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Discussion Starter #1
I am wanting to get into casting my own bullets for whitetail hunting next season and was wondering if a 240 grain semi-wadcutter bullet would be adequate or should I go with a 240 or 250 gr. round nose flat point mold.  I understand the flat point bullets would probably work better, but would the swc bullets do the job.  If anyone has had any experience with swc vs. fp on deer, I would appreciate hearing from you.
 

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wattjb, we must remember the father of the 44Mag, Elmer Keith, used a SWC of his own design for many years. He had run tests to prove that they were better then any roundnose.
Veral Smith was running some tests with the Keith bullet and discovered that it could be improve upon. The LBT series of bullets and the resulting increase in performance are now upon us.
The roundnose flat point you are referring to may be a cowboy profile bullet. If that's the case it is just for paper punching. Some LBT bullets may look similar, but the big meplat is for wound enhancement.
For topnotch shooting and performance a gas checked SWC or LBT type will do the job on whitetails.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you so much for your help, RugerNo3, but your reply has raised another question or two.  First, what are the differences between cowboy style bullets and LBT bullets?  I know you mentioned the larger meplat of the LBT which brings me to my next question.  Doesn't a SWC have a smaller meplat than either the cowboy bullet or the LBT bullet, and if so, why would the SWC be better for hunting than a cowboy style bullet?  I am new to reloading and like I said, I am wanting to get into casting my own bullets for hunting, so any info you can give me would be much appreciated.
 

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Technically, an LBT design is a semi-wadcutter. Cowboy bullets are usually-but not always- roundnose flat-point bullets. The meplat diameter of semi-wadcutters varies with the bullet designers and mould manufacturers. An excellent example of this is the "Elmer Keith" bullet. Lyman sells it as 429421, which is different from Keiths original design. RCBS sells it as the 44-250K, which is heavier that Lymans version, the front driving band is larger and it more closely matches Keiths original design.Another feature of the LBT design is more of the bullets weight is in the nose vs. the RN-FP, or the Keith designs. This weight allows the bullet to track straighter through the game animal. Roundnose bullets tend to deflect easily, even upon impact, and even swap ends and travel inside the game base first, wasting valuable energy. If you are looking for a recommendation for a mould for whitetail, the 44 (I assume we're talking about a 44) Keith (Either Lyman or RCBS, I prefer the RCBS personally) would work well if you're looking for a production mould.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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To summarize... the wider the meplat, the better the bullet should perform in tissue.  A sharp transition from the meplat to the rest of the bullet nose is good too.

WFN is probably about the widest you can commonly get.

So.... no matter what the name, go for the big flat and you won't be wrong.  By the way there are many SWC designs, some of which have narrow noses and some of which are quite wide.  So it is probably not a good idea to generalize regarding SWC's.

Make sense?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
All of your posts have been very helpful, but I am full of questions so here is another one.  I am on a limited budget and was looking at the Lee moulds, particularly the C429-240-SWC.  Have any of you had any experience with Lee moulds?  If so, good? bad? so-so?
Or would I be better off with the Lyman or RCBS moulds that you mentioned?
 

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Hi, wattjb:
 A couple of points. There seems to be a problem with quality control with the current Lee molds. Check out this link, and there are more like it at the Shooter's cast bullet forum.
<a href="http://talk.shooters.com/room_18/7591.cfm#49925

" target="_blank">http://talk.shooters.com/room_18/7591.cfm#49925

</a>  The Lyman and RCBS cowboy bullets don't appear to have a larger meplat than the .44-250-K RCBS bullet and RCBS only lists a 200 grainer. I'd estimate them all at .270", going by the catalogue illustrations (always a dangerous practice). This compares to .300 for the LFN and .340 for the WFN.

  Another factor in favour of RCBS is that most of the custom mould makers cut their blocks to fit RCBS handles.

  I'm not sure that the LBT bullets could be classified as SWCs, since they don't have the cutting shoulder. Veral Smith claimed the shoulder on a SWC didn't touch meat, since the flat nose sprayed it out to a larger diameter than the base of the bullet.

  Incidently, the Lyman .358 cowboy, #358665, does have a wide nose, only about .020 smaller that the LBT .358 FN. I have to look close to tell them apart once they're loaded.

  Federal loads a WFN type hunting bullet. You may want to try them before you spring for a mould.
<a href="http://www.federalcartridge.com/andex2.html

" target="_blank">http://www.federalcartridge.com/andex2.html

</a>   Of course, Marshall's bullets are just what you want.

  A couple of the custom mould makers are making LBT style moulds now, but that could blow your budget. LBT moulds show up on EBay now and again.

  Personally, I'd go with the RCBS 44-250-K. Just started casting myself this summer. Have fun <!--emo&:)--><img src="http://beartoothbullets.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif" border="0" valign="absmiddle" alt=':)'><!--endemo-->

Bye
Jack
 

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wattjb

You started an interesting thread here, but you didn't indicate what gun you will be using the ammunition in.

If you need an all around bullet for a revolver, then a semi-wadcutter will do as nicely as anything, if the meplat diameter is equal.  If you intend to use the bullet in a lever action rifle, then you should probably look at the LBT styles.  The semi-wadcutter can give feeding problems frequently, but not always.

Since you mention a 240 gr. bullet I am assuming you will be loading for a .44 Mag.  Lee has a nice 300 gr. gas check bullet which looks like a ringer for the LBT WFN.  Since you are just starting to lookat casting this would be a good way to find out if you really want to cast while saving a little money.  This bullet will work well in any style gun and has two crimp grooves for varying the seating depth.  This is a option which was offered by LBT and can be useful.  RCBS and Lyman also make a similar mould, but at about twice the price.

So far as make of mould goes, I have used most all brands including some no longer made.  All threw good bullets so long as the casting technique and alloy were good.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I will be using the bullets in a S&W 629-4 with a 6.5" ported barrel.  I have read other posts about the durability of the 629 with 300+ gr. magnum loads; the 310gr. WFN Lee mold caught my eye, but after reading some of the posts about S&Ws not handling the heavy bullets, I am hesitant.  That is why I started looking for a good 240 or 250 gr. mold.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Whoa.... ported guns = bad problems with plain base lead bullets.  Let's just save you the grief right now.

Either use gas-check bullets or jacketed.

When the bullet bases pass the ports, the gas that escapes through the ports erodes a bit of the bullet base.  That does bad things when the bulle leaves the muzzle.

Only 'ported' guns which don't have this problem are the ones with "expansion chambers" where the ports are cut into a part of the barrel that is already larger than the bullet.  I think some of the Taurus guns use that design.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
MikeG,  I would only be using gas-checked bullets, but thanks for pointing that out.  I did not realize that plain-based bullets were a problem in ported guns.  

Since we're talking about gas checks, I've got another question for you guys.  Like I said, I am fairly new to reloading, so I have all kinds of questions.  I will be loading primarily cast bullets of one type or another and was wondering if there is a certain "magic" velocity barrier where gas checks should begin to be used?  For instance, I also shoot a 357 SBH, and I want to shoot 158gr SWCs but the only bulk bullets I can find are either plain base or bevel base.  Would these bullets work fine at any reasonable velocity and not lead my barrel or is there a certain velocity where I would need to go with a gas check design?  Any help on this matter would be greatly appreciated as I am trying to learn all I can.
 

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wattjb

The short answer to your question about a velocity threshold is no.  There are many factors involved in whether or not a gas check is required or beneficial.  Veral Smith discusses this in his book "Jacketed Perfomence With Cast Bullets".  The book is available from his wife.  See Sixgunner.com under announcements.  As I recall Veral believes that plain base bullets are usually OK to around 1100-1200 FPS if the alloy and sizing diameter are compatable with the partcular gun.  He does recommend them for bullets which will be shot in several guns as sizing is usually a compromise.

When in doubt, use them.  They rarely cause problems and cure several.  The real factor is cost and labor.  If you are buying commercial bullets and checks are an option it would probably be a good idea to order with checks.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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No, there is not any absolute velocity/pressure threshold.  It's one of those things that you just have to try and see what your gun likes.

Bullet fit, bore smoothness, lube quality, bullet alloy, etc., all play a part.

If you try some loads and get leading, that doesn't mean the bullet won't work.  Often with commercially cast bullets they are so hard that they will lead with light loads, but not when you move up in pressure/velocity.  

So just try some and see.  Don't be surprised if you find a velocity window where they work great, and not so good either above or below it.
 

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The ported barrel really does narrow the field of 240-250 grainers. Lyman 429244 comes to mind. This is commonly referred to as the "Thompson" bullet. There are also LBT designs available from the custom makers in this weight range. The nice thing about these is that you can often order finished bullets from Beartooth or Cast Performance and actually try them before you buy a mould. You can also custom order them sized however you want. RCBS also has a 240 gr. gaschecked mould, but mine always casts the bullets too light, I have to really work to get anywhere near 240 grains.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I just wanted to let you all know that I am glad I finally found a website where everyone seems to know what they are talking about.  I can tell almost everyone here is extremely knowledgeable about reloading, guns, and all other aspects of shooting.  As a beginning reloader, I find all of the information on the forum a big help as I try to tackle the seemingly daunting task of getting all the variables just right in order to produce an accurate load that my gun likes.  I can't tell you all enough what an excellent source of useful information this website is.

By the way, after reading all of the replies, I think I have decided to focus more on the task of reloading and finding the bullets and loads that my guns like before I spend the money to start casting my own.  I'm expecting an order of BTB 185gr. WFNGC bullets for my 357 SBH that I ordered back in the summer, so I am excited about getting those and trying them out.  I also think I might try some Cast Performance 300gr. WFNGC bullets for my 629 to see how the gun and myself handle them.
 
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