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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This forum is one of the few places where I might find some ideas I haven't ALREADY tried, I hope.
I have a .22 K-Hornet barrel by Bullberry and I have had exactly zero success working up an accurate cast bullet load for it.
After 2400 rounds of trying, I'm not ready to throw in the towel, but it's not looking good!
I must start out by saying it groups brilliantly with jacketed bullets, but not worth a darn with ANY lead bullet.
I am a very experienced cast bullet shooter and have had excellent success with every caliber I have attempted to load for.  Until now.
Things tried:
1) Varying alloy hardness-wheelweights, linotype, etc.
2)  Varying sizing diameter-.225 and .227
3)  Installing gaschecks.  Leaving them off.
4)  Varying velocities in the range 1000-2400 fps.
5)  Changing bullet lubricant
6)  Varying seating depth-touching rifling, hard into rifling, long jump to rifling
7)  Bullet tried- Lyman 225438 and 225415,  RCBS 55 gr FN (all with, and occasionally without, gaschecks).
The rifle has a 1-14 twist and is very high quality.  A cerrosafe casting revealed excellent dimensions and tolerance.
The dies are by Redding and bullet runout (for cast bullets) is very minor.
I have tried neck sizing and full length sizing,  small pistol, small rifle, and small rifle magnum primers.
When my chronograph showed large velocity spreads with most load combinations, I said AH-HA! and started experimenting with granulated plastic fillers.
The result?
Large, vertically strung groups settled down into large groups! No good!
Powders tried:
SR4759, XMP 5744, RL7, 2400, even the ball powders LilGun, 296, and AA1680 ( I was getting desperate).
Unique, Herco, Red Dot, W231, and Titegroup, Green Dot.
All the bullets  group wonderfully through my Savage 112FV 22-250, so it isn't the quality of my casting.
Titegroup did indeed minimize velocity spreads with its tiny charges, as Hodgdon promises, but the groups were still large.
I even tried a load recommended here with W231 (3.3 grains) for the  standard Hornet.  Still terrible!
None of the load combinations result in the base of the bullet below the case neck, should you ask.
I'd like to make it a tree squirrel gun, but I can't if it shoots lead bullets like this!
Anybody have any new ideas?  I knew the round could be a challenge but never figured I'd have THIS MUCH difficulty with cast bullets-I would have thought the small case capacity would have made it a decent cast bullet round.
Remember-this is the "K" Hornet I'm talking about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the quick replies.  I appreciate your input-this has been a real puzzler for me.
Yes,  I am sure it is 1-14 twist on my K-Hornet.  That is what was specified on the barrel order receipt from Fred at Bullberry and I checked it with a tight patch on my cleaning rod, measuring distance to one revolution of the rod.
Sorry for not providing the weights, but Lyman #225438 is a Loverin  design roundnose weighing 42 grains cast of straight linotype.  Lyman # 225415 (I typo'd it incorrectly as 225414 in my first post) weighs 49 grains cast of linotype.  Lyman may advertise it in their catalog as producing a 55 grain bullet, but it's really not that heavy and never has been.  (As proof, look in their excellent Cast Bullet Manual.  It's listed at around 49 grains).
This rifling twist should stabilize the bullets at these speeds.  FWIW, the 225415 does get unstable, wildly so, when it's driven as slow as 1010 fps in cold weather.  At faster speeds, with slower burning powders, it makes nice round holes in the target at 50 yards.
My Savage is a 112FV with the old long action, magazine blocked to take the shorter 22-250 cartridge.  It may be either 1-14 twist or, I understand, possibly 1-12.  Someone told me that Savage went to the faster twist rate on their newer rifles, but I haven't bothered to verify this on my own rifle.
The velocity range for the 22-250 is around 2100 to 2250 fps with my preferred loads using cast bullets.  I could go slower, but accuracy is very good at these speeds and chamber pressures are as low as I want to go with my preferred loads (like 15.0 grains RL-7 with 55 grain RCBS).  Much slower than this and RL-7 gets rather sooty burning, and I suspect pressures might get so low that the load would be unreliable in cold weather.  I do hunt with a lot of my cast bullet recipies, after all.
Rather oddly, in the K, the faster powders will make the occasional slightly oval hole with my cast bullets, even when velocity is theoretically high enough to stabilize the bullet.  Using slower powders like RL-7 and SR4759, holes are all round, even though speeds are the same as the faster burning pistol/shotgun powders.  Trouble is, the groups are STILL large.
Strangely enough, I COULD get groups around 1 inch at 1050 fps (50 yards) using the 225415 with 2.0 Red Dot and plastic filler, but it was verging on bullet instability (witness slightly ovate holes on target on EVERY round fired).  Totally went to pot around 30 degrees F.  Also had occasional wildly unstable flyers, even at the warmer temperatures.
As I'm sure you guys already know,  low pressure loads with fast burning powders and a lot of plastic filler in the case aren't a good idea.  Often a lot of the filler is still in the case after firing and it looks a bit like dirty snow-hafta chisel it out of the case with a pick.  Abandoned it for reasons of safety and unsuitability.
A friend rechambered an NEF Handi-Rifle to .22 K-Hornet at the same time I obtained my Bullberry barrel.  Although Mike is fairly new to reloading,  he tried some of my loads that I thought were "more likely to succeed" using 4759, 2400, RL7 and XMP5744 powders.  Unfortunately, he didn't shoot any better groups than I   did.
He, and I, both used all the tricks I thought relevant when you get into cast bullet accuracy minutiae-segregating by cavity, thorough visual inspection, and weight.
My particular sizer is a push thru by Lee, that, while giving up something in convenience to a regular lubrisizer, surely sizes bullets concentrically.
Lubricants tried were Lee Alox, NRA type Alox beeswax blend, a few of the hard rifle type lubricants, and a paraffin/graphite/case lube mix of softer consistency-my own manufacture.
Bullets measuring .227 had old Lyman slip-on gas checks placed on them and were not sized.  This is about the maximum bullet size I can get away with in my Bullberry barrel's chamber and still have enough room in the neck to release the bullet safely.
All the loads using fillers, and slower burning powders, exhibited a rather odd tendency, I thought.  First, velocities were a little slower with the fillers.  I suppose that they increased ejecta weight slightly, and didn't affect chamber pressures much.  I should add that I fire all loads with fillers shortly after they're assembled.  No overpressure from age hardened plastic for me!
Secondly, the extreme velocity spreads from the loads using fillers were LARGER than the loads without fillers that had the powder oriented in the back of the case by tipping the rifle barrel up before firing.  Not a lot, but noticeably more.
I would have expected lower velocity spreads would have helped-some loads exhibited spreads as high as 200 fps on occasion.  Nope! Still large groups!
Well, at least they were mostly round, if large.  The shotgun type powders would often have shots that would go well outside my improved cylinder groups-you know, the ones that are so far out you ask yourself, "How did THAT happen?
I think any success will happen with the slower powders, and I haven't given up yet-waiting for warmer weather to retest again.  Coyote hunting beckons anyway.
I usually don't wan't this kind of challenge!
Some fellas have told me to give up and just use a jacketed bullet in a reduced load, but that just isn't my style!  As you guys know, cast bullets are the REALLY interesting part of handloading.
So, I'm looking for some new stuff to try this spring.
I just think I might burn out the barrel with lead bullet loads before I stumble onto something that works-I guess that means I've lost some of my optimism!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, one more thing-
I recently had a 35 Remington pistol barrel made by Fred at Bullberry to go on the same frame I use for the K-Hornet.
I was quite surprised to find the barrel popping open when the gun was fired!  At first, we thought the break-open mechanism was misadjusted.  Fred fixed what he thought was the problem and sent it back to me after having the barrel for only a few days.
Unfortunately, the 35 Remington barrel still popped open when the gun was fired.  Now, this isn't Fred's fault.  I understand that on occasion, some mismatches occur between frame and barrels, even T/C factory barrels purchased as extra calibers.
I would say  that Fred's tolerances on his barrels are probably tighter than T/C's.  I just need to send it back to Fred to have it fitted to my frame.  It may be that my frame is on the large side of the tolerance range.  You might be wondering, maybe, if the frame isn't stretched.  No, it's not.  Fred examined it and found no problem in that regard.  I know better than to abuse the Contender frame with too much backthrust, and stay well away from hot loads in this gun.
Neither the factory 7-30 Waters pistol barrel nor Fred's .22 K-Hornet carbine barrel have ever popped open.  I did ponder, however, the possibility that something might be loose enough in the lockup to cause some shifting of the barrel from shot to shot.
Trouble is, it shoots just fine with jacketed bullets and 296, LilGun, AA1680, 2400 and other slower (for the K-Hornet) powders.  I used these same powders for cast bullet loads in the K-Hornet and they didn't group at all.
I also pondered my shooting technique with the Contender Carbine.  The forend is rather round and doesn't rest on the sandbags very well.  The buttstock is thin and the comb of the stock kinda sharp and narrow.  I am a large fella, with big hands.  Could it be than my benchrest technique and follow-through with the slower cast rounds was bad?
I do not think so.  Even at the higher velocities approaching 2400 fps, groups were still poor.
We all know how hard the .22 long rifle is to shoot well because of the long barrel time.  Same day, same range, I was shooting half inch groups with my own .22 bolt action.
I have all kinds of other theories regarding powder burn rates and bullet obturation, among others, but none seem quite plausible.  I would have thought that some load combination would have worked by now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Jack:
Thank you for the response.  Slower burning powders are something  I have tried in my other calibers, but I had forgotten about this idea-lost in the cobwebby archives of my brain, I guess.  Thank you for the reminder.
That is something I will try.  I am a little chicken to try the really slow stuff but I will try H322 and IMR3031, hopefully this weekend.  I will fill the case as much as possible, with light compression of the loads.  
Initially, I will use the 49 grain 225415 since it is neither too heavy or too light (might run into stabilization problems with the 55 grain).
IMR suggests pressure might be in the 15,000 CUP range with a casefull of 3031.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Alk:
Thanks for the words of comfort!  I am glad I am not the only one who has had this problem!  Frankly, I always thought that those who couldn't get a cast bullet to shoot in their gun gave up too easily, or had some problem that could be solved with some good advice from a more experienced shooter.   Trouble is, I've been doing this for a few years!  Definitely an advanced problem I've encountered here-that's while I appealed to you gentlemen for help.
Yes,  I am aware that stabilization is dependent more upon length than weight.  What I was trying to say by listing the weight of the bullet was that I HAD considered the role of bullet weight (and therefore length, since you will agree that weight and length CAN be  related) in choosing the appropriate bullet for my rifling twist and intended velocity.  In this case,  the heaviest bullet is indeed the longest,  and the lightest bullet is easily the shortest.
I, too, thought the Loverin designed #225438 should work, at the very least.  Trouble is, I cannot recall printing two good groups in a row with ANY load using this bullet!  (Sometimes you will get a good group by accident if you fire enough rounds, and I've fired plenty, without much to show for it).
Yet, my 22-250 loves this bullet!  I would have thought the lower loading density in 22-250 loads would have made it more difficult to work with than the K-Hornet.  Not so in my particular rifle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
John Kort:
Thanks for the information in your reply.  I'm afraid I've done everything you've talked about, with the exception of the wax wads/plastic checks.  I can tell you've been doing this awhile too, but with those exceptions, everything you've thought of, I've thought of! My earlier posts answer most of the questions you have about my loading/barrel/chamber/tolerances methodology.
I have already used the EXACT load you mention, coincidentally, using 1680 with plastic filler with all three bullets styles.  Nothing to show for it.
My rifling is normal standard depth you would expect for this bore size.  In my earlier posts I make mention of the Cerrosafe casting I have done of the chamber and barrel.  Tolerance excellent, throat most definitely NOT oversized-remember, this is a BULLBERRY barrel I am talking about.  Fred certainly KNOWS how to make a bullet that will shoot lead bullets, as he works with the Schuetzen cast bullet crowd on a regular basis.  I told Fred of my intentions to use a great many cast bullets in it.  He suggested the 14 inch over the 12 inch twist for this barrel for that reason.  This twist is plenty fast to stabilize the bullets I am using.
I will try the earlier suggestion of extra-slow (like 3031) powders for this case.  I have loaded some and am waiting for a good clear day to try them out.
Not sure I hold much hope for the wax wads or plastic.  But hey, at this point, I'm willing to try anything!
 
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