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I'm getting a .243 for predator hunting, and I'm having a hard time finding FMJ bullets. I want something that will produce minimal pelt damage, and I noticed a lot of bullet makers offer RN cast bullets for rifles. Are they good for high velocity rifles like the 243? I've never used anything but jacketed bullets for my 243 and 300 win mag and I'm starting to think I may have missed out on a whole other aspect of handloading for them. Ideas?
 

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Using heat treated wheel weight alloy, you could come close to matching factory velocities. Trial and error testing will dictate how close you can come, while achieving acceptable accuracy. I have heard of people reaching 3000 fps, but I would think 2500-2700 fps is a more realistic max. Of course a good lube is important also.
 

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Sounds like a recipe for extreme lead-fouling in the rifling, which is what "led" to improvements in jacketed bullets, in the first place.
 

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Yup. I'd be doubtful that you could get much over 2400 fps without severe fouling. It might be possible, but not likely.

The two approaches to minimal pelt damage are heavy and slow or very light and very fast. The first depends on pass-throughs with minimal expansion and the second depends on so much expansion that there is no exit. Neither is 100% successful.
 

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If you have results like I did, when I tried it on a whim in my .308, you'll be lucky to get patterns, let alone groups. You'd be best served to load down for cast bullets, but leading isn't always a problem as some would have you to think.
 

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I think if you have chosen a .243 for predator hunting, you will have to accept pelt damage. I would choose the "heavy and slow" suggestion from Rocky to minimize it with something like a 100 grain Partition as a start. I have seen quite a few coyotes shot with various loads in the .243, and I think heavy and slow is the key, but you will be sewing almost every one for sure.
 

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It is if you don't take care, but loaders can't resist a challenge. Veral Smith has a whole book on getting jacketed bullet velocity from cast bullets. Not the smoothest read, but full of information.

Bascially, you will end up pulling every trick in the book used to minimize leading. You will want a very hard bullet, like the Beartooth 6mm bullets. You will want a gas check. You will want to firelap a commercial barrel because that cuts the metal fouling rate dramatically; I measured a six fold reduction of copper fouling in my Garand.

If you will cast your own, you want the best high velocity lube. Marshall sells his, but it is solid sticks only and requires a heater on the lubrisizer. LBT makes soft to hard versions of Veral Smith's lube, and that would be the way to go for hollow sticks for for sticks you don't have to heat.

Anything over 2500 fps is doing really well with cast bullets, but people do it. I don't know the record? Quench hardened alloy is the way to go if you want to hunt with them. Linotype and other inherently hard alloys tend to shatter on bone easily and make a mess. Veral Smith said he used to believe wheel weights were good for everything, but upon moving to Idaho found they will shatter on bone if it is cold enough outside. If you are going to hunt in extreme cold, look at minimizing antimony content to avoid shattering, or else keep the rounds in a pocket under your coat until ready to load and shoot immediately.

Wheel weight alloy, which was pretty reliably compounded 20 years ago, is no longer so. You have to do some testing to find out what you've got? As a result, if I need to make up some really hard rifle bullets I now melt 25 lbs of WW alloy with 25 lbs of magnum chilled shot and a pound of lead-free zinc-free silver-bearing solder. That gives me between 3% and 5% antimony, as near as I can tell, and 2% tin, plus a percentage of arsenic that is enough for hardening, and a trace of silver to help mold fill. It's not a bad compromise and takes to oven hardening.

In extremely cold weather even that can be too much antimony to avoid bullet shattering on bone. Consider replacing the wheel weights with pure lead if you are going to do that, and oven harden to the maximum degree you can.

Keep in mind it will take a couple of weeks after quenching for bullets to reach maximum hardness, so work ahead of schedule.
 

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I tried cast bullets in 22 and 6mm centerfires...had to keep the velocities low (about 1200 fps), and accuracy was not good...no where close what to the big bores can acheive with cast. Seems like the bigger the bore, the better they shoot! Anyway, that was 35 years or so ago...A lot has changed in casting and cast bullets, lubricants, etc..............I would try to contact Marshall and get his opinion.............Here are some old NEI 75-244 cast....Linotype...75 grain, with hornady gas checks. These were match grade bullets made up for Cast Bullet Association competition, and I have had them for a long, long time!
 

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Those sound like good alternatives while you are learning to cast and generally driving yourselves nuts trying to get the best out of molded pills. The Hornady's will probably give you the most accuracy per dollar spent, at least to 200 yards. Beyond that, the Sierra will be most reliable. The Sierra may be the slightly better made of the two, but it is easier to get a flat base to drive tacks up to 200 yards.
 

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Even the FMJ's will give considerable pelt damage unless the velocity is kept down low - the lower the better. And if you are going to do that you might as well use cast bullets. Just keep the distances low too and you'll be fine. At 2,400 fps or so, you have all the velocity you need to hit to more than 200 yds. Better yet, load to 1,500-1,600 fps and keep your shots to less than 100 yds. With a round nosed bullet pelt damage should be minimal if the bullet is well stabilized. Most .243's use a 1:10" twist so any bullet under 100gr should be fine at lower velocities. Just make sure it is large enough and soft enough to give a good bore seal and leading should be tolerable.

You might want to check out the article found at the link below, on the use of low velocity cast bullet loads:

http://www.leverguns.com/articles/paco/small_charges.htm
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the replies everyone. WildHobby - last time I checked, all I could find in FMJ for the 243 was backordered. Thanks for the links, I think I'll order some to get me started.

In the mean time, I'll probably do some more research on the cast bullet idea. I knew I would probably have to download them to keep from having leading issues, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. For the smaller predators like lynx and coyotes I'll want a lighter load anyway even with a non-expanding bullet to prevent excessive pelt damage.

I decided on the .243 because for my purposes it is the best all-around caliber. I can use it on smaller predators with light loads, and it's still strong enough for big wolves and blacktail deer. Plus my son has one, and I can handload for both. And if I am ever in the middle of nowhere in AK and loose my ammo, .243 factory fodder can be found in even the smallest interior village in AK. .243 and 30-06 have been the mainstays there forever.

So I've heard of getting a barrel fire-lapped before. What does that typically cost? I'm assuming the barrel will need to be removed from the action for that.
 

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AK, How about trying a Sierra 55 grain Blitz King. You should be
able to drive it very fast. Maybe it would blow up inside the
coyote. Or maybe it would cut the coyote in two pieces making
it easier to carry around. It's worth a try.

Zeke
 

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Now that we are talking about jacketed bullets..........I developed a 22 centerfire wildcat years ago, and, it was a very good varmint, and up to deer sized game cartridge utilizing different bullet designs and weights. I wanted a bit more flexibility....to use the rifle for small game if the opportunity came up while hunting the larger game. Here is the load I developed FOR THAT WILDCAT: Speer #1029 50 grain Spitzer, 6.1 grains of Unique for 1500 fps. This load was very accurate in my wildcat/rifle and was very good for small game use, and, the location of the powder charge in the case had no bearing on pressures or accuracy.....Keep in mind that this cartridge would push a 52 grain BTHPBR bullet at 4170 fps, but, it used almost 1/3 less powder than a 22-250, so the case was short and squat compared to its parent case! I think, that through some careful experimentation even with a larger case like the 243 there "may" be a lighter load that would suit your needs. The only issue you may experience with that is the need for a "wad" to keep the light powder charge firmly intact with the bottom of the case and the primer. For many years, I hunted varmint, coyote, and furbearers, and always used a fast expanding varmint bullet at high velocity to do the deed. One hole in was the only pelt damage that I ever experienced. The 6mm I have never used for that purpose, and I dont know anyone else that has, so, I cannot offer up any bullet suggestions/velocities for that use.
 

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Cast bullets of oven treated wheel weights (30-32 BHN) with gas checks have been successfully deployed in modern rifles at jacketed bullet speeds. As long as they are sized correctly I would expect one could approach 3000 fps without too many problems. 2800 fps would be about ideal for predator hunting, should have no problem with that.

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

However, there are plenty of .243" and .308" FMJ or solid bullets to choose from. All the 243 bullets are available from MidwayUSA. Examples:

.243"
75 grain Barnes Banded Solids
80 grain Hornady FMJ Flat Base
90 grain Sierra FMJ Boattail

.308"
110 grain Hornady FMJ
123 grain Lapua FMJ
110 grain Magtech FMJ
110 grain Remington FMJ
110 grain Sierra FMJ
110 grain Speer FMJ
147 grain Winchester FMJ Boattail
165 grain Barnes Banded Solid
150 grain Hornady FMJ Boattail
150 grain Lapua FMJ Boattail
170 grain Lapua FMJ Boattail
150 grain Sierra FMJ Boattail
185 grain Lapua FMJ Boattail
200 grain Lapua FMJ Boattail
Several heavy bullets by A-Square and Woodleigh intended for large game.
 

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"So I've heard of getting a barrel fire-lapped before. What does that typically cost? I'm assuming the barrel will need to be removed from the action for that."



You can get the Tubbs system to fire lap your barrel, it's a series of grit impregnated bullets with progressively finer grit.. Just load and fire, but read the instructions fist.
 

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Cast bullets can be accurate at high velocities. As was mentionned, Veral Smith of LBT has an excellent book on the subject. I have had very good luck using cast bullets @ 2,600 f.p.s. in the .22 Hornet and the .30-30, no leading and groups in the 1 1/2" moa range @ 100 yards. In the .22-250, I was able to reach almost 3,100 f.p.s. before accuracy really started to deteriorate.

The most important things I have found for accurate high velocity shooting:
The cast bullet.......
1.) should have a sectional density of .22 or less
2.) must be of excellent quality....+-.1 gr.
3.) must fit the barrel
4.) must be of sufficient BHN for the velocity desired
5.) must be lubed with the proper lube (i.e. 2500 Plus, LBT Blue, etc.)

Once one has cast bullets that meet the above criteria, testing can begin.

Have fun!
John
 

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So I've heard of getting a barrel fire-lapped before. What does that typically cost? I'm assuming the barrel will need to be removed from the action for that.
No the gun is fire-lapped with it assembled. Marshall Stanton sells a kit for Fire-Lapping. I have not done it myself but someday I may. The kit is listed in his bullet section. I do have his Technical Guide and it is a good read for those wanting to shoot cast bullets.
Cary
 
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