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Discussion Starter #1
I am preparing to start casting 45 70 405gr HBFN bullets w/diameter of .460 and will start with the 3031 I have on hand. I have just acquired plenty of lead from an old x-ray door and considering a lead/tin alloy. I have seen various posts on different boards with conflicting information and I am looking for advice from individuals experienced with this issue. I have seen posts with alloy of 1to20 tin/lead up to 1,300fps and 1to10 tin/lead up to 1600fps. Any information is appreciated.
 

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You'll need a lead/tin alloy... not just lead.
If mixing your own, would be a good idea to buy/use a lead hardness gauge. Believe Saeko and Lee had them.
1600 fps most likely too fast for 405 grain cast bullets... perhaps attainable IF you use a bullet with a gas check. Even with 1/10 alloy (which I believe most likely too hard for a 45/70).

I gave up mixing my own lead a long time ago, instead opting for buying pre-alloyed ingots. Have settled pretty much on 1/20 alloy personally, but a lot of shooters also use 1/30 alloy with success.

But then again, I also have found better accuracy shooting 535 grain postels in this caliber.... especially for longer-than-200 yard targets.
 

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Texan,

Providing you use a cast bullet with a proper bullet profile, you simply do not need expansion.

Those with a large meplat, many times called a Wide Flat Nose will get it done!

You speak of a HBFN, which I take to mean, Hollow Base Flat Nose.

What is the rifle and what velocity do you desire?

Unless a person is casting bullet from a VERY soft alloy or pure lead, I'd say the use of a Hollow Base bullet is questionable at best, as the Hollow Base is meant to expand to fill the bore of the old and low velocity rifles, all or mostly using black powder. Their velocity would be WELL below 1600fps.

As Jodum indicates, Wheel Weights or a similar hardness commercial alloy is a good starting place.

I'm casting my 465gr Wide flat nose bullets of 50/50 - Wheel Weights/lead and my current hunting load used on a growing pile of deer and a couple of elk gets it out the barrel at about 1650fps.

The photograph shown is a before and after of that bullet, the "after" is likely the only one I'll ever retrieve and it was found after a quartering shot a long ways from it's starting point after taking out some large/heavy bone and still penetrating a lot of critter before stopping just under the hide.



Crusty Deary Ol'Coot
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Shooting marlin 1895gs and h&r. Yes, using hollow base bullet and have seen load work ups at 1600-1800 fps with this bullet type so im not, at this point, concerned with use of HBFN at those velocities. Here is what I found on BNH and velocity from site that I found on another thread.

Cast bullet alloys, characteristics of CB alloys, maintenance of CB alloys


A very common misconception is that
cast bullets lead the bore because the
alloy is too soft, in reality this is very
rarely the case. Poor bullet fit in the
firearm is responsible for more leading
problems than is the alloy BHN (Brinell
hardness number) being too low. Poor or
improper chamber and bore dimensions
with incorrectly sized bullets and poor or
inadequate lubrication rank next in
causing leading ahead of bullet BHN. This
is not to say that there aren’t soft bullets,
its just not the first thing you should think
of. I did extensive BHN testing in my 9”
Freedom Arms 357 Magnum revolver
using maximum long range accuracy
loads. Testing was with air cooled wheel
weight alloy at 11 BHN and with heat
treated alloy of varying BHN up to 30.
Many hundreds of rounds were fired in 5
shot groups at 150 meters scoped from
the bench and not a single load caused
any leading, not 11 BHN, not 30 BHN.
These were top end 357 loads with a 190
gr. bullet at 1550 fps proving (in my mind
at least) that bullet fit in a properly
dimensioned firearm is far more
important than alloy BHN.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I will ad that Im not concerned with having the fastest bullet possible. Currently Im gathering information and seeking experienced advice before I start.

Thanks for all the input so far.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Here is the website I pulled the previous quote from:

http://www.lasc.us/castbulletalloy.htm

The above website has a chart and shows 1to10 tin/lead @ 11.5 BNH - 1/20 tin/lead @ 10 BNH - clip on WW @ 11-12BNH

If you are using 50/50 WW & pure lead @ 1,600fps it appears that a 1to10 tin/lead will be fine to start with.
 

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Here's a relative hardness chart pulled from the Cast Bullet association website:



As you can see, there's not much difference between 10:1 and 20:1. Ignore the relative hardness figures for tin and antimony. They are set at a value of 30 for the calculator.

You can go to this page and download the complete Alloy Calculator:

The Cast Bullet Association

When used with known alloys, it has proven to be very accurate when blending alloys with pure metals. I've used it many times and checked the results with a CabinTree hardness tester.

Since you are looking for an alloy to hunt with, I am assuming you are not shooting typical black powder cartridge rifles. The reason I say that is because in BPCR, it can make a big difference in 600-1000 yard accuracy if you manage your hardness within a half BHN point or so. I see it when I switch from 20:1 to 25:1 with some bullets.

That said, in my Marlin 1895, any alloy I mix up that hits around 10-13 BHN works just fine for hunting bullets. The bullets and alloy COC uses will measure about 10-11 BHN, depending on whether the wheel weights are old, old or newer ones.

And it makes no difference when they smack a deer at 150 yds or less. A 400 to 500 grain flat base, wide meplat bullet at 1300-1600 FPS, One dead deer.
 

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its rarely as easy as alloy and hardness. Rifling specs act differently with various style bullets. Lube formulas and sizing are probably as important as any. Gas check or not which relates to velocity. Start a bullet down the barrel undersized and gas cutting the base will certainly smear and lead up a barrel. But push one too hot or fast without gas checks and you'll burn the base and possibly driving bands which ruins accuracy also. Add black powder to the equation and it can take months sometimes to work up a competitive load. It's sad to say but we have forgotten way too much about the true propellant black powder and are trying to figure it all out again. I've loaded and shot the 45-70, 38-55, 40-70 in four different rifles and barrels for a number of years and can tell you that alloy hardness was not even close to being the key to repeatable accuracy in my rifles. It was bullet design, sizing and lube in that order. After that it was brass and load.

Good luck
 

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Texan,

I have NOT been there and done that with Hollow Base bullets, but it just seems from my experience that is a questionable choice with smokeless powder and smokeless powder velocities/pressures.

As has been said, bullet to bore fit is very important and that is an issue taken care of with proper sizing to the bore, and not depending on the skirt of the bullet expanding to fill the bore.

Then, and again I haven't been there and done that, but seems I have read about hollow base bullet skirts blowing out with smokeless powder pressures. ???????????

I have such great results with my Wide Flat Nose - solid base - cast bullets on deer and elk, that I wonder why everyone doesn't use them in their smokeless powder cast bullet guns.

Everything I have ever read about the effectiveness of this bullet profile, my personal experience on deer and elk has proved out in spades.

Guess this discussion on hollow based bullets is, for me, a learning experience.

Crusty Deary Ol'Coot
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Been looking around, seeing plenty of accounts of HBFN 405's being used at higher velocities. Looked at 20:1 1,600fps or under. Also, 1,950fps with heat treated bullets. There are others but these stuck out.
 

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Texan,

Maybe the one question/answer I have missed is why are you taking the Hollow Base bullet direction?

What am I missing here?

Because of the mold/hollow base feature, the molds are limited in capacity - number of cavities - and where the solid base Wide Flat Nose bullets are so well proven, I am still having a problem with understanding the reasoning.

If it is simply, just cause that is what you want to do, OK I can deal with that.

However, with my firearms I seek to go with the most efficient and well proven bullet design and just simply don't see the hollow base bullet taking up much forum space when compared to the other cast bullet designs.

I like to run molds with a minimum of 4 cavities whenever possible and that is the capacity of my 465gr Wide Flat Nose mold.

Help me understand just what advantage is found with a hollow based bullet in a Smokeless powder load/rifle. :confused:

Thanks,

Crusty Deary Ol'Coot
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Ok, Thanks for asking directly. I am using the 405gr. HBFN bullet design because that is the mold I currently have. I can cast with the equipment I have but I would like to upgrade my set up before can justify buying another mold. I appreciate your input concerning the wide flat nose bullet design that you recommend and I will be looking into getting a mold of that type when the timing is right. As for the 465gr weight, my research points toward a 400gr. Bullet for the marlin 1895. Some accounts for a 350gr are positive but haven't really seen any for 500gr. Now for the hollow base being beneficial for accuracy, I have seen accounts that show no notable difference with flat base. I chose the hollow base single cavity lee because of so many shooters testified to it throwing .460dia bullets (which mine does).
 

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Hollow base designs are/were for the Trapdoor Springfield using very soft bullets, usually pure lead. The base expands to seal the bore.

I shoot quite a few BPCR rifles in different calibers as well as having been shooting cast bullets for well into my 4th decade now and I can tell you that without a doubt that flat base bullets are what any serious hunter or BPCR shooter will use. HB bullets are for re-enactors and those who don't have any modern knowledge of cast bullet shooting. Crusty Old Coot knows a good bullet and Veral Smith, owner of LBT bullets and the supplier to Beartooth bullets, our host here, literally has written the book on modern hunting bullet design.

Hunting effectiveness starts with bullet design. LBT and the newer WFN bullets will so out-perform the HB round nose / sort-of-flat-nose bullet design of 200+ years ago it's not even close.

As to equipment, I can cast bullets just as well with the old cast iron pot and a ladle as I can with all the equipment improvements I've made over time. In fact, iron and brass molds work better at the slower pace of ladle casting. Aluminum molds like a faster casting rate but I get better bullets, when weight gets into the 350 grain and over category, from iron or brass molds and ladle-casting rather then bottom-pour, generally speaking.

Accuracy starts with bullet fit-to-throat and groove diameter. Bullet diameter .001 over groove is about optimal but .0005 to .002 is acceptable. I haven't actually sized a rifle bullet in at least 10 years now. Casting rate and antimony content will control diameter as well as a sizing die without work-softening the driving bands.
 

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Thanks Texan!

When you start looking for a good mold, check out Tom at Accurate Molds. I currently have 4 of his molds, 2 - 4 cavity and 2 - 5 cavity and Tom makes a good product.

Why do I have a mold as large as 465gr?

Well early on with the 45/70 I decided to hunt with a 355gr WFN bullet from Veral at Lead Bullet Technology (LBT) and began to develop loads for the 45/70 in the same manner I had used for load development with typical high velocity centerfires for years. WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I tested that 355gr as high as 2500fps and hunted with it the first season at 2300fps.. BiG mistake as the WFN bullets are so effective that I ended up with a HUGE wound channel!! Caught me totally by surprise!

I had by that time read many comments about eating right up to the hole with cast bullets, but in no way had I expected such a big hole.

Well I didn't get the consistency or groups I desired from that bullet, plus the rounded nose profile gave some chambering issues in my RUGER #1. So, looking, reading and finding some good and experienced council on the Cast Boolits Forum I found that on average, the 45/70 just shoots cast bullets of over 400gr better then those of lighter weight.

One of the people guiding me through the process was Bruce - BABore - on that forum. At that time he was also in the business of making very good molds, and I ask him which of his molds he'd give the accuracy edge to and his answer was the 465gr WFN. That is a gas check mold.

He also recommended using 47.5gr of H335 with that bullet and that has proved out the best powder and charge of any I've found to this point. I'm presently testing IMR 4895 with some early promising results, so the jury is still out on a powder change.

Bruce also recommended the 50/50 - Wheel Weights/lead alloy, quenching the bullets as they drop from the 4 cavity mold.

Then he recommended a two step sizing and lubing process. Sizing to .460 in a Lee "style" push through die ASAP after casting. The gas check can be seated at that point or later when running the bullets through a .461 die in the sizer/luber.

He also recommended the bullets to be aged for a minimum of 7 days before shooting, with 14days being still better.

Everything Bruce recommended has worked. Wish he was still making molds! Great and very knowledgeable fellow to talk with!

Anyway, have taken a growing pile of deer and two elk with the 465gr at 1650fps.

I use a Leupold CDS (Custom Dial System) 2X7 scope with the dial maxing out at 275yds.

If the IMR 4895 tests provide the better groups I'd always like to see, and it happens at a higher velocity, I'll need to get a new custom dial made.

I don't want or need more velocity, but would always be happy with smaller groups and will live with a bit higher velocity if that happens. Do however, want to stay WELL BELOW the disastrous level seen with that 355gr at 2300fps.

I think any good WFN bullet of 400gr or more will get er done and at a velocity of no more then 1400 - 1700fps.

I, in no way, think the 465gr is holy or special, but I do know it sure has impressed me so I'll likely stay with it.

Recoil is also a LOT!!!!!! less then with the 355gr at 2300fps.

Plus, there are no chambering issues as with the lighter bullets.

Crusty Deary Ol'Coot
 

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If the mold is a Lee it was indeed made for the Trapdoor. Using a hard alloy for a low velocity low pressure cartridge appears counterproductive. The Lee mold was designed by an authority on Trapdoors. There is a simple reason for this hollow base. My last TD had a groove diameter of .462. There was little choice in readily available molds other than the Lee HB. The Other rifle is a Danish Rolling Block with a .464 groove diameter. So far, these bullet cast of unalloyed lead have worked very well. I'm not sure what is to gain by using a HB bullet in a .458 groove diameter barrel. Loaded to the max one wonders what happen to the skirt once it clears the muzzle. Might work great if you loaded the HB bullet in backward. I would make one more HP with pure lead. Might take a look at the Lyman 457124 which has done well for me to date.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Crusty, Im looking at accurate molds now. Really cool! Makes it easier to justify spending money when you have good information to act on.

I have always liked the 45/70 because of its versatility. I have shot single round balls up to 3round balls, 250gr, 350gr, and 405gr. To me it is fun to have the option.

With the options available at accurate molds why not get multiple bullet weights in a single mold? Also, any recommendations on mold material?
 

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Texan.

I have heard good about the brass molds, but haven't been there.

I do like the aluminum from the custom mold makers like Accurate Molds. I hear that NOE also makes good molds.

I can cast good bullet from Lyman molds, but they are hard to keep tight. Kind of a wrench/screwdriver in one hand and the mold in the other.

RCBS molds are good, but they don't make anything larger then two cavity.

If a person wants the Wide Flat Nose profile, that is mostly the territory of the custom mold makers.

I have some LBT molds, but the 355gr I had from Veral, gave chambering problems due to the curved profile of the nose.

Veral makes a good mold, but I like the sprew plate hold down much better on Tom's molds

I'll try to post an image so you can see the difference between the LBT and the one I got from BABore - the 465gr.

Note the nose profile. Middle bullet is the LBT 355gr and the lower bullet is the 465gr.

Crusty Deary Ol'Coot
 

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Crusty,

After seeing that bullet damage I was starting to doubt your claim that they were 50/50 alloy. But you say you water quench. Sure seems to make that bullet a lot harder. That's a lot of gun for a deer, but that's the gun you like and deer are the game in front of you. I would like my next major rifle purchase to be a 45/70 but don't know if I can justify it without a buffalo hunt scheduled. Good shootin'.
 

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BigBear,

There being no such thing as, "too dead", it is not as much the bullet being too large as the bullet being sent on it's way at a proper velocity and that bullet having enough integrity to get er done without over kill.

For example, Hornady a normally good company has made some real bone head moves in the last few years, the FTX in the 45/70 for example that simply doesn't have the integrity that should have been designed in. Very accurate in a lot of rifles, but very destructive if hard going gets in it's way.

Another example from their line is what they call their "White Tail" loads where they have used light for cartridge bullets in the 7mm Mag and the 300 Win Mag but kept the velocity at typical magnum levels. Again a very destructive combination! Had they dropped back 500fps or so, the white tails would have been just as dead, but with it happening with much less destruction.

In my case with the 45/70, I found a 355gr Wide Flat Nose cast to be EXTREMEMLY destructive at a muzzle velocity of 2300fps While my 465gr WFN at 1650fps is a much heavier bullet but although highly effective on deer and elk, very mild mannered in the destruction department.

Had I sent the 355gr along at say 1500fps, the deer would have been just as dead as with the 2300fps velocity, but very likely without the over kill that in truth caught me complexly by surprise.

Coming from many years of jacketed bullet shooting/loading/hunting, I guess it took that first over the top experience to get me in tune with the grand Ol' cartridge.

Crusty Deary Ol'Coot
 
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