber headspacing 'step', due to that sharp edge 'shaving' a small amount of lead. With each subsequent shot the next round is held a little further back in the chamber, creating what I'll call a 'negative headspace' (meaning too little or tight). That would certainly cause the problem I had with the 30 Carbine, and his 'tight closing' of his CVA break open action.
I gave him two suggestions, based on the fact that the problem could occur in the field in pretty short order, number of shots wise. First: Carry a slightly oversized bronze cleaning brush (say .375 cal.) attached to a cleaning brush holder (like the RCBS), and after a few shots (whenever things begin to 'tighten up' a bit) run the brush into the chamber and give it a few twists to remove the build up. Second (if first don't work): Take a fired case, that has been expanded to full chamber diameter, put it in a vise, mouth up, and with a small triangle file cut some 'teeth' across and around the mouth of the case. With the brass case being harder than the lead and much softer the the barrel steel, these 'teeth' should remove the lead fouling without risk of damaging the chamber. The back end of the case would be lathed down in diameter enough to not interfere with the extractor when the action is open. Told him to drill out the primer pocket hole to expose more surface of the heavy base material so that it could be tapped for a knurled cap screw (say 3/16" or 1/4" or whatever fits). The knurled cap screw would allow 'finger rotation' of the case to 'clip out' the fouling, and could be pocket carried into the field.
I'm curious if anyone else has had anything similar happen with the 350 Legend and cast bullets?
Obviously, I'm attributing the problem to the design of the Legend being a case mouth headspacing one. I know, for a fact, my 30 Carbine Blackhawk problems stem from that lead fouling buildup on the headspacing cylinder cut.
What I don't understand (because I've never owned one) is why that same problem does not [apparently] exist in semiauto pistols (like 1911's) which have used cast bullets for eons (??).:confused:

P.S. BTW, I asked cousin if he, or his son, had a bore scope to take a closer inspection looksee at the end of the chamber, they do not. I told him with it being a break barrel, they may be able to see something with a flashlight....maybe!
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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I think the clue is the pressure range that the cartridges run in. Both the .350 Legend and .30 carbine run at much, much higher pressures than a .45 ACP.

Chuck a brush (larger than the chamber) in a short section of cleaning rod and spin it with a hand drill, to remove the crap at the front of the cylinder..... if it's a deer hunting rifle, and the chamber is cleaned every time it is shot, I would think this would be manageable.

Lapping the gun (barrel) might help, dunno.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I think the clue is the pressure range that the cartridges run in. Both the .350 Legend and .30 carbine run at much, much higher pressures than a .45 ACP.

Chuck a brush (larger than the chamber) in a short section of cleaning rod and spin it with a hand drill, to remove the crap at the front of the cylinder..... if it's a deer hunting rifle, and the chamber is cleaned every time it is shot, I would think this would be manageable.

Lapping the gun (barrel) might help, dunno.
I hadn't considered the differences in operating pressure between the 45 ACP and the 30 Carbine and Legend, could be the reason.
On my Blackhawk cylinder, I did the brush thing (without need of a drill though), and I remember a fine lead ring coming out on the end of the brush, so I know that was the cause in my case. My solution...shoot jacketed bullet in the 30 Carbine Blackhawk, and always wear ear protection (double!!) as that muzzle blast is brutal on a 7 1/2" 30 Carbine Blackhawk.
IMO, lapping a barrel can't hurt a thing (don't know the factory quality of the CVA barrels), especially when shooting cast bullets, but I don't think that is a problem source in his CVA rifle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It appears I have failed to adequately describe the problem, even with that lengthy opening post! Simply put, the rifle won't chamber rounds after a few firings due to lead build up behind the headspace step and in front of the case mouth. It has nothing to do with lapping or cleaning the barrel. Cleaning the lead fouling in the front of the chamber (at the case mouth)...yes, but it has to be done simply/easily in the field. Otherwise, you make it 'go bang' a few times and you have to go home!
Try again; Does any reader have a 350 Legend, in any platform, and have you tried cast bullets? If so, what have been your experiences?
 

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It’s a bit more complicated than what is being described as the issue. You never said what powder/charge you were using for one. Secondly, what is the COL of the round? Lead hardness? Cast bullets are much more prone to problems when being shot at higher velocities, with too soft an alloy, and bullet bases smaller than the body of the bullet. If it were mine, I’d do a chamber cast to start with. I’ve seen many guns over the years where the chamber was “less than ideal”. If you’re using lead with some powders and pushing the bullet too fast, you can melt the bullet base and leave lead in the chamber leade. You could be leaving lead/powder residue in the area where the rifling starts and it’s building up enough that after a few shots the bullet is “jamming” in there and can’t be extracted easily. My suggestion would be to try some jacketed bullets if you don’t have a significant amount of time to work out all the pitfalls of using cast.
Note: I shoot cast bullets in some guns, but they’re long time use handguns. Rifles can be a whole other story if you aren’t a dedicated/experienced caster. Good luck with this.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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I would still run a handful of lapping rounds through it. Sharp edges or burs at the chamber mouth aren't going to help with cast bullets. The more fouling that can be eliminated, the better. Wouldn't want to get carried away with the lapping rounds, though. Half a dozen might make all the difference in the world.

Basically, what the goal would seem to be is to extend the cleaning interval.... because with cast bullets, there will be some cleaning required! And repeating from the first post - the kid ran six rounds through the gun at the range with no problem? OK..... six deer is about 5 more deer than I want to clean, at once. For a hunting gun, I don't see that as a huge hurdle. Clean the gun after it has been shot, or at least as soon as possible. A battery powered drill with a short section of cleaning rod (here's where jointed cleaning rods shine, just rob the end of the set that's threaded for a brush) and a .40 or so diameter bore brush, maybe .44 or .45 cal. Wrap just a tad bit of 0000 steel wool around the brush. Chamber cleaning, should take all of 5 minutes in the field. Surely the hunter isn't too far from the truck and can stash cleaning equipment there.

I realize that you asked for specific experience with that cartridge, but shooting cast bullets at rifle pressures is the fundamental problem... made more complicated by using a cartridge that headspaces on the case mouth. But it's still fundamentally the same problem. Alloy hardness / gas checks / lube, etc., etc., etc. I've shot cast bullets a fairly impressive speeds - over 2,000 fps - with no problems and little fouling, but that's with lapped bores and good, gas-checked bullets with quality lube. Every detail helps!

Since nobody else piped up with the very specific experience you asked about, then perhaps this just isn't a thing that's commonly done. I'd guess that for the AR crowd, cast bullets just aren't done, and for the hunters taking advantage of the very specific regulations that the .350 spawned, most of them are content to grab a box of factory rounds and hunt with those. So you might be waiting a long time (hopefully not) to hear someone who has done the exact same thing.

When you do, though, the questions about bullet alloy, lube, diameter, etc., still apply. We don't even know the powder charge, or velocities. Just because someone else made it work with another batch of alloy and another mold and a different load of a different powder, etc., doesn't mean that specific gun will respond the same way. My experience.....

Anyway, if the goal is to deer hunt, I really thing success has already been achieved, to a large extent, and some basic gun cleaning procedures will be what is really needed, at a minimum. To "fix" the chamber fouling problem might be a long and interesting journey in the world of high speed cast bullet shooting......

Best of luck.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Further thought, it's a single-shot, so try to get the cartridge OAL so that the chamber just barely imprints on the bullet nose when the round is seated, and see if that helps. If that turns out to be possible, then having the bullet nose in the throat may well center it enough that the sharp chamber edge doesn't peel a bunch of lead off the bullet as it goes past. Just an idea.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Mike and NSB, Very good input from both of you, and I appreciate the responses. Me, trying to react/respond to cousin's evening phone call, with limited information from him, is certainly not the best method of trouble shooting, but you start with what you have. My initial hope was to 'jump forward' in the process by getting some first hand experiences from those that have 'been there - done that', probably being a little overly optimistic.
He lives about 100 miles from me and I, having not seen the rifle (inspection, per se), know it's age, or how many rounds of what have gone down the tube, further complicate the analytical side of things. I do know he sized to .356" (good start) and it's a gas check design, do not know the bullet profile or mold number, but I think it may be a Lee mold. I don't know the velocity and I doubt, given the few shots fired thus far, that it was chronographed. Don't know the brand of brass used, but I've read that Starline brass is about .001" thinner in the neck than Winchester brass, can that have an affect...don't know.
Having to tap out a live round tells me it's jamming into the build up tight enough to resist the ability of the extractor. Don't know if he tried extracting a live round when the rifle was initially 'clean' or if all rounds were fried before extracting, and the one stuck was the one at the end of the hunt. If that happened on a clean barrel/chamber, I would say the bullet is jamming into the throat/rifling, which is a different problem with a different solution than if it's build up behind the headspace step. In a bolt action rifle with greater camming and extraction 'power', this may not have been an issue. In the CVA break open or an AR platform it would, at the least, been more noticeable.
I gave him a couple of suggestions and when he calls me back, I will be armed with some additional input from you guys, and hopefully more by then.
 

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Cartridge head spaces on the front of the neck. Humm... I chime in here cause I've had similar problems w/a .40 S&W auto pistol shooting lead bullets. Jacketed rounds run just fine, but commercial lead, not so good! About 20 or so rounds & it will lead up the front of the chamber so bad a round will jam going in, holding the action open about 1/16" to ⅛". It jams so hard it takes several hard raps of the front of the slide on the edge of a table to get the round out. Lucky the extractor didn't strip the rim off. I don't believe this was a case of slow powder or too fast or soft bullets. I am inclined to think the relatively sharp (square to the bore) corner required to headspace the cartridge is to blame, shaving lead back under the edge of the brass. Sorta like a revolver spitting lead out the barrel/cylinder gap even though they line up perfectly. Lead under the pressures of an igniting cartridge can & sometimes does flow almost like water! I expect the same may be true of the .350 Legend since it headspaces the same. A good cleaning w/an oversize bore brush & lead solvent was required to get funtioning back, just like several have mentioned above. As I get back into shooting more I will try lead cast bullets again & get bore scope pictures of the issue(s).

For right now, the bottom line for me in that pistol is shoot jacketed only. Best of luck to your family shooters!
 
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