View Full Version : HP 38 for cast 7x57

11-26-2009, 04:04 PM
I am looking for any information from anyone who has safely and successfully worked in developing loads for the 7x57 using HP38 for 160+ grain cast bullets.


11-26-2009, 10:46 PM
Welcome to The Guide.

I have used reduced charges of 3031, 4895, and RE7 for the 7x57 with 130gr cast bullets, but never HP38, nor anything that heavy. I had such good results with 4895 and 130's in a 95 Mauser (MOA) that I stopped testing and called it good to go. I can't see why you'd want to use such a heavy bullet unless you already have the mould and want to see what it will do. If so, I'd still be looking at those three powders because I know they can all be used safely with reduced loads to get velocities in the 1600-1900fps range.

That said, a lot of folks use pistol powders for cast rifle target loads, and I see no reason why you couldn't use HP38, but I have no data for it like the extensively tested Alliant pistol powders. I am mostly working up hunting loads, so I don't do a lot of testing with pistol powders as the velocities are too low for my needs. I would be looking next door at Cast Boolits for someone who has tried it. If you can't find data there, I don't know where else to go looking.

11-27-2009, 01:26 AM

Thank you for your input.

I for some reason have gotten hooked on the cast 162 and 173 gr with imr 4350 and win760, possibly as they are my Elk rounds.

With the IMR 4350 at 2275 fps I have had the consistent luck of around .73" 5 round group at 200yrds with the 160 gr cast by Montana Bullet Works out of Billings. Those groups held from fall 2008 through fall 2009. These groups were with a Leopold 2.5x8LER Scout mounted.

I average less than 1" at 100yrds with my current win760 load (2140 fps) without the scope.

I am considering the pistol powder for a change as I live in an area which no longer has areas for long range shots, "Population growth and civilization", and I do considerable pistol reloading.

Soon it will be shotgun or archery for hunting only.


11-27-2009, 08:07 PM
That's very impressive accuracy. I assume it's not an old milsurp you're shooting. ;) I really like that scope for cast shooting, too. My K31 sporter wears one. The 7x57 is a fun round to work with, even if the mould selection is a bit limited compared to .30 cal. I shot my smallest cast group ever with one (5shot 100yd, 5/8"), and next day the largest (5shot 100yd 4feet). Same bullet, different powders (surp 4895 and surp 860).

Here are a few things you can think about:

I assume that the very high (for cast) velocities you're getting are due to the fact that the bullets are very hard, and that's not so good for hunting for two reasons. Cast bullets do not kill by hydrostatic shock like jacketed bullets do, in fact, you can eat right up to the bullet hole - no meat is destroyed. With a bullet of only 7mm in diameter, you must have some expansion in addition to a good meplat (flat nose) on the bullet for maximum energy transfer. The better the bullet expands, the softer it is and the slower you can push it because softer alloys do not have the strength to keep from stripping out (and turning your bore into a lead mine) when they are pushed too fast. Most commercial cast rifle bullets are much too hard for good results on large game, and most of them have round noses as they are primarily intended for target shooting. Obviously, RN cast bullets have killed a lot of game, and a well placed shot through the boiler room will put meat in the freezer, but you need to be aware of potential pitfalls. I am not aware of the particulars about MBW's bullets. The only cast hunting bullet source I am 100% sure of is Bullshop. They are a family of subsistance hunters who KNOW what woorks and what doesn't. BS Jr is a regular poster here and can give you his $.02 (PM him if he doesn't notice this thread), and you can find the link to their website at CB, too.

Range is another point - a smaller bore cast bullet at normal velocities (1600-2000fps) will not kill reliably at much over 150 yards. It would be one thing to shoot a 300-400gr .45 cal bullet at 15-1600fps - it would retain sufficient energy out to several hundred yards (just ask millions of bison), but with a 7mm bullet you would be losing velocity and energy very rapidly. It is a real issue with .30 cal bullets, and even more so with anything smaller in diameter.

I liken cast rifle hunting to handgun hunting - the ranges are much shorter, and shot placement is critical - quartering shots are out of the question. Many, if not most cast rifle hunters consider .30 cal the minimum for deer sized game for much the same reasons that .243 is generally considered the minimum for jacketed bullets. A lot of deer have been killed with .22 cal bullets from .22lr on up through .22-250, but it takes an experienced hunter who has the maturity to know when to pass on a shot and who knows both his own limitations as a marksman and the limitations of the bullet at the velocity it's shot at, likewise with cast of smaller diameters. I'm not saying you can't do it, I'm saying that not everyone can and you have to be realistic about the limitations of your particular circumstances. I would be looking for some more pertinent feedback from the boys next door at CB, too. Personally, I would be hesitant to hunt with cast anything bigger than a deer with anything smaller than .35cal, but that's me.

For target shooting, pistol powders are fine for anything up to 100yds, and maybe more, lighter charges save on the cost of powder, but the lower velocities you get with them mean significant bullet drop as the ranges increase. I generally prefer reduced rifle powder loads for that reason, but that hasn't stopped me from playing with most of the Alliant powders at one time or another in everything from .223 up through 8x57 Mauser. Remember that you can't safely reduce ball powders below jacketed start loads like you can with extruded and flake powders. It appears that you have an extremely cast friendly rifle, so you have a much wider range of powders and bullets available. I'd be seriously thinking about getting into casting if I were you. Even with the initial cash outlays for moulds and equipment, you can shoot for 1/10 the cost of jacketed and significantly less than the cost of commercial cast (plus you get exactly the alloy and diameter you want for specific applications).

11-27-2009, 10:38 PM
Hello versifier,

Again thank you for your input.

The "MBW" 160s I use for target are LT at 22BHN the 173gr RN are Glenhills Cast Bullets out of Wisconsin, at 12.5 BHN, leading is not to bad for the first few rounds, and what I use for hunting. I must admit that I will not use them at greater than 50 yards for hunting and only placed them in the neck.

Having been a solider I am not willing to go for the heart/lungs as that allows the sufferind and in an animal a coup de grace is necessary

I was taught respect and bullet placement by an old hunter, my grandfather. One bullet kills show respect to the animal and suffering shows the incompetence of the hunter.

I was an archery hunter so I am use to working my way close to my target and know all about the suffering of a slow death.


11-28-2009, 05:09 PM
with the 168's i have found that 17-19 grs of 2400 works well in the x57
and with a 145 the same load but with a pistol primer.
if i had to use 231 or hp-38 i'd start at 5 grs and work up to around 7 or so.
remember the fast powders still have higher pressures just not enough gas volumn for velocity.
so your vels will be in the 900 to 1200 range. the faster 9-1/2-10 twist bbls should stabilize your boolit to about 75 yds or so.

11-30-2009, 11:57 AM

Thank you for the advice.

Do you recommend fiber or cream of wheat filler for the case when starting with that small a volumne?

I have had the primer of several cases ignite the powder from the bullet end of the cartridge, "back burn" which causes unusual behavior and I understand can cause a detination.

Is this something I need to be aware of starting at 5 grains?


11-30-2009, 05:56 PM
When you are shooting very light charges of pistol powders in large rifle cases, always point the muzzle of the rifle straight up after chambering the round so all of the powder is down near the primer. That will cure most ignition problems. I would be very hesitant to use a filler with a 5gr charge. It's one thing when you have a case 40-50% full and you get a little bit of mixing of powder and filler, but a ball powder especially can behave oddly and easily sift itself into the filler from vibration in transport and handling. I personally avoid using ball powders, especially in light or reduced loads. Flake and extruded powders are much more loader friendly for cast rifle loads.

Neck shots are never a good idea with cast bullets. They just do not perform like jacketed bullets do, and the vital area is so much smaller. They are as likely to be deflected by a vertebra unless they hit it dead on, and any slight movement of the animal can and will spoil even the most precise aim. I have seen it several times and do not care to see it happen again. Neck shots are so effective with jacketed bullets because of the hydrostatic shock they impart, something you do not get with a cast bullet. Would you try a neck shot with an arrow? Of course not because it is inappropriate to the projectile you are launching. It is not appropriate with a cast rifle bullet either. Heart/lung shots are quick, clean, and reliable. There are no sensory nerves inside the chest cavity for the animal to suffer, and it takes seconds at most for an animal to lose consciousness after the blood supply to its brain is interrupted. Do you think bowhunting inhumane because it often takes a deer ten or fifteen minutes to bleed to death internally? In thirty-five years of deer, bear, and moose hunting I have seen a lot of large animals shot with both cast and jacketed bullets, and I know what they can and can't do. We have never failed to recover any that have been properly hit through the boiler room, but I have had more than one bad experience with other hunters using the wrong kind of bullets for the kind of shots they attempted. I use the proper placement for the kind of bullet I have loaded. To me, that is not only humane, but ethical and respectful of the game I hunt.

12-01-2009, 01:06 AM
About pistol powders (spherical, etc...) in rifle:


For a wider range of speeds:

12-01-2009, 01:07 AM

Thank you.

I've been very concerned with using the cast bullets for hunting. To date I have only had one bad experience while hunting and that was with cast .40 cal in an old winchester lever.

My mistake was at 35 yards to shoot, a non-attentive perfectly broadside animal, for the heart reather then the neck, which was my practice. It was a 4.5 year old 6x6 bull. The bullets were cast harder then the BHN recorded.

The round hit exactly where I aimed. When field dressed it was obvious that when the lead hit the rib it shatterd with only a few small particles penetrating the right lung, and though the bull would have died from it, after tracking for 2 miles it required 2 followup shots on a running wounded animal, one in the neck to put it down and the second point blank to put it out of its misery.

Though this may prove me to be a wrong hunter, I have done it, have no pride in it, but will not sherk that it was my mistake that cause this animal to suffer for the time it took me to realize what I had done, track it down, move in for a shot and finish it off.

I am concerened that the .28cals' metplat is not broad enough to be quickly efficient to dispatch with a chest shot. I know that the 173 grain will carry almost completely through the chest of an elk or moose but I have not been able to verify its expansion at 12.5 BHN. I know of a few moose dropped that have ben taken with the 173 but, I know that at 22BHN there is almost no expansion and the 160 grain passes through with a minimul exit wound.

The more I think about it the more I am thinking that for hunting I might be staying with jacketed rounds to reduce the preys suffering.


12-01-2009, 05:22 AM
The shattering of the bullet on bone is the clue to what happened and why. Linotype bullets for instance are very, very hard and great for target shooting. Because of their hardness and strength to conform to the rifling and not strip out they can be pushed to much higher velocities than softer alloys. BUT, whenever they hit anything hard (like bone, or a rock, or a metal gong), they shatter completely, just like light match or frangible bullets do. Softer bullets can't be pushed to the same velocities, but when they hit something hard they hold together and through soft tissue hydraulic action causes them to mushroom. The alloy is more critical than the bullet profile (a wide meplat always helps though), which is why you don't want to use anything harder than wheel weight alloy for hunting bullets. I am convinced by experience that the bullet failure you experienced is 100% the fault of the alloy. A neck shot would have failed just as disastrously when it hit a vertebra. A softer bullet would have shattered the rib, sailed right on into the boiler room, done its job properly mushrooming as it made its way through, and dropped the critter in a few seconds.

I would not give up on cast, but I would focus on using bullets cast of the proper alloy with a better profile. Until you start casting your own (and it is a wonderful addiction) Bullshop will custom cast for you in the proper alloy, has a very good selection of available moulds, and very reasonable prices. Follow the link to them on the Cast Boolits Homepage. They hunt moose and caribou with cast in a wide range of calibers and can give you a lot of practical advice. If I did not cast my own, they would be my first and only choice for hunting bullets. You have a rifle that is extremely accurate with cast and that is a rare and wondrous thing. I would offer to send you some, but I have no 7mm hunting bullet moulds, only one RNGC target. (OTOH, if you get into 30cal, I have three really good ones in 150, 170, and 180gr and can send you some of them to try if you're interested.)

There is one more important reason for you not to give up on cast. If you have been successful neck shooting with jacketed bullets it says two things about you: that you are an experienced hunter, and that you are an above average marksman. Only hunters with those two key qualities can use that kind of shot effectively and prefer it. My bad experiences have come from hunters who only thought they had those qualities (one of them ignored my advice and blew the neck muscles off the side of a really nice buck with a bullet I cast for him - vertebral ricochet) and it resulted in many, many miles of tracking to finish it and then many, many more miles of dragging it out. To this day I'm grateful he wasn't shooting at a moose, and that he was honorable and ethical enough to insist on following it. We also had lots of help dragging. He learned a good lesson and now, twenty-plus years later, he fills his deer tags regularly with his own cast bullets from his rifles and revolvers. Bad experiences can teach us important lessons. Different tools require different techniques to work best.

12-01-2009, 05:07 PM
i don't think dan would even recommend a 7mm cast for hunting.
i use my 7mm's for the smaller stuff coyotes & rock chucks.
i have shot my 145's straight through blocks of pine at 100 yds that were over 12" thick.
after messing with softening the noses etc..
i will not use my 7's for hunting larger game with cast.
i have other guns that are much more efficient a 44 mag,357, 45 colt, lever gun is very effective and will shoot to over 100 yds effectively.
if i am going to hunt the open canyons i take the 7x57 ackley,25-06,etc, and use jacketed.
remember jacketed rounds were not even invented untill high velocity was, along with smokeless powder.
i bet the old timers tried lead bullets with the new fangeled powder and calibers and searched for a bettter way.
30 calibe is about as small as i have even dared try with cast on deer and it was sucsessful but it is still a bit smaller than i really am comfortable with on bad angles.

12-02-2009, 10:19 PM

I understand that the alloy was most likely the reason for the shattering but as we all can agree I was the reason that that round was used.

I should have found a way to verify that it would have been a more proper projectile.

Having faith in my rifles ability to dot the "i" out to 200yrds with cast, maybe a false sense of security. I am sure that I can place the round and that it will penetrate, I am just having doubts that the .287 cast is, as many are happy to share, large or potent enough to humanly do the job with a boiler maker hit.
Bell took a few elephants with the 7x57, but that was at close range with the FMJ military 173 grain RN.

Though the bullet did not expand, the combination of placement, in the brain and the genetically high blood pressure seemed to be an effective combination.
But as I'm not an Ivory hunter and I refuse to use FMJ on anything that is not trying to use the same on me, only one of these elements is in my range of possibilities and as we all know the brain is a protected and most unsure target so I chose to go a touch lower.

I am concerned that the 173 grain, 12.5 from GlenHills will be almost the same as hitting the neck with a 22cal. The bullet will completely penetrate; my concern is will it mushroom or cause enough hydro shock to be effective.
I know that some have used them for moose and elk with heart/lung shots. I am just questioning them for neck use.


12-02-2009, 10:37 PM

I have no uncertainty that a 7mm jacketed will drop anything that I aim at, though I would be matching the projectile to the game, 175gr for elk/moose, 154-160gr for mulie, 139-145gr for whitetail. I don't chance possible shots as I am bound against causing suffering.

You say that cast might not perform well enough? I believe that you already may have answered this in one of your earlier posts, but I do not currently have access to them. What is it that, in your honored opinion, would be the possible reason to avoid them for large game? Could proper placement offset the "size"?


12-02-2009, 10:41 PM

I'll check them when I get to my computer.


12-02-2009, 11:06 PM
Diameter is your best friend when hunting with cast bullets, because you don't have velocity to impart hydrostatic shock. With a good soft alloy, you can get some expansion to add to it. There are those who wouldn't hunt large game with anything smaller than .45cal, and there is a lot to their assertion that drilling a half inch hole through the boiler room is bound to be effective, but we have had good luck with .30cal FNGC bullets from 150-180gr and .35 cal FNGC and SWCGC bullets cast from wheel weights on deer and the occasional black bear or moose with the heavier bullets. I don't shoot a .44mag (but I do have an excellent mould for it that my friends like a lot), and my shoulder can do without the abuse of .45-70's with heavy hunting loads, however effective they might be. I like the .30-30 (and .308 & -06, but they shoot the same cast bullets at the same velocities) and the .35Rem for large game. For anything bigger than a deer, I would want a .30 cal bullet of at least 180gr (worked well on a fairly large bull moose) but I wouldn't turn up my nose at a 200 or even a 220gr if the rifle shot it accurately. With the .35 cal I would prefer to have a bullet between 200 and 250gr. I would be avoiding any quartering shots, and I would be keeping the range within 100yds and less if possible.

12-02-2009, 11:17 PM
BTW, don't beat yourself up about a mistake in the field. We've all been there and done that, and anyone who tells you he hasn't is full of what makes the corn grow tall.

I grabbed buckshot instead of bird shot late one night when a gang of raccoons invaded the barn. It wasn't until the next day that I realized how well I had ventilated the barn with only six rounds..... My ex was not impressed, except about the five masked bandits that were no longer raiding the food and decorating the place with trash. It only took me two weekends to replace all the metal roofing and the siding. [smilie=1:

I have helped track and finish more than a few gutshot critters, though only one of them (a big coyote) was my error. It happens. All you can do is the right thing and follow it up as quickly as you can and learn a good lesson from it so you don't do it a second time.

12-03-2009, 03:00 AM
after contemplating using jacketed and their construction for quite some time i finally figured out how the velocity and bullet construction was tied together.
the x57's and 0-6 class of rounds work beyond what it is considered they will. its because they have lower vels not too low but in a proper range for regular bullets to work effectively.
the 2600 to 2850 range is very effective with regular ole bullets.
their soft lead and copper case construction allows them to open in a predictable manner,and continue in a straight line without overstressing thier jackets or cores.
now with cast you either hedge your bet to penetration [very necessary]
or towards mushrooming of some sort,you may get passthrough or not [bad] as the exit wound is usually 5 times larger then the entrance wound is, even with very little bullet upset.
thats where my recommendation for not using cast in the 7 mm's comes from.
placing the boolit in a shoulder will anchor the animal. but......
and a shot through the heart/lung area is just not effective enough because there just isn't enough performance inside the animal to keep the chase short.
i truly will defend the x57 till the end of times but it just has it's limits and cast is where it's way too marginal for me.
besides that a box of 139 gr interlocks is 20 bucks and i use it for deer/elk and moose if i ever draw the tag.
i have shot deer with some very small cast boolits before and was pretty surprised at the results but i had a flat nose complete penetraton and a good exit hole
[98 gr 313 sized boolit from a revolver] on a wounded deer at 70 yds. what i call the keith shot.
i really don't have much else to add it's your call really and i have fully considered using one of my x57's but finally narrowed it down to the 8x57,358 win or 30-30 if i really need to use a rifle.
but will take the levergun everytime as they are really at an advantage over the smaller cals when cast is used.

12-03-2009, 06:19 PM
runfiverun and versifier,

Thank you both for your input on my question. I have another for which I am asking you opinions.

I have been thinking, reading and researching a way to soften the nose of the bullet while retaining the hard casting in the bearing section.

I have come upon: http://www.leverguns.com/articles/paco/small_charges.htm

"A Paco secret...

Here’s a trick I write about often...to get soft nose and hard body cast bullets, cast them hard and hot, frosty bullets are better no matter what the experts say... drop them from the mold into water to temper....then place your bullets standing in water to their shoulder just above the top crimp groove, so the nose is exposed....take a butane torch and run it over the noses sticking out of the water...this detempers just the noses, so you in effect have a soft nose-hard body, cast bullet. It takes a little practice...but as soon as you see the bullet noses change color at all, pull the flame...or the nose will slump over...it doesn’t take much flame time, especially on small caliber bullets. Cast bullets made this way will resist fouling but will expand in any size animal....from rabbits on up."

I am hoping that this will improve expansion of the 22BHN 160gr bullets nose to allow it retain 2100+ and expand from its .287 significantly increasing its effectiveness.
Thank you in advance.


12-03-2009, 08:05 PM
it works.
it returns the alloy to it's original form.
a mix of 50ww's and 50 pure or as soft as you got with tin [for toughness]
waterdropped then followed by the method paco mentions [not invents btw] will allow the nose to expand. it also makes it chancey that a boolit will bend/slump in this area and veer off course in an animal.
the funny thing is that a long jacketed bullet has more length to help it open up and penetrate,and retain weight.
whereas a cast boolit of length just gives it more length to pass through things.
the softening of the nose works well. actually it does kinda act like a nosler partition, till the nose shears off or it stops the boolit.
you have to watch your alloy very closely when softening the nose you will se it start to change color first then it will try to bead up the tin in the alloy as soon as you see the slight shift of from grey to silver beads you need to have the heat gone or you will slump the nose and ruin the boolit.
and don't tip them back into the water or you just done nothing.

12-04-2009, 12:47 AM

Thank you.

I will try to soften the nose on 2 dozen, or so, of the heat treated 160s and see how they fair.

I'm not sure what medium to test them on for expansion. I have used a 55gal rain water barrel at an angle on it's side with a thin plastic seal about the thickness of a plastic ground cloth covering one end.

It stops the bullet and the angle of the drum catches most of the bullet if the seal doesn’t fail catastrophically.


12-05-2009, 02:34 AM
i really think about any test medium is a good test, as long as it's consistent and a control of some sort is used.
some mediums are just closer to flesh.

01-17-2010, 12:41 AM

Again thank you for all your assistance and suggestions.

Unfortunately I never did arrive at an appropriate load using the HP38 to run the test. I relied on Unique instead.

I have tried the softened bullets and found increased expansion occurred as well as some increased shedding /shearing.

This appears to be directly proportional to the velocity fired.

I decreased the velocity to 1635fts average which opened my group up to 1.25” at 100 yards with the military issued Iron sights of my 1895

However at this velocity the softer, unmodified, 173gr out preformed the softened 160gr, so much so, that I believe that I will retain the 173gr for hunting. And Yes gentlemen the average expansion and penetration of the 173grs during the test was enough to lead me to believe them more than adequate for "boiler maker" shots on game as large as elk or moose as long as the range is reasonable, below 100 yards, which is farther than I am willing to shoot them with cast lead.


01-18-2010, 04:36 AM
the whole thing about hunting and especially with cast is testing,testing,testing.
you now have an excellent idea of what to expect when your boolit makes contact.
you also have set yourself a limit,which tells me you have done your homework and not just taken what was said for granted.
you have also proven to yourself what i have said many times about hunting alloys.
a softer boolit with some mush to it and two holes is the results i will take everytime.
i'd prefer a larger hole to begin with myself as the mass will help the boolit retain momentum.
happy hunting.