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Thread: Choosing the right sizing die

  1. #1
    Rock and Load
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    Talking Choosing the right sizing die

    I am new to the cast boolit world and would like to cast for 9mm, 357 mag, 40 Smith, 44 Mag and 45 ACP. In looking at the catalogs the range of sizing dies is nearly infinite and I am not sure what die I should use. For example, 357, the choices include .356, .357, .358 and more. I realize the choice is complicated buy the type of gun, intended use, casting alloy, etc.. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    PS, I've got to get going before the sun comes out again in N Id and my KLR starts whining because of lack of attention!

  2. #2
    Dogs Like Him versifier's Avatar
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    For 9mm, .358-.359" it just depends if the pistol can feed and chamber the larger size. Many can, but some can't. The larger ones will usually be more accurate because they obturate to the grooves better without gas cutting. I have a 6cav Lee RNTumbleLube mould that drops at a hair under .359. So far I have not needed to size any and have had no problems with them in four different 9mm pistols over the last two years. YMMV. Keep the alloy soft - use #2 or WW to pure lead in a 1:4 or 1:5 ratio and add 1% of tin for good fillout - Lino to pure 1:6 and add 1% tin. As long as the fits the bore (.001-.003" over groove diameter), you can keep the alloy soft.

    For .357mag, .38spec, etc., I go with .360 both with GC and plain based bullets. Factory revolvers and single shots all chamber it easily. Slug and mic each chamber throat of a revolver's cylinder. If they're too tight relative to the barrel's forcing cone and groove diameters then they need to be opened to shoot cast accurately. Not a big job for a competent smith, doable by a careful amateur with patience and a goodly supply of barrel slugs. Same alloys as above for target loads, but for GC magnum hunting loads, harden it up a bit by reducing the ratio to 1:2 or 1:3. Don't use lino for hunting bullets, they shatter when they hit large bones.

    You can save money when you need to by opening up a sizer with abrasives and polish by several thousandths. You can do it with a reamer, too, if you have access to some and then polishing. With Lee Moulds you can buy a cheap 2cav to see if your gun(s) like it, then you can buy it in 6cav and crank out as many as you need quickly and easily. You need a 20lb pot to feed them.

    I don't cast for the .40/10mm, but I do know that if you have to cast for a .40 or 10mm Glock, you need to use the hardest alloy you can like linotype/pure 1:1.

    I have a .44 mould, but I cast them of pure lead and load them into sabots for muzzle loaders. I'll make up a sizer when I need one.

    In .45ACP I use a 220 gr RN bullet. I also have the same mould in a 1cav HP for carry loads. I use the regular version in the same load in a number of different pistols and a carbine, it feeds well in all and is acceptably (at least minute-of-a$$hole) accurate. My brother's Sigg won't feed anything larger than .451 while my Glock will feed .453 without a hiccup. .452 seems a good compromise unless you have one with a tight chamber. Your guns will determine what you need to use. The bigger the better as long as it feeds and functions reliably. .45ACP is a low pressure round, so it does best with a heavy (220-230) soft bullet with 1:4 or 1:5 alloy

    Some pistols are really picky about feeding and work best with round nosed bullets. SWC's or TC's may not feed reliably (nor certain JHP designs either). Sometimes this can be solved by polishing the feed ramp, or even regrinding it in extreme cases. Each gun you have might shoot most accurately with a different bullet, or you might be happy with a bullet for practice rounds that shoots acceptably in most of them.

    Most of us end up with a collection of various moulds in each of the calibers we shoot so we can give a new pistol its choice of different weights and profiles to see what it likes best. Rifles can be even pickier, but you get lucky sometimes and chance on a good one right away.
    "Stand your ground.
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  3. #3
    Wise
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    Versifier has pretty well cover it. My choice of sizer for 9MM is .358" most of the time with the exception of .360" for one gun that has a .358" bore.
    I use .359" for my .357 Mag. loads and .431" for the .44 Spl. and Magnums. For the .45 ACP I use .452 and for .45 Colt .454" I use the same sizes regardless of whether I'm shooting straight wheel weights or my alloy which is composed of 10 pounds of wheel weights, one pound of linotype, one-third cup of magnum bird (chilled) shot and a three foot piece of 95/5 percent lead free solder. That alloy runs about 12 on the BHN scale and can be heat treated to 32 BHN on the LBT hardness tester. Usually the heat treated bullets are used in rifle loads rather that the handguns. Lately, straight wheel weight metal has been rather soft, the last batch barely held 8 BHN on the scale. I still have about 50 pounds of wheel weights I bought back in 1973 and they run 11 to 12 on the scale. My alloy comes very close to duplicating that early wheel weight metal and shoots quite well in all my handguns and rifles.
    If you can find a Hensley & Gibbs #68 mold for the .45 ACP, a 200 gr. SWC good luck as that bullet has never failed to feed in any 1911 or my SIG P220. H&G went the way of the dodo bird when the the gentlemen passed away so finding a mold will be difficult and pricey. A simpler solution is get a SAECO #068, a decent clone of the H&G bullet with a bevel base. If you want to stick with the 230 gr. RN, the Lyman # 452374 isn't a bad one. Casting bullets can become quite addictive. I should know as I've been doing it since 1954.
    Paul B.
    POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IS AN OXYMORON PROMULGATED BY MORONS.

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    runfiverun runfiverun's Avatar
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    you can cross over molds also i use a 125 rnfp in my 9mm's and for light stuff in the 38/357 case like targets and small game.
    i size to 358 for them all.
    so i get a lot of use for that one mold.
    it freed up the choice for the 357 to another mold that had an intended purpose like hunting,or for a levergun.
    i done the same thing for my 45 colt and acp [i use a 225 rnfp there] as my dual use mold,it works in a levergun also and i size to 452.
    so for minimal out lay of cash [2 molds and two sizers] i have 9mm,38/357,45 acp and 45 colt covered.
    the 9 and the 40 are not as easy as the 357,44,and 45 acp are to get cast to work well.
    i would stay away from the lee tumble lube molds [especially] for them two calibers.
    using a tumble lube on a non tumble lube mold will work just fine and gives you the option of using a sizer/luber or pan sizing.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by geoguy View Post
    I am new to the cast boolit world and would like to cast for 9mm, 357 mag, 40 Smith, 44 Mag and 45 ACP. In looking at the catalogs the range of sizing dies is nearly infinite and I am not sure what die I should use. For example, 357, the choices include .356, .357, .358 and more. I realize the choice is complicated buy the type of gun, intended use, casting alloy, etc.. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    PS, I've got to get going before the sun comes out again in N Id and my KLR starts whining because of lack of attention!
    Your answer lies within the barrel that you intend to shoot cast bullets in. Slug the barrel(s) and using a micrometer (that has been zeroed) measure the largest diameter that you can attain. This is the groove diameter. Add 0.001" to that dimension and that is the minimum sized diameter for that particular barrel.
    Matt Dardas
    Dardas Cast Bullets
    www.dardascastbullets.com

  6. #6
    GunLoad Trainee
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    Default Slug the barrel

    Quote Originally Posted by dardascastbullets View Post
    Your answer lies within the barrel that you intend to shoot cast bullets in. Slug the barrel(s) and using a micrometer (that has been zeroed) measure the largest diameter that you can attain. This is the groove diameter. Add 0.001" to that dimension and that is the minimum sized diameter for that particular barrel.
    Perhaps even more a newby to casting than geoguy, I found the reference "[s]lug the barrel" to be completely baffling. Any help?

    Le
    Last edited by LeSellers; 02-27-2013 at 08:50 PM. Reason: Grammar

  7. #7
    Spam Hammer fryboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeSellers View Post
    Perhaps even more a newby to casting than geoguy, I found the reference "[s]lug the barrel" to be completely baffling. Any help?

    Le

    i wont say that this is the greatest example but ... it will do


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR_WiL8Dkgw

  8. #8
    Dogs Like Him versifier's Avatar
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    Search "Slugging Barrel" here for a number of good descriptions too. Post your questions when you have read up on it and we'll explain anything we need to about the whole process. Not rocket science, but another needed skill that saves time and components by elimination much of the trial and error of sizer selection.

    I cast larger bullets of pure lead for rifle barrel slugging as you can't buy oval soft lead fishing weights here anymore. I use a soft lead 8mm bullet for .30cal, .30 for 7mm, 7 for 6.5, etc. If I don't have a slightly oversized bullet, I'll cast a soft lead slug with the regular mould slightly open or beagled just a tad with a slice or two of aluminum foil to give me another .100" if I need it. and just use that.

    Most important is measuring your slug with a mic, not a caliper. It tells you both groove diameter which is always important, and bore diameter that becomes more important with long heavy rifle bullets. For handguns and rifles, size your bullets to between .001-.003" above your groove diameter - bigger is generally better as long as it will feed and chamber cleanly and the bullets will obturate better and faster to the grooves of the barrel with little or no lead fouling when fired.

    Why that range of sizers? .001" larger or smaller with a specific alloy in an individual barrel can make a huge difference in cast accuracy. Rifle casters especially usually have a range of sizers for a given bullet diameter to tailor loads to individual barrels. Handgun casters are more likely to have a range of sizers to tailor loads to feed optimally in individual actions.

    For instance, for 9mm/.380/.38/.357 I have .355, .356, .358, and .360 sizers and 99.99% of the time I only use the last two - .358" for the .380 and 9mm pistols and .360" for the heavier gas checked revolver and rifle hunting bullets. Sometimes a little blowback pistol is picky and it needs a slightly smaller diameter to feed properly and return to battery and the .356 or .355 is needed to cure it, but not very often. Many of the handgun moulds I have for small 9mm pistols drop bullets that are properly sized (.358-359") right out of the mould and only need tumble lubing before loading them. It saves me a lot of time and handling. I have revolver practice bullets that drop right around .360, don't need GC's either, same thing. These are most of the bullets we shoot. I hand seat GC's and hand size every rifle bullet, and that takes time. Once the load is worked up for a rifle I load up all the brass I have with it. I don't cast rifle bullets by the ton unless I'm actively testing a new barrel, just a few hundred at a time for target practice with the old milsurps, after I have cast several thousand each of all the 9mm, .38, and .45 handgun bullets I have space and empty cases to handle and process.
    Last edited by versifier; 02-28-2013 at 06:18 PM.
    "Stand your ground.
    Do not fire unless fired upon.
    But if they mean to have a war let it begin here."
    - Capt. Parker, Lexington Militia, April 19, 1775

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by fryboy View Post
    i wont say that this is the greatest example but ... it will do http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR_WiL8Dkgw
    Quote Originally Posted by versifier View Post
    Search "Slugging Barrel" here for a number of good descriptions too.
    Thanks, both of you.

    Whether this is a new "hobby", or merely more work (by necessity), I knew going in that there'd be a lot of study and practice before anyone could hope to have useful results. Since I'm 64 years old, I don't have all the time I'd like to reach that level of expertise, so I really appreciate the help.

    Thanks again,
    Le
    Last edited by LeSellers; 03-01-2013 at 03:33 PM. Reason: punctuation

  10. #10
    Wise
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeSellers View Post
    Thanks, both of you.

    Whether this is a new "hobby", or merely more work (by necessity), I knew going in that there'd be a lot of study and practice before anyone could hope to have useful results. Since I'm 64 years old, I don't have all the time I'd like to reach that level of expertise, so I really appreciate the help.

    Thanks again,
    Le
    You might find these sites to be of great help.

    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/forum.php

    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/forum.php

    Lots of very informed people there. Also, get a copy of the Lyman cast lead loading manual, probably the best source if info to learn casting. One thing about bullets casting, you never stop learning. I'm 74 years old and I started casting bullets to feed my first handgun, an S&W 38/44 Outdoorsman way back in 1954 when I was at the ripe old age of 16. An old Dutchman name Louie who lived across the street was my mentor in learning and he taught me a lot. Even now I keep learning and I know that when it comes to bullet casting, I'll never know it all.
    Paul B.
    POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IS AN OXYMORON PROMULGATED BY MORONS.

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BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
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