View Full Version : Need advice on a mold

11-13-2009, 08:14 PM
I would like to start casting for a 303 British Enfield rifle. I am thinking along the lines of a double mold Lee. Can someone recommend the proper model numbers that I need for something in the 150g and 180g range. Any other words of wisdom will also be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

11-13-2009, 09:57 PM
Any other words of wisdom will also be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Slug your barrel before buying the mold :), these guns can measure up to .32X at the bottom of the grooves.


Bullshop Junior
11-13-2009, 10:33 PM
Slug Bore.

11-14-2009, 05:10 AM
you need to have an idea what you are looking for especially with the 303's
my friend has one with a 308bbl i have two one with a 312 and one close to 315.
not gonna share cast ammo no way no how.
the lyman 314299 may work for you or their loverign design may work better.
the 314 works awesome in my argies,but the loverign fits my 303's throat better much better.
sorry if it's a bit confusing but you can't just pick any old mold cast some bolits up and go shoot them like jacketed.

11-14-2009, 05:57 AM
Thanks, this is good advice and may keep me from going off "half-cocked". I have a #5 and two #4s to slug in the morning. This is my first experience with casting so I need a little guidance to say the least. I don't think pouring fishing sinkers and dive weights qualifies as experience.

I have spent some time looking at what Lee offers and the 185 grain mold looks interesting. I am looking for a round that I can use on metal plate at the 100-200 yard range and will be kind to the shoulder. I want my daughter to be able to shoot the round. I am assuming that I need to keep the velocity at or below 1,000 fps to avoid the need for a gas check.

If it is determined that a given mold matches a barrel diameter, is there a need for a lube and sizing kit or is the sizing only done when you need to reduce the diameter of the bullet out of the mold? Is lubing required regardless?

I have also been looking at the pulled 7.62X54R pulled jacketed bullets. They run around 0.311-0.312". Are they more forgiving with regard to bore diameter than a cast bullet?

Sorry about all the "newby" questions but I would like to get it right the first time through.

Best regards,

11-14-2009, 03:47 PM
Fishing sinkers (the oval ones) make good barrel slugs. Grease them well.

You have to lube and size. Measure the slugs with a micrometer, not a caliper (even a fancy digital caliper with a four decimal readout is only accurate to +/- .005", and you need accuracy to .0005"). Your sizer needs to be between .002-.003" larger than your groove diameter). Sizing not only uniforms the diameter, it also rounds the bullets when they are slightly oval, a common problem with Lee 2cav moulds. Push through sizers can be enlarged with a dowel, some emery cloth, and an electric drill if they don't make what you need (and choices are lacking if you cast for 7.62x54R or .303Brit). Tumble lubing is fine, dilute it with 10% mineral spirits and it will dry much faster.

You are very likely going to find that you need GC's to get decent velocity and accuracy at 200yds, but you might get lucky and you have nothing to lose by trying it without them. There is no guarantee that the bullet you choose will give you decent accuracy in that low velocity. It may perform better between 1700-2000fps. You can cast target bullets much harder than you can hunting bullets, and that means they can be pushed a good bit faster, though nowhere near as fast as jacketed. Fortunately it is easy to seat GC's with a push-through sizer.

Jacketed bullets operate at much higher pressures and obturate much better into the grooves, so they are much more forgiving as to size than cast.

You have chosen a decent mould to start with, but there is no guarantee that it will drop a bullet large enough in diameter for your rifle(s). Both barrels and moulds vary so much you can't know until you have accurate measurements of both bore and bullet. If it won't, go next door to CB and check out the stickies about "Lee-menting" moulds. Also check out the swap & sell section, there may be something available for cheap that will do what you want.

11-14-2009, 10:30 PM
I can now see that casting is not as simple as first thought. I started to slug one of the barrels today. I was using a 158 grain 0.357 as the slug. Things were well until it was about half way through the barrel. The wood dowel (six inch sections) started to give me a problem as one tried to slide by the other in the barrel and advancement was stopped. Had to drive the slug out from the breech end. I did get a good looking slug though. I do have a good micrometer but trying to measure the lands with the twist is not the easiest thing in the world. I consistently get different readings. The 357 round lead may have been to hard. I will try a fishing sinker and see it it advances easier. Barrel was lubed well. Hey, its fun and I have not broken anything I can't eat yet!

OK, I will need a lube and size kit. Lee sells one. Any opinions on it? I am trying to keep my investment low at this point. Good to hear that I can put GCs on during the sizing step. Looks like I have a challenge before me.

11-15-2009, 01:20 AM
Yes, I use Lee sizers and similar ones that I made or had made in special sizes. I use LLA tumble lube for rifle and handgun bullets from .22 to .45cal. Just remember to dilute it 10% with mineral spirits before applying it. The problem is still what size do you need and do they make that size? (Or one just a little bit smaller that can be modified?) You still need to get a good slug through it.

Soft lead slugs work best. Most commercial cast bullets are too hard to make an easy job of it. I usually cast some 8mm bullets with pure lead for slugging .30cal barrels, but soft lead oval fishing weights come in a range of sizes, are the easiest to obtain and work very well. For driving the slug I use a length of 1/4" drill rod with a thick wrapping of 1" masking tape at the tip and every three inches to protect the lands from the steel of the drill rod. I have had a dowel break and jam in a barrel once and won't do it twice. Brass rod will work, too, but not as well and it won't hold up as long as the steel rod will.

Lee also has about the best value in electric casting pots. Not the best products, just the best value. They work. Most of use started off with Lee tools. Bottom pour pots are nice, but if you're going to dip and pour your own, get the Lyman lead dipper.

More important is a source of lead, preferably wheel weights, but they are getting harder to find. Old plumbing, roof and chimney flashing, isotope containers, sailboat counterweights, you get the idea. An old turkey fryer and a cast iron pot or dutch oven (NOT aluminum) will do for smelting, some even use old Coleman stoves as a heat source. Old muffin tins make decent ingot moulds (as long as they fit in the casting pot). Old pewter (yard sales) is a great source of tin, as is old bar solder if you come upon some retired plummer's stash. Having a girlfriend, friend, or relative that's into yard saling can be a big help keeping costs down. You can, of course, buy ingots of the proper alloys, but that isn't a good way to keep the costs down.

Casting is simple, though there is a lot more to it than first appears, like an iceberg. It takes some experience to get to that point, but the mechanics of it are pretty simple. Cast, lube, size, load, shoot. There are a lot more variables added to the mix of an accurate cast bullet load than there are using jacketed bullets. You vary the density, the diameter, and the lube depending upon the barrel, the bullet's purpose, and range it will be used at. It is more alchemy than rocket science, a totally addicting hobby. :evil:

Learn first about your rifle, then try one mould at a time with a bunch of different powders to see what combinations it likes best. Sometimes a rifle will just not work with a certain mould, you find that out right away. You will need a Universal Neck Expander die for seating the cast bullets, and a Factory Crimp die to crimp them properly. Lee makes both and they are not expensive. I'd recommend a collet neck sizer, too. The less you work the brass, the longer it will last. There is also a lot of variation in chamber dimensions from one .303 to another. Sometimes they are way oversized, leaving you in effect with a wildcat or "improved" chamber. If you FL size your .303 brass every time, it will not last very long at all. The neck sizer leaves the case fireformed to the individual chamber and doesn't resize the body of the case each, working the brass much less. The less you work it, the less brittle it gets and the longer it will be before you need to anneal and trim them. You still have to set the shoulders back a bit with the FL sizer when they get hard to chamber, but not every loading. Headspacing on the rim means that this case can stretch as it obturates to the chamber, weakening the web and making head separations more likely. Watch for the bright ring outside above the web and feel the insides of the cases with a bent paperclip to check for the ring of a weakened casewall. With care you should be able to get at least ten firings from decent cases, more if the chamber is tighter and you anneal the cases regularly.

11-15-2009, 02:57 AM
OK, I will need a lube and size kit. Lee sells one. Any opinions on it?

Yeah..., they are so handy, but hit and miss in actual diameters. Miss has always been fatter for me, which usually doesn't hurt; of course the ones which were dead on were the ones I should have ordered one ore two thousands bigger...

I would try shooting as-cast first (you can lube the bullet by hand with most regular lubes).
There is a way to install a gascheck without sizing, involving a press and an appropriate hole in a plate ( can't remember more); or you can buy/modify a sizer so that it matches your as-cast diameter.

You won't necessarily need several molds as you can easily make one drop bigger bullets by "beagling" it (there should be a "sticky" about that at Castboolits, it consists in applying strips of aluminum foil on the mold halves to get more room in the cavity);
and if you need it to be even bigger you can paper patch it ( are you having fun yet :)).

Here are a couple of readings:
(download the link)


11-15-2009, 03:02 AM
a plain based cast boolit can go up to 1600 fps and sometimes more.
i have done it in my leverguns,with the larger sized boolits.
i've also had guns and boolit combinations not go over 1400 fps.
go figure.
each gun says what it wants.
for what you want to do 1600-1900 should be a good target zone to start. and gas checks will definately help you get started much easier.
the jacketed bullets are much more forgiving in some ways and undersized is one area where they shine,i've been able to shoot 308 diameter bullets in 311 sized bbls before with good accuracy.
there is just enough strength and engraving in the jacket to do the job.
this is something you do not want to try with a cast boolit.
versifier has pretty well covered the rest [as usual] :lol:

11-16-2009, 08:45 PM
The education continues, thanks for all the input. I have slugged two of my three rifles. Discovered one is a two land and the other is a five land barrel. This time I used the 1/4 oz oval fishing sinkers. A lot easier than trying to drive the 158 grain hard lead through.

I found an article that suggested that a wood dowel be placed in the barrel and the slug driven down on it so that progress was blocked and the lead would flatten to fill the barrel's groves completely before it was driven all the way through. And I did that. However, visually, it appears that the diameter of the slug is greater on the driven end than on the front and I am having a tough time getting readings that I have any confidence in. I have slugged each barrel three times. It is oblivious that I don't have any experience at this point. I may have to ask someone else to look at these tea leaves and read them. Anyone want to try?

Am I missing something here? The oval sinker flattens out wider than the barrel and it seems that it should be a good indication of the barrel diameter. There is excess lead that is trimmed off as the slug is driven into the barrel. The slug is not that difficult to drive through but it is greater than hand pressure. Think I am getting the total diameter?

11-16-2009, 09:02 PM
Yes, you're doing it right. That's what's supposed to happen. There is no need to drive it into a dowel, though (that's something you do when you don't have a slug that's large enough in diameter.) Just forcing the slightly oversize slug down through the bore is enough to give you good readings. It doesn't take a lot of force unless there is a constriction in the barrel, but it needs more than you can apply by hand. A little patience now will save you hours of casting and lots in components later on.

11-16-2009, 09:06 PM
if you mashed it out like the instructions said and are getting pretty consistent readings you should be fine.
the two groove bbl is gonna be a pain anyways [trust me]
i'd concentrate on the 5 land bbl,it's hard to measure the diameter of them but you need to have an idea as then you can exceed it.
this all sounds like a pita right now but you at least have an idea of where to start.
now to fill the throat area.

11-17-2009, 01:33 PM
Saw this on a 8/31/09 post over on Cast Bullets:

"just checking, but you do know that you can't just put the slug in a micrometer and measure it due to the 5-groove barrel? If you do that, they do tend to come out at around .308", but that doesn't actually tell you anything useful. "

I have to agree that it is difficult to measure the 5-groove slug, but there has to be a secret. How does everyone do it.

11-17-2009, 05:23 PM
Ah, grasshopper, you have discovered the curse of S&W (and others). One method uses a v-block and is generally more accurate, the other uses a depth mic with accuracy dependent on how well you can use the tool. If you search over on CB, you will find pictures and diagrams of several different setups, or ask in a post and someone over there will find the right thread for you. Some smartass with a dividing head invented the five groove rifling configuration that has been aggravating casters for generations. Just in case you happen to have discovered his/their name(s), don't tell me, I can curse them more effectively and I cherish my ignorance.

My way is easier but you need another tool. I use a depth mic to carefully measure groove depth/land height. The slug is first measured groove to land, which gives you bore diameter + one land. Measure the depths of all 5 grooves with the depth mic and add their average to your first measurement to get groove diameter or subtract it to get bore diameter.

11-18-2009, 10:22 PM
Well I have made a little more progress. For the two groove barrel, I have made numerous measurements on three different slugs. No big variations between the readings; the readings average 0.3163" So I assume I am looking for a cast bullet in the range of 0.3180 to 0.3190"

The five groove barrel, well I am still working on it. I found some 0.001' shim stock and I am doubling it and wrapping it around. First measurements indicate around 0.3112-0.3113". The bore does have a mirror finish and may be that tight. As I said before, still measuring.

Runfiverun threw me a piece of bait, guess it is time to bite. He mentioned filling the throat area. Is the throat more important than the bore? How do I determine the throat diameter? I read somewhere that the inside diameter of a fired case would be a good indication of the throat area. Is that an acceptable way? Need a little guidance along this next segment of my journey.

11-20-2009, 04:35 AM
measuring inside the case will tell you how big of a boolit will chamber.
the throat is a bit more complicated you want to try and mimic the shape of the throat as much as possible.
your boolit and throat look like this ...>>.
best way to "see" it cerrosafe.
or just through experience i guess.
your boolit doesn't have to be grossly oversized to your bbl but it does have to fit it.
if your bbl is say 311 you can get away with 3115 or 312.
the boolit fittting the throat helps it align straighter and grip the rifling better without slipping [skidding] if you are gripping the rifling from the start it makes life easier on the gas check and it can do it's job better and help the boolit maintain it's grip in the bbl and exit straighter.
not even gonna start on slump,alloy and lube yet. fit is what you want to learn first.